__MAIN_TEXT__

Page 1

ISSUE NO 4 | WINTER 2021

n awr my people


contents philosophy

poetry & prose

4

Flooding (in) the valleys YASMIN HOWELLS

6

need to SOPHIE SQUIRE

7

Rhwng Pob Cwm LOWRI LUXTON

8

Selected Artwork CHARLOTTE HUBBLE

12

Orange juice in october JAMIE DAVIES

13

The Ballad of Lazarus Edwards BERNARD PEARSON

14

Cymuned DYLAN THOMAS

20

art

featured artist: in conversation with HUW ALDEN DAVIES 28

Selected Photographs JUSTIN ROSSITER

30

A Spectral Universality: A Response ANNA BLAND

32

My people can’t keep the snow white, but they sure can keep the sky bright JUDY LI

34

forest GRUG MUSE

35

I never knew Robert Thorburn PHILIP BULL

36

Selected Photographs JULIAN MCKENNY

40

beth sy’n digwydd? MILLIE BETHEL

42

Warm Hearts and Heart Aches GWENLLIAN DAVENPORT

43

Our Shared Space CATE HOPKINS

44

Supermarket Fiction JOSHUA JONES


editors’ letter It’s that time again - we’re back! We are so excited to bring you our fourth issue, exploring the theme of My People; we have been overwhelmed by the high quality of the submissions for this issue. As ever, we are so grateful to everyone who took the time to share their work with us and we have been delighted with the huge variety and consistently high quality of submissions for this theme. Through the concept of My People, we hoped to engage with themes of identity, community and connection, drawing on the history of Welsh identities and how these intersect with other elements of selfhood, community and nationality. We were intrigued by the relationship between community and the self, and we hoped to investigate the areas of difficulty and tension within these relationships. It feels poignant to explore these issues at a time that so many have felt cut off from their communities and their people - having just left a year with no large community celebrations. How do we approach our communities now, with no Pride marches or celebrations, no weddings or birthday parties or carnivals? How can we engage with our communities in any meaningful way, when direct contact with them is unsafe? Furthermore, how do we engage with our own identities when the circumstances and relationships surrounding ‘our people’ become complex and difficult? Keeping these questions in mind, our co-editor Martha O’Brien interviewed Huw Alden Davies, author of ‘Scaffold to the Moon’, to discuss family, place and the relationship between art and community. Huw is a documentary photographer, exhibiting artist and bookmaker as well as program director and lecturer of BA Photography at Carmarthen School of Art. He utilises his skills as a creative and as an educator to explore subjects he feels are overlooked or ignored. Martha and Huw explore the inspiration behind ‘Scaffold to the Moon’, the significance of memorialising and archiving communities, and the narratives of generations on pages 20 to 27. Many of this issue’s submissions deal touchingly with both identity and community, such as Sophie Squire’s poem, ‘need to’, which sensitively explores the process of understanding and coming to terms with one’s own identity. Similarly, Grug Muse’s poem, ‘forest’, engages with the relationship between language and identity in the context of a bilingual community while Charlotte Hubble’s art and photography situate queer identity and acceptance within the physical architecture of her community. We are also thrilled to include our first short story - ‘Supermarket Fiction’ by Joshua Jones - a thought-provoking narrative that interrogates the idea of literary community and identity while maintaining a lightness of touch and a sense of humour. Our cover for this issue is a stunning portrait by Dylan Thomas, whose work is also featured on pages 14 to 19. Thomas photographs and centres queer and Welsh identity; we are ecstatic to feature his work that focuses so humanely on social identity and individuality within the community. We hope you find his work, and all the submissions we are featuring in this issue, as engaging, thought-provoking and at times comforting as we did. As always, we owe special thanks to our ever-wonderful designer, Anja Quinn, who ensures every issue is as beautiful as the last, and to our fantastic Culture Writer, Millie Bethel, for her continued cover image engaging and brilliant work. You can delight in Millie’s piece for this issue - ‘A Few Words on Truman is a transgender, gay Friendship’ - on page 40 and in Anja’s beautiful man who grew up in Wales design throughout! but left at the age of 18 due to issues from his unaccepting Cariad, mother and to pursue transition. See more photography by Dylan Thomas on pages 14-19.

Anna, Jamie, Martha and Puck Team nawr


Flooding (in) the valleys The valley opens its mouth and yawns out pours the drizzle that drips down streams, over leaves and floods the grass. It chokes and splutters as it hits the rocks and breaks on crags its uninterrupted flow. And the holly-bound trees can only watch. 60 years have passed yet water still runs on past sunken houses, y capel, y beddau. How does your water taste? Is it still the clean drizzle that drips down streams, over leaves or leaves a submerged village to batter against the crags or the creigiau? Thirty-five-to-one is no vote, but a sinking boat on a reservoir of protest. We cut microphone wires and worship a shrine of ‘cofiwch Dryweryn’ but now struggle against the turning tide of the floods, once again. Our valley is overflowing. Rainfall slurries down streets and runs alongside the row-houses, like a child chasing a ball. Again we heave sand and cement to keep our land from being washed away and drowned by water-logged spirits. But we will float on this tattered boat of perseverance. Let water empty in whirlpool spirals now the plug has been pulled; open the floodgates and let the valleys drain. And we will listen to the rain and wait to rebuild, just as practiced.

YA S M I N H O W E L L S

Yasmin Howells is an English Literature and Language student at St. Anne's College, Oxford. Her work draws on the similarities of repeating events, and compares the Capel Celyn reservoir with the current Welsh valley floods. Her artwork tries its best to represent this historical muddiness.

nawr


need to in the beginning i was drowning. not in the thin waters of march, but in the vicious, viscous mucus of a blindingly wrong pairing.

and i feel myself grasping at the frayed edges of what i thought were my people all along.

i woke up to the feeling of wrongness. it consumed me but i suppressed it. believing that my person was the one

(i do not know her name).

in front of me. but he was not, could not be. only, i did not allow myself to feel my person was a she. i do not know her name. countless tabs open, hoping to find answers to questions not formed yet. a video of a woman crying down the lens of her expensive camera, with my exact experience, something i thought impossible. but she tells her story about a boy she did not, could not love. my exact experience. i do not know her name. i tell my friends, a weight off my shoulders. we guessed, they say, makes sense, they say. they point me in the direction of things i’d been avoiding. a show that cut deep, a song that felt wrong.

threadbare fistfuls fraught with wrongness. but i clutch with all my might, because it has to be right. what am i meant to do if i do not fit what i thought was my life? and i’m drowning again, this time with more depth. and she drags me up to a glistening surface. i do not know her name. shaking hands make purchase on the sludge of the bank. it’s thick, i’m sinking here. but i persevere, the wailing of those wrongful sirens in the water behind compelling me further. my hand reaches solid unwavering matter, a foot attached to her, my world she did shatter. i do not (need to) know her name (yet).

SOPHIE SQUIRE, 24, CARDIFF/MIDLANDS

nawr


Rhwng Pob Cwm Gelli’r Wydd, Waun Hir, Panthywel; Tŷ Canol, Cae’r Bigyn Cyncoed and Cold Blow: family feuds over farmland long since lost to the open cast. caskets lovingly caked in anthracite; mined and pulled like teeth by the tonne. softly, they sleep beneath hooves of horses in Ffoslas that sees stilettos stuck in mud that once spattered your shoes. my lines stretch themselves out the Cwm towards the sea Down Haverford: Cwmsychpant. travellers, followed by fighting cockerels, nervous greyhounds and some curious looks. all i find now is ‘land for sale’ and some vague lines in a book. Pwll: here, my great great great grandfather hangs. Part of a vast painting, he stands not more than a hands’ stretch. yes, he’s only small in it. Sir Stradey’s forfeit for poaching rabbits. and years later, when i serve his relatives they ask for my name; ‘is that Swedish?’ but it’s as Welsh as the day my mother drew breath. as true and as tough as the wood that bears my nameand you will give me my name the strength of Daphne will keep, immortal and evergreen, a grove of laurel trees for my daughters’ daughters. LOWRI LUXTON

I was on the train home for Christmas, from Oxford to Carmarthen, and the (devastating) difference between the GWR and CrossCountry trains you get in England and the Arriva trains in Wales is enough to make you cry. I felt compelled to write, and the result was something between an elegy for Arriva Trains and a love-song to my home, and I’ve not really stopped writing since. More of my stuff is on instagram: @dim.byd

7


charlotte hubble

T

he works derived from a stencil I created, and sprayed near my flat in Cardiff. The hot pink would stereotypically indicate the female gender, whilst the black indicates boldness and power within lesbian relationships and individuals in the community. I wanted to experiment with these pieces in an attempt to ingrain within myself and others the notion that the term ‘lesbian’ should not be a ‘bad’ word or carry any shame; something I have set out to be wholly accepting of. Exploring the concept of ‘My People’, I aim to bring together and uplift an amazing community that is often over-fetishised, disregarded and under-represented in the media and in society. Charlotte is currently studying Fine Art at Cardiff Met, making whatever art she can get away with! You can find her on @artbycharl.

CHARLOTTE HUBBLE, 21, FROM THE B L A C K C O U N T R Y, L I V I N G I N C A R D I F F

nawr


9


nawr


11


Orange juice in october Have you got the portrait of the place, long gone now just ashes in the wind, with its half formed clarity, no density to the moment? There’s only a wished forgone-ness that fades so quickly every time it comes back. It was fragile by its nature that was clear because it bled all over the place as it cracked but so desperate was it to remain whole that it didn’t stop and now it’s held afloat by a lost-ness, and that whole world is a not-there, and the warmth that was so close and so strong has left and now the starless night entombs a few more agonies. But watching it back is more to bear because it’s done and gone and it cannot be changed and so simple is it to say but to witness the impossibility of ever again altering where that gaze rests, to have it encased in a downwards glance with not even the flicker of an eye just a stare into your eyes but eyes that are dishonest and that throw off the memory is a guilt forever struggling to take a breath amidst the flood. Aged again now across half a century, to witness nothing but this. A motionless horizon soaked; Carved out there and then silhouettes on the meridian, Formless as gods were the memories that stayed faithful to the place of the portrait, that held the people in revere until even their reflections were gone. That’s the whisper, the glimmer; the curve of a mouth, the fall of some red hair.

J A M I E D AV I E S , 2 2 , C A R D I F F / BRISTOL

nawr


The Ballad of Lazarus Edwards He wore his wig for contrast The hair piece was a navy blue He’d been the council man and boy Since the August of seventy two. He lived on his own now in Risca, Free to choose a lemon bathroom suite, With the face of Jimmy Hendrix On the rag effect lid of his toilet seat. He wouldn’t have had it any other way Now things had settled down, Janice had gone back to Bedwelty, Her cheese plant was turning brown. So Lazarus could live a little And boogie on Friday night. Listening to ‘hey Joe’ in Dolby After first dimming his indirect light. He’d have a Bacardi and coke at ten And a chicken korma in the bag Keeping his ‘Tiger Feet’ warm In an end of the line deep shag When on the rare occasions He found himself at a loose end He’d click on welshrabbit.com For the number of an imaginative friend

They’d be on the phone for ages Chatting about ‘this and that’ It was nice to have the company, But cheaper to have bought a cat. Then it was on to his second hand futon And off to the land of nod, Till the aroma of camomile, from his teas made Restored his faith in God. That God indeed was Hendrix, When he came to the Isle of Wight. Sadly Lazarus had missed the ferry And arrived on the following night. So he went for a swim in the Solent, Where he came face to face with his Karma, When the girl in the Fish and chip Van, Said he looked like The Dalai Lama. Lazarus could look back on a full life As he turned his wide screen television off, He’d reply to Janice’s letter in the morning But he’d not mention his cancerous cough If he did, she’d only come running All potions and bardic chants, When it got bad he’d move to Blaenavon And live with one of his elderly aunts.

B E R N A R D P E A R S O N , 6 5 , O S W E S T RY

Bernard’s work appears in many publications, including; Aesthetica Magazine, The Edinburgh Review, Crossways. In 2017, a selection of his poetry ‘In Free Fall’ was published by Leaf by Leaf Press. In 2019 he won second prize in The Aurora Prize for Writing for his poem Manor Farm.

13


Dylan Lewis Thomas: Cymuned ‘The portrait is a sign whose purpose is both the description of an individual and the inscription of social identity’ (Amelia Jones, 2016). Fifty-one years have passed since the partial decriminalization of homosexuality in the Sexual Offences Act in England and Wales, and although our society has progressed, discrimination still exists, vboth at home and abroad. The portraits in this series showcase some of those whose identity is connected to contemporary LGBT+ culture, with an aim to celebrate queer individuality and diversity in South Wales.

nawr


15


nawr


17


nawr


19


INCON V E R S ATION W I T H

Huw Alden Davies author of ‘Scaffold to the Moon’

Huw Alden Davies is a documentary photographer born and raised in the Gwendraeth Valley. His work has been published widely, and featured in a large number of international exhibitions. With selected works in the permanent archives of the National Library of Wales, National Museum of Wales, and The National Portrait Gallery, London. In 2020, he published his debut photobook, ‘Scaffold to the Moon’, a study of his father, Prince. Our co-editor Martha joined him for a chat about his new book, community and making art that represents your people.

nawr


M: Hiya! Thanks for chatting with us - I thought I’d just start off, really, with, what made you want to produce this book about your Dad?

H: I’m not quite sure exactly what sort of kicked it off. As you probably know, this started something like five years ago. I was working on this long-term project called Tumble, and I thought, I need to do something else for myself, while I was doing my PGCE. It was something to sort of keep myself busy, creatively. And I don’t think I intended on making this project as such, but I remember sitting there, and (Prince) saying about how he was going to put this radio in the glasshouse in the middle between three sheds.

of creating a book about your Dad that he was going to read? H: Well because it wasn’t anything specific to begin with, there was no ethical issue really, other than, I was never going to paint my father in a light that he probably wasn’t viewed in anyway. But saying that, I did get this sense that we see a side of him that nobody else really saw. When we were growing up it was like, ‘your Dad’s a hell of a comedian!’, or ‘he’s a star!’, and I’d meet people miles away from here – towns, cities away, in London even – you’d meet people who knew my father. It was like, how is this even possible? He was always a big character on two sides of the fence, and yet nobody saw these little eccentricities or these little sort of quirky things that he did or made or talked about as a father or someone in that environment. But in terms of ethics, there’s nothing I couldn’t have done, really, that nobody else would’ve seen as a character. And I had no interest in painting him in a bad light. M: So as you started to record these stories, did you develop a sense that it was important to record him and his stories, to memorialise them almost?

He was sitting there and he goes, ‘Oh, that’s what I’ll do with that radio!’, and everybody’s just looking at him like, ‘What radio? What you on about?’ And he goes, ‘that radio I’ve got there, I’m going to put that in the middle glass house so that when I walk from the lower shed to the glass house, to the next shed and to the house, I won’t miss any of Chris Needs’s radio show’. And I was like, Oh my God, only you would say something like that. Only you would have four radios in a row going up the garden just so that you wouldn’t miss anything! It was one of those moments where I was like, okay, this is it, this is the beginning.

H: Yeah, in many ways. There was this idea of colloquialization, this language that existed colloquially in Gwendraeth Valley, or even, you know, Tumble in itself seems to have a characteristic that doesn’t exist outside of that domain. And that was probably my inner purpose – once I knew this was going to be a project that I was going to work on, he became my sort of microcosm, my character study, of what one person might be like from this community. And I saw his characteristics reflected in others, so it was just a way for me to go, ‘Well, he’s my Dad, I understand him more than most’, and it was easy access. I could access him at any And I started recording his little stories like time, and I did. In some cases it became an that for a little while; just things that he would everyday affair, where we’d sit down for an say – and then I would start visualizing hour or two every day for weeks upon end. things that I would make photographically, He’d knock on the door and we’d sit down over coffee and tea, or whatever, and just and that’s pretty much how it was born. talk about these old times, or things that had M: It’s a really vivid picture of your Dad happened right now, and I’d record these and you paint in the book. Did you feel strange come back to them. So it was a process. It when you were making it – about the ethics was quite an intense process for a long time.

21


That basically was the beginning of many things that I’m doing now. Before that, it was, “I want to look at Tumble, I want to record it”. But it wasn’t until I started photographing my family – in that sense, under the microscope, I don’t think things were as clear as they became after that project.

that never bothered me. It was never a bad thing. This is what we grew up with – let’s celebrate it for what it is! M: You spoke earlier about how this is the first time you were putting out text, so what was it that made you make that stylistic choice, of prose and block quotes alongside photos?

M: So in that sense, then, I guess, am I right in saying, it becomes the fact that you can’t H: Experimentation to begin with. I was study a place without looking at its people, never interested in playing with text. That like the people are the place? was an accident. And this was an accident that has defined now, the rest of my career H: Yeah, that’s exactly what it was. And moves, I think. How do you get someone’s I did think about this for a time, before voice across in a photograph? I knew how I’d actually done it – who can I actually to present that atmospheric thing, and I look at, and I did photograph all the knew how to almost manipulate how we people in the community, I photographed feel through photographs using visual pillars of community, people who run the language, but I didn’t know how to get that shops there, people who run the butcher, language across, that colloquial language: or the bars, that I didn’t know kind of thing, how to get that whoever was I couldn’t get the essence voice across, active in that and I needed it. c o m m u n i t y of that person without I had to get this which I’m going deeper... and me across. I knew photographing. it would always But I couldn’t and my Dad had that kind be an issue to get the essence get that across, of that person of communication where and I thought, I without going have to use text. deeper, and I could phone him at 6 And you know, like I said, my o’clock in the morning I’ve always had father just gave a little bit of me that access, and just start something, a thing about and it allowed writing and I’ve me 24/7 access and he’d riff, you know? just never had if I wanted, the balls to put you know, I could get up in the morning, that forward. I just didn’t have the courage and me and my Dad had that kind of to have a go at it. And I thought ok, let’s communication where I could phone him just go for it, let’s try it. See what happens. at 6 o’clock in the morning and just start Nobody was looking, nobody was marking something, and he’d riff, you know? me on it, nobody was assessing what I was M: Yeah, your Dad in the book is just like this doing in any sense, so I just took a chance. wild individual. But in doing that, perhaps And it turned out, after doing, I don’t know, twenty or thirty quotes, I thought, becomes representative of a community? there’s a rhythm to this, I’m feeling it. H: Yeah, definitely. My project became When I’m reading it back, I’m feeling it. something through celebration of those And I thought, that’s something new to me. things: community, family, all those I wonder if other people feel the same when things that mean something to us no matter they read it back. So, I started playing with where we are on the rung of the ladder. the narrative between the image and text, We don’t come from a very well to-do and when you put a certain image to it, and background. I grew up on a council estate, when you have a certain text next to it, it was I grew up in that sort of community. So raising this other thing inside, and I thought, it’s a little frayed around the edges, shall ‘Oh my God, this actually makes me feel we say? And that part of the character, something’. And when I put it out there, I

nawr


had other artists tell me, ‘Man, you should do that more frequently, you should bring more of that into your work.’ And that gave me the incentive, and made me have more confidence in my style, and in my abilities. M: This was a self-published venture - how did you go about that, and how do you think that plays into those ideas of this being a community push in support? H: Yeah, massive support in that sense, and from all ends, community wise. I had this thing: do I put this out there? Who wants it? Who needs it in their life? Does it need to be seen by anyone? And then I thought, oh, do I give it to the community? Do they want it? And it seemed they did. And I thought, well who wants it from there beyond? So, I started asking the question – I started asking artists, in a non-direct way. So I’d be like, I’m not even sure if this is worth publishing, do I need to put that out there? Is it just one of those projects that people don’t need to see? And almost always, there was a very encouraging sort of response. But it

took me two bloody years to make that definite decision because if you think about it, look at all the photobooks that come out. And how many of those do we pick up and go, ‘I’m not even sure what that did for me, or for the community – what did it do for anything?’ And I didn’t want to make one of those books. But I think what I’ve produced here is something that goes beyond photography. It goes beyond my needs in terms of publishing, because that’s something I didn’t ever want to be involved in, this publishing malarkey. There seemed to be an importance of putting that back, almost like a historical document. That’s what my whole work’s all about, it’s not for, it’ll never be for financial gain, I can’t see that ever being the situation because it’s never been my interest to do so. It’s always been about community and building an archive, building a community document, and something that’s going to be there, historically. It gives it some kind of worth, that you put all this effort into things, and hopefully it’ll sort of outlive you. The book is the survivor, isn’t it?

23


You can go on the Internet, and we don’t know whether it’s going to be there in about two, three years or five, ten, whatever. But that book, that’s got longevity and I hope that that’s the case. I hope it’ll go to my grandkids, and they’ll be like, ‘Oh, look, that’s Granddad!’ or, it’ll be down the road, ‘Remember John Prince? He was a nutter’.

those stories. That’s why it’s kind of open ended. When I talk about things I talk about, I’m hoping to connect with the next community. And the ones on the other side of the world - we’re not very different. And it’s engaging ideas of culture as well. That’s the important aspect of this. I think we have a very distinctive culture in the Gwendraeth Valley, in Tumble but at the M: How do you see connecting with a same time, we’re all the same. We all have book as viewers and readers as different to very distinct cultures but we’re also very connecting through the livestreams you did with Xennial – was that the driving force, like ‘this will be the material’, rather than the livestreams and the blogs being a more fleeting thing? H: Yeah, although I have flirted with the idea of it being a sort of archival document. However, I’ve been testing its sort of strengths and I think livestream has definitely afforded another layer or level that you can’t communicate through photobooks. Sometimes, I think even specific documentaries or films or cinema tend to edit out the information. I feel like livestreaming offered that inbetween that none of those other contents will give you. So there was that again, colloquialisms, or vernacular. Things that come through, and nuances as well, all those little nuances that you can’t get through edited information. I think the only thing I could say was editing, I was kind of like, scripting a theme, possibly, but that was just to drive conversation. M: Because interestingly, Xennial is about community and a people who all share a thing in common, but it’s not about locality in the same way. H: Xennial started as one of those things: Now I have to tell my story of my generation, I have to talk about these people. Because if I told you some of the stories, which I’ll probably never print, you wouldn’t believe them. And now there’s times, I go, ‘We were part of a very different community, a very different generation,’. Put those two things together, there’s a special story to be told there. It doesn’t matter which corner of it you tell. But at the same time, every community and every generation has a story to tell which is different to the next. I’m just telling mine. And I want to inspire other people to tell theirs. And connect

nawr

much alike. Doesn’t matter where we are, we deal with the same things one way or another and we have the same problems one way or another. It just engages conversation, but on one level, I want it to be just as much as Scaffold was, I need it to be something we connect and resonate with, that’s the importance of both these projects.


I mean if you pick up Scaffold to the Moon and you don’t connect with the idea of family and character and those people that mean something to you, and you don’t go, ‘oh, I know someone like that, that reminds me of Uncle Dave, or Dad, or, my cousin’, then it’s not worked, it’s not resonated. But at the same time, I want you to know what my culture’s like as well, and Xennial, I guess, is an extension of that, it’s just the next stage. Let’s talk about more than one

H: I made the same connection, yeah! Another thing that becomes clear through the two stages is that it’s a generational thing. My father was one where it goes right back to the fifties, then you see it coming up to my generation and Xennial is a continuation of that, so it’s a sequel, it’s definitely a sequel. And I think I could spend the next thirty to forty years doing this, if I live that long, maybe, I don’t know. But I’m having an absolute blast doing it, you know – it’s like I said, once you find that little drug in it, there’s no letting go, you become a bit of an addict. I always used to wonder, you know like you see Martin Parr for instance, or any of the great photographers who always did these large bodies of work. What makes you get up in the morning to do that? Why would you go down the beach and photograph those people? I never understood it, until I connected with it. And then, you know exactly what it is, and you’re quite happy to get out of bed in the morning to go and do that over everything else. It’s fun. M: Your work’s reliant, then, on collaboration with people, even though they’re not the artists themselves, they become the art, and they also are.

H: I think it depends how you determine art, though, and this again has been an awakening for me. I think we distinguish art through the creation of oneself – an artist has to be special in some way. I don’t think that’s true. I think the artist can inspire creativity through others as When I talk about things well, right? Here’s an example for you. I talk about, I’m hoping Last October, might’ve been the end of to connect with the next last summer, I said to these guys, people community. And the I grew up with or people who might’ve ones on the other side been a little bit younger than me and don’t really have much of a connection of the world - we’re not with me personally but we all know each very different. other. And I said, look, I want you all to do me a favour, and I want you to sort of try something out with me, let’s create stuff together. And they’d be like, okay, person, let’s talk about a generation. I’d be up for that. Some would run a mile, it was like, ‘oh my god, what’s he going M: I guess today there’s also this movement to ask me? No way!’ and they would stop towards everyone sharing the same kinds communicating. But say a good handful of of ideas and community as connection and fifteen people would say, okay I’m up for interconnectivity becomes easier. that, let’s do it. So, we started engaging in conversation. It was their conversation

25


that was creating this activity. It was their working out those things that I’d never sort ideas and imagination that was fueling of resolved, you know those moments we mine. And it was just like my father and me were quite - not estranged - but we didn’t had worked together. So I was opening up have the best of relationships - as maybe a to that possibility – I was tapping into their lot of sons and Dads don’t. They don’t talk. energy and they were tapping into mine. I So that was ironing out all those things. remember saying, ‘let’s try something else’, And I’ll tell you what, those two years all of you do a French Arrow for me. So, were probably the best two years I’ve ever I asked them all to make a French Arrow. had with my old man. Just conversations, And it was like ‘Yeah! Man I haven’t done being honest with each other. I think I’ve one of those since we were grown really emotionally a kid.’ So you could feel we didn’t have the attached to my father, and the energy coming off this. best of relationships maybe he’d admit the same Some, you’d have to chase - as maybe a lot of thing, or maybe not, I don’t them, you know, and you’d sons and Dads don’t. know. But I remember, I be like, ‘Have you done They don’t talk. So was going to India, and your French Arrow yet?’ that was ironing out that morning I remember And it’d be, ‘No, no!’ and all those things. And going and I thought, I then they’d go off and do I’ll tell you what, can’t go without saying it and be like, ‘God, I had those two years were something. Because you the best fun ever!’ and that probably the best never know, this might be was just one idea. All the two years I’ve ever the time, while I’m away, people I work with, even had with my old man. something might happen. if I have no direct history So, I went down to see him with them, they’re important to me because before I went. And this impulse made me they’re a part of my community and what want to give him a hug. I’ve never hugged we work on together is a product of our my father – only once, when I’d had a collaboration, not my own sort of thing, few, I was eighteen, and I remember he and that’s where the ethical thing comes was like, ‘Something fucking wrong with in. I care just as much about them as I you, boy?’ and then I was like, ‘You’re probably would myself. For me, the Prince so emotionally null!’ you know. So this thing was a cathartic process, where I was was the first time ever, I’m now forty

nawr


one, or maybe forty at that stage, and I gave him a hug. I kind of headbutted him at the same time. And that was it. It was one of the most awkward exchanges and we kind of agreed, ‘Yeah, it needed to be done, but that’s never going to be done again’. M: The last thing I wanted to ask, before we wrap up - what should we look out for from you next, what’s your next front facing public project?

enters your life. And it’s like, Man, what just happened there? And that’s what this is about, it’s about that transition in time. You could see it! You were like, looking forward at one thing, looking back at another, and you knew what you were going forward into. You can’t do that so much these days. The dust has settled a bit. But it’s about pulling back at that and questioning when something like that is happening, you need to talk about that, you need to get it off your chest, you need to discuss what’s happening to you. It’s now my chance to do that, we couldn’t do that as a kid, none of us could, we couldn’t describe what was happening. I’m using video, photography, text, social media, live streaming – anything I can chuck at it that’s digital or talks about those things, the communication aspects of how it changed during that era, and that’s what this is about. It’s going into the Diffusion festival next year, so the video piece should be finished by then and hopefully I’ll be touring by then, too, there’s a show in Carmarthen. But that’s as far as I’ve got yet, my PhD is sort of looking at all those ideas as well.

H: Xennial is going to be a continuing thing. I’m currently working on a video piece. I’m really interested in something about how technology has shaped us in the last thirty odd years. I remember the first home computer arriving. It was late in our house. People had had them for years around us but when it landed it really changed everything. And when I say everything, I mean everything. It changed the way you saw the world, it changed the way you felt about it. It gave you a sense of optimism and hope that you could fix things. And I tell you what, the first time I owned my own home computer and the Internet came out, life changed. It had a profound effect. And that’s what the 80s was for us, you knew it was M: It sounds class, I’m really excited for it. coming, the future was coming. This thing was Thanks again for joining us – this has been fab! big. And you know when you live in an exmining town where the only source of fun you H: It was a pleasure. have is rugby - which you didn’t like - and the pub - which you grow quite fond of - it’s a very different world when the world of information

‘Scaffold to the Moon’ is available to buy from the publisher, iPigeon.

‘Scaffold to the Moon is a tale of life, hope, dreams and aspiration, and an ode to those that shape and inspire us. Exploring the lines of photographic and illustrative storytelling, Huw Alden Davies’ new monograph / photobook is a dramatic and often humorous study of the artist’s father, a bi-product of a generation, and his devoted mother, central characters to his beloved Tumble.’ (iPigeon.com)

27


Justin Rossiter In 2017, I was able to spend a few months documenting the social life of young lads in Newport: a group that entertained themselves regularly with drugs and alcohol, often to levels beyond me! The work lasted for three months, and has just resumed, although COVID has slowed any progress for now. The group that I have photographed is truly one of uniqueness and difference, representing the special bond that this father and son share not only with each other but also with the son’s peers too. Each photograph draws on the chaos and expression masculinity on show! Whether conscious or unconscious, I was really aware of the two generations having this connection with each other’s impression of manliness. The father is prominent in most of the images. He becomes a huge figure of influence to the youngsters. There are no limits, the comfort each finds with one another constantly bringing an alternative to the norm; fatherlike conversations that influence; inspirational talks mixed with the craziest behaviour.

Justin Rossiter is a documentary photographer from Newport, Gwent. His work is structured around people, and their behaviour. @justinginger1976

nawr


29


A Spectral Universality: A Response “Empathy is remembering that everybody has a story. Multiple stories. And remembering to make space to hear someone else’s story before immediately telling my own.” Kae Tempest, On Connection.

S

ince September, I have moved away from Bristol and am living in a new monastic Community in Leicester (new monasticism is a new way of thinking about faith communities that is inspired by ancient rhythms of Christian prayer and social justice). I was nervous, not only because I was moving away from people that I love, not knowing when I would be able to see them again, thanks to the pandemic, but also because I was moving away from an area of the country and community that I had become accustomed to, and an academically progressive setting. The city of veganism, Extinction Rebellion, BLM statue-felling, Banksy, pro-Palestine marches, pretentious coffee and the people in it would no longer be mine. Although sad, I was also excited to move, and in Leicester I have found a community with a deep, rich history, enthusiastic about its diversity and with a radical propensity for inclusion and welcome. It is precisely this that has made me reflect on my feelings about my move. What makes me attach this sense of belonging or identity to a group of people? What is it about my

nawr

people that draws me to them? I see myself reflected in them. I understand their words, their passions, their anger, because it reflects my own. These people who affirm who I am. They also may challenge me – their iron sharpens my iron – but this comes from a place of knowing me, rather than a form of objective criticism. So, what happens when I’m not with my people, when I feel like an alien, or when I have no one to reflect me back to myself? In the last issue of nawr, one of my coeditors, Jamie, suggested in his piece “A Spectral Universality” that we should reclaim the notion of Universality – or a universal, objective reality – that has historically been used to oppress and erase particular, individual experiences. The existence of individual, particular experiences does not mean that an overarching Universal does not exist, but that our idea of the Universal should encompass and cherish the Particular. Additionally, of course, a sense of what is Universal is essential to disputing the ideologies peddled by right wing, racist, sexist, homophobic, colonial narratives (it is important to universally agree, for example, that racist slurs are bad). But a common thread that runs throughout all of these bigoted narratives is a disregard for the Particular; a failure to recognise the nuances of humanity.


In other words, what is universal about human experience is that everyone is living their own “particular”. I may not relate to the particular experience of someone else, but I can understand that they have an experience as unique to them as mine is to me. That particularity – the appreciation and acknowledgement of it – is what can bring me into a greater sense of compassion for others.

a common thread that runs throughout all of these bigoted narratives is a disregard for the Particular; a failure to recognise the nuances of humanity. I recognise that I fail in this regard. I have found, in the past, when talking through a problem with a friend, that I am not listening to them. I am, of course, hearing what they say: I understand how what I did or said made them feel, I understand what they are asking from me, and how I can do better. But my listening is not deep. When I am hearing their words, I am waiting to hear something that I can respond to; I’m waiting for a shimmer of recognition of myself in their words, for my actions to be reflected back to me. I am not listening beyond their words and searching for their Particular. I’m only thinking about my own.

And this is only how I treat my people. Of course, it is often impossible to summon the patience and energy to sit and “deep listen” to someone who you fundamentally disagree with, or whose politics or ideology causes you some physical or emotional harm. But I wonder how exercising this empathy for another’s Particular and strengthening these bonds of understanding even between me and my own people, can teach me to look outwards, beyond the bounds of my own Particular. The irony is that living in a diverse community holds a mirror up to your unpolished, raw self in a deeply authentic and sometimes uncomfortable way. Navigating difference has revealed more to me about myself than I thought possible. I love my people – my artsy, rebellious, thinking, queer friends and family – but I am also learning to embrace the other Particular. The difficult Particular. The Particular wildly different to my own.

ANNA BLAND, LEICESTER

31


nawr


My people can’t keep the snow white, but they sure can keep the sky bright Seeking personal expression, Judy Li returns to a former passion. ‘Art understands me even when I don’t understand myself’, she explains. Her interests lie in psychology and storytelling. Judy has been challenging the notion of whether we can lie in our art - however the opposite seems truer. She likes to work unorthodoxly, often applying metaphors from the natural world. This piece, whilst beginning from a cynical place, draws a hopeful conclusion from the universe. Despite our imperfections, she sees people as an energy source that survives and thrives in unexpected ways. Her work can be found on Instagram - @hoiyinli.

JUDY LI, 28, CARDIFF

33


forest A tree falls in a forest, and across the room the simultaneous translator whispers, rustling leaves like static. And a man asks me what my name is in english. I say coedwig and the simultaneous translator twists my words into paper flowers and balloon dogs. I dig a hole and plant a tree. I ask it what its name is. It will never know. The simultaneous translator eats an orange. Spits out splintered vowels and little pips. I move slowly through the house and open all the windows listen to the leaves and she climbs out, shimmies down a drainpipe. Outside, a tree is floating, waiting. A whole forest is there, floating, trees hovering above the ground. A balloon dog floats by and paper flowers sprout and pop. The simultaneous translator tries to speak, enunciates a vine, bursting from her mouth, twists round her teeth, along her neck and arms, wraps roots around her toes. I pick the paper flowers, give them water in a jar. and there is silence as trees all through the forest fall.

GRUG MUSE, 27, UWCH G W Y R FA I , G W Y N E D D

Grug is a writer from Dyffryn Nantlle, and her first collection, Ar Ddisberod, was published by Barddas in 2017. Her work can be found at https://tinyletter.com/helmeddyliau, or find her at @printsgrug

nawr


I never knew Robert Thorburn My mum was seventeen when her father died. He was Robert Thorburn. I never knew the man. The father, husband, soldier, preacher, radio technician. The grandfather. I know his face though. He had dark brown hair and handsome eyes. And he seemed always to be wearing a suit. I know he was five foot nine. It says that on his passport. He would have been just shorter than me. I know his voice too. There’s an old cassette of him talking, it’s in the loft somewhere. He sounds so gentle. I know these things but, I never knew Robert Thorburn. And I think that’s a shame.

PHILIP BULL

35


Julian McKenny Caradoc Evans, author of My People was dubbed "the best hated man in Wales" following publication of his work in 1915. In it he contrasted "the pieties of non-conformist Christianity with the brutal realities of poverty, meanness and hypocrisy he had personally experienced." Some years ago I came across a primer of bible lessons in an old stone cow shed, pages scattered loose and mouldering on the cobbled earth floor, a reminder of the time of Evans when the Chapel held sway and people lived by its guidance. With Covid-19 and Brexit the titles on the scanned pages suddenly seemed redolent of our own times and I added poignant still life images made in response to lockdown to activate the words, plus a suitable frame and heritage background colour. I can already feel the net curtains twitching...

nawr


37


nawr


39


BETH SY’N DIGWYDD?: A few words on

friendship Millie Bethel, nawr Culture Writer, 22, Tredegar It’s interesting when you actually think about the phrase “my people”. Its meaning is perhaps not something we are fully aware of until early adulthood, despite being taught about friendship and community from a young age. Maybe it’s because it takes time to figure it out on your own; to realise that actually you don’t need to kiss a prepubescent boy in the middle of the canteen to have the coolest friends. Because the coolest friends are already sitting with you – comparing One Direction members and running away from wasps in the quad. What I’ve learnt as I’ve gotten older is that your people are the ones who are always there for a hug/moan/impromptu Maccies run/2 hour phone conversation after you’ve just done something really awkward and embarrassing. To be someone’s friend is to be genuinely happy when they succeed and ready to help when they fall. And although my rendition of friendship is very 21st century in this opening, its foundations – compassion, trust and support – will always bridge the changing hands of time. This thread between now and times gone by, is what I noticed last week when a friend sent me a 1979 clip from Kane on Friday. Vincent Kane talks to Nick Evans about his striking oil paintings of Welsh miners and his love of the mining community in Aberdare. Working from the age of

nawr

13-16 as a miner and experiencing the tragedy of mining accidents first-hand following the death of his father, Nick explains how his paintings reflect the bad conditions of the job. Long, taut bodies overload each canvas, often crouched or stooped in a claustrophobic muddle of black and white. Faces stare out at you, dejected and almost twisted, as if pleading yet resigned to their work But Nick loves the mines, it practically shines from him throughout the interview. He is enthusiastic about his community and expresses his regret about not painting the mining scenes earlier in his life.

As I become older I realise that my strongest friendships have always been formed in this way ... Like when you’re crying into a bowl of Rice Krispies for the third day in a row and your housemate still passes you the communal box of Mr Men tissues.


When Kane asks Nick if he remembers the “death and suffering and dissolution” he represents in his paintings, it is therefore not surprising that this is Nick’s response: “Yes, it is [what I remember], but the comradeship, I think, outweighs it all… the friends, you know – how they’d come to help you if you wanted help. I never found that anywhere else, only in the mines… and talking about death and suffering, there was death and suffering, but all the same – there was fun there; there were good men there; men that could conduct people in singing and music, other men who could talk on science, you’d be surprised.” Nick is not an unhappy man, nor is his community. His paintings may express pain but it is his friendships, gentle nature and warmth that take centre stage in the interview. I think what Nick shows is that in struggle we find the greatest friendships. They cannot be superficial because they’re too raw and too honest. And out of this truth, the upmost care and love is formed. As I become older I realise that my strongest friendships have always been formed in this way. In periods of extreme change or when emotions are so guttural, you can’t help but be completely yourself. Like when you’re crying into a bowl of Rice Krispies for the third day in a row and your housemate still passes you the communal box of Mr Men tissues. Or when you’re being sashayed

to the bathroom because you’ve bled onto your chair in the middle of a Maths lesson – “No Sir, she definitely won’t be coming to Science today”. It’s texting after a rough night, even when there’s nothing you can do; just being there. Our struggles today can never be the same as what Nick and his community would’ve faced, but they’re still valid to our understanding of friendship. The decisions of others when you need them most will always impact your relationships going forward, no matter what the year is, or your generation. In fact, what struck me most about the scenes of community life in late 70’s Aberdare was just how oddly removed yet familiar they felt. I was clearly observing a time that has long passed: Ford Cortina’s line the streets and the church procession is full; but the strong valleys’ accents and slow story telling all still feels relevant today. I could see the common understanding between people as they talked to each other, the warmth and buoyancy in their conversations. Maybe we’ve lost a bit of that community spirit today, but I like to think it still exists within friendships. After all, our friends are the communities we choose for ourselves – holding us up when we’re down and giving us a good laugh. Those are the things I love most about my people.

41


Warm Hearts and Heart Aches Teithiaf yn nôl o hyd i fro fy mebyd. Yn fwrlwm o bersonoliaethau a chymeriadau, Bu fy mhobol i.

A town of misfits and community, of riches and poverty.

Wedi eu maldodi ar hyd y cwm, Gorffwysa pwll o dai, a thir, a dyn. Rhesi cyfarwydd o dai unffurf, Y brics a mortar fel esgyrn cysgodion ein gorffennol.

“Are you really from this town if you haven’t lived in a terraced house?”

Forever a rugged landscape, Steeped in local tales of achievement and tragedy. The carpeted green hills are punctuated by smudges of ash black, Scratched scars, that now sit healing.

Yn gymuned liwgar, Yn gymuned dosturiol. Pob wyneb syth, yn barod i daflu gwên, A phob ceg yn barod, i siarad nes daw toriad y wawr. Yn werthfawrogol o’n cyntadau, Fe wnai ein hunaniaeth leol fod yn un parhaol. Together we commemorate, comfort and care. A shared history, a shared community, a shared sense of who we are. Fy Mhobol, My people.

A functioning, dysfunctional town. Filled with hope and dread, Warm hearts and heart aches’. But… nevertheless, we wouldn’t want to be from anywhere else.

G W E N L L I A N D AV E N P O R T , 2 4 , M E RT H Y R T Y D F I L

nawr


Our Shared Space Finding Common Ground in Public Spaces One of the harder tasks facing community organisers in the 21st Century is trying to find an inclusive, affordable, fit-for-purpose public space where groups can meet. Finding your people often goes hand in hand with finding your place and as our public spaces become eaten up by corporate entities, it is getting harder and harder to come together and connect. Community groups come together for all kinds of purposes – to play music, to talk about books, to organise political or social action. Loneliness and social isolation are in danger of reaching crisis levels but finding a space for a group of people to sit around a table together, have a hot cup of tea, and talk in peace and quiet are few and far between. Buildings are commercial or religious entities and it’s difficult to use them as meeting spaces without somehow getting entangled in their corporate identity. The blueprint for inclusive public spaces, if indeed it ever existed at all, is a little fuzzy. The political agitations and community organising that took place across South Wales in the 19th- and 20th- centuries often took place in working men’s clubs or the upper room of the local pub, and whilst we may look to this period as a time when the proletariat came together and formed an identity, we also need to pay attention to the voices who are missing. Making comparisons across generations is not especially helpful perhaps, but it may be useful as a means of highlighting that in order to build a spirit of inclusive community, we need to build something new instead of relying on cultures and traditions that systematically excluded sections of the community. Meeting in cafes or pubs remains an option of course, but participants must then do battle against the sound of background music and are usually required to buy a drink. Already we’re excluding those who find the din of cafes and pubs (for example, those who are hearing impaired or those who are neurodiverse) overwhelming and unwelcoming. A simple cup of coffee is an increasingly expensive luxury for some, whilst meeting somewhere that serves alcohol makes life tricky for those who do not drink for religious or health reasons. We could perhaps talk about the stigma attached to both drinking and not drinking. Our relationship with alcohol has become linked with our identity, and the drink we buy now says something about who we are, a public declaration that can be intrusive. It could be avoided if communities had a room with a table and chairs available to them, free from the expectations of buying a drink. Of course, there are plenty of ways in which people can meet together. Singing groups can congregate in religious buildings or community centres. Book groups can be hosted by public libraries. But even the hiring of space has become entangled in the need for revenue streams and venue hire has become prohibitively expensive for community groups trying to organise political or social action. Organisers rising to meet a social need are faced with covering costs from their own pocket, meaning that community leadership, and the ability to bring people together, is often conflated with financial means. Of course, a lot of this has changed with COVID-19. Meeting in public spaces is not an option available to us at the moment so we meet online. Online meeting spaces are by no means perfect despite their ubiquity in pandemic times. Whilst they offer opportunities to become involved in communities that would not have been available previously, they only do so if you have the technology, broadband width, a private space at home in which to participate, and the necessary skills to negotiate the online terrain. Meeting online is an imperfect temporary solution, but I do not think it will permanently replace sitting together in the round. We will not be socially distanced forever. One day we will be able to meet again, face to face, to talk, debate, connect. Maybe now is the time for us to discuss how the ‘rebuild’ could include access to a space that is accessible, affordable, and inclusive.

C AT E H O P K I N S Cate is a writer, community organiser, and PhD student at Cardiff University's Data Justice Lab whose cats consent to let her share their house in Swansea.

43


H

Supermarket Fiction

e frowns at the books in front of him, stacks them in a way he thinks is visually striking, and really, Tom’s quite proud of his work. He looks down the aisle to his right, then his left, and crouches down to push another copy of the latest Stephen King novel on the shelf. He distributes one copy after another as slowly as he can. It’s the point in the shift where he can — when his manager isn’t near — drag out his jobs until it’s time to clock out. The reason this book stands out against the rest, Tom thinks, is because of the name. Stephen King is distinctive against the James Pattersons and John Grishams of the world. Stephen, King of the supermarket aisle; no matter the art on the front, or the writing inside. Only Clive Cussler comes close, but that’s because of the alliteration. Tom sighs at the spotless dust jacket. The white lettering is sharp, against the electric blue background, like a boat cutting through a vast, deep blue sea. No … like the white against the blue of one of his Nan’s Portmeirion plates. That doesn’t work either. He hasn’t been able to write recently. It’s like a tap has been turned off in his mind. Metaphors escape him unless he holds them down with a good, heavy book or notepad. Maybe he’s just not meant to be a writer. Can someone who hasn’t written a single sentence in months, call themselves a writer? Tom stacks one book on its back, one on top of that with its cover facing the aisle, a book on either side with the spine facing outwards then another on its back on top, to form a neat box around the cover of the book in the square. The main thing Tom took away from his Graphic Design & Marketing degree, was; bombard the customer with the product. By stacking the books this way, the customer is reading the title from five different angles, and their eyes are drawn to the cover in the middle because of the framing around it. He also handwrites little notes next to them with his recommendations, like they do in Waterstones, for a “human touch”. His manager doesn’t see the point, but he tolerates it, as long as it shifts units.

nawr


Tom has considered legally changing his name. Once, he had flicked through a pregnancy book on an exceptionally quiet shift. There was a whole chapter on naming children. It said the best of rhythms are first names with three syllables, followed by surnames with one syllable. But names with alliteration are even better, surely? Like William Williams. They were in English classes together in college, but never sat close to each other, or even exchanged more than a handful of sentences. A cracking name for a writer, a proper author’s name, Mr Matthews, their teacher, would always say. Tom couldn’t help but agree, but never did so publicly. Tom has contemplated the idea of alliterating his own name — like Clive Cussler, like William Williams — but it would be, like, plagiarism, wouldn’t it? It’s one thing to copy someone’s writing, but someone’s name? William would know Tom had copied him — even if they haven’t been in each other’s presence since they finished their A-Levels a couple of years ago. Tom has resigned himself to always being a Smith. But, if Tom did take on a new name, it had to be something rhythmic, something that would stick in the mind of someone shopping for a new book. A name that would immediately seize the attention of a person whose attention is already divided, like the woman who has now entered the aisle, with her child in the seat of the trolley chewing her ear off. She doesn’t have time to leaf through each book, with a child crying for attention and trying to pull itself out of the seat. She sees a name she knows on a cover she likes the look of and drops it into the trolley without stopping. And really, isn’t that the reason why books are sold in supermarkets in the first place? To be consumed like painkillers and oven pizzas? A boy in blue jeans and a smart shirt rushes through the aisle with a bottle of whiskey — there’s a sale on — and looks at the selection of books. He shakes his head. Tom sees him pull out his phone and call a number. Hiya, yeah, I’m at the shop. What authors does dad like again? Ah, yeah, they have none of that. Alright, don’t worry, I’ll get him something else. He finishes the call and shakes his head again. Tom watches him walk down the aisle, back the way he came to the DVD section, picks one at random, and leave again. Tom looks at the date on his phone. Fuck, it’s

45


Father’s Day tomorrow. He’ll use his employee discount, get him something nice — not a book, his father is a key contributor to the charity shops’ abundance of John Grisham novels — but maybe, what? A DVD? His dad loves Tom Petty, owns all the vinyl records. The name leaves an impression, even at a glance. It is defiant in pink on the cover of Full Moon Fever, and bold in blue on the live album Strange Behaviour. Although the artwork for that record is a graphic design car crash. Most Tom Petty records consist of him posing with a guitar on the front, but two dudes with guitars? It’s too much. Tom had liked the sound of Tom Pity for his new name. He can’t take Petty, obviously, but Tom Pity has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? He has also considered the name Tom Wise, but he doesn’t think he could live up to it. And when he had approached his dad with the idea, he laughed and said:

— Sounds like Samwise Gamgee, you tit!

Maybe he could lean into the mundanity of being a Smith? There are plenty of writers and artists called Smith! Tom can’t think of any right now, off the top of his head, but he knows they exist. Who’s that writer his Mum likes to read? Alex Smith, no, Ali Smith? And there’s Robert Smith: he’s anything but boring. Tom likes his dad’s The Cure records but doesn’t think he could pull off the eyeliner — and he doesn’t have enough hair for hairspray, suffering from the early stages of Male Pattern Baldness. There’s also Mr. Smith from The Matrix! A fictional character, yes, but essential to the entire plot. As essential as Neo, The One himself. The Wachowskis know the significance of a name; the power it gives a person. Tom unceremoniously pushes the box along the floor with his foot and moves over to the Cooking and Lifestyle section of the book aisle. He tears at the masking tape and roughly rips open the flaps of the box. He pulls out yet another cookbook written by Joe Wicks — does he write his own books? When would he have the time, with all his time spent in television studios and the gym? Not to mention the hair and makeup chair. The 2D carbon copy of a perfect man knowingly smirks at Tom from the cover with his plucked eyebrows and his perfectly shaggy mop of airbrushed hair, unattainably shiny. Adored by mums all over the country. How many books

nawr


is this guy going to fart out? It’s like he’s locked in a room, forced to write by an agent barring the door with a shotgun. A bit like Annie Wilkes in Misery. How does he look the same on every cover? Tom dumps the book on the shelf, repelled by the book’s hideously busy design. Tom’s phone vibrates in the pocket of his trousers. He glances at both ends of the aisle. He pulls the phone out of his pocket and skims the text from his Mum: Hiya love, hope ur shifts going well. Just seen this exhibition in London in few weeks. It’s a load of Smiths! Patti Smith is doing something for it and u know I love her. Shall we go? Will show u it proper when u home XX. A show of Smiths! Or about Smiths? Either way, it’s just the sort of thing he needs. To see a group of artists come together under a common name. And if they can do it, then he can too, right? And maybe he could move to London, or any big city, and be a musician! Or an artist? Fuck it, he could do both! He could make the music AND design the artwork! Fuck being a writer. He could change his name to something that would stand out on the front of a record sleeve or a CD case. Maybe something like … god, who knows, Storm? Storm Smith? That has a — — TOM! What are you playing at? It’s almost the end of your shift. I don’t want to see you on your phone again until you’re done. He jumps at his manager’s raised voice above him. Tom looks up from where he is kneeling on the shop floor, mumbles an apology. He jams the phone back into his pocket and grabs another book from the box and places it on the shelf. He watches as his manager traipses to the end of the aisle and vanish around the corner. Tom wearily rises to his feet and kicks a box of autobiographies, written by retired rugby players, to the end of the aisle. He looks over his shoulder, and sticks up his middle finger at Joe Wicks’ smiling face. JOSHUA JONES

47


Dylan Thomas Edited by Anna Bland, Jamie Davies, Martha O’Brien and Puck Stagg. Designed by Anja Quinn. All work is copyrighted to the author or artist. Š nawr mag 2021 www.nawrmag.wordpress.com | @nawrmag

Profile for nawrmag

nawr 004 winter 2021  

Welcome to issue 004 of nawr, our first issue of 2021! This issue's theme is 'My People'. It engages with themes of identity, community and...

nawr 004 winter 2021  

Welcome to issue 004 of nawr, our first issue of 2021! This issue's theme is 'My People'. It engages with themes of identity, community and...

Profile for nawrmag
Advertisement