Big eyes 1
A new magazine encouraging you to look closer at life. We’re not about skimming the surface; we like to dig deep...and then a bit deeper. We like to really get to know people, what they do and why they do it. One of our main aims with Big Eyes is to create a strong, creative, mindful network of people, who want to get more than ‘just the average’ out of daily life. Once you’ve finished reading the first issue, or browsing through our attention-grabbing blog posts, you might want to go searching for owls at twilight, or try your hand at writing some eco-literature. You might discover you want to teach English in a foreign country, or sketch a part of your town that nobody pays any attention to. You might want to learn how to make laser cut shadow puppets or give Vladimir Nabokov a chance. Go on. Turn over. Start something new. And don't forget - look closer, because life is pretty fucking magnificent.
look closer Issue #1 2013 Correspondence As a young child, barely six, I had a strong attachment to an unusual object; a clown cap. It was made from cold, rubber latex, and had a half moon shaped bush of fuzzy, bright red, synthetic hair. I don’t know where it came from, and I don’t remember what happened to it. (It would have been shot in the bin if my mother had anything to do with it. It got very grimy, as most things do when you’re under double figures.) I remember tugging it on, and acting out little plays in the corner of a barren, concrete, primary school playground. When I wore this odd accessory, I was a storyteller. Anything seemed possible, especially with my little band of loyal followers, who would eagerly listen, and take part in my madcap, imaginary adventures. But there were also dark times in this particular playground. I remember being in the centre of a circle of older girls, who pushed me, and teased me, and barricaded me in with their big arms and strong legs. They bullied me because my coat came from a charity shop and because I spoke differently to them.(I had a distinct Yorkshire twang.)They bullied me because I wore glasses with rainbow frames and had big eyes. These memories remain as vivid as if they’d happened ten minutes ago. One experience created great joy and freedom, the other meant I went home with bruises and eventually had to change schools. But I have a passion for turning negative experiences around, and, when possible, making something positive from them. So when I was hunting for a title for this new, imaginative creation, Big Eyes was the first thing to come up, and it immediately stuck. It may also, subliminally, be a big fuck you to everyone who ever teased me for having crap eyes. Here at Big Eyes, we’re an insatiably curious bunch. We’re writers, readers, thinkers, artists, designers, all of whom have a collective desire – to learn, to create, to develop, to grow. We’re not about skimming the surface; we like to dig deep...and then a bit deeper. We like to really get to know people, what they do and why they do it. One of our main aims with Big Eyes is to create a strong, creative, mindful network of people, who want to get more than ‘just the average’ out of daily life. Once you’ve finished reading this issue, you might want to go searching for owls at twilight, or try your hand at writing some eco-literature. You might discover you want to teach English in a foreign country, or draw a picture of a part of your town that nobody pays any attention to. You might want to learn how to make laser cut shadow puppets or give Vladimir Nabokov a chance. Go on. Turn the page. Look closer. Katie Metcalfe and the Big Eyes Team. (August 2013) 3 Inside #1 Editor Katie Metcalfe Exhibition Made To Order Rain Clouds ......................................................6 Editorial Assistant Lucy Russell Handmade Business .................................................................7 Reviving A Lost Art Form ............................................................8 Designer Dialogue Phil Robinson Teaching English In Korea ........................................................10 Biscuits Made To Wear ............................................................14 When In Newcastle, Look Up ..................................................18 Proofreaders Deadlines And Pushchairs .......................................................16 Writers’ Block ..........................................................................20 Sue Hooper, Joanne Shawcross, Carol Fenwick Cover Illustration Anya Grainger Like A Mad Scientist ................................................................22 It’s A Lot of DIY ........................................................................28 Writing Is Good For Your Health ..............................................26 Write For Inspiration ................................................................32 Email email@example.com Detail Tattoo Me Yes, Tattoo Me No ...................................................36 The Science-Fiction of Inner Space ..........................................38 Collected Letters .....................................................................40 Where To Find Us bigeyesmagazine.wordpress.com bigeyesmagazine.tumblr.com pinterest.com/bigeyesmagazine twitter.com/big_eyes_mag facebook.com/BigEyesMagazine What Are You Wearing? ...........................................................42 The Owl In Daylight ..................................................................44 My Notebook ..........................................................................43 Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ................................................46 Street Food In Reykjavík ...........................................................48 The Heathen Research Network ..............................................49 Life Writing ..............................................................................50 Inspired Your Bushy Moustache ...........................................................56 Exit/Entrance ...........................................................................57 Bird Studies .............................................................................60 It’s All To Fuck Basically ...........................................................62 Retrospect Reviewing The Page And Screen .............................................66 4 E x h i bi t i on 5 Made To Order Rain Clouds Elin Amanda Brighten up a miserable, rainy day with a charming little cloud. Who would have thought it! These lovely little decorative pieces are almost impossible to resist. Treat yourself to a made to order rain cloud mobile, or indulge your creative side, by ordering the pattern to make yourself. This crafty Swede is also a dab hand at making cuddly little individuals, like Psychedelic Disco Kitty, Cecil the disgruntled Siamese cat and Izabella the foxy lady. Each piece is handmade and one of a kind. Elin Amanda’s shop is always a real treat to visit, because you never know what she’s going to come up with next. One thing you can be sure of though, is that straight after clicking, a smile will come creeping. Prices start from: £4. You can find Elin Amanda at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/ ElinAmanda We asked Elin where she gets her ideas from: Most of my Often I walk past people and I think to myself “you’d be such a disgruntled Siamese cat if you were an animal” and similar ideas I get from people I meet in the street, or friends and family. things. I’m also a great fan of weather and the sky. I love a storm just breaking up, and the first trickles of rain on a window pane, and this is where the rain cloud inspiration came from. But most of the time I’m just like a kid with a blank canvas and a bunch of crayons: I just start doing something random until I’ve decided what it actually is supposed to be. 6 Handmade Business Victory Garden Yarn There’s always an Arctic chill lurking around the corner, so why no be prepared, and get yourself something soft, squashy and snug - a scarf maybe, or ear warmers - for when it shows up. Your lovely piece is made to order, and you can choose from a gigantic range of colours. So, if you don’t have the time or the patience to knit your own, Anna’s creations are the next best thing. Prices start from: £8.00 Look for Victory Garden Yarn at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/ VictoryGardenYarn decided to re-teach myself how to properly knit and crochet and eventually began to get more comfortable with reading patterns and doing things (that I thought would certainly be impossible) like knitting socks and sweaters. Somewhere in there I moved to chilly Seattle, where I kept exploring both mediums. After managing and helping to close down two beautiful clothing stores in town (which both unfortunately couldn’t ride out our strange economy), I decided to start my own handmade business. I had a lot of friends and co-workers of friends asking if they could commission me to make things for them, and I started to wonder if I could actually make a go of running my own handmade business, doing something I already loved to do! So I decided to try my hand at creating my very own, original designs (one of the most important things to me in my business) and now here I am! I love it and I love the response I get from people online and in person at craft shows. It is immensely rewarding! We asked Anna what inspired her to start knitting: My mother taught me how to crochet when I was about 9 and then how to knit when I was about 13. I instantly took to both of them, but only picked either up as a passing hobby until after I graduated from college and had time to breathe again! I 7 Reviving A Lost Art Form Isabella’s Art We love Isabella and her laser cut shadow puppets! This lovely lady from the Netherlands is successfully reviving a lost art form, and shops in London and Milan have seen sense and now stock her wares. Isabella specialises in folklore, and witchcraft is one of the recurring topics in her work. She also creates exquisite prints, and welcomes commissioned work. Be it an eye-catching print or a theatrical puppet, every one of Isabella’s pieces is wonderfully detailed and astonishingly intricate. Can’t help but wonder – how does she do it? Her website is something really special too, like a glorious cabinet of curiosities. You could easily spend hours nosing through everything. Prices start from: £8.00 Witness the magic and mystery for yourself at: http://www. isabellasart.com/ We asked Isabella about the process of creating a laser cut shadow puppet: I start off by making a sketch on paper. puppet. This can be quite an arduous job and most puppets take several days to be drawn and cut. Once I am completely satisfied I will scan it and vectorize it in the computer. Then a This I transfer to sturdy black paper in which I will cut the original local company reproduces them for me by laser-cutting so the puppets look (almost) the same as the original. 8 Dialogu e 9 Teaching English In Korea Katarina Bunge At what point in your life did you decide to become a teaching as a career? grammar structures, I get to have fun with them and challenge them with productive language abilities - speaking and writing. This means I get to know my students and their personalities as well. What made you decide to work in Korea? teacher and who or what was your inspiration to pursue I guess the decision to become a teacher happened upon me somewhat by accident. My father has been a high school and middle school teacher in the past, and now teaches at college level. When I was growing up, I thought teaching was the last thing I wanted to do. It’s not a glamorous lifestyle! Seeing my dad stressed out about his students, I vehemently protested against ever becoming a teacher myself. In university, I pursued a degree in Environmental Education because I had good memories of outdoor schools, summer camps, and my own wanderings in the Cascade mountain range - but my focus wasn’t classroom teaching. Nevertheless, after I graduated, I felt drawn to teaching English as a second language, and see a bit of the world while I was at it. I had plenty of inspiring mentors in university that really made me passionate about teaching as a profession. One couple that stand out in particular run an alternative high school in Bellingham, my hometown. Before I enrolled in my major, I had difficulty separating teaching from the formal, lectureheavy classroom setting. Since then, I’ve come to a deeper understanding that the best teachers don’t need to be experts, just facilitators. Good learning can happen anywhere, and some of the best lessons in life are learned in silence and quiet contemplation. Did you need to do any additional studies after your teacher? Working in Korea was not my first choice. Originally, I wanted to work in Taiwan, since I studied Chinese briefly in university. I applied for a teaching position through a Taiwan-based agency, but I was turned down based on my lack of experience. Taiwan is a very popular destination for English teachers. The agency accepted me to work in Korea instead, and it’s all come together from there. But, sometimes, I think the places we end up are often better than the places we might have intended for ourselves – and perhaps, there is some greater reason I found myself here that I have yet to discover. Can you describe a typical working day? A typical day for me begins around 6:30 am. I take the bus to work at 7:30 and arrive at work shortly after 8. First period begins at 9, and depending on the day, I have anywhere from three to five 45-minute lessons to teach, along with some additional duties. I have my own classroom, and my desk is in the office adjacent to it, so in the morning, I prepare my classroom for the day, and set up my lessons. They’re all rather PowerPoint-heavy, which I resent, but in class sizes of thirty-six students, there isn’t much else that can be done! I teach my lessons whenever they’re scheduled. In my free time, I plan and prepare for the next week. Lunch is served after fourth period beginning at 12:30, and consists of white rice, kimchi, some side dishes, and a daily soup. Today I had marinated pork, sesame oil-soaked perilla leaves, white steamed bread, and doenjang soup, which is a bit like miso. The teachers have their own table in the same cramped cafeteria room as the students. It’s a noisy and stressful place to be. In the afternoon, we have fourth through sixth periods, then daily cleaning time at 3:20. In Korea, the students are all required to clean the school daily, including the bathrooms, which are outfitted with traditional Korean squat toilets. Unfortunately the student bathrooms are chronically unsanitary. I supervise my cleaning girls to make sure they do a thorough job of the classroom. Depending on the day, we might Environmental Education degree to become an English Technically, I didn’t need to fulfil any additional requirements to become a public school teacher in Korea, besides complete my bachelors degree, but I did choose to complete an online TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate in order to give myself a bit of an advantage. Since then, the hiring process has changed a bit, and a TEFL certificate is now required. What do you love most about your job? The thing I love most about my job is the ability to foster creativity in my students - a trait that, to me, isn’t given proper recognition in the Korean educational system at large. I share English teaching with other Korean teachers at my school, and while those teachers focus on introducing students to complex 10 have a seventh period class, so school officially lets out at 4:30 pm. That’s when the day ends for me, as well. How did you go about applying to work in Korea and was it a difficult process? I applied to the EPIK program through an external teaching agency, Reach to Teach. The EPIK program is part of the Korean government, which recruits people to work in public schools in Korea. There are exceptions - a friend of mine was placed at a private school. The application process is very time-consuming and demanding, part of the reason I eventually chose to accept the job I was offered. One is required (for American applicants) to write a 700 or so word essay, participate in a phone interview, obtain fingerprints, state and federal background checks, fill out medical disclaimers, and much more I can’t remember at the moment. All documentation must be apostilled to be internationally valid. Then, once I was accepted, I had to obtain a Korean visa - that part happened just a week or so before my flight was scheduled! I’ve heard the application process now is even more demanding than in the past. Do you earn a good income? I feel rather comfortable with my income. In case you’re curious, I make 2.2 million Korean Won a month. It’s far more than I need in Korea, but not particularly great once transferred over to the States. My host school provides me with an apartment, so my main expenses are utilities and food. Nevertheless, I haven’t saved nearly as much here so far as I expected to - I guess an international winter vacation didn’t help much with that. I’m primarily here in this job to pay off my student loans, and to that end, I’m making slow but steady progress. It’s possible to make more money while you’re here if you u 11 u volunteer for additional camp programs, or your school gives you overtime classes. What advice would you give to somebody wanting to need? Mongolia this summer. I’d love to live in Mongolia for a while, teaching English and studying language and poetry. My dream is to publish translations of Mongolian literature. Eventually, I’d like to settle back down in the Pacific Northwest, in a dense fir forest somewhere, and make a sustainable, natural home for myself with someone special. In your opinion, what is the key to being a successful teacher? In my opinion, being a good teacher means putting the wellbeing, needs, and egos of your students before your own. It’s the same kind of agapic love a parent gives her child. Whether your “children” are child-age or not, teaching is not about you - it’s about them. Being a teacher doesn’t mean knowing more than your student. It means facilitating and helping your student develop a love of learning, and the means to research whatever they’re passionate about. Good teachers are like dogs, returning again and again with unconditional love - and a stern adherence to class rules. How important is creativity in the classroom? teach abroad, and what skills and knowledge would they I would tell the aspiring English teacher that working abroad is very different from traveling abroad, and requires a different pace and lifestyle. Perhaps there are people that would disagree with me. Go to another country with the intention to work, not primarily to sightsee and travel. Of course you can do those things as well, but if you have a work ethic, you’ll be less disappointed when the reality of teaching finally hits you. Doing an online TEFL course helped me immensely, and I’d recommend it for anyone interested in teaching English as a second language. I’d also recommend that people be flexible while living abroad - I know that’s not easy, sometimes. I’ve met many unhappy vegetarians in meat-loving Korea, and while I wholeheartedly appreciate and support vegetarianism, I think it’s important that people bend their own rules a little bit while they’re visitors and guests to another culture. The most flexible, accommodating people I’ve met here seem, to me, to also be the happiest. That doesn’t mean that you should let others walk over your beliefs and values, but when the bad stuff happens, channel your inner lotus leaf and let it roll right off you. Spare time – do you have any and what do you do with it? I have a fair bit of spare time, but not as much as I was used to having in university. I guess that’s the reality of having a full time job - I experienced a fair bit of grief over that realisation last semester, but I’ve come to terms with it during my time here. I’m a homebody - I love being in my own personal space, reading great books, drinking tea, knitting and making music. Since I’ve been in Korea, I’ve taught myself a bit of the guitar and a Chinese instrument called the zhongruan. My next challenge is improving my skills on the Korean bamboo flute, the danso. I’m also lusting after the daegeum right now. I attend a local open mic here every month. Many teachers travel across Korea on the weekends - I do this occasionally, but prefer to stay home on the weekend to recover my energy for the next school week. My city is a coastal tourist town, close to the mountains and the countryside. To me, that heals the spirit much more than the grey high-rises of Seoul. I’m looking forward to some camping in Seoraksan National Park when the weather warms up. What are your long term goals? Do you plan to continue teaching or do you have another calling that you would like to pursue? Creativity in the classroom is extremely important - probably, it’s the most important thing I do in my job. Korean students, teachers, and parents alike often believe that learning is a process of osmosis. Brains are like sponges, and if one applies one’s self diligently enough, one can perfectly “learn” the materials that will help them excel in life. The most important day in a Korean student’s life is the day of the college entrance exam. Other classes are cancelled this day in all schools, and even local businesses shut down so students can concentrate. The student’s score on this exam pretty much determines their fortune for the rest of their life. There are deep roots in this exam extending back to the centuries-old Civil Service exam. Unfortunately, no one can remember all of the possible combinations of English words to fully comprise a spoken language. That’s where foreign teachers come in - we focus on helping students produce their own language, so their communication abilities improve. I try to incorporate some creative writing and visual art elements into my classes as well. You are originally from the US, is there anything you miss about home? There are so many things I could describe that I miss about home, that I could write a book about it (and perhaps I will someday). Ultimately, living abroad for so long has solidified in my mind how right the idea of settling down in the Pacific Northwest is for me. It’s common with many Americans to travel to their ancestral countries in search of cultural identity, something I’m certainly guilty of, but I’m anticipating and expecting nothing more than a feeling of inherent correctness when I feel that soft, rich earth under my feet again. My lifelong connection to the land is probably the thing I miss most. With that being said, I’m using my time here as an opportunity to practice mindfulness and appreciation for the present, and this unique place in my life journey. I know it won’t last forever, so I want to make the most of it that I can. Katarina Bunge is a free thinking, globetrotting lady from the USA. She’s currently teaching English in Korea. I suppose I’m considering many goals over different lengths of time at this point. As far as long-term goals go, I’m not sure I have any professionally. The professional world doesn’t really seem to be my calling. I’d love someday to be self-employed, but I’m not sure how that will manifest itself. At this point in my life, I’m content enough to travel and work on my own inward journey in the process. I studied Mongolian language in college, and I want to continue pursuing those studies - to that end, I’m hoping to visit 12 13 Biscuits Made To Wear Tyne Watson Tell us about ‘Blue Cherry Jewellery?’ How did you get started? Blue Cherry Jewellery started way back in 2007. It originated as an overflow of my obsession for jewellery. I loved wearing strange necklaces, odd earrings and fun accessories but they were expensive to buy in shops, so being the crafty gal I am, I decided to make some. I bought a simple jewellery making kit from Boyes that included earring hooks and jump rings and raided my craft supplies for anything that could be turned into earrings. I was hooked and went searching on the internet to see what else could be done. I found on eBay these things called ‘Destash Grab Bags’ and ‘Gumball Jewellery’ which were bags full of weird little plastic charms and pendants, ranging from normal cherries and strawberries to the more odd crayons and tooth paste tubes. I loved getting these bags full of little tiny things, playing with them, making jewellery out of them and wearing some of the jewellery. But I needed money to feed my habit for tiny plastics, so while on my eBay searches, I found people actually sold their handmade Gumball Jewellery on eBay, and on other sites. I already had quite a collection of unused/unwanted jewellery that I’d made, so I also began to sell on eBay and I even set up a Myspace account dedicated to my jewellery. The name Blue Cherry Jewellery was not my first idea. I wanted to be called ‘Smoggy Style’ a bit tongue in cheek to match my weird jewellery. But my older brother Paul talked me out of it and helped me choose the name Blue Cherry, and he even put together my original logo of a tattoo style cherry. It was around this time that a friend introduced me to polymer clay, she saw my jewellery and said I should try making some bits out of this clay stuff. She’d made a sandwich and gave it to me (which I still own) and she also gave me a few packs of Fimo to play around with, a silver, a pink and a blue. I also went out and got a starter pack which had a couple of pinks, a red and a yellow. I then decided to get educated with this Fimo stuff, so back to the internet I went. I Googled a couple of things and found this awesome website called Craftster, a crafting forum website, and on there they had some really great basic tutorials for Fimo, cupcakes seemed the easiest. So I cranked out a couple of cupcakes (which again I still own) and instantly fell in love with them. And I guess I just took off from there! What materials and tools do you use to make your jewellery? I use the polymer clay, Fimo Soft, cocktail sticks (detail work), sewing pins (tiny detail work) Stanley blades, my trusty old battered pasta machine, chalk pastel (just baked look), a plethora of different sized brushes (for applying chalk dust, glazing, painting detail or even using the handle to make dents or donut holes) a toothbrush (texture), crumpled foil (texture again), my collection of handmade moulds (custard creams are quite hard to make!), cookie cutters, water based varnish, jewellery making supplies, jewellery pliers and super-duper glue. (Plus a ton of other stuff too! That’s my basic kit!) You focus mainly on making jewellery with a food theme. What inspired you to decide on this direction? I can’t really say for sure, a combination of my love for food jewellery, a love for cupcakes and a notice in the trend for food jewellery. I also really enjoy making it, which is a fabulous added bonus. Did you take any courses in jewellery design or have you taught yourself? Entirely self taught! But bizarrely I learnt a lot of tricks and tips when doing my degree in Entertainment Design Crafts, namely how to make moulds for my life like cookies and biscuits collection. But the rest was mostly trial, error and looking at tutorials on the internet. What skills should a jewellery designer have or aim to obtain? I don’t know about skills, but a definite love for what you’re doing and a crafty noggin for when problems come about. What’s the most challenging part of running your business? Repeating myself. I love to make new ideas, have a play and see what works and what doesn’t. Then that item does well and sells, then I get requests for another, and another and I’m making the same design again and again, which can become challenging as I can start disliking the piece or get stuck in a rut to the point of hatred. But I just sit back, take a moment, drink some tea and carry on, it’s all good. What do you enjoy the most about what you do? Experimenting with the clay, what can I put inside the clay? Glitter? Mineral eye shadows? What happens when I add water 14 to the clay? What consistency do I get? I wonder how I could achieve the baked look on waffles correctly? That sort of thing! What is your most effective method of promoting ‘Blue Cherry Jewellery?’ Social media and the internet! I tweet a fair bit about my items and I’ve got a Facebook page where I post items too. I also post my items onto my DeviantArt account and onto Craftster too. Then, while I’m on Etsy, I talk in the forums, comment on peoples posts and join in team chats too. Which item is your biggest seller? Tyne Watson is a Whovian, Sherlockian, Tolkienist and all around geek with a passion for crafting. At craft fairs and shows my best sellers are often my biscuits and sweetie jewellery, they’re something unique and quirky that hasn’t really been seen before. My best seller online (at the moment) is a pair of BBC Sherlock IOU apple earrings. What advice would you give to aspiring jewellery designers? Enjoy what you do, if you’ve got no passion it’ll show in your work. 15 Deadlines And Pushchairs Sue Hooper Has your writing life changed since you became a mother? Absolutely! Although I obviously don’t have a lot of time, when I do, it’s very precious which means I’m more focused and productive. My daughter is almost three years old and she understands that mummy writes and that my work isn’t to be scribbled on! A lot of mums will say that housework can wait, your child is only young once. I do bits of housework throughout the day and keep on top of it so any (these days rare) nap times, the few hours she spends at nursery during the week and some evenings after she’s gone to bed are for writing. When my girl naps, it’s in my lap so I couldn’t move anyway... this works well for both of us. I don’t often read my work out loud as I should do to see how it flows, but for fear of waking her up, I don’t. I need to. I’m also more confident on getting my words down as I’d like to have work in print as well as for myself, but for her to see/read when she’s older and to show there’s more to life than wiping bums and mashing up vegetables. She started nursery in the autumn which coincided with me completing my first novel, ‘An Hour Year’. I find myself writing every day and it becomes a routine I can easily settle in to, whereas before I became a mum, I’d spend hours and hours not being focused just writing and never finishing anything or putting it off and dreaming about it. It’s made me more determined. More productive in the short blasts of time I get. My daughter understands I’ve written a book. She will sit and scribble with a pen or jab at letters on the keyboard and say, “I’m working! I’m writing my book like mummy!” You are part of a writing group who have set a goal to Can you tell us more about this? have a workshop on ‘making characters sound distinct from each other’, which was very productive. We bounce ideas off each other, offer constructive criticism, share interesting articles, books we’ve found and have a drink and a laugh. The other members of the group have experience in teaching creative writing and have had articles published previously. It’s a really fun, lively group and I get a lot out of our meets. Can you talk us about the book you are currently working on? I can indeed. It’s a work of fiction and is titled, ‘An Hour Year.’ I came up with the idea pushing my daughter home in her pushchair in August 2011 from the supermarket, ‘What if you popped out for an hour but it turned out you’d been gone an entire year?’ I drafted 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo and then the whole novel needed a complete re-write, an edit, more editing and finally, to completion. It’s being published on 1st March 2013! The blurb on the back reads: “What if you popped out for an hour but were gone an entire year? Leaving three month old Robbie with his dad while she nips to the shop, Alice returns to discover she’s been gone a whole year, Robbie is fifteen months old and she’s missed it all. Confused, upset and with growing urgency, Alice questions her own sanity as she battles agitation and anxiety while struggling to uncover the truth. And what exactly is going on between her husband and her best friend? An Hour Year feels real. But it can’t be, can it?” What other writing projects do you have on the go? each have a book published by the end of the year (2012). We’re a group of four writers and we meet in a pub in Chepstow every three weeks for an evening. We met through our participation on NaNoWriMo (www.nanowrimo.org) in November 2011. Once the month was up, it was decided to start up a group ourselves. We set out in January 2012 but officially launched in April so we had time to iron out creases and work out how we are going to run. So our writer’s year runs April to March so by this time 2013, our books should be out there. It gives us a healthy deadline. We have an agenda for our meeting where we bring any difficulties we have, for example, I asked if we could At the moment, it’s all about getting ‘An Hour Year’ out there. I decided to self-publish. It was a hard decision because I dreamt of a publisher picking me up and telling me I was wonderful etc. but realistically, I want to just get on with it. Maybe in the future, I will be approached with a great offer and I can wow with everything I’ve done so far. I’ve set up my own company, TsuQuill Books, and I am doing my own books, marketing and every single bit and piece. So while every error is my own, on the upside, every success is also my own. I’ve just finished preparing the manuscript for Kindle and it’s also coming out in paperback. I hope to start work on another book soon. I’ve a few ideas bouncing around but I’ve yet to settle on one yet. 16 illustration: Paul Watson Paper or computer? I write on paper to begin with and then type up onto my desktop. If I’m already doing a quick edit as I type up, then I spell check and print. I can’t edit on screen, I find it tedious and I can’t scribble all over the page, so I edit on paper. Then I’ll type my edit on paper to the computer. Print and repeat. I print four pages to one sheet of A4 to cut down on paper and ink. What books are you encouraging your daughter to read? Any from your own childhood? She has most of my childhood books waiting for her in boxes in the cupboard of doom under my stairs. Reading and weekly visits to the library are enjoyable for both of us. Her middle name is Rowena, after the author of one of my favourite books that was made into a children’s TV series when I was young, ‘Seal Morning’ by Rowena Farre. I adored that. Also, Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and when she’s a bit older, Harry Potter! What are the writing plans for the future? What three pieces of advice would you give to a writing mother? One: Make valuable use of nap time even if it’s just half an hour. Two: Get your partner or a friend you trust to look after your wee one and join a writer’s group. Find one that suits you. Ask in your local library or in writer’s magazines. As well as valuable writing support, a group keeps you in the identity/mind-set of a writer, and, if you’re like me, the only ‘me’ time out of the house. Or if that’s not possible join one online. I’m much more productive in the days after a meet up. Three: Always back up your work and not just on one computer. Get Dropbox. Your work will get squash spilt into it, it will get coloured in when you leave it unattended to answer the ‘phone or the door, banana will get smeared into it. Label your pages so when small hands get hold of them and drop them, you don’t have to stress. I found this out the hard way! Sue lives in Monmouthshire, Wales with her husband, daughter and kitten, Polly. She’s a BA (Hons) English Language and Literature and a CELTA Teaching English as a Foreign Language certificate. Sue loves teaching but is taking a break to bring up her daughter and write her novel, on her Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/ SusanCHooper I may go back and work on a piece I wrote a few years ago but hopefully I’ll get more ideas for fiction and move on with that. When my girl goes to school, I may go back into teaching unless this authoring malarkey really kicks off! ‘An Hour Year’. You can find her at www.anhouryear.com or 17 When In Newcastle, Look Up Ben Holland Tell us about your work and how you got started in illustration. I’ve always drawn, ever since I was a kid. I used to draw pictures of footballers or try to recreate album cover artwork. I’ve just always carried on really, finding things to sketch as the inspiration comes. There hasn’t been a point where I thought, “great, I’m an illustrator now.” I guess I’ve just hit upon a style and current collection that people can engage with. What is it about Newcastle that you find so inspirational? The buildings are some of the most beautiful of any city in the country. The old adage is “look up” and that’s particularly true in Newcastle. Walk down Northumberland Street and have a look above the Carphone Warehouse. Exactly. What materials do you use to create your work? working on night time pieces so that’s where the name comes from. Social media wise, I’m on the usual Facebook (www. facebook.com/lowmoonoverhightown) and Twitter (@LMOHT) sites. I also try to always have an exhibition up in Newcastle in one of the venues from the collection. Finally, I’ve a stall on Tynemouth market and can be found there most weekends. What aspects of illustration do you enjoy most? I just love capturing the atmosphere of a building or place. It’s pretty satisfying to do that, especially as each piece in this collection takes around 25- 30 hours to complete - they’re a bit of a labour of love. Obviously, when someone wants to buy a piece of work after you’ve finished, that’s pretty good too. There are already pieces from the collection found in homes in Australia and New Zealand, so it’s pretty cool to think a bit of a drawing from Chilli Road in Heaton is hung on a wall on the other side of the world. What advice would you give to aspiring illustrators? A pen and a piece of paper. The materials are dead simple. It’s the joy of drawing that you can do it anywhere and for no money. I use 0.1 fine liners all the time and just build layers and layers of ink, rather than cheating and filling the sky in with a marker pen... Where is your ideal working space? Draw. Just draw anything you see and build up books and books of work, you’ll soon see evidence of progression. Use other illustrators as inspiration but don’t just copy them, try developing a unique style, something which is distinctly ‘you’. Please name three of your favourite illustrators. Home. I work from mine and my girlfriends flat in Heaton. There’s a kettle, a radio and a cat. Ideal. There’s no real need for a studio unless I start painting (which is the next project...) What is your process when creating a piece? Children’s book illustration is what I always go back to. I’ve been reading Tales From Arabian Nights recently and the illustrations by H J Ford are incredible, just beautiful black and white line drawings with so much life. In the modern era I’ll give a mention to another Northerner, my friend Simon Bartram. He works out of his shed in Gateshead. His illustrations in the Bob: Man on the Moon series (for which he’s won the Blue Peter Book of the Year award before) are amazing. Finally, away from children’s books I’m a massive fan of Saul Bass. I got into his work through Hitchcock film posters and just love his unique style - he was an absolute genius. Ben Holland is a pen & ink artist currently specialising in atmospheric drawings of Newcastle’s less revered architecture. His next project, an illustrated novel, is I draw the less celebrated architecture. I’ve no real interest in drawing the Angel or the bridges as they’ve been done to death. I like places where there’s a sense of atmosphere and anticipation. I take lots of preparatory photographs to get the detail correct and try to visit the location at day and night. All my work is set at night, as again, I like the atmosphere it creates, and the interesting shadows and light that is thrown up on to the buildings. So I photograph the subject, draw the basic structure out in light pencil and then get into applying pen as early as possible to start bringing the piece to life. I try and cover big areas like sky and road surfaces first to tie the work together and then start into the intricacies of the detail. How do you promote your work? Online through my website www.lowmoonoverhightown.com. High Town is the original name of Heaton where I live and I like developing a combination of modern fairy tale and noir art. Away from the drawing board, Ben is the songwriter and singer/rhythm guitarist for The Winter Hill Transmission. 18 19 Writers’ Block Laura Degnan and James Harris Can you please describe how Writers’ Block came to be? Laura contacted Middlesbrough Council to ask for an empty space in which to run a creative group with an emphasis on writing, and Julie Marsden from the Business Development team provided her with a space through the ‘We Are Open’ programme, using ERDF funding. Laura then set about meeting individuals and groups to ask about new events and opportunities they’d like to see and experience in the Tees Valley. Using this information, she set up a number of pilot programmes and events. Was there always full support for the set up of Writers’ Block? Who helped you to fund the project and who assists in keeping it running? There was full and constant support from Middlesbrough Council. Laura Degnan and James Harris run the company now, with funding from the Arts Council, Digital City Business and Middlesbrough Council. What sorts of events and programmes does Writers’ Block facilitate? Mentoring, workshops, showcasing and networking events, collaborative opportunities for creative professionals to work together to create new pieces of work Do you have a particular event that’s always popular? photocopied, hand stapled, but these days we’re always told that content is king, and the content is uniformly great. The internet is a grand shop window for showcasing your creativity, but there’s a lot to be said for producing a physical artefact: an object that can be held, folded up, put in your pocket, read on the toilet. What tips would you give to someone wanting to start a zine of their own? Just do it! It sounds like dumb advice, but it’s the best we’ve got. Pick a topic you’re passionate about, and go for it. Which creative figures and works of literature inspire and motivate you? Too many to list here! Anyone who got off their arse, didn’t wait for permission and just went out there and started creating stuff. Everyone who comes to our workshops, for a start! What are the plans for Writers’ Block in the future? We’ve got our programme of workshops and events running in 2013, culminating in another Meet The Agent event, where we’ll be bringing three top agents from London to meet our writers. Beyond that… it’s in the lap of the Gods. Can we get more funding? Will people want us to continue? Watch this space… Where can we find you and are there any events coming up soon? We’re based in Dundas House, in the Dundas Arcade, Middlesbrough, and you can find us on Facebook (facebook. com/writersblockne) Twitter (twitter.com/writersblockne) and the plain old internet (www.writersblockne.com), where you can find a full list of upcoming events and workshops. Our 1-1 mentoring scheme is very well subscribed, and we get lots of people coming to our various creative writing workshops. The sketch group we run with ARC is going from strength to strength, with around 30 regular participants coming to the weekly sessions and performing in the shows. The literary scene in Teesside is blowing up! What are your thoughts on the masses of emerging new talent in the area? Are there any bright sparks that warrant a mention? It’s all good. People are getting out there, making films, putting on plays, performing poetry, sketches, spoken word. It feels like the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people, but it also feels like the beginning of something amazing. Can you talk about the zine Writers’ Block produce? showcasing the work of local writers. They’re pretty DIY: We’ve produced a couple of simple, photocopied booklets 20 illustration: Paul Watson Laura Degnan was born and brought up in Stockton-onTees. In 2005 she graduated from Oxford University. An is represented by MacFarlane Chard Associates. Laura emerging writer/director working in film and theatre, she has worked in development roles at Kudos Film and TV, RS Productions and the BBC. Laura set up Writers’ Block in 2010 to support creative talent in the North East region. James Harris has lived in the North East all of his life. He has written/made stuff for the BBC (Shooting Stars, Comedy Shuffle, Scallywagga, Fresh Animation On 3, Spacehopper, Teethgrinder, Parsons and Naylor’s Pull Out Sections), Channel 4 (4mations), Dave (Totally Viral) and ITV (Cobravision). His films have been shown on the BBC, freelance delivering workshops in writing, drama and Engine, and now with Writers’ Block. ITV, Sky TV and at film festivals world-wide. He has worked filmmaking for the Arc in Stockton, Club Creative, The Story Like A Mad Scientist Phil Robinson / Níðhöggr Studio You are an accomplished graphic designer and have name comes from a source close to my heart. Ultimately, I wanted something that was representative of black metal’s dark and ‘evil’ aesthetic: Níðhöggr is a powerful serpent-like creature, or wyrm, which viciously gnaws one of the three roots that support the world tree Yggdrasill. Situated beneath this particular root is one of the nine homeworlds unified by Yggdrasill - Niflheim - a realm of primordial ice and the abode of Hel (the goddess daughter of Loki) - at the centre of which, bubbles and boils the exhaustless spring Hvergelmir or ‘great cauldron’. The root traps Níðhöggr within Hvergelmir, where it torments the bodies of the dead (those who did not die a heroic or notable death). The arrival of Níðhöggr into the realm of Miðgarðr (the homeworld inhabited by humans) - having successfully chewed through the root(s) of Yggdrasill heralds the arrival of Ragnarök, and the subsequent destruction of the world. How would you define your style? recently laid to rest your freelance business Black Raven Can you talk about your reasons for doing so and the services Níðhöggr Studio provides? Design, but from its ashes you’ve created Níðhöggr Studio. As a freelance graphic designer, I work within the music industry, and have provided album artwork and logo designs (among other things) for a number of bands (and record labels) – including Bilskirnir, Cruelty’s Heart, Darker Than Black Records, Fyrdsman, Hrafnblóð, UKEM Records and Wyrtrum to name but a few... I’m passionate about black metal (and the diverse sub-genres that it’s given birth to), so to have the opportunity to work with, and support these bands gives me great pleasure. I have undertaken a number of non-music-related projects in the past (as Black Raven Design), but my passion for the black metal underground was what I wanted to dedicate my time to exclusively, thus, I made the decision to put to bed the Black Raven Design name after 6 years and establish a new business, with a new name and identity – Níðhöggr Studio. When did you decide that graphic design was the right I’m not exactly sure how I would define my style. If I’m honest, I’ve never really given it much thought. I guess there are certain traits that remain consistent throughout my work – the use of layers to create texture and atmosphere is one example. My obsessive attention to detail would be another... Can you describe your ideal working space and environment? I’m a bit like a mad scientist... I like to lock myself away and work on my own, with music playing in the background. This is how I’ve always felt happiest working, and it’s the environment in which I believe I’m able to be most creative. What process do you go through with your work? Do you structure the job so you are able to do it in little blocks finished? of time, or do you find yourself working flat out until it’s I usually work in two to three-hour stints, on and off... I’ll spend a couple of hours working on a project, step away from it for an hour or so, then come back to it again. I’ve always found it difficult to remain creative when sat in front of the same piece of work for long periods of time. What are the immediate challenges you face with Níðhöggr Studio? I actually work both full-time and freelance as a graphic designer, so as you can imagine, there are times when I feel completely u career choice for you, and what influenced your decision? The decision to pursue a career as a graphic designer was made in 2001, I think... I was already studying graphic design at A level; as it was a subject I had enjoyed in the past; I hadn’t considered it as a potential career at that point. My ‘dream’ job, at the time, was to be an aerodynamicist, and to be involved in motorsport; there was, however, one problem – the requirement to study physics at an advanced level... I have a good understanding of the subject overall, I was completely and utterly useless when it came to the maths, so, unfortunately, that ‘dream’ never really got going. It was after I had finished my A levels that I made the decision – graphic design was definitely something I could quite happily make a living from – it felt like it came naturally to me. After a couple of years studying a National Diploma in graphic design, I took a full-time job as a graphic designer (strangely enough)… Black Raven Design was established in 2008 in order for me to combine my interests in graphic design and music, but soon developed into other areas. In 2013, I decided I wanted to once again focus solely on the music industry, particularly underground black metal, and so, Níðhöggr Studio was born... The name for your new venture is a curious one. Can you connection it has to what you do? please talk about how you came to choose this title and the I’ve had an interest in Norse Mythology for many years now, so this 22 23 u devoid of any ‘creative spark’ – so to speak. This, for me, is the most challenging part of my work – being creative 100% of the time. When I need to ‘recharge my creative batteries’, I step away from my work completely, at least for a day or two, maybe more... How do you manage to stay creative under pressure? I’ve been pretty lucky to be honest; I’ve not yet had a client (while I’ve been working freelance, at least) that has put me under any unnecessary pressure to produce artwork, or, to hit an ‘impossible’ deadline... Having said that, I work full-time for a publisher, so I get my fair share of pressure from that side of my work. One thing I have learned over the last six or seven years is being able to manage my time in high-pressure situations. In what ways do you market yourself and which marketing method do you find to be the most successful? My website - www.nidhoggrstudio.com - is where I display my portfolio of freelance work. I also use Facebook and Twitter for a more ‘immediate’ response to a new piece of work, or, to share news regarding the projects I’m working on... Most importantly however, the finished artwork itself is the best marketing tool in my opinion I, or any other creative person for that matter, has at their disposal... Can you name three graphic designers who inspire you? I’d like to mention a few Norwegian designers who’s work has provided me with a great deal of inspiration, particularly when it comes to album artwork. First, Robert Høyem (At The Ends of The Earth Designs/Overhaus) – Kampfar (Mare), Iskald (The Sun I Carried Alone, Revelations of Reckinging Day, Shades of Misery), Drautran (Throne of The Depths). His work is so precise and deliberate yet so natural and raw – I’ve always found Robert Høyem’s work to be the perfect visual representation of modern (extreme) metal. The second designer is Halvor Bodin – Satyricon (Volcano, Rebel Extravaganza, Intermezzo II, Nemesis Divina, The Shadowthrone), Darkthrone (Total Death, Plaguewielder, Panzerfaust). There’s something ‘different’ about Halvor Bodin’s work, his style is immediately recognisable, it’s modern, yet incredibly dark. As far as black metal album artwork is concerned, it goes completely against the grain, which is exactly what black metal is supposed to be all about – it’s unlike any album artwork I’ve seen before. Finally, Trine + Kim Design Studio (run by Trine Paulsen and Kim Sølve) – Enslaved (The Sleeping Gods, Axioma Ethica Odini, Vertibrae), Shining (Black Jazz, Live Black Jazz), Gallhammer (Ill Innocence), Mayhem (Ordo Ad Chao). Again, more examples of album artwork in a similar style to that of Robert Høyem and Halvor Bodin; beautifully designed with impeccable attention to detail, portraying the music and the band(s) perfectly without conforming to the same old tired stereotypes of past album artwork – particularly black metal album artwork. Where do you look to for inspiration with your work? lookout, where ever I am, and where ever I go... What tools do you use in your day-to-day work, and what is your favourite piece of equipment? My favourite piece is pretty much the only piece I use – my iMac. Adobe Creative Suite certainly comes in handy too! I work almost entirely digitally, though from time to time (and to achieve the right aesthetic) I like to create some elements of my work by hand. Can you describe how it feels to have your designs out there on album covers? I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a sense of pride when seeing my finished artwork for the first time in the flesh… I know not everyone is going to recognise it as my work, or even notice it al all, but, as long as I’m happy with it, and, of course, the client is happy with it, then that’s all that matters, as far as I’m concerned. What aspirations do you have for the future? I’m really happy with what I’m currently doing. I thoroughly enjoy the intimacy of working one-to-one with an individual (or band) and, of course, supporting the black metal underground. How do you unwind, or do you find that you are unable to switch off? It’s very rare that I ‘switch off’ – so to speak. However, away from my freelance work, I like to unwind by listening to my music collection or watching DVDs. I really enjoy dark/surreal/alternative comedy – I’m a huge fan of Red Dwarf, as well as Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, Flight of The Conchords, Peep Show, I’m Alan Partridge and Curb Your Enthusiasm. I like to see my favourite bands performing live too, so I try to attend as many gigs as possible. I’m also a huge motorsport enthusiast... How do you think graphic design will develop in the future? away from print to digital formats in all aspects of the work I’m involved in, certainly in the mainstream. In the underground music industry, there is a much greater appreciation for physical artefacts, be it vinyl, cassette and even CD. There will always be a place for print, regardless how much the digital age ‘takes over’; I can’t see it ever dying out completely. What advice would you give to anyone interested in pursuing a career in graphic design? If you’re looking to get recognised for you work, and subsequently, take on more work as a result, I think there needs to be some sort of consistency – a developed (and unique) style that singles you out from other designers. And, of course, make sure people can see your work – be it an online portfolio, a website or even Facebook... Where can we find you? It pains me to say it, but I think there’s going be a continued moved The Níðhöggr Studio website should be your first port of call www.nidhoggrstudio.com. If you wish to contact me, I recommend you go here first. Níðhöggr Studio can also be found on Facebook: /nidhoggrstudio and Twitter: @nidhoggrstudio. Phil Robinson is a Cambridgeshire-based graphic designer who’s been working in the design industry since 2005 and as a freelance designer since 2008. Inspiration can come from absolutely anywhere. I’m forever on the 24 25 Writing Is Good For Your Health Carol Ross What inspired you to put together a book about the potential writing has to help and heal? making me feel calmer and more relaxed. So I wanted to create a book that would encourage other people to try writing themselves and hopefully feel wellbeing benefits from doing it. Are you able to describe the process, from initial idea to printing? Was it what you expected? Editing and publishing the book wasn’t much different from what I had expected, except that it took months longer than I had envisaged! Also I had to learn a lot as I went along. The idea was born at a hotel dinner I attended with half a dozen people the evening before the Writing in Healthcare conference I organised in March 2011 (the conference was the finale of the Cumbria Partnership Year of Writing, a big writing project I carried out in the NHS trust I work for). At the dinner I said that I really wanted the momentum of the Year of Writing to keep going after the project finished, and that I wanted to spread the message about writing being good for health and wellbeing as far and wide as possible. Someone (no idea who) suggested creating a book and four of the people at the dinner immediately volunteered to write a chapter for it. The tasks involved in producing the book have included: identifying the funding for printing, finding a printer, finding a small number of people to write chapters for the book and working with them to get to their finished chapter, creating and circulating a leaflet across Cumbria asking for poetry and prose submissions to the book, identifying people to form the panel that selected the poems and prose for the book, coordinating the selection process via email, letting everyone know whether their writing was going in the book or not, getting contributors to sign and return permission forms, identifying a graphic artist and other illustrators to illustrate the book and liaising with them about the illustrations I wanted, editing all the writing that went in the book, proof reading, deciding on font, paper size, cover design, etc., creating all the inside pages and fully formatting them in Microsoft Word, ‘printing’ the Word document to a ‘press-ready’ PDF document, sending the cover artwork and logos and the PDF of the inside pages to the printer for them to print and bind. I feel writing helps me, for example by lifting my mood, and What is your occupation? Does writing feature in your everyday work? My main job is in clinical audit in the NHS – a very analytical quality-oriented job. But I also lead weekly writing groups in mental health wards to encourage patients to write to help their wellbeing. How important is writing to you on a personal level? I have always been interested in writing, books and publishing. I worked in scientific publishing for many years so I had some knowledge and experience of publishing before I started the book. I wrote lots of poetry at school, but I stopped for quite a few years and only started again when my son (then 7) asked me to write stories with him. Once I started writing again I began to realise how much I LOVE the process of writing – the creative process. Can you talk about what you have learnt about yourself and others during the process of creating ‘Words for Wellbeing?’ For one thing I learned that I tend to underestimate how long things will take me to do! I learned a lot about how other people – practitioners and individuals – use writing, books and stories for wellbeing, and I read some very moving personal stories from the contributors to the book. Which books have inspired you before and during the creation of the book? Prompted to write edited by Victoria Field and Zeeba Ansari was quite a big influence for me in designing the book. Other books that have influenced the work I do in writing groups include several by Gillie Bolton, Journal to the self: Twenty-two paths to personal growth by Kay Adams, Creative writing in groupwork by Robin Dynes, and Writing well: Creative writing and mental health by Deborah Philips, Debra Penman and Liz Linnington. Who do you believe will benefit from reading ‘Words for Wellbeing?’ I am hoping that many people will benefit from reading this book – I want people who don’t usually write to start writing because of it, and I hope that everyone who reads it will find something in 26 illustration: Paul Watson there that touches them in some way. The writing in the book is so varied and the chapters cover such a broad scope that I really feel there is something in there for everyone. Where can we get our hands on a copy of ‘Words for Wellbeing?’ It is on Amazon or you can order it direct from me. Email writing. firstname.lastname@example.org to enquire. Are there any plans for more books in the future or other exciting projects? No plans as yet but when we bought the ISBN number we had to buy 10 of them… What are your favourite three writing exercises? Born in Yorkshire, Carol Ross settled in Cumbria in 1995, where she lives with her husband and son. She is passionate about writing for wellbeing, e.g. in mental health wards. Carol has worked in publishing, has had and has just started writing flash/short fiction. several poems published, enjoys writing children’s stories, 1) Freewriting in response to word prompts, e.g., a themed power, beauty, balance, freedom. 2) Writing in response to picture postcards (photos and art set of 5 words and writing for 2 minutes per word, e.g., speed, cards) – endlessly adaptable and many people enjoy writing from pictures. A favourite example is to use 3 carefully selected postcards and all the group members write about the same card at the same time. 1st card – write what you see (2 minutes); 2nd card – write about what it makes you think of (4 minutes); 3rd card – write the story the card suggests to you (10 minutes). It’s always great to hear the different stories we all come up with for the 3rd card. 3) Writing in response to a themed set of objects, e.g., a collection of pairs of gloves, fabric swatches, or holiday souvenirs. 27 It’s A Lot of DIY Stuart Bartlett / Tombs in the Valley Productions Can you give us a bit of background into your work in the DIY scene? I started going to DIY gigs around 2001, got inspired by the work ethic of bands/promoters and labels alike so decided to ‘get involved’. Started up my own distro around then too, Aheadshotforyourthoughts. I basically bought a bunch of records I wanted and added a few extra copies to sell around the area. To this day, I still have a bunch of them left, even though the bands are now cult or something, I also ended up giving loads away when I was becoming particularly disenfranchised with the scene, and didn’t see the point in doing it anymore. I also had a few failed attempts at doing labels too, before starting up Tombs in the Valley Productions. Around 2003 I decided to book a gig in my home town of South Shields with No Comply (Ska/metal band), Ultra Shit Inferno (Noisecore), The Presdigitators (Guitar/ Drums Improv noise), Spitfire Down (Straightedge Hardcore). The gig went well, due to it being the same night as the local student/mosher night, I even got punched in the face from a local NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) legend. So as a first gig it went amazingly well! After that, I met a bunch of people through Newcastle and started working with a bunch of local bands, doing gigs and what not. After a few gigs I started to move into booking gigs for touring bands, then eventually on to booking tours for bands. All the while losing loads of money, but making some killer friends. So basically I’ve paid for my friendships, pretty sad situation when you think about it. Towards the end of 2011 I started up Tombs In The Valley Productions with a few mates, one of which bailed and started his own thing, and one who is still around helping when he can. Looking at trying to work with a friend in the USA, to make things easier for my releases to get over there, he plays in the killer old school Grindcore band Manic Scum (I released the first EP). Also towards the end of 2011 I got involved with a few mates and started to do gigs again after I hung it up after becoming completely burnt out. So far we’ve done three gigs and it’s been wicked, also the support has been overwhelming. Tell us about your record label ‘Tombs in the Valley.’ What audience do you cater for? If I’m honest I don’t have a particular audience, I’m willing to work with any type of band as long as I personally like the music. I guess due to the size of the label, it’s a lot of DIY similar minded people I deal with, if you’re wanting a particular audience. For the most part I find people like this a lot more accepting and willing to check out new music, or take an interest in what is going on with the label. I’m not sure why people who are, let’s say more mainstream, don’t seem that interested in supporting the real underground gigs or labels. I mean I only got into this because of getting into metal through the likes of Kerrang/Metal Hammer etc, just like most people of my age or older. Can you talk about the process of setting up a record label? Were you faced with many challenges? If you’re into releasing DIY music, there isn’t that much of a process, basically get a label name, ask a band, release the music. Of course there is all the organising and boring stuff inbetween, but if you have the money, there are always bands looking for help to release their music. The only real challenge was the name, the name I wanted to use wasn’t accepted by one of the other guys, the one who bailed anyways. Kinda wish I had stuck to my guns now, as I’m still here and he isn’t. But it was quite simple really, I have dealt with only two presses myself from the label, where the others were sorted by other labels as they were co-releases, apart from the plant taking ages for one of the releases it was fine dealing with the pressing side also. I’ve done a few layout and design things too, but they’re very basic and I just did them because I was bored at home. What is your preferred medium to use when listening to music? At this precise moment I couldn’t care less, if I want to hear the music I’ll listen to it in whichever format I have at the time, for example going to work I’m not going be taking my record player with me, but will have my MP3 player or phone. The vinyl hype and the stupid costs some labels charge have become totally depressing, even more so when 99% of them are basically MP3s pressed on to wax. I’d rather just buy the CD for cheaper instead. But then you also see labels charging £12 upwards when the costs of CDs are so small, unless you are doing a special release. If it’s an older album/ single I do prefer vinyl though, when it actually sounded good and wasn’t about the fact your piece of wax glows in the fucking dark and you have a special wooden box which doesn’t fit on your shelf to house your massive MP3 disk in. u 28 29 u What are your thoughts about record stores going out of business? Do you view it as a terrible loss or essential progression? Well of course the easy answer is it sucks big time, it’s great walking into a record shop and browsing, then coming across some killer record. Also it’s great to support local businesses at the same time. But then the prices can be high, of course running a shop isn’t cheap in the slightest, so costs have to be covered. I’m guilty of not buying a release from a shop and then buying it online to save some money. At the minute there seems to be somewhat of a change happening though, as postage is becoming increasingly expensive, pricing out the general record buyer and pushing them back into the shops, because where before you could get an LP for around £10 post paid, it’s now double. Also you have to wait x amount of days/weeks, hope it reaches you, hope it’s in one piece etc, whereas you can walk into a shop and buy it then leave. No doubt there will be a time when they all close down and no doubt it will be a great loss. Is it essential progression? I’d say no way at all, making music unavailable to people isn’t progression, it’s regression surely? Of course you can buy/steal online, but you still need a place to go and hangout while checking out the new or old collections sold in to stores. Also it’s a great advantage when finding out about up and coming gigs, as no one seems to give a flying fuck about flyering anymore. What do you look for when signing a band? I’ve never signed a band, and never will. I’ll answer it as “what do I look for when releasing a band,” quite simple really, good music, good people. Nothing more, nothing less. Every band I’ve currently worked with have been great, and it’s more than just about releasing the actual music, as I’ve “met” some great people through doing this. Kinda works both ways as now they help me out with things I need, and I help them out, mutual respect I guess. When it comes to promotion, what do you find to be the most efficient method? If I’m honest, I have no idea at all. I only use Facebook and a few websites really, I’m very, very lazy when it comes to promoting what I do, I’m rather self deprecating, I don’t think what I do is anything that special. So when people actually are into buying from me it’s great, but I don’t force them to check me out or anything, maybe I should. I haven’t even made any flyers for my label or anything, I kinda think I could spend £80 on 5000 flyers, or I can spend £80 on my next release, completely stupid I know. If I had more money, or better cash flow through the label I’d spend a little on promotion, but at this point I’m just cruising along, not making much, but hopefully with more releases under my belt, I’ll start to pick up more custom, I’ll have to wait and see to be honest. Maybe I should get someone to start a marketing division or something and pay them in records no one wants. What are your thoughts on the current metal scene in the North East? I can only really speak from the few gigs we’ve done as Bro(UK), we’ve had really great turnouts for our gigs, like you’ve seen. The younger generation seem really enthusiastic about the gigs, and they are actually playing in good bands. No stupid fashion bands, proper Grindcore (Rat Faced Bastard), proper technical death metal (Plague Rider), proper thrash (Vortex), which is great. Also, they have been a total pleasure to deal with, and incredibly helpful. Without their help we’d have been screwed, so it’s great they are in good bands with a good sense of ethics, they understand the scene is ours and without us it wouldn’t exist. We just need more people with that outlook, the more people through the doors, the more good feedback from bands/ tour managers, means the more offers we get, which means the more bands coming to the area. You can come to Newcastle at the minute any day of the week and see lots of people in none mainstream metal shirts, or even more mainstream but still something ten years ago you’d be surprised to see people wearing these particular band shirts. I think we need to get out more and flyer/advertise to these people and bring them to our gigs, show them there is an alternative to the academies of the world, show that it’s possible as a DIY promoter to bring bigger bands and have successful events in the North East. We have such a strong and legendary heritage of music here, and metal is one of them, so there is no reason why we shouldn’t be back on the map for bands to play here. Then we have people like yourself doing Big Eyes, all of this has been missing for a long time up here, there are the odd bits and bobs here and there, or has been over the years. But it seems like a lot of people are now involved in the metal side of things, I can’t ever remember there being a zine covering metal, loads of punk/hardcore stuff, so it’s great. It’s all really positive stuff going on, and long may it continue. What advice would you give to someone interested in starting their own record label? Don’t bother? Make sure you don’t care about losing money, make sure you actually like the music and do it for that reason rather than to look cool and all that bollocks. Or if you know a mate already doing a label, try and get involved with them. Oh, and the most important thing, don’t rip off bands or customers, but that’s blatant. Can you reveal your top three albums? top three: King Diamond – Them Rompeprop - All of the releases Satan - Caught in the Act. Stuart Bartlett, born in the U s of K, is one half of Tombs in the Valley Production which was formed in April 2011 Nail. With the intentions of releasing DIY music from company Bro(UK). in the home of NWOBHM, Black Metal, Gazza and Jimmy across the globe. Also 1/3 of the massively OK promotions This one changes all the time, so I’ll go with my current listing 30 31 Write For Inspiration Steve Urwin Talk to us about your latest book Shades of Grey. Durham. When I started scribbling in a diary towards my twenties the term flash fiction was unheard of. I was penning vignettes that were neither poems nor stories, I didn’t know what to do with them. It wasn’t until I read Charles Bukowski’s poems about rejection slips and small press magazines that I naively began chopping my texts into lines of verse. I’d send them to Iron, The North, The Echo Room, etc – and get rejection slips with ‘not quite what we’re looking for’ scrawled on them in return. It took me a few years to develop and have any success with poetry. What would you say is your greatest writing achievement to date? Probably securing a book deal with Red Squirrel Press. They have published two of my books now and have just offered to take on another. Other stand-out moments would be having a poem published in the same issue of The Wide Skirt as Simon Armitage when I was still working in the warehouse. I don’t think he’d have much time for my work but I do admire his poetry and he is undoubtedly up there with the best of them. I had poems in ten consecutive issues of a magazine called Psychopoetica in the nineties. Some of my biggest personal achievements are more to do with performance – due to a mental breakdown in my late twenties, my once high-functioning short term memory is now greatly diminished: it happened overnight; one day you can open a book and scan a poem in seconds, the next you wake up in hospital and can’t even retain a simple sentence without half a dozen repeated readings – so being able to deliver a fifteen-minute poetry set without the page in my hand is rated pretty high for me. But it takes a lot of effort. My girlfriend, Jenni Pascoe, can learn a two-minute poem in an afternoon; the same piece would take me a month at least. Other achievements would be to do with facilitation and promotion: running creative writing workshops in mental health settings for best part of a decade; and organising the Waddington Street Centre WADDY MEGA SLAM in September 2011 – an event featuring 30 poets from across the region. Oh, and I was pretty chuffed that me and Jenni supported Joolz Denby and New Model Army’s Justin Sullivan at a gig in Darlington recently. Do you have a daily writing routine? Shades of Grey is a collection of writings from my early to midtwenties ranging from diary/journal entries to dream pieces, prose-poems, fictional snapshots and a couple of essays on writing. It’s not an easy book to classify. My publisher (Sheila Wakefield, Red Squirrel Press) was asked by the ISBN Agency for category clarification and decided it was best to let them see a copy and make up their own minds – they deemed it poetry. I wrote the first pages whilst still living at my parents’ house, before I’d had anything published. I was employed by a giftware distribution warehouse at the time – stacking shelves and handling returned goods for a criminally low hourly rate. In Shades of Grey the banal sits side by side with the extremely visceral. I channelled a lot of my angst and bitterness into the writing. Through a series of untitled vignettes, the reader becomes privy to the inner workings of a mind in turmoil; a journey through fatigue, displacement, estrangement and self-loathing. Oh - and there are occasional glimpses of poetic enlightenment, as well. But I’ve been told it’s generally quite a heavy read. I finished selecting pieces for the first draft in 1996 and waited another four years before re-editing it. To be honest, I was reluctant to publish it as it was so old. But I was surprised when other writers saw it as something of a new direction. It wasn’t, but most people think of me as a spoken word poet, so I’m pleased that a substantial amount of the book works in a live setting - which helps with promotion – but at the time of composition I never thought I’d be performing anything anywhere on stage. Ironically, it was by way of performance that I secured a book deal with Red Squirrel Press. During an open mic event at the 2007 Hexham Book Festival Sheila Wakefield approached me and asked if I had a novel. I said ‘No’ and jokingly added, ‘But you can read my diary’. She asked to see the manuscript – and four years later, published it. What is your earliest memory of writing? My only recollections of poetry from childhood are a primary school lesson in which I was asked to compose a limerick using my own name in the first line - rhyming Stephen with pen, or hen or den - and the phrase ‘drunk with fatigue’ from Wilfred Owen’s Dulce et Decorum Est from one afternoon in my early teens at Blackfyne Comprehensive School in Consett, County Yes, I do. I’ve kept a daily journal/diary for best part of twenty years. At the start of 2012 I also returned to morning pages, 32 illustration: Paul Watson made famous the world over by Julia Cameron; three pages of long-hand writing on plain A4 sheets as soon as you wake up. Supposedly a means of clearing away all the dross from your head before getting down to real work, but after a few months I found that morning pages have become a net for catching dreams, lesson-plans, speeches and poems – many of this year’s NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) pieces came from them. I also keep a work-log of gigs, workshops, activities, thoughts on writing. So that’s three opportunities a day to catch the creative part of the brain at play. But much of my journal is little more than talking to myself with a pen. I go through my journals a few weeks down the line and type up anything that surprises me. If it catches me off guard there’s a good chance it might engage someone else. I’ll let the words dictate the form and tinker with a piece for a while, then muster up the courage to try it out at an open mic night. If it gets any response, I’ll work on it further. And then, as I said earlier, there’s weeks of rehearsals and fine-tuning till I’m happy with the way the words flow out of my mouth. It’s a slow process from first spark to final draft. And as far as subject matter goes, I’d be first to admit I’m one of the most self-indulgent writers going. Occupying and consuming myself at the same time – it’s pure catharsis and documentation of my movements. I write reams of stuff but only a tiny fraction of it becomes poetry. I also post regular updates of raw entries on a blog as well. As I’ve spent the last four or five years concentrating on live performance, I’ve not submitted poems to magazines as regularly as in my twenties and thirties. I used to be a total bibliophile – for me, a poem in print used to be the real testing ground. I’d sometimes send two or three batches a week via snail-mail. I liked seeing A5 envelopes on the doormat; it’s high time I got back to the small press magazine circuit. Where is your favourite place to work? In addition to morning pages in bed upon waking and at the drop-leaf table in the living room by the window of an evening, I will often scribble on bus journeys. I find that movement, constant change of scenery and the snippets of overheard conversation fuel the pen. I also like participating in writing marathons. I have hosted a number of these events in various venues. A writing marathon is a very intense four-hour workshop with up to eight participants, keeping the focus on short bursts of writing followed by read-backs without commentary. People lose their inhibitions quickly and everyone gets the benefit of hearing fresh drafts from their peers whilst sinking into a writing headspace that is comfortable due to zero threat of criticism. Some startlingly emotionally-charged material is produced. I tend to come up with performance pieces more easily in these situations than anywhere else. Some interesting results occur when you respond to the buzz of everyday activity in public too – it’s good to take notes and let the imagination respond to observations. So, lots of places really. But I love the part in the process where I’m taking a page of scrawl and discovering what shape the words when typed will make on a page, so I’m probably at my most comfortable sitting at the computer in my bedroom. I think, generally though, it pays to be flexible with regards to creative workspaces. And as far as rehearsals go, I often get strange u 33 u looks on buses from passengers who catch me mumbling under my breath, trying desperately not to look at the printed page in my hand. If you can recite a poem without messing up whilst being subjected to iPod leakage, one-sided mobile phone conversations and screaming infants, you should be okay at the open mic. What inspires your writing? television. Scour the internet – there’re millions of articles, exercises, opportunities. Find a writing guide, not necessarily a ‘How To’ book, but an author whose book becomes the friend you read. Don’t be distracted by people who don’t share or support your enthusiasm, don’t engage in fruitless activities. Avoid procrastination. A writer writes. Simple as that. Do it. Keep it going. Good luck! At the start of a new course of workshops I give participants a handout stating the benefits of keeping a journal. At the bottom of the sheet is printed WRITE FOR INSPIRATION, DON’T WAIT FOR INSPIRATION TO WRITE. Writing is a lifelong process and an act of discovery; I rarely know what I’m going to come up with until I’m in the thick of it. I had a pretty difficult upbringing so I’m often concerned with issues of family dysfunction and the affect that has on a person’s ability to adapt to adult life. Dissatisfaction, anger, fear, keeping depression at bay – all strong impulses to get the pen moving. I am also inspired by alternative music and dark culture – gothic imagery, the macabre – although I find horror novels virtually unreadable. What really inspires me to write, and this will sound so ridiculous as to be risible, is the desire to have books with my name printed on the spine; and to have something come out of my mouth on stage other than; “I’m terrified”. Subject matter; initially I was interested in capturing the solitary figure entering or leaving seclusion, a very ascetic kind of experience –which was my life for a long time. I’ve become a lot more sociable in the last decade – due, I suppose, to being active on the spoken word circuit. I just try to record my life as accurately and honestly as possible. And I’ve been lucky enough to reach people who enjoy seeing and reading the results. E-book reader or paper book? Can you name three favourite poetry collections? I enjoy reading books that sound like the author is letting off steam and allowing you to witness it. So obviously the work of Henry Rollins, Lydia Lunch and Charles Bukowksi were initially very influential. In my mid-twenties I started reading Beckett, Kafka, Paul Auster, Mark Strand, Carol Ann Duffy, Simon Armitage, The Mersey Poets, Sharon Olds, Michael Gira, Henri Michaux, Charles Simic and many more. If I had to name just three – although not strictly poetry – I’d like to include something by Rollins; so I’ll cheat and say The First Five – which is a compilation of his early collections published in one volume. Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame contains some of Charles Bukowski’s best work – before Black Sparrow Press started letting him get away with murder. And at present, I’m enjoying For Beauty Douglas – Adrian Mitchell’s Collected Poems 1953 – 79. But I also like Emotional Terrorism by Joolz Denby; Some They Can’t Contain by Buddy Wakefield; The Time Office – New and Selected Poems by Tom Kelly; Cemetery Nights by Stephen Dobyns; The Sign of Saturn by Sharon Olds; Sagrada Familia by Kevin Cadwallender… The list is endless! Steve Urwin is a diarist, ranter and multiple poetry slam winner from Consett, County Durham. He works as a freelance Creative Writing outreach facilitator and editor of new INK BOMB magazine. Books include Tightrope Poetry Jam and Lamplight Open Mic Night. Walker, Hypomaniac and Shades Of Grey. He also hosts I can see that Kindle is good for authors who want to self-publish without the risk of producing a mountain of unsold copies, but for me it has to be the paper book. I enjoy physically making books actually; binding them, coloured endpapers - chapbooks, monographs. Books are tactile. I admire a good edition, sometimes regardless of its contents. I used to make one-off selected handwritten journal collections or manual-typewriterproduced poetry chapbooks as gifts for friends when I had the time. Now, I have a pile of unread paperbacks from Amazon in every room of the house and never sit still long enough to even begin to enjoy them. What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Write regularly. Every day. Find out what you want to write by writing and when you do find out, go and study others in the same genre. Devour as much as you can by authors who fire your enthusiasm. Study as much as possible, read widely. Writing is a solitary business most of the time; if you need support, join a writers group or take an evening class. Personally, I did some of my best writing by simply going it alone, keeping my head down and getting on with it. Sheer bloody mindedness. Are you really hungry, how badly do you want to succeed? Are you willing to sweat, to sacrifice, to put everything you’ve got into it? Start sending work out to magazines – don’t be put off by rejection. Learn from it. Make the work as strong as you can. Does it fit the mag house style? Try as many smallpress magazines as you can; go to readings, listen to radio programmes featuring writers, watch book programmes on 34 De tail 35 Tattoo Me Yes, Tattoo Me No Ben Leighton / Paramedic, Musician No tattoos I’m the type of person that goes through very short lived, fleeting obsessions and so the idea of getting something that’s on me forever is quite terrifying. I did want some lyrics tattooed on me a few years ago, from I think Vide Infra by Killswitch Engage, but I completely wimped out. I also think I have a lot of left over Christian dogma from my youth which never ever really fully goes away as well, and that probably contributed to the little voice in my head saying “don’t do it.” Because of that, no doubt in years to come, when I find myself hopefully with kids and a proper life of my own, I might celebrate this by getting a tattoo of sorts. Nothing as silly as getting a kid’s name, but maybe something for my 30th as long as I’m happy where I am in life by then to represent that. I absolutely love tattoos on other people, as long as it’s done for a good reason. I think there is nothing sexier than a tattoo on a female, as long as they can tell me a reason for getting it that isn’t totally stupid and moronic. With guys, I think a lot of men now just get them for the sake of it. I would never want to do that. Workplaces discriminate off the books all the time against people with tattoos and it’s awful how much they get away with it. I don’t find scarification flattering at all, but there are probably people out there who feel that it compliments them maybe better than a tattoo. I’m not at all against any type of body modification as long as it’s done for a good reason. Some people benefit aesthetically from it, others just do it to fit in with a crowd, and that’s fine as well but I’m always a bit cynical with that type of behaviour. Ben Leighton is a 28 year old born and bred in Stockton on Tees. He is a musician, currently playing bass in the hardcore band Taller Than Trees and enjoys pretending to at the best of times. Vickie Robinson is dippy, stubborn, happy, troubled and very strong-willed. Vickie Robinson / University Student 5 tattoos I’ve got five tattoos, one on my ribs saying ‘a rough road leads to the stars’ in Latin, a freedom swallow symbol on my right foot, my Gran’s birth date in Roman numerals on my lower back, ‘I am strong’ in Arabic on my right hip and two little feet on my stomach. I don’t regret any of them cos they tell the story of my life and are meaningful to me, it takes me about five minutes to decide what I want cos it’s usually a eureka moment. I have one more planned for the near future, I want the chorus lyrics to Elbow, Beautiful Day on my right hand side ribs when I can afford it. be a rock star. His religious and political views are complex 36 illustration: Paul Watson The Science-Fiction of Inner Space Phil Simmons It’s standard practice when considering the literary claims of ‘genre’ fiction to point out that some of the canonical works of Eng. Lit. could easily be so ghettoised if they hadn’t long since been accepted as ‘proper’ literature. Where science-fiction is concerned, this usually involves the invocation of Frankenstein, Nineteen Eighty-Four, The Handmaid’s Tale, and the collected works of JG Ballard. So consider this done. As Oscar Wilde nearly-but-not-quite said: “There is no such thing as genre fiction or literary fiction, only good books and bad books.” Barry Nathaniel Malzberg has written some very good books. Between 1970 and 1985 he was almost bewilderingly prolific. More than 30 novels on a SF theme appeared in that time, of which the best-known is probably Beyond Apollo (1972), winner of the 1973 John W. Campbell book award. Described by one commentator as “2001: a Space Odyssey written by Samuel Beckett”, it is a series of short, obsessive monologues by one Evans, an astronaut confined in some kind of psychiatric institution, attempting to piece together a coherent narrative of an abortive space mission during which his crewmate, The Captain, mysteriously disappeared. His accounts to himself and his interrogators are hallucinatory, fragmented, and contradictory. Did he murder the other man? Was it suicide? What was the precise nature of their relationship? Why were they sent into space at all? Evans’s accounts are highly sexualised, both in terms of his homoerotic attraction to the missing man and memories of his failing marriage. This sexuality is swamped by technological metaphor, highly reminiscent of Ballard (particularly Crash, which Apollo predates by a year), counterpointed ironically by the mission’s putative destination, Venus. The mystery unfolded through Evans’s ravings is never resolved, but the real question is not what happened to The Captain as an individual, but what has happened to the human race since we began to apprehend the true vastness of space and our inability to understand it definitively: “Everything is blind chance, happenstance, occurrence; in an infinite universe anything can happen. After the fact we find reasons.” The identity of outer space with an existential ‘inner space’ is further explored in On A Planet Alien (1974): “Lying on the bleak earth of this blasted planet, listening to the wind filter through the trees, it is possible for one moment in the clinging darkness to believe that it is not impossibly removed, that it is not at the far edge of the universe but that it is Earth itself and this has not been a voyage outward but a voyage in, to some other aspect of familiar terrain…” Folsom, leader of an ostensibly peaceful embassy to a distant, tribal society, is another narrator whose grip on reality is rapidly loosening. The ‘natives’ do not react with the expected compliance, and appear to have more sophisticated philosophical ideas than they should. The paranoia this engenders in Folsom rapidly develops into megalomania, and is then turned murderously on his supposedly treacherous colleagues, possibly on the whole planet. Given the date of composition, I don’t think it is fanciful to see this as Malzberg’s Vietnam novel, and it certainly has relevant political content. As Folsom recalls one bureaucrat saying: “Some of the opposition of course were referring to the program not as one of amalgamation but of ‘conquest,’ the brutalisation of innocent worlds to bring them into the hands of the Federation, render their natives hostage, their resources as plunder. Although everyone connected with the Bureau knew that this was untrue… [A]ll that the Federation was trying to do was make the universe a safe and agreeable place in which all of the races could live equably and without fear…” We have heard this throughout the history of colonial exploitation. Malzberg is extremely interested in contemporary phenomena and the ways in which they might play out in the future. Like Ballard’s Atrocity Exhibition (1970), The Destruction of the Temple (1974) explores continuing public fascination with the John F. Kennedy assassination (with walk-on parts for Malcolm X and Martin Luther King), positing a repetitive, obsessive reconstruction of the event against the background of a decayed New York City – whose nomadic, semi-feral inhabitants also strangely recall those of Ballard’s later High Rise (1975.) New York in a more recognisable form is the backdrop for two other novels. Overlay (1972) is a blackly comic account of the attempt by an alien interloper to precipitate Armageddon by manipulating the human tendency to irrational belief: “We have to approach them from the edges, concentrate on mysticism, spirituality, the occult… That’s the only way to topple them.” His choice of a social group to influence is neither ideological nor religious, but a ragbag of small-time compulsive horseracing gamblers – although the combination of illogical metaphysics, all-consuming resentment and a final scene of suicidal terrorism make this tale seem strangely prescient and familiar. Herovit’s World (1973) satirises the science-fiction milieu itself, the protagonist Jonathan Herovit hack writer increasingly frustrated not only by the disjuncture between his own chaotic life and the heroism of his creations, but also envious of the character and lifestyle he has attributed to his own pseudonym, ‘Kirk Poland’: “Kirk was a good first name. Nothing insoluble could happen to a man named Kirk once he put his mind to things.” There are no conventional SF elements in this novel, although there are various Malzberg trademarks – emotional and psychological disintegration, sexual anxiety, strange voices. I have no idea if there is anything autobiographical here, but some of the characters – Herovit himself and his monstrously egotistical colleague Mitchell Wilk, for example, – are vividly grotesque. It is also extremely funny, and illustrates brilliantly the range of Malzberg’s abilities, both thematic and stylistic. His lack of general recognition in the UK is probably not helped by his books – in their garish, inappropriately spaceship-festooned covers – having been out of print for years. Is it too much to hope that a recently-announced film adaptation of Beyond Apollo might change this? 38 Poems and criticism widely published in small presses, mojo back. Author/co-author of six short collections, 1990s/ early 2000s. Last seven years spent trying to get including “Dark and Evil Music” (Leafe Press, 2000) and “Ends of the Earth” (with Gordon Wardman, Mynah Poets, 2004.) General arts blog “The Dilettante” (Blogger.com.) 39 Collected Letters Dick Loftin Years ago, I came across a copy of the Letters of E.B. White. It was a thick, 700-page collection from 1908 to 1976, the year the book was published. The only thing I could think of was, “Why in the world would anyone want to read someone else’s mail?” When the White collection was published, editor Dorothy Lobrano Guth lamented in the introduction about how people never wrote letters anymore because of “the intrusive urgency of the telephone.” The comment seems almost quaint today. But people continued to write letters, and many more collections of letters and journals appeared, but today, Ms. Guth’s worry seems valid. [A revised edition, published in 2006 was edited by his granddaughter, Martha White, and features a fine introduction by John Updike. It contains White’s letters up to his death in 1985.] With the introduction of digital communications, the traditional letter, the one with an envelope and a stamp, seems lost. Texts, emails, Facebook, Twitter, and any number of social media platforms are quick hits of our lives. We don’t write about our lives in letters, we write about them in Tweets, very public Tweets, which are shared and shared again around the world. Unlike letters, there are no carbon copies or files where duplicates are kept for future reference. Sure, there are places on your email where a copy can be “saved,” but even these are heavily thinned out over time, or deleted altogether with just one click. It has historians such as David McCullough worried over the future of history and especially biography. Historians in the future, it is feared, will have less and less primary source material to study because of fewer and fewer actual letters being written and saved. I lost my first copy of Mr. White’s letters years ago and was thrilled to find it—in hardcover—at a flea market in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I also found a copy of the Letters of Ronald Reagan. On another visit, I found the Letters of Carl Sandberg. The Reagan letters were published in 2003, the Sandberg letters in 1968. Finding these books at a time when digital composition has taken over our way of writing made me appreciate them even more. It made me realise why we should still be interested in reading the exchange of letters from these individuals. It is the firsthand history of a public figure’s life. Letters are generally personal. A private message from one person to another, usually written for no one other than the recipient. The letters are private, but they can be funny, serious, testy, sweet. They can be heartfelt, horrible, or sensational. They are always interesting. The sensitive letters between John Adams and his wife Abigail are some of the most beautiful letters ever written. The Adams’ understood the critical times they lived in, and saved every one of their letters—well over a thousand. The Adams’ letters are collected in a fine volume edited by Margaret A. Hogan and C. James Taylor called My Dearest Friend—Letters of Abigail and John Adams, published in 2007. Another important John Adams-related collection is that of his correspondence with Thomas Jefferson. After a decade of estrangement, they renewed their close friendship in 1812. The Adams-Jefferson Letters, edited by Lester J. Cappon, contains their complete correspondence from 1777 to 1826. Both Adams and Jefferson died within hours of each other on July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Just imagine these letters being lost to a hard drive crash or the careless deletion of an associate. Letters can contain much needed advice, some appreciated condolences after the passing of a loved one, some family information, some good news. They could also contain a literary kick in the pants. In his excellent book, John Adams, David McCullough writes of a letter sent by Abigail Adams to her son, John Quincy Adams, upon learning the young man was getting a little too impressed with himself. She warned of “Watchfulness over yourself,” and wrote: “If you are conscious to yourself that you possess more knowledge upon some subjects than others of your standing, reflect that you have had greater opportunities of seeing the world, and obtaining a knowledge of mankind than any of your contemporaries. That you have never wanted a book but it has been supplied to you, that your whole time has been spent in the company of men of literature and science. How unpardonable would it have been in you to have been a blockhead.” Priceless. I can only imagine what John Quincy thought upon receiving the letter from his very straightforward mother. Letters are guarded and unguarded, elegant and not so elegant. They are most of all, a look through the window of history from the pen of the people living it, and taking the time to write about it. Many people of Adams’ time would end the day with reading or catching up on their letter-writing. Letters, like any great literature, will take you back to a time when history was alive and in the moment. A discovery of a shoebox in a musty attic can take us back fifty years into someone’s life. We hear the voice, we engage the hope, and feel the despair of the writer. The joy of opening the mailbox and finding a letter from 40 illustration: Hugh Mooney someone special hasn’t changed. It could be a note in crayon from a grandson or daughter. It could be a reply from someone we respect, a letter from an admired author or other public figure. Emails are so frequent and many times so intrusive, they have become throwaways; we just want to wade through them. Letters are special because we get so few of them. Part of the joy of Christmas is receiving an “annual letter” or card from a friend or loved one. The cards have nearly vanished. Holiday greetings come in our inboxes now. It isn’t the same, is it? Volumes of collected letters are still being published. Rub Out the Words: the Letters of William S. Burroughs, 1959-1974, has been recently published by Little, Brown. A collection that will be particularly interesting to me will arrive in October. The Lennon Letters, a collection of the cards and letters written by John Lennon to friends, family and others around the world, is expected on the fiftieth anniversary of the release of Love Me Do, by the Beatles. It is also being published by Little, Brown. Could letter-writing return? Young people, particularly those under 30, are discovering the joy of writing with vintage typewriters. While roaming around a flea market recently, I watched a man buy a Hermes 3000 typewriter for his daughter, who was all of 16. There could be a whole generation of people coming up who may be overwhelmed by technology, and yearn for something simple, something Grandma and Granddad used to use: a dusty old typewriter. And writer Stephen Elliot has started a grass roots campaign, ‘Letters in the Mail,’ to get people to write letters. I have started a little campaign of my own to write a letter to a friend once a month. Who knows? Young people start a letter-writing revolution with typewriters, Elliot’s campaign catches on, historians can relax, and maybe even the post office will be saved. It could happen. Dick Loftin is the publisher of Endpaper Review.com, a website and blog featuring book reviews and commentary on books, reading and the writing life. Join us online at EndpaperReview.com, on Facebook and Twitter. Dick is collector of vintage typewriters. also a broadcaster in Oklahoma (USA) and a passionate 41 What Are You Wearing? My Shoes / Craig Barlow To start with, my shoes are actually boots. I donâ€™t think I own any shoes. Well, not shoe type shoes. I have smart boots that I wear for work. By smart I mean tidy. Unlike everyone else at work, my boots are black, and not brown and pointy. I appreciate itâ€™s not green hair and facial tattoos, but for a middle aged middle manager, it is a small victory for non-compliance. For everything else I have these boots. The boots are made by a company called Brasher. I believe this is an in-house brand of Go Outdoors, which is where I bought them. They are Chinese made, and have GORE-TEX powers. I bought them because the laces in my last pair of boots had snapped, and it would be an insult to new laces to re-lace them. The reason I chose them over all of the other boots in the shop was the 50% off sign, and they were the cheapest boots there with GORE-TEX powers. They are very comfortable, and as of yet have not taken in any water. The first day I wore them, I went to see a friend at work. His boss came over and asked if they were Brasher boots, as he had just bought a pair. For some reason he pronounced it Braysher. He asked me lots of questions, and was very enthusiastic about them. So much so that I was beginning to worry if he was confirming a wise footwear investment, or wanting us to be boot buddies. Despite being new, the boots gave no blistering, enabling me to walk away quickly. I would recommend them to anyone with an outdoor footwear requirement. Craig Barlow is a middle manager, retired DJ and failed musician. 42 My Notebook Steve Toase The first thing you need to understand is that I’m a nightmare to buy presents for. No really. If I see something I want, and I have the cash knocking around, I’ll treat myself to it. This gets so bad that I have an embargo placed on me for the months leading up to Christmas (luckily my birthday is around the same time, otherwise there would be two sanctions a year). However, my notebook, a present from my wife, is not something I would have bought for myself. Not because I don’t like it, this volume wrapped in a leather cover is one of my favourite possessions, but because I would never have considered investing in something so beautiful. The cover is solid, with natural textured pages, and the advantage of being able to add more if the need arises, or remove them if I have to. Not that this is likely. My main notebook is a scribble book, filled with ideas written at café tables in Munich and York or in bed during the early hours. The book is not small. It has solidity and heft. You know when the book is in your bag. It weighs easily the same as a netbook, but with more character. Much more character. I’m left handed, and due to the weight of the book I have trouble writing on the odd pages, so all my work starts on the even pages, scribbled in lines of decreasing sizes. When I get to the end I can turn the book over and come back to the beginning. Stories rarely get finished in these pages, but like a greenhouse it nurtures small ideas, and is a pleasant place to while away a Sunday afternoon. Steve’s stories tend towards the unsettling and unreal, ancient gods. In his writing Steve explores the places illustration: Paul Watson dealing with revenge, loss, faery, chess playing bears and where other worlds seep into ours. His work has appeared in publications such as Beautiful Scruffiness, Sein und nthPosition. Werden, Cafe Irreal, streetcake magazine, Weaponizer and 43 The Owl In Daylight Thomas Hendry Species profile: Short Eared Owl (Asio flammeus) Standing on a tussock of tall grass, I stared across the wire fence that encaged a large expanse of undisturbed wilderness. It was not always the case. This 7km exclusion zone once hosted an MOD (Ministry of Defence) arms depot. Who knows what weaponry is buried there! The site is strictly off limits to the public, but this privacy has allowed the landscape to become wild again. Long grass, and moor, unrestricted vegetation has made the ammo dump a haven for wildlife. Ghostly shells of old admin huts are dotted about here and there, littering the zone like clerical ship wrecks. Dusk creeps in and there is movement in the sky. They are owls. Pale, silent Short Eared Owls expertly navigate the trees and huts in search of their favourite prey, Short Tailed Voles. I watch as not one, nor two, but four Short Eared Owls display, flying so close at times that you instinctively duck. After seeing one for the first time, you can never mistake it. Pale, creamy underneath with chocolate speckles, they rise from the long grass like butterflies, their long dainty wings look cumbersome but prove anything but. This owl’s face is so flat that it appears headless in flight, adding a touch of the surreal to this being of day and dusk. equates to the colour of fire, as seen in the Shorty’s blazing yellow eyes. When perched or in flight, these eyes truly glow when you get a good close view. Who says Latin is a dead language! Status and distribution This owl is unusual among British owls in that it hunts primarily by day, though dawn and dusk is an ideal time to watch them hunt and display. It is also unique among owls in that it is ground nesting, and favours open, treeless country, especially open moorlands and wet grassland habitats. It is a scarce breeder, with 1000-3500 pairs located primarily in Northern England and Scotland. It is in winter that the species can be most readily enjoyed. Continental birds migrate from Scandinavia and Russia to escape the harsh winters, and numbers in Britain swell from anywhere from 5000 to a staggering 50,000 birds! Populations are difficult to estimate, as the owls are highly nomadic, travelling and fluctuating in accordance to vole populations. Short Eared Owls often winter in communal roosts, and it is one of these communal roosts in West Cumbria that I have been observing for several weeks. At this particular site, human disturbance is thankfully minimised by the fenced off private land, but it must be emphasised that communal owl roosts can easily be prone to disturbance, and the birds’ space and boundaries must be respected at all times. It is early spring now, and the owls have almost left the British coastlines, leaving the small number of resident birds to breed in remote moors. I watch them, knowing that any day the Sea Owls will return from whence they came. But before they depart, they treat me to some unforgettable sights. I arrive one evening to find an owl simply perched on a telegraph wire. He is rotating his head, a little wary but assured, those lemon flamed eyes blazing in all directions. Another instance, two owls are circling around the wider area, forming a huge ring of space around the grassland, carved in two by a road and hedgerows. The two owls meet above the fence, and lock talons for a split second, in greeting or farewell. The last time I see one, it is perched on a tree, hungrily tearing at a small rodent and eating it… valuable energy for the journey home. T J Hendry is a writer and conservationist who explores Canada for a year, and has participated in conservation projects in Iceland and the Hudson Bay. Folklore The Short Eared Owl has a circumpolar distribution, found over Europe, North America, South America and the top of Asia, and has inspired and mystified in equal measure, transcending the mind and floating into myth. The Inuit believed it was once a girl, who was magically transformed into an owl with a long face and beak. When she became frightened, she flew into the side of a house and flattened her face and bill forever after. In other cultures too, the wing beats have left their mark. The Hawaiian subspecies is named ‘Pueo’, and holds an ambiguous role in the local folklore. He is the protector, and holds a key role in many stories by resurrecting dead heroes after being killed and rescuing others in peril. If an owl crosses your path in Hawaii, it is a bad omen, and it would be wise to abandon your journey! The name has permeated deep in the subconscious, and its name now lies in many peculiar sayings. For example, ‘child of an owl, whose father is not known’, ‘the owl as a protector in battle’, and ‘the owl who sings of war’, not to mention all the valleys and places named after him. Legends aside, there are countless local names worldwide that are more down to earth, but equally delightful in their literal interpretation of the owl’s appearance and actions. ‘Evening Owl’, ‘Meadow Owl’, ‘Bog Owl’, ‘Woodcock Owl’, to name a few, ‘Mouse Owl’, ‘Brown Yogle’, ‘Pilot Owl’ to name others. The name ‘Sea Owl’ is intriguing as it alludes to the migratory, sea crossing nature of this owl, but my favourite has to be the Chinese ‘duan er mao tou ying’, which translates to Short Eared Cat- Headed Owl. There is also beauty to be interpreted in the scientific name. The Asio in the Latin name relates to the owl family, but flammeus a mixture of sci-fi, nature and fantasy themes. He lived in 44 illustration: Paul Watson Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Terry Myers Upon having been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and with the added understanding of the illness from my Mental Health Support Team, I now realise just how misunderstood and nebulous this psychological malady really is. Commonly associated with combat veterans; the fact is anybody can develop PTSD following a traumatic incident. A traumatic incident is defined as anything out of the ordinary range of daily life which is deeply distressing to the individual concerned. I was diagnosed with ‘complex PTSD’ which in layman’s terms, denotes that I endured a series of traumatic incidents in close succession, suppressing each to the best of my ability, until my coping mechanisms became overloaded and shut down. Aside from becoming deeply depressed, these incidents shattered my faith in life, my image of me and my trust in others. The PTSD emerges in part through shock (the incidents were random and without warning) but primarily because the mind holds on to the memory of the trauma so strongly. Psychologists infer this is a natural ‘self protection’ mechanism to ensure you do not get into similar situations again. It was the loss of faith in life I found the most disturbing. I lost all interest in life, felt I was living on borrowed time, could see no future and contemplated suicide. This may explain why the suicide rates for PTSD sufferers are shamefully high. Initially I was diagnosed and treated for clinical depression, but the problem is depression is only part of the illness. A PTSD sufferer cannot engage with the illness independently, indeed you do anything and everything to avoid the issue, a trait known as ‘avoidance’. I went out of my way to avoid anything that reminded me of the trauma. I avoided people, places and even inanimate objects such as telephones. This is not as easy as one may think, and through avoidance I became reclusive, which is detrimental, because a recluse with PTSD can become strange, distant and begin to lose contact with reality. The issue of avoidance is but one aspect of PTSD, but this augments other symptoms. Another problem I had was that certain circumstances would bring back images of the trauma. These intrusions into the mind are termed ‘flashbacks’ and are very distressing to the point they cause panic attacks (which are short in duration and manageable once you know how) or anxiety attacks (longer in duration and particularly unsettling). Most of the instances which gave me flashbacks were related to the trauma – strangely – some were not. I could not abide the jangle of keys, phones ringing, large buildings where footsteps echo and skip-wagons. You learn to overcome these with a process known as ‘exposure’. By far the most debilitating symptom is the nightmares or night terrors. Most of these nightmares are a repetition of the trauma and I would wake in a state of panic, smoke endless cigarettes with no hope of getting back to sleep. On other occasions I experienced the most horrific dreams; totally unconnected to the trauma. These nightmares are extremely Terry Myers is a York based poet, writer and artist. A member of York Writers group he also participates in vivid and you wake soaked in sweat and absolutely terrified. These repeat nightmares provide your mind with the excuse not to sleep at all. Psychologically your mind learns that sleep will only induce nightmares so you not only dread bedtime; you cannot switch off and sleep anyway and end up with chronic insomnia. I average two fitful hours of sleep per night, struggle to obtain sleep and it is not uncommon for me to go from one day to the next without sleep. Sleeping pills are both addictive and useless after a time. Obviously sleep deprivation exacerbates the other symptoms and you exist with a ghastly and weird illness. Quality of life becomes at times abysmal. You are constantly tired yet paradoxically hyper-alert. You mistrust, are in a perpetual state of anxiety, edgy, jumpy and constantly worry that something dreadful is going to happen again. Avoidance prevents you from ‘moving on’ and the result is mood-swings, despair, loss of confidence and self esteem, hopelessness, guilt. I am lucky. I have a cerebral GP and the diagnosis was caught early. I am to undergo nine weeks of psychotherapy and along with medication I will recover. The medications I take are a combination of anti-depressants and tranquillisers. I will learn to handle ‘avoidance’ and ‘exposure’ which will enable me to ‘move on’, an important progress to recovery. I am informed that a large proportion of the trauma in my mind can be discarded psychologically, the remainder I will learn to compartmentalise and live with at the back of my mind. During recovery the other symptoms will ameliorate over time including some minor physical symptoms. I will never completely forget what has happened to me, but I will learn to live with it! ‘Manuscript Critique’ meetings and a ‘Novelist Support’ circle and frequently reads poetry at ‘Open Mic’ evenings. Fine Art. He is currently an art student working towards a degree in 46 photo: Delores Storr Street Food In Reykjavík Tony Bangora Always eat the street food. Everywhere you go. It should be a Rule of Travel. It doesn’t count if you don’t eat the street food. At Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur - took down 2 with the works, Bubba Clinton aka the President’s favourite. Locale is great, a semi industrial zone near the navy part of the harbour facing a highway while gulls shriek in a language I don’t understand, and not just because it is in sea-gull. The Sun is beating down on my back and I have smeared some sort of strange sauce on my iPhone typing this. The hot-dog racks are a nice touch. Didn’t sleep last night on the flight. Going on 30+ hours with no sleep and all that is left now is the reptilian brain, cerebrum long since melted away. Good. A much higher state than drunkenness. At slightly more than a thousand years old (counting when humans first set foot on this constantly spreading volcanic up thrust from the depths of the Atlantic), Iceland is pretty young, for Europe. Tomorrow I will drive to glaciers and waterfalls. Today I will stumble back uphill and pray to Thor and Odin that my room is ready. That was a tasty dog. Does the sun really not set here in the summer? Born in Santa Barbara, California, Tony does not so much consider himself an ‘expat’ as a ‘citizen of the world’. A jack of few trades and a master of even fewer, when not travelling he is trying to grift major research institutes so that he can hit the road again. He currently lives in New York City. 48 The Heathen Research Network Matt Kay substitute Germanic gods for their perceived Roman equivalents (Interpretatio Romana); the archeological record is often difficult to interpret by itself, and the consultation of the extant literary sources is fraught with the same pitfalls as examining the sources by themselves; and the Christian-era texts are composed with a bias that seeks to portray the ancestors in a way that exaggerates the perceived enlightenment with the coming of Christ. The purpose of The Heathen Research Network is to bring together as many sources of heathen thought as possible - from the earliest Roman records to modern academic evaluations of new archeological discoveries. Each text will be thoroughly examined for its context, purpose and readership, not merely by what the words ‘say’, but how they might relate to other texts. The approach is intended to be entirely without bias with the purpose of creating a database of resources, including links to downloadable source-texts and a full bibliography, as well as an encyclopedia encompassing summaries of relevant thoughts on given topics that anybody can use. Therefore, the Network will be a very slow operation, not intended to ever be ‘complete’. It is impossible to define what is meant today by ‘heathenry’ almost all those that use the term, which descends from Old English hæðen, most likely a loan translation of Latin paganus, or ‘country-dweller’, used to describe those not of the Christian faith - do so in relation to a specific religious worldview; that of the pre-Christian, Germanic peoples. To sum up an entire way of life, that encompasses thousands of years of pre-Christian Europe, with only one word, demonstrates what little value the Christian mindset placed on this period - or how much they feared it! - and how these attitudes have shaped modern views. However, with the decline of Christianity’s hold over academia and as an institute of primary socialisation, it has become evident that aspects of these ancient cultures have survived into the modern age - not merely through widely adopted religious practice, such as the festival of Easter, whose name is taken directly from an Anglo-Saxon goddess named Eostur according to the Venerable Bede (although not without controversy!) but also language in a more general sense, the composition and character archetypes of Western narratives, and even in the laws composed by - and sense of justice found in - those descended peoples. The imperialist nature of early to mid Christendom owes itself to the religion’s adoption by the Roman Empire; a people whom historically found little value in the Barbarian cultures to the northeast of their northernmost provinces. Much of what we know of migration-era Germanic culture comes from Roman writings - particularly Caesar’s Commentarii de Bello Gallico and Tacitus’ Germania - and other than the archeological record, which is highly interpretative, we do not see Germanic literary sources until the Christian period. None of these sources of information is a perfect record by any means - the Romans viewed the Barbarians as inferior, and would often Matthew Kay has been a practising heathen for several years, having spent time amongst the Odinic Rite, Fealu Personal blogs can also be set up on the website, where opinion and feedback on a wide range of relevant topics can be given, allowing the Network to fully develop into its namesake. The Heathen Research Network is currently online at www.heathenresearch.com with the first text - Gaius Julius Caesar’s Commentarii de Bello Gallico - currently being examined. Updates directly from the Network can also be found on Facebook - /HeathenResearch and Twitter - @HeathenResearch. Hlæw Deod and Five Boroughs Hearth before developing The Heathen Research Network. Whilst currently studying for a Masters Degree in English Literature, he also spends time creating pre-Christian, Anglo-Saxon themed music under the moniker Æþelruna. 49 Life Writing Decisions Ruby Elliot I think everyone struggles to make decisions: Which university should I go to? Which sandwich should I choose? Should I refrain from accidentally on purpose dropping the dog on the piano because my brother is playing “Down by the Riverside” for the seventeenth time this morning? (Probably.) But when you are depressed, every decision becomes so achingly protracted, so fraught with conditions and incessant “what ifs,” that lying under the duvet is often the easiest way to avoid all the relentless inner indecisiveness. The situation can easily escalate to the point where you can lie perfectly still for 20 minutes, arguing with yourself about whether or not to turn your head away from the wall. And thus everything you encounter seems to burst into a billion tiny negotiations. Take a simple shopping trip for example The first concern is of course actually finding an impetus to get out of the house. Can I really be bothered to find any clothes that are clean/black/without holes/don’t make me look like a total weirdo? Once getting dressed has been achieved, I will need to locate the three essential ‘going out’ items: phone, keys, oyster. Seeing as these could be scattered in any and every far corner of the house, I often give up at this point and gravitate away from the front door. Then there is the on-going dilemma of the weather. Most people would just look outside, choose the appropriate outer garment and be on their way. It takes me at least 20 minutes to find a cardigan of correct thickness to match the temperature. This is a delicate process, exacerbated by the fact that when it is too hot I cannot undress to a single layer for strict aesthetic reasons. And by the time I have put my coat on, run upstairs to look in the mirror, realised that I look like an oversized pregnant little red riding hood, and run downstairs again to shrug it off, really all I want to do is sit down and weep into a coffee. Anyway, if I make it out the front door, I can then just about walk the 200 metres down the hill to the shops. Long hair becomes useful at this point in avoiding all possible eye contact and just concentrating very carefully on the pavement. I have to keep an eye on my feet so that they continue to move in the required direction (they have a tendency to turn me around in the direction of the house). Even deciding which side of the road to shuffle along feels like a massive effort. On approaching target (probably Budgens) I fold my hands over myself and walk through the door. Apples are on the list. I walk round to the apples, simple enough. But no, the list does not specify amount or variety. I stare intently at the Granny Smiths, ponder the Pink Ladies without any inkling as to which shrink-wrapped fruit I should be opting for. Then I realise how stupid I am for not being able to make a decision on fruit. Then I feel worse for not being able to decide. Then I realise a woman is tapping me on the shoulder asking me if she “could just get to the bananas deary.” Oh my god, now I am getting in everyone’s way. I should just leave, I’m cramping Budgens’ style. But no, I leave the fruit and veg section by artfully squeezing between bagged salad and a barrel of melons (?) in pursuit of less troublesome sundry items. Yoghurt. Yoghurt is good. I can deal with yoghurt. I admire it as the most culinary versatile of dairy products. I stand in front of the chiller cabinet, willing any of the 20 available varieties to jump into my basket so that I don’t have to go through the effort of picking one. How am I meant to know what I want? How can I be sure I am choosing the brand that will offer me optimum creamy goodness? How can I go on when I might be sitting at home EATING THE WRONG KIND OF YOGHURT. I AM BEING FLUMMOXED BY THE ALL IMPORTANT CHOICE BETWEEN AN ACTIVIA SNACKPOT AND A FAGE TOTAL GREEK. ARGHHHHHH (etc.) And so this is why sometimes (most of the time) I do not go out, I avoid going to school and I let other people choose the yoghurt. How To Not Give Up Ruby Elliot Today would be a perfect example of how low self-esteem affects me in my day to day living. I didn’t go out until 6:45pm when I left the house to walk to my cousin’s house, which is about 9 minutes from my house. After changing out of my pyjamas and into no less than 5 different combinations of ‘blackwear’ or as I refer to it, ‘99% of the clothes I own’, I finally threw some socks at the mirror and went downstairs to leave. Then I remembered that I was too nasty, and really the only possible way I could leave the house would be clutching a pillow to my front, as a sort of protective shield between my body and other people’s eyes. I mean, if I had had more time and motivation I would have strapped pillows to each individual limb and vague body area, but I compromised and just went for main frontal body coverage. So there I was, my Goin’ Out Pillow and I, wombling down the high street overwrought with shame and disgust and vague rage that I had left the house at all. But the good thing was that I did have a really nice time with my family and we watched television in the dark, which is one of my favourite things because it’s noisy and distracting and I can sit down. I suppose the conclusion I can draw from today, and pass on to other people who are sprawling around not knowing what to do, is this: Go out. Even if it is just to sit in the darkness of another person’s home. Even if you have to look at the floor all the way there with little tearsies dribblin’ down your face. Even if you feel like you don’t want to see anyone. Even if your hair is all not. Even if you have to walk around clutching a pillow. Even if you don’t want to talk or smile or hug. Because it is very rarely a bad thing to have another voice making noise that isn’t the bad secret one in your head. 50 Bottom of The Barrel Scrapers Ruby Elliot There seem to be so many people I know that have been/are/will be in mental peril. Trouble with food. Trouble with mood. Trouble with a troubled mind. I’ve met people who have been scraping along the very bottom of the barrel of life, and it is a truly grubby, scabby, nasty place to be. Anyone who has been there, flailing around hopelessly in the strange world they entered the day they were told they had got a ‘mental illness’ will know what I mean. In fact, you don’t even need that label to have been there. It’s a sort of super-heightened emotional state, whether that be sadness, anxiety, fear, anger, agitation, that just cannot be contained in any sensible or calculated way. And so you become imprisoned in a strange sort of self-perpetuated unreality, where you are constantly half-drowning in your personal sea of disturbed thought and cannot really connect with what is going on around you. Having experienced this myself, and now seen it with my own eyes, it is frightening how out of control your behaviour can become. And I think what is even more frightening, not least for those around you, is the indefatigability and tenaciousness of these often self-destructive behaviours. They become so overwhelmingly compulsive it is shocking and painful to watch. I suppose the most frightening thing of all is, when you are really at a low point, you know you cannot stop, and so does everyone else. You feel as hopeless as the people around you that are desperately trying to help you. And all you can do, all they can do, is carry on day after day after stupid day, at total mercy of the mind. I guess my point is, lots of people get this way, I did/have/ probably will again. But, whilst in these darkest moments of torment and anguish and total despair it simply feels like the world is over, it is not a permanent state. And I have seen/know of people, who were almost all gone, come back to life and flourish and do wonderful things and just be in a bit less of a shitty place. SO, for all those brave little people, who are lost on the edge of the world, I have this to say... doors off and paint the shelves in a variety of psychedelic colours. Since being a little girl, I have had memories of people walking in and saying “ooh isn’t your kitchen colourful” in the same way they might look at a child with ADHD who has just eaten a trough of Smarties and say “ooh isn’t Derrick lively this afternoon”. Colourful is a polite understatement for what really is a bit of eccentrically lurid paintwork. But I think that was Ma’s taste at the time, all yellow and pink and bright blue. After all, these were the days of just one (yet to be diagnosed with cancer) baby and a new house. Since then, I guess the house has grown up with us. The sickly green hall carpet that we used to bomb up and down on in the ‘brick trolley’ has long since been replaced with a wooden floor. And entering the playroom no longer brings with it the risk of embedding a small plastic cow in your foot. My father does, and has done habitually for as long as I can remember, seized any opportunity to re-organise and compartmentalise everything. He would often get up from his Saturday morning toast and say, “Right, we’re having a clear out today” This was the signal to run into the playroom and guard our most beloved beanie babies.. “NOO! NOT TOBY, YOU CAN’T TAKE HIM, HE’S A DOG” “Look, the toy chest is bursting with toys you never play with; we need to throw something away” “NOOOOO, WE’VE ONLY GOT TWO TOBIES. WE NEED THEM BOTH. THEY ARE BROTHERS” At which point, Pa would normally leave us with a toy disposal ultimatum in which we had to bag up five toys we didn’t want anymore and send them to their musty death on a shelf in Cancer Research. In fact, over the years, my father’s constant compulsion to tidy has spread to all areas of the house. And we as children have become accustomed to his disorder disorder. For example, I might casually wonder into the living room to find him staring at a bookshelf muttering, “I wonder how I can make this more efficient” At which point I will walk straight back out of the door. I know if I stay too long he will try and rope me in-to a trip to IKEA and as appealing as those tiny unlimited pencils are, I just don’t think I can face another afternoon spent watching him try and ram bits of plywood into the boot.* * I have just read this bit to my father, his only comment was a terse: “MDF not plywood”. Thanks Dad, you pedantic bastard. Ruby Elliot has lived all 18 years of her life in London. She enjoys writing about the deep and delicate subject of mental health –incorporating her extensive experiences cartoons and illustrations. Crying Ruby Elliot Have you ever cried so hard that you can no longer tell what is tears and what is snot? Have you ever cried so hard that you run out of Kleenex? Have you ever cried so hard that your hair gets all wet and salty, your eyes get sore and your pillow gets soggy? Have you ever cried so hard that when you try and hug the dog, she puts her ears back and scampers off downstairs? Have you ever cried so hard that all you can do is collapse into bed with your head pounding? Have you ever cried so hard that you have to lie in a corner of a room facing the wall so that no one hears you? Have you ever cried so hard that you begin to shake? Have you ever cried so hard that all you can hear is screaming in your ears and an accelerated heart beat? Have you ever cried so hard that the cries turn into screams, faint at first and then roaring, guttural and throaty? Have you ever cried so hard that people become worried? Have you ever cried so hard that you think you will never stop? Have you ever cried so hard and not wanted to stop because that would mean carrying on? If you have ever cried that hard, it’s okay, I have too. - in a way that is often darkly comic and accompanied by The Kitchen And Other Things Ruby Elliot When my parents moved into our house in 1991, my mother decided it would be a good idea to rip all the kitchen cupboard 51 Death Masks of Memories Maeve Buckingham Writing seems to amalgamate within the depths of my subconscious. It is always propelled by life experiences both positive and negative, and I use it like a camera lens capturing ‘death masks’ of memories otherwise irretrievable. As a child, I had a passion for books, words and poetry, though it was not until I underwent profound and traumatic life experiences as a teenager that I realised that writing is my catharsis, my therapy, my crutch upon which to rest and piece together shards of a fractured world, that I otherwise find difficult to connect with. At fourteen years of age I fell ill with Anorexia Nervosa and severe depression and for the majority of my teenage years I was in and out of inpatient treatment centres, in a constant war with my soul and my body. While my personality and physical strength crumbled, I unconsciously underwent a period of chrysalis as I now regard all negative life experiences; serving to make our hearts stronger and more compassionate towards other creatures. I continued to write when I felt well enough, and poetry served as a release of my blackest emotions and the intangible turmoil reverent within me that I could never communicate verbally. Through writing I did and do filter out sense from the nonsensical, porcelain memory from the fractured truths. My words serve as written photographs- to commemorate a moment gone, a past embellished on my memory intrinsic yet invisible. By releasing my fractured words I make the intangible tangible, and while prior to writing I may have felt detached and segregated from ‘reality’ afterwards I feel fulfilled and as though a bridge has been forged to the pluralistic society. All of my words emanate from the core of my unconscious with a purpose of abreaction. I am currently studying a BA in Fine Art and hope to progress to be a qualified art therapist in order to help others overcome the difficulties I have endured and enable others to benefit from the soul-enriching benefits of creative endeavours. Maybe it faded, silently ebbing to the horizon, slipping like that blood red sunset that left an air of magnificence, before it died into the hands of the night. You notice. But you don’t. You see, but only that padded lumpy corpse dressed in a cloak of dewy sadness. You only see regret- what you once were, and what you could be. You could have been ‘thinner’ or ‘more athletic’ or ‘cleverer’ or whatever penultimate list you have stowed away in the Wendy House. You ate a little more today, perhaps to quell the sadness and the fear that rockets like jagged forks in your brain. You could have eaten a little less, but you chose more. Perhaps you knew you could never replicate yesterday, that the little shadow bobbing on the horizon tipped into the blood red void. And beyond its aura left an absence too profound. Heavy and listless you seem too full to comprehend, chucking it all back, swallowing without expelling and sitting absent with a leaden load. You’re so heavy you can’t move and so you sit and wallow in the stillness, breathing in, breathing out. But all the time your heart pumps blood to each of your vital organs you fail to notice. It doesn’t register you’re alive. It doesn’t register you live in a lovely house in the countryside, with loving parents who have given up everything for you. It doesn’t register that there is a world outside your window and you could step outside the front door if you believed, but you don’t tonight. Tonight the world seems too vast to imagine, too overpowering to rise up to. You would rather lie down, surrender and let it wash over you. Rain falls, sometimes it fucking PELTS. You could walk out in the rain right now, get soaked to the skin and no one would hear the crying, the screaming and hyperventilating. You need to be inconspicuous. Let yourself lie low, stagnant and untouchable. They will walk above you, and you will gaze up at each one, contemplating its struggle, its oblivion, its demise. Conveyer Belt Maeve Buckingham Sometimes, the brain can be your own graveyard. You dig your own grave beneath the earth, shovelling up mounds of mossy, aged earth, delving deeper and danker and darker. There is no light inside the coffin box, only a lid that obscures your consciousness, your identity. You lay porcelain inside the box and you need not know you are porcelain, glassy and vacant. Your mind is oblivious, but fuck knows where your mind has gone. Gone. Gone mind. Mind gone. Everything you know now is impermanent, illusive, fictitious. You choose your own reality, for reality is merely a lie. When the lid is closed there is no going back. The darkness is forever, it is infinity. We all dig our own graves at some point. Looking up I can make out the ‘emergency stop’ button, but invariably I can’t reach it. I am underneath the surface, gazing up like a naive child in a daydream. I am aware I am humiliated, defenceless. But somehow I resign to defencelessness, and lie there on my chest, on the conveyer belt, pumping forwards with a relentless and emotionless energy. It courses through me, I feel it ripping at my knee. I know there are only moments between saving myself and lying there, decrepit and alone, in the box. The world is pumping, the music is coarse and coursing adrenaline through the gym bunnies spinning to the beat. But I am in the darkness, submerged and vacant. Moments unfurl hazily, the way autumn leaves degenerate so tentatively you would barely notice them shrivel, not until the moment the brittle stalk snaps and they hover ethereally to the u Looking Down From Above Maeve Buckingham Looking down from above, everything seems different, clearer. For the first time in a century of sleep, things make some coherence. You look down upon yourself inside yourself. But sitting in my own skin, soft and fleshy around the edges with faint white scars traced on your left arm reality prevails. But you can’t see it- reality is scarce, feathered and a slate of grey. You try, but every time you fail. My body and I are one, a unison of ideas and amalgamation. You can’t separate, can’t see beyond. Starving thins it down to its minimalist entity, a ghost ridden parameter of death. Ketones stench and adrenaline keeps the corpse from flagging into the epitome of surrender. Transcending. Whisking up, swirling. Higher. I need to step outside the casing, unzip the flesh and let the blood seep in willowy branches as I gently part the ivy-cased walls, bend the bones of porcelain childhood and fold them up... and look down, look upon. Fingering myself could create a sense of ‘reality.’ Grounded by touch, awareness of now kicks in. You remember it is May. Summer has come, the evenings are long, and the last time you sat back and time enveloped you in its mesmeric wanderlust, you were in darkness. Unforgiving cold. It may have been December...but you were alive. Remember that smile? Yes, your smile. The one that illuminated the blackness. 52 u mossy temple. I could not tell you what happened before the light switch flickered, or what happened after. But I rose, I got up. Because frequently getting up and carrying on is the only option we all have. The cyclical nature of life alludes to a conveyer belt, we have to become resilient, we have to tend to our own wounds and our own sorrows because ultimately nobody else can creep into mind and control the system. Least of all our own mind. Nothing deludes fear. It stagnates and permeates all boundaries, it is as corrosive as a cancer, cancer of mind. Mind is all that matters, all that generates the system, though you convince yourself the system operates everything, most of all the brain. Worrying again, Fretting. Numbed by fear, racing thoughts. Palpitations. Sweating. Or even just the mentality of being scared, scared your life will terminate before youâ€™ve even lived, run through a green meadow and reached the other side, smiling in retrospect of the journey you have endured. Every day feels like there will be limited other every days. Some day every day will end, and the world will be devoid. You will be devoid. And mind will be mind less. Maeve Buckingham is currently studying for a BA in Fine enable others to benefit from the soul-enriching benefits of creative endeavours. Art and hopes to progress to be a qualified art therapist to 54 I nspired 55 Your Bushy Moustache Flash Fiction / AJ Kirby I was always a little bit scared of you. You were a big man, or is that memory playing tricks with me? Perhaps it was your presence which was big. To a child, you seemed to radiate an uncompromising intolerance which meant that you would subjugate the rest of the room. You had a blunt, unforgiving demeanour which for some reason was embodied in your angry moustache and furrowed brow. Even your roar of a laugh echoed with challenge, contempt, and arrogance. When you died I felt relief. This remains difficult to admit, however I’m sure you could forgive a seven year old with no concept of the real implications of time and of permanence. You were not somebody that I saw every day, and for some reason, I’d always had a dream that I could go and live with my grandma, your wife, and with my mother’s dad, mainly because I seemed to receive presents and praise in equal amounts from those two. Your death might just open the door to this eccentric plan actually happening. This desire for things to happen simply for my benefit, no matter how much trouble they could and would cause is something which you would not have recognised in me, but which I can still see when I look in the mirror to this day. Perhaps I’m being disingenuous to you when I imagine that you would bear all manner of hardships, all slings and arrows of fortune, all the missed opportunities of life with your no-nonsense Yorkshireman acceptance and a shrug of the shoulders. Perhaps again, I’m only seeing a blurry image of you comprised of stereotype, characters from films and middle-class guilt. Perhaps you never simply accepted death, but raged against the dying of your light. Perhaps you swore and beat your fists against the hospital bed at the injustice of it all. Perhaps you wanted to see your grandchildren grow up. No matter how I try and capture you on a page you will always slip through my fingers. I could trace you in registry offices, speak to relatives about you, or I could look at photographs. Can an image lie? Can I write you without my words falsifying evidence by trying to be too flowery, too meaningful? Or should I start by describing what you did, despite the fact that my own work could by no means describe me? You escape me with every tap of the keyboard. You become a manufactured, imagined object. But I could build a you for me. Build something that I can remember. You were a builder with big rough hands and peas at the bottom of the garden. You built your own dream house on the edge of town for you and my grandma to live in. You surrounded it by acres of land for growing vegetables, you gave the house a name, not a number; you added extra rooms for your kids. But you only lived in it for two months before she demanded to move back into the centre of town, less than half a mile away to be closer to her church and her friends. How did you deal with this shattering of your dreams? Well, it never put you off growing peas, tomatoes, lettuce, radishes in your new house in which you remained for the rest of your years. AJ Kirby is the award-winning author of six published novels (Sharkways, 2012; Paint this Town Red, 2012; Perfect World, 2011; Bully, 2009; The Magpie Trap, 2008; When Elephants Walk through the Gorbals, 2007), two collections of short stories (The Art of Ventriloquism, a collection of crime shorts, and Mix Tape 2010), three You were a special man, and perhaps the real house that you built, your real dream, was the one you left behind in all of the generations of the family which have followed you. Dad and his brother were the first in our family to go to university, spreading the family wings across England. In The Summer of Love, they went as far away from you as they dared, growing their hair and dabbling with mind-altering substances. But when my dad rebelled against you, he still retained your protestant work ethic, and I’ve always been regaled with stories of him blearily, beerily staggering into lectures and taking notes for the whole class of 1968. Now, he’s a father himself, and knows you better as he has built a house of his own. He knows that in order to build a house which will last, you must dig deep and build firm foundations, you must build a refuge and a haven, a school and a playground, a structure with wide windows overlooking the wider world, and warm rooms to close it out on dark, dark nights. novellas (The Haunting of Annie Nicol, 2012; The Black short stories. Book, 2011; Call of the Sea, 2010), and over fifty published 56 Exit/Entrance Photography / Delores Storr Foreword by Andrew Hall Doorways hold mystery, promise security, lead to stairwells and darkness, other worlds and revelatory light. They offer opportunities or close them off to everyone but the Claire Delores Storr is a 28-year-old writer, photographer and designer based in Carlisle. Claire graduated with a 1st class degree in Photography in 2008, and recently She has worked on editorial projects with the likes of The Guardian and The BBC, and most recently with completed an MA in Theoretical Photography in 2010. holder of the key. Their image is steeped in literary history, a potent discourse of poetic symbolism. This collection of images illustrates just that; the welcoming, enigmatic and thought provoking subjectivity of the entrances and exits that bolster, divide and - by their very nature – create the Jenny Uglow on the upcoming Faber and Faber book Involved in creating exhibitions and gallery events ‘The Pinecone’, based on the life of Sarah Losh in Wreay. nationally and internationally, Claire is available for both her website – www.deloresstorr.com. myriad worlds which we inhabit. What lies on the other side of your doorways? Ethereal planes? Blissful epiphany? Or the vitriolic shadows where you dare to tread? editorial and collaborative projects, and is contactable via 58 59 Bird Studies Daryl Watson Daryl Watson has had a passion for art since he was a small child and on leaving secondary school education immediately went on to study a BTEC national diploma in 2-year course he discovered his love for illustration and Northumbria University. Fine Art at Cleveland College of Art and Design. During the fluid medias. He is now studying BA (Hons) in at fine art at 61 It’s All To Fuck Basically Ruby Elliot 62 63 64 Re t rospect 65 Reviewing The Page Becca Campbell (Olympia, 1955) Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov and clearly illegal, there is a certain level of detachment because of the clever use of language. In some cases, during sexual scenes for example, I had a hard time working out whether certain acts had actually taken place because it was so cleverly subtle and not obscene. At the same time, what is being presented to us isn’t acceptable (for lack of a better word) but it doesn’t make us want to run from the room screaming. Another aspect of this novel I encountered whilst looking at other reviews was the discussion of Humbert’s love for Lolita: some called it doomed, some eternal but personally, I find it debatable that he loves her at all. There is no denying that Humbert is obsessed with Lolita so arguably it is obsessive love but at the same time, it can also be argued that he isn’t actually in love with her as a person, as he can’t get enough of her even when he possesses her. Instead, I believe he is in love with a concept – the concept of a Nymphet form which he cannot escape from. Even when he finally has Lolita for himself, he still catches himself looking at other small girls suggesting he is in fact in love with the concept of a nymphet as opposed to Lolita herself. I was saddened but unsurprised by the reviews this book had received. Although it seemed to have received the acclaim it deserved, I also came across a lot that dubbed it as just ‘pornography’ and even people outright refusing to read it because the main character is a paedophile. Personally, I find both views extremely ignorant as there is a lot more going on in this text than just a paedophile falling in love with a child but I won’t delve into the subtexts, suggestions and innuendoes here – if this was an essay (I wish it was) I would do so fiercely but this is a book review blog, not deep literature analysis. Even the cover of the novel had an impact on me. My copy had a close up image of a child’s face – her freckles like those on a quail’s egg, beautiful eyelashes and stunning blue eyes. There was so much innocence in that face that made the content of the novel more striking – to me at least. Normally at this point in my review I would be saying something along the lines of ‘this novel was fantastic’ or something of that nature but I struggle to find the right words of my own to describe this work. The comment made on the cover of my copy was ‘A Masterpiece’ and I wholeheartedly agree. Impeccably written with some complex concepts and subtexts that literature students can and will have a field day with. I don’t feel I can use the word ‘enjoyable’ for this novel either as it just doesn’t seem applicable. Instead, my personal comment about this piece of work is stunning. The fact that this novel – the reading in itself, the emotions it makes us feel, the moral conflict clearly shows that this is an extremely powerful novel and cannot ever be simply branded as ‘pornography’ or a man falling in love with a child. A must read. If I had to make a list of books to read before you die, this would be on it. u ‘Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.’ I’ve wanted to read this book since I discovered that it was actually banned in the UK at one point – I was amazed any literature was banned in such a liberal country as Britain – and when it came up as a potential text to study on my A-level English lit course. All I knew about the novel was that it was about paedophilia – an older man falling in love with a child and when I mentioned the novel to my parents, it instantly sparked controversy as to why I would want to read a novel about this particular topic. Humbert Humbert is a literary scholar from Europe, with a history of mental instability and is haunted by the premature death of a childhood sweetheart, who is supposedly his reason why he has an obsession with particular young girls he refers to as ‘nymphets’. After an unhappy marriage, he moves to America to the town of Ramsdale. Whilst being shown around his home by his landlady, Charlotte Haze, he meets her twelve year-old daughter, Dolores with whom he becomes instantly infatuated. He will stop at nothing to possess her and when fate gives him his chance to do so, he clasps at it with both hands. But his actions are not only repugnant, but also illegal, and he can only possess Lolita for so long, and will she tolerate being possessed? When I eventually bought the novel and started reading it, I was entranced by it, even though his paedophilic was inescapably abhorrent. It is full to the brim with wit, wonderful descriptions and it is beautifully sophisticated. The almost excessive use of words in a single sentence piles meanings up to the point where you want a dictionary to hand so you can fully understand the words you’re unfamiliar with. It will make you laugh whilst making your eyebrows creep ever further into your hairline. It’s such a shame I didn’t get a chance to study this for my English lit course because I would have had a field day with it. Even though I managed to resist writing notes on post-its and clogging up the pages with them, I still found myself launching into discussions with people about the book and actively taking notes about my thoughts. I was very much aware of the fact this novel was manipulating me; Nabokov presents this novel in first person and Humbert talks directly to the reader on several occasions. Nabokov has Humbert actively trying to get us to pity him, to empathise with him. Whilst browsing over other reviews for ideas, I found a line someone had written that I couldn’t have written better myself to summarise this particular point: ‘We find Lolita disquieting because it makes the reader sympathise with a paedophile.’ Although the actions of a paedophile are inescapably wrong 66 illustration: Anya Grainger u (Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1970) Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee by Dee Brown in the paragraphs above just don’t cover the scale of how heartbreaking these events were. If you want to understand, read the book. This book made me feel many things – misery and sadness prevalent but one of the things I could never bring myself to do was to actually cry. The information was…sobering for lack of a better word but I wasn’t surprised. If anything, this book only fuelled my already existing dislike for the ignorant Christians and the human race. The pain I felt for these people has been locked away, deep in my heart, so I shall never forget such an incredible people who should have been an example to us all and now are scattered remnants of a culture, lost in the wind. Becca Campbell is a purple-haired northerner studying This book was the first non-fictional book I have ever read for pleasure. I tend to stick to fiction as, inevitably, non-fiction tends to be heavy going and often dull reading if interesting. ‘Bury my heart’ is the Indian history of the American West; the white man’s destruction of the Indian race, culture, food and land. I have always been interested in the American Indians – I think almost everyone has been exposed to the typical stereotype; strong, handsome faces, elaborate headdresses, dream catchers and, if you ever watched any westerns, their portrayal as ignorant and evil barbarians. I know only snippets about their culture but I have always respected their devoted love for the earth which I mirror and I also admire their crafts, weapons and dress for being so unique and so in keeping with the natural landscape. Brown actually describes the Indians as ‘the first real conservationists’ and so, as someone with an ambition to be a conservationist, it is no surprise that I feel drawn to learn more about these people. I always knew, before reading this book, that white man had oppressed and killed the Indians but I did not appreciate the sheer barbaric nature of some of the things white men did – ironic considering it was the Indians who were meant to be the barbarians – or the scale of events. This book opened my eyes. Brown recounts accurately, from many sources, the fate of many tribes across America. Beginning with the arrival of Columbus and the Spanish, and ending with the massacre at Wounded Knee, this book will break anyone and everyone’s heart. Brown explores the fate of many iconic and less known tribes and their leaders – Little Crow, Red Cloud, Captain Jack, Geronimo, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull - and I couldn’t help but be amazed at what white man did to these incredible people. Broken promises, misunderstandings and murders led to the white men stealing the Indian’s land, destroying all valuable game and resources and wiping an incredible culture off the face of the earth. In every chapter I found death because of a misunderstanding, death because of sheer evil and cruelty – because they had nothing better to do – and death because of broken promises. Some of the hardest chapters involved reading about the murder of children by merciless white man and coming across a white Indian sympathiser was so rare, because of the abuse they themselves faced for showing a little mercy, a little pity, towards these people. Ignorance of their ways led to many a figure choosing to lead the Indians to ‘righteousness’ through the Christian faith i.e. through annihilation and through the threat of having their land taken from them. Even in those few refreshing chapters where the Indians fought back and took some small victories, in later chapters, they would be exterminated like vermin, brow beaten and then sent to reservations where life wasn’t safe, food was often lacking and they died through starvation and disease instead of in war. I was stunned by how cruel the white men were – so few questioned Indian rights and considering that in one chapter there is actually a trial to decide whether or not Indians are people, that’s no real surprise. Promises from Washington – now one of the most powerful governments in the world – were lies, white settlers destroyed and took land just for gold and the Indian people were treated, frankly, like shit because nobody understood or valued them. These few things I have mentioned Environmental Science with an ambition to save the world and stop environmental destruction. When not roaming to metal or eagerly scrawls poetry on scraps of paper. across fells and dreaming about snow, she studies, listens 68 illustration: Anya Grainger Reviewing The Screen Max Evans Kirkman illustration: paul watson (2012) Dark Shadows/Tim Burton energy, and a third dimension to him. Helena Bonham Carter is one of the reasons I consistently dislike Burton films, as I often find her distracting and ineffective, and while I enjoy the other actresses’ performances, I wonder who would be better at her role. Eva Green’s presence was unsettling throughout most of the film, but she makes up for her pantomime accent with her strange and creepy smile and eyes. By no means on par with Casino Royale for instance, more of a Mars Attacks appeal, sporting one of the worst screen deaths I’ve ever seen. Dark Shadows also suffers from irregular gag quality (many of them spoiled by trailers) and a werewolf appearance that made no sense at all. Whether this is just a gloss-over of the original show’s story I can’t say, but it spoiled a decent finale for me. Overall, a dramatic, beautiful and exciting film that appealed to me more for its great production design, cinematography and directing than for its comedy it quite heavily relied on. I think it’s fair to say that this is slightly underrated at the moment, but not by much. Max is a 26 year old film student who grew up in the Middle East and France before moving to the UK. An aspiring screenwriter, director and sound designer, he occasionally tries his hand at poetry and lyrics, and enjoys writing film reviews of both the new and the old. I’m one of the few people I know who isn’t a devoted fan of Tim Burton and his films, yet this pleasantly surprised me. Expecting a dreary dreg with as much soul as a rotten apricot, albeit with a few gags, I started to notice more and more of the visual and technical highlights, as well as enjoy its few charms. From early on you’re treated with some gorgeous photography, with an almost predictable eerie glow, and while the heavily Bram Stoker’s Dracula-inspired voice-over and music introduction was somewhat hasty, it proved effective and set up an interesting story. The film’s colouring is sumptuous and deliciously dark, boasting some clever, eerie and even sinister special effects, particularly in the finale. It’s hardly new for a Burton film when it comes to gothic iconography, high contrast, deep colours and poetic imagery, but this has actually rekindled my old fascination with this overall style. Certain scenes even reminded me of the silent era, with excessive make-up and melodramatic performances, and I honestly think some of the later shots were sublime in both purely aesthetic qualities and metaphorical. The performances here were somewhat erratic, and in a way mirrored the flawed storyline. While Depp is far more convincing and enjoyable here than in Alice in Wonderland, Pirates of the Caribbean Three and so on, his character left me wanting more 70 bigeyesmagazine.wordpress.com bigeyesmagazine.tumblr.com pinterest.com/bigeyesmagazine twitter.com/big_eyes_mag facebook.com/BigEyesMagazine