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The Woman's Part by Jo Gatford


About The Woman's Part:

Using a combination of original prose and erasure poetry, The Woman's Part reimagines the lives and desires of Shakespeare's women — their unspoken opinions, perspectives, and unwritten endings. Each piece is accompanied by an erasure poem made from one of the character's speeches. Gatford says of her chapbook, "My aim with this collection was not necessarily to make a grand statement, but to explore the thoughts and experiences of women who were never given the stage time to say what they really thought, or the ending they deserved. Which is probably all any of us really want."


Because so many of these characters' experiences translate seamlessly and depressingly to today, and because Stanchion began with the aim of shining hopeful light into ever-darkening corners, I believe wholeheartedly that The Woman's Part is a fitting opening salvo to Stanchion Books.


Praise for The Woman's Part


"'They will word her long after she's gone.' How to disappear; how to dream of murder; how to forget the lines; how to rewrite the ending; how to survive: Jo Gatford's The Woman's Part makes erasure restorative, re-staging Shakespeare's women behind the roles they play. There are no paragons here, no daughters of mere genre. Gatford resuscitates an Ophelia, a Lavinia, a Cleopatra with such startling insight that empathy itself becomes the poet's blade, tearing into the dramatic corpus, gutting the lines, to unroot their words from the playwright’s. They rise before us, shimmering in the sudden flash of their own liberation, enabled at last to word themselves; their rage, their music, their calls for justice, shouting down the silence. The Woman’s Part tips the Shakespeare canon on its axis, taking an axe to long-held conventions. To read it is to join the rebellion. An affecting and finely-crafted masterpiece which invites us to unlearn our deepest Bard-based archetypes. Stunning, incisive and fearless writing from one of the most exciting new voices on the literary scene." - Dr Chris Laoutaris, author of Bleed and See (Broken Sleep Books), Shakespeare and the Countess (Penguin) and Shakespeare’s Book (William Collins) and Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Shakespeare Beyond Borders Alliance Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the EQUALityShakespeare (EQUALS) Initiative Co-Founder and Co-Creator of the Anne Shakespeare's World Project Member of the College of Arts and Law Working Group for Race and Equality


"What a joy to see the women from Shakespeare’s plays step forward and take center stage. By voicing their innermost desires (and eating a few still-beating hearts!) they come into their power and create a chorus of fierce feeling. The erasure poems made me feel as if the women were bent over the page, slashing text as they went, leaving nothing behind but their own truths." - Gwen Kirby, author of Shit Cassandra Saw


"This deliciously subversive collection had me hooked from the first page! The Woman’s Part defies both tradition and genre, an effortless intertwining of lyricism and raw vulnerability. Unique, hypnotic, and beautiful from start to finish." - Hannah Grieco, editor of editor of Already Gone and And If That Mockingbird Don't Sing


"This collection by Jo Gatford is a small piece of genius. The way Gatford fleshes out these characters shows not only a profound understanding of Shakespeare, but of humankind in general. From Gatford's own brilliant words to the repurposed Shakespearean verse, every piece of this collection offers a fuller view of characters we thought we knew." - Cathy Ulrich, author of Ghosts of You


"Women who were once bound to the limits of Shakespeare’s hand have now—through spectacular stories and vivid erasure poetry—been conceived in a new and more profound light. Jo Gatford has reimagined Ophelia, Juliet, and more into striking freedom through speaking up, sailing away, and eating hearts. The Woman’s Part has carefully answered the following: If we could read between the lines and lives of women in Shakespeare’s work—what unfettered beauty would materialize?" - Victoria Buitron, author of A Body Across Two Hemispheres


"The Woman’s Part is a fascinating series of prose and poetry pieces that work excellently together. I very much like how the structure of the book, — prose followed by erasure poetry, (laid out like redacted text ) followed by the poem written again — heightens the women’s voices. It’s a book you can read and enjoy in many different ways. I loved it." - Jude Higgins, author of The Chemist’s House


58 pages.

Perfect bound with spine.

ISBN: 979-8-88862-268-1

Publication on 17 January 2023.


Jo Gatford is a novelist, award-winning short fiction writer, and the co-founder of creative writing organisation Writers' HQ. Her work has been published in PRISM, The Forge, trampset, Pithead Chapel, SmokeLong Quarterly and elsewhere. She occasionally tweets about weird 17th century mermaid tiles at @jmgatford. She feels very strongly about puns and, obviously, Shakespeare.

The Woman's Part

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