Myths of the Near Future The NAWE Young Writers Hub
The NAWE Young Writersâ€™ Hub Myths of the Near Future Series One, No. 2 ÂŠ Myths of the Near Future 2012 and contributors Published and distributed in association with DEAD INK Publications and the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE) Editor: Hannah Pollard Patrons: Alan Bennett, Gillian Clarke, Andrew Motion, Beverley Naidoo Submissions should be sent as an email, with a jpg portrait and brief bio of your writing life to firstname.lastname@example.org Only very exceptionally will be consider work that has already been published elsewhere. Translators themselves are responsible for obtaining any necessary permissions. Contributors should be aware that works published by Myths may also appear on our website and may be made accessible to subscribers online. NAWE is a Company Limited by Guarantee. Registered in England and Wales No. 4130442 Membership As the Subject Association for Creative Writing, NAWE aims to represent and support writers and all those involved in the development of creative writing both in formal education and community contexts. Our membership includes not only writers but also teachers, arts advisers, students, literature workers and librarians. NAWE, PO Box 1, Sheriff Hutton, York YO60 7YU Telephone: 01653 618429 Website: http://www.nawe.co.uk
Introducing the second issue of Myths of the Near Future. We are a fanfare to the imminent, the almost, the unheard-of. We believe in young writers, and we believe in writing that is still young. To the future!
Contents Editoral Cara Brennan Clare Fisher Mark Pajak Louise Hegarty Carmina Masoliver Danielle Jawando Interview with Hattie Grunewald Alister MacQuarrie M. M. Mann Jo Brandon Ellie Stewart Kiran Millwood Hargrave Jade Moulds Interview with David Morley Meredith Ostrowski Sol Loreto-Miller Ben Schwarz Scott Morris Get Involved Contributor Bios
Editorial Hannah Pollard Welcome to Issue Two of Myths of the Near Future. There'll be no stopping us now. The continuation of quality and promise in the work we've received proves (if it needed proving) that Myths is here for a very good reason. The reason is that young writers are brilliant â€“ even more brilliant than we have room to demonstrate. Crammed inside Issue Two are baths and paper cranes, sea creatures and christmas island crabs. There's motherhood, and smoking, and overachieving. There are dinner parties and piano pieces, terrible losses and cat's cradles. Where else would you find political protests and ghosts and catapillars and Hieronymus Bosch? There's amazing work here, and so I hope you enjoy the magazine as much as I have enjoyed putting it together. To the future! @mythsmagazine MythsMagazine.tumblr.com
Cara Brennan Cherry Beer I would wait up for you, I’d wash my hair, put the make-up on so it looked like I wasn’t wearing any but looked better than wearing none and sit on my bed reading, watching catch-up TV until you texted ‘hey! I’m outside x.’ That bit was never a surprise I’d trained myself to know the sound, you getting out of a taxi; an engine muted a door slam footsteps I couldn’t be mad if you were late we were so new you weren’t yet mine, you changed my candlelit scowls with cherry beer in bed. We would familiarise our day tearing wrappers from bottles, alternate sips and kisses before dawn where I would fold the scrunched red paper into cranes and hold them after you left.
Clare Fisher Distance I want to be somewhere, anywhere but here, rolling around on the bed which I’m trying to change but can’t, I haven’t been able to for what feels like a ridiculously long time, because Max has decided it’s a train. Some days, I prize him off the sheets, tell him to bugger off downstairs. Not today though: today I can only be his slave. I’m his slave and I’m loving it. He’s wrapped me in the slightly-smelly duvet (the train was stuck in a tunnel because of a kangaroo on the track: ever since my sister told him how they carry their babies in a pouch, he’s obsessed). He’s made me dangle my legs over the side whilst he tells me what’s in the café cart, only to reveal, once I’ve decided on a ‘yum- mymully’ sandwich, that the café cart is closed. ‘Why?’ I can’t help sounding offended because I am: I was looking forward to that sandwich. He rolls his too-big-for-his-head eyes at me. ‘Because it’s a Thursday!’ Because it’s a Thursday! If only I’d know when I woke up. I’m his slave and I hate it but I can’t get off the bed. This three minutes of peace whilst he scurries across the carpet (‘clearing the track’) won’t come again until about five o clock when he’s tired and I can still him in front of the TV without feeling too bad. I hear a door slam across the road and I think of you at work, staring at your computer. You can waste hours doing nothing, if you want. You can make tea, go to the loo, the newsagents, the kitchen, the smoker’s balcony, even though you don’t smoke. I wonder, are you thinking of me, in my captivity? You’re probably thinking about last night. Not another dishwasher-related argument! If you were here not up in that air conditioned tower near the river, the huge sloppy grey river, earning the money that keeps us in this house a good bit further from that river, if you were lying right next to me now, in this bed/train, I’d tell you: I don’t really give a shit how you do or don’t load the dishwasher. But then you know that already, just like I know that you didn’t really care when I let Max draw all over that boring beige jumper of yours. We’ve known, for some time, haven’t we? The way our words fall out like cardboard, even the silences have the quality of cardboard, something’s not quite – Ouch! He’s sucking the flabby bit behind my hip. I’ll name it after him: it came after him. Now he’s stuffing your dressing gown tail in my face. ‘This is a tube to help you breathe,’ he says. ‘You’re dying.’ He uses the exact same tone he used to tell me about the derailment, the closed-down café, the seat belts.
He pulls the tube away. ‘Dead! You’re Dead!’ ‘Dead!’ I don’t want to be; I sit up; he pushes me down. ‘The tube made you die.’ ‘Press my chest to make me breathe again. Otherwise I’ll be dead forever.’ He looks at me as if he knows; he knows this is a crappy explanation of defibrillators and mouth-to-mouth, and everything I ever saw on Casualty; he’s only three, but he knows it all. ‘Revive me now?’ I’m his slave; I can’t die; if I die, he does, too. He shakes his head; he doesn’t even have hair yet, just soft whitish fluff. ‘You’ll only die for almost-ever.’ I lie back down. The bed squeaks under my weight; it’s excited, and me, I’m dead. ‘I’m not turning the page until you’ve eaten this tomato.’ ‘I hate ‘matos.’ He loves them. I cram one into his mouth, fast, so the seeds won’t spurt everywhere (though the floor’s already decorated with crusts and grated carrot and cheese; why am I holding out?). He chews. I turn the page. I read. We’re about to find out where the runaway train is running away to, and I want to know, I really do, I’ve never cared so much about anyone, anything, when – You. The phone jigs across the table and I know before I pick up that it’s you. ‘Hello?’ Cars. I hear cars. They sound bored. ‘I’m on my lunchbreak.’ ‘So are we. Sort of.’ Max is smearing cream cheese into the table cloth, but I don’t tell him not to; this is important, this conversation, I feel. ‘Is everything OK?’ You. You say it. This is my big chance. ‘Yes.’ You breathe out so much air that for a second, just a second or maybe two, I hear no cars, no beeping; just you. ‘Good. I’m just – well, it’s all the same. Jeff complaining about his non-existent cold. Michael telling him to shut it. Thousands of unanswered emails.’ ‘Same here,’ I said, ‘It’s all the same.’ The green man’s beeping; you must be crossing the road. Are you going to Tesco or that greasy little Italian with the antique breadrolls? I want to ask you all this. I want to tell you about Max’s tomato, and the peanut butter and banana sandwich he made all himself, and the dying, I especially want to tell you about the dying, I want to shrink this distance be- tween us, this ordinary and necessary distance, or at least warm it up with a blow-dryer, a hot plate, but – ‘I’ll have to go.’ That is what comes out. But what can I do? What else? Max is hitting me over the head with the book, shouting finish finish finish FINISH, and I know, with that third eye that this time with him makes grow and grow, that if I don’t hang up and do as he
says right now, something – not terrible, but regrettable, will happen, like he falls off his chair and bashes his elbow and then I’ll have to jiggle him on my knee and kiss it better and better and better until enough time has passed that it is, it is better, the pain gone. ‘OK,’ you say, ‘Bye.’ I put down the phone. I wonder: maybe it is OK. I died but I’m here again, and maybe everything’s OK between us – maybe it’s simply a matter of the five or so miles between your air-conditioned tower and this air-of-unpredictable-conditions house. Then again, maybe not. No one can see that far into the future, not even my third eye, or Max. I prop the book open behind his plate and pick up another tomato with my free hand. Then I finish the story.
Mark Pajak The Pregnant Woman Smoking While still a child her girl-eyes were included in a motion lamb timid, pupils ballooning at that first thumb smudged Marlboro pulled from a school blazer held like a dart. Her lips and teeth stick to the sleeved tobacco as her diaphragm tugs a spider strand of smoke. It puts pigeon feathers in her lungs. The heartâ€™s awake. The stomach pulls on her lunch but her thoughts, like a queue of traffic, switch to smoother roads. There is a soft needling in her fingers. Back then all the body has a say. Now, as the pregnant woman smokes, it has gone beyond thoughts. The cocked hand, scissor fingers, pinched lips rehearsed to a point as natural as breathing. The eyes and lungs indifferent, the cord of the left arm resting on the beach ball bump as though it were a coffee table.
Louise Hegary Triptych 1. She gained admittance to the Museo del Prado for free as it was after 6pm. She liked being there late when there fewer people around. The space was cooling after a long day. She didn’t waste any time; she knew exactly what she was looking for. She took a right and passed through two rooms of Flemish paintings before reaching the middle room and slowing her pace. And there was Bosch right in front of her. 2. He was there too. He was always there. He smiled at her gently, one of his secret smiles and she smiled back in spite of herself. He said a silent hello from across the room but then someone approached him asking for directions and the eye contact between them was suddenly broken. She sat herself in front of Bosch and just watched. Her eyes glanced over the oil painted wood and she fiddled with the engagement ring on her finger. She still wasn’t used to it. 3. She settled her gaze on the middle panel: the nude writhing figures, the oversized fruit and absurd animals. They all revelled in their free will. No god above them. Suddenly she felt sick. Her face was flushed. She looked over at him and he smiled again but she couldn’t smile back. She hurried out of the room and down through the entrance hall. The heat hit her the moment she stepped outside and she suddenly felt the rising hot guilt in her chest.
Carmina Masoliver The Very Hungry Caterpillar The Very Hungry Caterpillar eats away at me: each bite dulls my eyes, a revolving merry-go-round in my mind, repeating lines like Ď€. Tell me what I am. Trapped Jack in a Box. The comfort of darkness, curled under the covers, hoping the monster wonâ€™t get me. I search and scramble for the edges of the hole, to lift myself onto some solid earth. Your hands still hold the rope wrapped around my stomach, as with each step I take, you urge me to plummet, and I long to turn the page.
Danielle Jawando Paradise — 703 You could say this is where it all began, or where it all ended. Depending on how it is you look at it, how it is you look at life. I prefer to say it began, that it started again right here, on these cliffs, in Seabourne. An old salt-washed, sea-stained town, not much to look at, and not much to live in. Those who know it, call it by its other name, ‘Suicide Gate’. I sit up there most days, and when all you have is burning sky, and silver gulls, Paradise nails, and the collapse and tumble of grieving waves, then I’m not surprised that people jump. They’re usually found a week later, washed up on the stony shore, alongside the dead jellyfish. My father is a gardener. Well, at least he was, when he could actually garden. He used to have hands, miracle hands that could bring even the most decaying, rotting, withering thing back to life. Now it’s different. His fingers are bent and braided with guilt, they shake with a hidden darkness, and everything he touches festers and suffocates. The whites of his eyes are raw and bloodstained and his breath is thick with the smell of whisky. My mother said she fell in love because of his hands. I never understood what she meant. I found her. The bathroom door was unlocked. She’d used an old fashioned barber’s blade. The kind my dad kept on a high glass shelf so that my little sister would never pick it up. The kind he saved for special occasions, and the kind he used when he wanted to remove the black hairs that grew just below his nose. The hairs a normal razor just wouldn’t reach. One of her hands lay draped over the edge of the bath, and her nails were painted a deep orange colour: Paradise 703. The varnish on her ring finger had been chipped away, and the ends of her auburn hair hung wet. The water was still warm. I just stood there. Silently, not moving, not breathing, not crying, not feeling. Just standing and looking at her painted Paradise nails, and the blood-greased silver blade which rested in the blue and white porcelain soap dish. After, in the hallway, I watched my dad sink to the floor. His head bent, his body limp, and his shoulders shrinking as he sobbed into one of her silk stockings. My sister Jodie, three years old, had her arms raised above her head, coughing, spluttering, and waiting for my mum to climb out the bathtub and pick her up. Her lip quivered, and all she could do was hold her hands in the air and say time after time, “Mu-mee, Mu-mee.” She’d left a note, but there was nothing on it. It was blank, apart from a deep brown stain in the corner the size of a five pence piece. Sometimes I sit and wait for words to appear, a
message to form, a feeling, a goodbye, something, anything. I keep it in my top drawer, along with other pieces of her, things I’ve found. The silver butterfly clip with a broken wing; the bottle of nail varnish; the silk stocking I still imagine damp with my dad’s tears, and one long hair with a white tip that I unravelled from her brush before he got rid of her things. I thought that if I could gather enough of her together then I could piece her back to life. Or maybe piece myself back to life. I’m here, but I don’t feel like I am. I don’t feel my life. I don’t feel her death. I just don’t feel. • Soon after, I left school. I began doing things like that a lot. Leaving places, leaving things, leaving when it all became pointless. I’d still wear my uniform, pretend, pack my school bag and leave my house just in time for registration but instead of taking a left, I’d carry on straight upwards, towards the cliffs. I liked to sit and watch things. The trees, shaped like crabbed hands. The sea, without any ships. Sometimes I liked to think, usually about nothing, mostly about her. The real reason though, was to look at him. He would knot the laces of his boots and hang them around his neck so he could paddle in the water. Sometimes he would skim stones, or jump over waves. Other times he would wade in up to his knees and just stand staring. I’d imagine what I’d say to him, what we’d talk about, what colour his eyes would be. Occasionally I’d see him with girls. They would tug at his sleeve and flip their hair and laugh tinnily into the breeze. And I’d want to get up and throw things at them. Other times he would sit alone, with a white pad, sketching and releasing a broken cloud of smoke. I liked the rock at Suicide Gate. I think, after my mother, it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Beautiful because of all the words. Roadside accidents, the uprights of bridges, most places where people die have shrines. Cards, cuddly toys, pictures, flowers. But here there are just words. Hundreds and thousands of words all carved into the soft copper cliff-side. One day as my sandals scuffed up the dry path, and the wind blistered my cheeks, I saw him. I recognised him from his shape, both angular and limp. He was wearing a grey vest, and leaning forwards scoring the rock with a blunt knife. On his feet he wore black boots with frayed laces, and rusty buckles. His off-white boxers were pulled above his waistband, and he stood back admiring his work. He spat on the rock, then began to wipe over the words with the froth and his thumb. “What?” He said without looking up. I shifted awkwardly, not knowing what to say. He stood up and slipped the knife into
his back pocket. He had carved R.I.P. Taff. From his jeans, he took a package, and using brown papers, rolled a cigarette his fingers long and thin. He licked the edge carefully. “Who’s Taff?” I said. He lit up, sucked hard and then exhaled slowly, “Me.” “Why’ve you written your own name on the rock?” He shrugged his shoulders. “Are you going to jump?” “Who knows? One day I’ll wake up and decide. Shithole town. Might as well. At least this way it’ll look like someone cared. Smoke?” “I’m fourteen.” He rolled his eyes, blowing smoke and looking at me. “You’re the Yanetski kid.” I nodded. “Your old man did our garden once. You look like him. He really fucked the place up.” He flicked some ash. “He used to be good,” I said, my chest tightening. “Yeah. Well. He’s not anymore.” “He was once,” my words shook. Taff snorted, “Once.” He began to play with his lighter, passing his hand through the flame. “I heard about your mom. That’s some pretty fucked-up shit.” My eyes began to burn. I said nothing. I couldn’t. My throat had cramped and wouldn’t work. He leaned closer, his teeth a deep yellow. “You found her right?” I turned away, and looked down at my burnt orange nails: Paradise 703. “My mom killed herself. She jumped. I found her. Her name is near the bottom. Anna. I did it.” I stared at my fading nail polish. “I’m sorry,” I said because that’s what you say, because that’s what they said to me. We sat in silence, side by side. “Why did she do it?” he asked. “My mum?” “Duh.” “I don’t know.” “I don’t know either.” “Did you say goodbye?” “No.” He finished his cigarette and flicked it into the wind. “What’s your name?” he asked. “Your first name.” “Natasha,” I said. “Well Natasha. I’ll see you around.” •
That night the darkness slid off the sails of a glass ship I had found on the beach one summer. It sat on the shelf across the room from my bed. I used to sleep next door to mum and dad, the walls paper-thin. One night as she screamed, the house shook and the ship moved. He was breaking her every finger apart from the ring finger on her left hand so she would remember all those times he had asked and she had said no. I thought of Taff as Jodie slept beside me. Her knees brought up to her chest. Her hand was cupped into the shape of a shell and her eyelids twitched as she dreamed. On the landing maybe, the heavy shuffle of footsteps, maybe the handle of my bedroom door turning. The wind screamed like my mother. In and out of sleep, in and out of memories, in and out of life. And I knew, I knew why she had done it. I’d always known. • Jodie’s laughter filled my room, waking me from my sleep. She was sitting on my dad’s knee, her hair pulled into two ponytails and tied with deep blue ribbons. He forced her two hands together into a mock clap. She laughed, showing me the space where a milk tooth had fallen out. On her feet she wore bright red plastic shoes with chunky heels and velvet bows. She slid to the ground and ‘click, click, clicked’ her feet together. He pressed his lips against her temple, and moved her hair out of the way to whisper something in her ear. She looked at me, and I wondered if he told her he’d done it, he was sorry, he was guilty. My mum had been wearing a mint green nightie. It was silk, with embroidered flowers that blossomed at the hem. Her hair was matted with spit and blood, and sweat gathered in the cracks of her lips. She was curled up, in a ball on the landing. I lay behind her in my pink Minnie Mouse pyjamas. I was four. I pulled her broken strap up over her shoulder, and walked my fingers along the bolts in her collarbone. She had one shoe on, and one shoe off. One stocking on and one stocking off. I traced the ladder up her leg, my breath moving her fringe. She began to cry and I caught her tears, I wanted to save them, to taste them, to make a necklace out of them. Beneath me my dad called. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stay, catching her tears. “Go to Daddy, Natasha,” she said. “Go to Daddy.” I left them behind, Jodie’s laughter still looped in my head and I made my way to the cliffs. My mum had been cheating on him, so he said. With the postman, so he said, with the milkman, so he said, with any fucking man who looked at her. I wasn’t his, he told her. He didn’t see that she’d loved his hands, and how they’d given life to lost things. He was too stupid to see that she had loved his hands. He was too ignorant to see that she had loved his hands. Now it was because of those hands, that she was gone. It was because of those hands that I never got to say goodbye. He’d asked her to marry him every day up until Jodie was born, but then he’d stopped.
He knew what the answer would be. He didn’t know why she kept saying no; I did. That’s when it began. I watched her standing in the front garden, talking to a neighbour, Mr. Fletcher. She wore her hair over her shoulder and to one side, pulling the butterfly clip from her crown and letting it walk up his arm. My father watched her from the window, the net curtains making him into a shadow. Later there was the smash of a whisky bottle, and the wing of the butterfly clip was broken. I reached up, touching the butterfly clip, and pulled it from my hair, holding it limply by its broken wing. I unravelled one of my hairs from the teeth, the same auburn colour, with the same white tip. I held it over the edge, then let it fall watching it tumble. The broken wing flapping helplessly in the wind. I remembered shouting, and the music my mum would play loudly, trying to protect us. The smell of burning coffee, and sitting in my bedroom with Jodie, misting my breath over the darkness and tracing smiley faces across the glass. Jodie lay flat on her stomach, her fin- gers wrapped around a felt tip pen, and her hand moving frantically from left to right colouring over the face of a black and white Rapunzel. On her feet she wore her bright red plastic shoes with chunky heels and velvet bows. Beneath me I heard: the clink and smash of china; the pulling out of drawers; the stirring of chipped coffee mugs; the sorting out of knives and forks; the scraping of uneaten food: the shuffle of wooden chairs across the tiled floor and the sound of the record player. Their voices were muffled, but a few sounds forced their way through the gaps in the floor- boards “bastard-bitch-bitch-bitch.” My mum was running up the stairs and Jodie was stand- ing in front of the full-length mirror brushing strands of hair behind her ears and using a pen to colour her lips a deep purple. There was a soft thud, and the frantic unzipping of a case. I heard hangers over shouting, over music, over banging. Jodie was humming ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ as she curled the ends of her hair around her fingers. The glass ship rested on the shelf, and Jodie turned to show me the eye- brow she’d drawn that was connecting the other two. My mum screamed. Jodie’s fists were balled up by her ears, staring at herself in the mirror. There was the crunching of knuckles, the smashing of bones. Jodie pressed her wet face against my chest, burying her head in my blouse. Her arms were wrapped around my neck, and her feet ‘click-clicked’ together. I wanted us both to disappear, to vanish. I couldn’t help my mother. I couldn’t help her. I tried to distract Jodie. I kissed her forehead and told her the story of the plain princess who was so plain that nobody wanted to marry her. She cried harder. I told her that for Christmas we’d get a black dog with long fur and a wet nose, and we’d call it Toto — it didn’t work. She didn’t stop. My mother wouldn’t stop. My dad wouldn’t stop. I wrapped my arms around her holding her tightly, and breathing in that milky sweet, rusk smell, and then everything went quiet. There were no screams and Jodie whimpered.
The whole room was silent, as if someone, somewhere had been watching and decided they couldn’t take anymore. Like the time I’d seen Oliver Twist and had to rip the plug from the socket because I knew what would happen to Nancy. That was the last time. The following day I found her, and I could still hear the words playing from the scratched record in the background. “It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.” I felt someone behind me. I turned. It was Taff. He stretched his arm, moving slowly towards me the way I did when I wanted to coax Jodie out from underneath the bed. Gently he pulled me away from the edge, my reluctant sandals scuffing the loose stones, his hand sliding down along my forearm across my wrist, his fingers touching mine, and holding my hand. His grip was firm, and his palms dry. He held me strongly, and I knew what my mum meant when she said she’d fallen in love with my dad because of his hands. He led me away, as if he was leading me to a dance, to a rock, where we sat. He pulled away, and began to roll a cigarette, licking the brown papers. I could smell the tobacco. I reached for my mother’s note, pulled it out of my pocket and passed it to him. “It’s blank,” I said, a tear melting onto the page above the stain. He nodded, and turned it over, as if he didn’t believe me, looking at the stain. A stain with no message, a stain with no meaning. Taff looked, the way I’d seen him look before. But this time not into the sea, but to- wards the rock, towards the words. “I think she loved me,” he said. “I think she loved me too,” I said. He began to play with his lighter. “Do you know for sure?” I looked down at my nails: Paradise 703. “I don’t know." I said. "How can you ever know?”
Interview Hattie Grunewald Myths magazine cares about young writers – that’s the whole point really. And a glimpse behind the scenes is always interesting, so we thought we’d interview one of our contributors. Hattie’s poem ‘Little Sister’ was printed in the first issue of Myths. She is 19 years old, has been a Foyle Young Poets and Young Poets on the Underground winner. She is studying English and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, where she is secretary of the Creative Writing society. What made you first want to write poetry? Was there a moment when you fell in love with it, or has it always been there? I think I'm really lucky because poetry has always been in my life. My mum used to read me poetry at bedtime when I was really small and by the age of six I already had a lot of my favourites learnt by heart. From there I just kind of fell into writing poetry, I still have poems I wrote when I was six or seven, and older kids used to get me to write short poems for birthday cards. It's all just been an evolving process since then. Which writers or artists do you most admire, or have been an inspiration to you? My favourite writer is Margaret Atwood. She's probably more famous for her novels but I think her poetry is just as good if not better, I particularly love her collection Interlunar. I admire that flexibility of style, and I think she's really attentive to language and the connotations of words, you get that feeling from her novels a lot. Can you tell us about your writing process? W here does a poem begin? I'm most inspired to write by people, real or fictional. Whether it's someone in my life who affects me, a character in a book (I'm particularly interested in mythology), or just someone I catch a glimpse of in the street, often some kind of word or phrase will occur to me and I'll make a note of it and build a poem from there. I have to write in silence and without any distractions, and normally the best time to get that is the small hours of the morning,
though sometimes I can write well in workshop environments if there are a lot of other in- spired people writing around me. Whatâ€™s the best piece of advice youâ€™ve ever been given? When I was a Foyle Young Poet, I was lucky to win an Arvon residential course with Caroline Bird. She taught me that not every line in a poem has to be poetic, and that simple things can be the most profound parts of the poem, but you have to earn that simplicity... it's an interesting thing to keep in mind that you have to find balance in a poem between the complex and the straightforward. Do you have a favourite poem or work? I have a top three poems, which rotate in my preferences according to my mood. They are "Nothing is Ever as Perfect as you want it to be", by Brian Patten, "Eurydice" by Margaret Atwood and "B" by Sarah Kay.
Alister MacQuarrie The Scene of the Crime Leaving London I see a familiar name: Millbank. Itâ€™s out of my way but, regardless, I pay a visit and by the granite headstone at no. 30 release all the spit and phlegm saved up since Parliament Square. Where are the troublemakers now? Safely in bed like I should be; drinking in gardens and nine-grand dorm rooms; keeping their heads down, and their hands uncut.
M.M. Mann Baths, Blue Eyes and Cigarettes The wooden chair with its parallel planks was uncomfortable. Yet she waited. Their meeting had been scheduled for half past the hour. Yet it was now a quarter to. The woman wearing a black apron with the ties doubled round the waist asked for her order. Although alone she occupied a small space, she felt she could not consume that space without consuming something from the menu. The woman withdrew a thick tattered note pad from her apron and scribbled, sloppily transcribing what she spoke. A glass of water and sourdough toast served with avocado. Their planned encounter was based on the premise of coffee and she did not want to drink caffeine to excess. She was already tense awaiting his arrival. They had first met some years ago. She was nineteen. It began with a clicheĚ d look across a darkened bar onto the balcony outside where he stood smoking a cigarette. She remembered little more than attraction and being drawn into his blue eyes. The influence of alcohol, and the time past since, rendered those earliest moments difficult to recall. Though of course, first encounters like this are always romanticised in hindsight. Like a drop that echoes throughout a body of water, that first look was consequential. She traced through the years and identified that it was that look, a glance attributable only to timing and proximity, which was the reason she positioned herself upon the wooden chair today. On the very first night, when the sun began to lighten the sky and the streetlights extinguished, it was time for the bar to close. Amongst the call for final beverages their hands met, sliding into each other, intertwined and connected. They departed together, uncertain of who took the lead. There was no need for words; indeed any that were spoken were not remembered now. They arrived at her studio. An old wooden house, divided into four units for four tenants. It was in ramshackle condition, but she believed it possessed a certain charm. The peeling paint and old carpet revealed not only her status as a student, but also her character. Perfect desolation. Her most favored part of the studio was the bath. Deeper than the average and sufficient to encompass two in warm water. And as the sun rose in the sky, that is what they did. They bathed. There were more meetings since that bath: they slept under the stars next to the ocean in a truck he borrowed from his father; they went to the circus with her family; he took pictures of her perched on a log in his garden amongst the overgrown grass and weeds; they spent new years eve in a cemetery. But that first bath was what she most vividly remembered. It was as if an image had been taken from above their submerged entangled
bodies. Curiously the image in her mind was black and white and the water shades of grey. The memory was monochrome. Much like the way she now felt towards him as she patiently waited on the wooden chair. She first felt the sickness when staying with a friend who lived in a different state. That friend, the one association to that moment, had since passed away. Thus there was no shared memory of the initial infirmity except what lingered inside her mind. Her body rejected what it was once accustomed to. The ingredients of youth: cigarettes and late nights. Revolting her with the inhalation of smoke, causing her to retch and recoil. She was so far away, yet he was there, inside her. Isolated in proximity and sentiment. Yet, simultaneously penetrated, impregnated, by both. It was confirmed in time, first with tests in cardboard packets bought from the supermarket, and later while sitting on the pristine white sheet covering the nurseâ€™s table. He was with her in the nurseâ€™s room. It was made clear that they were not together, even though they were one and inseparable. She could tell that the nurse did not agree with such a statement. That two could be one, but were not a couple. She remembered the disdain of the nurse and the contempt of her snarl. She considered the conflict in the situation. The nurse was meant to care for her; nevertheless, it was apparent the nurse did not care for her at all. The same emulated from him. His questions and concerns for what was inside her, not for her, was incompatible. She questioned whether they were one and the same, because to her, no division was conceivable. It was impossible. What was inside her was her. It was him too. Upon verification a decision was to be made. They met to make decisions that no one of nineteen years should be required to decide. Practical decisions. Moral decisions. Decisions that ethicists, politicians and doctors remain unable to resolve. She dreamed of completing her studies. He dreamed of owning a bar. She decided that it was her decision. Only in retrospect did she think that perhaps it was his decision too. She did not tell him until after it was decided. And the decision was done. She was at once unconscious on the table and awake in a cold room filled with crying women. She felt empty and it hurt. Physically she suffered, but the void was spiritual, even though she had never been religious. She was given a monochrome picture taken before. A memento of what had been and what she had decided never would be. She had wondered whether the eyes were blue too and she grieved because this would never be known. The doctor in a pristine white coat said she could not bathe for ten days as submerging oneself in water could cause an infection. All she wanted to do was be in the bath. The decision made was hers and it could not now be undecided. It was only eight weeks; two months; one sixth of a year, of an existence, but she still felt an absence those many years later. That was the reason she was seated on the wooden chair. She wanted to ask him
about his bar. She wanted to tell him about her studies. She yearned for what had once connected them. She looked at her watch and it was 5 minutes to the hour. He had made his own decision today. She deliberated that maybe he didnâ€™t want to be reminded of the con- nection that once was, as much as she ached for it. She didnâ€™t eat much of the toast with the avocado spread on top. Nor did she sip her water. She raised herself from the wooden chair and as she walked away she lit a cigarette.
Jo Brandon Loveplay. Our early days pressed between snap album pages (dried flowers beaming), paper our room with them. Take the mirrors down, clock in the drawer, speak only in wishes as we trace tessellating hearts on the floor. Play pick a pick a daisy tantric ‘he does . . . he doesn’t . . . he does: an odd number of petals scattered on your old school desk cat’s cradle tangled into a Dutch sailor’s knot only one finger remains in the loop.
Ellie Stewart The Ghosties I was sitting at the kitchen table, listening to the sounds of the sea when a tiny hand gripped mine. I looked down and Morweena’s eyes reached up to me, clear and still as the air. ‘Daddy, come down to the beach,’ she said. ‘Come and meet the ghosties.’ It was not the first time she had asked me that. Morweena had been four when her mother died. Now she was five, and the ghosties had appeared a month ago. ‘Please, Daddy,’ she said. I looked out of the window at the grey sea that stretched away to long clouds. ‘No, Morrie, no,’ I said. ‘Not today.’ That night I was tired, so I bought fish and chips from down the road and we ate them in front of the television. The light loomed on Morweena’s face as she picked at her food. ‘They are real, Daddy,’ she said. The next day, I came home and she wasn’t there. Mrs Ferguson always picked her up from school with her daughter and brought her back for half past five. I was home at seven o’clock and there was no sign of Morweena. ‘I brought her back to yours. I brought her back the same as always!’ said Mrs Ferguson, in a panic on the phone. ‘Morrie!’ I said, falling to my knees and gripping her shoulders with both my hands. ‘Where have you been?’ Morrie was damp from the sea spray and drizzle outside. Her dark hair hung about her face in watery tendrils. ‘I was talking to the ghosties, Daddy,’ she said. Her lower lip trembled. I let go of my grip and pulled her close to me. ‘Please don’t disappear like that again,’ I said. • I pulled on my coat and was about to head out to search for her on the beach, when she came in through the back door.
• It had been one whole year since Charlotte had died out on the water. Drowned by a sadness that had seeped into her heart and gathered her up and taken her out to the waves where the water sank into her clothes and dragged her down to the deep. I’d searched for her for days, rang everyone I knew, alerted the police who combed the town, who combed the beach. And then, one day, she was there again. Lying white and strange on the sand. It was as if the sea had given her back to me, to see her again, one last time. I spoke the doctor about Morrie’s ghosties. ‘It’s normal,’ he said, with a smile. ‘She’s only five. She needs to find her own way to cope with her mother’s death.’ I didn’t trust the doctor. His solution to Charlotte’s sadness had been piles of chalky pills. When she’d told him they weren’t working, he’d upped the dosage. They hadn’t stopped her from walking out to the sea. ‘But she thinks they’re real,’ I said, unable to stop my hands from shaking. ‘It’s just a phase,’ he said. I picked Morrie up from Mrs Ferguson’s that evening. ‘He says it’s just a phase,’ I said. ‘That’s good,’ she said, and looked sympathetic, as everyone did. Morrie skipped up to me with a piece of paper in her hand. I scooped her up and kissed her. ‘Look what I did for you, Daddy,’ she said. It was a pencil drawing of three figures, their outlines blurred. Two big, one small. ‘They’re the ghosties,’ she whispered in my ear as I carried her out the door. She kissed me on the cheek and I squeezed her closer as we walked out to the car. I looked down at the picture. There was a dark space behind the figures, and at their feet Morrie had scribbled blue lines. She had drawn them in front of a cave by the sea. ‘There’s a mummy ghostie, a daddy ghostie and a baby ghostie,’ she said, pointing at each one as we both looked at her picture on the kitchen table. • ‘And what are they called?’ I asked. ‘Oh,’ said Morrie, thoughtfully, ‘I don’t know.’ ‘And where do they live?’ I asked. ‘They live in the cave on the beach,’ she said, pressing her finger onto the dark lines she had scribbled around the figure’s bodies. ‘But they know how to get to mummy.’ I looked at Morrie. She twirled her hair in her fingers.
‘How can they get to mummy?’ I said quietly. Morrie looked up at me and grinned, baring her tiny white teeth. ‘She’s on the island, daddy. They know how to get to the island, and they know how we can see mummy again.’ The island was about a mile out from the bay, with an old lighthouse standing on it that had not guided boats in for fifty years. It was white, crumbling, jagged with cracks, and rose like a spectre from the waves. Charlotte and I had taken the rowing boat out there several times when Morrie was small, to have picnics by the old tower and look out to the sea. It was a small, private space where we went as a family, where we talked about the future and moving away from the windswept shore. Charlotte wanted to go to India, to find a better way to live. More pure, she said. When she talked about that, her eyes lit up, her arms and hands flew through the air in excited gestures and she seemed so happy and full of hope. But other times, and more and more as the days drew on, I would find her crying alone. The lighthouse didn’t save her. And it had stood there like a grave with no name ever since. I wished the sea would claim it. I wished it would fall away forever. ‘Mummy’s not on the island,’ I said, my face suddenly breaking at the memory of her. Morrie watched me quietly as I pulled the pain back in. ‘What shall we have for dinner?’ I said, pushing back my chair and standing. ‘ I don’t mind, daddy,’ said Morrie, looking out to sea. I had to know they weren’t real. It was a cold day, and I wrapped up in a coat and scarf tightly wound round my neck. I helped Morrie into her coat, hat and wellies, and we set off down the path from the backdoor that lead down to the beach. There was a fine rain falling, but the wind was calm. The sea sighed beside us, fathoms deep and heavy with emptiness. Gulls cried above us under the damp towel sky. ‘This way, daddy,’ said Morrie, her pink wellies pressing into the gluey sand as she danced along and clung tightly to my hand. • As the caves of the cliffs grew nearer, my heart beat faster. What if the ghosts were real, after all? Or there might be something worse lurking in the sea soaked rocks. What if Morrie had seen something – fugitives, child molesters, monstrous beings – which she had transformed them with her trusting child’s mind into benevolent spirits? What if they were aliens? What if there was nothing. ‘Here, daddy. Here they are.’
Morrie stopped in front of a cave and let go of his hand. She walked to the entrance. She turned to me and beamed. ‘Here they are, daddy. The ghosties.’ The cave mouth gaped, salty and worn by the weather. Limpets and barnacles had fastened themselves to the crevices, and bladder wrack and gut weed hung bedraggled in shades of green and brown from the ancient rocks. But there were no ghosts. I stepped closer. ‘Where are the ghosties, Morrie?’ I said, looking into the darkness that deepened as the cave wound back into the cliff. ‘There, daddy. They’re sitting right there.’ I looked to the air she was pointing at. Not a ripple. Not a murmur. I walked up to Morrie and crouched down beside her. ‘What do they look like, Morrie?’ I said. She stomped her foot on the sand and pouted, angry that I couldn’t see her ghosties. But then she softened, and she pressed a hand onto my shoulder as she explained. ‘The daddy is tall, taller than you, daddy. He is wearing a black suit and his hair is straight and he has seal flippers instead of arms,’ she turned her head as if regarding him, and smiled. ‘And he is smiling at me and nodding.’ I imagined the ghost, but I could see nothing there. ‘OK,’ I said. Morrie flung her arms around my neck and I steadied myself against a rock. ‘And the mummy is not as tall as the daddy, and she is thinner and her arms are tentacles,’ said Morrie, ‘But her face is a lady’s face and she has shells and pearls all over her and she is very beautiful.’ I looked at Morrie. Her eyes were fixed on the space before us. I turned my head and looked, I stared, I searched for something in the emptiness, but there was no one there. ‘And the baby ghostie is small, and he is holding onto his mummy’s hand. He is blue and has seaweed all over his body, and he is holding a toy.’ ‘What’s the toy?’ I said. ‘It’s a big octopus,’ she said, ‘I think it’s dead.’ We sat for a while, watching the space where the ghosties stood. My legs started to hurt and I had to stand up, my joints making clicking sounds as I did so. ‘Shall we leave them for now?’ I said to Morrie. The sky was getting darker. ‘OK, daddy,’ she said. She waved at the mouth of the cave. ‘Bye, bye, mummy and daddy and baby ghostie.’
We walked back along the beach, hand in hand. It was growing colder. Morrie smiled all the way back. The next morning, the dark clouds had gathered in the sky. The house was freezing, and I imagined Morrie would want a warm bath before school. I bent and turned on the radiator in the hallway and as I walked to the bathroom to run the water, I glanced out of the window. There was a shape on the water, moving slowly away from the shore. It was a rowing boat, small and battered, and inside it was the tiny but recognisable shape of my daughter. Her back was turned to the sea and she was crouched at the helm of the boat, her dark hair whipped by the wind. Even through the mists I could see that her arms were wrapped tightly around her body, and that the oars of the boat were moving by themselves. I yelled, once, loudly, and ran downstairs and out the backdoor. The air hit me with a cold shock and the sand was wet and cold as frozen fish under my feet, but I ran out to the water’s edge in only my pyjamas. ‘Morrie!’ I screamed. The sound tore from my lungs and seared my throat with its force, but the wind whipped it away. Still, she saw me. Her dark figure waved. ‘Morrie!’ I screamed again. The oars turned in the water, diving into the waves and heaving back out of the sea, but no man pulled them. Some invisible force was rowing the boat, rowing Morrie away from me. There were no other boats for me to take to follow her. We were isolated, miles from anyone else. The leaking rowing boat was the only seaworthy object that had remained by our house after Charlotte had died, and that was only because it had lain further down the beach, unused for years. It had become the home of crabs and sheltering birds, grown over by seaweed and snails, and I had forgotten all about it. But Morrie had found it, somehow. Or someone had found it for her. The boat was heading for the island. • There was nothing else to be done: I waded out into the freezing water and plunged myself into the sea. Almost as soon as I began to swim, my muscles started to seize up from the cold. I gritted my teeth, I summoned my strength, I ploughed on ahead to Morrie. She was far away now. The dark shape of the boat bobbed into my vision every time I raised my head. I started to shiver violently. The harder I swam the further away I seemed to get. I wasn’t being pulled backwards, but sideways, the wrong way from Morrie and the rowing boat. With a desperate surge of
energy born from this realisation, I swam harder and battled against the waves that were pushing me aside, away from the lighthouse and from my daughter on the sea. Black spots appeared before my eyes. My hands seized up, my arms soon followed. The sea dragged my body towards the rocks as if I were a piece of debris of no consequence at all. Reality pulled itself away from me like a membrane, the heart-stopping cold struck me still, and with a final thick sway of its water, the sea hurled me against the rocks. There was star- tling pain like stars, and then there was nothing at all. • When I came to, I was drifting on the waves. I opened my eyes and saw the dark water swaying around me, curling in gentle loops of slapping water. The air was colourless, the sky serene. I tried to move and found that I could, quite easily. I spun my arms and kicked my legs and bobbed upright. I saw the island ahead of me. It was only metres away, and the lighthouse rose from it, clearer and whiter than ever before. I saw Morrie on the shore. I started to swim. The water felt as if there was no temperature to it at all. I wondered if I had developed hypothermia. The sea was strangely calm and the air was strangely still. I felt light inside, I felt weightless. It was as if I was guided to the island by an unseen hand. ‘Morrie!’ I said as I stepped from the water, coughing and sobbing with relief. ‘Daddy!’ she said, and ran to my arms. I held her tight. Her body felt soft, but it was not warm or cold. She smelled of nothing. I closed my eyes. ‘Daddy,’ her muffled voice said as she prised herself away from me. ‘Daddy, mummy’s here.’ I stood still. There was no pain. There was no wind. There was barely a sound at all. ‘Mummy?’ I said. Morrie struggled from my grasp. ‘Look!’ she said. I opened my eyes, and there was Charlotte, walking towards us. ‘Arthur,’ she said. I shook my head: no, this wasn’t real. She was just as beautiful as she had been in life, fine hair, fair skin. The fading light of her, like sunshine underwater, far away. Now she was almost translucent. Morrie ran to her and Charlotte picked her up and squeezed her tight. ‘Mama,’ she said, muffled.
I went to Charlotte and wrapped my arms around her and my daughter. I pressed my eyes shut and prayed it was real. When I opened my eyes again, I saw three figures over my loveâ€™s shoulder. A tall man in a black suit with flippers for arms, and by his side, a woman with tentacles curling from the sleeves of her dress. A little boy holding the body of an octopus held onto one of her tentacles. They smiled at me. I closed my eyes again. I listened to the sound of the waves sliding onto the shore. The bare quiet of the sky. The water moved around us, growing heavier, and darker. And there was nothing else.
Kiran Millwood Hargrave Tiberius I was sent from the earth a king and came back a fish. I grew from grit and salt, blind as a pearl, my gills tainted with bile I gleaned from anemones, and azure slugs bound to rock. Through pure will I grew teeth from my mouth and from my belly, teeth that I dragged across the ocean bed to spear crabs clean through. When I fed, I fed well, on the soft hearts of snails eked from their shells and on the sweetmeats of urchins. I raised myself beautiful, captured greens from the prisms of water and purples from the poison of snakes, sucked them clean through my cheeks to stain my scales rainbow. I was a prize, of course, miracle-mimicking-god, so I offered death, ripping fishbone twine and snapping men’s fingers, guiding boats through triangle currents that pulled only ever down. Someone started a rumour that I needed silver hooks – got one through my lip once, liked the look – but in the end it was a girl’s red silk that drew me in, trout-like, when it caressed my serrated belly as she swilled it at the shore. Her hands were thin, spliced wires, shocking at my throat. She ran with me, until we were gasping both as she poured me to the feet of her father. I burned my insides bitter, churned at their legs in hellish arcs But he wrapped his wrists in leather and lifted my bulk to the sun, rubbed seawater into my flesh and carried me through pathless rocks to a king, to be his honour, a salty offering, rare. What happened between was beyond my sight, but soon I was in crueller hands and the man was on the ground trussed as a sow, squealing mercy, and I, the mimicry-blessing, was salved to his skin, rubbed ‘til we bled each other out,
and lay milk-eyed on marble, slabbed, as I was always wont to be. When I come back, again, I will come back as sickness, sit nubbed into a sane manâ€™s brain, and slowly rot him insane.
Jade Moulds Strangers The home-made hummus is dense and lumpy, and combined with the strong odour of the room, makes me feel as if I’m eating patchouli cement. Jasper can’t get enough of it. ‘Helena, this stuff is great. You should give Cassie the recipe so I can have this at home.’ He smiles at Helena and winks at me, and I have to pull out a nicotine inhalator to calm my nausea. Helena however seems delighted. She flashes a modest smile and waves her hand in the air in a vague way – It was nothing. Well, quite a lot of effort actually, but I’m the kind of woman who goes the extra mile for her friends. And hey, thanks for noticing. Her boyfriend Noah refills her wine and then mine. Noah is bearded with lens-less, thickrimmed glasses and Helena wears layers of artfully-arranged beige Fairtrade cotton, and if you squint your eyes you can see the baby in their future, crawling around on the hemp rug. It occurs to me that if you were watching us dine together, you would assume that Jasper and I were the bad couple. There’s always a bad couple. They’re racist or talk too much about themselves, or the guy tries it on with the girl in the other couple, or the girl gets drunk and cries. Jasper and I even look like the bad couple. He’s tall, dark and slightly over-groomed, like the handsome but mean boyfriend at the start of a chick flick who is ultimately replaced by the wholesome, funny love interest. Noah looks like the love interest. I’m dark too, with a haircut I chose in order to resemble Uma Thurman in ‘Pulp Fiction’. It is wonky. I find myself hoping that I discover something dark about Helena and Noah tonight. It doesn’t seem fair that they should be the good guys. Anti-depressants in the bathroom cabinet, or hard-core pornography slipped between the magazines by the toilet. While everybody else is marvelling over Helena’s organic nut roast I pop open a couple of buttons on my blouse. If Noah takes a peek I can complain about it to Jasper on the walk home: even that would make things more equal. I drink my wine and when I’m finished, top up my glass, then Jasper’s. These evenings are much more exciting when everyone’s drunk. Helena’s already on her way there: she’s reminiscing about the bar she and Jasper used to work in when they were twenty. Jasper brings up how he asked her out on his first shift and Noah fakes jealousy, laughing. Helena throws her hands up in the air and says, ‘It was six years ago! Let it go! You had boy band hair. Was I going to say yes?’ Helena winks at me: this is a great night for winking at me. I take more drags at the inhalator and sip more wine. Helena’s lips are stained purple, particularly at the chapped areas in the corners. If this were a film, she and Jasper would be
sleeping together. I know this isn’t true though, because Jasper told me so. I almost want to get Jasper and Helena sleeping together, if only for the neatness of it. ‘Cassie, you like the nut roast?’ I haven’t eaten any yet so I take a bite and say to Helena, ‘Mmmm.’ She seems to be waiting for something more so I add, ‘Delicious.’ Everything she cooks is nutty and mushy and I feel like I’m storing it in my stomach in preparation for a hard winter. I’m straddling the line between shy and rude and so join in the conversation for a while. We discuss rent prices (too expensive), work (stressful), films we’ve seen lately (two good, one bad) and mutual friends (I can barely keep track of my own friends let alone Jasper’s but I nod, comment and insult as necessary). When Helena brings out dessert (peanut butter cheesecake, obviously) Jasper announces that Helena and Noah should play one of our games with us. When Jasper and I first met a year ago, he was working on an ad campaign based on Greek mythology and got a kick out of my name. Every now and then he goes, ‘Oh Cassandra! Tell me my future,’ and I give him some predictions (‘On Tuesday stocks will rise...but we don’t have stocks so ho hum another day’ or ‘A present for the lady in your life will result in good luck’) and then he gives me some (‘A wise man will give us money for stocks...but we will leave it in the pocket of something and run it through the washing machine’ or ‘The man in your life will feel lucky, when you tell him his presence is a gift’). I’m pretty sure Jasper is trying to make us look like a cute couple and I want to say, ‘We’ve been cast as the bad couple, give up. The other couple have freckles, for crying out loud.’ The game appeals to the New Age-iness of Helena and Noah however, and Jasper keeps making puppy eyes at me and rubbing my knee, so we play. Noah goes first. ‘Helena, I predict that we will spend the rest of our lives together, happy and in love.’ Noah is holding Helena’s hand and she pulls him forward and kisses him. I toy with my inhalator. I’m not in the mood for this saccharine version of the game and I can tell that Jasper feels the same way: he was going for Indie-Comedy fun and now he’s stuck with Drippy Romance. To Noah, Helena says some horse crap that is much the same as his. I’m only entertained when she leans in to kiss Noah again and knocks her wine glass over, spreading a small pink stain over the tablecloth which drips onto her carefully draped outfit. Once it has been thoroughly sponged and the glass refilled, it is Jasper’s turn. ‘Oh Cassandra, I predict that you will wake up next Sunday in a very amorous mood and decide to spend the whole day in bed with Felicia and I.’ His voice begins clearly but he slurs on ‘Felicia and I’. He chuckles and touches me lightly on the nose. Helena and Noah are watching us, unsure smiles on their faces. Jasper tops up everybody’s wine and finishes his own in a couple of gulps. ‘It’s okay, Cassie knows about Felicia. She doesn’t mind.’ He looks proud. I can tell he was hoping for an opportunity to bring it up.
It was two weeks back. I’d come home from the restaurant at about ten, happy because the chef let me have a couple of tuna steaks that were about to expire. I’d picked up a bottle of rum for after dinner mojitos, and went upstairs to see if Jasper wanted a sneaky one before. You can see it already, can’t you? I burst into the bedroom, shouting about mint and ice, and dropped the bottle. You could’ve used stock footage: the woman smirks and lazily pulls the duvet over her breasts. The man jumps up, ‘Cassie! I’m so sorry, it isn’t-‘ Boring, really. The room was carpeted so the rum hadn’t even smashed: it rolled about by my feet. I picked it up and left the room. Downstairs, I made a jug of mojitos. I’d quit smoking a couple of months before but was still attached to the inhalators. They were handy for gesturing with during drunken rants, and were an easy way to let Jasper know when I was angry. I held one in my mouth with my teeth and inhaled steadily as I mixed the drinks. The problem with cheating is that it leaves too many dramatic options: I couldn’t decide how to react. It was too late to start screaming or crying and I was tired after working a long shift. It was also too late to storm out. Besides, I didn’t have anywhere better to go. I poured myself a drink and sank half. Then I picked up the jug, and a couple of extra glasses, and went back to the bedroom. Jasper was dressed and arguing with the girl, who was still naked and smoking a cigarette in bed. He eyed the glassware in my hand and took a few steps back. ‘Cassie, I’m so sorry.’ The girl said nothing, only tapped her ash into a glass on the bedside table. I poured a mojito and handed it to her. She took the glass and still said nothing. I did the same with Jasper and he flinched. ‘I don’t care.’ The moment I said it I felt the story drop into place. I ruffled my hair, pouted and smiled, slipping into a sexy Penelope Cruz skin. I thought: She breathed the words out like the exhale of a cigarette, accentuating her sensuous mouth. For once, my apathy could work for me. I sipped my cocktail and said that an open relationship would be a good idea, I had been considering it anyway. Jasper livened up then, and so did the girl. How bohemian of you, how French. I had been thinking Spanish but let it go. We drank our drinks and Jasper thought up some rules, which I didn’t bother to listen to. Then I sent the girl home. I only had two steaks for dinner and anyway, I hate the smell of smoke in my bed. ‘Wow, Cassie, that’s very...’ ‘Spanish? ‘...liberal of you.’ Noah reaches over and touches my hand. It’s a pity touch and for a second I want to flip the table. I take a sip from my glass and smile at him. He glances at my chest and I smile wider. Helena is teasing Jasper for his inability to stay faithful while flirting outrageously: I consider it somewhat hypocritical. Jasper says that, if I’d reacted
badly and taken him back only in return for strict fidelity, he’d have done it. However, he says, he is lucky enough to have a girlfriend so open-minded, sexy, laid-back, blah, blah blah. He describes my ‘qualities’ while circling his thumb over Helena’s wrist. I offer to do the washing up. Helena ignores me, she is too busy listening to Jasper hamming it up. I hear the words ‘passionate’ and ‘free’, and when he says something in Italian I have to stop myself from laughing. I stack up our plates and walk into the kitchen. Noah follows me. We work in silence. Noah washes, and I dry, arranging everything carefully on the dripping draining board. Noah seems happy and content, not worrying about what might be happening in the other room. He is passive like me, but in a different way. I remember a film like this and try to recreate it. When Noah passes me the next plate, I let it slip through my fingers and into the soap suds. ‘Oh!’ We both plunge our hands into the sink to get it and I let mine touch his, under the water. Small crumbles of soggy nut loaf float on the surface. I stroke the spaces between his fingers, then lace mine through his. He looks at me. I lean forward and kiss him. His beard scratches my chin. He rests his hands on my hips and I sigh but instead of holding me he pushes me back. ‘Cassie.’ His arms drop to his sides and he blushes, looking down at the floor. ‘Helena and I... we’re not like you and Jasper. I don’t like that stuff. I don’t even know if you like that stuff, or if you’re going along with it for him. If that’s true, well, you shouldn’t do anything you’re not comfortable with.’ This isn’t what happened in the film. We should be on the kitchen table right now. I glance at it in disappointment. ‘Cassie, I know you’re unhappy. Anybody can see that.’ Noah looks unhappier than I feel. I step forward to comfort him then dismiss it as a move which could be misinter- preted. I’m too late – he shakes his head. ‘This isn’t going to end tidily, with Helena and Jasper together and you and I together. I love Helena, and yes she flirts, but it doesn’t mean anything.’ He shrugs. I want to explain that I don’t even find him particularly attractive but he’s obviously seen a few chick flicks himself and thinks he knows what I’m after. Noah keeps talking. He looks more and more sorry for me and at one point he takes off his glasses and closes his eyes. While he is talking I stare at the water stain which spreads across his stomach, from leaning against the sink. It exposes the slight roundness of his belly. I stare at the stain and then I interrupt him to say, ‘Actually Noah, I need to use your bathroom.’ He blinks a few times in rapid succession. ‘Don’t be embarrassed, Cassie. I’m not going to say anything to the others. And if you’re upset – it’s better to talk about it, not hide away.’ ‘I need a wee.’ ‘Oh.’ He puts his glasses back on. ‘All right then. Down the corridor, on the left. You know.’ ‘Thanks.’
He gives me his most sincere smile and his arm twitches as if tempted to do an encouraging gesture, such as a thumbs up. He is sweet and pathetic and I leave before we are locked in a two-way exchange of pity forever. Jasper is leaving the bathroom as I get to it. He pinches me on the bum as he passes and says, ‘Hey stranger.’ I go through their medicine cabinet and rifle through their magazines. I find thrush cream and a copy of Tatler but nothing worse. In the shower is a men’s shampoo for thinning hair, which amuses and then saddens me. I wash my hands and ignore the lavender hand lotion Helena has placed by the sink, instead using a generous blob of her La Vin face cream. This cheers me up. I open the bathroom door and hear Jasper telling Helena and Noah the story of how we met. I hate this story because it makes me sound like a fool but Jasper is playing up my ‘endearing naivety’. Helena coos convincingly and Noah is silent. I walk past the living room, past the kitchen, and out of the back door. There is a balminess to the air that hints at summer and I’m grateful. My coat stills hangs in the hallway beside Jasper’s. Hopefully it will be a while until they notice I’m gone: Noah no doubt thinks I’m sobbing into their Andrex and will make an excuse for me anyway. I cross the green and walk alongside the river. Two middle-aged men in suits stagger past, one with his tie knotted around his head. One of them looks at me and mumbles some- thing to his friend: they both start laughing. From behind me, I hear one of the men in suits pause in his laughter, ‘Oi mate, watch where you’re going.’ ‘Leave it, Toby.’ His friend adds something else too quietly for me to hear and they both snigger. I turn to catch who they’re talking to. He is tall and dark and for a moment, I think it is Jasper. It is no-one I know.
Interview David Morley David Morley is a leading British poet, critic and ecologist. H e has published 21 books, including 11 collections of poetry, and authored T he Cambridge Introduction to Creative Writing. H is new collection of poems from Carcanet is Enchantment, a T elegraph Book of the Y ear. David read Z oology at Bristol University, gaining on graduation a fellowship from the Freshwater Biological Association. H e is known for his pioneering ecological poetry installations within natural landscapes and the creation of ‘slow poetry’ sculptures and I-Cast poetry films. You can find his popular creative writing podcasts on iTunes. Among numerous other prestitious positions, David Morley has directed the National Association of Writers in Education, who publish Myths magazine. H e has received fourteen literary awards, and two awards for his teaching. H e tutors for T he Arvon Foundation, T he Poetry School and Maddy Prior's Stones Barn courses. When – and why – did you start writing poetry? When I was young, my family were not well off. My father died when I was eleven. This meant I needed to work in a variety of jobs while going through high school. Some jobs were physical and unpleasant. I used my imagination to fantasise stories and dramas to make the passing of time more bearable and it became a habit of art. I also started writing non-fiction and fiction at the age of twelve and selling work to magazines and papers. I disguised my age and gender when sending work out. I used the proceeds of publication to buy a typewriter. This enabled me to make my writing even more anonymous. As my writing became visible so I became invisible. A teacher at my school read the class a poem when I was fifteen. I was stunned by the poem’s impact, power and economy. I wrote poems. Poetry is the opposite of money but I had found my vocation, first from necessity, then from language’s power.
How would you describe your style? If you think it’s possible to do so? Style changes as I develop. I think every book I publish is distinctive: another country with its own manners and customs. I hit my stride with Scientific Papers, The Invisible Kings, Enchantment and The Gypsy and the Poet (the last is due in 2013 and is unlike anything I have written previously). For me a book of poetry is a form of poetry; the music of a poem is as important as the poem’s language; and I want to bring worlds to life. I know that your Cambridge Introduction to Creative Writing is pretty short already, but can you give us an even shorter indication of what you think is important for creative writers? Don Paterson wrote, ‘Sound and sense are the same thing for poets: unify one and you unify the other’. I agree. I also think that goes for how you live in this world. As the drama- tist and poet Ben Jonson said, language most shows a person. In 2008 you took part in the Slow Art Trail project, which saw your poems in- stalled in the natural landscape of the North Yorkshire Dales. Do you think that a poem changes as a result of where it is read? A poem does not change but the reader will have their receptivity altered by many factors including their commitment to the adventure of reading. Given these poems were all outdoors and placed in surprising locations, I imagine there was a greater sense of physical adventure as people sought them out. I liked the notion of placing poems in places that only toddlers or animals or insects or algae might ‘read’ them.
A lot of our readers might be looking for new writers to explore – whose writing has inspired you? Who (or what) do you most like to read? As a poet and poetry reviewer I read a great deal of contemporary poetry from around the world. My advice is simple: read widely and voraciously. As a teacher at Warwick University and the Arvon Foundation I read the work of successive generations of emerging poets as they take my courses. It is enormously rewarding. One way of answering the question is to
offer a tiny cross-section of the writers whose work I teach: Dante Aligheiri, Elizabeth Bishop, John Clare, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Norman MacCaig, John Donne, Robert Frost, Jorie Graham, Kenneth Koch, Osip Mandelstam, Derek Mahon, Marianne Moore, Les Murray and Shakespeare. How do you write your poetry – do you have a routine? Or is it bolts from the blue? I genuinely cannot give you a clear answer nor do I think it a good idea: my routine is not a model. I possess a strong sense of discipline. I work every day. I find the more I work the more likely it is that poems and characters will come to life and surprise me. Nothing is ever easy though. You are judging the T S Eliot prize this year. What do you look for in a collection? Is it different to what you like to find in a single poem? As I said, a poetry collection is a form of poetry. I do not look for anything in a collection as such: I wait, watch and listen and hope it will come to life in my hands. Are you able to describe how your background as an ecologist affects the way you write? I think it powerfully affects the way my poems are inhabited by the natural world or have even become part of the natural world through ‘slow poetry’ conceptual art. Precision of language and observation is important to me but never presses on the process of writing poems. I still think of myself as an ecologist, even when I am writing. Do you have any advice for the aspiring writers reading our magazine? Everything is poetry.
Meredith Ostrowski The Overachiever Tomorrow, before drops of sunlight can freckle her face, she will wake up and learn Japanese. After a light lunch, she will devote a few hours to reading the original 1,225 page copy of War and Peace in Russian. After sitting still for so long, she will want to exercise her muscles, so she will run the Boston marathon in an hour while learning the basics of juggling and the ancient Egyptian art of fire-eating. Being a little exhausted, and in need of something more intellectually stimulating, she will pick up a scalpel and discover the cure for a disease called cancer. She will then be hungry for dinner, so she will probably want to make something easy, like a 7-course meal with her favorite escargot, brisket, and Baked Alaska. By this time, it will be dark, so she will look into the star-spattered sky, and will be reminded of the space station, so she will build a rocket that runs on a fuel extracted from dandelions.
Then she will lie down, tired after an eventful day, and sleep.
Sol Loreto-Miller Newspaper Notation There was a newspaper sky that day, glued across the breakers. "REVOLUTION," said the sea. In a personal or global sense? I'm a composer, he had said once to Leanne, when she teased him for sketching sonatas on coffee-shop napkins – I've been trained to hear music everywhere. She had laughed and asked him to write a piece for her, the syllables of her name bubbling like wind chimes. He couldn't explain how to change for to of. Music was never a choice – not his as a teenager, and not Leanne's when her laughter begged for translation. He still had it, tucked away under the piano stool. It was more a dedication than a labour of love. A Letter To –. Leanne had flitted in from the kitchen as he finished writing it. She'd leaned over his shoulder with her hair bread-scented and asked, a letter to whom? Some things aren't meant to have a recipient, he'd told her. She had looked at him oddly. Perhaps it was the first time that (s)he realised who (s)he was, although at the time he thought she was disappointed. He'd tried to explain: it's not lack of love, it's because I don't want to define you. For all his eloquent notation he could never quite explain in words. That was the principal disease of love, because you were too invested to keep to your ethics, or even remember them. She'd nodded and said oh, I know, I know. She'd kissed him. They should go to Poland to see Chopin's birthplace (she'd said). If he liked. They never went any further. Leanne had baker's fingers that pressed into his cheeks like Raindrops. Flour was a prelude to dough. He thought: the thing about Chopin, about Beethoven or Mozart, is that they were prodigies and grew into it like breathing. He'd started piano at fifteen, and had never quite shaken off the theory. (How else did they manage it?) You're too logical, someone had half-told him once. He didn't compose like Leanne baked, but he didn't know if she had started young. He looked for the inner and aesthetic in
beauty, she looked for one or the other, and perhaps that allowed him to blind her to both. She'd smiled when she left, not painless, because there were reasons, but not bitter. The masters often led lonely lives: muse before mistress. It did not seem fair to have that without the natural genius. He had tried to warn her, that day in the cafĂŠ. It was no-one's fault that she didn't listen. They had been like an unexpected summer, the kind that finished when the sky decided to be grey enough for December and the postman who said he was too young for newspapers left him alone because he was staring at the headline. REVOLUTION. The sea hissed. He thought, God, why work there, of all places. What did the Middle East have that America didn't? He knew she would say, the food, you have no idea. The newspapers only showed the protests. He thought about Leanne baking in the spaces between them, trapped there by the Arab Spring. He tried to care and it came â€“ distantly. He found himself worrying about his sister in Morocco, and gave up. Friendship was supposed to come before love, but they had done it backwards. "It's both," he said to the sea. He went inside and sat at the piano for hours, trying to play the rain.
Two Strangers Meet On Northumberland Street Ben Schwarz You have to disconnect, Put the volume on mute to see The sea-weed growing through cracks. In Northumberland Street, they wave at shoals, Each movement rippling its frequency. The stones vibrate through each other, Each footfall An epicentre. Each laugh barks out like a drum Pulsing from one fish to another. As we walk past, our ripple-quakes Expand like balloons, unseen beneath our feet And where they meet, their skins will quiver, Vital and fearful, Simple. But on the land Our eyes do not meet, There is no flicker of recognition. I can find no reason for the shiver That clambers up my spine. I jerk on my lapels As if affirming that they're mine.
Scott Morris Brutalism We had made it. We had moved into our dream flat. It was a luxurious, three-bedroom penthouse, occupying the entire top floor of a concrete tower. Our friends and family could not understand us. Why did we have to waste our time and money with such ugly buildings? Eating breakfast on our concrete terrace, we could hear the old lady below us practicing the cello. When she stopped, we heard the sounds of a couple shouting and throwing furniture at one another from the floor below that. The city was now firmly beneath us; we had no reason to set foot in it ever again. This was a self-enclosed estate with everything we would ever need, linked by a complex system of covered walkways. There was a supermarket, a barber, an osteopath. The flat was all we had ever wished for. Our friends refused to visit. Our only company was our clients, who visited infrequently. It was just our luck that the only time we invited a client for dinner was the evening I found the first crab. My first thought was: we are not eating crab tonight, I am making fettuccine alfredo. My second thought was: we are, all three of us, vegetarian. Only then, with my third thought: how strange that a small, brightly coloured crab has found its way into our fruit bowl, one hundred and ten metres above sea level. The client left at half eleven, after which I called Gabriel into the kitchen and showed him the fruit bowl. There were now two crabs, both the same vibrant colours: a rich, plum carapace and claws the colour of orange peel. Gabriel said that we were too tipsy to consider it right then, and that we should give it proper thought in the morning. In the morning, there were five more crabs: three in the bread bin, one in the yukka pot and another in our toothbrush holder. The pest control guy confirmed that the flat was infested. While it was being treated, we would have to stay elsewhere. We moved in with the old lady downstairs. She allowed us to sit and watch her while she practiced her instrument. In between pieces, while the old lady swapped her sheet music, we heard the sounds of kettles boiling coming from upstairs. The old lady cooked us fettuccine after three days living together. She invited the couple who threw furniture at one another from the floor below. They were old, even older than the old lady. They were forever touching one another, clasping hands, smiling fondly. He was a curator, she designed aeroplanes. Neither looked strong enough to pick up a cabinet
or a rocking chair. While we were eating, there was a knock on the door. It was the pest control guy, and a tall, young man with grey hair. He introduced himself. He lived on the fortieth floor. He was an environmentalist. The old lady invited them to join us. While she reheated the rest of the food, the young grey man told us: “Lucky I bumped into your man here, the extermination can no longer go ahead! I forbid it! Your flat is infested with Christmas Island crabs! Sorriest crustacean in all the seas! Endangered species! Millions wiped out! (The pernicious crazy yellow ant!) It’s a tragedy! We must save them! From this moment onwards your flat is designated a very important nature reserve! A site of extreme ecological importance! Congratulations!” We applauded and raised a toast to our achievements. Over the next few weeks, we adapted ourselves to this new way of living: the sounds of the lovely old couple throwing furniture below us, the gasps and squeals of animal-lovers above us, the sounds of an arthritic old lady practicing an instrument too big for her in our immediate vicinity. One evening, the old lady invited her daughter and son-in-law to dinner: tagliatelle ai funghi. The couple were as good as identical, more like brother and sister than husband and wife. They were quiet and pleasant except for a climactic outburst from the son-in-law: old lady, she was far too old to be living on her own, rattling around in a concrete box, what would happen if she tripped and fell and all she had for company were two creepy guys overpowered by seafood, no, best thing to do would be to move in with the two of them, him and her, into their spare room, well the sofa at first, well the fold-out camp bed, they’d look after her and put this luxury flat up for sale, they were highly sought after these old modernist atrocities, the ones that weren’t getting flattened. The old lady ran to the bathroom in tears, her sobs as dramatic and as badly rehearsed as the sounds of her cello. Her children showed themselves out. The environmentalist came to us one evening, saying he had to make an urgent trip to the savannah and would we mind looking after our flat. Of course we didn’t mind, but for the first week we forgot. It was only when the old lady began making crab apple jelly that it all came flooding back. It was the first time I had been back in months. Two things struck me as I entered. Firstly, a heavy clump of letters filled the hallway, from angry animal-lovers asking where their tour operator had got to. Secondly, a heavy stench of the seaside, the underside of a pier. Somebody must have left a window open. The flat was covered in pigeons, mechanically pecking at the torn-apart exoskeletons of a million rotting crabs. They cooed peaceably. I stepped out onto our terrace. A couple of birds joined me. Together, we watched the
morning meat traders washing the offal off the pavements. We could see foreign children circling the cathedral, we saw the tube stations fill and empty. I could tell we were going to be happy here.
Get Involved NAWE is the one organization supporting the development of creative writing of all genres and in all educational and community settings throughout the UK The NAWE Young Writers’ Hub is a resource for writers, publishers, editors, and litera- ture people under the age of 25. We offer news, advice, a weekly E-bulletin, the chance to develop an online audience and produce a bimonthly online magazine of writing by the under 25s called Myths of the Near Future and our young writers' pod- cast. The Hub supports members in a number of ways. Including: NAWE Student & Young People (£20) • E-membership gets you a weekly bulletin of the latest opportunities • Discounts on workshops, NAWE conference and other events • Ongoing Support on getting started as a writer • Critical Feedback on your work • Build an Online Presence with a writer profile page You can find out more about being a Student or Associate member of NAWE here. Benefits include full access to the website, the opportunity to create a personal profile, discounts for our events and workshops, and specialist advice from the Young Writers' Co-ordinator. For more information and to get in touch with the Young Writers’ Co-ordinator, Wes Brown, email him at email@example.com
Contributors Cara Brennan is 22 and lives in Newcastle. She has been published in various e-zines including The Cadaverine, Pomegranate and Ink Sweat and Tears. She has recently graduated from Writing Squad Five and has read at Ilkley and Morley Literature festivals. 'Cherry Beer' will appear in her debut pamphlet Destroyed Dresses, to be published by Valley Press in September 2012. Clare Fisher has recently completed an MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths, with Distinction. Whilst there, she was shortlisted for the Pat Kavanagh Prize for an extract from her novel, Avalon. I have been published in various magazines, including Aesthetica and Notes from the Underground. Mark Pajak is currently a participant of the Liverpool Playhouse and Everyman's Young Writer's Programme. A graduate of LJMU’s Creative Writing degree, a former member of the poetry group The Unemployables, former Editor of In The Red Magazine and regular contributor, he is also published with Smoke Magazine, Spilt Milk Magazine, Untold Method Magazine and Askew Poetry Journal. Mark has performed at London LIT Live, Manchester’s Not Part Of festival, Edinburgh’s Fringe and events all over Liverpool. Louise Hegarty is 22 years old and live in Cork. She has won the iYeats Emerging Writer Poetry Competition 2009 and have been shortlisted for the inaugural RTE Guide/Penguin Ireland short story competition and the Writing Spirit Award 2011. Most recently her work has been featured in the anthology wordlegs presents: 30 Under 30. She has work published or forthcoming in wordlegs, The Poetry Bus magazine, Minus 9 Squared, Popshot Magazine, Crannó g, Boyne Berries, thefirstcut, The Alarmist and Cuadrivio. Carmina Masoliver is currently studying a Creative Entrepreneurship MA since completing a degree in English Literature at UEA. She has been published in RedInk Magazine, and Skookum Boom magazine, as well Concrete newspaper and online webzines such as Ink, Sweat & Tears, and Sleepy Orange. She has also been published in two anthologies; Poetry Rivals Collection 2010: A New Dawn Breaks and Workshop: Undergraduate Creative Writing Anthology from UEA 2011. ￼
Danielle Jawando is currently studying an MA in Creative Writing. Her play ‘Q’ adapted from David Foster Wallace’s ‘Brief Interviews with Hideous Men’ was performed at Stratford Circus in May last year. Danielle has since read her short stories at various open mics and events including: Write Now and Come Rhyme with Me. One of her stories was on the short, short list for the ‘Fine Line Finishing Press’ competition and she also runs a creative writing course and facilitates workshops within local libraries. She is currently working with full-time adult carers, helping them to write short stories which will then be published in order to raise money for charity. Alister MacQuarrie has been writing for a few years now, mostly poetry and plays. Some of those poems have been published in YM and The Cadaverine; in 2011 one of them won the Moss Rich Poetry Prize, and in September of that year he performed with two other poets at Alpha-ville festival in Hackney. A ten-minute theatre piece he wrote was performed as part of the Chichester Festival Theatre’s Play Pod event last summer. Other than that, most of what he writes ends up on tumblr (a-macquarrie.tumblr.com), which seems as good a place as any. M. M. Mann is a studious twenty-three year old. She dreams of living in a cottage in the English countryside, owning a St Bernard that she will call Bernie, and writing her reflections on the human condition into a full length novel. She first became a published author at the age of twenty-two, but that work was published in an academic journal, so she doesn't believe it counts. When not writing about herself in the third person, she likes to take photographs. Jo Brandon is a 25-year-old writer currently living in North London. Jo’s debut poetry collection, Phobia, was published by Valley Press in 2012. Her poetry, short stories and non-fiction have been featured both online and in print in publications including Aesthetica, Mslexia, Dream Catcher, Cadaverine, Like Starlings and Cake. Between 20082011 Jo was an editor of the young writer's literary magazine Cadaverine. In 2010 she was a writer in residence for the I Love West Leeds Festival and her debut play ‘Like a Heartbeat’ was showcased at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Jo is currently a young producer for the 2012 Poetry Parnassus in London. www.jobrandon.com / www.valleypressuk.com
Ellie Stewart has been writing stories ever since she was old enough to hold a pen. She has a degree in English Literature and Philosophy, and has been published in various places online including The Pygmy Giant, Friction Magazine and The Molotov Cocktail. She won the Electric Lantern Festival Flash Factor competition in 2011, and was shortlisted for The Writer's Village Spring 2012 Competition. She is currently working on a novel. Kiran Millwood Hargrave was born in London in 1990. The British Shakespeare Association commissioned her first pamphlet, Scavengers, in 2011. Pindrop Press published her first full collection, Last March in March 2012. Kiran has read at various venues includ- ing the Natural History Museum and at the Stratford Literary Festival. Her poetry has since been selected to appear in publications such as The New Writer, Agenda, Other Po- etry and Orbis. She will be starting an MSt at Oxford University in September 2012. www.kiranmh.co.uk Jade Moulds is twenty-three years old and live in Cambridge where she studied English Literature at Anglia Ruskin University. During her degree she had the opportunity to take some Creative Writing modules and loved it: so much so, that after finishing her BA she went straight on to do a Creative Writing MA. Sheâ€™s currently working on a collection of short stories that she started on the MA (originally titled 'Eleanor Rigby' but she somehow can't see copyright working out) and these stories are part of that collection. Meredith Ostrowski lives in the United States and has been writing poems and short stories since childhood. She was born an avid reader, and enjoys sitting on the beach with her favorite novels. She is a freshman in college, majoring in engineering and English. Someday she hopes to travel the world on her bike. Sol Loreto-Miller has been writing for as long as she can remember and varies between fantasy & sci-fi short stories, descriptive short fiction and attempts at hammering out and plotting novels. She was a winner of the Henrietta Branford Writing Competition in 2009 and her work has appeared in Young Writer as the winning piece of a competition co-run by the Arvon Foundation. Her work can be found on deviantART at http://solarune.deviantart.com, where she volunteers for #theWrittenRevolution, an online writing and critique group. She grew up home educated in Cornwall. ďżź
Ben Schwarz is a soon to be graduate of Newcastle university's MA in Creative Writing. He is currently working (and hopes to work more permanently in the future) in Newcastle as a freelance writer. He has written poetry which has been accepted into various e-zines such as Cadaverine, Pomegranate and Aspidistra. He also writes drama for the stage, and recently put his play The Midnight Oil on at the Northern Stage. This year, he his heading to the Edinburgh fringe festival, where he will be acting in an hilarious comedy play (which he did not write) known as The Ride of the Bluebottles. Come see! Scott Morris is Reviews Editor for The Cadaverine. He was joint winner of the 2010 LRB Young Reviewers Competition, and his work has been shortlisted for the Short Fiction Journal Competition and the London Fringe Short Fiction Award. His writing has appeared in The Literateur, Cake, Polluto, Trespass, Pomegranate and The Delinquent. He blogs at www.ohshillings.wordpress.com. He is currently writing a film and his first novel. He lives in South London.
New writing from the under 25s supported by the NAWE Young Writers' Hub