flash & cinder issue one – spirit
flash fiction – poetry
f l ash & ci nder issue one: spirit
a word f rom t he e ditor Welcome to flash & cinder, a new magazine dedicated to flash fiction and poetry with a touch of flare. This issue is dedicated to the word spirit, in all its wonderful manifestations. Thank you to all who have contributed to this first, very special edition of the magazine. My love for the flash fiction, poetry and writing community has only grown from this lovely process. You might say my spirit has been lifted (if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re inclined toward clichĂŠ.) Please, enjoy the magazine, and the wonderful words within.
The Tunnel As we rattle away from Whythem station, I rock in the comfort of knowing what is to come. Darton in eleven minutes, Smeeport in twenty-five and Heggleway Central in thirty-seven. Odd numbers are beautiful. No need to pair up, no simple division to produce little versions of the same. Strong, independent numbers that revel in their solidity. As we pass Marmoth viaduct, I fold open the four foil corners covering my sandwich. There is precisely enough time to eat before the tunnel. Green fields streak by and lambs run towards their mothers as we pass. I swallow the last bite as we enter the tunnel. It catches in my throat as I spot jagged white teeth jutting out from the black mouth we enter. I grab onto my thighs and peer through the window into blackness. Inside the carriage, neon lights shout as usual, no one else here bothered by their glare or what is out there. In the row opposite, a man talks loudly into his phone like he’s shouting down a cup and string to his brother in the room next-door, wanting to be alone under the blanket but missing the steady breath of a sleeping sibling. Two old women on the seat in front talk over each other about the cost of things. They don’t notice the ribbed texture on the tunnel walls, dark drips running down the windows. Five more seconds until I can exhale and go back to counting pylons in the grey light of morning. Seven, eleven, twenty-one seconds. Yet we remain in darkness, an unending tunnel. A small lady pushes a drinks trolley down the carriage. Tinny music sneaks out of huge headphones on a young lad to the side of me. His head slumps in sleep as if he is certain that he is safe. I press my fingers to the glass to alert the lady that we are still hurtling through the tunnel, then realise I have lost count. A small noise creeps up my throat. The kind of noise that comes when you have had your legs whipped for wetting the bed, the kind of noise that comes when you are trying to make no noise at all. Minutes pass. We rock and sway. As my eyes adjust to the cavernous dark through the window, I see flashes of white that look like small bones. Under the hum and clunk of the train, a deep long growl vibrates my seat and loosens my bladder. I crane my neck around and under fluorescent light watch a man in a turban doing the crossword with a sharp pencil, an old lady reading a novel with a naked man on the front which she doesn’t even try to hide, a toddler on the knee of its mother singing nursery rhymes with all the words wrong, as if order doesn’t matter. I blow out slowly, slowly, like the counsellor taught me. But I choose not to count. We remain in the darkness. In the creature. The spongy walls of its intestines pulsate a rhythm as we rock along. Still moving deeper into it. I scrunch up the foil in my palm until it spikes into me, small and dense, different. Then I turn my head away from the window, back to my carriage comrades and wait.
Cafe Diana In Hyde Park, next to a cold, marble Victoria, children in high-vis vests kick a ball around. I leave picture galleries and civil war and that’ll do well on social to walk home through Notting Hill, past the Café Diana with its red façade. Diana in hats, Diana in a crown, sultry Diana in low-cut eighties black. Wistful Diana on the steps of Kensington Palace, sad at Northwick Park. Bouquets and blue gingham trousers on a Bahrain airstrip. Lonely Diana, with nobody to talk to on the phone.
From Flash to Poetry: An Interview with Tania Hershman flash & cinder catches up with the flash fiction author turned poet to talk about her latest work, science, and the transition from flash to poetry
Hi Tania, I’d just like to start by saying how much I appreciate both Terms and Conditions and Nothing Here Is Wild, Everything is Open. Thank you so much, Matthew! I notice you experiment a lot with form in poetry. Do you feel that this was the driving force for you to venture more into poetry for this collection, and further from flash? It wasn’t a conscious move, from flash fiction to poetry, it didn’t happen all at once but was more of a slow sidling towards poetry for years, a getting over my fear of it. I was terrified of poetry, about everything that came with that weighty word, centuries of history, terminology I thought I had to know. It turns out you don’t need to know anything, have any qualifications, to write poems. Reading poems is really the only necessity, and I was lucky that I had some amazing people recommending me poems to read that helped me get over my fear. The experimentation you mention is probably because I got very excited about what poetry suddenly allowed me to do in terms of the shape of words on the page! I got so excited, in fact, that the editors of both the pamphlet and the collection had to rein me in because my poems didn’t always fit on the page. I also think that I was insecure about what I was writing actually being seen as a poem, as opposed to a flash story, so I was trying to signpost its poem-ness through weird and wonderful shapes. I am calmer now, I know that it doesn’t matter what a set of words is called. If I think it’s a poem, it’s a poem. With my flash stories, some were published both as a prose poem and as a flash story, in different sections of lit mags. What matters is that I am saying what I want to say in the way I want to say it – and I love how I cane make use of the added benefits of shape in poetry to shift how I want the poem to sound, to me and to the reader. Breaking the lines in different places, having different length stanzas, I’ve learned that all this affects the pace and the impression on
the eye, the way you breath as you read it. You can do this with prose, too – sentence length, paragraph breaks, white space. It’s obvious that you cleverly use science a lot in many of your pieces. How do you talk about grander themes without feeling intimidated, as many of us do? I have a background in science, which I think means that although I was never cut out to be a scientist, I don’t have a fear of science and am happy to plunder it for my writing. I have never thought in terms of grander themes, which is why I have never been intimidated, I guess. I don’t go into any sort of creative writing with a thought of a theme, I generally start because I hear a voice, or I get a first line, and I follow it. I leave it up to the reader to read whatever themes they might think are in there. I love it when readers disagree! If I was to be very overt about a theme, I would worry that I would be telling a reader how to read one of my pieces, and I wouldn’t like to do that. I read many, many short stories every year, judging competitions and now critiquing work, and I have found that writers often feel they have to put in a big issue – death, war, terminal illness, divorce – or sometimes two or more of these, as if a story won’t be compelling enough without it. But for me, short stories, and poetry, often work the most beautifully when they focus on something small, something personal and specific, and use that to illuminate the bigger picture without hammering it home to the reader. You don’t need that last line that says, “Did you see I was talking about death? Did you get it?” We all have a tendency to want to do this, and I think with experience you trust that your reader will get it. Readers are clever. Do you find it hard switching between a form that demands such tight word count to one that encourages the writer to stop when only they deem it necessary? Do you mean that it is flash fiction which is demanding and poetry which can go on and on? Yes, exactly that! Ah, this has never been an issue because I am a lover of short things, I am a sprinter, my poems are probably always going to be short, even shorter than
flash. I love constraint, I find it very freeing. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from 20 years in the writing game it’s how few words you really need, always less than you think. Poetry allows me to cut even further, to push the ambiguity, to squeeze more out of individual words by where they are placed, out of the space between words. I am mostly writing poetry now, so not doing any switching – but every time I generalise or make grand pronouncements about what I am doing, something inside me rebels and I start wanting to do things differently! I notice a connection between Some Of Us Glow More than Others and the themes in the your chapbook and collection; in particular Pulled. Do you think short form fiction and poetry will always lend themselves to similar themes based on how short they can both be? I don’t believe there are any themes that any form of writing is suited to, by which I mean: anyone can write about anything, anywhere, in any way, at any length. There are novels that take place over the span of an hour, and short stories that cover a whole life, for example. What often bugs me is when a short story collection is reviewed and the reviewer says “Despite their length...”. Short is not less than, and in my opinion short pieces can involve the reader more, ask the reader to create the world alongside the writer. I write short because I like to get in, get out quick, as I think Raymond Carver said, and because I have so many ideas, I want to use them up. Poetry and short stories are my way of processing the world around me, and I’ve no doubt that there are themes that recur in my work, across collections. I don’t know what they are, I leave that to reviewers to tell me! Ali Smith has said that all short stories are about death because they are inextricably tied to their endings – you can’t have a great short story with a weak ending. Maybe so! As someone who has written both flash and poetry, do you think there’s a distinct difference in your own motivations when writing in either form? What motivated your poetry in these collections? As I mentioned above, I am not writing flash fiction now, I haven’t for the past few years, it’s mostly poetry. I am also fascinated by lyric essays, which are a combination of poetic techniques and the personal essay, I am excited about hybrid forms which break genre boundaries, this is what the book
I wrote for my PhD is like. I am interested now in more directly using material from my own life, instead of speaking through fictional characters – although some of my poems and essays are also fictions. Everything inspires me, everything I see, read, hear! For me, whatever I write it’s about grappling with questions, which I imagine I will never find the answers to. But to just express the questions is something that I find cathartic. What are you involved with at the moment? I am currently writer-in-residence in a cemetery, which is fascinating, and is inspiring many pieces, some of which may be in a genre I recently read about, “speculative memoir”. I’ve no real idea what that means! I also love teaching and working with writers, and recently began offering short story and flash fiction critiquing, more details here http://www.taniahershman. com/wp/short-story-critiquementoring/. I am currently teaching an online course through the Poetry School in poetry & science – we have some prose writers too, and will be co-tutoring an Arvon course in flash fiction in November, with the fabulous Nuala O’Connor as my co-tutor, and David Gaffney as our guest! I am crowdfunding to raise money to fund 4 half-places on that course for BAME writers, writers on low income and writers from marginalised communities, if your readers can spare a few pounds, I would be very grateful: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/ funding-places-on-arvon-flash-fiction-course. More information at www. taniahershman.com, including my upcoming talks and readings and more information about my new collections. Wonderful stuff, Tania! Thank you so much for letting me interview you! Thanks for having me, best of luck to flash & cinder!
You sit in the bow of a narrow boat with two other men from your tour group. The Ganges river is silent apart from the click of their cameras and the steady stroke of paddles through the water. Your guide â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a young girl named Aditi â&#x20AC;&#x201D; stands in the centre of the shell and points toward the city, where a hundred fires blaze along the Varanasi shore. The ferryman pulls in the oars and shoulders a coil of rope. It is beautiful, no? he says. As you turn away, a half-cremated body drifts through the dark water and laps against the belly of the boat. * Aditi skips ahead, leading you up the Manikarnika ghat. Her bare feet leave wet prints on the worn steps. She twists her hair and catches the drops on her outstretched tongue. Water take sin, she says. Beside her, a body pops and hisses, engulfed by flames. Two small feet stick out of the inferno, a silver bracelet hanging from each ankle. Hurrying away, Aditi waves for you to follow. Her footprints fade into the stone and disappear. * An old woman kneels in front of you and cups her hands. Your group moves on, following Aditi away from the docks. A small boy tugs your shirt and indicates a low pyre stacked with corkwood and mango leaves. The boy cups an ear, points. Looking up, you see the rise and fall of an axe and hear the thock, thock of splitting wood. The woman places her hands on your feet. A golden ring swings from her earlobe. Kala, says the boy. He taps your wristwatch and places his palm over his heart. Time. You give the boy a handful of rupees. He hurries away and returns with a barrow brimming with camphor and sandalwood. * The woman removes her clothes and plunges into the water. You rush forward, but the boy takes your arm. Moksha, he says. A herd of buffalo glide across the river. The woman emerges amongst them and scoops water into her mouth. Moksha, he says. Free. * Standing on the pier the old woman rubs ghee into the loose folds of her skin.
When she has finished, you carry her to the pyre. She coughs and trembles. Blood trails from the corner of her mouth. Thainkyu, she says, wrapping her hands around yours. Thainkyu. The boy rummages through the waste piled along the shoreline and unfolds a torn blanket. He washes the blanket and lays it over the woman. Finding a small cup in the wreckage, he dips it into the river and tips the water between her lips. A boat moves away from the pier into the darkness. The woman’s fingers grow cold and stiffen. * The buffalo rest on the shore, drying their hides while the boy collects fistfuls of dung. He stuffs the fresh manure into the stacked timber and smears it over the end of a wooden torch. You take a cigarette lighter from your breast pocket and snap the flint wheel. The torch rests against the flame and ignites. The boy circles the pyre, chanting. Ram naam satya hai. Ram naam satya hai. After the seventh circle, he lays the torch at the woman’s feet. The fire spreads slowly, intimately, before rising in incandescent points toward the stars. * The sun crowns the horizon. Somewhere in the city, a bell sounds. The boy splits the woman’s skull with a rock. He takes her breastbone and throws it into the river. Using a clay pot, he collects the ashes and carries them to the edge of the ghat, where he scatters them into the water. Without looking back, he vanishes into the crowd. Other children appear and dig through the debris. One of them shouts and holds something aloft. The children gather round and gaze at the object. A single golden ring encircling the sun. * The group has finished their tour and file out of the city toward the docks. You remove your sandals and head down the steps to where the buffalo wallow in the mire. The water laps against your knees, your hips, your chest. As you wade deeper into the river, fire turns to smoke, sound to heat, water to air. With a final step, you disappear beneath the surface, and all that remains to mark your existence in the world is a single ripple expanding out out out
Christopher M. Drew
The House Beside The Lake You stumble upon it one day by mistake, Whilst you are out walking the Staffordshire moors— This hulk of a house beside the lake. The belfry is empty, the gargoyles predate. The windows don’t keep out the rain anymore. You stumble upon it one day by mistake. You enter the hallway, you don’t hesitate; At the shadows that scatter above dust-laden floors, This hulk of a house beside the lake. The chapel is fallen, the angels too late; Like a wandering moth, you urge to explore, You stumble upon it one day by mistake The fireplace guarding parched embers awaits, It’s ancient drowned owners returning from shore, This hulk of a house beside the lake. The house shrugs and breathes; it is awake. Something is blocking the way to the door. You stumbled upon it one day by mistake, This hulk of a house beside the lake.
On Spirit: A Snippet of History flash & cinder’s Matthew Thorpe-Coles dives into the history of our first issue’s focal word
Spirit is a word with a bounty of different meanings and manifestations. Whether its meaning is alcoholic, the inner self or a spectral being, spirit is an uncommonly old word that still is used in our day to day language. Spirit’s first recorded use came about in the mid-13th century, meaning the ‘animating or vital principle in man’. What this means exactly is contextual, though modern day uses of the word often imply a metaphysical force that is the central entity controlling our bodies, in lieu of our minds. At its root, the Latin spiritus means breath. Breath truly is the ‘vital principle in man’ in a scientific, and perhaps more pragmatic sense, though it’s interesting to see how a word with such a common meaning deviated into one with so many profound connotations on both sides of science and faith (just think about spirit level, not exactly a supernatural gauge is it?) For a mere six letters, spirit (and the concept it represents) has inspired* many pieces of art, literature and philososphy. Edvard Munch, the artist most famous for ‘The Scream’, was so motivated by the concept of a discernable force of spirit that he dedicated much of his work to distilling its essence, through shadowy and distorted drawings. The Gothic literary movement, too, includes dark references and thoughts on the nature of spirit, with characters imbued with such a vital sense of self that they still clung onto the world, without the need for a body. Ghosts and ghouls being intepreted as imprint of lifeforce is largely attributed to this idea of an animating force that drives our every decision, and so spirit lingers on in a more sinister way than initally devised, almost as dark spectre of its former meaning. Though we overlook it as part of our day to day language, spirit is a word with a powerful evocative force behind it, and is an abstract concept with almost as much poetic force as love, time or happiness. So please read on and see how our writers have chosen to interpret it.
*Inspired is another word taken from spirit, literally meaning ‘to impart truth or animation’
Rockfall She was no witch. The waves made her sick. The big hairy man rowed slowly, defiantly against the chopping waves, washing over each one until there was only darkness. They’d spared her the faggots, the blaze of light and savoured her exile amidst the dark, the stony silence of subservience. They’d banished her to the sea, the crags that only a saint could survive. Her father fought to save her. So had her children. But when they throw you into the river and you start sinking you don’t have many options. “I can fly!” she exclaimed. That didn’t help. Brothers Joe and Jack clambered back up the cliff face to admire their progress. Down below their ledge was greening, beginning to sprout. The potatoes might grow. Something had to. Between the rocks and the scream of seagulls, the swish of hissing waves, the whistle of lost currents, there wasn’t much else to hope for. Spray stung their eyes, salt twisted their tongues. They stared suddenly, legs tensing, hair matting in confusion. Squinting through the hail they spotted the boat approach. It bobbed and hobbled between the waves. The ocean was unforgiving, little better than their rocky outpost. Storm rain, howled, screeched and stank to high heaven: no wild animals to haunt their dreams but the whirling winds did the job just as well. The monks slowly crawled up the rocky steps to the mound they called home, that twisted rock tower they had gutted out of the cliff. Faith: there was little other reason to persevere in this wild chaos, this blind oblivion, this chasten bareness, without love, hope or fury to relieve. That may of course have been the attraction: the lack of distractions. And then there was one. They stared as it slowly gained pace, came closer. The boat curdled between the foam, her shadow slipped through the rain. They hadn’t been expecting visitors. And certainly not a woman. A nun they presumed. A barrel of a man rowed her closer with the firmness of a person who respected the waters. He dropped her at the base rock and stormed off, catching the tide before he was stranded for the night. He didn’t look back; he knew what he was doing. They had no idea what they were supposed to. She looked as if she was going to tell them. Brother Joe waved Brother Jack down to meet her. She grasped his hand. Brother Jack nearly let her fall back into the surf in surprise. Softest thing he’d touched since that boiled seagull two weeks past. She grunted, silent as a man, features twisted into a determination the monks recognized as their own. Slowly they clung to the rocky steps clawed
out of the cliff edge and fumbled their way up, towards the shape they were carving out as a monastery. The woman followed. She didn’t miss a step. Their stomachs rumbled: it was a strange sensation having to expose your work to an outsider; frightening how a human instinct for approval could override spiritual frugality. All three wolfed down the stew, dried fish greased up with whatever greenery they had managed to coax from the scarce soil perched on their rocky terrace. She drank rainwater from their homemade reservoir, snorted, blew her nose and lay back on the dried seaweed. Brothers Jack and Joe fuddled about, then decided to go up to the next level to stretch out, fart and struggle to sleep. Outside a gale howled in disbelief, grating through the slips in their rocks with the fury of sirens unleashed, caged into an out haven that was too distant to be punished. She smiled in the morning. The two monks provided everything they could find for breakfast, birds eggs, more dried fish, the ribs of a dead seagull. They’d taken a vow of silence. She was glad. She’d promised herself the luxury of being a kept woman. She looked at their battered faces, the way they fawned over her; she’d made the right decision. They might all end up saints in the end. “I can fly,” she repeated. “We can’t hear you,” screeched the gulls.
E. F. S. Byrne
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The Weather In Normal: An Interview With Carrie Etter flash & cinder speaks to the Midwestern poet turned Bath Spa lecturer about all things poetry, books and climate change.
Hi Carrie, I notice that in Scar you experimented loads with form. How did you go about it? I think regardless of what you’re writing as a poet, you’re always trying to get form and content to work together, and while you can do that through a perfectly traditional sonnet, sometimes it takes playing around with the rules of form and subverting them to find something that works with the content. Originally, Scar was a group of poems that addressed climate change in Illinois, but the individual poems just felt informational, and they didn’t have the kind of lyricism I was after. That lead to this exploded poem, as it were, of Scar, which took pieces of some of those poems that I then wove all together with new writing, which created something entirely unlike anything else I’ve ever read! What’s your best advice for people trying to explore new poetry? I think the best thing for me at least is reading around. Reading as widely as possible - that exposure to things previously unknown. I had this, for example, when I read Pablo Neruda’s ‘Ode to My Socks’, and its delightfully over the top and preposterous and playful. The love of life in that poem is so delicious, and it reminded me how joyous poetry can be. That’s the thing, whenever you read a really good poem – it reminds you of something else poetry can do, and so I try to read as broadly as I can, both in Anglophone poetry but also poetry in translation. I try to keep an ear to the ground with Twitter, Facebook and book reviews etc. for innovative poets that might offer something different. Will Scar be a central poem in The Weather in Normal, and will the collections other poems follow a similar form? The answer is no, and no. So, there are three arcs in The Weather In Normal. Climate change in Illinois is definitely one of them. The other is the loss of my parents, it all seems to relate back to loss in some way, like the loss of home. Certainly, the loss of parents, their early death, the
loss of place I grew up through climate change, the way that landscape and lives are changing. The last sort of poignant long poem is about the sale of my family home. It affected me much more profoundly than I thought it would. I used to go there a lot in my dreams – I’d always end up there somehow. Since the house was sold, I can’t seem to go back, which is really strange. The long poem sort of imagines going back to this house, and relinquishing it to its new owners, so it can have a new history. How do you think your small town upbringing influenced your poetics? I think because I was isolated – there was no internet, no mobile phones – I had to make an active effort to get in touch with poetry. I always had a job in fast food in high school – Arby’s Roast Beef or KFC, and I just had a little monthly budget for sending away for samples for magazine, or buying the occasional book to develop my own library. This means I have a real love for the small press, both the online magazine and this little prints – and all the hard work involved. I wish I could teach students that if you learn to love the actual work of such efforts, everything gets better. Writing gets better, the effort feels less – you know its hard work but if you relish it, you don’t wince from the challenge. I don’t think I could have come this far with either my writing or my academic career if I hadn’t learned to relish the hard work of it, and that certainly came from my small town upbringing and lack of money! What are you excited about in poetry at the moment? Any new collections you’ve loved? There’s so much! So much, I mean this is the thing about going to AWP in the States, and going to loads of readings and panels and learning about new publishers. There were two books I had to have. One by a poet named Carry Webster, and Evie Shockley’s book Semiautomatic, which is very much about the African American experience in the US. All her poems seemed very different from each other – they drew on different voices and form, and the marriage between political engagement and lyricism doesn’t get much better than that. I can’t wait to get into it! There’s also one of the most anticipated books coming out in the US - Terrence Hayes new book of poetry “American Sonnets For My Past and Future Assassin”. Every poem has that title, and it’s again about the African American experience – white privilege and the broader recognition of injustice in the criminal
justice system. I think a lot more American poets are motivated by the current political situation in the US. Thank you so much Carrie! Finally, when can we expect to see The Weather In Normal? Well, I’m trying to nudge up the date. It will be out in the UK by the start of October, because of a few national poetry day events that will take place in Chichester and Swindon. The Bath Launch at Topping & Company will be on 8th November and that will be a party of a reading. I put the announcement for that out over a year before publication date – you do start getting kind of eager early on during the publication process. When it comes out in the US does depend on the distributors – it’s important for me to have my work present in both the UK and the US. Wow, I certainly can’t wait to read it. Thank you, Carrie!
Dodford She’s goes walkabout at four makes her way across strawberry earth to the copse – a forest on child scale – its tree trunks, crisp sheet leaves. Spirits tell her stories there of Chartists who believed in luck and labour, of harvests, shearers, the skins of horses, hunters bobbled with sweat, the fox quaking in an old badger set, the flight of charred rooks. Once a caravan parks up, leaves behind a litter of long cream balloons a scent of betrayal she’s almost too small to catch. There’s plenty left she doesn’t understand yet she hears the chatter of squirrels, sheep murmuring low, the heady ache of thunder, the village school bell, new stories to be told.
Lee Iacocca Worked for so Many Car Companies Because he’d Keep Doing Blow and Forgetting Where he Worked I suppose I should count myself lucky that my uncle assembled me a car from the parts of three different AMC Gremlin junkers abandoned on his property. As a sixteenth birthday present, it could have been worse. The problem wasn’t that each of the wrecks was individually haunted beforehand, more that all the spirits remained in the combination afterward. Things got crowded. The drifter with the hook hand argued politics loudly with the student who had gotten caught in that blizzard. The crew of deer hunters didn’t have much conversationally to add, but their incessant shooting of highway signs with their ghost rifles made major noise regardless. He/she/they were all a boisterous lot, without even considering the number of seats they unnecessarily took up. I found myself wishing they’d been melded bodily into one mega, amalgam spook instead of remaining separate and distinct. Why not? We’d ended up with only one vehicle. Why wouldn’t they have been fused as well? If not, why couldn’t at least some of them remained with the cast-off parts still on the farm? Though, I admit it wasn’t much of a farm. My uncle grew nothing there, never had. However, ‘big ass field full of crap’ didn’t roll of the tongue quite as well, and there were those ATF home ham radio hobbyist investigators to be concerned about, so call it a farm we did. Jimmy Carter and Linda Hamilton were the only ones who tried to keep us straight, and you knew what happened to them as a result. So, I drove the car and kept my mouth shut. What else? It didn’t make me real popular for rides, but my uncontrollable skin eating habit made that a foregone conclusion anyway and I didn’t worry too much about it. Teenage boys are so judgemental.
David S. Atkinson
Don’t think you’re getting away without writing something Take a minute to sit and think. What have you read so far? Anything that stuck out for you? A particular image, perhaps? Now, take a minute to just deconstruct that thought. Let it fall to pieces. Burn those pieces, turn them to ash and cinder. Sift through it. What’s left? Write it here. Go on. Write in the issue. It’s yours, after all.
Now twist that image on its heels. Think of the worst thing that could possible happen to it, or the best. How could it change to be something entirely different? Go on, write a sentence explaining this transition.
A bit confused? Hold on to whatever happened. Expand on it. What would have happened? Who would be affected? Who on Earth would be able to handle such a wonderful or catastrophic thing? How did it happen. Write it out below, and hold onto your issue. You never know where your words could end up.
The Gap Year I do not lead a particularly busy life. I come to terms with my own mortality three or four times a week. I read slowly. I eat when I ought to be sleeping and sleep when I ought to eat. I’m often alone, but not lonely. Daytime silence doesn’t bother me. I fancy myself Buddhist because I once didn’t move for fourteen and a half hours. I’m not a million miles from inner peace. But I don’t believe Nirvana is at the bottom of afternoon baths or solitary cups of tea. My grandmother has a more active social life than me. But she sets a high bar, and the pub is, well, not far, but I don’t crave that level of activity. Necessarily, I’m accustomed to my own company. I do not lead a particularly busy life. I spent inordinate amounts of time contemplating the stitching of my socks, or Descartes, or Morrissey – there are facets to my philosophy. I’m tired a lot. I smile out loud at books. I do write things sometimes but, more often, not. I may never again in my life feel quite this free.
(Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re halfway through our first issue.)
The Short Story: An Interview With Rupert Dastur flash & cinder catch up with the founder of theshortstory.co.uk to discuss micropresses and short fiction
How did you go about starting TSS Publishing? Prior to launching TSS, I spent a little over a year playing around with different literary journal concepts and developing basic website skills. With TSS, the initial aim was to publish a few short stories every month, as well as provide some interviews and the occasional review of short fiction. At the time, I felt there weren’t that many online places that offered a clear reading experience, good visuals, and easy navigation. Now, of course, I know there are loads of places doing just that, but this is one of those situations in which ignorance was beneficial. I worked a huge number of hours at the beginning of the project, building up resources and contacting kindly writers who agreed to do interviews. I also ran a few competitions with decent prize money and things slowly gathered momentum. With the gathering pace of interest came new ideas and avenues to pursue – from the introduction of flash fiction on the website, to a rebranding, the launching of the chapbook series, and the launching of the Cambridge Short Story Prize. I’ve had the fortune to meet some wonderful people over the years and they’ve been a huge source of help. Do you have any tips for people thinking about setting up their own presses? Each person is different and every editor will have their own approach and set of advice, but here are some things that spring to mind: 1. Have a long hard think about what you want to achieve to begin with. This sounds really obvious, but over time it can be easy to lose focus on the priorities of your journal. At the beginning you might want to focus on volume of published work, later it might be aesthetics, or it might be offering payment or feedback etc. It’s nigh on impossible to achieve everything at once, but I think as long as you’re doing one or two of these things to a high standard, then writers will be appreciative. 2. Try to allocate enough time and resources to the project. It’s very easy to overstretch. 3. Ask for help – there are plenty of people who will be happy to lend a hand. Be nice to your volunteers and say thank you.
4. Engage your readers and writers in conversation every so often. Ask what they want to see, what they want more of, less of, if your T&Cs are good or bad, if the Homepage is easy to understand, if the fonts are okay etc. In short, request feedback. 5. If you get bored standing still too long – something I absolutely do – be open to change and new opportunities. One of the things I’ve most enjoyed about TSS is all the new ideas that pop along, giving them a go, pausing if necessary, diverting elsewhere as the river dictates. If your journal is fun, it’s more likely to survive. Are TSS currently accepting submissions? We closed for general short story submissions on 15th June. However, we may be opening up again in early September. We also recently launched the Postcard Project (micro-fiction) and have the rolling, quarterly Flash Fiction competition (next judge is Helen Rye). What gets you so excited about short fiction? Short fiction offers endless opportunities in a way that longer fiction doesn’t. It’s possible to write a fairly traditional narrative, but you can also pen a fourpage masterpiece concerning a conversation between a teacup, a teaspoon, and a teapot. This would be neither sustainable nor tolerable in a novel-length piece of work; short fiction allows for playful surprise and the pushing of boundaries, be that on the sentence-level or through genre-bending narrative. Equally exciting is the simple fact that a huge number of promising writers begin their careers in the world of short stories and flash fiction. You’ll find the fledglings – up there among the mature fliers – learning to stretch their wings. The writers flying those warm currents of imagination will take you to places wholly unknown and unexpected - it’s for this reason that I always feel a sense of discovery when picking up a new collection or anthology of short fiction. What’s your best advice for anyone stuck thinking they can’t write? Find a writing group or people who will support you along the way. Sit down somewhere without wifi, a piece of paper and your pen in hand, daydream, scribble down your thoughts, don’t be afraid of the white space, unshackle your mind, discard any ideas of perfection, of plot, depth of character, of symbol-rich sentences. Start with a sight or a sound, maybe the feel of the pen in your hand, ask yourself where the pen came from, who might have owned it before you; imagine the pen in your hand is cursed or maybe it’s a lucky charm and someone is coming to take it from you – they’re tall,
broad-shouldered, their breath smells of liquorice… We all dream. We think in stories. We remember the past, we create future selves, we have conversations in our heads, we walk around reading and interpreting the world. Recognise that and remember a few core tricks and tips that have been repeated many, many times (the first draft is always shit, read, get one good sentence down, keep reading, edit ruthlessly, read some more, ask yourself ‘what if ’, don’t stop reading, avoid distractions, read even more, grow a thick skin, have I mentioned reading?) and you’ll quickly find yourself in the world of words. What’s next for TSS Publishing? We’ve just launched our Postcard Project which aims to encourage short fiction from around the globe. This will be a year-long project and we hope to curate the pieces in an exhibition in the summer of 2019. More immediately, we’re working with Lakeview Journal to explore shortshort fiction in the Indian languages and the difficulties of translating into English. Later in autumn we’ll be launching the second year of the Cambridge Short Story Prize in partnership with the Dhaka Literary Festival. We’re excited to be connecting to a wider audience and hope to encourage cross-cultural dialogue and the building of lasting relationships; certainly the world has never been more connected and the reading and writing of literature is, in my view, one of the best ways of building bridges. Where can we find you? You can find us at www.theshortstory.co.uk or type TSS Publishing into any browser and we should pop up. We’ll be happy to hear from you if you want to get in touch. Thank you, Rupert!
To purchase chapbooks from TSS Publishing, visit https://www.theshortstory.co.uk/chapbooks/.
AquĂŚ Sulis In this city, where a ceramic Jane Austen guards Gay Street. Where artisanal bars gather tourists like ducklings round mama. Where limestone facades hide decay: landlords charge four-fifty a month for damp, windowless rooms. In this city, where crowds filled Northgate Street and won back our library, screaming, we deserve better. Where we still fight to rid new estates of poor doors, a twelve year old learning to campaign for his home. In this city, where locals on buses help lost students to their stops and teenagers patch hearts like kintsugi vases. Where Christmas market-goers sip chocolate wine, link arms, wobbling across cobbled streets. In this city, where an American expat sags onto the curb, crying for a stranger in her country: dead, because he couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t GoFund his insulin. In this city, where signs encourage you to step into Roman shoes: see how they lived.
Not Ghosts Graham was walking through the park. It was twilight. “Not ghosts.” It was Graham’s idea of positive thinking, negative thinking for a positive outcome. “Not ghosts.” A woman and her dog walked into him as he hurried along, his eyes down, repeating his mantra. “Not ghosts.” He walked briskly up the three steps to his front door, he waited to unlock it repeating “not ghosts.” The ghosts greeted him when he eventually walked into his narrow hallway, one was laughing, with a silent open mouth, one was walking backwards grinning. “You are not ghosts.” The ghosts crowded around him as he pushed his way into the kitchenette. They hung about him as he tried to fill the kettle. He wanted to eat but couldn’t with them watching him. In bed they slept either side of him crowding him, they snored silently and he stared at the ceiling. “Not ghosts.” He murmured. All he wanted was his home to himself, to return to the normal routines of his day, walking through the park to work, telephoning his mother, making scrambled eggs for his tea, drinking on a Saturday night in the Goose and Peppercorn. They had spoiled everything. “NOT GHOSTS.” He shouted but they merely turned over and went on sleeping.
Something Macrocosmic: An Interview With Santino Prinzi flash & cinder catch up with the rising flash writer & prose poet to discuss his newest collection
Hi Santino. So, ‘There’s Something Macrocosmic About All of This’ has just been published by V. Press. Any hints as to what it’s about? I think that all stories, at their heart, are about people. Even if the characters in a story are two talking trees, that story will say something about what it means to be a human being, what it means to be that person experiencing the world. Everyone’s experience of life is different, and each has their own perception; this was something that occupied my writing in my first collection, Dots and other flashes of perception (The Nottingham Review Press, 2016), and in this pamphlet too. The focus of There’s Something Macrocosmic About All of This is LGBTQ+ characters and their stories, but neither the characters or these flashes are defined by this identification. I have given talks before about writing LGBTQ+ characters, and I believe that if your character is LGBTQ+, that’s just a fact about the character – it’s not your story. My intention is not to devalue LGBTQ+ stories in any sense, but rather normalise them; I’m telling these stories because of what happens to these characters, not because they’re LGBTQ+. We share a commonality regardless of our differences. The title of the pamphlet hints at this idea too, I hope: even though these experiences are owned by individual characters, they’re all a part of a much bigger, all-encompassing, “macrocosmic” story about being a human. Wonderful stuff! How did the pamphlet come about? Was it sort of a writer’s imperative, or a complete whim? When V. Press opened to submissions for flash fiction pamphlets, I’d told myself not to bother in spite of it being something I really wanted to do. I’d read and admired the other flash pamphlets V. Press had published, but I didn’t believe at the time that I had something I could send, and I wasn’t confident that I had anything ready. One evening, I felt playful and compiled a pamphlet collecting together these stories I’d written with LGBTQ+ characters, stories that were important to me,
and I decided that they could work together. I decided then that if I didn’t at least give it a shot and submit the pamphlet, I would regret it. When V. Press’s editor Sarah Leavesley wanted to see the full pamphlet, I was surprised, and I was ecstatic when it was chosen for publication. The pamphlet I submitted grew into the pamphlet it has become thanks to Sarah’s insightful thoughts. Stories were cut, others were added, we tweaked paragraphs, lines, words. The whole process really helped There’s Something Macrocosmic About All of This become the best it could be, and I’m really thankful for that. You’ve had a few prose poems published – how would you define the difference between flash and prose poetry? I’ve been naïve enough to define the difference in the past, but I wouldn’t dare claim a complete definition of this difference now. Flash fiction and prose poetry are always evolving, and so any agreed definition quickly becomes problematic. For example: flash fiction is often character and conflict driven, whereas prose poetry, is less about character and more about evoking emotion through particular images. Can you see how dangerous this is definition already? Am I implying that prose poetry is without character or conflict, that flash fiction cannot evoke emotion or be poetic? Of course not! I believe definitions should come from your own process and style of writing, if you need them at all. For me, if the compulsion to write the piece is driven by a character or a scenario, it more often than not becomes a piece of fiction, whereas if it is directed by a particular emotion I’m trying to convey, then it sometimes becomes a prose poem. I’m never completely conscious of this while I write; sometimes it’s difficult enough as it is without the interruption of “is this too poetic for flash?” disrupting me. A perfect example of how this definition is slippery would be Kathy Fish’s ‘Collective Nouns for Humans in the Wild,’ published by Jellyfish Review last year. It doesn’t matter if you want to call it a flash fiction or a prose poem, what matters is that it blows your heart and mind. I also don’t think we should be limiting what we write to these definitions. Definitions, limitations, and rules can be helpful, but if we become too engrossed on fitting our writing into a framework of some kind then we may lose what is unique and exciting about it, or we may not write anything at all.
Thanks, that’s brilliant advice! What else are you working on at the moment? So far this year I have been immersed in preparing There’s Something Macrocosmic About All of This for its release, and then editing and compiling National Flash Fiction Day’s annual anthology, which is food themed this year. I’ve also been helping to organise this year’s Flash Fiction Festival and have been engrossed in reading submissions for New Flash Fiction Review. The truth is I’m not really working on anything at the moment. The odd flash trickles here and there, but I haven’t been writing much. I hate this and enjoy it too. There’s a guilt I know I shouldn’t feel about not writing and not sending my work out to publications, but there’s a certain freedom in this too. This freedom has given me time to read more, to allow certain ideas to brew, and to allow me the time I know I need for myself. Though I’ll admit to feeling quite distanced at the moment from writing, I think I need this breathing space. Ideas are always brewing, though… I’m sure you’ll pick it up soon! What’s really getting you excited in flash at the moment? There’s the second Flash Fiction Festival happening this month in Bristol. There’ll be workshops from flash fiction writers from all over the world, and it’s going to be brilliant. We had so much fun last year, and the party is set to continue this year! I’m looking forward to running my own workshop on experimental fiction, which will focus on different forms and ways of writing flash fiction, and I can’t wait to be a part of the V. Press panel. There also seems to be a welcome increase in the amount of flash fiction pamphlets, collections, and anthologies being published. This is always exciting to me because I love books, as my bank statement can testify. What always excites me the most, however, is reading the work being published by journals, and seeing new flash journals emerge. This is where it all starts. There are so many journals and flash fiction writers that consistently deliver striking fiction, and though I’d love to name some, I fear I’d always miss someone out. Flash is constantly evolving, with new magazines and new writers appearing all the time. That’s what I love most: there’s always something new waiting to be discovered. Thank you so much, Santino!
A First Brilliant Sight of Snow I stop the car. As the engine cuts out we are left in absolute silence and this first sight of snow is heart-breaking. The trees are laden down, branches almost touching the ground. The lake is brilliantine, framed by white; trees, bulrushes, grassy banks – all tucked away under a deadening blanket. At first, I think the wetness on my face is flakes, folding us into their crystalline embrace, confetti on exposed skin and hair. But then I realise it’s tears, falling like pearls, my body reacting before my mind, a reaction to Genie. In front of me he is out of the car, out of the train, the bus and the airplane, and frozen to the spot with wonder. My arms fling tight around him, as close as I am permitted. For once he nestles in close, head under my armpit, mittened hand around my waist. He looks at me and I look at him. He smiles a smile I’ve not seen for a very long time. When I know he can’t wait any longer, I kneel and ram a fluffy fistful of snow down the back of his coat. He shrieks with laughter. “Go on then, lie down!” “You too, you too mum, you promised” We fling ourselves onto the ground, arms and legs outstretched, parodying a seizure. Back and forth we move and then leap straight up to avoid blurring the outlines. Genie can’t see what’s coming but I do. He has days left, weeks if we’re lucky. Somewhere between my heart and the ground, angels prepare to take flight.
Champion Breed The man in the poodle mask played something beautiful with his violin. I wanted to ask him how many of his kind resided in the Montreal underground, give him advice about how to make more money, maybe remove the mask or add poodle limbs to give mothers and their children a reason to come closer, but I wasn’t sure if he’d understand. I threw a loonie in his open violin case to add to his scant constellation of change. He nodded, began playing something else beautiful while everyone around me shuffled off to the Metro or the rail station or one of the many malls throughout the underground, heads down, headphones in, drowning out the poodle man’s songs of home.
The Book of Tides: An Interview With Angela Readman flash & cinder dives into oceans, spirit, nature and poetry with Costa award-winner Angela Readman
Hi Angela, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. The Book of Tides features a lot references to nature (as the title might suggest). Do you think there is a necessity for poetry to be slightly naturalistic? Poetry can, and should be, about anything I think. Everything I had written before was set in cities, my work occupied the territory of traffic lights, apartments and 24 hours stores. I wanted to do something different now. It currently seems to uncool to write about nature, but I think it’s as valid as any other subject. The book is often about women. It’s folkloric in nature. I’ve written stories and myths set at the coast and in small rural villages. I don’t apologise for that. We’re living in strange times when oceans are at risk, wildlife is in danger, and even the words we use to discuss it are being axed from the dictionary. They sound like simple words, like magpie, conker, and blackberry, but it’s worrying to me. People can’t fight to protect something they don’t have the words for. I worry about that. I suppose that’s why I wanted to draw on natural sights to explore relationships, longing and loneliness, whether it’s unfashionable or not. I wouldn’t say there’s a necessity poetry should be like that, it can do many things, but I wanted to do something that engages with the natural world while it’s still there, before we lose touch. I notice you write in quite a traditional form at times. Do you prefer the guidelines of poetic traditions versus experimentation with lineation etc? It’s funny, I rarely sit down and decide to write in any set form. I love all sorts of poetry from free verse and prose poetry, to sonnets and haiku, but whatever the form is I like poetry to feel neat. I don’t like work that feels like it’s never been edited. In my poems, I sometimes write without using stanzas, several of the poems in The Book of Tides look like prose. If that’s what a certain poem needs and it works best for the subject, I’m happy with that. It’s all about what each poem
wants. Whether it’s a prose poem or a sonnet, it must be edited though. Sometimes, the reason I use structured stanzas, with set amounts of lines, is more to do with editing than anything else. I can’t stand my work to be sloppy. If I’ve written something I feel could be tighter, I’ll impose a structure that makes me more disciplined as an editor. It can make me work harder. How do you think you formed your poetic interests, and do you think poetic influences are from a different than themes that influence prose and other writing? For me, poetry and prose come from the same place- a feeling, a restlessness, a mood that sneaks up. It can come in the form of just one line or image. It may start with a strange fact I heard, or a detail I saw somewhere. Whatever it is, it has to bother me a bit. I don’t usually know why or just what the work is straight away. That’s why we have to write, to follow that feeling where it wants to lead us. I suppose that’s why writing can be something we’re reluctant to do sometimes, we don’t always want to give ourselves up like that. Sometimes we daren’t. I’ve started poems I’ve later made into short stories before, and, of course, there’s a difference when it’s prose. Characters are developed further, additional conflicts are added, plot takes hold, pace becomes so crucial. Prose and poetry often use the same tools, for me anyway, because I often write narrative poems. Language is always important, but it’s more condensed in a poem, in poem we can taste every word. I need that flavour sometimes before I can follow something further and it becomes a story. Other times, I don’t. The poem itself has answered my questions. Whatever sort of writing it is, poetry or prose, it always comes from a question. What does the word Spirit evoke to you? It’s a flash of something in the trees, a strip of light weaving through limbs, a winter sunset so sudden, and red, it looks like a thread you could pull and unpick the world. It’s the hairs standing up on the back of your neck, a sound you’re not sure you heard. It’s looking out the window when there’s work to be done, it’s the window looking in on you. It’s standing up, sitting down, and standing again. It’s seeing a crow and being certain it has seen you before, this particular bird knows your face. You will never give it a name. It’s the kiss that got away, the life you never lived, in a house you’ve never been to but has doors you have paint anyway. It’s the bubble no one blew that bursts in our hands, it’s the butterfly no one should catch. It’s waking up in the middle of night
and singing when you have no voice. It’s why you’re awake, why you write, it’s where poetry lives. It will keep knocking. There is no getting away from it. Thank you so much, Angela. What would you recommend to newer and emerging poets? It probably sounds boring, but I’d say: Be patient, and just keep going. It’s amazing when you start writing, each poem feels like a small miracle. It sort of is, you’ve finally found a way to make sense of all these ideas, feelings and thoughts that race around your head. Writing feels fantastic, but it’s wise to wait a while until the buzz wears off. Give the work a week or so in the drawer, then look at it again before sending it out. I think it’s important to do this, not because I’m a boring old fart (I am, but that’s a different story) but because as a writer one of the hardest things, if not the most difficult thing, is to keep writing and not to give up. It can feel daunting to find publication sometimes. It can feel like there are a thousand publications out there, and a million poets. It can be discouraging when you start sending work out. There will be rejections, so many rejections. These are sometimes to do with your work not fitting the feel of certain journals, or sheer numbers. Other times, the work may not be quite ready. Making sure the work is ready helps protect you against discouraging rejections. There will still be some, of course, but by sending strong work you can get the sort of rejections that don’t put you off writing altogether. They may even make you want to go away and write more, try again. That’s important. To keep writing you need to find some sort of encouragement. It can be tempting to compare yourself to other poets sometimes and feel we are never good enough- don’t. Read widely, work on your craft, always strive to improve, but never compare. Just keep going and trying different things, it can take a while to see where you fit. What do you have forthcoming? It’s strange being a writer, there’s so much uncertainty. I have a couple of things I’m working on but aren’t ready to show anyone yet. I am working on it. I don’t like to talk about anything until it’s set in stone with a committed publisher. I do have a book coming out, but I don’t know whether I’m allowed to talk about it yet! The publishing process is funny like that. It’s not always appropriate to shout things from the rooftops, publishers have in mind when they may want to do that in their own way, so as writers we must learn to wait. I’ll tell you a bit about it though. It’s prose. And Other Stories are publishing it in 2019. That’s about all I can say, other than I know I gave it absolutely everything I had. That’s about all any of us can hope for, that whatever we write we know we did everything we could do at the time, before we move on to the next thing and start trying to become better writers all over again. Wonderful. We all look forward to it. Thank you, Angela!
The Book Of Tides is available to buy from Nine Arch Press at: http://ninearchespress.com/publications/ poetry-collections/thebookoftides.html. “This poetry shimmers, in a phantasmagorical world of swan-women, mermaids on the hunt for human men and fisher lasses” -- Pippa Little RRP: £9.99
Greyfriars Bobby (A Rhupunt) A living shade, Unblessed, has strayed Where saints are laid To rest, unbound From earthly pain. In sleet, in rain, He waits in vain For just one soundâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; Beloved tone Unheard, unknown Where graves of stone Lie flower-crowned. No soft command Or calloused hand Bids him to stand And guard this ground, And yet he stays. At dusk he bays, And Heavenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s gaze Falls on the mound Where heart has yearned As seasons turned: A soul is earned By grieving hound.
Signs I am as raw as Himalayan salt In the hydrogen of your pale eyes, where my body glows softly like the tell-tale signs cartwheeling through the night sky in vivid neon.
I watch eagerly for the subtle tells which are normally so easy to miss on the way to bedthey are much harder to come by when you want to go everywhere else. A tug of the earlobe, a flick of the hair, fluttering of the eyelidsas fleeting as the flowing stars which flicker for an instant in the vast cosmos, twinkling stags, green fish created from red dwarfs, pulsing nebulae that glimmer and breathe.
You smile as you look up from your phone screen, my core implodesstardust, sweet vapour, bubbling lightI begin to unravel in your warmth
like the fading light of a dying star.
Festivals, Flash and Pamphlets: An Inteview With Jude Higgins flash & cinder catches up with flash writer and festival curator Jude Higgins to discuss themes, voice and awards.
What inspired ‘The Chemist’s House?’ For many years I had dreams about the house where I grew up. In these dreams I’d move around different rooms – the kitchen, the cellar, the attic, my bedroom and the pharmacy, which was attached to the house. The fictions in my pamphlet were sparked off by these dreams and memory fragments and when I put them together to submit to V. Press, who published them last year, I found that they fell naturally into a linear coming-of-age sequence. Do you think some of themes in ‘The Chemist’s House’ emerge in your other writing? Is it sometimes difficult to contain these themes to such short forms, do you find? I often, probably like many people, write stories about relationships. For many years I worked as a psychotherapist, so how people relate to one other and the difficulties they experience has always been of interest to me. I think you can distill a lot about relationships into a few words. It’s all about the white space – one of my fascinations with the form. I am slowly gathering another collection (very slowly) which is also relationship based. My story ‘Their Memories’, is one such piece. It is published in New Flash Fiction Review, and an extract from the end has recently been selected to be projected as part of an exhibition in Belgium along with extracts from other writers’ flash fictions. Amazing stuff! Are there any writers that helped you form your own voice in flash? I read hundreds, even thousands, of flash fictions every year and think/ hope I am influenced by osmosis. There are some stupendous flash fiction writers out there. The Fast-Flash courses I have completed with Kathy Fish have also helped me form a voice. During the ten days, Kathy focuses on important aspects of flash fiction and you comment on and receive feedback from a variety of very skillful flash fiction writers from all around the world.
What have you been reading, Jude? I just read ‘On Being the Murdered Lover’ - a flash fiction by the wonderful flash fiction writer, Cathy Ulrich, which I took to the class I teach on flash fiction in Bath. Cathy is writing pieces in a series she calls ‘Murdered Ladies’ This is a second person piece written from the point of view of the murdered woman. It projects forward into what happens after the murder. It’s a longer flash fiction, nearly 1000 words, and has many layers and observations about people in general, attitudes towards young women and the state of the world. Also, you never get to know who murdered the woman, and that works very well too. For the same class I read a shorter and moving second person story by Noa Sivan about loneliness in the ‘postcard’ submission series at Wigleaf magazine. We were discussing when and how second person stories work, and I thought these were both good examples. What’s your best advice on getting into flash writing? At Bath Flash Fiction Award, we set up the free weekly micro contest, Ad Hoc Fiction (adhocfiction.com) to encourage anyone from around the world to read and write fiction. It was Ad Hoc Fiction’s third birthday in April this year and I organised a reading event with several of the winners reading, at St James Wine Vaults in Bath. Some people have told me that this micro contest introduced them to flash and now they are addicted. Ad Hoc Fiction does give you a good way in to getting published, as many stories are published each week for the public to vote on. You can read hundreds of stories of 150 words or less and it helps you think about the form. If you win, you get a free entry to the main award. Sharon Telfer, who won Ad Hoc Fiction a couple of years ago went on to win the £1000 first prize at Bath Flash Fiction Award using her free entry. What can we expect from this year’s Flash Fiction Festival? The Flash Fiction Festival funded by Bath Flash Fiction Award, is taking place from 20-22nd July in Bristol and there’s loads on offer. Workshops and talks from top flash fiction writers and tutors in the UK, US, Ireland and Germany, readings, open-mic session, a raffle with first prize writing retreat in Italy, bookshop, book launches, picnic, bar. It’s sure to be a wonderful event! Thank you, Jude! For for information on the Flash Fiction Festival, go to: https://flashfictionfestival.co.uk/
A huge thank you to all of our contibutors and interviewees for helping create our very first issue of flash & cinder. Our contributors, in order of appearance: Stephanie Hutton is a writer and clinical psychologist in Staffordshire, UK. In 2017, she was nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize. Her publications include Bristol Prize anthology, Mechanics Institute Review and Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual. Victoria Richards is a journalist and writer. In 2017/18 she was highly commended in the Bridport Prize, came third in The London Magazine short story competition and second in the TSS flash fiction competition. She was also longlisted in the Bath Short Story Award and the National Poetry Competition. Christopher M Drew is a writer from the UK. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Literary Orphans, Longleaf Review, MoonPark Review, Third Point Press, Spelk, Bath Flash Award, and others. He reads for FlashBack Fiction. You can connect with Chris on Twitter @cmdrew81, or check out his website cmdrew81.wordpress.com Hannah Persaud won the InkTears Short Story Contest in 2017 and was runner up in 2016. She recently shortlisted for the Cambridge Short Story Prize and she won the Fresher Writing Prize in 2016. Hannah is editing her debut novel and is represented by Laura Macdougall of United Agents. Dedicated to education and being a father, E. F. S. Byrne has finally found more time to devote to his writing and is currently working on everything from very short flash stories to full-length novels. Samples can be read at efsbyrne.wordpress.com. or follow him on Twitter @efsbyrne Anne Summerfield writes poetry and fiction. Recent poetry publications include pieces in Bending Genres Issue 2, the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual 2017 and in an anthology of poems inspired by the life and work of Stanley Spencer. Anne lives in Hampshire, England and tweets infrequently as @summerwriter David S. Atkinson is the author of books such as “Apocalypse All the Time” and the Nebraska book award winning “Not Quite so Stories.” He is a Staff Reader for “Digging Through The Fat” and his writing appears in “Spelk,” “Jellyfish Review,” “Thrice Fiction,” “Literary Orphans,” and more. His writing website is http://davidsatkinsonwriting.com/.
Tegan Day is 21 and currently in her first year of Creative Writing and English Literature at Bath Spa University. ‘The Gap Year’ was written before she knew what she wanted to do, but she now hopes to one day be able to write for a living to provide for her dog, George. Joanna Nissel is an MA student at Bath Spa University, working on her debut novel. Her work is featured in Irisi, Amaryllis, Clear Poetry, DNA, Glove, Eye Flash, Riggwelter, and The Fenland Reed magazines. She is also the social media editor for Tears in the Fence. Carolina Kenealy is 71 and, to the frequently asked question - no, she doesn’t remember the war. Ever since she could write she has written stories. She has published on Kindle. She is a widow with one daughter and twin, 22 foot, grandsons. She never exaggerates. “Aliens, elves, etc. do exist!” Rebecca Williams loves the darker side of fiction and is currently working on her first novel. She has had pieces in Zero Flash, Ellipsis Zine, Spelk, The Cabinet of Heed, Retreat West, The Same and more. You can find her on Twitter @stupidgirl45 or for more short pieces and information visit https:// rebeccadmwilliams.wordpress.com/. J. Bradley is the author of the flash fiction collection Neil & Other Stories (WhiskeyTit Books, 2018). He lives at jbradleywrites.com. Elizabeth Spencer-Spragins is a poet, writer, and editor who taught in community colleges for more than a decade. Her tanka and bardic verse in the Celtic style have been published in England, Scotland, Canada, Indonesia, and the United States. Recent work has appeared in the Lyric, Glass: Facets of Poetry, Halcyon Days, Page & Spine, and Peacock Journal. Publication updates are available on her website: www.authorsden.com/elizabethspragins. Ciaran Dermott is a poet and postgraduate student based in Bristol. He has had poetry published in Riggwelter Press and now flash & cinder. His eternally restless bones have led him to backpack through Europe, Australia and Japan, but the pull of academia has pulled him back to the UK. For now. A special thank you to Tania Hershman, Rupert Dastur, Carrie Etter, Angela Readman, Jude Higgins and Santino Prinzi for letting us delve into their work. A final thank you to Tim Liardet, who ensured the strength and proof of our very first issue.
Interested in being in our next issue? We’ll be open for submissions yet again between 15th July and 30th September 2018. If you would like to submit flash or poetry on the theme of ‘Light’, simply follow the guidelines below. If you are interested in submitting poetry, please ensure that your poems are 40 lines or lower. . If you are submitting flash fiction, please submit flashes of up to 750 words. Submitters are welcome to submit up to three pieces of work per issue. Submission is free, though unfortunately for the time being publication is unpaid. Please send all submissions as an attached file to Matthew at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for all your hard work. Our magazine could not exist without the passion and love of the writing community. For further updates, follow us on Twitter: @flashandcinder, or go to our site: https://flashandcinder.com/
flash & cinder issue two – light
flash fiction – poetry
O U T J A N UA R Y 2 0 1 9
Thank you for reading this very special first issue of flash & cinder. We hope youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll return for future issues.
Published by Matthew Thorpe-Coles  Bath ISSN 2516-905X
Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash. -- Leonard Cohen