Pessimism is for Lightweights

Salena Godden


Salena Godden—Pessimism is for Lightweights:
13 Pieces of Courage and Resistance


Fourth Edition

A collection of 13 pieces of courage and resistance, this is work inspired by protests and rallies. Poems written for the women’s march, for women’s empowerment and amplification, poems that salute people fighting for justice, poems on sexism and racism, class discrimination, period poverty and homelessness, immigration and identity. This work reminds us that Courage is a Muscle, it also contains a letter from the spirit of Hope herself, because as the title suggests, Pessimism is for Lightweights.

If you would like this title as an Ebook…





We think translation is an essential literary endeavour over here at Rough Trade Books HQ—a means of access into the language, thinking and stories of other cultures, histories and experiences, we believe the act of translation can be a radical rejection of a homogenous literary culture. So to celebrate International Translation Day, we’ve printed this broadside of a wonderful Old English translation of Salena Godden’s iconic poem Pessimism is for Lightweights.

This rather brilliant translation was provided by Emily Cotman, an artist who uses translation as a medium to invoke a more human experience of history. Or, as Emily puts it, “maybe I just want to sing karaoke with my ancestors.” Emily holds a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics from The Ohio State University, and lives gratefully with her family on Gayogoho:no land.

Emily first encountered Salena’s poem earlier this year, when she saw it being shared on social media. She says of Pessimism is for Lightweights, “This poem is a healing thing, and given the history of Watling Street (Wæcelinga Stræt), I supposed that an Old English translation might allow that healing to touch new times and spaces.”
We wholeheartedly agree.

Any purchases of Salena Godden’s pamphlet from our website from today onwards will include this beautiful translation as an added bonus.

In an act of trying to come together and create some small attempt at unity on this planet we’re inviting people from all over the world to translate Pessimism is for Lightweights into your chosen language.

If you fancy giving it a go, please head to our Extra Curricular pages where you can find Salena’s poem as it is displayed at Manchester’s People’s History Museum. We’d especially love it if you could send in a short video of yourself reading your translation. Make sure you tag @RoughTradeBooks and use the hashtag #PessimismIsForLightweights