ISSUE NO 2 | SUMMER 2020
contents 4. ‘Untitled’, Martha O’Brien 5. ‘Capacity’, Sophie Squire 6. ‘Go Build a Treehouse Then!’, Elizabeth Facer 8. ‘Good Friday, 2020’, Guinevere Clark 9. ‘Intertwined’, Georgia Gifford 10. ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’, Huw Andrews 12. ‘Fear Makes Companions of Us All’, Jonathan Macho 14. ‘Chasing Stars Instead of Human Rights’, Amy Doyle 16. FEATURED ARTIST: In conversation with Chloe Erin 22. Selected Poems, Mike Jenkins 24. ‘Disconnect to Connect’, Alex Butler 28. Selected Paintings, Natalie Chapman 32. ‘Please Stop, Graham’, Hannah Matthews
poetry philosophy photography
33. ‘The Hat’, Noah PhelpsJohnson 34. BETH SY’N DIGWYDD?: ‘Welsh Portraiture & Animal Crossing’, Millie Bethel 36. ‘Goodbye Gracie’, Kirsty Phillips 37. ‘The Other End of the Tunnel’, Joshua Jones 38. ‘Connective Exhaustion’, Anna Bland 40. ‘A Star Devoid of Atmosphere’, Jamie Davies 42. ‘An Irish Soul Singer Hits Rock Bottom In The Rhondda Valley’, Mike McNamara 44. ‘Freaquency’, Huw Alden Davies 46. ‘The Word Of Mouse (Grok Your Cornea Gumbo)’, Thomas Goddard 48. ‘Politics of Indefinite Exclusion’, Anna Bland, Jamie Davies, Martha O’Brien (CoEditors)
The pictures on the front and back covers are part of Julian McKenny’s ongoing work looking at his Pembrokeshire hay bale house build (featured in nawr issue 001). It is from a series called SelfBuild_Connections. Julian says: “They are shots of the wires left behind by the electrician as he wired up the house. I didn't intervene, just went round recording them afterwards. I deliberately flattened the viewpoint as much as possible so they become akin to canvases and the wires are drawn lines (I trained as a painter so a lot of my photography tends to do this anyway). Unusually for me I decided that some colour tweaking enhanced the painterly/abstracted effect I was looking for.”
Editors’ Letter Against the odds, thought up, edited and designed all within a nationwide lockdown, it’s here - welcome to issue 2 of nawr! This issue’s theme is ‘Connection’. When trying to come up with a theme for this issue, we thought it important that we respond to the chaos and the fear in the world right now. That said, we wanted something that would stand on its own feet in the future - when this ‘Now’ has disappeared. We know that though it’s dominated our headlines and our lives, there is still so much more that our contributors would have to say - we wanted to stay committed to our vision of nawr being a space for whatever was going on in Wales right now, and give a broad enough theme that wouldn’t restrict submissions to being lockdown-focused. The changes happening across the globe, and closer to home in Wales, over the past few months have been staggering. We, as editors, have tried to respond and help in the best way we can. Since our first issue was released, we have started up our blog, and committed to releasing a Black Lives Matter pamphlet in solidarity and support of the movement. We are in full support of protest and radical action to make change happen. Deciding whether or not to go out and protest against racism when we are in a fight against another pandemic known as Covid-19 is a troubling position to be in. But with people dying from Covid-19 as a consequence of structural racism, it seems necessary to think about how we can practise resistance, fight for justice, and keep people safe and healthy while doing it. Anna, our Bristol-based editor, was present when Edward Colston’s statue was pulled down by protesters. The removal of Colston’s statue was a significant and empowering moment, but we must not let it remain merely a moment, and allow the momentum to push us forward in the struggle against injustice. If you are a Black creative and want to use the platform we have to share your work, our submissions are open - any medium, any perspective, any time. We’re posting our submissions on our blog, and will compile them into a BLM Pamphlet. We decided on the theme ‘Connection’ because we felt that at this moment, more than anything else, connections are being made, broken and reformed. We are being forced to think about the ways in which we best connect, and what happens when connections fail. Certain forms of connection are unsafe while some are reliant on the smooth running of technology. Our contributors this issue respond to the theme in myriad ways: from Millie Bethel’s reflection on the unlikely connection between 16th-century painting and the zeitgeist that is Animal Crossing, Alex Butler’s lockdown photographic portraiture in his ‘Disconnect to Connect’ series, and Mike Jenkins’s poetic insight on the connection between humanity and nature, we were blown away by the fresh and insightful perspectives on what it means to be connected. Our featured artist for this issue is Chloe Erin, who our editor Martha interviewed over Whatsapp deep into lockdown. It’s a wonderful look at the creative process and world of insta-poetry, especially right now, with so much moving online. Chloe’s incredible poetry can be found on instagram at: @chlo.etry We owe, again, special thanks to our amazing designer, Anja Quinn, who has worked tirelessly to transform our vision into a reality. You can find her instagram page at: @anjaquinndesign We hope you enjoy this issue, and that it allows you to connect or reconnect in some way. Thank you to everyone who has supported nawr so far, and to all of our readers and contributors. Anna, Jamie, and Martha (co-editors)
Fingertips, and the tap tap tapping that they do when they’re unsure, and the scratches of fingernails on a cheek with an itch, and the pulling of cuticle skin that leaves a cut, but it’s never enough to learn from, to stop the pulling and the dry skin flaking, on top of the fingerbones moving as they squeeze the pen and the ink starts spilling. Wrists clicking and arms stretching, tiny flecks of blood-red covering and soft down standing on end when brushing, maybe on the bus, or in the park, another stranger’s rougher arm, rougher that’s at the end of a broad shoulder that twists and clicks into place across a broad chest that aches when it remembers, that feels as though it’s going to explode, that it can’t just be made of blood, muscle, and bone, but something more electric. Sat above a stomach that flips when it sees, it’s got to be dancing. It can’t just be bile. On top of legs that turn to jelly when there’s bad news broken but with feet that keep them steady and tips of toes that freeze like ice and sizzle on the radiator on a cold morning. All of that keeping afloat a head that’s wired to describe it all, and I think that’s what I miss, more than dancing and drink and idle talk, is fingertips, and the way that they move, and the brushes made by accident, by mistake.
Martha O’Brien // 22 // Cardiff
capacity Corroding wire within plastic sheathing, we were practically dancing on the fucking ceiling. A virus in the mainframe and a message to restart, I think I’ll have to take this whole machine apart. Worn out dials from inquisitive digits, muscle memory excuses that eat into the minutes. A three-pinned plug hugged by the socket. A memory of her face from a clumsy composite. Black blood ink screen webbing at her touch, pooling pixels like blisters leave behind a grease smudge. Click of 90s keys, glare of 20s monitor, drum against her knees lay my hand on top of her. *
Sophie Squire // 23 // Staffordshire // Cardiff
Her skin feels like static on the hairs of my arm, is it the blue wire or red one we cut to disarm? Save before you close, or back it up at least. Swipe haphazardly at cords for a performance increase. Pixelated pictures like the freckles fingers trace; crossing boundaries between her corrupted interface. Her lips are like hardware when she meets the cliché, deathly sweet like software when she gets her own way. Double click to expand her brightening eyes, open incognito to don a disguise.
I’m at capacity, she says with a lingering smile.
I’m at capacity and don’t want to see you for a while.
umans seem to have a skill of finding ways to connect with each other, even in the most restrictive of times. With the current lockdown there have been plenty of videos on the internet of families visiting each other at a distance, interacting through their windows and shouting over fences. Pub quizzes have never been more popular, and Zoom has become the one conferencing platform to rule them all. We’ve brought life and love into something which, at first glance, seemed so isolating and hopeless. It doesn’t even stop there — whilst we have found connection with each other, we have found and reignited our old ways of connecting with ourselves. Hands up if, at some point throughout lockdown, you have revisited an old hobby. Perhaps it was something you enjoyed doing as a child, or maybe it was something
you always wanted to do. I have been pretty much glued to my laptop throughout the lockdown with the pressure of essay deadlines, so I spent much of my time wishing I had more time to tinker with my old hobbies. I have been enviously scrolling past everyone else that seemed to be making the most of this time. Yesterday, however, I got my turn. It was a blink-andyou’ll-miss-it opportunity, but it was there. I had just finished work for the day, and we decided to go on a bit of a walk to make the most of the sunshine. Cue the first opportunity: a tree with the perfect placement of branches for climbing. I was wearing my favourite trousers, and for a moment my adult brain told me not to bother. But I ignored it. I have never been particularly strong — I can’t even do half a push up — but the excitement of climbing
a tree for the first time in months spurred me on. When I jumped back down to the ground, the fog that had swamped my brain from the workday had vanished. As we walked on I started to get increasingly tired, and began to wonder whether I had done the wrong thing by climbing the tree. I had a habit of tiring myself out and then being an absolute grump for the rest of the day, and that was something I wanted to avoid if at all possible. So, we started to walk home through the woods, which was when the big jackpot opportunity presented itself. A long sturdy branch, and then another, and then an idea. I dragged the branches further into the woods until I found a cluster of trees in the right shape. A triangular frame was all it took to get started, and before I knew it we had the beginnings of a treehouse den. Most of my time as a child was spent in the woods near our house building dens. We would run around like feral children, fetching pallets, old tyres — sometimes even finding a mattress or sofa. We would drag it back to the darkest parts of the woods and build our dens. I’d steal nails and tools from the shed to make sure the
bits of wood and rope stayed put, and by the end of the day I had something I was quite proud of. Three trees with platforms and rope ladders connecting them, rope swings, and a fireman’s pole that we fashioned from an abandoned traffic sign. There were quite a few differences between the den I built yesterday and the ones I built as a child. Yesterday’s den had a little bit more of a respect for the natural landscape than my old ones, and I don’t seem to remember all the bits of bark and hard moss stuck in my bra being a problem when I was a kid. But the fact that I could carry out a task that didn’t take much thought was refreshing. Focusing on positioning one branch at a time, then moving on to the next one brought an element of mindfulness. I didn’t particularly need to think about anything as I worked, it freed up my creativity and allowed me to properly unwind. I don’t know if it will work if I go and seek it out again, but I don’t think that’s the point. For a moment, I caught a glimpse of myself. Elizabeth Facer // 22 // Cardiff
Good Friday, 2020 We count the yew’s trunks. Talk under its unshakeable shade, about years. Thousands of them, graveyard statues in late sun. Loss is calm here, named, welcome. Fear placated as we flow through half-shaped ferns, robins and wrens, carved crosses and seraphim wings. A maze of crumbling on bluebell slopes. Secrets and epitaphs on tipped stones. We hover to read, briefly. This is your first trip into death’s grassy end. We hide in yew’s heart, watch flat graves of garlic fade and the giant monuments, crowding like bees to our tree.
Guinevere Clark // 46 // Newton
Someone placed the concrete slabs along every garden path, Built each house brick by brick, made the machines that make the cars, Spun the web of wires that colour windows in December, Carved each wooden table, made the inky rings that stain them, Lifted you out into the world, made maps to show you the way, Picked the beans in each coffee cup, named the night and day, So many have watched the ebb and flow of the waves that beat and break, Heard sand grit between the teeth, felt grass brush past a leg, Held the hand of someone hurt, the heart of someone loved, Worked words that open minds to find worlds otherwise untouched, Known the pain of a broken bone, felt hollow and lump-necked with grief, Lost time when needing it the most, tasted salt on sunken cheeks, Danced chest to chest whilst locking lips, been carried up to bed, Smelt warm air, thick with food, said things that become regrets, Listened to a choir of birds, seen thousands blacken the sky As purple-pink clouds stretch and burn and sink into twilight, Whether we know and no matter how far, intertwined are we, Some fall to pieces, some stretch apart, all frail with mortality, Baring the same scars, bound by each and every past, intertwined are we, Playing the same game, in the same secluded dream, all frail with mortality.
Georgia Gifford // 22 // Weston-Super-Mare / Cardiff
(Forget About Me) These images are stills of gifs on my Instagram feed, part of an ongoing playful series with recurring characters, colours, shapes and titling influences. They reference something I consistently miss (Wales) and some of the things I consistently question (masculinity, tradition and obedience). I try not to think too deeply about these gifs - well, stills here - I want this series to stay as playful as possible. Nevertheless, this seems like a good opportunity to open up about them a bit more. I guess I might as well start at the beginning, hopefully you're still with me. I started making them for a few reasons: to start up my Instagram feed last year, to start making artwork again after a few patchy years, and to acknowledge fluctuating feelings of hiraeth that never seem to go away (until I cross the border again). I found the character in traditional Welsh costume on a postcard, one of a number I bought in Gomer Press in Llandysul and Shop Wales in Cardiff around ten years ago. I collected them before going to teach in China for a year, handing them out to small groups of students to discuss after introducing myself. They seemed to enjoy learning about Welsh culture beyond Ryan Giggs and Gareth Bale. I think I found the postcards again in a box in my mum's loft in Wales a couple of years later, or maybe my ex found them in her parents' loft in England? Hmmm... Anyway, after I took them out of their paper bag, I was still just as drawn to the expression on one of the women in traditional costume. I scanned her in and cut her out using Photoshop. She was my first import of the series into After Effects a couple of years later. I can't remember in what order and why the other stuff went in though. That's it really, nothing else comes to mind. Maybe it's as simple as that. Maybe it was all I needed to get making and sharing again after a few patchy years.
Artwork and Text by Huw Andrews // 39 // Bristol / Camarthen
Fear Makes Companions of Us All How Emily Cook and Doctor Who keep #SavingTheDay These are scary times. And the award for most redundant opening sentence goes to... More than at any other time in my life, I am painfully aware of the perilous situation we find ourselves in: a situation that could impact us, or the ones we love, in the most heart-breaking ways. And the price we pay to keep people safe is to avoid them, to keep them at arms-length, or farther. We feel we have to be alone, and when you’re scared that’s a difficult thing to be. You know what else is scary? Doctor Who. And the award for best segue... Since I was a kid, nothing could get goosebumps going faster than a boy in a gas mask, a screaming pepperpot, a soulless machine that used to be a friend. It’s a power Who has. It’s the writing, the cast, the worlds the good people at the BBC have built, and keep building, for coming up on 57 years. They scared the Holy-Hadrojassic-Maxarodenfoe out of me in the best way (if you got that, it’s official, you’re cool. If you didn’t, don’t worry, you’re cooler). Because no matter how dark, the day was always there for saving in the end.
So, if my award-winning segue wasn’t clear, why am I talking about family TV in relation to the ongoing crisis? Because Doctor Who has helped me, and millions more around the world, to cope. And not in that lovely, abstract way that all good art helps in hard times. In an active, orchestrated, fantastic way. And that brings us to the hero of the (Eleventh) hour: Emily Cook. Cook works for Doctor Who Magazine and one day, when she was scared, as all of us are right now, she thought re-watching her favourite television show might help. Having experience with social media, she thought it might be fun to get the word out and see who wanted to watch-along with her. This simple act was the beginning of something brilliant.
“It’s 45 minutes of beautiful television that reminds us it’s ok to be scared ... and that we shouldn’t have to face the dark alone.”
‘The Day of the Doctor’ -- Who’s fiftieth anniversary special and bloody masterpiece -- was chosen for its uplifting, light-at-theend-of-the-tunnel message, and even had an old hashtag that could be regenerated: #SaveTheDay. Before long, Steven Moffat got in touch to say he would take part, even joining Twitter for the occasion, providing behindthe-scenes facts and insights throughout. Best of all, at Cook’s suggestion, he collaborated with fellow watch-alonger and Sontaran of long standing Dan Starkey to create a new episode lead-in, ‘Strax Saves the Day’, which saw Starkey reprise the title role in shrunken grumpy plushie form. Magic, in the most Whovian way. Needless to say, it went well. Wonderfully, even. Fellow Who legend, Russel T Davies, was invited to join the next one, celebrating the anniversary of the revival’s first episode ‘Rose’, and contributing a neverbefore-seen prequel and a brand new sequel to the episode as well. Sixteen-ish watchalongs followed; the numbering is confusing which, to be fair, is very Whovian. Each also had their own brilliant special features from the writers, actors, directors and composer (thank you Murray Gold) that made the shows possible, all assisted by dedicated fans of talents too numerous to mention. To get all the highlights in here would need an article that’s bigger on the inside; fortunately they are on the Lockdown’s Youtube channel for us to treasure. There were laughs and tears, sometimes there were both, and even when the final watchalong was rightly cancelled due to real world tragedy, we went out on an ultimately uplifting note, with Moffat’s reunion of
two favourite companions, Pearl Mackie’s Bill and Matt Lucas’s Nardole, in ‘The Best of Days’. Where there’s tears, there’s hope indeed. As with anything, it’s not all positive. Cook faced abuse from fans who, not content to enjoy their favourite show, wanted their favourite parts put front and centre. To waste time on these people would do Cook a disservice in this limited space; needless to say, nobody deserves to be treated that way, especially for doing such a great thing. Never cruel or cowardly guys. Always try to be nice, but never fail to be kind. And Cook has not only been kind to us. She raised £13,000 for The Film and TV Charity through the events, and even more for other charities with separate fundraising efforts, including several Black Lives Matter organisations with the final release. Please consider contributing if you can, and help to pay back the effort she put in to bring us all together. Because that’s the power of these stories. One of the last watchalongs was for Moffat’s haunting ‘Listen’, which tells the story of a lonely old man, so scared that something’s always following him or, worse still, that nothing’s there at all. It’s 45 minutes of beautiful television that reminds us it’s ok to be scared; that: ‘#FearIsASuperpower’, and that we shouldn’t have to face the dark alone. And thanks to Emily Cook and everyone who contributed to the Doctor Who Lockdown, we didn’t have to.
Jonathan Macho // 26 // Cardiff
e are all six or fewer social connections away from each other. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; ad nauseam. Theoretically, I am six degrees of separation away from Kevin Bacon, from Dylan Thomas, from Carl Sagan. But how many degrees of separation am I from myself? Humanity seems hell-bent on augmenting the number of possible connections, all the while diminishing the degrees. Forty-eight years ago, NASA launched a space probe
called Pioneer 10 carrying a goldanodised plaque engraved with a pulsar map to Earth for any who might find it. That same year, British soldiers opened fire on unarmed citizens in Derry during a protest march against internment without trial, eleven Israeli athletes and one West German police officer were murdered during the Summer Olympics in Munich, and Nixon bombed Vietnam on Christmas. I have been writing essays all spring on the private and public lives of William Wordsworth and Benjamin Franklin; one who augments, one who diminishes.
Wordsworth was so obsessed with self-connection that he wrote a whole poem about it. Wordsworth, whose egotistical sublime strips away the layers of his own skin, connects with me in a way that Franklin never will, though I get the feeling his poetry was never meant to be consumed.
into space is awe-full, just as our inclination to turn against each other is awe-full.
‘sweet is the lore which nature brings; our meddling intellect, misshapes the beauteous lore of things – we murder to dissect.’ We attempt escape from a planet which we have reduced to a commodity, an exploited resource. In these times of stillness where the sky is blue and the rivers run clear, the death of our people allows for the dissection of the human condition that led us to this. We, who petition the heavens instead of ourselves – our sixth degree of separation. Chasing stars instead of human rights, building walls instead of bridges. Pioneer? Pioneers of what? The frontier was built on the blood of the indigenous and the colonial, space-flight upon the sacrifice of non-human animals. We strive not for virtue because of the Good it brings, but for its material propensity. ‘In God we trust,’ printed on currency could have no clearer meaning – this is our God. There is a moralistic rather than environmental meaning to ‘#we are the virus.’ Would we truly be able to introduce our culture to the extra-terrestrial with a clear conscience? My anger is not contempt for our technological progress. The propulsion of man
Pioneer 10 is now almost twelve billion miles from Earth, wandering the interstellar medium at twenty-seven thousand miles per hour. Whoever, or whatever, is far enough out there to find it will probably never be known in my lifetime – a sobering thought for a young adult. This world will continue longer than I will, or so I hope, so long as we commit ourselves to the pioneering of human connection and communication over our rhetoric of extermination. We were lonely before lockdown. We just didn’t want to admit it. Why else would we seek the expanse above when there’s an entire planet before us?
Amy Doyle // 21 // Cardiff
nawr's featured artist
| I N // C O N V E R S A T I O N //
W I T H //
CHLOE// ERIN ||
Chloe @chlo.etry Hello!! And thank you, firstly, for agreeing to do this interview over Whatsapp, which seemed like a good idea but now might have been a bit of a bizarre suggestion almost as soon as we’ve started. But, seeing as this is purely a text based interview, would you mind describing where you are right now, and how you’ve found lockdown so far?
Hello! No problem - I love texting, it gives me a minute to come up with something interesting to say!
I am currently in my little flat in Cathays, the heart of studentville in Cardiff, usually bustling and currently barren 13:05 Except for the builders who are carrying on with the SU revamp, vital work obviously
Lockdown is incredibly unpleasant and I have had quite a struggle with it. I lost my grandma the week that it started and didn’t get to go to her funeral which was the first moment I felt like I was in some sort of film 13:06 There have been many similar cinematic moments since
Being autistic I rely a lot on routine and not being able to carry on with my normal day to day activities has really taken a toll on my mental health
My partner is gone from 8am to 5pm monday to friday, fighting the good NHS fight as a volunteer medical student, which is incredible and I am deeply proud of her, but as Britney Spears famously said 13:07 My Loneliness Is Killing Me
My Loneliness Is Killing Me Hahahaha, incredible
That all sounds really difficult, I'm sorry. Has it been tough, with all that going on, to see people framing this time as one for "creativity"? 13:09 ✓✓ Or, have you found opportunities to be creative?
A bit of both really! I can understand how some among us might be relishing this seemingly endless spare time to pursue their creative endeavours, for many reasons 13:11 "Normal" life (ew, how weird is that?) for loads of us was hectic and sparse of free moments for making things, so if you are suddenly presented with the opportunity and it will make you feel good then definitely go for it 13:12 (Omg I'm gonna have to stop a sec to let you know someone has just started blasting Champagne Supernova and singing along terribly outside my window, what a treat - heart of studentville like I said) 13:11 Anyway
Even though I’m having days where it feels like there’s nothing I want to do less than write something, I’ve also found that it’s been quite cathartic to just blurt everything out in a poem and reflect on how I’m thinking a little bit 13:14
Back in April when we all still had hope I participated in the Escapril project, which I’ve already talked about a bit in my Artist Spotlight for Nawr (!) 13:15 So I won’t bang on about it too much again, but having a prompt to bounce off of proved to be very beneficial for me, especially when trying to manage my grief in such a lonely and seemingly endless situation 13:16 It was nice to feel part of that online community and share work and enjoy the writing that everyone else came up with, a lovely distraction from how alone I actually felt at the time 13:16 (The tune blaster moved to cigarettes and alcohol and then stopped halfway through, gutted) 13:17 Your escapril poems were so great - and that leads nicely on to why we're chatting in the first place! You came to mind when we were discussing the theme of "connection" because of your @chlo.etry (obsessed with that handle) account on Instagram. What made you want to start sharing your poems on Instagram in the first place?
Thank you, that's very kind - I really enjoyed yours too! I liked that sometimes we found a similar spin on things by chance and others our end results were drastically different 13:21 I used to share my writing online back in the day via Tumblr - I would like to say I was proud of it and link you but I must admit it was quite angsty and fuelled by undergraduate benders so has subsequently been eradicated from existence 13:22 I studied English with Creative Writing at undergraduate and although I came away with a first, the experience of submitting work that was personal and frank and honest and very often quite raw only to have it completely ripped to pieces was a process that I never could learn to love
I valued the writing advice and I definitely learned a lot but I also learned that criticism on your writing can be received much more easily if it isn't based around personal trauma, so I quickly dropped the Creative Writing part of the course when I continued on at Masters level
I do like that my writing comes most often from something that I have felt or experienced, and I also like sharing that work with others when they aren't being paid to tell me why it isn't very good 13:25 Though Instagram and I have had a long and arduous relationship which resulted in me taking a 3 year hiatus, I came back in March intending only to use it as a platform to engage with creativity and art and writing and not as a place to compare everyone's brilliant, flawless, pain-free lives with my own 13:27 I was missing the act of engaging with fellow creative writers that I so enjoyed in my workshops at undergraduate level; I love writing about literature and it will always be the subject I return to again and again, but making stuff and sharing it with people just for the sake of it, as the kids say, "hits differently" 13:28
The algorithm can really mess with your head sometimes, but it’s easiest to let go and forget about how many people ‘like’ your work and just be glad that at least someone took the time to say that they did
That's so interesting - i think there's a lot to be said for making what can often seem "toxic" social media platforms your own, and using them for productive, creative purposes instead
Do you think that your writing is mediated by the platform? I guess I'm wondering how fitting words into a little square that needs to catch someone's eye might impact the way you write - do you think you write differently "for Instagram"?
Yeah definitely, I follow some really cool artists who have built up solid platforms by just being themselves and sharing who they are with the world, which is refreshing and lovely. The algorithm can really mess with your head sometimes, but it’s easiest to let go and forget about how many people ‘like’ your work and just be glad that at least someone took the time to say that they did 13:33 I would instinctively say no, because I have always written poems in the notes app on my phone over the year, to share on Tumblr or later type up and submit for university - that means that they usually aren't epics lasting for hundreds of stanzas, so I suppose my natural way of jotting things down just fits in with the fact it needs to be "short and sweet"
The way I set it up on the page is through an app that provides the opportunity to upload a picture or a flat colour of your choice and then add text, which is quite simple. I usually try and make it look nice and clear on the page, but that's more of an accessibility thing than anything else, so it's easy to read and you don't have to squint
That said, I'm not afraid of just posting a square of text with a coloured background - sometimes I just had an idea that I wanted to share and I can't be bothered trying to curate an aesthetic for it 13:37 Some of my most "engaged-with" content are just those random little squares of poems that speak to people in some way or another 13:37
It’s been quite cathartic to just blurt everything out into a poem and reflect on how I’m thinking a little bit
That’s great - it seems like the platform fits well for your poetry, rather than you having to make it fit the other way around! Do you think you’d consider yourself an “insta poet”? What do you think the implications of that label are - that is, do you think people regard instagram poetry blogs with the same merit as self publishing a collection? 13:39 ✓✓ Yeah, sometimes things just align well. I would say that I am a poet who shares their work on Instagram, and who sometimes uses the hashtag #instapoet when posting, so I guess that automatically makes me one? 13:41 I definitely think that there is a stigma towards poets like Rupi Kaur whose work can appear initially simplistic because it isn’t as ambiguous as, say, a poet like Maggie Nelson, who uses much more complex language and writes prosaically for pages and pages
Unfortunately that just comes with the territory - in academia, for instance, I have found there is always, for want of a better phrase, a continued pissing contest - whose works are used in modules because they made it to the canon, whose research is the most articulate and learned, who are the greatest speakers and thinkers and creators? 13:44 Usually not the people who frame their ideas in the simple, more accessible ways, without even getting into the impact of race and gender upon your ability to succeed in the world of academic writing 13:45 Anyway, tangent taken - the same can be said about Instapoets: they might be overlooked because they are consisered style over substance, or because they choose to...
...share their work via social media (many ‘successful’ writers often choosing to publish afterwards, by themselves or through a company, it is worth noting), but it doesn’t make their creative work any less valuable than, say, someone who puts together a collection and self publishes, or builds a reputation by entering competitions or knowing the right people or buying their way in 13:48 I think that makes a lot of sense and seems really accurate to how insta poets are often viewed in the mainstream. That said, do you view your Instagram account as a starting point/working towards a larger goal, or a project in and of itself? 13:50 ✓✓ I think by beginning to share my work online again I have taken a tentative step into my eventual dream of writing for a living, so it is definitely more of the start of something rather than an individual project, because I would like to write elsewhere on other platforms - whether that is physically publishing a collection (which i have done before, actually, on a very small scale) or as part of a larger team of writers for an organisation, however that manifests itself in the future (god, this is making me existential, ahhhhhhh)
However, I do quite enjoy posting poems on Instagram, as well as interacting with other creatives, and I don’t see why I wouldn’t continue to do so if I am successful in forging more of a career out of things in the long run 13:54 I think both can definitely work well together - how do you think that would change the reading experience - do you think there are some differences between reading a poem in a collection and encountering one mid-scroll? 13:55 ✓✓ Yeah for sure, I think you’re in a different mindset when you’re scrolling on Instagram compared to picking up a book or a zine or whatever and giving it your full attention with the intention of reading poetry, although I suppose it depends... if your feed is solely poets- which mine definitely isn’t -or if you’ve searched a hashtag or looked for a profile with the intention of scrolling through and reading multiple poems on there, is that not the same thing? 13:58 I think it is about intention really, and whether you’re coming across a poem by chance or actively looking to read it - it doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be struck in that special, gut wrenching way when you come across something that you really love, though. That always happens by accident anyway, in my experience 14:00 I’d agree, definitely. I guess that now more than ever, that intention is shifting - from social media being a purely leisure based thing, to being the number one way we can connect to people in a world where we have to keep away 14:01 ✓✓ Which leads me quite neatly (you’re doing all my work for me) to my final question, which is, do you think the shift to online reading, writing, performance, etc, will see a change in reception to those writers who are already working primarily online - that they might be viewed in a new light? 14:03 ✓✓ Hahahaha I’m nothing if not considerate Marf xoxo
I would like to think so - primarily because the accessibilities that are being afforded to everyone at the moment, through universities, through websites, through companies - however things are opening up - are implementations that should have happened a long time ago, really 14:05
For an out of context example, disabled students have been fighting to be able to perform more of their studies from home for years, because it would make their lives much easier and their degrees much more accessible 14:06 We have to stay inside for two months and we are finding out how difficult it is to continue with your life when you are stuck indoors, but for many that’s just their normal and there isn’t some huge change that will happen for them at any point, or a ‘normality’ to return to, because they have to deal with being homebound every single day 14:08 I think what I’m trying to say is, we are making changes that the world has been desperate for, and though we might consider them stopgaps until we get back to “how things were”, some people need to see the championing of accessibility continued for a better quality of life, whether that’s someone who writes instagram poems or is doing a degree or raising three kids 14:10 Pretty off topic for a writing mag but you know me, I never miss an opportunity for a bit of a political segway 14:11
It was nice to feel part of that online community ... a lovely distraction from how alone I actually felt at the time
Off topic or not, it’s important to recognise and talk about 14:11
Well, this has been such a pleasure! Thank you so much for your time and your wonderful brain 14:12
please make sure the cowboy emoji makes it in
Oh I will 14:13 ✓✓
yee haw baby
whatsapp interviews are the way forward you heard it here first
It’s the way!! 14:16 ✓✓ But now I’m gonna have some time away from the screen lol 14:17 ✓✓` yes me too, i’m going for a walk!
Enjoy!! 14:17 ✓✓
You can find Chloe on Twitter - @ duloxequeen (“yes, that is an anti-depressant themed pun, thank you for noticing”), and of course Instagram. You can also get in touch with Chloe about transcription work by dropping her an email (chloatwork@ gmail.com) for a quote - we can vouch that she’s great! (what’s an editing team for if not a quick plug in the midst of a pandemic?).
This interview is a direct transcription of a Whatsapp chat.
WIND-SONGS The songs of the world are like winds Warm or cold , gentle or raging. We are carried by them like birds To different landscapes and climes. They can be dangerous or stirring, Making wrecks or catching sails. Each note grows wings, Each stave’s the air streaming. The songs of the world bring stories Of struggle, love and beginnings. You can pull down the blinds, Or stride out boldly and sing.
CLOSEST OF STARS Moon in full flight beyond our oak last night. Waiting for the sound of owls who never arrive. Closest of stars Alpha Centauri and a dead friend’s face returns. How we talked and shared philosophies: those stars are visible, yet gone. In my head I hear continually the calls of the tawny : ‘Gwdihw! Gwdihw!’ and shriek of the female’s reply. On the clear night, stars like his inspiring eyes.
WE EWSED T GO This is the way we ewsed t go over t Swonzee Road, on’y it’s blocked by Trago. Yew carn put no fence t stop all them memrees, like courtin on-a Sundiy – we’d walk and-in-and an lissen t the radio, musta bin the top 20. Aven bin yer frages too scared I s’pose since she passed away. I wan’ed t find a path not them metal spikes an a notice ‘bout securitee. I’d feel er skin on mine – now there’s a warnin sign, through-a gap tha toytown store. We sung along t the Beatles, Small Faces, Kinks an Stones – er voice clear as birds in edgerows. The roads ‘re all emtee an shops full o fear – wish I could walk er ome once more.
Poems by Mike Jenkins // 66 // Merthyr Tydfil
Disconnect to Connect The internet has taken over, and social media now rules most of our lives. Sometimes we need to disconnect ourselves from it in order to connect again with the real world. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic we cannot. We are now disconnected, disconnected from everyone, and everything, and as a result more and more of us are now using the internet to connect with each other. Disconnect to Connect is a photographic portraiture project created online, using the world wide web to connect to people, to strangers I have never met - just connected with, while being disconnected. Portraiture has always fascinated me. The art of capturing a subject, a person. The interpretation or certain representation of a person. Revealing a single intimate moment of a life.
Photographs and Text by Alex Butler
Natalie Chapman Is a welsh artist working in wales. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;My work is a form of social documentary, my history, my past, and my present. The importance of human connection and the effects of loss, love, and life. The photos are three large scale portraits, most between three and four-foot, square. All are acrylic on canvas.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;
Long ways, short ways, right up to the mountain ways on My daily walk. Walk, Don’t walk. Not to the park, it’s closed. It’s open, really – Open to new hobbies. Play seven thousands songs with only three chords. Hmm, Wake me up when September ends, they sang. Now I sing, both to accompany the chords and echo the Plea. Please stop, Graham. Feigned connectivity widens the gap. No more lockdown Norton Anthology of English Literature. Trying to write, learn, Achieve. Don’t put pressure on yourself to achieve anything. Be present in the moment, Be happy with the mundane Stagnation
Please Stop, Graham
Done with banana bread. Do not wish to see fruit bread made three Ways;
In progress. Calloused fingertips. No more Bananas, This Joe Exotic. David Attenborough hums solemn Superiority. Superhero Fridays with Joe – not that one, another. Log it on Strava. Write Gratitudes: Thank you, really, all of you. We’re clapping again. It feels Fake Facial features wither and die. Eyelash driven economy. Dye Your hair at Home Comforts currently include Disney Plus. Kel loves orange soda. Comedy Central Films & Friends. Like films? Like friends? Sit back and absorb. No. Stop. Stop it all. It’s not real.
Hannah Matthews // 25 // Newport
The Hat It is 2 in the afternoon, his morning has consisted of sitting in the sun drinking coffee smoking cigarettes and reading a book. As he finishes his chapter it becomes apparent he is hungry. On his way into the kitchen he takes off his hat and places it on the garden bench. He has never done this before but now he has, unaware of why now specifically it has become unacceptable to him to wear a hat indoors. Eventually present again he pours a roughly portioned amount of pasta into an already boiling pan of water. He was not present for the boiling of the water he was elsewhere imagining the morning of a man who has always found it unacceptable to wear a hat indoors. They probably wake in time to have a cup of tea with the 8 o'clock news and perhaps on this morning they chose marmalade on toast as their first meal of the day. This person would know each and every name of his town councillors and would become irate at the new builds on the green because there was nothing else for him to be angry at. He had a wife, a home they had paid off many years ago, he had grandchildren that would come and ask him to teach them chess. The pasta has finished cooking. Returning outside picking up his hat he wonders if that is his future; reading newspapers and going to bridge club meets, maybe playing bowles. Maybe there would be no grandchildren nor marmalade in his future. It could be that he sits alone shouting answers to quiz shows at his television not caring who his councillors are as long as the bins are collected every week. This man would go to bed and think of all the possible moments that lead him to this point in his life and he would become unhappy. Yet sitting in the garden now with his pasta he is in a real sense happy. * Because presently he can't see his life going in that direction he does not feel that he deserves to be old and alone. He realises that he has only just become aware that's how he felt before this moment and it fills him with joy. It is not his destiny it is also not his destiny to eat marmalade which he does not particularly enjoy and defend the government for all their wrong doings. These are imagined tomorrows. When he wakes up the next day as he surely will, it will be real. His pillow, his sheets, his dirty clothes from the day before on the floor it will all be real. And it will be spectacular for he has become alive again in a way he thought not possible no longer an anecdote in some strangers biography his life is his again. He is alive and beautiful with every breath he takes. The air in his lungs lifts him out of bed and carries him to the garden to feel the grass between his toes the sun radiating heat into his back and he is aware of all Noah Phelps-Johnson // 23 // Cheltenham / Cardiff
Animal Crossing and the World of 16th Century Welsh Painting. by Millie Bethel // Culture Writer // 22 // Tredegar rt has always been a way we connect with the world around us, but how did it function years ago, and how is it altering once more – now that we find ourselves in a weird, not-quite-dystopiannovel reality? Prior to about 1530, artwork and portraits tended to be painted directly onto the walls of Welsh homes. They looked like illustrations in a medieval manuscript: simplified, quirky features mixed with an iconography of angels, knights and religion. Over time these portraits became more realistic and a separation started to form between wealthy families and the working classes. Those with money could see themselves represented on sculpted tombs and stained glass windows, and by the 1530s they could even be painted on canvas or pallet. These “portable portraits” could be put anywhere in the home and acted as new ‘symbols of permanence and transcendence’ for the well-off families of Wales. Henry VIII’s rise to the throne in 1509 had brought many changes to Wales. Replacing Welsh authorities with an English government, Henry had begun to shift the power. Complicated further by a sharp change from Catholicism to Protestantism and increasingly Humanist thinking, the Welsh gentry suddenly found themselves in an unsecure position:
the legacy of wealth that had flowed between generations could now be compromised. The new canvas portraits reflected these changes. Elaborate, embellished imagery of religion became suspicious, and as new understandings of the world emerged people lost faith in Medieval portrayals of salvation. For the Welsh gentry, these portraits also acted as preservative emblems. A perfect example of this new style of portrait depicts Gawen Goodman of Exmewe House. Painted by an unknown artist in 1582, this portrait is filled with some lovely quirks that merge the hyper-realistic with purposeful symbolism. Gawen wears gold necklaces and rings, a large ruffle, and holds a book of Psalms in his right hand. In the one dimensional Portrait of my sister as a 16th Century Welsh Lady, inspired by Gawen Goodman, 1582
background Latin phrases are dotted around him (‘Fear God’, ‘A Sober Life’), and a memento mori floats to the left of the composition. The implications of wealth and a more secularized devotion captured in Gawen’s portrait are there to memorialise his position in society. Connected to his home and family name, he writes in his will that his portrait, along with his father’s, ‘should remaine in the […] parlour’ of Exmewe House after his death. Exemplified by the Gawen portrait, we can see how art in this period could be used to elevate. Exclusive to the middle-upper classes, the portable portrait not only preserved status and power. It gave the Welsh gentry mild reassurance that their name would remain connected to the world, even if there was nothing after death. Travel forward 438 years and just like 16th century Wales, we are living through another time of extreme uncertainty. Our need to connect has been amplified and we’ve had to adapt massively by finding new ways to socialise. Art is a way that people are again finding solace. A platform for escapism and personal expression; it is even something you can do with friends over FaceTime.
people can use art to ennoble; to draw a line between ‘us’ and ‘them’. Unger takes away these barriers
Maybe that’s why Nintendo hit such a gold mine when they released Animal Crossing back in March, just three days before the UK lockdown was due to begin. As well as being incredibly fun, the game gives you countless opportunities to create and customize. In fact, the ‘custom design’ feature allows you to draw anything you want in a 32 x 32 square. You can then put your design wherever you’d like: your town flag; a fabulous hat; or even on the walls of your house. Illustrator Stephanie Unger used this element of the game perfectly when she decided to hold a virtual
exhibition of her work on the game. Decorating the inside of her character’s house with canvases, hoodies, and wallpaper designs of her illustrations, Unger posted about her plan on social media, gave out her Dodo code (which you need to travel to another player’s island), and over two days she had a constant influx of people coming to view the exhibition.
Time for a new outfit! On her Instagram profile – @ stephanieunger – you can find incredible screenshots of people’s visits. Unger’s guests are seen relaxing on the beanbags in the gallery or sharing positive comments about the work. She even put out Piña Colada in coconuts for visitors to enjoy. What I found so great about this exhibition was that it removed any idea of hierarchy. Institutions, artists and even our culture as a whole, can still sometimes position art as an exclusive high society commodity. Like Gawen’s portrait, people can use art to ennoble; to draw a line between ‘us’ and ‘them’. Unger takes away these barriers in the virtual space of Animal Crossing. Anyone can visit, anyone can be a critic, but most importantly anyone can enjoy her art. In some ways we are just looking at another version of the 16th century “portable portrait”, but Animal Crossing is a world where its outdated origins can be given new meaning. It is noticeable, however, that in this time of uncertainty, our fundamental reasons for creating remain the same. We still desire a way to transcend the new limits put on our lives. We still need the reassurance of connection.
Clearing your little library, I confront your favourite book.
My fingers flicker through the first few pages discovering your personal collection of notes. The ink you spilt on the page resembling the blood-stained garments that you once wore. You told me it was wine.
The bruises of ink seem thin when blended with raindrops from the storm that you later encountered. They cannot be scrubbed away. Now my fingertips are covered with cranberry.
Kirsty Philips // 20 // Ystradgynlais
The Other End of the Tunnel Oscillating yellow light at regular intervals make me blink, Squint; it burns every time the sun is thrust forward at The other end of the tunnel. The stretch of land between the Border and Newport speeds by so quickly, I wish my eyes would Still burn by the time the train docks in, so I’d rub them And not have to look at the piss-poor eye sore past the glass. Cardiff is no different. I feel uglier and uglier and more and more at home The further down the coast I go. From Tata Steel a natural disaster drifts through The valleys that rise above Talbot town — Dickensian, disgusting and deserving Of something romantic written about it. Through Neath, a thorough-fare town on the side of the motorway, For Jacks to settle down when they’ve had enough. Swansea is still shit even after all the money spent on Redevelopment schemes. There’s an independent cinema now, A Five Guys, and there’s less deaths on Wind Street! The Gower, a heliograph of hope and comeliness — A haven, a heaven, an honourable Swamp in the middle of them and us. Loughor Bridge, the beach, Parc Trostre, Pen Y Fan Quarry and Station Road; a mile of dive bars, drug spots, greasy spoons, and A Home Bargains. Too dangerous to walk through At night, my mam warns. She’s right, of course, but There are no taxis. I’d rather be mugged on the walk home: The next stop is Burry Port.
Joshua Jones // 23 // Llanelli/Bristol
he first necessity is to claim the morning, which is mine. If I look at a phone first thing the phone becomes my brain for the day. If I don’t look out a window right away the day will be windowless, it will be like one of those dreams where you crawl into a series of smaller and smaller boxes, or like an escape room that contains everyone and that you’ll pay twelve hours of your life for. If I open up twitter and the first thing I see is the president’s weird bunched ass above a sand dune as he swings a golf club I am doomed. The ass will take up residence in my mind. It will install a gold toilet there. It will turn on shark week as foreplay and then cheat on its wife.”
In her short essay ‘How Do We Write Now?’, notorious poet and Tweeter, Patricia Lockwood, perfectly captures what many of us are feeling and thinking at the moment: “What is going on? What am I doing? What on earth is he doing? Does the world really need another sourdough starter?” Lockwood’s insistence, ‘I do not have a body on the internet’ – stated in an interview with Sally Rooney – also resonates with our present reality: we are living our lives almost entirely online. Our bodies are merely a vessel, carrying around our souls, which we sell each morning, along with our attention, in return for a glimpse of a white supremacist’s backside. Everything happens and doesn’t happen online. You turn away for one hour and return to
discover that Bernard Castle are now conducting eye tests and that it is feminist to allow your cleaner to scrub your toilet bowl during a pandemic. The internet has long been deemed an escape from what is known as ‘real life’. It speaks to the condition of living that is apart from the body: in some Christian traditions, this is referred to as ‘dying to yourself’. Both evoke some kind of spiritual experience, transcending the corporeal. The material world is only temporary; my real home is up in the cloud where even after death I can live in eternal bliss, immortalised by that Tweet that once went full viral. But I also recognise that it is impossible and dangerous to demand such a distinction between the body and the non-material: who knows where the body ends and the Cloud begins? This question about the relationship between the body and the internet seems particularly poignant during a pandemic, when the whole reason for being forced to live remotely is that my body, as a potential carrier of the virus, presents a danger to other, more vulnerable bodies. I feel, therefore, that this particular experience of being online during lockdown has made me even more aware of my body. During video calls, I am confronted with the horrifying reality of being embodied, being forced to watch myself socially interact. Through the stark
impossibility of eye-contact via video call, I realise how important it is to my human to human interactions. The internet even infiltrates sleep: I dream that I am married with two children and a family Twitter account on which I complain about the dog throwing up on the stairs. I wake up in the morning, look at my phone, and my thumb follows the habitual movements of my morning routine: *Unlock phone* *Open Messenger – reply to messages – close messenger* *Open Twitter – scroll – close Twitter* *Open Instagram – tap on stories – close Instagram* *Open Guardian app – “655 deaths” – lock phone*
better at communication, both on and offline, for people who are placed at such a disadvantage. Not better in the sense that we communicate more, but that we communicate better, focussing on engagements which are meaningful and inclusive, rather than brief, easy and loaded with unnecessary noise. During this ‘strange and uncertain time’, I want nothing more than to feel connected. But like Lockwood, I must force myself to look away and resist the temptation of the zany online world, filled with all the energy that it seems to drain from my body.
Although in this time of crisis the internet has proven to be a vital source of connection, there is a sort of fatigue that has arisen from these experiences of communications technologies. My exhaustion from this incessant connectiveness reminds me of Sianne Ngai’s notion of the zany. Ngai states that ‘although zaniness is playful in all its manifestations across genres, media, and cultural strata, it is an aesthetic of action pushed to strenuous and even precarious extremes.’ The internet lacks boundaries and pushes me to these extremes; that is part of its beauty as well as its horror. Rather than taking me out of my body it is in my body, constant in its activity and making me always available to others. There are those who are confined to internet-based connectivity regardless of there being a national crisis or experience this sort of exhaustion on a daily basis. I wonder whether this situation will cause us to become
This image is taken from a zine I’m making about being online.
Anna Bland // 23 // Cardiff / Bristol
A S t a r D evo i d o f At m o s p h e r e More and more, social media resemble digital panoptica keeping watch over the social realm and exploiting it mercilessly. We had just freed ourselves from the disciplinary panopticon – then we threw ourselves into a new, and even more efficient, panopticon.
Byung-Chul Han, Psycho-Politics
The self is a connection. A connected ensemble of things subjected to enough pressure like coal or dust to form a semblance of what is called consciousness. The mechanisation of Self ushers us into this new age. The mechanisation of mind, the ceaseless guides to consciousness dragged us into what is nothing but guides on how to empty oneself of reality. When we speak now, we speak only to failed superegos we thought would save us but that we now cannot let go of. To speak is to speak into some void that the Other must have already fallen into. So we speak into a void but the void never calls back.
Unyielding, Indistinct and fragmentary. A vision of the formless at dawn, The rupture prefigures the enhearsing of Mind. Atop the grand structures sober and lost and perhaps untouching too The eating hearts or maybe they touch maybe inchoate and desolate they Grasp and flounder and just manage to weep out a cry so preternatural an archetypal sound Flooding us, conceived so vapid and so entrenched an antediluvian madness. This is what’s aimless, what’s configured. The words seem not to care so much anymore, not as much as they used to anyway because they write themselves less and less they are forced now onto the page. A lake of ice or maybe fire spans across the mountains and boats cross the waves silent breaths metered out across the universe travelling veiled and reminiscent of the cosmic worlds they sail through so glistening and so unravelling. The boats bring us back their messages, they tell of the wonders of the universe and plead us to join them when they go back. Of what use? Why bleed so much for what is almost less than nothing because it’s precisely the infinite? Faced with the endless we are effaced and yet that is what we crave. To melt and disperse into the endless stream of the Other.
You mapped out that ideal of your soul Only to have it wash away with the morning light As it filtered in through the thin white curtains That refract the sunbeams till they slip out of your hands So you dream about the moon that great white vanishing act And it pleases you so to imagine the moon is your friend that you can touch it and please it But this moon says dream on and leaves again. You hook up again and forget the pain of the moon and numb and numb and numb. Instead our connections have ruptured and broken because connection itself is now a constant state of being it is no longer an act. We are connected. Inescapably and maddeningly we are hooked up and strapped in taking a high dose of social morphine each second ordering clicking consuming posting and scrolling an endless abyss of fragmentation and fracture and apparent affirmation of what it takes to be human all the while mediated desperately and unforgivingly by the hegemony of connection intent not on producing people but rendering them static a statistic.
Is that where we should go? Melt into the Other, wade into their depths, unhook ourselves and finally free float away down the river which warm and light will carry us into oblivion? To be so connected that we no longer even feel anything we need only feel exactly what the Other feels and dreams, this cosmic torrent carrying us now we finally and desperately crave the boats to take us away to carry us with them across the universe but they left so long ago now dreaming for thousands of years. Is it possible to stop them? Is it possible to stop this? To slow down? Furiously and furiously it speeds up, faster and faster each day until like a black hole we’ll collapse in on ourselves and it will be a gorgeous sight for billions of years across the endless light years, a great blazing fire burning as a warning and a testament and simply a figurehead. It’s easy to forget that all the beauty out there in the wasteland is already dead.
Jesus goddamn it’s all online anyway, she said. Just see, there’s a new god out there now one perfect too because it’s ours we made it this one we did it’s perfect without malice without need, Barely a perception a simple lack a simple absence out of which emerges The present isn’t that a useless structure a picturesque vision The real emerging at the edge of itself, the edge of Orgasm maybe, or something else, something Again less, again more painful, again Something we cannot bear to witness. Jamie Davies // 21 // Cardiff
Ride it to the end this time and leave forever? Or learn to live again? Do you remember that time in the park when you talked about how easy it seemedv to take that long slide down? You could even close your eyes without goodbyes, my sleeping beauty, and be lulled to peace, you’d said, with the promise of an end to pain. My bright insights have never lasted. One day, I’ll die in some aimless phase. If only somewhere, on some great height perhaps, these two minds could merge or compromise. In whichever role or ruse which act, which scene… you lose. Lady of Penrhys set me free from polar rings roundabouts and swings. This valley kills with kindness, ignorance, excess. North, south, left, right, black, white, amber; cross road traffic lights change in sequence ever mixing greens with reds, saints with sinners, ascetics with debauchees. Such uneven roads we walk. Rising. Falling. This divided ne’er the twain valley has crossed paths not meant to meet; stilted academics, searchers, drinkers, stoned hardmen. Losers, defeated, elated, incoherent. Clueless. Lost and found. Abandoned.
In Porth this band makes music. In dreams we still make love. Winberries grow above Glyn Jones’ lost Maerdy, they will, whosever songs are played here. These fields are not my own but like the famine’s scattered chaff I fell here a Lazarus in Treorchy. In Ystrad a Nicodemus born again. Hungry. Music for the long hours suffered in sort, the common hwyl of coal black tongues. The outcast’s hymn. Tylorstown. Ray Charles. James Brown. Tonyrefail. Trehafod reels with rugby rituals. Chance alone links Antrim to these hobnail, phlegm stained streets. Recall again. The park. You and I. No Rhondda. Summer. Early morning intense. No Hindu hopes, no here and now. Now has replaced the here of long ago. Somewhere between the Memphis joints and Wattstown, Ferndale’s clubs and Detroit we are found. Otis. Dai. Happy Hour, karaoke, piss poor boredom. Neglect. We share in jeans and sorrow without sobriety, songs raised up by tv trends, Dublin bands and well loved selections played for decades on juke boxes in Basini’s or Carpanini’s. A shilling for two. Always. Play now, I pray. Bring hope to hang like Christmas stars above the smoky rooftops, the car wrecks and drug scenes. Ease the smack thieves and the sulphate psychos. Wash over the aerosol slogans and the vigilante future. Rock a bye babies soothed by an old refrain. Like God I have no nation. No tattoos. No Eire. Cymru. Father. Love. No home. Like God I have no meaning. So play now but do not hold me. The flowers of faith have faded beyond Penrhys with the notes of this soul’s final song.
Mike McNamara // Newport
remember ‘Dai’ wheeling his TV in and out of other people’s houses. If anyone had a whiff that the TV licence guy was coming around with a van, they were off, boy. People rarely afforded anything more than a Black and White portable when we were kids, let alone a licence. If they did have a licence it was often a BW one, so if the Licence van was coming, it was off with the coloured box and out with the BW portable. That’s why TVs, I assume, always had trolly stands. They were much easier to transport up to Mr. Jones house. He had a colour licence. Huw Davies (Xennial ‘78) Born to a generation recovering from a knock on effect of the free love sixties, and the jet lagged seventies. The kids of the 1980s, in Tumble, were about to get plugged into a whole new experience. Tapped into the Americana like a needle in the vein. An overdose of new wave musical energy and visual candy. Slam dunked, post punk, into the MTV generation culture shock. This stuff came down the wire at breakneck speed, and us kids, we just could not get enough. It promised it all, and it delivered everything. Video games, Atari, Sega, Nintendo. Wrestling, bodybuilding, baseball and basketball. Nike, Reebok, Jordan and O’Neal. Disneyland. Florida. LA. The city of angels. NY, The big apple. The city that never sleeps, 24/7. 7/11s. Vegas. Cable TV. Hundreds of channels. KFC. McDonalds. The wild west, west side, east side. Grand Canyon, Death Valley. Cowboys and Indians. American Ninjas. Bruce Lee, Arnold, Knight Rider, Rambo, A-Team, Airwolf, Street Hawk. And it just kept coming. Wave after wave, weaving itself into the very fabric of our culture. Up until this point our aerials (antenas) had struggled to receive just three channels. Most households were still consuming such content through small black and white portable TVs. Music was available through limited outlets, that being: radio, records, top of the pops, or songs of praise (a Sunday delight).
Most things were nine till five, and everything was closed on the seventh day, which was of course, the day of the sabbath. If you needed anything during this time you would simply have to go with out. Even cash, an essential part of our day-to-day trading. There were no ATMs or cash machines back then. If we needed money fast and the bank was closed, we asked a neighbour, put it on a tab, or wrote an IOY.
Our parents never bought our TVs then, they rented them. But we didn’t pay direct debits or pay monthly. We had a coin meter, built into the side of the telly. A big metal box with a wind key, almost the same size of the TV. Everyone had one, so it never looked out of place. We always loaded it up with coins. 50’s first. Then later on they became pound coins. I hated it when it ran out of money. If we didn’t have any coins in the house we had to go out asking neighbours if they had change. I remember once trying to get into it with a kitchen knife. Many did this when they were skint. It was like a piggy bank for some. Eirian Roberts (Xennial ‘77) After midnight, however, on any given day, you could forget everything. All bets were off. For this was what Jack Wadel (the local barber) called the “ungodly hour”. Here, at this time of night, even the TV became redundant. A static state of despair. Scratching and hissing until the sunrise returned a signal to its shiny screen. Condemned to a boredom only thought to be possessed by death itself, those early long hours were better filled with dreams, the American dream. A dream of a distant future. A future in full colour. Then, 1977 happened. Year of the Xennial. The Year of the artificial heart, personal stereo, fibre optic communications, linked ATM, and the very first Atari console. It was the year of Star Wars, Rocky, Superman. And, this was just the beginning. Everything that followed for the next seven years would change the course of history forever.
Along with the Sony ‘Walkman’ (personal cassette tape player) and the world’s first laserdisc, 1978 landed with a gaping hole in the ozone layer, influencing the first ban on CFC Aerosols. In 1980 we saw the birth of Pac-Man, the Rubik’s Cube, and the IBM PC. Then in ‘82, things stepped up a gear. That year we got E.T, Spielberg’s non binary representation of suburban dreams. Followed by the first compact disc player, and lest we forget, the mighty Sinclair ZX Spectrum home computer. And If that wasn’t enough, we also got a whole new television channel. Well, technically we got two channels, Channel 4 and S4C all rolled into one. S4C programs in the day and Channel Four programming in the night. This was the very first Welsh/English bilingual channel, which came with a long line of Welsh programs including Noson Lawen, Cefn Gwlad, Dihirod Dyfed, and the very first Welsh language soap-opera, ‘Pobl YCwm’. S4C had given Wales a voice. An outlet. A media it could relate to, and with it came a whole host of Welsh characters such as Dai Jones, Ifan Gryffiths (ma Ifan ma), Densil ‘Pobol y Cwm’ (Gyn Elfin, now a local vicar in Tumble), Jeivin Jenkins (look him up), Huwcin Falabalam, Sali Mali, Super Ted, Sam Tan and much much more. All of which had a deep impact on our culture. Our Identity. Our psyche. And our wider understanding of the world beyond the Gwendraeth Valley. What was hard to fathom however, was that people were watching this stuff beyond its intended audience. Especially ‘Popol y Cwm’, which was being watched all across the country, even in Ireland.
I once auditioned for ‘Pobl y Cwm’, when I was in Primary School (1980s). It was in Stepney Hotel in Llanelli. I didn’t get the part mind, they didn’t think my Welsh was up to standard, but I did get a five-pound voucher for WHSmith. If I remember correctly, I bought a Ghostbusters book. Michael ‘Bugs’ Ditch (Xennial ‘77) It was at this time, unbeknown to the bedazzled who had fallen prey to their mind-numbing new toys and visual media, witness was also about to be borne to the new millennia. Conceived long before its birthday bash of 1999,
the twenty first century came in installements, like parts for which to build your own future. The first constituent came in 1983 in the form of a mobile phone, referred to by many as a brick in a briefcase. Not that Tumble had noticed however, as many here were still using CBs and walkie-talkies, hooked to huge aerials, rubber-knecking on police channels and truck talking with anyone that could talk the lingo. Then, just a year before the Garbage Pale Kids frenzy, the concluding parts of the hereafter arrived in exactly, 1984. With one of these being an Apple Mac computer, and the other being its next generation human-counterpart, the Millennial. However, not that we weren’t interested, the component that was about to have the greatest and most immediate effect, at least for a jilted generation that hoped for a little immediacy, was the VCR (Video Cassette Recorder). And with it came, what was about to have the most profound effect. The Video store.
Me and Wayne went walking down Bethesda Rd one afternoon, and in the distance we could see this huge aerial sticking out the side of this guys house. It was a CB aerial. So, us being the way we were as kids we just knocked on his door to ask what he used it for. It turned out he didn’t use it for anything. In fact he didn’t even know it was there. So we asked him if we could have it. He said carry on. It didn’t take us long to get that thing back to the shed, it was up and running that evening. We started a CB gang that week. Leah Mudd, was the first girl in the gang. We drew up some rules and layed down the law. It was brilliant. I started talking to this Australian guy one night. I couldn’t believe it. I was calling everyone in. One by one the shed was filling up to listen to this guy. He was telling us he was from Perth. It was like we were talking to Crocodile Dundi. All us kids were hanging on his every word. It turned out, up the fucking road he was. He was puting on an accent. We were gutted. Glyndwr Davies (Xennial ’83)
Huw Alden Davies, taken from ‘Xennial’: www.xennial.home.blog/2019/08/25/ welcome-to-my-blog/
The word of mouse (grokyourcorneagumbo) is a film by Thomas Goddard, from 2018. The images on p. 47 are stills of a gif from the film. ‘I was selected for Survey: a major new survey exhibition presenting new works by 15 early-career artists from across the UK. Survey is the largest review of contemporary art practice in Jerwood Arts’ history and spans a breadth of disciplines including painting, ceramics, film, performance, podcast, sculpture, drawing and collage. Survey takes a non-institutional approach to selection by inviting over 50 established artists from across the UK – including Ryan Gander, Bedwyr Williams and Rachel Maclean – to nominate the most outstanding and dynamic early-career artists making work today. The final selection has been made by Sarah Williams, Head of Visual Arts, Jerwood Arts. The exhibition toured from Jerwood Space, London; g39, Cardiff, The Bluecoat, Liverpool and BALTIC - Centre for Contemporary Art from 2018 - 2019. The project reflects on our social and psychological experience of the digital age. Using the tropes from the coming-of age genre, the film combines archival moving and still images from popular culture with an original musical score composed by the artist. The film considers the ways that our lives are inextricably linked with the digital world, for better or worse. During the exhibition tour the film had a series of accompanying performances: The Shrug of God and The Flip Flop of God presented as live DVD commentaries, where I translated the video in real time, providing additional context to the artist’s analysis of our modern day condition through a series of micro-fictions, all the while tussling with digital omnipresence. The new performance builds upon recent works which take the form of a ‘self-interview’, a process which allows the artist to continually question and re-evaluate his point of view.’
Thomas Goddard // 39 // Cardiff For more information, visit: www.thomas-goddard.com/theword-of-mouse-grok-your-cornea-gumbo/
There is a party in the city and you are not invited. This party is a paradox. The logic of the party is such that it builds its inside by what it excludes, but at the same time the inside only functions because the excluded are necessarily also always already inside.
The principle of the inside is constituted by the outside. As the storm rages outside the window of the polis (the party), the expensive rug, the lamp, the armchair, sit safe, sheltered from the rain and the wind. A queue forms at the gate of the house - the citizens of the city demand shelter within the polis. And yet, those who hammer at the gates receive no reply. The polis has formed a protective enclave around that which it wants to keep out and protect itself from, but in doing so it has trapped it in with the social body. Paradoxically, that which is considered the most expendable, which warrants the least concern, is necessarily at once locked out and placed inside, at the heart of the social body. The manifestation of this is the denial of ‘the right to the city’. The city may not know who it wants to let in, but it knows who it wants to keep out. Those not allowed inside queue in the rain for admission into the party at the house (some may even have a ticket), but their clothes do not fit the dress code; their shoes too worn, their hair too wet. The city is centred precisely around those who are not allowed to enter it, thus becoming a wasteland of prejudice and abuse. The modern city is a microcosm of our larger global polis. The modern city is designed with a single, perfect inhabitant, to the exclusion of all others: the one who remembered to bring a raincoat, whose shoes, brand new, match their shirt and tie impeccably; the right hair, the right sex, the right colour. Of course, this is a dress code that was never publicised. How does one dress for a party that they will never be invited to? This exclusion is now again profoundly evident on both a national and global scale; our government, and the governments of America, France, Sweden etc., wealthy, ‘liberal’ governments, are building a global world bunker (a house party of sorts) precisely on the basis of those
it plans to exclude. Britainâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s initial Covid-19 strategy was exactly this: to party on in the bunker while the others waited outside in the rain. And so too will be the strategy for the coming ecological crisis. It is herd immunity for the few. At the expense of the many, the elect can survive. Early on, and even now as we write, the herd in relation to Covid-19 is the elderly, it is minorities, those with underlying health conditions; it is the poorest in society who cannot afford to stop and who are not allowed to stop. The relief packages are simply time bombs. The inevitable recession and redoubled austerity measures will not affect the few. And so too on a global scale; entire countries, entire continents, will be allowed to get hotter and hotter, creating a herd immunity against the ecological crisis, so that the elect few can survive. This is because the social body of the elite demands an outside; it demands an exterior around which it can build itself and through which it can protect itself. The party is not so fun if everyone is invited. Such a paradox is the inherently flawed logic of our system. The heart of the world, that which beats, which pumps, which functions tirelessly, is enclosed by a perimeter. This perimeter functions to keep itself separate from the heart; to foster the illusion that it is necessary, by the token of its very own existence. The perimeter exists only in relation to the heart, but the heart needs no perimeter. There
is enough room in the house for a party ten times over. The excluded are excluded exactly to the point that they keep the world functioning. At the same time, however, the heart of the city is that very space reserved only for the select, it is the accessibility of a city designed by and for them. The elite are walled in, surrounded by their perimeter, with everyone else outside. It is a constantly shifting inclusion/exclusion. It is indefinite exclusion. The queue will never die down outside the house. The party will never admit that they only want those dry, with the right shoes, the right smile, to enter. It is an exclusion which will always build a wall around itself, through which to protect itself, and that is constituted by the many. At the same time, the functionality of the polis is dependent on the true heart of the city being those very excluded, yet, as the queue for the party winds longer and longer and disappears into the horizon, it simply makes them invisible. Such a logic and such a system is unstable. It is dangerous and it has systematically been deciding, and will continue to decide, who gets to live and who dies. Make no mistake: This is the logic that has been used to tackle this crisis, and it is the logic that will be used to tackle the next one. Your invite to the party will be lost in the post.
Anna Bland // Jamie Davies // Martha Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Brien (Co-Editors)
Julian McKenny Edited by Anna Bland, Jamie Davies and Martha Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Brien. Designed by Anja Quinn. All work is copyrighted to the author or artist. ÂŠ nawr mag 2020 www.nawrmag.wordpress.com | @nawrmag