Her spoken word piece stunned the nation with its astute, worldly and searing view of life as a woman in Ireland today, and it seems as if Ryan Tubridy was just as moved.
Speaking to Natalya O'Flaherty, the spoken word poet whose piece ‘Not Like Other Girls’ was commissioned as part of The Big Picture: A Woman's World, this morning he said he was "frozen to the spot" as she performed it on The Late Late Show last Friday night. On his radio show today, they spoke about her work, her life and her drive.
On her passion for sharing poetry with normal people, when traditionally poetry seemed to be the pastime of the elite and impenetrable to the average person, she explained that this motivates her writing.
"I hate having to tear things apart to understand them", she said. "That’s why I try and make my writing so accessible without dumbing it down."
Indeed, spoken word has the ability to reach more people in ways that don't alienate them, such as over YouTube, Facebook or Twitter. "I just want people to get the message and that’s why spoken word is different", Natalya explained. "You’re speaking and people are listening to it, taking it in right away."
While Ryan saw her poem as "a manifesto for a generation of young women", Natalya prefers to look at it as a "general message" rather than a prescriptive way of thinking.
"It’s very easy to be victimized as a woman and to put yourself in that box and say, 'oh, I’m a woman and I’m oppressed because of it'. It’s not wrong, that’s not an incorrect to say but it’s also the wrong narrative to have and the whole pitting yourself against other women, it’s a dangerous thing", she said.
Using the poem as a defense against the pressure to conform, Natalya said "I thought in order to be respected and to be taken in by my peers, who were mostly boys, that I had to be like the boys".
She said that after years of making herself more like the boys around her, in an attempt to seem stronger, she realised there was nothing weak or inferior about traditionally feminine things.
"I wanted to be all these things that the boys are because they’re promoted and celebrated whereas women are kind of, not so much shunned but looked down upon for the things they like. People don’t let girls enjoy anything. You can’t like makeup and you can’t like shoes because that makes you dense and that makes you stupid and that’s just not true. I love make-up now, love all my shoes!"
To listen back to their conversation, click here.