#AskHerMore: Journalist Clara Rose Thornton On Making A Home Between Six Countries
She's speaking at Dublin's FemFest later this week.
Name: Clara Rose Thornton
Occupation: Journalist and spoken word artist
Website: Ink Blot Complex
Find out more: I Am Clara Rose
Clara Rose Thornton feels most content anywhere she has a duvet, her laptop and a stack of books, which explains how she’s successfully managed to live across six different countries and yet still considers herself a “homebody.”
As a spoken word artist and journalist, Clara has brought her unique world view to readers, listeners and viewers the world over. She’s one of the key speakers at this year’s #FemFest, the National Women’s Council of Ireland’s annual conference for women aged 16 – 24, which takes place on December 2nd.
Young women will be discussing the importance of the women of 1916, the barriers young women face today and planning for a feminist future. After Donald Trump’s election, it will also be an opportunity for young women to reflect on what it means for them to have an openly sexist and racist man as US President and how young women can fight back against misogyny and hatred. The women of 1916 acted as messengers around the city of Dublin throughout the Rising. To echo this, #FemFest will explore the many different ways women get their messages across in 2016 – on blogs, in magazines, on social media.
We spoke to Clara about her idea of home, what feminism means to her… and how she gets her message across.
You’ve lived between the US and Ireland, but where is home for you, and what does the idea of home mean to you?
I’ve lived in six countries, in fact: Ireland, France, Croatia, Germany, Canada, and in many cities across the United States. I’m a city girl with the heart of a country girl. I can’t be in one for too long without beginning to yearn for the other.
During my teen years I voraciously tore through the literature of Beat writers Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and Neal Cassidy, and multiple Jim Morrison biographies. These were white men criss-crossing the world without a care. They were looking to define themselves and their art, trying to soak up as much diverse experience as possible. They wanted to see, and then exist, beyond prescribed boxes. I thought, even though I’m a girl and of colour, that doesn’t mean I can’t do the same.
Home for me is a place I can continue to be stimulated, to ply my crafts and feel they are connecting with people, to find kindred spirits, and to feel I’m having the craic more often than navigating pain.
Where or when do you feel most content?
Contentment hits me most under two circumstances. One, in my ‘idea den’, which is anywhere I’m alone with a cosy duvet, my laptop on the bed, surrounded by books and magazines and ingesting copious amounts of smoked salmon or yoghurt. Two, out in the world surrounded by positive, forward-thinking and creative people, gathered together for a unified purpose, be it a music festival or a political protest.
What advice would you give your teenage self?
Don’t dive so deep into the partying aspects of bohemia… It’s not as cool as it appears!
What does feminism mean to you?
Feminism is realising that no one is the determinant of a woman’s hours and days but that woman. It’s waking up to realise the truth about the constant signals women are given that our lives have limited options, whereas men’s inexplicably don’t. They are false signals in place to keep us from realising our full potential.
If you want to delay having a family or not have one at all, you can. If you want to found your dream company while having five kids, you can construct a personalized plan to make it work. You can start a new life at 50. Feminism is turning the signals off; recognising, against society’s wishes, that women and men are equal.
What’s your life’s philosophy or what are your words to live by?
In life: Everyday, I try to make something beautiful happen, big or small.
At work: If one person comes into contact with my words in a day, written or spoken, and they cause her or him to think of one small corner of their world differently, I’ve done my job that day.
When do you feel most brave?
Either when backpacking a mountain solo, deep in the wilderness, or when onstage shouting the auld syllabic tomfoolery.
What do you consider the most pressing issue facing Irish society at the moment?
Ethnic, national, and religious difference en masse is a relatively new phenomenon in this country. Just 15 years ago the population was largely a monoculture, and from an outsider’s perspective, it can still feel culturally homogeneous. With so much change happening so quickly, Ireland has an opportunity to be a vanguard of community inclusion, refugee and migrant integration, as opposed to facilitating deeper divisions.
Is there a book or album that has changed your life?
The book would be The Stranger by Albert Camus. The albums would be a tie between Ok Computer by Radiohead and Tracy Chapman’s self-titled debut.
What has been the most significant moment of your life to date?
There have been so many, but one that stands out is being awarded a weekly print fine arts column for the Rutland Herald newspaper in Vermont. The newspaper had won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001, and I felt like my ramblings had been validated. I never looked back.
Find out more about #FemFest and NWCI here.
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