Nina Boyd

Nina now writes fiction: an Edwardian mystery series set in Huddersfield. Having worked as a nurse and a book indexer, she now studies and writes full time. Her poems have been published in a number of magazines, including The North and The Rialto.

Dear Mr Asquith, Nina's first collection, was the overall winner of the 2009 Book & Pamphlet Competition, judged by Andrew Motion.


Reviews

'A collection of cleanly-written and well-organised poems that, for all their efficiencies, are capable of leaving us with an appealing sense of mystery and unfinished business.'  Andrew Motion

‘These are fulfilled poems, written with a depth of feeling and lack of ostentation. The first part of the book holds many poems about family and friends seen through a child’s cool eye. Lives are summed up by single details that illuminate not just a person but a generation of men and women tarnished by war, poverty and ignorance. The second half of the book reaches new heights. The poems trawl historical records to tell hidden stories of ordinary, often hesitant, women who performed brave, dangerous and tragic acts in the name of Votes for Women. Already a prizewinning collection, Dear Mr Asquith deserves every accolade going. A necessary read.’ — Janet Fisher

Nina reading at Poets & Players

 

 

THE ROKEBY VENUS

 

Men come daily to gape and grunt

at the shameless rump, see no more

than a woman’s white buttocks

inviting them in.  She is a cipher,

faceless, asking for it.

 

Cupid’s mirror reflects a face.

Not his mother’s face; a plain face,

the chaste face of a domestic goddess,

invisible to the arse’s

ardent congregation.

 

Mary stands where the men stand,

gazes at the face of everywoman.

To save her she takes a meat-cleaver

from under her coat, cuts into the myth;

seven wounds in the flawless back.

 

For this, museums in London

are closed to women.  Men keep coming.

 

 

Mary Richardson (1889-1961)

 Mary Richardson was one of the most active of the militant suffragettes.  She converted the Bishop of London to the cause, and was arrested nine times for a variety of offences, including window-breaking and burning houses and letter-boxes.  

 In her most famous escapade, Mary Richardson went into the National Gallery in London on 10 March 1914, took out a meat cleaver from under her coat, and slashed a painting by Velasquez known as The Toilet of Venus, or The Rokeby Venus.  There were seven cuts in the canvas.  At the time, Emmeline Pankhurst was on hunger-strike in Holloway Prison, and Mary herself was on temporary leave from prison under the “Cat and Mouse Act.”

After the attack, the gallery was closed to women visitors.  Mary later remarked that “I didn’t like the way men visitors gaped at it all day long.”

Titles by this author

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