The Team EDITOR Charl Harrison
CONTRIBUTERS Andreea Bocancea Matthew Coates Maz Cope Sleiman El Hajj Davey Evans Beau Flaherty Tom Gill Ash Hartridge Xavier Hornsby Dan Martin Eve Matthews Reece McCormack Sarah Oakley John Oxnard Charlie Patterson Mary Pipikakis Megan Paul Evie Price Jack Ridsdale Nathaniel Wilson Hannah Young
PHOTOGRAPHY & ILLUSTRATIONS Andreea Bocancea Amy Twist
SOCIAL MEDIA Andreea Bocancea Charl Harrison
And welcome to issue 5! This is a very exciting issue as it includes a few new features and commemorates Women’s History Month back in March! As well as looking at women’s history in literature, there is also an interesting interview with poet and lecturer Angela France (no chickens in this one, I’m afraid) and a look at author Sylvia Plath. As far as new features go, we’re introducing Be Inspired and Theatre Hotspot which hopefully will inspire you to write and offer a guide on what to go and watch at the theatre! Happy reading!
Charl Charl Harrison Editor
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Contents 5. General Election: Education & The Arts What you need to know for this election 6. ‘For me, poetry only works as a form of empathy.’ An interview with Angela France 9. Author Profile A look at author Sylvia Plath 10. Be Inspired How walking can inspire you to write 12. For Reading Out Loud! Why you should attend open reading nights 13. Theatre Hotspot A bit about The Elephant Man 14. Women in Literature
16. Flash! Fiction & Poetry
A history of women in literature
Creative pieces by students 23. UoG Fringe Festival How you can get involved in the Fringe 24. Transgression An analysis of transgressive writing 26. Writing Spaces Authors share where they write 28. Controversial Books This month: Lady Chatterley’s Lover 29. The Page Turner A review of non-fiction book Secret Siberia 30. Favourite Quotes Students’ favourite literary quotes
READ ONLINE: ISSUU.COM/UOGSHOWDONTTELL 4
Just in case you missed it, something big happened in politics this month. Seven party politicians. One television debate. Lots of shouting. Being as impartial as I can, here is the boiled down manifestos of seven parties, focusing specifically on the Education and Arts... UKIP plan to scrap tuition fees for students studying science, technology, engineering, maths and medical degrees. Students from the EU will pay a higher rate, the same as International students. Regarding the Arts, UKIP intend to review the BBC License Fee in order to reduce the price. It is important to note that this would obviously lower the funding for the BBC. The Scottish National Party or SNP will increase the number apprenticeships, put more funding into bursaries, and will give free tuition for Scottish students in Scottish universities. They support a scheme based on "ability to learn [...] not ability to pay". They will also focus on access to arts, invest in the Edinburgh Festivals and support local broadcasting. The Green party are pushing for tax-paid free education and eradication of student debt. They focus on equal value and quality of degrees, regardless of the institution. Green also wants to implement a set of minimum requirements supporting students with families (crèches, etc). They fight for increased funding for scientific, social and arts research that is free from state interference. The Welsh representative, PLAID CYMRU, also aims for free education for all, starting with free tuition for courses that improve the Welsh economy. Plaid Cymru want to ensure a subsidy for Welsh students in Welsh institutions, as well as fighting for fair funding for research and education. They push for easy access to arts and culture, with plans to promote the importance of literature in Wales. LABOUR plan to cut tuition fees from £9000 to £6000 a year, as well as promoting awareness of non-university paths to successful careers. They want to implement new qualifications, government apprenticeships and the idea of "the living wage". The CONSERVATIVES will reform schools to ensure the basics of reading, writing and maths. They will promote teaching jobs to the top graduates, as well as creating three million apprenticeships. The LIBERAL DEMOCRATS will also back more apprenticeships plus setting up an education budget which will circulate throughout schools and other institutions. Perhaps to avoid a repeat of the 2010 blunder, they have mentioned no specifics on their plans for universities. Take it or leave it - there is some fuel for thought here. The media claims this election will result in a hung parliament; one of the frontrunners will probably gain top status. Vote with the coalition in mind. Vote to choose the conscience of a government. Who do you want? It's your choice. 5
‘For me, poetry only works as a form of empathy.’ M. So, where did you study? A. I don’t have a first degree. I got into the MA here at UoG through portfolio; I had been studying poetry and working at writing it for some time on my own. I was getting some journal publications and minor prizes but felt I was reaching a plateau in my poetic development and wanted some input to step up a gear. I wasn’t sure that an MA was what I needed – or even if I was capable of doing one, given my non-academic background. I knew I needed to work with other poets and also develop my critical work but it can be very difficult to find a suitable writing group. I came to an open day and chatted with Nigel. I have been in UoG doing the MA, the PhD, and teaching, ever since. M. What do you do when you’re not teaching? A. I work for a Gloucestershire charity. We work with disadvantaged young people and vulnerable adults in lots of different situations. We run projects with young people in trouble with drugs, personal development courses, support families of prisoners, work with victims of grooming/ exploitation, young gang members, and young people excluded from school. My own role, amongst other things, is to run a project in a women’s prison for vulnerable prisoners. For 12 years, it was only with juvenile prisoners (under 18) but that part of the prison has closed so now I work with women with multiple problems such as mental health, self-harm, and histories of abuse. I also run a creative writing course in a women’s centre for offenders. As a writer, I produce most of the funding applications for the charity (a use for creative writing skills that people often don’t consider!) M. How’s that going? A. It’s fine. Demanding, frustrating, challenging, rewarding, and often exhausting but never boring. M. I bet, have there been any prisoners you felt sorry for? A. Many times. I have worked with male offenders as well, but it is different with women; most of them are victims of one sort or another, many of them have grown up in care or on the streets, many of them have been manipulated or bullied into crime by partners. Women get more, and heavier, custodial sentences than men – especially young women. I have worked with a lot of girls who were in prison for a first offence and who have never been away from home before. If they were teenage boys, they would probably get probation or community service because societal expectations are that ‘lads will be lads’ but girls should be 6
‘nice’. The longer I do this work, the more feminist I become. M. What was the first poem you wrote? A. I have no idea! I wrote poetry as a child and do remember (aged around 7) reading a poem in school assembly which was about a famine photograph I’d seen in the paper. I wrote through my childhood and teens to early twenties, just for self-expression. I then had a long break and came back to writing at 40, but studying the craft seriously rather than just wanting to express myself. I never stopped reading poetry though. M. I believe the first poem I read in school was Charge of the Light Brigade, which made me develop an interest in poetry. Where does your inspiration come from? A. That’s hard to answer; there isn’t any one thing or circumstance that can trigger a poem. Being a poet is more a way of being in the world, a way of seeing connections between things, a way of noticing and listening. Space and time to slow down and think is important and walking the dog is a way I get that in even the busiest of days. Reading poetry is critically important; at times when I don’t feel I have a poem in me (a feeling I experience after the publication of every book), reading poetry and immersing myself in the way other poets experience the world can show me the way back. M. So, how do you go from working as a prison officer to working as a lecturer and writing poetry? A. I have never been a prison officer; because I work for a charity I am fortunate to have a very different relationship with the prisoners. I don’t have to lock them up or enforce discipline (though I can’t be seen as soft and have to have good personal boundaries). I work with groups, mostly doing arts and crafts, and sometimes creative writing, as a means of supporting their emotional and mental health challenges so that creativity in some form is very much part of what I do. I have worked for charities for years and also volunteered as a Samaritan for a long time because I am interested in, and moved by, the human condition. For me, poetry only works as a form of empathy and I write poetry as a way to attempt to understand and explain the human condition. So you can see that the different parts of my life are not so far apart as they may seem. Teaching seems to me to be a natural extension of being passionate about something; I love seeing a student getting excited about discovering a poet they like or making discoveries that develops their own work. M. Have there been any poets you taught which you weren’t actually a fan of? A. Yes, but I’m not going to say which ones! If poems are well-made, even poems I don’t like very much will have something to interest me. Getting to grips with them at the level of seeing how they are made, what techniques and tropes the poet has employed particularly well, can teach me something and be rewarding whether or not I enjoy them at a surface level. M. So, how do you unwind from all that stress of teaching and working your other job? A. Reading and writing poetry. When I came back to poetry after a break, it was because I needed it for balance. If you give a lot at work by supporting people in distress or facing overwhelming difficulties, then to survive and not burn out, you have to find balance and a way of nourishing yourself. For me, it was poetry. It was self-indulgence, intellectual exercise, creativity, and something entirely apart from my ‘day-job’. I like being alone and don’t socialise much but reading, watching TV, the internet, were not enough to feed my needs. It’s come a long way from the early days of working through a book of forms in the evenings after work but I can’t imagine a life outside poetry now. 7
M. You’re part of Buzzwords. Did you set this up?
‘Poetry can say A. Yes, I started it 10 years ago. At the time, the only live literature in Cheltenham was the literature festival. There the unsayable.’ was little poetry and no open mics; there were writing groups but nowhere for people to test their work in performance and nowhere to regularly hear good contemporary poetry. That it still runs every month, with a good audience, shows there is an appetite for contemporary poetry and people do want to hear it. M. How do students get involved? A. The programme is up at www.buzzwordspoetry.blogspot.co.uk and anyone can come; there is no need to book in advance, no obligation to read. It is only £3 for students and for that you get a writing workshop, hear a well-known and published contemporary poet, and an open mic. M. When I was a second year, there were a few poetry readings at the Muffin Man, which the third years encouraged us to go to, are there more coming soon? A. The readings at The Muffin Man still happen regularly; the event is called ‘Well Versed’ and is run by Anna Saunders who is director of the poetry festival (the poetry festival is at the end of April and a great chance to see some fantastic events – watch out for the programmes). There is also a monthly poetry café and open mic which takes place at Smokey Joe’s Coffee Bar. Both of these are advertised on Facebook. M. Why do you think students should take poetry as a module? A. Because you can do things in poetry that you can’t do in prose; poetry can say the unsayable and express that which you don’t have words for. Poetry is hard but there is no better feeling than making a poem that works, when a line leaps off the page because it is so right, because some combination of sound, language, technique, and sense has created something you didn’t know you could say. Dylan Thomas said: You can tear a poem apart to see what makes it technically tick... You're back with the mystery of having been moved by words. The best craftsmanship always leaves holes and gaps in the works of the poem so that something that is not in the poem can creep, crawl, flash, or thunder in. M. Best advice for students to get published? A. Work at it, always work at developing and improving, and send it out. I regard publishing in journals as similar to serving an apprenticeship, and most publishers won’t consider even a pamphlet unless the poet has a track record in journals. To do that, poets need to read widely, look at journals to see where they might fit – the university library has a good selection and there are many available online. Everyone gets rejections, however experienced they are, and it’s important not to give up but to keep working at it and learning from others.
Author Profile TOM GILL
Sylvia Plath was a poet by nature but wrote short stories and one novel named The Bell Jar. She won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for The Collected Poems and was critically acclaimed throughout her career. She excelled academically all her life and graduated summa cum laude in English from Newham college at Cambridge university. She was a mother of two and a wife to Ted Hughes, who was also a poet. She died at the age of just 30. A major aspect of her life was the depression that she suffered from. She had multiple recorded suicide attempts throughout her life, her first medically documented one at the age of 21. She spent time in the well-known McLean hospital receiving electro-convulsive therapy to try to treat the depression. However, it eventually got the better of her after her breakup with her husband. It is also worth mentioning that depression was not as understood in the 60's as it is now, something which I'm sure contributed to her demise. She was a poet at heart and is especially known for her confessional poetry, the most famous of which is â€œDaddyâ€?, an extremely interesting poem with a sing-song flow that compares her father to a Nazi. The poem has caused controversy in the past but it is without a doubt, superb. The one novel she published, The Bell Jar, is semi-autobiographical and inspired by her time as an apprentice at the Mademoiselle magazine and her own psychological breakdown. She regretted the apprenticeship but it is one which we the reader should be thankful for. One early critic from the New York times suggested that there was something girly in the writing which betrayed the fact that she was an amateur novelist. For me it is the opposite, for the first time in my life I felt like I was reading the words of the author while simultaneously those of the characters. I could picture her sitting down and writing the words I was reading. Reading The Bell Jar has enabled me to create my own impression of what she was like as a person and I love it for that. Even though she was plagued with depression her entire life, it didn't stop her from being one of the best, most influential and interesting female writers of the 20th Century. She was an interesting, intelligent, charismatic and brilliantly creative woman and it is truly a shame that she died so young. She was not just an inspiration to women but to writers and poets everywhere.
PICTURES FROM BBC.CO.UK & BARNES & NOBLE
Be Inspired SARAH OAKLEY
The creative process is something we talk about a lot as writers, but it is never the same experience for each of us. One part of the process that we can borrow from our peers is the way we get our inspiration. Starting with walking, this monthly feature will explore the different ways writers get the initial glimpse of something that could become a piece of written art.
The Pros: Walking has motivated many writers to create new worlds, false realities and beautiful scenes due to the inspirational properties of taking a stroll. If you happen to live in a rural area of the country, you have free access to many well-maintained public footpaths and designated walks. These will often lead to the ability to create more descriptive scenes and bring in senses that get forgotten about when your fingers are resting on a keyboard. Also, country walks are well-known for having a calming effect on frustrated writers with deadlines to meet. In contrast, urban walks can be just as beneficial. Taking a few minutes to watch how others go about their lives can be the gateway to writing the next best contemporary piece.
The Cons: As with any inspirational activity, there are things to consider that may hinder your creativity more than they help. Depending on your energy levels, walking can lead to one very lethargic writer who refuses to go anywhere near a blank page until they have consumed copious amounts of caffeine and have fully recovered. Also, you may have the perfect setting for a summer romance, but the weather may have other ideas. As with the unpredictability of the weather, you may not be able to fit in a walk around the local park/town/fields due to the amount of writing you have to get done by yesterday. Even more worrying is what might happen when you do get outside. People watching is all fun and games until someone catches you staring and it all gets a bit awkward. Then there is the limitation of what you could possibly describe from what you see before you. A busy Cheltenham town centre might make for a fresh contemporary piece, worthy of a national award, but if you were going for a thirteenth century prince, fending off the advances of a multi-coloured dragon with several heads, youâ€™re going to be working your imagination overtime.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOSIAH ROBINSON
What Writers Say: Amy Ford, a Creative Writing second-year student who is soon to have poems published in The Dawntreader poetry journal, has often been inspired by walking. She says: ‘[w]alks with my dog, in the fields around my home, have always been my way to gain inspiration – leading to the creation of many of my poems, such as ‘Field Clouds’ and ‘Nature’s Station’. The stillness and solitude of these walks allow me to untangle knots in my poetry, or my prose for that matter. They also give me time to clear my head so that I can approach the page of words, waiting for me at home, with a level head and a steady hand. There is nothing more awakening than a cold walk in the rain or hail with a warm, panting pup at your heels and several empty fields before you.’
The Technical Bits: Walking isn’t something that takes a lot of effort, but there are some things you may want to do before you walk out of the door in search of a brilliant idea. Firstly, a good pair of walking shoes is advised, given the terrain you wish to trudge over. Check the local weather forecasts to be sure you won’t need more suitable attire to the ever-changing British skies. Another thing to consider is investing in a local map, unless you want to get lost in the Cotswolds. Other essentials might include a drink, a phone and a notebook to take down all the ideas you might have. Check out walkinginglos.co.uk for maps and other advice for walking in Gloucestershire. So, if you’re stuck on that pesky Chapter Four and need some fresh ideas, pick up a local Ordinance Survey map, put on some comfortable shoes and venture outside. You never know where your walk might take you. 11
FOR READING OUT LOUD! Open Reading at UoG
DAVEY EVANS OUR NEW OPEN READING HOST! On a stage steps every entertainer. The pressure of taking up your own work, or your own performance, and baring it to an automatically critical crowd is both an incredibly brave thing to do and also not entirely true. When I step onstage with my jokes and routines about nonsense it is under the guise of a comedic persona, a slightly maladjusted version of me, whose confusion at the world and why his jokes do not work puzzle and anger him. That is my shield as a comedian. As a poet, since going onstage at the Open Readings, I have rediscovered a nervous side to me that I have missed. I have not felt such energy from that excitement for some years since before coming to UOG in 2013. And I embraced it. To be nervous is fine. Take that energy out of your belly and let it course through your legs propelling you up those Frog and Fiddle stage steps, send it to your arms to wrench the microphone free of its stand, breathe deep and slow and concentrate on a clear and potent voice. That is what the nerves are about. But the thing about standing up in front of people and performing/reading/dancing/acting is that you as the entertainer have the power. You have the knowledge that the audience do not. They are at the disadvantage. Play with them. Talk to them even. At an Open Reading they are part of your Cohort and automatically at your side artistically. And that is the word we have been missing here: ART. Art is there for the taking. It is your representation of your thoughts, culture, ideals and want and it will need work because such a representation can only be as flawed as us humans. If people do not like your piece then ask why, and keep asking. You want to improve your assignments? Then read them out loud to an audience of friends at the Open Reading. Seek responses from those who may not have been at the workshop, or even in that module. We are all that egocentric enough to want praise for the work we have strived to perfect. Do it at the Open Readings.
ASH HARTRIDGE If you walk the streets of London, down by Trafalgar Square - there is a buzz around one theatre. The surrounding area is plastered with red carnival posters, promoting the revival of a play written in 1977. After a highly-praised circuit of Broadway, The Elephant Man comes to visit London for a 12 week run. It brings three-time Oscar nominee, Bradley Cooper, to the Theatre Royal Haymarket to play the title character. Cooper contorts his body instead of using prosthetics to portray Merrick's multiple physical deformities. The story centers around Joseph Merrick, a disfigured man that found a home with a travelling 'Freak Show', and is based on extraordinarily true events of his life, love and personal triumphs. ‘His performance is staggering in its physical discipline, its piercing emotional transparency and, most surprisingly, its restraint.’ - The Hollywood Reporter
Starring: Bradley Cooper as John Merrick (American Sniper, The Hangover) Patricia Clarkson as Mrs. Kendal (Six Feet Under, Easy A) Alessandro Nivola as Dr. Fredrik Treves (American Hustle, Jurassic Park III)
The Theatre: The Theatre Royal Haymarket is one of London's oldest and most beautiful theatres, and matched against the nearby comparisons, it is a fairly small audience space. It is regarded as a site of significant innovation in theatre, being the first theatre to ever host an official matinee.
Tickets can range from £25 - £108, but are available from ticket-sellers at a reduced rate. Choosing quieter performances can also lead to seat upgrades.
For more information visit elephantmanlondon.com or trh.co.uk. 13
MARY PIPIKAKIS & HANNAH YOUNG
Whether we’re reading for pleasure or studying the great works of literature, it is immediately clear that the so-called ‘literary canon’ – the collection of writings from across the centuries held up as ‘great’ writings and afforded a certain status as a result – contains very little in the way of literature written by women. Why is this? Historically, even when women have been allowed to write, they have been limited to literature which was not considered ‘serious’. As a result, their writing has often been ignored and forgotten, silencing the voices of women. Of course, there are a few exceptions. Some female writers, such as Jane Austen, were considered hugely influential and are still prominent figures of literature. Sadly, these examples seem to be in a minority. Women were denied the space to write seriously and their work was dismissed by the literary world because of their gender, and as a result many female writers turned to the use of pseudonyms to get their work published. These women include the Bronte sisters and George Eliot. By presenting themselves as male writers, they gained the freedom to write novels that probably would not have been accepted otherwise, as they explored themes, ideas, social issues, and politics which were deemed unacceptable for a woman to even talk about, let alone write about. As the women’s movement gained momentum in the late 19th Century, the amount of women in the literary sphere grew. Then, in 1929, writer Virginia Woolf published a collection of essays where she said that in order to achieve equality, women must be allowed the same freedom to write and be heard as men have, and also the fact that the growing access to emancipation and financial security – and access to a ‘room of one’s own’- was giving women the freedom to write without being constrained by traditional gender roles within society. 14
In some ways, women’s writing was viewed as a ‘rebellious’ genre, and this status at times allowed it more freedom to explore controversial ideas, such as in Alice Walker’s The Colour Purple, which explores the struggles of class, race, and gender. In modern day, the voices of women are becoming more frequent, more potent, and more accepted. Literature today is a progressive form centred on free speech, and the voices of women are being expressed and accepted. The absence of voice is still a key theme often explored by women writers, such as Carol Ann Duffy’s collection of poems, The World’s Wife. Duffy explores potential voices of the wives behind some of the dominant male figures of literature, with poems entitled Mrs Faust and Mrs Beast, to name a few. In the dramatic sphere, Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues is an explosive piece that breaks down the barriers of taboo concerning women and the way they view their own anatomy. However, there are still gaps for female writers to overcome. Only 10% of stand-up comics are women. Why is this still the case in today’s world? Shockingly, female comedians often receive rejections based purely on their genders, and even women who are incredibly talented are often overlooked. As a society, we still view the role of the stand-up comic as male, and this limits the opportunities women are given. The gap of equality in comic writing is something that has been noticed, and hopefully, is starting to be addressed. The BBC recently banned all-male panel shows, in order to give more women an opportunity. Luckily for female students studying Creative Writing, we have very liberal lecturers who push us to write well. Gender is not seen as an issue to overcome, we are simply encouraged to be producing the highest standard of writing we possibly can. In the safe bubble of university it has become hard for us to accept that any female writer, a poet, a playwright, a comedian, or a prose writer, could be at a disadvantage due to their gender in the outside world. With prominent figures such as Amy Hempel, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Zadie Smith being accepted as literary writers regardless of gender, this is a sign of the progress of women in literature. Sadly, it is clear that there is still a gender gap in modern literature, though. More men are being published than women, and more men are submitting work. Personally, we believe this gap is due to the fact that it is still a fairly recent development that the voices of women are heard. We know that gender has no relevance to the quality of work produced. We need to keep hold of this attitude and in order to bridge any remaining gaps everyone, regardless of gender, needs to keep writing and to be writing well. PICTURES FROM QUOTEVALLEY.COM & FACULTY.SCF.EDU.
Fiction and Poetry
HEART OVER MATTER EVE MATTHEWS
I believe that there are those who allow themselves to be hurt, in the hope that it aids the person hurting them in some way. The reasons for suffering through their own silent devastation varies from one soul, to another. Hope, that in the acceptance of angst, may lead to another experiencing joy. Or perhaps presenting another with the proof, that no matter the circumstance, they'll still be there, they'll still love them. In spite of their own self-preservation, they throw themselves at the world, heart first. Open, wild, willing hearts. Bruised, decaying, beat-skipping hearts. A rescuer, a listener, a helper. Stranger or friend, sibling or partner, individuals that exude life, yet struggle to find reason within it. Providing themselves with their own purpose, to provide shelter from life, to those whose swords form axe wounds, whose actions splinter hopeful hearts. Their eyes depict their story, their faces display the emotion. To be such a person takes courage, a soft heart can be easily worn in a world full of pain. A bright heart, easily discoloured.
ON THE RINK: AN EXCERPT SLEIMAN EL HAJJ A skater behind us had flailed like a windmill and gone down, to jeers and cheers and sympathetic giggles, helped to his feet by his partner. Stripped of her mirth, Mama was dough-faced, announcing unceremoniously that she had asked Teta, my grandmother, to leave our house in the countryside, that she couldn’t have let her stay, not after all that had happened. “But where would she go?” I asked, stunned. “Where did she go? She has no one here.” Mama shrugged. “I gave her one of my old phones so we could reach her, and a line. She has her pension; she will manage.” “I know you never liked Teta,” I said, “but we can’t just put her on the street!” “It’s not about me, Ramzi. Consider your grandfather. Your dad too. And the family!” “Mama, I’ve been thinking. Teta hasn’t had it easy; she’d been nursing my ailing uncle practically on her own all these years. And the loneliness, that too. It drives people to do crazy things, doesn’t it?” “Yes, maybe, but this is different. It’s not really negotiable, is it? Too much at stake.” “You’re the one always saying we live only once and that we should make the most of it! You’re going out dancing in Aleppo even on fighting days.” “Ramzi, this is different,” she said for the second time, less patiently. “Why? Because it’s not something we’ve seen before? I still feel deceived by Teta somehow; it’s hard to believe she hid something like that. It makes me think of her in a different way and I need time to adjust but I don’t want to cut off with her completely.” Mama’s gaze was so level now, so grave and un-girlish, so unlike her usual self that it made me shiver. “You said it: deceit. Nothing justifies a woman cheating on her husband. The father of her children. And with a woman too! I know we’re not too religious, but is this normal, Ramzi? You tell me.” She went on encouraged by my silence, her voice becoming a notch louder. “And with whom? Do you know what your father says people in our village call Nanig? The hermit. Those less kindly call her this: the cretin, the town cretin. Even the elderly hairdressers say that!” I felt again the familiar throbbing across my head, an intimation of agony in the weeks after Teta’s affair saw light. “Normal you say? Alright, I will tell you what isn’t normal, Mama. Evicting your husband’s mother, knowing she has nowhere else to go!” We were talking at the top of our lungs, screaming almost, and skating next to each other trying to seem normal, we were caricatures of ourselves, ripping through the crowd. We made a final, disconsolate circuit of the rink, and then, like fledglings leaving a nest, we were back on the ordinary floor, wobbling and ungainly.
THE SNIPER CHARLIE PATTERSON On a ridge beneath a cloud-shadowed cliff, the Sniper has lain for three days, nesting in a Caralluma bush, he wears a skin of sprouting, green stalks, his body is a sandbag, twenty-two hours since the last movement, except for the flexing of the primal finger, spit-wet on the barrel, tasting the wind. Through the black ring of the Sniperâ€™s eye, the valley contracts to a dozen yards of dark river soil, beyond the encampment where the man sits, hooded under the low spread of a gum Arabic tree, his ankles crossed, the plastic shine of a pink mobile phone shimmers in the crossed eye of the lens. Four days since the Sniper has slept, The air is dry, gritty in his lungs, and yet his lens is fogged, blood throbs, thick in his chest. He knows it must be soon, the finger ticks a clockwork heartbeat on the trigger, but still, he cannot draw the metal eye away from that bright pink mobile phone. The target is laughing, he smiles, bunches his lips to a rose bud, blows a kiss. A shop-window dummy caught stretching. The Sniper sees the man begin to rise. It must be now. He pulls the rifle butt into his shoulder, muscles tighten. The scope nettles his brow, rubber and sweat, prickling. The finger tightens on the trigger but will not close. Then, a flash of white sunlight on sand, he feels the jolt, the scope drops away. The valley leaps back, the dark cliffs burst from the black ring, the river floods his eyes. Pressed to the soil, he feels the wetness under his chest, the green stalks blossom, spattered red, like desert flowers.
DOCTOR JOHN OXNARD ‘It could have happened to anyone. Don’t blame yourself, Sir.’ It’s what I said to him as he raced after the nurses who wheeled his daughter away into the labyrinth of medicinal knowledge, and calculated luck. We’re parked up in the emergency bay, meters from the automatic doors of the Deacon General Hospital. Mikey, my partner, has disappeared into the cafeteria for five minutes to get two coffees and use the bathroom. Only two actual emergencies tonight. I’m left packing a fresh gurney into the back of the ambulance. The last one went inside with a six year old girl splashed in sulphuric battery acid. The parents knew what they were doing, at least. The father had the hose gently washing her with lukewarm water, and her mother had taken off the girl’s blouse that was splattered with the acid. As I sat there tending to her in the back of the ambulance, I noted how warm her torso was where she was burnt. It usually happens with Sulphuric acid. Just how it reacts. The white coat of a doctor flashes past as I shut the back doors. They don’t come out very often. But it’s a quiet evening, I guess. I look into reception. No sign of Mikey. Doctors typically only come out for a fag, or a breath of tobacco tinged air. They stand in the staff area at the back of the hospital. They take a short break from it all. It’s rare to see them out front. I lock the back of the ambulance and walk in the direction of the doctor. When I get around the corner of the emergency bay, the white coat is folding over itself on the small bridge to the general car park. I walk to within a few paces from them. ‘Sorry. Sorry.’ It’s a female voice. It’s one I recognise, a surgeon called Rachel. ‘It’s only me, Rach.’ Rachel stands up again, manages half a glance at me, and then buries her face into her palms. I walk up to her left and throw my arm around her back. ‘What happened?’ I ask, but I don’t need to be told. I don’t want to be told. ‘I lost one.’ Her voice breaks apart on the last word. She coughs. I’m rubbing her back, but it’s the mildest reprieve from the moment. I know. It’s happened to all of us. Myself, three times. But it’s her first. And that’s the hardest shock. ‘He should have been fine. There was nothing fucking wrong with him.’ Her body is shuddering against me, but there’s no wind and no chill tonight. ‘You did all you could.’ It’s like saying ‘Good effort’ to the one that came last. ‘At least you tried,’ because it’s all you can muster. ‘Better luck next time,’ though there’ll never be another one. She rests her head against my shoulder. ‘You just take a minute, Rach.’ ‘I need to get back in there.’ She turns to face me. I place my hands on the sides of her shoulders. ‘Hey, listen to me. It could have happened to anyone.’ ‘No, I know. I’m okay.’ She’s wiping her eyes with her sleeve, clearing small black streaks. She gives me a hug. I’ve never hugged her before. Just the passing high fives in the changing room. ‘Don’t blame yourself, Rachel.’ She squeezes me and walks away, leaving me standing on the small bridge, on the left of the Deacon general emergency bay. 19
THE FANTASY SARAH OAKLEY Two timelines merge into one The initial collision fatal The hourglass falls to the floor A kiss brings them to life The robot and his wooden doll Two timelines merge into one Welded together, days become sand grains Swept up inside their house that Jack built The hourglass falls to the floor She carves her heart out for him He builds a healthy mind for her Two timelines merge into one The world sits on pause as they play They dance under a stellar projection The hourglass falls to the floor Until her wooden figure splinters and splits And his metallic casing cracks and peels Two timelines merge into one The hourglass falls to the floor.
SIX DEGREES FROM ON TOP OF THE WORLD NATHANIEL WILSON The North Pole of Inaccessibility is very white. I remember the incendiary skies back home in the summer tinged with a strangely masculine pink. Right now the sky is blue. It has been consistently blue since June. It is August now and 3 degrees Celsius. That’s 37.4 degrees Fahrenheit and 276 degrees Kelvins. I think. There are several clouds in the sky. It’s been the most variable thing about this expedition. A wispy type of cloud I can see right now sort of looks like a caterpillar breathing fire. It reminds me of reading about explorers to Africa that expected to see men with wolves’ heads. The most interesting creature in this region is the mer-unicorns but we’ve seen none. I think we should call them “mer-unicorns.” I’m not going to talk about how the others died. I’m going to be talking about that enough in the near future. I have nothing to do until the helicopter arrives to stop me ending up like them so I’m just writing whatever with my neat little smart phone with the wand they gave me so I can write with my gloves on. I hope I don’t need to recount the deaths as many times as I had to explain the difference between the Geographic North Pole, the magnetic North Pole, the geomagnetic North Pole and the North Pole of Inaccessibility. No, I’m not going to the very top of the world; about 6 degrees latitude away. Yes, I suppose I won’t get the feeling of knowing there is a whole planet revolving under my feet. I will not be the first person there, just part of the first expedition in about fifty years after considerable ice cape melting. Well, certainly the first person since I’m the only one who survived this far but I don’t suspect they’ll pop any champagne bottles to acknowledge that. Technically, don’t you always have a planet underfoot? It would be annoying to write another page in history and have nothing philosophical to say. Three dogs have survived. Snowy, Noel and Icarus. They don’t seem too fond of me right now. Northern Pole of Inaccessibility; I suppose it needs to change its name now. A week ago, Gerry mentioned to me that what we were achieving dwarfed any material wealth our sponsors could give us. Being Arctic Explorers, Alison, Gerry, Martha and Steven’s lives were uninsurable but the contracts did say that the next of kin would receive the money that they would have twice fold. I wonder how long I can live on the money I’ll get for this. I think I’ll go back to working in accounts when it runs out. I think I’m lucky to be alive. Then again, I did my best. I also did my best to help all my teammates. I wish, if they had to die, there could have been a polar bear involved. It would give me more to dine out on. I also wish that I did have a literal pole to lean against. It’d be awesome to plant a Cornish flag here but it’s just ice beneath my feet. I guess I shouldn’t try my luck. We penetrated the Earth’s most private region without consent and she never seemed too happy to see us. I suspect my sister will say something similar. Any Pole of Inaccessibility is determined through its distance from any land mass. The North Pole of Inaccessibility is equidistant from Ellesmere Island, the New Siberian Islands and one other place at over 1000 kilometres away. Geographically speaking, I’m the loneliest guy in the world. Even Astronauts have other Astronauts with them usually. I’m savouring the alone time before I have to talk to the media or my teammates’ families. They were all a pretty sour bunch. Except Gerry. He spent a little too much time talking about veganism. I keep thinking about that time at a football practice when the coach said I had to stop slacking and take this seriously. When I stare at the angular figures on my watch telling me the exact latitude I’ve held in my mind’s eye for the last few years, the ice beneath my feet feels like it’s glowing a little. I wonder how many hours it will be before I can stop filling my day with expedition-related conversations, have a long hot bath, watch Disney movies, all while bingeing on chocolate until the early hours. But right now, all that feels a world away. 21
THE UNKNOWN XAVIER HORNSBY He thought he was dead. Surely if he was dead he wouldn’t be able think? Or so he thought. Jay was at home when he got a phone call from Stephanie. ‘Hey Stephanie, how are you?’ ‘I’m fine, come to mine its urgent.’ When he arrived she was already waiting for him. She was carrying a black duffle bag. He went to ask what it was for but thought better of it, knowing she would be evasive. ‘So um, where we going?’ ‘You’ll find out soon enough,’ she replied, then walked off. He followed her, a sense of fear building up. They came to a halt. Jay looked up. They were outside Tim’s house. Tim was Stephanie’s ex. Stephanie placed the bag on the gravel, crouched down and opened it. Jay asked why they were there, but she ignored him and pulled out what looked like a gun. Jay stood there, rigid in his stance. She placed the gun on the floor, pulled out another, as well as a grenade. She stood up, glared at Jay knowing he wouldn’t take the gun, and sauntered up the drive, weapons in hand. Jay ran up behind her and tackled her to the ground. The weapons dropped from her hands and landed in some nearby shrubbery. ‘Get off of me, you don’t know what he’s put me through!’ Tim bounded out of his house, baseball bat in hand, unsure as to what was going on. He saw the commotion and swung for Jay, knocking him off of Stephanie. Jay stumbled backwards bleeding. Stephanie clambered up off of the floor and stumbled over to the shrubbery. She bent down, picked up the gun and swung round. Bang! He lay there motionless. Stephanie had ran off. Tim stood there in shock. Jay felt like the world had disappeared as he slipped into darkness. His body went limp and cold as something deep inside tried to rise up and escape. Was it his soul? Could he be dead if he could feel this? He felt a sudden rush of pain and an intense wave of heat over his entire body. The atmosphere changed and a calm energy washed over his body. The pain subsided and he felt a cool breeze. There were two golden gates with a neon sign saying ‘Welcome to Heaven.’ He took a step forward and fell through to nothingness. A shadow emerged. ‘Are you death?’ The shadow, saying nothing, waved its hand. Jay opened his eyes; he felt nothing. He stood up and saw Tim on the phone. He looked down at where he was standing and saw his body still. Was he in limbo?
Dearest Cohort, This summer, the second year creative writers have been gifted with the task of planning and staging a fringe festival of the arts as part of the UOG Festival Fortnight. We have allotted ourselves the 1st to 7th June to hold the festival and are putting together a fine selection of events. But we need more. We want more. We know that the talent within the Creative Writing Cohort is excellent across all years so I must ask you to step forward with your ideas; plays, poetry, prose and anything else you might consider for an event on the festival. This is a call to pens and to paper, to the performers and singers, playwrights and poets, actors and musicians amongst you. We have a festival to put on! If you have a play we will seek out the actors and production team to stage it. If you have poems submit them to us and see it transformed into a live song or art piece in a joint collaboration of poetry, music and art. If you have something you have always wanted to do, inspired by other fringe festivals or art, then we have room for it. If you would like to be involved contact me via the Creative Writing Society Facebook page, or via email@example.com. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thanks awfully! Davey Evans El PresidentĂŠ
Transgression DAN MARTIN
A misbehaving peccadillo?
The simplest way for me to describe creative transgression is to define what a transgressive act is and then compare. A transgressive act is one that goes against a code, law, conduct, or command. The Latin term transgredi means to step or pass over, and in doing so, against a rule or law, would be considered an unforgettable offence. Transgressive fiction is considered much in the same vein, because it deals primarily with taboo themes such as drug abuse, sexual activity, violence, crime, incest, and paedophilia. The art form is unforgettable and not easily forgiven. Because most of the subject matters are considered illegal and morally wrong, to be transgressive is to be controversial and can cause much outrage in the general public. Some might say that it is a necessary evil. Whether it is expressed in art, music, fiction, films or TV programmes, transgressive works are experimental projects in taboo and innovation, paving the way for the arts to develop into something new. The arts are significantly important to human beings because the human condition is human nature and a unique feature of a self-aware and reflective innate and inherited quality that allows humans to analyse existential themes. The awareness and acceptance of death, gratification in all its forms, isolation, curiosity, and the big question: why are we here? are all important to human understanding and development. With the development of the human condition, the progression of creativity must parallel or exceed, in order for the growth of human kind. Transgressive writing includes: 1. Art—e.g. Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ 2. Music—e.g. Radiohead, Frank Zappo, Bjork, Kate Bush and Fuck Buttons (a taboo title in itself) 3. Fiction—e.g. the 1955 novel Lolita by Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov, who is in good company along with other authors such as Martin Amis, Samuel Beckett, David Foster Wallace, Miranda July, and Jennifer Egan. 4. Film—e.g. Martyrs, Man Bites Dog, Kill List, Fight Club, Lolita, Shame and Shortbus. Some of these have raised mass controversy within the public, whether dividing critics or general audience participants. Transgression brings about change with a new perspective and/or a new dynamic, and is weighed down with provocation, innovation and is somewhat uncensored (as much as can be said in a censored existence); rousing stimulus to reach new areas, and explore new depths in human behaviour. To be transgressive is to push the borders of comfort and to go off limits, but not merely to shock, it goes much deeper than that. To create a disturbance within our own limitations and understandings is part of the process that cannot be avoided, but its purpose is reinforcing those parameters. In this sense, it can be paradoxically perplexing because as a style it is to push and bend to challenge, not only our own but our generations’ boundaries, but only to the extent as to teach society why limitations and parameters are not so prohibiting or as stifling as one may presume. 24
This in turn affects the debate on free speech. Free speech would be chaos if there is no form of conduct because everyone would become transgressive and experimental, speaking their mind and possibly finding themselves in some form of trouble because they have been taboo and crossed a line that may send societies into pandemonium. The freedom of speech in order to create transgressive and experimental works as well as the freedom of speech to comment on it is both significantly important. As Uncle Ben (Parker) said to his nephew Peter (Parker); “With great power comes great responsibility.” And although he wasn’t the first to have been recorded saying the phrase, (that would be William Lamb, a.k.a. Lord Melbourne British Parliament member, 1807) it doesn’t mean the homily doesn’t resonate profound truth. To be successfully transgressive is to show a developed understanding of its power through responsible practices of the arts in the same way that a great horror story is still a great story without the horror elements. Films and TV programmes are perfect examples for this explanation because those that have had success while still presenting a transgressive product have left their audiences appropriately shook up, opening their minds to the psychological elements of sexual, violent , and other taboo themes. Some filmmakers are just about the shock factor, instead of focusing on reinforcing boundaries of human development. Transgression needs to pave the way inch by inch. There are some filmmakers that disconnect themselves from that rule and cross the line and go way beyond it, only considering traumatising their audiences with images, sounds, and implications of ultra violence, disturbing sexual activities that compromise a more steady growth of the human condition. Just like free speech, if there were no rules in place or codes of conduct, there would be chaos and mass depravation in the human condition. Transgression is, in my opinion, a necessary peccadillo that, with the right amount of responsibility, can further improve the human condition, with a better understanding and an appreciation of the arts.
PICTURE FROM CRITICALCOMMONS.ORG
Getting in the Zone REECE MCCORMACK
I can't write unless I'm in the zone. To get in the zone, first – usually at the break of day – I take yesterday's loin cloth and burn it in the garden underneath the scaffolding. This is vital, for it exercises the hangover of yesterday's bad ju-ju. Once – and only once – the ashes have been washed into the gravel, I eat breakfast. On a writing day, this consists of raw bacon straight from the packet, helped down with a concoction of Olbas oil, almond milk and incense. I sacrifice a goat. Then, it's time to write. I take my 8B pencil from the trophy case – its end sharpened to a
point, the cedar casing freshly glossed – and I take the roll of cow hide from under my bed and retreat into the blackness of the cellar. I write blind, letting the words find their own way through the dark. That isn't true, though I kind of wish it was. I write on the bean bag in the corner of my living room. There's Riaz's freezer – which I lean against if I ever get back ache – and there's the flimsy little table-thing and a vaccum cleaner and a curtain I'm forever sitting on and tearing down and having to clip back up. But I do need to be in the zone. The zone requires two things: a drink and a pair of earphones. I listen to music when I write – sometimes when I'm working on something I'll listen to the same album again and again – and sometimes, when I read back through my work I'll listen to static, courtesy of SimplyNoise. Everyone has their own process. Lucy Tyler needs total silence. The desk has to be clear. She drinks Lapsang (which I had to Google) and wears special writing socks. She even messes with the blinds to 'let *exactly* the right amount of light in. Second-Year-John needs somewhere comfortable and practical, which is usually his couch. Second-Year-Tom writes in his bed. So does Neil Gaiman. Martin Randall puts pen to paper, listening to Bach, sitting on a stool in his kitchen. Second-Year-Sammie can write as long it's quiet or she can listen to music. This relates to what Stephen King says about writing spaces. He says you need to shut the door on the world if you want to be able to write. But then there's people like Second-Year-Mary and First-YearChloe who can write anywhere. The house. The pub. The library. Boston Tea Party. The closet with all the nails in the door from Matilda. But – as long as you’re in the zone and getting your writing thing on – does it matter where you write? Does – as Tyler Keevil asked in one of my lectures not so long ago – the process change the product? I like to think that my bean bag makes all the difference. I like to think it makes my writing all rugged and hard-edged and that my back-ache gives the writing some extra bite and the empty bottles and cigarette boxes and whatever else that gets thrown at me while I have my earphones in, gives the writing extra pizazz. Maybe it does. Maybe it doesn't. But maybe it does. Maybe if I wrote at my desk, without constant interruptions from Brad calling me a 'wasteman', I'd suddenly start churning out pages of Pride & Prejudice. However, I did once try to write something like Wuthering Heights and it didn't turn me into Emily Brontë. It was just cold and a bit wet and I was more interested in the dead sheep that had fallen down the hill and died in the stream than anything else. In a slightly cryptic e-mail from Michael Johnstone, he appeared to believe his writing was heavily influenced by his surroundings. In his old flat, his writing room looked out onto some trees (his writing was more prosaic than that) and at the time he considered himself a 'landscape poet'. Now his writing room looks out onto some terrace houses and suddenly he's wrote a novel about people who 'frequently receive parcels from Yodel and occasionally invest in building repairs.' You do the math. Where do you write? How do you get into the zone? Does where you write affect what you write? This article has been sponsored by Simply Noise - 'the best free white noise generator on the internet!' (www.simplynoise.com)
Controversial Books Lady Chatterley’s Lover
“A woman has to live her life, or live to repent not having lived it.” Lady Chatterley's Lover, D. H. Lawrence's 1928 novel, introduces us to Constance (Connie) Chatterley, the wife of Clifford Chatterley. The couple get married at a young age and initially enjoy a happy, upper class life. This is short lived however, as Clifford must fight in the First World War, and receives an injury which paralyses him from the waist down. As a result, he is no longer able to satisfy Connie physically and begins to become emotionally distant . Connie's sexual frustration leads her into the arms of Oliver Mellors, the working class game keeper, and the two begin a physical relationship. Due to the explicit sexual imagery and its use of 'unprintable words', Lady Chatterley's Lover was heavily censored and large parts of the book was omitted. Despite the book being finished in 1928, it was only in 1960 when an unexpurgated edition was published in Britain. A private edition was released in 1928, although the publishing company involved refused to print the book in its current form, forcing Lawrence to publish 1000 first edition copies himself, without copyright protection. A US court ruled in 1959 that the first unexpurgated edition was not obscene. A year later, Penguin began to publish the original version of Lady Chatterley's Lover. However, Penguin was taken to court in 1960 as a result of the Obscene Publication 1959. It was taken into question whether or not the novel posed any literary merit and/or amounted to a 'public good'. The prosecutor, Mervyn Griffith-Jones, said to the jury, "Would you approve of your young sons, young daughters - because girls can read as well as boys - reading this book? Is it a book you would have lying around your own house? Is it a book that you would even wish your wife or your servants to read?" The prosecution was ridiculed due to the final question within his statement, "you would wish your wife or servants to read?", demonstrating how out of touch they were with the changing of social norms. The verdict was delivered on 2nd November 1960 as 'not guilty' and as a result, there was a greater degree of freedom in the UK for publishing explicit content. The unexpurgated version of Lady Chatterley's Lover was also banned in: Canada, The United States, Japan, India and many others. In Australia, not only was the novel banned, but so was The Trial of Lady Chatterley, a book describing the 1960 British trial. Lady Chatterley's Lover does an excellent job of demonstrating the social and class attitudes of the early twentieth century and having Connie, an upper-middle class woman, torn between both ends of the class spectrum only adds to its genius. Despite the book soon to be reaching its 100th birthday, the language and explicit scenes can still be considered racy and exhilarating today. BOOK COVER FROM WHATISKIMREADING.BLOGSPOT.COM
The Page Turner ANDREEA BOCANCEA ‘To almost everyone in the world Siberia’s name once conjured up a picture in black and white—a landscape of deep snow over which a band of dark figures, exiles, moved towards the infinity of low hanging skies.’ A non-fiction history book that spans mammoths and Mongolian khans to wars with Japan and Stalin. Detailed and intricately written, the late Lengyel wrote from heavy research and experience as a World War I Hungarian prisoner in Siberia. Hard to put down, this book gives accounts of explorers, princesses and natives. It also includes beautiful and tragic stories of couples separated, with one account of a wealthy woman who decided to go with her criminalised husband from Russia to Siberia and pleaded to the courts, who argued that once a prisoner to the gulags, the people are ‘dead’ and treated as non-existent ‘corpses’. She begged to be a criminal too, and they cried to her that she was someone free with money that could find a different husband, and against all odds she followed her husband penniless into the wilderness to start a new hard life. The portrayal of strong women, such as Catherine the Great, is abundant for a historical book led by male leaders. Another account of the 17th Century explorer John Ledyard has information not even obtainable online. His roots in the newly made Dartmouth College in the US (mostly for the natives with some integrated ‘local white boys’) and his interest in ‘The language of the Algonquins’ of the North American natives, sparked him to become an explorer. Skipping from Britain, Cape Horn, New Zealand, Paris, Stockholm, in the end he was at the gates of St Petersburg, begging for a visa to enter Siberia. It was there he made the connection of the Tatars, the natives of Siberia, looking like the natives of America before genetics and DNA genealogy existed. Unbiased, poetically constructed and at times bloody and gritty (in particular the accounts of torture and killings within Russia), this book comes from Lengyel’s passion. His own hardship in 1916 recounts the long days when the sky was still light by 10pm, the cold winters and the celebrating nature of the people. As compelling as a fictional novel, this book has short bursts of interesting storylines. Although encouraged in our University to read more contemporary books, I feel that Secret Siberia is a classic example of a great piece of non-fiction that reads like an adventure with the added realism and thorough research. Before Google too, could you imagine?
Favourite Quotes 'The best moments in reading are when you come across something a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.' -Alan Bennett, The History Boys MEGAN PAUL
‘Don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.’ - Howard Thurman
BEAU FLAHERTY ‘She philosophically noted dates as they came past in the revolution of the year....there was [another] date, of greater importance......that of her own death; a day which lay sly and unseen among all the other days of the year, giving no sign or sound when she annually passed over it; but not the less surely there. When was it?’ -Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbevilles
‘Who wants flowers when you’re dead? Nobody.’ - J.D. Salinger
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If it’s something you’re interested in and you would be committed to the role, contact Charl (Editor) now! Just email: firstname.lastname@example.org. 31
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April 2015 Focused around women writers, this issue discuss women's history in literature, Sylvia Plath, features an interview with poet and...
Published on Apr 9, 2015
April 2015 Focused around women writers, this issue discuss women's history in literature, Sylvia Plath, features an interview with poet and...