GUSH reading circle draws much-needed conversations & feminine products

GUSH: Menstrual Manifestos for Our Times is being launched at a community reading circle on June 20 at 7 pm in the Caetani Cultural Centre Studio Gallery. This is a free event open to the public, who are welcome to join in the reading and discussion of menstruation writing. There will be a cash bar.

Come join us for a discussion of Canadian literature and the shared experiences of women!

With pieces such as “How to attend a pool party in the 70’s” and “When my boyfriend gets his period,” a new Canadian anthology is “making the private public.” It’s also making connections between menstruation and everything from politics to pop culture, as co-editor Tanis MacDonald explains, following the lead of feminist Gloria Steinem and, more recently, Beyoncé.

GUSH: Menstrual Manifestos for Our Times, published by Frontenac House, features the new works of more than 100 writers, including a handful from the Okanagan, as well as several classic pieces of menstruation writing in Canada—sparking pivotal and even political conversations about this central female process, again or for the first time.

“As much as we want this collection to affirm the reality of menstruation, we think it will also surprise readers and challenge them to defy a patriarchal cultural politics that regards menstruation as shamefully private or just plain gross,” says MacDonald, who edited GUSH along with writers Ariel Gordon and Rosanna Deerchild.  

Lisa Church (left) & Lisa Anderson, co-executive directors of Upper Room Mission, begin to accept some of the menstrual products collected by the writers of GUSH.

Local writers Natalie Appleton, Kerry Gilbert and Laisha Rosnau, along with Interior writers Ruth Daniell, Karen Klassen and Erin Mouré, will read their GUSH works at a launch event being held at the Caetani Cultural Centre on Wednesday, June 20th. As part of a casual, conversational reading circle format, members of the community are also invited to read their own menstruation writing or writing from the anthology.

“I am so thrilled to be included in such a dynamic, important anthology—full of amazing writers. I think it’s a beautiful sign of the times that we are openly celebrating and speaking about women’s stories and bodies,” says Vernon poet and Okanagan College (OC) creative writing instructor Kerry Gilbert, who has two poems published in GUSH.

Led by OC criminology and women’s studies professor Melissa Munn, the Vernon reading circle will follow the tradition of previous events in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and collect menstrual products for Vernon’s Upper Room Mission.

“Feminine hygiene products are so important, and can be a challenge for our clients to access,” says Lisa Anderson, co-executive director, Upper Room Mission. “We hand them out here so we would be grateful to be able to refill our always depleting supply.”