i ss ue no. 1
spri n g 2 0 1 7
-50GSa m a g az i n e o f t he art s
- INTRODUCTION -
In the autumn of 2016, a group of postgrad students gathered at George Square and discussed how a digital literary journal might support new and emerging artists and writers. You might ask why there was a need for yet another journal. After all, the University of Edinburgh annually publishes a collection of work by the postgrad students in its creative writing program, called From Arthur â€™s Seat. And thereâ€™s the venerable Edinburgh Review, initiated in 1755 and still in publication. 50GS seeks to be a platform open to talent outside the graduate creative writing program and acknowledging that talent is not confined to these boundaries. And while Edinburgh Review is one of our favourites, it does not, as a print publication, take advantage of the digital world. And so it was from this conclusion that 50GS (taking its name
from the home of the creative writing program, 50 George Square) was formed. This is the first issue of 50GS, and we timed its release to coincide with the University â€™s Festival of Creative Learning. As the name suggests, the Festival endorses and celebrates original and creative approaches to learning and offers space for student-run events. Naturally, it fit that our first issue should be a part of that, since we are in search of undiscovered creative voices and talent and our board is made up entirely of students who volunteer their time and expertise. There is no shortage of skill on our team of founding editors. Caitlin McLaughlin and Michael Marshall worked tirelessly to design our website and logo as well as this first issue. These accomplishments are invaluable and will be the basis for 50GS to grow in the years to come, under the guidance of new editors. To help support that growth, editor Cassidy Colwell organized and managed a fundraiser so that 50GS could support its contributing writers and artists while bringing together a panel of excellent writers and poets to our launch event for readings. The panel includes Daniel Shand, Christina Neuwirth, Ryan Van Winkle and Russell Jones, accomplished authors who started by publishing in journals not unlike ours. Toward that goal, all of our founding editors have contributed time and effort in editing new work and helping to define 50GS and its approach to the literary market. This group includes not only the editors above, but also Rachana Bhattacharjee, Zack Abrams, Grace Wong, Celia Wilding, Megan Jones, Jessica Irish, Elvis Sokoli, Michael Worrell, Mark Flanagan, and Nathan
Watson. Without the drive and commitment of such people, this journal would never have come to be. I hope that you find our first issue stimulating, thought provoking and, most of all, thoroughly enjoyable. This is just the beginning of 50GS, and as this year â€™s editors graduate and move on in their careers, and a new class of editors takes over, we look forward to seeing how this platform will grow and develop in recognition of talented new writers and artists. Yours,
Joshua Simpson Founding Editor
- TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S -
FICTION Pot Shots Young Capability Brown Looking Out Over Isolation Fight Scene The Happy Transfusion of Little Lily Lovesun
Drew Taylor Max Dunbar Megan Atkins Michael Chin Stephenson Muret
12 26 36 44 48
“She pressed hard on the nib…”
Jacqueline Saville @JYSaville
“Winter, late, fresh fall…”
Paul Thompson @BookseekerAgent
“Free coffee shop tattoos…”
Ricky Monahan Brown @ricky_ballboy
P O E T RY An Effigy
An Opera about Orpheus
Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois
Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois
The Persistence of Memory
The grass verge outside the Whyte Museum is particularly tasty
And Beautiful Splinter is the next track on shuffle
Kenneth P. Gurney
Promises of Metaphor
Richard King Perkins II
The Andalusia of My Voice
Richard King Perkins II
Richard King Perkins II
Seaside Graphic Novel
Richard King Perkins II
NONFICTION An Interview with Amy Liptrot
Nick Holdstock’s The Casualties
An Interview with Daniel Shand
Claire Askew ’s This Changes Things
An Interview with Ryan Van Winkle
Celia Wilding & Grace Hiu-Yan Wong
Umbrellas of Edinburgh Review
Grace Hiu-Yan Wong
Quilting Peace Orbits Merging Her Sun Comets Born At Last
9 56 77 89 93 105 109
Untitled I Untitled II Untitled III
“Q U I LT I N G ” Fa b r i c e Po u s s i n
- P OT S H OT S D r e w Ta y l o r
Ethel closed her front door as she set out to get her messages. Passing her proud garden, she noticed her orange and yellow lilies had started to bloom amongst the bluebells, and she said good morning to her favourite potted plants: Thomas, Louis, Hugo, Juliette, Corne – Ethel gasped. Trying to stay calm, she hurried back up the path as fast as she could, her walking stick wobbling in her hand, and her back aching more than usual. She locked the door, removed her hat, and made her way to the telephone in the living room. She wheezed into her chair and fumbled open her list of phone numbers, nearly tearing the first page. After a few misdials – those long mobile numbers – she could hear it ring. “Mum?”
“Oh John. Someone’s taken Cornelius.” Ethel peered out her window at the gaping hole in her row of potted plants. She could see the circle of darkened, flat grass where Cornelius had stood. “Cornelius?” “My orchid! My favourite orchid! He’s gone. Someone’s stolen him.” “Okay, okay. Calm down. Now I don’t think anyone would’ve –” “He’s gone, John. Someone’s stolen him.” “Okay, Mum… I’m at work, so I can’t come over right now. I can get there at one, maybe twelve-thirty. All right?” Ethel’s clock pointed to 8.55am. She ran her finger over her lower lip. “Okay.” “Just stay inside and don’t do anything.” Ethel hung up and watched the street from between two panels of her vertical blinds. She didn’t want whoever was out there to see her. By 9.30am she was channel hopping through daytime TV and checking the clock every two minutes. Her thoughts kept turning to Cornelius, lost out there. It didn’t feel right doing nothing, so she called Margaret. Margaret never let a problem stand in her way. She’d know what to do. And she was still young – only 73. Margaret promised to be right over. She only lived a few streets down and got to Ethel’s by 10am.“Shocking, absolutely shocking,” Margaret said, shaking her head at the flat, darkened grass. Inside, she made tea. “I don’t know what’s
happening to the world. When will the police get here?” “The police?” Ethel said. “Don’t tell me you’ve not called them?” “No I didn’t think –” “A crime has been committed, Eth. Someone has stolen your property. You need to report it. Where’s the phone?” Ethel felt a bit silly reporting Cornelius’ disappearance, but the young girl on the other end was very understanding and polite. She told Ethel not to worry and said a car would be over within the hour. In the kitchen, Ethel and Margaret sipped their teas. “Who could do such a thing?” Margaret asked, biting into her third Belgian butter biscuit. She devoured it in quick, short chomps and moved on to the next one. Ethel couldn’t eat. She barely drank her tea. “Who was that boy last week?” Margaret said. “His ball flattened your dahlias.” “The boy across the street? I forget his name. Brendan or Bert or…” “There’s our prime suspect.” Margaret thinned her eyes in suspicion. “Brendan? No. He’s only six or seven.” “That doesn’t matter, Eth. My sister used to receive all kinds of terror from a nine-year-old when she lived out in Riverside. Nine years old! What happened to discipline and respect?” Ethel rubbed her finger on her dry lower lip. Brendan? Surely not. She couldn’t remember if it
had been him who’d flattened her dahlias… his mother was perfectly friendly, so… she sighed. It was hard to think. She accepted that it was possible that he was to blame. “It’s revenge for me shouting at him for ruining the dahlias,” Margaret said. “He had no idea what was going on. I bet he’s never been disciplined in his life.” The police arrived promptly. It was good to know that they still cared about the small things. Margaret ushered the two young policemen into the living room. She poured them cups of tea without asking if they wanted some, and slid them the plate of biscuits, plucking two for herself. Sitting on the armrest of Ethel’s armchair, she urged her friend to tell the two young men everything. The police officers patiently listened as Ethel started to recount the morning’s events. She hadn’t said much when the leading officer raised a hand. “I’m sorry, Cornelius is an orchid?” “Yes, my favourite orchid.” “We were told this was a missing persons case.” He looked across at his partner, as if for clarification. “Oh no,” Ethel said. “I’m sure I was clear on the phone.” “Right, well this is a bit different than –” “I hardly think that matters,” Margaret interjected. “Theft was still a crime in this country, last I heard.” The leading officer paused, his mouth slightly open. He exchanged a short sideways look with his partner, forced a smile, and apologised. He confirmed that theft was indeed still a crime, and, his pencil and notepad
ready, he encouraged Ethel to continue. He shared another look with his partner and scribbled away. Once Ethel had finished, Margaret leaned down and, in French, said, “He could at least pretend he was interested.” Ethel said “mm” in agreement. “What was that?” the second officer asked. He wore a large ginger beard. Ethel hadn’t ever seen so much facial hair on a law officer before. His partner, whose hair was short and blonde, and was a bit on the portly side, hadn’t noticed the change in language. “You’ll need a description?” Margaret replied. “Erm…” the blonde one said, taking a moment to gather his thoughts. “Sure, why not?” Margaret pressed her lips together, unimpressed, and Ethel gave a description. About a yard tall, violet petals in a symmetrical, mathematical arrangement, smelled like vanilla. Blonde jotted away. “Shouldn’t you have a sketch artist?” Margaret asked. Ginger played on his phone and after a moment held the screen towards the two ladies. “Oh, that’s it!” Ethel said to the purple floral on the screen. She added that the plant pot was orange ceramic with a watery pattern running around it of fish jumping through waves. “Got it at an antique dealership in Brittany twenty years ago. When we took the students across with the university.” “That was a wonderful trip,” Margaret added. They showed the flat, darkened markings of
Cornelius’ last known location, and Margaret took the opportunity to point out the house across the road. “We think it was the young boy who lives opposite, number 66. Brendan. He ruined her dahlias last week, and he didn’t like it when I shouted at him.” Blonde nodded, his thoughts clearly elsewhere. “Thank you, ladies,” he said, sliding his pencil into his notepad’s elastic holder. “I’m afraid there’s not much we can really do. We’ve not got a specific time frame or any evidence as such.” “You’ll at least ask around the neighbourhood?” Margaret asked. “If someone had seen something they ’d have come forward by now,” he answered. “But we’ve got your details, so we’ll be in touch if anything comes up. And if you happen to come across anything then do let us know.” Both officers wished them a good day, and as they drove off Margaret’s steely eyes burned a hole into their rear windscreen. “Ridiculous,” she muttered, leading Ethel back inside. “They ’re not going to do anything. They say they will, but…” Ethel eased into her armchair, letting out a soft “oh”, while Margaret glowered through the vertical blinds at number 66. “What happened to the local officer who looked out for the community?” Margaret grumbled. “If I could at least get the pot back. I’ve had it for so long and it goes so well with everything
else.” “We can’t let them get away with this.” Margaret pushed her face to the window, her nostrils breathing a small patch of condensation onto the glass. “We should go over there and ask for it back. Demand its return.” “Oh, I don’t know…” “The police said we should get in touch if we find anything. They ’re not going to act, so we should.” Margaret pulled her head back and fixed her glasses on her ears. “We don’t even know if Brendan did it.” “Of course he did it. He’s probably over there right now, pulling each leaf from Cornelius, one at a time. Ripped him from his pot so his soil is everywhere. Each petal removed and torn to shreds. His stem chopped apart bit by bit –” “Stop it!” “I’m just being honest with you, Eth. The longer we wait, the longer Cornelius suffers. They ’ll probably smash the plant pot to cover their tracks. No – you know what they ’ll do? They ’ll put another plant in it and put it out in their garden. And when we say it’s yours, they ’ll claim that you’re a confused old woman.” “Really?” “Yes. But I won’t have it! Their garden is ugly, and they ’re jealous. Come on.” They made the journey across the road, arms linked, taking their time due to Ethel’s back problems. White stones covered the whole of number 66’s front garden, broken up by a pathway of hexagonal sandstone steps, and the random placement of short, fat, bristly bushes. As they
walked up the slight incline of the driveway, Mrs Smith exited the front door. “Bonjour, Ethel,” she said, pulling her key from the lock and hurrying down her steps. “Bonjour, Carol,” Ethel said. “Can I help you?” Carol asked, passing them both to her car. “Yes,” Margaret said. The car beside her clicked unlocked. “Could we speak to Brendan?” “Who?” “Brendan. Your son.” “My son Ben is at school.” She paused at the driver ’s door. “Why do you want to speak to him?” “Well, I’m afraid Ethel has been the victim of larceny. You see, one of her plants has been stolen: a lovely, tall orchid, in a rather rare and beautiful pot.” “Okay. And?” “And, well, Ben was responsible for ruining Ethel’s dahlias last week, and I’m afraid we suspect his foul play here as well.” Carol blinked. “I- that’s… Ben is four. He can barely hold a bowl of cereal. Yes, he flattened some of Ethel’s dahlias, two or three, but he was playing with his ball, and he was sorry.” Margaret forced a wide smile. “We’d still like to speak to him nonetheless.” “No, don’t be so senile.” Carol rolled her eyes and entered her car, shaking her head. She started the engine, which revved loudly and startled both Ethel and Margaret, before reversing out at an unnecessarily high speed and driving
away. “If it wasn’t Brendan,” Ethel said, her voice quivering, “then who was it?” “Don’t be fooled by it,” Margaret said, tightening her arm around Ethel’s. “All young boys are brats. My brother was a nightmare until my father sent him to military school, and he was a man by the time he was ten. But Carol won’t do that. Probably embarrassed to admit that she can’t control him. Terrible parenting. No, let’s go round the back. Cornelius will be there, I bet you.” Margaret led Ethel between the garage and the mahogany fence, through the latched gate, and into the back garden. There was no personality to it. Toys were strewn out on the small and enclosed rectangle of grass and slabs. At the far end, squeezed next to the shed, was a trampoline, and more bristling bushes lined the fence. Near the back door rested a collection of small potted plants. They looked dehydrated and neglected. “I don’t see him,” Ethel groaned. “I don’t think we should be here.” “We’ll be just a minute,” Margaret said, squeezing Ethel’s hand. There was no sign of Cornelius. “Probably already disposed of the evidence,” Margaret murmured as they investigated the garden bin next to the back door. It was full of dismembered greenery, all chopped up and impossible to tell what was what. No purple petals, and there wasn’t time to dig around. Margaret leaned to the bin and inhaled. “Vanilla,” she growled. “Are you sure?” Ethel’s sense of smell wasn’t that good.
Margaret insisted she was correct. But it still wasn’t enough for Ethel, who found the garden unner ving and really wanted to leave. Right as they exited the gate, Margaret said she wanted to check something else and turned back, leaving Ethel at the gate. Ethel, having left her walking stick in her house, wasn’t confident standing unaided, and balanced precariously against the rough mahogany fence. With all her attention on staying upright, she didn’t hear the light smash from the back garden, and was quickly swept up by Margaret, who guided her back to her house. Margaret went to get Ethel’s messages, leaving Ethel to sag in her armchair, her head and eyes downcast as she ignored the TV. She rubbed her finger slowly over her lower lip. It was hard to not consign herself to never seeing Cornelius again. She’d dedicated so much time to her garden to make it as perfect as it was, and that pot had been with her for so long as well. A gardening programme came on and she had to change the channel so she didn’t get too upset. When Margaret returned, Ethel suggested they ask the other neighbours. Someone might have seen something but not thought anything of it. Margaret said they should speak to Ben in person. They heard the inner garage door open and Ethel remembered that she’d called John, who shouted a hello into the house. Ethel hadn’t driven since before her husband had died, so John parked in the garage whenever he came over. She shouted for him to come to the living room and sat up, feeling reenergised, knowing John would have fresh ideas on where to find… “Cornelius! Margaret, look!”
John shuffled in, holding Cornelius in his large ceramic plant pot with the waves and the fish. The two ladies were astounded. “Where did you…?” Ethel managed. “In the garage next to a bag of soil,” John said, looking sharply at his mum. Ethel raised a hand as it all came back. “That’s right. I re-soiled him yesterday and meant to ask the postman to put him out this morning.” She shook her head at such forgetfulness, but seeing Cornelius there in John’s hands, she rolled her eyes and laughed. One of those things when getting old. At least he was safe and undamaged. Margaret was so surprised she couldn’t say anything, and only smiled lightly when Ethel thanked her for all her help. John returned Cornelius to his rightful spot and they all sat down for some lunch. They ate their sandwiches, watched the TV, and John talked about Ethel’s grandchildren. Her grandson had taken up rugby, she learned. The doorbell rang and Margaret offered to answer it. After she’d left the room, John leaned forwards. “Mum, this business with the plant,” he said, keeping his voice low. “You’re starting to forget a lot of things.” “I’m fine,” she said, smiling. John counted out on his fingers. “You’ve been mixing up names, forgot to pay your gas bill last month, and ordered new tulips twice after you forgot you ordered them the first time.” “Oh, stop worrying. I’m 86. These things happen.”
“You’re 87, and I think –” John paused and looked to the hall. “What’s with all the racket?” A commotion had boiled at the front door. They heard Margaret loudly declare something as “absurd”. John told Ethel to stay while he went to see what the noise was all about, but she was already pushing herself up with her walking stick. At the door, she saw a police officer holding up his hands in a placating way. Margaret had folded her arms and pressed her lips together. At the far end of Ethel’s garden stood Carol, also with her arms rigidly folded, carefully watching them. Ethel smiled and waved, but Carol didn’t seem to notice. John had failed to force his way into the disagreement, and stood at the side looking puzzled and concerned. Ethel asked what was going on. “You won’t believe this,” Margaret muttered to her in French. “Your neighbour at number 66, Mrs Smith,” the officer said, “returned home to find a plant pot thrown through her dining room window.” “Oh no!” Ethel said. Margaret exhaled a deep sigh through her nostrils. “She said you both went over just before she left and accused her son of stealing your missing plant, which we now know wasn’t true. She said your friend was quite rude and –” “She thinks it was us,” Margaret said. She raised her eyebrows at Ethel, and Ethel frowned, unsure if she’d correctly followed everything. “Well,” the officer said, turning to Margaret. “Was it?”
Margaret scoffed. “I’m not even going to answer that. This is ridiculous.” “But you have to admit that it’s a bit of a coincidence.” “That doesn’t mean anything. If someone knew something then they would have come forward. And I’d just like to add that everything was normal when we went across, and that we were civil and polite and that she was the rude one.” Margaret had raised her voice at the end for Carol to hear. Carol rolled her eyes and looked away. The officer asked Ethel if she had anything to add. She said she didn’t and he wrote in his notepad. John hazarded it was a spooked burglar. The officer thanked them and turned to leave, and at that moment Ethel realised he was the blonde officer from earlier. “Officer,” she said, and he stopped and looked back. “You needn’t worry about looking for Cornelius, my son managed to find him.” “Yes, thank you, I saw,” he said, gesturing to Cornelius next to him. “We can close the case on that one.” He walked down to Carol and explained everything to her. She wasn’t happy. She turned to march up to the front door for another quarrel, but the officer stopped her, so she threw up her hands and tramped back to her house. Ethel spotted Ben on the other side of the road, watching everything. She smiled and waved at him, and he turned and ran back into his house. They closed the door and went back to their lunch.
Ethel settled back into her armchair. “I hope they find who did that. She’ll have to get a new window fitted and everything.” “Probably some teenagers,” Margaret said. John, who’d stayed standing, cleared his throat. “I can’t believe you called the police.” Neither woman responded to this. “Right Mum, we really need to talk about you moving into a care –” “No,” Ethel said. “They have great beds, which would help with your –” “This care home nonsense again?” Margaret asked in French. “I’m not going,” Ethel answered in French. “I won’t leave my garden. Not after what happened today.” “Those places are an early death,” Margaret added, repeating this in English to John, who couldn’t follow the French dialogue. “I’m just looking out for my mum,” he said. “You don’t need to do that,” Ethel said. “I’ve got Margaret.” me.”
Margaret raised her cup. “You can count on
- YO U N G C A PA B I L I T Y B R O W N Max Dunbar
Dennis had worked at the Ginetta plant in Garforth for thirty-seven years. Now, retired, he went every morning at eight to the Gledhow allotments where he kept a plot—thirty foot by twenty (ten rods square)—with rows of carrots, potatoes, beans, beets, and tomatoes. No one knew or loved it better. When he had been working at the plant and his wife was still alive, he had worked the allotment on Sundays and summer evenings. Now that there was neither job nor wife, Dennis was apt to work the plot—hoeing, weeding, har vesting, prepping, composting—for eleven to thirteen hours a day. He was good at it, he had won association awards (‘Best Kept,’ 2014, ‘Highly Commended,’ 2015) and was able to sell vegetables at the farmer ’s market in the Hulats to supplement his occupational pension (which
for nearly four decades’ ser vice, most of it hard physical labour, was somewhat low). He had an aptitude for gardening, which he suspected he got from his mother. His mother had kept the best-looking garden on the estate. The only problem was the moles. No matter what he tried, they always came back this time of year. Time and again, as April slid into May (and the fine weather, for a wonder, continued), he arrived at his plot to find at least two or three tell-tale mole hills in between the rows of vegetables. The allotments were located in the heart of the Gledhow Valley, and during the day the plots were quiet. They were too far into the valley for the Sunday crowds with their bikes and their packed lunches and their awful squawking children. Traffic from the A61 and the ring road was near drowned out by the sounds of rushing water and the songs of the birds. A lot of the plot holders were men of Dennis’s age and on their breaks they would drink tea and eat bacon butties and roll cigarettes and bitch about the state of the world. Except on those sunlit afternoons the state of the world didn’t seem to matter, because there was a quiet conviction in them that the rest of the country, going to hell in its own way, couldn’t penetrate here. On the second of June, the plot next to his came up for rent. A week later, Dennis was prepping soil for his bean rows when the Fickling family turned up. He knew their names because Mr. Fickling (‘Call me Simon!’) had told him without being asked. Simon Fickling was a slight man with drastic,
unkempt hair. He wore cargo pants and a t-shirt that said ‘THE REVOLUTION IS JUST A T SHIRT AWAY’. Dennis thought: if he’s thirty yet I’ll eat my rake. In addition to Mr. Fickling himself, there was his missus, Jasmine (except Simon Fickling called her his ‘life partner ’), and two noisy, rather precocious kids who rejoiced in the names of Gulliver and Romy-Wren. There was also a dog, a bouncy Jack Russell who would jump over the partition fencing and knock over Dennis’s bean canes. ‘Oh, don’t mind Jeremy there!’ Simon would call across in his un-weathered college-boy accent. ‘He’s a little boisterous! Jeremy, you little oaf, stop jumping onto Dennis’s plot! Come back, boy! Come on!’ I’m Mr. Stathers to you, you little prick, Dennis thought as he hoed the weeds out of his potato run—hoeing the potatoes along with the weeds. At the local WMC, when he complained about his new plot-neighbours, the other old men of the allotment would say: ‘Don’t worry about them. You know what these young people are like.’ ‘They get into growing vegetables because it’s seen as the trendy new thing in the silly magazines that they read,’ Dalip Hussain said, ‘but they soon slack off once they realise it means a hard day ’s work.’ Dennis drank a little more than normal that Friday night. He overslept by half an hour, and didn’t get to his plot until nine. There were four new molehills. Dennis stared
at them. He thought he could see things shifting inside them. In the days that followed, it became clear that the Fickling family were determined to make a go of their plot. Simon Fickling turned up most days, not just at the weekends but during the week as well. If it wasn’t Simon, it was his wife—sorry, ‘life partner ’—with the dog and one, or both, of the Fickling children in tow. Work didn’t seem to eat into their growing time: Jasmine worked sixteen hours as a support worker for refugees, and Simon himself worked for the university on some big project to expand the college estate. The reason Dennis knew all this was because the Ficklings talked. Old Jack Sankey, who’d had the plot before, had never said anything apart from a neutral comment on the weather, or some wry, bitter aperçu on the latest folly of local or national government. The Ficklings talked all the time, about organic barbecues and child centred learning and smoke free campaigns and crowd funded microbreweries and dinner parties and glamour camping and novels by pale young men from Brooklyn and transgender rights and electronic music and pocket parks and how terrible it would be if the British public in its fecklessness voted to leave the European Union on the 23rd. Dennis was astounded to see that the children, around seven and nine, participated freely in these ridiculous discussions. Their voices were articulate and unearthly. Dennis thought: I’d’a got a clip round the ear if I ever tried to join a grownups talk. Dennis wondered how the Ficklings ever got anything done in the allotment, what with all
the energy they spent on talking. But they had to be doing something right, because the plot next door flourished with sweet potatoes, chili plants, artichokes, leeks, carrots and green beans. The Ficklings built a greenhouse, and separate herb patches, with quinoa and fennel. The kids made cardboard decorations to hang on the canes. When Dennis was in the plot he found his gaze drifting from his own runs and soil to the plot next door to see what had come up nicely there today… and then his gaze would drift back to the molehills within his own ten rods, and the shifting movements he half-glimpsed within them. Fennel, Dennis thought. Who grows fennel in Leeds? The Ficklings unsettled him because they made him feel like the stereotype of the grumpy old man his wife had always accused him of being. He lay awake thinking things like: You have to let the world go to hell in its own way, that’s what I always thought. Let the EU burn our money and flood our cities with Turks and Bulgarians, let the college buy up more land to build housing for more students so they can drink and take drugs and knock over bins and keep people awake at night. Let the world go to hell in its own way. Just as long as they keep away from my plot, from what’s mine, what I earned. At that year ’s allotment awards, Simon and Jasmine Fickling won the ‘Best Kept Allotment’ prize. The day after the ceremony, Dennis got up at six and had his tea and toast, shaved and dressed in his normal check shirt and jeans and left his ex-council semi off Stonegate Road, but he wasn’t going to the allotment.
Instead Dennis walked up to the woods at the north edge of town. These woods were just as beautiful as the Gledhow Valley, but attracted fewer walkers. The river ran through these woods, and after a couple of hours’ trek, the rushing water and birdsong were almost deafening. Foxes skittered across his shoes: Dennis paid them no mind, and none to the other things either, the voices and sprites, which could distract him and take him away to some spooky hinterland if Dennis wasn’t careful. His legs ached and his glasses slipped down his nose from sweat and his hip tingled with the presentiment of arthritis by the time he reached the clearing. He spoke the incantation—thinking the words must sound bloody odd in his North Leeds accent—and something appeared in the cairn. Child, it said. You summon me? ‘I’ve never asked for anything,’ Dennis began. Yet you’re asking me for something now, said the Green God. Tell me what. Dennis explained his problem, which was received in silence. It seems rather trivial, said the Green God. ‘It’s not bloody trivial!’ Dennis’s voice rose, and at that moment he looked like his younger self—‘Fighting Den’, they used to call him on the Moortown estate where he’d been raised. You do understand the obligation. The Green God’s voice was soft, yet grated. ‘I do. I’m prepared to pay the price.’ Dennis Stathers never liked being in debt to
anyone, but walking back through the Northside woodland (and now he was on his way out, the strange flickering shadows and spectacular overgrowth that made the woods almost impassable in places didn’t bother him at all), he felt relaxed about the contract he’d made. For one thing, the process of debt and obligation wasn’t the same in the supernatural world. If you asked a favour from the Green God, all you owed him was the right to sprout a tree on a house you’d owned five hundred years ago. He was at the allotment by two o’clock and set straight to work prepping his topsoil. An hour later Simon came by. ‘What are you growing there, Dennis? Anything special?’ ‘Yes, but I can’t say,’ Dennis told him. ‘I’m keeping it a surprise.’ It was a summer of surprises for the Fickling family. None of them good. First, their crops were razed by a variety of sawflies, midges, beetles, ants and blight, so that by mid-July, the Fickling allotment, once a verdant sunscape, looked like the site of some moonlit biochemical experiment. An entomologist came down from the university and didn’t have a clue what to do. He said there were species of pests inhabiting their plot that were only found in tropical climates. The Ficklings were seen less at the allotment, and when they were there, they weren’t doing any gardening. He recalled seeing Jasmine weeping over the ruins of her herb garden. Another time he’d got to the allotment early and seen Simon sleeping in their greenhouse with a half-empty bottle of whiskey. This was about the time the rumours that Jasmine had been shagging
the cheese shop owner behind Simon’s back started. While Dennis was glad that peace had been restored to his allotment (plus, a new set of traps had finally got rid of the moles that had been making those fucking mounds), he was aware of his responsibility for the Ficklings’ problems. It didn’t make him regret his bargain with the Green God, which in turn didn’t affect his lifelong and sincere Christianity. He remembered what his mother had said: There’s a place for Jesus, and a place for the Green God. You take your prayers to Jesus, and to the Green God for owt else. The Ficklings were not seen at the plot for two weeks. One night, in their absence, their greenhouse burned to the ground. The police came, those fake plastic cops that were all you saw on the street these days. They asked Dennis if he knew who had burned the greenhouse. Dennis said it was probably local youths. Beckhills kids. This seemed to satisf y them. Weeks went by and the family didn’t return. The rumours continued (the latest that the Fickling son, Gulliver, had caught some complex respiratory disease) and then tailed off altogether. And then the police came back – not the plastic PCSO cops but a proper detective, named Mike Haigh. DC Haigh said he was investigating a missing persons case. Dennis told him the truth, that he hadn’t seen Simon or Jasmine for about a month now. ‘That’s what everybody ’s saying,’ Haigh said. ‘Their friends, their colleagues, everyone.’
Dennis made Haigh a cup of tea from the generator. ‘Do you get a lot of people going missing like this?’ ‘On occasion,’ said DC Haigh. ‘In them circumstances, though, the misper is normally running from debt—they ’ll have rent arrears, council tax summons, utilities, credit card debt. The Ficklings were doing fine—mortgage up to date, no cards, no creditors. They buy the house in April, they ’ve both got permanent jobs, a good social life, they ’re very active in the community— and in August they just abandon it all?’ ‘Can’t the police trace them?’ ‘Our guy did a financial footprint and got nothing. And here’s the thing, that house—when you go in, it looks like it’s been abandoned for years. Weeds coming through the floor, mushrooms growing through the walls—it’s creepy. It smells like the woods.’ They drank their tea and chatted about this and that. The two men got on quite well. DC Haigh admired the tomato run, which had come up nice again. Dennis said it had been perfect tomato weather, and he’d be happy to offer the detective some to take home. DC Haigh accepted the gift with thanks. He said he was trying to lose weight; a few tomato salads instead of beef burgers might do the trick. Dennis walked home at seven. It was warm, but getting dark. The year was turning again. That night he watched the boxing and had a couple of tins. Outside, his own garden, neglected for some time, slept under a darkening sky. The flowerbeds had grown somewhat out of
control and raggedy. At midnight exactly, a molehill sprouted on Dennisâ€™s lawn. Another one came up. And another. The mole mounds stood there on moonlit grass. Something shifted.
- LO O K I N G O U T O V E R I S O L AT I O N Megan Atkins
A mountain lake: the water so still only the birds create ripples across its surface, the water so clear the sky â€™s perfect blue is reflected like a mirror. A forest of dancing reeds and looming trees reach out over it in an effort to touch the water. The twittering of birds echo through the clear mountain air. Not a breath of wind circles. The stillness allows the sun to bask the area undisturbed, casting everything aglow. On one side is an almost flat landscape; a thin green line defining the horizon above the lake. On the other side the mountains reign. They sprout from nothing, their jagged edges sharp against the soft clouds that float behind. A single cabin nestles on its shore. Some of it has been built out into the water, resting on stilts as though floating on its silver surface. A traveller, hungry and exhausted, can smell
the change in the air from far off. He is in need of rest and the thought of finding sanctuary from the wilderness brings him relief. His senses guide him, his thoughts weak after the long hours spent battling exhaustion. He hikes through dense forests that get denser, winding around thick trees, but still he perseveres. He is desperate. The sun is setting and the air is beginning to cool by the time a picture of the lakeâ€™s surface peeks through the foliage. The traveller laughs and its ring is absorbed by the forest. He begins to run, powered by a last rush of adrenaline, despite his legs being on the verge of collapse. He bursts out onto a small sandy beach and crumples. It is still warm from the day â€™s sun. He dumps his bag on the sand, removes his shoes and wades into the crystal water with a laugh and a shiver. His feet submerge, and then his knees. Bending down to scoop up a handful of water, he drinks it greedily. The perfect temperature, he thinks, and gulps down another handful, then another. He fills his bottle before sitting down to rest. It is only then that he absorbs the beauty of his surroundings for the first time. It leaves him breathless, taken aback by this perfect, isolated sanctuary. It looks as though no human has ever touched it before. The contrast is staggering compared to the industrialised city he left behind. A bird flies above, cutting cleanly across the clear sky. It floats down to the lakeâ€™s surface and lands with a small splash. Then the stillness descends once more. A gunshot rumbles. So suddenly that much of the nearby wildlife scatters in fear. Birds flock to the skies. Fish dive into the depths. The sound still reverberates through the lake long after it
has begun to fade. A bird now floats as nothing but a dead body. The traveller is quick to begin stripping. Soon he is completely exposed and jumps into the water. He finds and grabs the dead bird with ease. Though the water felt the perfect temperature before, it seems cooler now, becoming icier with every stroke. His limbs begin to seize up. His breath becomes short and wheezy. He can feel his heart clenching as the lake draws vital warmth away from his body. It is a relief as he reaches the beach to be out of that frozen liquid. When he lies on the sand though, the heat has drained from that as well. The stillness of the air has vanished. Winds tear through the trees, blowing through his hair violently. Every gust freezes a little more of his skin. He is shivering now, his teeth chattering. He scrambles for his clothes, quick to pull them on and absorb their dry warmth. The serenity that clothed the lake has vanished. As he stares out to it, huddling into himself, clouds descend over everything. They are no longer the white soft ones that speckled the sky before, but instead, a dense grey. The wind howls, furious, whipping up waves along the lakeâ€™s surface. They collapse onto the shore in crashes. The air is getting muggier. After a moment of shock, the man is quick to come to his senses. He hustles about, desperate to draw out his tent from his pack to set it up before the downpour. He gathers sticks, twigs, dry wood, anything to start a fire. Huddling under his crudely set up shelter, he attempts in vain to create a spark with two rocks that he had in his pocket. One spark, nothing. Another. Another. He can hear the pattering of raindrops on the lake.
He rubs harder, more vigorously. This time the fire catches. He blows onto it a few times, and quickly piles on larger planks of wood to protect the smoking centre from the increasing downpour. With care, he nurses the flames higher, even as the fat raindrops clatter on the roof of his shelter. The black sky lets itself go. There is constant drumming on his shelter ’s roof, on the leaves of the trees, in the hollows of the reeds. The man sits and listens to the continuous rhythm of heavy plip plop on the lake. It takes him hours – struggling beside the doomed fire, watching darkness consume his surroundings – to cook his meal. The rain refuses to let up. Across the lake, obscured by the trees and sheltered from the rain on a small veranda, a woman sits, watching. “You shouldn’t be so cruel to travellers, you know.” A gust of wind whips through the woman’s hair, moaning in the cabin’s boards. The woman shakes her head. “You always see the worst in people. Can’t you see this man just needs rest for a night? A place to recuperate. He will not disturb the peace any more than he has to.” The wind chimes again, stronger this time, as it swirls around the woman, calling out to her. The woman closes her eyes and listens. She learnt long ago of the lake’s many voices; from its peaceful stillness to the angry storms. “I know you worry,” she replies, “but you have to give people the benefit of the doubt sometimes. People can surprise you. Exceptions can be made.” The woman pauses to stand, walking to an opening in the barrier that encloses
her veranda. She sits and dangles her feet into the water, stroking the surface with her toe, momentarily wrinkling its fabric, over and over, back and forth. Above her cabin, the rain has stopped. The water feels warm around her ankles. Although she knows that it will be icy everywhere else. She ignores the words of the wind now. “You made an exception for me. I was a traveller, just the same.” Without warning, the wind stops. Still warmth falls again, yet rain pelts the traveller across the way. “Do you remember that night, all those years ago? The night I first saw you,” she continues. “I’d fallen so much in love with what I found here that I ignored your attempts to drive me away. And when you pulled me under the surface you finally let me see you. I saw your face. I saw your fear. And I fell in love again.” She sighs and stares at the inky water around her feet. “You could have drowned me that night, but you didn’t.” She closes her eyes. For a moment, there is nothing. Then she hears the gentle rush of the wind. A splash resounds, and something cool and wet touches her hand. It grips her, its soft slender fingers sliding into hers. She smiles “Maya,” she says and opens her eyes. Beside her, a girl is seated, a figure she has grown to recognise instantly after so many visits. Her body looks frail against the pitch-black sky, like a reed in the lake that sways with the lull of the current. Her face is gentle. Her eyes shine the deep green of the trees that surround the lake. Her hair flows down to her shoulders, a crisp white at the roots but fading into a murky green
as it reaches the tangled ends. When she moves, her hair undulates in gentle waves, moving too slowly for reality, almost def ying gravity. As does her dress: the lake itself. It changes colour with her moods. Tonight it is tenebrous blue. lips.
“Tara,” Maya responds, a small smile on her
A moment passes between the two, then both pairs of eyes drift over to the miserable traveller. “He attacked the wildlife, Tara. There’s obviously harm intended there.” “It is only one duck.” Thunder crashes, rumbling and distant but sudden in the night’s silence. Anger blazes through Maya’s features. “That isn’t the point. You know how it is! You let one human settle and soon towns sprout on your beaches, taking too much of you away and poisoning the rest of you with their toxic waste. They don’t stop till they ’ve destroyed everything and then they leave you to die.” The wind that tears around them now is stronger than ever. The gusts catch her yells, not covering them but amplif ying them. The waves are rough and dangerous and crash into the veranda. Her rage ravages the lake. “I’ve watched the other lakes helpless as illness descended upon them,” she continues. “As they let more and more settle around them. I’ve seen it. They were ignorant! I’m not.” Maya finally pauses. Anger stains her expression. Her breathing is heavy. Her hands are curled into tight fists. She stares out across the black lake. Tara watches her, patient. “Maya.” When Tara finally speaks, when the
silence feels like it is light enough to be broken, her voice is soft, reassuring. “Look at him. He is one man. One lost soul. He is hungry and cold but nothing more. Do you see the threat of a town being built around him? What harm can this poor person truly do to you?” The wind is melting away, softening. The rain is too, the distant drumming of drops on the surface lighter now. Maya doesn’t break away her gaze from the lake. She draws a deep breath, taking everything in: the smell, the taste, the water washing their feet, the bone-tingling chill in the air, every part that pours life into the lake. Tara takes Maya’s hand and squeezes it. A warm wetness still lingers on her skin. “Surely one night of kindness cannot bring about the catastrophe you foresee,” says Tara. Under the flickering candle-light, Maya’s eyes finally find Tara’s. Shadows dance in the contours of her features, making it difficult to see her torn expression. But then, she sighs and turns to look at the sodden traveller. Everything is quiet. The rain has stopped. The wind drops entirely. Stillness once again envelops the lake. The pair watch as the traveller scans the scene in shock: at the wreckage, and the sudden silence. It takes him a moment to dare to venture out to feel the coolness of the evening. It is quiet. The only sounds are that of the dripping leaves. The traveller is quick to take advantage of the opportunity. He restocks the fire and in a few minutes, flames begin to dance once again. He settles beside it comfortably, warming his limbs, drying his clothes. He can finally sleep in peace.
Across the lake, two hands squeeze tighter in their hold. Maya rests her head on Taraâ€™s shoulder. They smile.
- FIGHT SCENE Michael Chin
Back in the day, we wrestlers liked action movies. They were rare spectacles in which the violence exceeded our own, where fisticuffs escalated to the point that people fell from the tops of buildings and there was gunplay and explosions. We watched these movies in hotel rooms and during flights. Once, on a Friday afternoon, the theatre was all but empty. We went in to kill time because we had an extra travel day built in between towns. There was the group of us: five wrestlers. There was the group of them: eight teenagers, six boys and two girls. One of those boys had his arm draped over a girlâ€™s shoulder all the way from the ticket counter to the concessions and straight to their seats. The other couple held hands intermittently while they waited, but the boy kept breaking off and rubbing his palms over
his jeans. Our crew was a bunch of jerks; it’s hard not to be when you’re in our world where the seats and the ser ving sizes are always too small, where you’re always in motion, always in some kind of pain, always scheming new manoeuvres, perpetually on the lookout for new accessories we might carry to the ring to accentuate our characters. Going to a movie felt like it ought to be a time to cut loose, a time to become kids again. New York Nick Nettles propped up his feet on the seat in front of him and Slim Slam Gavin yelled show us your tits at the big-chested brunette during the previews. The lot of us laughed too loud for too long at the phony looking roundhouse right that the arch-villain threw, supposedly to knock out the police officer in the opening scene. The teenagers were restless. A pimplyfaced girl in a spaghetti-strap top kept turning toward us until Slim Slam gave her a tongue-incheek blow job gesture and she didn’t look back again. At some point, I farted and got us cracked up again, and while we were laughing one of the teenage boys eyed us irritably. New York said: What? It was funny. We really got into in the barroom brawl scene, though, when the macho hero fought off a dozen guys who came at him one at a time. Somebody grab a full nelson, New York said, because if just one of the bad guys caught the hero’s arms, maybe another his legs, the rest of them could get to punching and he wouldn’t stand a chance. We yelled at them to hit him from three sides, to get him on the floor, for somebody to distract him while someone else smashed him
with a chair. It’s funny, because it’s not like any of us were really rooting against the good guy, it’s just that the holes in the attack plan were so obvious that it was hard not to say something. And anytime the hero scored a punch, the bad guys sold it like they ’d been shot. The girl with the bad acne got up in the middle of this. New York called out to her that she was going to miss the best part. When she came back, she had the manager with her. Pudgy guy, too old to be working at a movie theatre, and he warned us that we had to be quiet or he’d kick us out. I worried someone, probably Slim Slam, was going to ask how he’d go about doing that, and I worried because that’s how the police get called. But all the boys nodded, except Slim Slam who stared at the screen like the manager didn’t exist. We did pipe down after that. As the credits rolled, as the house lights brightened by a degree, Slim Slam rushed past us all and posited himself in an aisle seat so he’d be there when the teenagers passed by. He flashed a smile and asked if they ’d enjoyed the show; was all Mr. Congeniality, until the girl with the pimples got near. Then he dropped the smile. Earlier that week, he’d had his forehead split open off a nasty shot with the ring bell in a No Holds Barred Match. He was stitched shut, but sitting there he expertly manipulated his skin between his thumb and forefinger to open the wound enough for a big glob of dark blood to bubble forth. I’d seen him do things like this to scare rookies in the locker room, and to back down tough guys looking to pick fights with wrestlers in bars. Some of the guys speculated that he liked
getting cut on the regular, just so he could freak out anyone squeamish about a little blood. The girl’s eyes went glassy and she covered her mouth like she might sob before she scurried right into the boy in front of her. She couldn’t get out of Slim Slam’s sight fast enough. When they were gone, he came back to us. We saw the credits through. Seemed disrespectful not to, to all these names that went into making this show that had just entertained us for the last two hours. The thought crossed my mind that the teenagers might be waiting outside, they might want to pick a fight. But what could they do? We may ’ve been a bunch of idiots, but we knew how to fight. We were big. We were bad. Slim Slam had shown them he was crazy. We’d have taken them on, no problem. When we finally did leave the theatre and went out into the lobby, it was too bright – like the blazing sun was shining right in our eyes as we set foot back into the real world.
- THE HAPPY TRANSFUSION O F L I T T L E L I LY L O V E S U N Stephenson Muret
Little Lily laid herself down in the shade, forgot about the lunch pail waiting beside her, crossed her tiny wrists over her tapping heart, and eagerly slipped out of her body. She had been feeling tired of things lately, so here she was, taking a break from them. The sun glowed golden and healthy that day and Lily felt its warmth stream through her spirit as she pattered along the sidewalks of the park. Already she was much refreshed by the leaving of her skin, but now she felt her refreshment doubly. For here, bobbling toward her, came another vacationing spirit. â€œWhy, greetings, Mr. Tree!â€? Lily cried to him. She was laughing and hoping hungrily for some little chit-chat concerning chocolate candy canes, or maybe a long talk about purple aeroplanes.
The tree spirit bowed to Lily grandly, sweeping the largeness of his spirit arms through the cheerful grass and the fragrant sod and the gleaming path, and up and over his ancient, broad, sturdy, kingly shoulders. Lily inquired, “How are you today?” The tree spirit replied, chummy and bustlerustling, “Well, young miss, now that I’ve slipped out of my branches and my trunk I’m feeling very spritely. Tree-ness had become very taxatious all of a sudden. The weather has been ceaselessly sunny for a long while and it became taxatious to eat all that light. One gets very full, you understand. I slipped away in the hope of finding a restful spot of shade for just a slight while.” Lily nodded significantly. She twinkled. “Oh, yes!” she cried to the tree spirit. “I think I know exactly what you mean! I myself was feeling somewhat draggy at the heaviness of my feet and my arm muscles and all those many teeth I have to clean and so I slipped away, too, hoping to feel the wonderful lightness of the sun a little more keenly.” And Lily rounded her head sidewise, gazing beyond her shoulder. “See me just over there, Mr. Tree? Napping in the coolness beneath one of your fellows?” She pointed. “Do you see?” Already the tree spirit had noticed the tiny little figure in the nearly near distance. “Very, very,” the tree spirit rustle-bustled. “That looks to be a very shady spot of restful shade you seem to have got.” “Yes, you’re right! Just so! But I’m wanting the sunlight right now, if you please. I’m wanting
its warmth and ever-everness. We’re quite at the opposites today, dear Mr. Tree. At least today. You wanting shade. Me wanting light. I just noticed that. Did you notice that, too?” “Quite,” the tree affirmed grandly, “With Very-ness I did, young miss. But here’s a little kiss.” And he and the girl spirit smile-winked through a shared gladness kiss, as a parting of ways became now polite. The tree looked beyond Lily to her spiritless body lying in the cool and grass and shade. And Lily looked beyond the tree to its spiritless limbs reaching up green and high and glinting. Giddily the two then separated, humming to each other heartfelt wishes of happy holidays and sweetcake cream. Lily ’s lunch pail was full of peaches. As the tree spirit bent with curious awe over Lily ’s inert body he recognized those fruits at oncem. But of course he recognized them! For he himself was the spirit of a peach tree! The tree spirit eyed the pail and its luscious much-ness of piled peach. He hankered to investigate. And how! But what an underspeech! “I have watched so very many peaches drop from my limbs,” mused the tree spirit. “And felt them sagging my branches with their ripe plumpness. I have fed so very many peaches water from summer storms and the nutrients of mother earth and willingly my very sap. And yet never have I tasted one. Not one single peach. Not ever. Taxatious!” The tree spirit looked back toward the girl spirit he had moments ago left. He saw Lily far across the park now, wondering up attentively at his own spiritless leaves and limbs. He saw her
glance back to him as well. The tree spirit hesitated, qualmed. But in the end he could not resist. For this! This equalled shady spot of cool, indeed! The tree spirit slipped into the resting body of Little Lily and wiggled the fingertips she had pressed over her heart. The spiritless leaves and limbs stood quite nigh to where Lily had exchanged pleasantries with their vacationing spirit. Immediately she recognized them, strolling to. Empty as the tree was, it seemed dimmer to her than the rest, somewhat flat. It wonted zest, she felt, splash. The girl spirit swivelled her head about lostly then, searching out some smidgen of advice. She had witnessed the tree spirit slip into her body back yonder but could not see howsoever to likewise enter this tree. Simple as jot, she thought, to inhabit a girl. Ears and nostrils to be gotten through, and that frail part between the lips, too. But a tree? They neither blink nor breathe. No snouts! Nor sleeves! No holes in anywhere to pierce. Just as Lily reached the end of these philosophies she heard something racing up behind her. She turned then to behold a thing startlingly bold: ’Twas her own body running toward her! “I know you must be here,” sang her body full of tree spirit, peach juice dripping down its chin. “I cannot see you, but it must be very true.” Lily gave quick response. “Yes, I am here,” she exclaimed. “Tell me, if you please, how to find my way through your bark and leaves that I might feel what it is to be you.” Through Lily ’s laughing mouth the tree spirit answered this way, “I cannot hear you for I am
now in a very earthly body but I will tell you what you must certainly be wondering. Above the first bend from my trunk there is a kite spirit who can only be seen by fellow spirits. Climb to the kite spirit and follow him through the knothole where he has made his home. I’m sure he will guide you from there if you wish. That is a very easy entrance into my being of wood and leaf.” Lily said, “Oh, thank you, Mr. Tree!” And the girl spirit quickened then up and across the peach bark, straddling suddenly the tree’s lowest outward arch. The kite spirit, brightly surprised, instantly widened his great gray eyes, and, upon learning from Lily of the tree spirit’s juicy boon and sweet hilarity, welcomed her with a generous croon of hospitality. Happily the kite shepherded Lily over his knot then. He even looked on lovingly as she sought and mingled with the peach tree’s sap. Soon that sap flowed Lily off and away and thickened her and stiffened her into the tree’s outermost reach of branch and root and leaf. “Oh!” Lily hushed profoundly. For she felt the sun now finding her in ten thousand places. The sun filled her now in ways she had never before known. Lily felt power and heat pouring through all her cells and rushing through all her fibres to her wildly crashing, creaking tree-ness heart. A storm. A violence. This overwhelmed Lily to a swoon, to silence. Soon though, Lily learned to be a tree without dizzying. Then she liked it wonderfully. By the time Lily understood tree-ness well enough to manage its over-smothering of her sensations, the tree spirit had positioned the little girl body that was hers at the foot of its own
trunk. Well! This means the tree spirit reclined now in its own shadow! This means Lily now shaded her own tininess! “A very delight!” garbled the tree spirit as he gobbled up peaches still from Lily ’s heaping pail. “Not a whit of taxation! Not one whit!” The girl spirit and tree spirit revelled then through their restful vacation for the rest of the full afternoon, the one lushing up sunshine, the other soothed by cool. At last they decided they wanted to stay that way forever. So they did. And no one ever knew the difference.
“PEACE” Fa b r i c e Po u s s i n
- TWITTER COMPETITION WINNERS -
FIRST PLACE Jacqueline Saville @JYSaville
She pressed hard on the nib, scoring the paper, tattooing her words onto the page so, unlike her voice, no-one could ever erase them. #50GS SECOND PLACE Pa u l T h o m p s o n @ B o o k s e e k e r A g e n t
Winter, late, fresh fall, no tracks inked the snow, no story tattooed the whiteness. Same next day. And the next, no tale of birds. #50GS THIRD PLACE Ricky Monahan Brown @ricky_ballboy
Free coffee shop tattoos. You said, “Let’s get them I’m black-hearted! Besides, they’re only temporary.” But then I inked mine in. #50GS
AN EFFIGY Lana Bella
With an eardrum bearing the rush of an evening sea, earth was an effigy with eyes of palest stone and skin of slate rain. The goblin miles corseted it in the dives of razorbills, seeded and scented with embers spilled like libations upon manufactured knees. Light click of steps breathed hooves of meandering horses, chestnut forms tread the piney scruff of weed-spry rust, hungered through the swooping accordions of wind. It was dark, and the world sighed under low thresherâ€™s blades, pearled over the inviolable stardust, wearing the passage of time that had learned refusal for the remnants of things befallen from where they lay.
SALAMANDER Lana Bella
Your salamander lungs ached, turning you into a fleeting silk of liquidity over the trial flights of logjam weeds, like an asphalt mouth hissed through calving isles of memory, palpitating tongue with slugs. Tonight, it crossed your mind that this gnarled ecology, laying rutted out in what darkness spared, was your lips drawn back to bare the teeth â€“ exhaling snakes of steam.
AN OPERA ABOUT ORPHEUS William Doreski
Consider the wailing of the cat. Her tender but abrasive tongue. Like yours when you’re mad. Do I mean angry? Maybe angry and mad. The creep and crawl of whispers on the breezeway. Opera on the radio. Something about “king and charcoal burner,” but perhaps that’s a bad translation of the Italian. Or is it German? As I attempt to make out the words the propane heater mumbles in gusts of carbon dioxide. The cat’s still crying. Time to go. At the hospital, I volunteer to wheel patients up to the roof to enjoy the stars. Soon I have a dozen stargazers chatting about their favourite surgeries. They know all the medical terms, and relish pronouncing them with edged consonants and greasy vowels. From here the snow atop neighbouring mountains seems illuminated or even illuminating. From here I can still hear the howling of the cat. She doesn’t understand me, but sometimes she extends her sandpaper tongue and licks my ears. You enjoy feeding the cat, and never get mad at her, but when you come to the hospital to help me with these astronomically inclined patients you wheel them off the roof to crash in the parking lot three floors below. The bent and broken wheelchairs glitter in the lamplight. No one hurt, at least not hurt as much as our local surgical team has hurt them. Let’s go home and listen to more opera. I hope there’s one about Orpheus. I feel like a detached head still singing. I don’t miss my body at all.
WA RT H O G Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois When I was a boy growing up in Ethiopia I dreamed that the ghost of our Eternal Emperor Haile Sellasie would pimp me out to an American football team where I would grow as fat as a tusked warthog my skin one huge callous my muscles tattooed with symbols of death and become concussed on a regular basis by the grace of Allah and a racist American adoption scheme that is, in fact what happened I was recruited by Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton where New York Jews go to die like elephants lethargically swinging their trunks as they lurch down the aisles of Publix Supermarket and Ethiopian boys grow up to be bulls with Mad Cow Disease and rack up so many sacks that opposing quarterbacks develop dyspepsia, scoliosis and Crohnâ€™s disease just looking at me line up against them my home field is GEO Group Stadium not quite as posh as Enron Field or the KFC Yum! Center but stately in its own right funded by GEO, a private prison corporation its general entrance sports a faĂ§ade modeled after the admin building of a penitentiary
with GEOâ€™s record of human rights abuses unnecessary deaths of prisoners in their custody we have powerful karma opposing teams quake just thinking of coming onto our turf the Gators have their Swamp but we have The Hole so bellyache about the Recession, bitches This African boy is living the American Dream
ARSONIST Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois
The Icelandic poet who’s visiting my university and is my houseguest believes that all modern conveniences are bereft of soul and are possessed by the devil It’s the first time he’s left Iceland on a boat because he reviles planes he reviles everything modern In Iceland he lives in a hut made of reindeer hooves sod and lichen When he burns my house down in a rage against modernity I cannot report him as an arsonist I can’t cause this sainted genius to spend his final years in an American prison I wouldn’t be able to live with myself and no one else would be able to live with me personally or professionally But my insurance will not pay off because they know there’s something fishy and they’re not going to pay for something fishy My Department Chairman says: Too bad Too bad
T H E P E R S I S T E N C E O F M E M O RY Daniel Fitzpatrick From time to time I turn catching clouds in mountain’s shade call echoes glaring from the cave the basement of Montmartre: the voice of Dali black and white below the brushes -ing out of his upper lip like the soul of the rhinoceros to say
Christ is the Camembert. I’d turned again and turned by signposts pressing forever on the verge of melting on the mountain into croque monsieur,
past their scope,
like I’d melted later, on the funiculaire, chilled and trembling, conditional sweat above the turning, turning stairs ascending into green brass carousels, breaking from the begging grip like burning rope around the wrist, rope still sizzling in the stained shade of the gypsum Heart, wet flame bleeding down my back to melt me like white cheese on wood left out in the afternoon.
THE ASTONISHING Daniel Fitzpatrick
In the oven no one can smell the soul contracted to the night beneath the fragrant skin, washed each evening, gilded in its creaseless sleep to seize the ravening eyes’ repose. So she curls in cold contrapasso, sickened at sin’s incense swirling sweet sacrifices, half-crazed, like Christ succumbing to the drawn sword’s savour stalking through the shivering olives.
CHIP Robert Beveridge
It is bad luck to name a horse after a condition that ends careers â€“ the flake in the knee, in the ankle, inch by inch into muscle.
THE GRASS VERGE OUTSIDE THE WHYTE M U S E U M I S PA RT I C U L A R LY TA S T Y Emma Lee
Banff and the scenery is inescapable: from every street the view is of mountains. The air still tastes of dew as we walk window-shopping before the town rouses, fills with tourists looking at Alberta jade sculptures, ammonite jewellery, maple leaf dishes and easy food, maybe a wagon ride along Bow Falls before settling for a tee shirt. But for now itâ€™s just us, a delivery man, a woman sweeping the front of her shop and a road maintenance crew sipping coffee and swapping gossip until an elk shoots out from between buildings, over a crosswalk and stops on the grass verge outside the Whyte Museum and lowers his head to the grass raising to chew. He watches. His stance calm. His eyes languid. This is his territory. His herd will outlive us. We take our photo and move on.
AND BEAUTIFUL SPLINTER IS THE NEXT TRACK ON SHUFFLE Emma Lee
The fog looks whiter in the main beam, more impenetrable. I dip my headlights and the shroud becomes a soft veil. A lit cigarette discarded by an anonymous driver sends sparks into the darkness. Dried leaves samba in the wake of a lorry. Even in chaos, there’s a rhythm my mind forms into a song you played. All thoughts lead to you. But I have to shift my focus back to this black road darkened by damp and a fog I’m not yet ready to drive from.
FIRST DANCE John Grey
Each young woman has her own regal or apprehensive entrance. They are kin to all expectant debutantes through the years, straight from the folklore of generations before them, performers in this mash-up of circus, theatre, grand opera and ballet. The boys are more spectators than participants. This living magic of bright white night requires their presence but it is not about them. It’s the girls – they are the expectation of what a realized promise on such a platform must be. It’s their assembly, their fanciful stellar moment. If one is willing to follow through the tinsel door, a small world looms large.
DUTY FREE K e n n e t h P. G u r n e y
All the wild guesses flew south for the winter. Unbelievably, I won the lottery later that week with the assistance of a fortune cookieâ€™s lucky numbers. When you opened your hand and asked for some of my winnings I said you have to be born first. Dora fed snowbirds to the sky, but the sky spat them out preferring an altogether different December. When we returned home after a walk in the wild we placed all of our muddy tongues upon the welcome mat to dry, so no dirty words would come out of our mouths. I counted seven hundred and twelve words all rounded into rosary beads, each varying in mass dependent on the number of letters. In the morning when we knocked the dirt off our tongues, prayers in twenty-seven languages erupted into ferry boat couplets to sooth the ghosts who gravitated to our porch lining the dock to cross over. You arrived later in the morning on Charonâ€™s return passage, smuggled past the customs agents to avoid a taxing delivery.
P R O M I S E S O F M E TA P H O R R i c h a rd K i n g Pe r k i n s I I
As you return mist returns to the sky; street sweepers push slowly on with nothing left to clean erasing the dusty slough of black floors. The sun stops mid-dial in a moment of self-doubt and finds a spot among the eons. In the morning, arrayed in sheets of curling rays, your shallow breaths are lambs barely awake. Youâ€™ve forgotten the risk I was and how your laughter played white key chaos â€“ silence like this is nudity lost beyond your confinement of skin. You give back promises of metaphor so that non-sentient items become fully aware.
T H E A N D A LU S I A O F M Y VO I C E R i c h a rd K i n g Pe r k i n s I I
You are dying in the Andalusia of my voice â€“ weâ€™re an isolation of selves and clouds simper as the sibilants rise above our open sky; there is a Shiva taking place every week secretly enjoyed by at least one of us.
INFERIOR MIRAGES R i c h a rd K i n g Pe r k i n s I I
Your return trip on the bus consisted of distorting storefronts. Heat shimmers, bending glass and steel, as you shift in your seat, trying to find something closer to comfortable but enjoying the natural consequences of the past few hours, the lingering ache, the comingled sweat soaking the inside of your clothing. Early evening, autumn birds come to rest in parkway trees as you pour lavender Epsom salts and lemon verbena oil into your bathwater. Through the window, your attention shifts from brick to brick â€“ a momentary splash of a starling across your field of view where the painted ads erode, flake in neglect and there remains only water, sky, inferior mirages; details already lost to shadows denying their attachment to solidity.
SEASIDE GRAPHIC NOVEL R i c h a rd K i n g Pe r k i n s I I
The dropped object was caught and only silence fell and this marked the passing of the oceans. Consider your skin air-drying and the quietness of departed ships from the quay. Consider how you focus on absence and become saddened. The gate locks and remains locked but then you hear the flautist, marching toward you, eyes on the horizon, sun to her back, and this is the first encounter of its kind – light siphoned into the ornamental grass roots beneath your feet. You’re skeptical of my mistrust in your contemplation. You reel in a fish from beneath the dock, pick up a few scraped scales off the ground. With a catch in your voice, you lower your intent to pebbles sparsely spread in sandy soil and rest your feet on a patch of thistles. The water is empty of megafauna and krill. Tomorrow, we’ll leave the bungalow – the shoreline where the ocean takes back its casual gifts. Swallow the impulse of what you want to say. Redact the sequential images of all you think we might have gathered in descent.
“ORBITS” Fa b r i c e Po u s s i n
- AN INTERVIEW WITH A M Y L I P T R OT Megan Jones
Amy Liptrot graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2003 with a degree in English Literature. The Outrun is her first book, an unflinching and visceral memoir into her struggle with alcoholism during her adolescence and the years that followed. Liptrot intercuts snapshots of her turbulent early life with stories from her later years after returning to Orkney, where she grew up, to finally beat her dependence on alcohol in a gruelling cold turkey approach that saw her finding solace and inspiration in the natural beauty of the island and its surroundings. I N T E RV I E W E R
What made you decide to write a memoir at such a young age?
I think there’s a difference between memoir and autobiography, so it wasn’t an attempt to look at everything in my life in equal balance; it was more to do with a certain time period, which was the couple of years when I came back to Orkney, and a certain aspect of my life, which is my relationship with alcohol. So it’s kind of focused in on that. But I’d done a column the year that I went back to Orkney, for a nature writing website, and that was what grew into the book, and the response that I had to those columns encouraged me to go off and see if I could try and expand it into a full book. I didn’t really know what I was going to come up with, but as I worked on it, it sort of developed into more of a traditional memoir. I N T E RV I E W E R
Obviously it’s hugely personal what you’ve written; I wondered if you found it cathartic or if it was really quite difficult to relive all those experiences? LIPTROT
I think there’s something satisf ying about having been able to translate real events in my life into a finished piece of work and to fit them into some sort of narrative, but I don’t know if cathartic is the right word. I think the fact that I have managed to create something out of some darker times does make sense to some degree. I N T E RV I E W E R
I’ve read quite a lot of books recently about the sort of redemptive quality of the wild: Cheryl
Strayed’s Wild, Dave Eggers’ Heroes of the Frontier. I was wondering what you think it is about the ‘wild’ and nature that appeals to people who had a traumatic experience. LIPTROT
I would say that it was more that nature, which is a big term, found me, rather than me going in and looking for those things. When I went back home to Orkney, it was more for kind of practical reasons, but with the things that I began to experience, and almost accidentally getting this job for the RSPB, it began to draw me in. So it was a kind of unintended consequence of returning to the island. There was something pleasing about both learning about the world around me, and being able to put that learning together with first-hand experience. I would say learning the names of the birds and then being able to go down to the shore on a regular basis and put that together with actually seeing them, I found satisf ying, and I think for me it was finding things to replace the absence in my life that had been created when I stopped drinking; things like swimming in the sea and going for windy walks around the island; those became different ways of having strong sensory experiences. I N T E RV I E W E R
You mention several times in the book that being in motion is something you find very calming; your cycling in London and the open water swimming in Orkney. I was wondering how you find that is compatible with writing, which is such a sedentary activity.
It’s interesting, that thing about feeling happy alone and going somewhere, and about being in motion; I actually emphasised that more after it was spotted by my editor at Canongate. She was working with me on the manuscript and she pointed out that in my writing I seem to be happiest at the times when I was travelling and by myself, so then that was a nice obser vation that I put back into the book. But I think when I am writing I need to get exercise and get out of the house. I’ve just moved house to Yorkshire and my plan is to be writing for the winter, and my plan is also to be getting out into the countryside on a regular basis, which I think will be complimentary to trying to write another book. I N T E RV I E W E R
What drew you to writing and literature in the first place? Any early inspirations? LIPTROT
Ever since I could, really, I’ve written personal diaries, since I was about seven or eight, which I have a huge box of! So I think that is where I learned to write and developed my voice, in my diaries. I think there was something about the age of nine or ten where I kind of realised that you could have an inner life as well as an outer life and this idea of having a secret diary as somewhere you could express that kind of appealed to me and is something that I’ve kept on doing; whereas most people give up doing that, I have rather embarrassingly kept on doing it! But really when I was a student in Edinburgh, what I thought I wanted to do, what attracted me,
was journalism, and I loved Edinburgh[’s] [The] Student Newspaper – I was the editor there in my final year – and probably put more work into that than I did into my degree, spending my time in the Pleasance basement – I don’t know if the student newspaper is still there. And I liked being on a team and working together and impressing each other with your writing and in jokes and all that, and that’s what I worked as when I arrived in London – I was a journalist. So I think The Outrun is a combination of the journalism and my diary writing – those two styles. I find writing really difficult, I find it anguish most of the time; however, when I strike on something that I know is good and has some power, and I manage to play around with the words and the order until I can feel it tightening up, that’s very satisf ying. I N T E RV I E W E R
On the Creative Writing Master ’s program, we talk a lot about ‘process’ – how some people like writing in noise and others in silence, day vs. night, etc. Do you have that set of circumstances that you can only write in? LIPTROT
Well, I’ve only written one book! And I don’t know if I’m going to be able to carry on doing that, but I was lucky enough to write it during the time I lived on Papay – that was actually the time I wrote the book as well – however, I was actually there for two winters, whereas in the book I made it seem like one winter, so I was lucky enough that I didn’t have another job at the time, but I was quite focused and disciplined in treating it as my job, and having daily word counts and daily targets that
I always stuck to – six days a week usually. So it always took me a while to get down to it, but I would get to the word count no matter how long into the afternoon or evening it took me. And then that has to be sustained, so in order to sustain that for me I have to be quite mentally and physically well. So every morning I would usually go out for a walk around the island, and then I would sometimes be collecting driftwood, and I would come back and light a fire. And, actually, during that period when I was writing The Outrun, it kind of seemed like the fortunes of the fire were intertwined with how my writing was going, so if the fire was struggling to get going, the writing wasn’t flowing, and I had this little circuit round my kitchen sort of poking the fire and tearing my hair out at my laptop. But then sometimes a flame would break through and then I’d feel like it was kind of like this symbiotic relationship. But then also this book was written on masses of Coca-Cola and roll up cigarettes; I’ve heard writers say it’s possible to write without chain smoking; I haven’t been able to find that myself! But these are all superstitions, like you can’t possibly write without smoking, but it turns out you can! But I think just not waiting for inspiration to strike, but putting myself into a situation where the inspiration could find me, sitting there trying to find it rather than waiting for it to find me. I think this winter in Yorkshire I’ll try to recreate some of those circumstances, although I’m moving into a new house tomorrow and I’m not allowed to smoke in there, so this’ll be a new test! But I find writing hard, and I think discipline and anguish seem to be my catchwords!
I N T E RV I E W E R
Was there anything about the degree at Edinburgh that stuck with you through your career? LIPTROT
I actually think that the journalism training, even though The Outrun isn’t a piece of journalism. Some things we were taught on the tight rigorous NCTJ newswriting qualification has helped me – things like backing things up with examples, and having lots of physical details, and making your writing very clear. I think that’s helped me when it comes to writing about thoughts and emotions but still having lots of physical details, and to be clear about what I mean, and think actually the quite disciplined newswriting training has helped in that. I N T E RV I E W E R
Your memoir talks at length about your life after university but touches only fleetingly on your actual writing career after that – could you talk briefly about that? LIPTROT
I briefly mention being a student in the book but I actually made the decision not to mention Edinburgh by name because I thought that would complicate things with too many locations, and also because things weren’t so bad for me when I was a student, and there’s all sorts of time periods I’ve missed out. It gives the impression of telling about a whole life but there are a lot of things that aren’t in it. I had various day jobs in obscure corners of industry magazines,
corporate magazines, things like that, and then also I did, and still do, freelance journalism for trendy magazines and music press, so that’s what I did. And then I always write in my diaries, and various kind of drunken blogs – Live Journal was where I used to post stuff ten years ago, or more. But it wasn’t until I got sober that I really was able to take things more seriously, and get things finished, which is something I feel I’ve got better at doing and realised the importance of. I N T E RV I E W E R
So you said this winter in Yorkshire you’re hoping to write another book? LIPTROT
Well I’m going to try! But today is the 44th book event that I’ve done this year, and I’ve just come from a week teaching, and I’ve being doing lots of press stuff and all sorts of other things that come with promoting a book, and readers getting in touch with me; my life has really changed this year, so I need a bit of time off first. I think if I was to start writing the book now it might be at the expense of my mental health; however, that’s part of the deal, really! And The Outrun was hard and I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do something as good again, but I’ve got such a good opportunity to give it a go, and also there’s part of me looking forward to focusing on one project. But I’m really chuffed that I’ve managed to write one book that’s been well received and is connecting with readers, and I don’t actually feel pressure from myself or from anyone else to do something else. I feel very lucky, and I have a good opportunity to try and do something else, but we’ll see!
I N T E RV I E W E R
Do you think you’ll stick to non-fiction or have you thought about branching out into fiction? LIPTROT
I think probably I’ll stay in non-fiction because that’s actually a lot of what I like reading – good journalism, long-form journalism, other stuff in the memoir bracket, so I think you have to be quite honest about what inspires you, and that’s what I’m thinking of. But I don’t know; part of me has thought about writing a short novel that’s highly autobiographical just for the sake of individuals and privacy, I suppose. I N T E RV I E W E R
Do you have any advice for people in our position? LIPTROT
I suppose, be patient! It wasn’t until ten years after I graduated that I really found my voice as a writer, and that’s still relatively young. There were all sorts of other things I was experimenting with, or who I thought I was before I struck on what led me to The Outrun. So keep on writing, but it might take its time!
“MERGING” Fa b r i c e Po u s s i n
- N I C K H O L D STO C K ’ S T H E C A S U A LT I E S Reviewed by Rachana Bhattacharjee
Nick Holdstock’s The Casualties is no standard tale of the destruction of the world. While reading it, we inhabit a number of small worlds as they fall apart, piece by piece, we watch them crumble, and we see some rebuild themselves. These worlds are those of a few humans – Sam, Caitlin, Alasdair, Sinead and Toby – who Holdstock calls the “eccentrics” of a quiet street in the city of Edinburgh. Together their stories make a book that is an emotional journey that the reader of any genre would want to take. This book reveals the zombies at the core of the grand-narratives of the twenty-first century. It shows us how the wreck is in the present and not in the future. And in that, it is as much a realist novel as a post-apocalyptic sci-fi one. Holdstock proves himself an expert craftsman. His mastery can be seen right from
the Prologue. He puts a clock on these said worlds and, through the narrative, gives us a taste of what running with the clock feels like. It urges the reader on. And that is one of the best things he could’ve done. After all, a book is most valued by the response it elicits from the reader. However, we are not passive readers, drinking a story with a straw; we are given questions to answer: What does an apocalypse really mean? What is beauty, after all? How does time pull our lives along? How many sides are there to the people we think we know? Holdstock’s world feels terribly real because of the intricate cobweb of details he traps us in – a world of words for a novice writer to learn from. The style of narration, too, is a unique one. It is a series of stories about the lives of a number of peculiar individuals that happen to intersect in a very ordinary manner. There is just enough in their lives for us to connect with and just enough beyond our recognition. Once the stories have merged, however, the resultant tale spins through a vortex until it reaches an utterly surprising and satisfactory end. The past and the future literally lock talons and plummet together towards the present. The book reads like a list of case studies of the characters; pictures that are people’s discarded memories, diary entries, newspaper clippings and postcards all help profile our characters. As Sam Clarke uncovers people’s lives, so do we. But unlike Sam Clarke, who sees all the world but himself, we are forced to profile the world and ourselves. Such is the strength of the web that is narration in this novel.
This book is a treasure-chest for a writer ’s apprentice, but it is also a new perspective of a world we thought was so familiar that we became complacent and stopped noticing it. Just as we’re given fresh perspectives of the world, a fellow writer will notice the novel ways in which traditional modes of narration have been used. But, if for nothing else, the book is one that must be read for the evaluation of our times that it encourages and for the questions it raises about the way we live, as it takes us on a captivating journey that cannot fail to leave us smiling. This book opens up a compelling case study of the twenty-first century. “If,” as Josh Malerman says in his advanced praise of The Casualties, “that sounds lofty, open it up, start on page one, and let it wash over you completely.”
“HER SUN” Fa b r i c e Po u s s i n
- AN INTERVIEW WITH DANIEL SHANDMegan Jones
Daniel Shand graduated from the University of Edinburgh with an MSc in Creative Writing in 2011 and is currently a PhD candidate. He is the author of several short stories and a novel, Fallow, which examines themes of loyalty, dependence, guilt and responsibility between two brothers as they make their way through the bleak Scottish countryside, running from an indeterminate foe. As the story unfolds, the close confines and the weight of their respective consciences clash in an explosive denouement revealing that all is not as the narrator has made it out to be. Fallow is a masterclass in character development, pocked with dark humour and a masterful sense of foreboding from the outset. I N T E RV I E W E R
What do you think the biggest takeaway
from the Master ’s [in Creative Writing] was? Anything you’ve found particularly useful in writing since? SHAND
I would say that the course itself is obviously fantastic, but what was most valuable was that it led to a writing community with fellow students. I’m still very close to the people I did the Master ’s with; we still meet up and read each other ’s work which is hugely valuable. The second thing is getting into the pattern of writing to a deadline and writing regularly. It kind of forces you to work in that way rather than hanging around and waiting until inspiration strikes. I N T E RV I E W E R
Do you still keep in touch with the lecturers? SHAND
Well I’m doing my PhD at Edinburgh as well; Allyson’s my super visor. I N T E RV I E W E R
Was your novel Fallow something you were working on during the Master ’s or was that something that came afterwards? SHAND
I wasn’t working on it in that sense, but it was an idea that came from a short story that was a workshop piece and then I expanded it into my summer dissertation. Obviously it’s gone through a huge amount of editing; it’s only related to the finished product in a very narrow sense, but the
raw idea was something that came from working on the Master ’s. I N T E RV I E W E R
What was the original short story about? SHAND
The very first short story was just the two brothers camped out – the first three or four chapters came from that – and when it was a short story there was no real sense of the backstory that had brought them there; it was just a sense of something bad [that] has happened with these boys, but in the short story you never really find out what. It ended on the scene just before they go into the man’s house. The dissertation went up to the part on the archaeology site, so about the first third of the novel. It’s so different; it was told in a different way, there was less in it. I N T E RV I E W E R
Was it still told from Paul’s perspective? SHAND
No, that’s the interesting thing, it was actually in third person, and that was a huge part of the editing process, going back and realising that while I think the writing in that was better in the sense that it was more descriptive, reading it over, I was most interested in what was going on inside Paul’s head, so I really didn’t want to miss out on that. I think you got a sense of it in the original, but not as strongly as I wanted it to be. It’s quite easy for the reader to see what the real story is in a way that Paul can’t, so that’s what is interesting to me – the disconnect between how
he presents himself and how we imagine the real world of the story is. I N T E RV I E W E R
So where did the idea for the original short story come from? SHAND
It was just the image of these two lads in the tent together. I guess it’s a classic dramatic situation, two characters in this space that, for whatever reason, they can’t get out of, and it’s kind of a cheat almost, because if they ’re in this situation the story almost tells itself in that it’s very restricted, so there’s not a lot of outside detail you need to worry about. It drives the plot on by itself – the characters have to react to that restriction. It also means you have to tell the backstory, or at least think about the backstory, because why are they in this situation? To me it was quite an amusing idea to have these two brothers who are very different and have to share a tent together – and strange, too, that they ’re in such close quarters, you know, they stink – it was an interesting image for me. I N T E RV I E W E R
So the brothers travel all over Scotland – was there a lot of research involved in that sense or were you already familiar with the places? SHAND
There wasn’t any research as such – they were, for the most part, places I’d been to before, places I’d been to when I was a kid or a teenager. They go to the peace camp at the end that’s been
infiltrated by the cult – that’s a real thing! I went there when I was a kid but it’s not based on it, it’s nothing like that really. The other places are just amalgamations of places I’ve been or stayed. I N T E RV I E W E R
What would you say was the most challenging part of writing a full-length novel? SHAND
I’m struggling to answer that – not because it was easy! Certainly what I was most concerned about was making sure that the tone I put into the work and the feeling I wanted the reader to have was what came out on the other side. So that was what I was most anxious about – making sure the translation of my brain to the page to [the reader ’s] brain was what I wanted to happen. And that ties in with all writing; how do you make someone understand what you’re trying to say? So that was my concern, making sure that was clear and that tonally it was correct. I N T E RV I E W E R
That’s one of the things I found most interesting with workshop; when you submit something and other people interpret it completely differently to how you intended; when they pick out themes in it that you didn’t intend. SHAND
And there’s so much of the world of the story that you know about and you take it for granted that it’s clear, and readers don’t have the context you have, so they might read something else into it entirely. And that can be great
sometimes – my favourite kinds of stories are the ones that leave a lot to the imagination. On the one hand, you’ve got this anxiety that something might be lost in translation, but at the same time you don’t want to overfill the page with detail that takes away the magic. The worry with a novel is that if you put someone on the wrong path early on, everything that comes after seems increasingly strange. I N T E RV I E W E R
And the most rewarding part? I imagine there were points where you were just like Ugh, I hate these characters, I just want to kill them…or maybe not…maybe that’s just me! SHAND
It’s a feeling I guess we all have, where you just don’t want to sit down and do the work, and that’s hard to make yourself do, but once you get going, the actual story itself was a total pleasure. I loved it. I think it’s because it’s a story that I wanted to read; it’s the sort of thing that I would like, so it was really nice to be able to create something that would appeal to me. I guess we have a very specific idea of what we like, what we think is worthwhile. We all have different inspirations, and each of us wants to put those inspirations together into one thing, so it was fun for me! Maybe I’m romanticising it now, because something happened with it, someone liked it and it got published, whereas if nothing had happened with it, I would have thought what a fucking waste of time that was! But I’d be hesitant to say that if something feels difficult then it’s not a good avenue to go down.
I N T E RV I E W E R
Any literary inspirations? SHAND
Cormac McCarthy. I mean, inspiration is a dangerous word to use because it suggests that there’s a relationship between his lines and my lines and I don’t think that’s true. I’d done a lot of writing coming into the Master ’s, and I’d always thought, How can anyone write a novel? It’s impossible. I had no concept of structure or how you could think about a story over that length of time and space and word count. I thought maybe I’ll get there one day, but I couldn’t imagine how. Then I read Cormac McCarthy for the first time and something definitely clicked, and it made me see how it would be possible to write something similar. I think it’s the way he handles scenes. In other kinds of novels, they handle scenes in a certain kind of way, or how the characters move from one situation to another, and I remember reading All the Pretty Horses, and the drama would carry out and then stop, and you’d be in a new situation in the next section. It’s like editing a film, thinking about it in visual terms: when you have someone going out of a door, and the next thing you see is them sitting in a taxi, and your brain fills in the gap. What was nice for me was seeing how logistically [McCarthy] handled stuff like that. I N T E RV I E W E R
Do you have a process for writing?
Not really, no. When I wrote Fallow, it must have been around September, I just thought, I think about this all the time, and it’s driving me fucking crazy. It’s always there. I had the bit that I’d done for my dissertation, and I’d done a bit more, but it wasn’t coming together so I just left it – I probably didn’t touch it for about a year or two, but I was thinking about it all the time. It was the feeling like when you have an appointment and you haven’t written it down, and you keep thinking, Okay, Friday half past four. And it was like that. I had the story in my head the whole time. So I thought, Right, I’m going to lose my mind if I don’t do something with this. So I said, I’m going to get this done by Christmastime. And if it’s good, great, if it’s bad…. It felt almost like a medicine for this horrible situation, that I’d started something and not finished it, and I needed to knock it on the head or else I’d lose my mind. So for two months I had a certain number of pages I wanted to do every day, but no process at all. I used to go to Glasgow quite a lot, and I would write on the train – I’d write on my phone! Whenever I had time. I used to work in a call centre in that time, during the PhD, and I would write it there as well and email it back to myself. I’d be speaking to someone on the phone and be like ‘Yeah, yeah, that sounds horrible, I’ll look into that,’ and be writing chapters of Fallow on the computer. It was really fun, taking the idea of it having to be perfect, and [realizing that] no, actually, the goal isn’t that it’s perfect, the goal is that it’s finished, or at least a draft of it is finished, by Christmas – or
whatever your own endpoint [might be]. I think it’s important mentally, because you have to believe that it matters that you meet that goal. Because obviously it doesn’t – no one in the world gives a shit if you write it or not; people would probably rather you didn’t, but you have to make that a deadline in your own head and get it done, especially with long things like that: you can’t do it by accident. You have to chip away at it day by day and have something at the end to look at and to face towards. This probably sounds really unhealthy, but you have to have a ‘me versus the rest of the world’ attitude in mind, where everything and everyone else is trying to stop you from getting the work done, and you’re like, Fuck it I am going to get it done, I’m going to do it, just you wait! Basically, trick yourself into being dedicated and determined. For me it was a real bitterness! I N T E RV I E W E R
So I’m assuming you’re working on a novel during the PhD. Could you tell me a bit about what it’s about? SHAND
It’s a sort of coming of age story, about a young girl who goes to live with her grandparents because she lives with her mother, who is psychologically unwell. So it’s about a summer that she spends with her grandparents and her relationship with her mother. It’s quite different from Fallow. I think stylistically it’s quite similar; I’m sure you could draw some parallels, but I think it’s pretty different.
I N T E RV I E W E R
I read a couple of your short stories as well, “The Dog Whistle” and “The Wrong Sort” – they ’re all pretty dark, which I like! Is the new novel a similar kind of style? SHAND
I think it’s a warmer story. It has the similarly grotesque characters that I’m interested in, but it’s less focused on them and more on another type of character. I N T E RV I E W E R
Any advice for [new writers]? Anything you wish you’d known when you were [starting out]? SHAND
Advice that I was given that I didn’t necessarily follow, but now realise was very good advice, is to get involved with the literary community wherever you are – go to readings and workshops, build links with those organisations because it’s really useful when you come to work on a bigger project to know how they work. I didn’t, and it’s quite a steep learning cur ve when you come to publish something. I don’t want to present myself as the apex of achievement, obviously I’m still learning all the time, but something that works for me – you get rejected a lot, and you need to develop a sort of doubleedged attitude to that. On the one hand, you need to objectively look at that rejection and take something of value from it, and understand where your shortcomings are, but at the same time you can’t let that
rejection make you feel disheartened, or that you shouldn’t be doing what you’re doing. Again, it comes down to channelling your bitterness into an attitude whereby every time someone says no, you respond: I’m going to make something better than it was before. It’s a difficult thing to deal with. It would be a different story if there were an easy metric to understand why you’d failed, but it’s so subjective and based on things outside of your control. If someone says no to you it could be because it’s not to their taste, or they don’t have the space for it. But, at the same time, equally it could be because what you’re writing isn’t great, or you’re not working hard enough or [you’re] being lazy or not thinking closely about the things you need to think closely about. You have to decide for yourself which one it is in each case.
“COMETS” Fa b r i c e Po u s s i n
- CLAIRE ASKEW’S THIS CHANGES THINGS R eviewed by Celia Wilding
Published by Bloodaxe Books in 2016, This Changes Things is Claire Askew ’s debut poetry collection and is already being highly rated on Goodreads as a welcome addition to modern Scottish Poetry. A familiar face to the Scottish spoken word scene, every agenda advocated in her written poetry is just as immediately captivating, leaving readers with no means of escape. Women play the leading role in her poetry, from misinformed school-girls to nitty-gritty, stark naked witches and whores that remain in our lifeblood of past and present. Askew ’s collection begins with ‘Dukkha.’ To my extremely limited knowledge (haphazardly surmised from a handful of web-pages) on Buddhist teaching and the ‘Four Noble Truths’ from which the concept of dukkha derives, the Western translation is that of ‘suffering’ or
‘unsatisfactoriness.’ I have skimmed just enough, however, to deduce that this formulation does little to encompass all of what dukkha means and is. A term too multifaceted to condense into a nutshell, dukkha is all things conditioned or temporary, physical or mental, the meaning of which will always be unsatisfactory, necessitating deeper and broader contemplation. I found this a beautiful opening, the gentle essence of unavoidable transitions and the pang of painful and powerful change prompts a melodic backdrop for the entire collection, each poem transforming the reader along with it. On her blog, “One Night Stanzas”, Claire describes the two parts of her collection as “personal & confessional” and “travelling & spaces,” but I can confirm that this is an extremely generalised labelling of the substance held within the two sections. My head spins with delight when writers such as Askew succeed in crafting such rich landscapes and indulgent atmospheric cognizance. There is a delicate but ever-present depth to her poetry that reinforces the power of lexical lightness and quotidian expression. ‘The lucky little girls’ is a poem full of shadows and near misses and takes the reader on an ill-timed adventure, making us stay out past curfew. It is dangerous in everything but language in which there is a purity and straightforwardness that turns each page of text into an interactive picture-book of sights and sounds. The poems about Claire Askew ’s grandmother are especially vibrant. ‘I’m sorry I’m still in love with my grandmother ’ is a wonderful start to the collection, encapsulating a complicated family dynamic with humour
and clever wordplay. ‘Catalogue of my grandmother ’s sayings’ is a lovely tonal change and, together with the other vivid portrayals of her Grandmother, introduces a layer of warmth and admiration to the collection. Technically, the placement and relationship between the poems in this collection is particularly strong and well crafted. The first half has a dexterous balance in providing the reader with strong, notable narratives such as ‘To Wakefield’ and ‘Visiting Nanny Gray,’ interweaved among gentle, thoughtful narratives like ‘Spitfire’ and ‘Going next.’ It is difficult for me to choose a favourite poem of the second half. I took the most time reading ‘Witch,’ feeling as if each stanza was painting a dark and grizzly portrait in front of me - her ‘mother-of-pearl eye’ catching the orange streetlight under a violet sky. The rhythm in ‘The picture in your mind when you speak of whores’ is a raging river of activity, tattered slants taken by the current. The artwork used for the cover by Nick Askew is a compelling touch. The illustration is technically understated but depicts an unavoidably poignant image of a church in flames. As a reflection of topics expressed within the collection, the book cover is for me a perfect portrayal of violent (and needed) change. This Changes Things would be a brilliant asset to both poetry novices – with heartfelt themes of loss and love – and to avid readers, as it is a collection that will continue to offer something new every time it is picked up.
“ B O R N AT L A S T ” Fa b r i c e Po u s s i n
- BURNING PINE A N D WAST I N G T I M EA N I N T E R V I E W W I T H R YA N VA N W I N K L E P O E T, P O D C A S T E R A N D AV I D C O F F E E D R I N K E R .
Celia Wilding & Grace Wong
The door with the multi-coloured pompom Christmas wreath (a handmade gift from a friend) opened and we were heartily ushered in by Ryan to take a place by the fire. Before the inter view commenced, we each took a turn (in proper postholiday spirit) at burning the remnants of Ryan’s Christmas tree. Having never had a fireplace, little did we know the simple pleasure in watching pine needles fizz and pop in an open flame. (Did you know that if you throw flour into fire it makes a little explosion, like you are travelling by Floo Powder? Well you do now – Grace shouted ‘Hong Kong’ before throwing but alas we are mere muggles so nothing happened). After shenanigans had ceased, we sat down and asked Ryan about his poetic and creative journey, starting from when he was a wee bairn wanting to be a toothbrush (his parents were pretty serious about teeth, apparently) up to his recent years when he felt the
thrill of throwing baking ingredients onto burning wood. While Ryan had always enjoyed reading and writing as a kid, the defining poetic moment came in the summer just after high school graduation. Ryan and a group of close friends travelled to Provincetown, Cape Cod, knowing they would all be going their separate ways in the autumn. On one of the days they visited a used book shop where he randomly picked up a book of Federico Garcia Lorca’s Selected Verse. Afterwards, the group had a typical day at the beach and drank late into the night before returning home. Everyone crashed by the fire, except Ryan, who - still buzzed from the sun and beer - sat reading Lorca while his friends snored softly around him. “ The first poem didn’t reach me, it had no impact. But then the second poem I read – that was it – it grabbed me by the throat.” That poem was “New Heart” and Ryan gave us a reading of the first few lines; “Like a snake, my heart would shed its skin. I hold it there in my hand, full of honey and wounds.” “I loved it immediately, each line like a little cliffhanger.” The book in question has been his travel companion ever since. When writing he always comes back to this place, his intended audience being a teenage self, reading by the fire.
“…the environment and the mood I was in, the little bit of sunstrokeness…all these emotions swirling around…it found me at a time when I needed it and it told me something about loss, nostalgia and love.” Ryan spoke avidly about the importance of finding the right time and space to receive a poem, which can often be an integral factor neglected by those new to poetry and poetrylovers alike. Had this poem found Ryan on a bus in Edinburgh or at a library reading, the experience would have been undoubtedly less poignant (even in terms of his own books, Tomorrow, We Will Live Here and The Good Dark, he suggests saving them for the cold winter months instead of perusing them on a beach). Ryan described his journey into writing as a non-linear one. As a kid, Ryan read a lot, made comics, wrote essays and opinion pieces for his school paper and, until deciding to specialise in journalism, the occupation of writing appeared as one big thing. Before journalism eventually dropped off as a style of writing that Ryan did not feel himself to be truly honest or genuine, he enrolled onto a creative writing course in Syracuse (later realising it was the home of many influential writers such as Raymond Car ver, George Saunders and Junot Diaz). His tutor, Michael Burkard, led him through writing workshops and creative writing criticism and introduced him to a variety of inspiring writers such as Robert Creeley, Etheridge Knight, Sharon Olds, and Richard Brautigan to name but a few. Since then, Ryan has taken part in a diverse range of projects. In 2010, he helped set up festivals and translation workshops with
Highlight Arts in Syria. It had been a stressful time as war was to break out in March 2011. But while working with Syrian, Lebanese and Pakistani artists and poets – with whom he did not have a shared language – poetry became their main means of communication. “In translation, you have to break down someone’s poem, line by line, and unpack it like they do in airport security.” This gave Ryan a broader tapestry of experience, images and scents to draw from as a poet. But more importantly, through this process he realised that there is more that binds us than separates us. From this experience, he developed great respect for the talented and courageous poets from Syria, Iraq and Pakistan whose struggles, he acknowledged, had been far more stressful than his own. Moving from the writing to the performance of poetry, we asked Ryan what led him to put together more performance-based shows such as The Golden Hour. While not considering himself a ‘performance poet’, Ryan believed that his performances have always arisen as a solution to a problem. While at university, he and other student writers set about creating an environment that could be used by students as a vehicle to practice performing their poetry, which offered an alternative to the standardised library poetry readings most poets are used to. After his first book, Ryan’s new material was different in style and voice and therefore needed to be approached differently. By calling on his resources in theatre and production, the creation of Red, Like Our Room Used To Feel (where he
performed his poems for one audience member at a time in a room modelled as a bedroom) became his way of accessing and understanding what then became his second book. For him it was all about finding a place where his work would fit, which is an important point for all writers, not only poets. Being able to be confident reading your writing is integral to the creative process in many ways, but it is also important to find a place that suits you and your style of writing from living room readings to a spoken word performance. “It’s all about getting your work out, so make cool videos, make cool audio, have a great SoundCloud page where you do interesting things with your poems and your voice.” As the fire burned down and Ryan’s cafetière emptied, he gave us some final advice for other students and writers like ourselves. Read lots (memes don’t count, you rascals) Get rid of all your adverbs (Ryan swears that all ‘ly’s’ are cut from his poems even to the point where it is syntactically incorrect - feel free to check) Don’t stop (that’s a big one) Try everything (I’ve booked chutney making for next Tuesday – see you there!) Find your community, work with other people, be nice and have fun (clear your calendar, bake some cookies and go and read to your Nana for the love of all things holy, people).
UNTITLED I K i m b e r l y Ti p p e t t
- UMBRELLAS OF EDINBURGH R e v i e w e d b y G r a c e H i u -Ya n W o n g
Umbrellas of Edinburgh, published in 2016 by Freight Books, is a collection of seventy voices celebrating and commemorating the city of Edinburgh. In their introduction to the anthology, the editors Claire Askew and Russell Jones note the importance of the genre as an attempt to ‘capture a sense of place and the concerns of their time, bringing together perspectives and voices to better express things that might otherwise be ignored.’ Reflecting the vibrant literary scene found in Edinburgh, Umbrellas of Edinburgh is a true testament to the city ’s status as a UNESCO City of Literature. Works in the anthology transcend temporal boundaries. From the way the city ’s history is mapped out in various poems and short stories, Umbrellas of Edinburgh shows an awareness throughout the collection of the writers and
inhabitants who have lived and gone on before. In ‘Dwam’, Jane Yolen traces the ‘remnants of lives before mine ever began’ along the Water of Leith, walking into Dean Village. Many of the works are a mix of reminiscence and a documentation of the present. Nowhere is this nostalgia more apparent than in Colin Will’s ‘Urbanity ’, as he writes: ‘And when sugar came off ration, they bought me | from R.S. McColl’s, the ‘chocolate bean’ | which the years changed to Smarties, | as the city changed around them.’ The strength of the anthology is its diverse nature. It delights readers with lyrical moments, like in Kevin Cadwallender ’s ‘Ishtar on the Number 35’: ‘The moon picks up the thread of daylight | Runs it through the needle of night, | Darns the holes left for closure | By starlight in the blanket height.’; and contains lighter, playful pieces like Colin Herd’s ‘Meadowbank Changing Manifesto’. Personal experiences are woven into the city ’s fabric, yet there are also poems which engage with the larger scope of the human condition. In ‘Tollcross twopenneth’, Richie McCaffery writes: ‘I’ve seen people generous by accident | (lost change or larger pub measures), | but only ever mean on purpose | and since we are human, well-known | for our skills in cocking things up, | we often forget to live so fallibly, | splairging ourselves around.’ Writers in this anthology are not ones to sugar-coat descriptions of people and places
and glorif y the city ’s virtue. Rather, works like Douglas Bruton’s ‘A Man’s a Man for A’That’ explore the narrative of the socially impoverished at the heart of Edinburgh, and by doing so, he links the individual experience to the empathetic capabilities of the collective and offers a space for social critique. In its diversity, some entries read better than others, and the collection might benefit from a more balanced ratio of prose to poetry. Yet overall it is well put together, and the artwork corresponding to specific locations spread throughout the anthology is visually refreshing. The cover ’s sketch-like design further attests to the idea of a city (re)constructed out of ink and paper. More importantly, this anthology is a successful celebration of words, the people who write them, and the city they are writing about. Cleverly sectioned into geographical locations, this anthology perhaps ser ves as a more realistic and accurate guidebook – one that records the lives of those who have lived in Edinburgh, meandered through the setted streets, and those who will continue to do so.
UNTITLED II K i m b e r l y Ti p p e t t
T R I B U TO R S
- T H E CO N T R I B U TO R S -
Megan is a 21-year-old student currently studying at the University of Edinburgh. She mostly writes fiction stories and reviews, usually under the science-fiction or fantasy genres. Most of her stories are novella length or chapter stories, though she writes short stories as well. Currently, she is running a blog on which she posts some of her stories for the public to read. She has also had experience in writing reviews for the website â€˜Broadway Baby â€™ during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Lana Bella is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of three chapbooks, Under My Dark (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2016), Adagio (Finishing Line Press, 2016), and Dear Suki: Letters (Platypus 2412 Mini Chapbook Series, 2016). Her poetry and fiction has been featured in over 350 journals, 2River, California Quarterly, Chiron Review, Columbia Journal, Grey Sparrow, Notre Dame Review, Otoliths, Poetry Salzburg Review, San Pedro River Review, The Ilanot Review, and Westwind, among others. She resides in the US and the coastal town of Nha Trang, Vietnam, where she is a mom of two fartoo -clever-frolicsome imps.
Robert Beveridge makes noise (xterminal. bandcamp.com) and writes poetry just outside Cleveland, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in Wildflower Muse, Noble/Gas Qtrly, and The Ibis Head Review, among others.
Rachana has always been a writer and the go -to person for ghost-writing and editing for her friends and family. So she tried to escape to Edinburgh and joined the MSc Creative Writing course at The University of Edinburgh. She has also previously worked with start-ups and an NGO in New Delhi, India as editor and contributor. She likes to capture the magic in the little things in life because she believes that it is those little things that hold up the bigger ones.
Michael Chin was born and raised in Utica, New York and is an alum of Oregon Stateâ€™s MFA Program. He won Bayou Magazineâ€™s Knudsen Prize for fiction and has published in journals including The Normal School and Bellevue Literary Review. Find him at miketchin.com and follow him on Twitter @miketchin.
William Doreski recently retired after years of teaching at Keene State College in New Hampshire (USA). His most recent book of poetry is The Suburbs of Atlantis (2013). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowellâ€™s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals.
Max Dunbar lives in West Yorkshire. He blogs at http://maxdunbar.wordpress.com/ and tweets at http://twitter.com/MaxDunbar1.
Daniel Fitzpatrick grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana, and now lives in Hot Springs, Arkansas, with his wife and daughter. He studied Philosophy at the University of Dallas, and his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in several journals, including 2River View, Amaryllis, Eunoia Review, and Coe Review. He plans to finish his first novel this year.
Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois
Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over a thousand of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has
been nominated for numerous prizes. His novel, Two -Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. To see more of his work, google ‘Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois’. He lives in Denver. John Grey
John Grey is an Australian poet and a US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia College Literary Review and Spoon River Poetry Review.
K e n n e t h P. G u r n e y
Kenneth P. Gurney lives in Albuquerque, NM, USA with his beloved Dianne. His latest collection of poems is Stump Speech (2015). He recently started up the poetry blog Watermelon Isotope. His personal website is at kpgurney.me.
Megan Jones is a writer from London who enjoys character arcs and caramel lattes (at least they ’re not pumpkin spice). She thinks her writing is funny, a fact which has been confirmed on at least one occasion by members of her immediate family. Her biggest accolade to date is the comment ‘I wish this was a whole book’ after sending a story excerpt to her sister, a quote which she plans to put on the cover of said story
if it ever gets published, because that would be totally meta.
Emma Lee’s most recent collection is Ghosts in the Desert (IDP, 2015). She was co -editor for Over Land Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge (Five Leaves, 2015) and Welcome to Leicester (Dahlia Publishing, 2016). She reviews for The High Window Journal, The Journal, London Grip and Sabotage and blogs at http:// emmalee1.wordpress.com.
Stephenson Muret lives and writes in southern California. His plays, stories, essays and poems have appeared in scores of publications, touching virtually all genres.
R i c h a r d K i n g Pe r k i n s I I
Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL, USA with his wife, Vickie, and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart, Best of the Net and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications including The Louisiana Review, Plainsongs, Texas Review, Hawai’i Review, Roanoke Review, Sugar House Review and The William and Mary Review. His poem “Grease Poet” was a recent prize winner of the Woodrow Hall award for enduring excellence in poetry.
Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University, Rome, Georgia. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and more than two dozens of other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, the San Pedro River Review and more than one hundred other publications.
D r e w Ta y l o r
Drew Tylor is a Scottish writer born in Edinburgh and currently studying Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh. His background is in film, and he has worked for both Edinburgh College of Art and Scottish Documentary Institute, and been part of the camera departments on several small local productions. He writes short stories with the aim of one day writing novels, but has also written several short films, and the script for an interactive tourist app based around Edinburgh and its history. You can find him at drew.the. email@example.com and facebook.com/drew. taylor.7798.
Kimberly Tippett is a mixed media artist from Melbourne currently living in Edinburgh. She uses continuous line and minimalist colour to create pieces that celebrate sexuality and the female form. Her work can be found on Instagram under @girlorromancandle.
Celia Wilding is poet, comedian and current MSc Creative Writing student at The University of Edinburgh. Originally from the Lake District, one of her interests is writing poetry that explores the Cumbrian dialect. Performing stand-up since 2011, she has performed around the Midlands, North West and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She once did a gig where the audience contained more dogs than people.
G r a c e H i u -Ya n W o n g
Grace was born and raised in Hong Kong and is one of the co -founding editors of EDGE: HKBU Creative Journal. She is currently working towards an MSc in Creative Writing Poetry at the University of Edinburgh.
UNTITLED III K i m b e r l y Ti p p e t t
- T H E E D I TO R S -
Josh Simpson | editor in chief
Jessica Irish | poetry editor
Nathan Watson | poetry editor
Celia Wilding | poetry editor
Grace Wong | poetry editor
Zack Abrams | fiction editor
Rachana Bhattacharjee | fiction editor
Cassidy Colwell | fiction editor
Mark Flanagan | fiction editor
Megan Jones | fiction editor
Elvis Sokoli | copy editor
Michael Worrell| copy editor
Michael S Marshall | fiction editor & designer Caitlin McL aughlin | fiction editor & designer
Published on Feb 20, 2017