We Are Pausing Publication While We Figure a Few Things Out

We are pausing publication of the magazine while we figure out a few existential problems. Our tech needs an overhaul, our strategy a rethink and we need to work out a way of making a bit more money than the scraps we have been getting since the magazine was launched four years ago. Because time and resources are so limited, we thought the best way to do this would be to stop publishing and devote all resources to fixing those problems.

Dark Star, A Triumph for Those Who Like Detectives Haunted and Noir Coal Black

As Jim Thompson said, “Life is a bucket of shit with a barbed wire handle.” This is certainly the case in Vox, the city in which the sci-fi noir masterpiece Dark Star by Oliver Langmead is set. Dark Star is published by Unsung stories, a fiction imprint of London-based independent press Red Squirrel Publishing, Unsung Stories are publishers of literary and ambitious speculative fiction that defies expectation and seek to publish unforgettable stories, from the varied worlds of genre fiction – science-fiction, fantasy, horror, and all the areas in-between. Oliver Langmead was born in Edinburgh and lives in Glasgow. He has an LLB in Law, an MLitt in Writing Practice and Study, an MLitt in Fantasy, and is currently a doctoral researcher at the University of Glasgow.

Daring and Unburdened by Pretence, A 101 in Forgery in All its Forms

Jon Stone’s School of Forgery opens with the line: ‘Where I come from, it’s the other way round.’ Evocative enough in the context of the opening poem, Near Extremes 1, but when read in the context of the whole collection takes on a more deceptive meaning. It is the first instance of forgery that will go on to characterise the book. In this case, a failed attempt to experience the Christmas season delivered by someone who does not understand the essential element of the experience. Near Extremes 1 continues: ‘we plunk cinder knucklebones into our soda / stand hunched over momentary snowflakes / willing our fags to catch cold, so we can / scorch our lips with frost-feathered plumes.’

Wild Garlic, and other poems

After spending her twenties helping create other people's dreams in the film industry and her thirties working full-time for the NHS, Ruth Steadman's forties are all about following her own heart, balancing her work as a private CBT therapist with my writing and other passions. She is endlessly inspired by human narratives, emotional authenticity, and courageous and creative full engagement with living. In her free time you will most frequently find her in Italy (the inspiration for my blog Vivere Ad Alta Voce), learning contemporary dance, and dabbling in interior design.

A Capital Unlike Any Other, The Book of Havana Reveals a City Magnetic and Repulsive

There are certain locations around the globe that come to us through tourists, visitors to the lands – Tokyo, India, Thailand, Hawaii – whose identities, though vividly their own, are delivered back to Britain, the US, to Europe, transmuted by romanticism, prejudice, ideas of grandeur. For those of us born beyond their borders, these are places stitched together from the experiences of foreigners. In the case of Cuba, and its infamous capital, perhaps it was Greene who established it as it stands today in our culture, or perhaps it was America, embedding their neighbours in a narrative of despised Communism, and South American hedonism.

With Thrills and Social Criticism, Manu Joseph Creates a Political Masterpiece

Manu Joseph started his novelist career with a bang: his 2010 debut, Serious Men, won that year’s Hindu Best Fiction Award. An examination of caste in contemporary India, the novel was praised for its discussion of the reality of living as a Dalit; in doing so, Joseph crossed lines of language, as the lower castes are often excluded from Indian literature written in English. It is no surprise that Joseph’s latest, Miss Laila, Armed and Dangerous, continues on the same socially aware path, tackling racism, poverty, police malpractice and chauvinism, to mention but a few of its themes. Nor has Joseph grown wary of crossing lines and opting for provocative solutions. The novel’s social commentary gains extra momentum – and, undoubtedly, some unhappy audiences – by drawing no lines between fact and fiction.

Hereditary Gives Paranoia, Strange Goings On and Bumps in Night But Also Genuine Human Depth

Hereditary follows a family who have recently lost their somewhat difficult matriarch following a long, debilitating illness. In the wake of this elusive grandmother's demise, strange occurrences start to trouble the family and it isn't long before they are left to question what legacy has been bequeathed to them. Eventually driven to the brink of madness by the tragedy which seems to haunt their every move, the family begins to turn on themselves and each other, wrestling with the terrifying truth. On the face of it Hereditary is set up as a classic horror movie, with strange goings on and bumps in the night aplenty coupled with an abundance of strangers with rictus grins that may or may not have something to do with the apparently ghostly goings on.

Weekend Poetry: World's Tallest Building (Cancelled)

Erik Kennedy is the author of the full-length book There's No Place Like the Internet in Springtime (Victoria University Press, August 2018) and the chapbook Twenty-Six Factitions (Cold Hub Press, November 2017). His poems have recently been published in places like 3:AM Magazine, The Dark Horse, Hobart, The Manchester Review, Poetry, Powder Keg Magazine, and Prelude, and his criticism has been in the Los Angeles Review of Books and the TLS. He is the poetry editor for Queen Mob's Teahouse. Originally from New Jersey, he lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Weekend Poetry: Three Poems

A.M. Juster's books include: Longing for Laura (Birch Brook Press, 2001); The Secret Language of Women (University of Evansville Press, 2003); The Satires of Horace (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008); Tibullus' Elegies (Oxford University Press, 2012); Saint Aldhelm's Riddles (University of Toronto Press 2015); Sleaze & Slander: Selected Humorous Verse 1995-2015 (Measure Press 2016) ; The Billy Collins Experience (Aldrich Press 2016) and The Elegies of Maximianus (University of Pennsylvania Press 2018). Forthcoming in 2018 will be Milton's Book of Elegies. He has won the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award three times, the Richard Wilbur Award, the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize and received other recognition, including two honorary degrees.

Weekend Fiction: The Alphabet Soup of Life, Love, and Death

A is for “Alcohol” The barmaid pushed me with all her might towards the doorway, but I was like a stone pillar, and wobbled from side to side as I was inched out. “I had half a pint left,” I slurred, still protesting. She finally got me over the threshold and I stumbled on the pavement over nothing. “Finally!” she shouted with a slam. I looked around in the murky darkness and a terrible confusion came over me. “You evil cow!” I screamed at the closed door, now as solid as it were the entrance to an ancient tomb. “What’ve you done with sun?!”

Playful and Witty, The Chameleon is a Book About Why We Need Books

This is a book about books that is narrated by a book. Now isn’t that a sentence to chew over? Let me explain. “My name is John, and I am this book.” Drawing upon themes Virginia Woolf so eloquently presented in her experimental novel Orlando, Samuel Fisher tells the life story of a book that has existed for centuries. Like the character Orlando, John the book does not grow old and die but instead continues to exist as the ages pass. Nevertheless, he does change a bit like the title suggests. Chameleons adapt to their environment; they shift colours to best fit their surroundings.

Weekend Poetry: Daffodils on the M1, and other poems

Born in Northern Ireland in 1976, Jo Burns lives in Germany. Jo's poetry has been published widely in journals such as Acumen, Oxford Poetry, Southword, Popshots, The Stinging Fly, The Tangerine and Magma. Jo won the McClure Poetry Prize at the Irish Writers Festival in Los Gatos, CA and the Magma Judges Prize Poetry Competition 2018. Her first collection White Horses will be published by Turas Press in November 2018.

American Institution and Global Logo: Notes on Kim Kardashian

It is one of the errors of ‘serious art’ and its devotees to dismiss what millions enjoy on a daily basis. Reality TV tends to attract a disregard that prohibits anything more than claims of its arbitrary nature and melodramatic predictions of the death of culture. Part of the collective known derogatively as popular entertainment, those trends that leak into the wider conversation are treated with an equal off-handedness - Paris Hilton, Big Brother, talent shows. And if any figure has truly breached those limits, who can no longer be considered solely as a TV personality, it is Kim Kardashian.

Weekend Fiction: Fucking Queers

The police vans had left for HM Prison Harrow. The BBC and Fox News would not report it. And those few independent outlets who did would find themselves subject to Public Interest Violation Orders that blocked UK visitors to their site. The three dozen or so protestors would be in their cells by midday: their summary detention was not subject to appeal and the next of kin would find out only by application to the Ministry of Justice under the latest Freedom of Information Act. The cost was £155. Ever reluctant to be tied down by a lengthy Office for a Fair Press investigation, most of the old ‘print’ media would avoid the topic.

Short Film Sunday: Lifespan by Jessica Bishopp

A meditation on ageing in light of rising life expectancies, Lifespan is a documentary composed of interviews with friends and family of director Jessica Bishopp, as well as scientific specialists who weigh in with their takes on the possible implications of longer lifetimes through the lenses of labour, family and identity. The aesthetic is futurism by way of nostalgia, with a faded postcard look that focuses more on things from time gone by than on visions of the future, featuring lingering shots of the keepsakes of the elderly, lace curtains and buildings in disrepair.

Weekend Poetry: Hermes, and other poetry

David Kinloch was born and brought up in Glasgow, Scotland. He is a graduate of the Universities of Glasgow and Oxford and was for many years a teacher of French. He is Professor of Poetry and Creative Writing at the University of Strathclyde. A winner of the Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial Award, he is the author of six collections of poetry, most recently In Search of Dustie-Fute (2017). In the 1980s Kinloch co-founded and co-edited the poetry magazine, Verse. More recently he helped establish the Scottish Writers’ Centre and is a founder and organiser of the Edwin Morgan International Poetry Competition. In 2013 he organised an international conference on the subject of ekphrastic poetry.

Weekend Fiction: Cascading

There was no other option. Naked bum perched on frigid porcelain, I jerked forward violently as my back touched the freezing, off-white tiles that covered every wall of the window-less bathroom. I followed the line of my body – brown nipples pointing solemnly down towards the soft curve of my stomach connecting to the pale triangle of my stubbled crotch, long thighs, inexplicably and permanently hairless, the rest of my legs disappearing at the cliff edge of my knees. Resting on the sodden bathmat were my toes, blistered and bunioned too early from all the running. I lifted one bulbous digit – the big toe of my left foot – and prodded the electric razor that lay beside my feet. I had tried everything.

Unthology - Witty and Unsettling - is A Collection For Those Who Look Beyond the Everyday

According to the recently departed Philip Roth, “Literature takes a habit of mind that has disappeared. It requires silence, some form of isolation, and sustained concentration in the presence of an enigmatic thing.” This is certainly true when reading the latest Unthology collection from Unthank Books in which the classic, realist slice-of-life encounters the shocking, the strange and the experimental on common ground. Within this edition of Unthology tales from fourteen new and established writers weave together, with expert editing by Ashely Stokes and Robin Jones, to form an engaging and mysterious collection filled with humour, malice and intrigue.

Adventures in Memes: CHILDISH GAMBINO AND THE ADVENTURE OF THE ARDUOUS INTERFACES

A good twenty years before the dawn of the world wide web, the American technopope Marshall McLuhan predicted that the rise of electronic communication would create what he called a “global village” – a connected community of absolutely everybody. It’s a phrase loaded with associations; while a village is a tightly-knit group of disparate but united individuals, prefixing the word with ‘global’ evokes a somewhat disconcerting scale. How can individualism, or individuality, prevail against the vastness of a globe swarming with billions of intricately associated social agents?

Weekend Poetry: Five Limericks

ANTHONY MADRID lives in Victoria, Texas. His poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, Boston Review, Fence, Harvard Review, Lana Turner, LIT, and Poetry. His most recent book is called TRY NEVER (Canarium Books, 2017). A book of limericks, from which the present selection derives, titled There Was an Old Man with a Springbok, is due out, summer 2018. MARK FLETCHER is an illustrator and cartoonist. He designed the cover for Anthony Madrid's two books I Am Your Slave Now Do What I Sayand Try Never. Mark earned his BFA and BA in Art History from the University of Colorado. He lives and works in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Weekend Fiction: An Evening With Madison Novak

Madison was driving a white van. It was a Ford Transit and it had more than enough room for the live human body she was hauling. She had considered buying a used M6, which would have had enough space for a body but only if that body kept itself very still. She picked the van in the end because she had been unable to disassociate herself from the feeling that if was she was the one tied up in the boot of an M6, she would find it uncomfortable and stiff and not very nice at all. It would have made it very difficult for her to drive, if she had to continuously linger on this empathic feeling.

Vivid, Strange, Experimental Temptations Thrills With Sex, Violence and Wit

“The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it,” said Oscar Wilde - and it appears that Vesna Main agrees. Main’s new book Temptation: A User’s Guide is her first short story collection published by Salt, one of the UK’s foremost independent publishers, who are committed to the discovery and publication of contemporary British literature and are advocates for writers at all stages of their careers, striving to ensure that diverse voices can be heard. This collection of twenty short stories is indeed diverse in terms of story length and style, although there is a clear sense of cohesion throughout. Running through the central seam of Main’s collection is the notion of temptation - unsurprisingly - in all its varied forms

Weekend Poetry: Madeleines

Jenna Clake was born in Staffordshire in 1992. She is studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham, where her research focuses on the Feminine and Feminist Absurd in twenty-first century British and American poetry. Clake’s poetry has appeared in Poems in Which, The Bohemyth, Oxford Poetry and more. Clake won the 2016 Melita Hume Poetry Prize and published her debut collection Fortune Cookie in 2017.

Weekend Fiction: Infidels

There is a rap on the door of the shrine – a box room set apart on the landing, too small to unroll a yoga mat. “We’re actually eating, dad. Macaroni cheese? If you can bear to join us?” It is Joanna, every word spiked and loaded. Matthew shifts his buttocks on the straight-backed wooden chair, then looks for guidance to the poster blue-tacked wonkily on the wall, the man himself crouching on the Mount of Olives. “Dad, can you hear?” Joanna says. This room, with Matthew’s crammed notebooks competing for space with tottering piles of CDS, has become the focus for the family’s discontent. Half nibbled apple cores add their stamp to the aroma and airlessness.

How the Internet Has Changed the Game for Writers, Artists and Performers

It was true in 2009, when Chris Anderson wrote Free: The Future of a Radical Price, and it’s true today, perhaps even more so; the internet is the Industrial Revolution, writ large. If factory towns and the Spinning Jenny represented seismic shifts in economic and social life, the last two decades’ worth of technological advances have gone further, into the realm of the tectonic, generating true global change. There have always been revolutionary moments in production, from the release of the box brownie to Super-8 to the handicam and beyond, each step a lubricant allowing more producers to make content.

Sunday Short Film: Life Cycles by Ross Hogg

This fortnight, we have Life Cycles an animated documentary of sorts from Ross Hogg. With a ruthless onward pace reminiscent of those void-stare-inducing "One Second Everyday" video diaries, the film is a layered examination of mundanity, routine and creative life (including the process of the film's own making) as framed against the escalating political turmoil of our recent history. One particularly interesting choice Hogg's use of real news footage, headlines and photo-realistic digital interfaces, which in the heightening context of a chattery animation style has the uncanny effect almost of presenting the contemporary world as mediated through screens our primary means of connecting to it.

Weekend Poetry: Spiders, and other poems

Someone called Sorrel is mapping the mountains of the world but she's not sure if the phrasing is a little awkward? Maybe? A certain broadcast corp. might want certain ranges name-checked; and I think how kind of the pronated media to consider the feelings of landmasses. It's swell to sit - oh, busy bustle of Friday forests, in exhaustion fug labelling climates of woodland. An overarching branch under which to include subsets. I love these phrases, I want to talk about the needs of temperate and intemperate, and 'tranches'. The word 'tranche'!

Weekend Fiction: Disposition

There were a dozen young women her age, dyed hair running the spectrum from apple green to ecstasy purple. Only she would distinguish herself. Singler’s last great work lay on the ground of the gallery dedicated to new pieces. A flat rectangular base of black copper, five by ten foot, with one, two, three...twenty-seven twisted spikes each an inch thick sticking out at different angles. He had labelled it “Disposition” before he had been carted away. Above the gallery were the internal windows of the upper level Great Gallery where the permanent exhibits were, and it was the window right above Disposition...

Weekend Poetry: Cockatiels

"I grew up around the corner from the site of St. Peter’s monastery on the banks of the Wear where Bede spent his formative years and I’m beginning to think all those childhood trips to Durham cathedral to stand next to what may or may not be his bones did something to me. After years of seeing the page as simply a place to put words, my increasing familiarity with computers has gradually transformed my practice to the extent that I now view myself as a producer of illuminated manuscripts, incorporating images and non-verbal figures to work in a way that is as much about the eye as the ear and the voice. The screen, far from being a stifling, standardising influence, can be liberating, making the page a playground and a palette. Technology can make new forms. It can also make the old forms new." - Tom Jenks

Compassionate and Beautiful, Pseudotooth is About Difference and Self-Acceptance

I am an unrepentantly morbid human being, with a macabre love for the weird, the gruesome and the odd. As a result of this rather sinister outlook I am drawn to tales which explore the darkly glinting perverse underbelly so rarely glimpsed in ‘popular’ fiction. In fact, the darker the tale and the more saturnine the protagonist the happier I am. From classic genre tropes to freshly minted hybrids, all speculative fiction shares a desire to understand ourselves and the world we live in better. This craving for understanding is tangible in Pseudotooth which blurs the lines between dream, fiction and reality.

Sunday Short Film: Thea Gajic's The Importance of Skin

The Importance of Skin, the second short film from multihyphenate Thea Gajic, follows the converging paths of couple Cyra and Fabe (Gajic and Stevie Basaula) who, expecting their first child, each traverse the familiar spaces of their South London community, interacting with neighbours and friends, each of whom are themselves painted with a rare degree of attention to detail, history and inner life. Building on her last effort Run, which won the New Talent Award at the BFI Future Film Festival, Gajic's style is one in which spoken-word poetry voice-over and observational street dialect coexist to create something lyrical and far-reaching without undermining authenticity or directness.

Weekend Poetry: Four Poems in Translation

inga Pizāne (born 1986 in Krāslava) is a Latvian poet. Pizāne studied pedagogy in Latvia and Sweden, simultaneously attending lectures at the Literary Academy. Pizāne’s début was a publication on the Satori website and summer periodical (2012). Her later works appeared in other outlets, including the anthology of Latvian poetry One Poem (Viens dzejolis, 2013) and the poetry photo book Latgale’s Heartbeats (Latgales sirdspuksti). She also wrote lyrics for songs by Framest, Lady’s Sweet and other musicians and bands. Pizāne performed at the Poetry Days events and The Blood of a Poet festival. Her first collection of poems titled You are no Snow (Tu neesi sniegs) was published in 2016 by the publisher Jānis Roze.

Weekend Fiction: The Makeover

She sits in the drab afternoon flicking through old photographs. She pauses and groans with shame at how she looked the day her brother got married. She quickly turns the page at an image of her own young face. She brings it up close to inspect the detail of it. The face smiles back. "Are you me?" she asks. The album squirms, she loses her grip of it and it slides down onto her knees. It drops heavily onto the floor. She picks it up, and sees that it`s open at a picture of her mother who is looking up at her in surprise; her eyes fail to conceal her defencelessness. As if someone was stealing her soul. She wonders how she coped with dying and whether she knew. She looks around the room. The sun has more or less disappeared and the shadows stretch from one wall to the other. The quiet is isolating. She stands up and shouts out, because now she feels like making a noise.

Weekend Fiction: Self-Portrait

The trick is not to think about it too much, to click without thought, without self-consciousness, the right hand ignoring the left hand. But, of course, I’m always thinking. The photos are saved in my deleted file. Before their 30 days are up, I recover them and give myself another 30 days to decide. The photos are badly lit; I don’t know how to find my light. My face is always in the shadows, my arms aren’t long enough to capture both my body and face. Sometimes it’s only my chin and lips that are showing, it’s hard to tell what the lips are doing without the eyes. They could be pouting, half-smiling, promising something, but the eyes are elsewhere, looking at the image onscreen, off-camera.

Weekend Poetry: Paul Scholes' foot, and other poems

Christodoulos Makris is a poet, editor and curator. He was born in Nicosia in 1971. Since 1991 he has lived and worked in Manchester, London and, from 2001, in Dublin. His books are Spitting Out the Mother Tongue (Wurm Press, 2011) and The Architecture of Chance (Wurm Press, 2015) - chosen as a poetry book of the year by 3:AM Magazine and RTÉ Arena. He is also the author of the chapbook Round the Clock (Wurm Press, 2009), the limited edition artist’s book Muses Walk (2012), and the limited edition pamphlet if we keep drawing cartoons (If A Leaf Falls Press, 2016). The poetry object Browsing History was published in March 2018 by zimZalla.

Weekend Poetry: The F-Scale

How concerned are you with submission and domination? The problem is, I am so busy. So if we need laundry detergent it's easier just to order it. There by the door by 3. On one hand, yes, I do not agree they should use drones to deliver goods. It is not good. (My mailman is a botanist on the side!) Also the packaging. The boxes are recyclable but not the plastic packing puffs. Collateral damage? If they spill a good strong wind clears them all away... On the other hand, I do get the organic detergent. It's a small thing. (I hate myself in miniscule degrees.)

Sunday Short Film: Nine Behind

Kicking off our first short film section, we have Canadian filmmaker Sophy Romvari's Nine Behind, a tightly-controlled exploration of emotional and spatio-temporal displacements both, as a young woman (Noémi Fabian) makes a long-delayed phone call to her grandfather in Hungary, from which her parents are implied to have fled during the Soviet era. Romvari unpeels the space of the Nora's apartment over the course of eleven carefully composed shots, weighing out time in measured spoonfuls of increasing size; the distended apprehension of the difficult call in the opening few minutes giving way to self-forgetting ellipsis (in a neat transition the sparse monochrome helps to sell) as Nora is caught up in the painful undertow of lost time.

Weekend Fiction: Watching People Drown

An explosion shook the building. The wall hit Sally. Having fallen against it, she pushed off from it, charged up the stairs, burst into Katy’s room. Katy sat on the edge of the bed with her Sparkle Cat High Top Trainers swinging. Bandy baby legs in the air and arms waggling, Ashley lay on his back behind her. ‘You OK?’ Sally’s ears rang. Katy nodded. ‘Yes, Mummy.’ Ashley had a scrunched-up face, balled hands. His cries expanded to fill the room, in waves. Sally took the baby, clasped him to her, jigged him up and down, to and fro. He gradually quietened. Katy’s head jerked up. ‘Mummy, where’s Daddy gone?’ ‘Trying to get some news, sweetheart.’ Supporting Ashley with one hand, she grasped Katy’s hand with the other. ‘It’s going to be OK, I promise.’

Weekend Poetry: Five Poems

Vera grew up in Malaysia and is of Chinese descent. Starting with Human Sciences, she holds a Masters in Archaeology & Anthropology from Oxford before training as an actor at The Poor School (London) and Ecole Philippe Gaulier (Paris). Commissioned by WeTransfer alongside Deepak Chopra as one of the world's 40 "cultural luminaries", Vera is an award-winning, cross-platform writer who co-wrote The Good Immigrant (Book of the Year 2016, BBC Book of the Week, #1 Guardian Books, #1 Amazon). Her poetic and comment pieces have been published by The Guardian, Brain Mill Press, Rising, Yauatcha Life, and The Brautigan Free Press. In 2017, Vera judged the Bread & Roses Radical Book Prize, the Jhalak Prize for writers of colour, and the inaugural Tomorrow At Noon playwriting prize. She has helped develop new plays with The National Theatre, The Royal Shakespeare Company, and The Royal Court.

Weekend Poetry: Three Poems

Serena is a poet, writer, multidisciplinary performer and voice practitioner writing both in Italian and English. She is interested in voice, performance, language ambiguity, shame, family/memory, sexuality and arts politics. Serena was born and raised near Rome and relocated to London in 2011. Serena’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Hotel, Orlando, Disclaimer, hotdog, Nuovi Argomenti and others, and in narrative non-fiction anthology Quello che hai amato (UTET 2015). Performances and readings have included Goldsmiths LitLive, the Festival of Italian Literature in London, the Last Word Festival and The European Poetry Night.

Forget Unilever going Dutch – Brexit may give UK powers to protect industry

Home may be where the heart is. But for businesses there are many, more cold-blooded calculations. Lever Brothers — better known now as Unilever — has become the latest venerated British name to see control leave these shores. The giant Anglo-Dutch company has announced that Rotterdam rather than London will be the home of its new unified headquarters. Chief executive Paul Polman was quick to say what this was not about, namely the UK’s departure from the European Union. He insisted “categorically that it has nothing to do with Brexit”. He may be right as the company is, for now at least, not moving any of its operations outside of the UK, so will still need to cope with any cross-Channel tariffs once Britain leaves.

Weekend Poetry: Two Poems

Starting out as a singer-songwriter, Henry's first collection Time Pieces was published by Seren Press in 1991, winning a Gregory Award. His poems have been widely anthologised and can be found in journals such as Poetry Review and The Times Literary Supplement. They have also featured on BBC Radio 4's Poetry Please. The Brittle Sea, New & Selected Poems was recently reprinted by Seren in the UK and by Dronequill in India, under the title The Black Guitar. Mari d’Ingrid, Gerard Augustin's translation of his fifth collection, Ingrid’s Husband, is published by L’Harmattan. He was described by the late U. A. Fanthorpe as "a poet's poet who combines a sense of the music of words with an endlessly inventive imagination". Henry teaches creative writing at writers' centres and has lectured at the University of South Wales.

The Red Beach Hut Shapes the Reader into the Perfect Devil’s Advocate

I have often been described as a ‘challenging’ person, something I will admit to freely and without shame. I believe that the nature of existence is to challenge our perceptions, thoughts and experience of the world around us. Because of this, I am an active seeker of challenging, thought-provoking books, the more uncomfortable and controversial the better. In my humble opinion, those authors who seek to challenge the status quo and produce work which shakes up the reader’s point of view hold a special kind of magic. The conversations which result can and do change our world and the world of those around us. A tale which seeks to start those conversations comes from Lynn Michell in the Red Beach Hut, published by Linen Press, the UK’s only independent women’s press.

Weekend Fiction: Last Trumpet

Matilda had treacle feet again, like in bad dreams where she had to go places fast but couldn’t. Roza kept striding ahead, as if she actually wanted to get where they were going, which was past the precinct and up the hill, to where the bungalows were. ‘They’re like hutches for humans,’ whispered Matilda when they got there. ‘Snob.’ Roza knocked on the door of number six. It was a quiet spot with few cars and no people around. Each bungalow had a patch of grass outside and a white handrail that needed painting. No answer. Roza knocked again. Matilda was relieved. ‘There’s no one here. Let’s go.’ Roza lifted up the letterbox and peered through. ‘Hello?’

Weekend Poetry: Two Sonnets

Dorothy LeHane is the author of three poetry publications: Umwelt (Leafe Press, 2016), Ephemeris (Nine Arches Press, 2014) and Places of Articulation (dancing girl press 2014). She is currently engaging in a study exploring questions surrounding the social, ethical and perceptual implications of communicating the aberrant body in poetic practice. Dorothy has read her work to audiences at Université Sorbonne, Paris, Science Museum, the Wellcome Trust, the Barbican, the Roundhouse, BBC Radio Kent and contributed on innovative improvised collaborations, notably with synthesizer Matthew Bourne, and musician Sam Bailey. Recent poetry and reviews appear in SALT anthology Best British Poetry 2015, Shearsman, Cordite Poetry Review Tears in the Fence, and Long Poem Magazine. Dorothy has taught Creative Writing in primary, secondary, further and higher education institutions, including Canterbury Christ Church University, the Barbican Arts Centre, and London South Bank University.

Weekend Poetry: Two Praise Songs, and other poems

Sarah Corbett lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire but grew up in North Wales and studied at the Univeristies of Leeds, East Anglia and Manchester, where she completed her PhD in Critical and Creative Writing in 2013. She has published a verse-novel, And She Was, (Pavilion Poetry, Liverpool University Press, 2015) and three collections of poetry with Seren Books: The Red Wardrobe(1998),The Witch Bag (2002) and Other Beasts (2008). The Red Wardrobe won an Eric Gregory Award in 1997 and was shortlisted for the T.S Eliot and Forward prizes. She is currently working on her first novel, a first draft of which was long-listed for the Mslexia First Novel Competition. She teaches Creative Writing at Lancaster University.

Weekend Fiction: In the Closet

The phone rang as I was locking up for the night and I thought about leaving it ring. Then I thought about my bank account, went back around the desk, picked up, and said: “Conde.” An older man’s voice came on the line, dry as a desert bone. “Ah yes, Mr. Benjamin Conde of the Conde Detective Agency I presume?” “The same.” “Splendid, Mr. Conde. Splendid. Ah, yes, Mr. Conde, my name is Douglas P. Cahill III and the reason for my call is...well...I suppose it could best be described as a delicate issue.” The old man paused and his breath whistled through his nose for a while. I had nothing to add so he cleared his throat and went on. “Right. Yes. Well, I suppose the direct approach is best in cases like these,” he said.

Me and My Bee - Funny and Informative for Children and (Some) Adults

This review has the potential to either be very depressing, or hopeful. We will just have to see. I will try my best to steer toward the latter. It is now relatively common knowledge that bees are dying out. Modern consumerism has - to summarise the issue crudely - lead to bees being killed off in an impressive pyramid of torture. We’re poisoning them with pesticides and forcing them to move further and further north as man-made climate change slowly destroys their natural habitats. Me and My Bee is a show that advertises itself as fun for adults and children alike: it is an invitation to a Bee Party. This party is both an actual party, complete with a party bag (of seeds that will grow into bee-tractive plants), and also a political party campaign.

Weekend Poetry: Lineage, and other poems

Martha Sprackland is a writer and editor. She was co-founder and poetry editor of Cake magazine, was assistant poetry editor for Faber & Faber, and is one of the founding editors of multilingual arts magazine La Errante. She is co-editor, with Patrick Davidson Roberts, of independent publisher Offord Road Books. Twice a winner of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, she was also the recipient of an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors, and was longlisted for the inaugural Jerwood–Compton Poetry Fellowships in 2017. Glass As Broken Glass was longlisted for a Sabotage Award, and she placed in the Poetry London Competition in 2015.

Weekend Fiction: Narratological Chronosis

We were sat on the beach on the Costa Blanca. It was too hot, too many people crowded towel to towel, the bodily perspiration…the two of us had been lucky to get a space. I didn’t want to come here, but it was the best I could do given my financial situation. She seemed pleased enough, both when I told her where we were going and when we were there on the beach. She lay on her stomach on her towel, reading a novel, the cover caked in streaks of sunscreen, edges browned and dog-eared. I sat in a rented deckchair, with a copy of the New Statesman. Why I brought her on holiday with me I will never know.

Weekend Poetry: Three Poems by Jeffrey Skinner

Poet, playwright, and essayist Jeffrey Skinner was awarded a 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry. Skinner’s Guggenheim project involves a conflation of contemporary physics, poetry, and theology. He served as the June, 2015 Artist in Residence at the CERN particle accelerator in Geneva, Switzerland. In 2015 he was awarded one of eight American Academy of Arts & Letters Awards, for exceptional accomplishment in writing. His most recent prose book, The 6.5 Practices of Moderately Successful Poets, was published to wide attention and acclaim, including a full page positive review in the Sunday New York Times Book Review. His most recent collection of poems, Glaciology, was chosen in 2012 as winner in the Crab Orchard Open Poetry Competition, and published by Southern Illinois University press in Fall, 2013.

Bold and Free, The Shape of Water is Del Toro’s Most Emotionally Mature Film Yet

It’s easy to fetishise directors like Guillermo del Toro. As is often the case with auteurs (Scorsese, Kubrick, Tarantino etc.) it’s tempting to overlook the hundreds of people involved in making a film and heap all the praise at the doorstep of one visionary. But while it no doubt took several villages to bring del Toro’s latest, The Shape of Water, into being, it’s still hard not to see the end result as a director at the height of his powers – bold, free and completely himself. The Shape of Water follows Elisa, a mute cleaner at a laboratory in 1960s Baltimore. When, one night, a tank is wheeled in containing a mysterious amphibian creature, Elisa’s humdrum routine is up-ended.

Weekend Poetry: No God is Like a Vapour

Dominic’s poetry, essays and translations have appeared in IRIS, Cherwell, Ash, The Kindling, the Oxford Review of Books, and are forthcoming in the Poetry Business Book of New Poets. In 2015, he was briefly Foyle Young Poet of the year in 2015, before being disqualified for being 6 hours too old. His well-received verse translation of Euripides' Iphigenia at Aulis was performed in the gardens of Christ Church College. Dominic is the 2017-18 President of Oxford University Poetry Society, where he is an undergraduate in English at Christ Church.

Hilarity, Pain and Mess - Wild Life FM on What It's Like To Be Young Today

Communicating across generations is one of the biggest challenges people have to face. Not only, verbal and visual codes get updated very quickly, but, with age, adults become less able to adopt new ways of expressing themselves. As a result, they often provoke unpleasant situations where they fail to establish fruitful communication with their offspring, pupils or younger siblings. Even though all of them can boast first-hand experience of youth, adults seem programmed to forget the unique features of that phase of their lives, its immediacy and randomness, and the extraordinary ability to keep thoughts and actions perfectly separated, often with detrimental outcomes. With time, they become increasingly judgemental and oblivious to the big questions that once used to anguish them, promptly dismissing the issue as silly or unimportant.

Weekend Poetry: Birdcatchers, and Other Poems

Patrick Cotter was born in Cork, Ireland, and studied at University College Cork. For over a decade he has served as artistic director of the Munster Literature Centre, where he curates literary festivals presenting some of the world’s greatest contemporary poets and novelists. He’s the author of Making Music (Three Spires Press, 2009) and Perplexed Skin (Arlen House, 2008). His work has appeared in the anthologies Separate Islands: Contemporary British and Irish poetry (Quarry, Ontario) Irish Poetry Now (Wolfhound) Jumping off Shadows - Some Contemporary Irish Poets (Cork University Press) The Irish Eros (Gill & Macmillan) The Backyards of Heaven (Newfoundland) Something Beginning with P (O'Brien Press) and in The Great Book of Ireland. He has published short fiction in Cyphers, New Irish Writing and elsewhere. He received the Keats-Shelley Prize for Poetry in 2013. In addition to poetry, he has written plays and fiction. Cotter lives in Cork, Ireland.

Forgotten and Fantastic, But Also a Strange Symphony of Magical Grace

I have a special place in my heart for fairy tales, myths and fables, and have steadfastly refused to ‘grow up’ and put aside these so-called childish pursuits. There is a lot to be learned from fairy tales and the whimsy they invoke is not something I’m prepared to live without. Any opportunity to read a new collection will thus inevitably result in my snatching at it with greedy delight. The collection causing such unbridled glee this time was The Forgotten and the Fantastical 3: Modern Fables and Ancient Tales, the third in a series of collections edited by Teika Bellamy and published by Mother’s Milk Books, an independent press which focuses on celebrating femininity and empathy. This collection of fairy tales, designed for an adult audience, is sure to ‘get the grown-ups clapping’.

Innovative The Believers Are But Brothers Delves into the Web of Modern Alienation and Extremism

His back faces the audience, the eyes are fixed on one of the screens on the table, he is intent on playing with a war videogame: Javaad Alipoor, already on the stage, doesn’t seem to care of the people coming into the room. Few minutes after the due time for the start of the show, he finally turns his chair and starts typing on his smartphone. Contrary to theatre etiquette, the audience has been allowed to keep their devices on, with ringtones and glowing screens, and beforehand been invited to join a WhatsApp group, which would then be deleted with all the related data after the 90 minutes running time. The Believers Are But Brothers is the innovative show inspired and developed from community workshops and research into the circulation of and engagement with online radicalisation.

M. John Harrison Returns to Explore Life's Bleak Underbelly

January, oh cruel mistress! Dark, windy, rainy, skint. Angry faces everywhere you turn. In short, a horror of a month, filled with nothing but ‘New Year, New Me’ mendacity. When faced with such distress, there is little choice but to find a book and bury yourself in it. This tumultuous January, my book of choice was a new release from M. John Harrison, an author described as a ‘cartographer of the liminal’. In his first collection in over 15 years, Harrison has provided a plenteous compendium of more than forty short stories in You Should Come With Me Know. In this collection, Harrison blurs the boundaries between horror and science fiction, fantasy and travel writing, and sketches characters who exist within a tumultuous frontier which is at once spatial and spiritual

The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk Becomes a Marriage of Love and Colours

Kneehigh kicks off 2018 with one of their most poetic productions. Written in 1992 by Daniel Jamieson, the work bears the directing signature of Emma Rice, both of whom performed in the original production. The theatre piece beautifully brings to life the art of the French-Russian modernist Marc Chagall. Set in a small city in Belarus, once under the Russian authority, The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk tries to communicate the colours and undying passion of a couple, united in a dreamy dance, against the horrors of the nineteenth century. Bella and Marc meet for the first time in the waiting room of the local doctor’s studio. It was love at first sight but the clumsy painter soon left for Paris in search of fortune. Only on his return, do the lovers tie the knot. Even their wedding night, though, couldn’t pass peacefully: Chagall was called to serve the army in the wake of the First World War.

Weekend Poetry: California (I) and Sleep Psalm/Weather

Kate Potts is a London-based poet, academic and editor. Her pamphlet Whichever Music (tall-lighthouse) was a Poetry Book Society choice and was shortlisted for a Michael Marks Award. Her first full-length collection is Pure Hustle (Bloodaxe). Kate teaches for Oxford University, Royal Holloway, and The Poetry School. She is co-director of site-specific poetry organisation Somewhere in Particular, creating poetry events which celebrate and explore particular communities and places. Her second poetry collection, Feral, will be published by Bloodaxe in September 2018. Kate's poetry and prose has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies, including Ambit, Magma, The Best British Poetry, The Forward Book of Poetry, Poetry Review, Poetry (Chicago), Poetry Wales, and Ploughshares.

Weekend Fiction: Love’s Executioner Revisited

Not for many years had anyone fallen for her so hard. Even going back to when she was a teenager. It was a Monday in late January, the temperature had risen but sheets of rain swept in once again. Leah had said goodbye to her work colleague Bartley, waving to him from the bus outside Somerset House. Yalom’s When Nietzsche Wept was making the winter journeys infinitely more bearable (she’d first been lent one of his books during the many months of group work all those years ago). Of course she knew the story well, being a compulsive re-reader of her favourite authors. He was so open, freely disclosing several alluring facts. That he was vegan and training to be a therapist, that it was rare for him not to cycle home. But today, the weather – the weather! Just like Yalom, she said, the therapy, not the cycling. Of course, Yalom, he was a big fan of the case studies!

A Beauty Impossible to Define - Jim Crumley’s The Nature of Winter Review

Crumley takes us on an introspective journey, one that explores his own interpretation of winter. In order to discover this, he wonders, he watches and he writes. Winter means different things for each of us. Depending on where we are, and our lifestyle choice, it brings with it many different things. For me, winter brings long distant runs in the cold fresh air of the British countryside; it brings late nights reading in the warmth of my study. For Jim Crumley it brings hikes and nature watching; it brings an interest in observing the changing of the seasons and the effects of the weather on local wildlife: it brings a new aspect of life. Man’s insignificance in the face of nature’s beauty and harshness is established rather firmly through the writing.

Unnerving and Eerie Tales, Two Shorts That Become Masterclasses

The autumn editions of the now regular Nightjar Press short stories are DB Water’s Fury and Wyl Menmuir’s Rounds, and like its previous entries, they continue the publisher’s tradition of unnerving and eerie tales. But while the two have many similarities, their effects, and the means by which they draw from you a feeling of unavoidable dread, make them both interesting little beasts in their own right. The Rounds, by Menmuir, whose debut The Many was longlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize, is concerned with Alice Hooper, the new occupant of an empty flat and whose loneliness and barely disguised suffering takes us through a waltz of suspicious intrigue and aching sympathy.

Shocking, and Darkly Enjoyable - The Here and This and Now

Whether a play is tackling scientific progress, outer space or the life of pharmaceutical representatives as they memorise medical jargon during an office away-day, the human condition - the meaning of it all - is always at its centre. The Here and This and Now, a play by writer Glenn Waldron, focuses on what its four characters are holding on to to keep going every day. It so happens that at the beginning of the play, they are all working in the same pharmaceutical company and are training for their next pitch. You’ve got Niall (Simon Darwen), the manager, who flawlessly opens the play with a seamless pitch that mentions his son’s passion for trains and demonstrates his ease at connecting with whomever he is talking to.

Weekend Poetry: The Channel Swimmer, and other poems

Poet, playwright, and essayist Jeffrey Skinner was awarded a 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry. Skinner’s Guggenheim project involves a conflation of contemporary physics, poetry, and theology. He served as the June, 2015 Artist in Residence at the CERN particle accelerator in Geneva, Switzerland. In 2015 he was awarded one of eight American Academy of Arts & Letters Awards, for exceptional accomplishment in writing. His most recent prose book, The 6.5 Practices of Moderately Successful Poets, was published to wide attention and acclaim, including a full page positive review in the Sunday New York Times Book Review. His most recent collection of poems, Glaciology, was chosen in 2012 as winner in the Crab Orchard Open Poetry Competition, and published by Southern Illinois University press in Fall, 2013.

Weekend Fiction: Star of the World

It was toilet-seat-sticks-to-your-ass kind of weather and Hal wasn’t having it. He left the bathroom window open and went into the bedroom to put on his favorite corduroys. Left leg, right. What a sticky, God-awful day. Was early November always like this? It was when Hal was a boy. Global warming wasn’t real, just something the government suits cooked up for a laugh and a scare, keep the sheep baaaing like fools. Baaa. They used to say television could make you blind. Hal could still spot a great ass from a mile away. Like that new redheaded meter maid. Her kaboose was alright. Hal turned off the TV and turned up the AC. Maybe the president was right. It was the Orientals that made up global warming. Keep us buying Japanese. Electric cars. Ha ha ha.

Complex, Heartfelt, a Sickly Noir That Horrifies with Everyday Banality

I am a woman of many vices, this I have accepted. One of my more nefarious foibles is a rather obsessive love of all things noir; the darker, seedier and more brutal the better. I am also a lover of horror, in all it’s terrifying forms. Anything which explores the seedy underbelly of humanity is sure to get my pulse racing and make me cackle maniacally with wicked glee. Add to that a southern gothic spin and I’m practically foaming at the mouth. The tantalising tome in my grubby grasp this time satiates these dark desires. In the Valley of the Sun by Andy Davidson, is published by Contraband, an imprint of Saraband, which publishes an eclectic range of crime, thriller and mystery writing.

Bleak, Harrowing and Raw But Witty and Humane - McDonagh's One -Off

You don’t often sit down to watch a film about the aftermath of a murder expecting to laugh. There’s various adjectives that would usually be associated with a film of this subject matter: bleak, harrowing, raw. Those words could certainly be used to describe Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, but that would be to overlook its wit and humanity. The wit becomes less surprising when you discover that Three Billboards is written and directed by Martin McDonagh. Through films like In Bruges and plays like The Cripple of Inishmaan, McDonagh has become renowned for his singular tone and blistering dark humour.

Weekend Poetry: Six Poems, After Rachel Whiteread

Jen Calleja is a Writer, literary translator, editor and curator. She studied modern literature and creative writing at Goldsmiths College and gained an MA from University College London in 2012,. She has twice been acting editor of New Books in German, is editor of her own Anglo-German journal Verfreundungseffekt and is the inaugural Translator in Residence at the British Library (2017-2018). Her short stories, poetry and essays have appeared in TEAM, Langdon Olgar, No.Zine, Playground and on BBC radio. She was Runner-Up Finalist for Brighton Festival's Peacock Poetry Prize for young poets in 2011. She is the inaugural Translator in Residence at the British Library (2017-2018). She lives in London.She lives in London.

Weekend Fiction: Colorblind

, she said. You’re sure? Lux asked. Yes. Okay, Lux nodded. Okay and turned the lock on the door. So where do you want me? she huddled in a dressing gown borrowed from the life drawing club. Thick socks and Birkenstocks. The white cold light filtered in from high rectangular windows and flooded the empty hall holding the musty memory of gym and basketball. There, Lux said. They walked together and Lux ran her fingers along the grooves of panel walling. You’re sure? Lux said. Yeah, I mean yes. Please stop asking. I’m honoured really. If this can, well, if I can help you. What are friends for right? Now hurry up I’m starkers here.

Weekend Poetry: Sea Memory and other poems

In the '00s, Astley founded Rain over Bouville, a poetry press, and was a member of the much-loved metal band Sextodecimo. He has since studied at Ruskin College and Oxford University and published several short collections of poetry, most recently The Gallows-Humored Melody (Albion Beatnik Press, 2016). In the meantime his poetry has appeared in magazines including Agenda and Ash, and his new pamphlet The One-Sided Coin is due in 2018. In 2010, Huck and the Handsome Fee embarked on a US tour that would inspire Astley's three-part narrative album Alexander the Great, a 'queer runaway myth' set in the American South. He is also a member of The Epstein, who released their third album Burn the Branches in 2016.

Complex and Surreal, Goblin is a Compelling Debut

As the weather turns colder and the evenings darker I begin, as usual, to seriously consider the merits of hibernation. Months of sleep and a chance to miss out on the emotional manipulation reserved for the festive season when companies are desperate to sell me their tat for Christmas. Bliss indeed. However, this is sadly unfeasible and so instead I find delicious escape in a book. The scintillating volume serving to distract me from the jolly capitalism relentlessly hounding my waking moments this time was Goblin, the debut from the thrillingly talented Ever Dundas, published by Saraband. Following the eponymous Goblin, a raconteur with a somewhat unreliable view of events, Dundas’ tale is a ‘captivating and capricious’ exploration of the ‘creature world’ within us all. Goblin sees an unconventional heroine struggle to decide between exorcising the ghosts of her past or retreating into the safety of delusion, all the while spinning a disarming yarn filled with enchantment and intrigue written by a truly original voice.

Seven Forgotten and Misunderstood Journeys of Scientific Discovery

Science is supposedly all about cool logic and extreme objectivity; experiments are tainted by nothing personal, and all the drama is contained in petriglasses and test tubes. But behind the scenes of the stereotypical white coats and microscopes lie much messier ongoings: welcome to a world sexism, politics, academic feuds, and exploited students. It might sound like the laboratory edition of Eastenders or the university version of The Bold and the Beautiful, but all this is real life, as dished out in Darryl Cunningham’s Graphic Science. Cunningham takes seven underrepresented, misunderstood, forgotten or otherwise neglected scientists who did not become the Einsteins of our science narrative and puts them under the microscope of the graphic novel.

An Affectionate Salute to One of Hollywood's Stranger Stories

There’s a lot of bad movies out there. Most simply get consigned to the scrapheap of history, destined to be no more than an obscure pub quiz answer, languishing unnoticed at the bottom of Netflix’s ‘What to Watch’ page. It takes something extra for a movie to not just be bad, but so bad that it’s good – so irredeemably awful, in fact, that it becomes a cult favourite, playing to packed-out midnight screenings and being remembered more vividly than many critical favourites of its time. The Room is just such a movie. Now, 14 years after its release, The Disaster Artist aims to peel back the lid on how such a wonderfully terrible movie came into existence.

Weekend Fiction: God as Their Witness

Michael Loomis’s hand, slick from the morning heat, slipped on the thumb-break of his holster. Tags current. Blinkers worked. He knew the outcome was in his Creator’s hands as he slipped his own back ten and two on the wheel. Still, he prayed for a way out. The officer approached. She was a petite gal, made thicker with the vest and uniform. She lacked the cop waddle but didn’t exactly glissade up to his vehicle either, instead walking tactically in sure, short steps. She paused at the back of the work van, studying his bumper stickers on its blacked out windows. He kept his hands visible on the wheel. Her last name was Smith. Eyes behind tinted Prizm lenses guarded their movements. She carried a Sig 9 on her left hip, a southpaw. “Officer, I must inform you, per my Second Amendment right under the Constitution of the United States of America and state law of Arizona, I am in possession of an open-carry firearm fully registered and duly licensed.” The Constitution was meant to protect citizens from government, not the other way around.

Intelligent and Original, Lear Translates Perfectly onto Modern India

Jivan Singh returns to his childhood after a long absence, there to witness the unexpected resignation of Devraj, founding father of the Company - a vast corporation that sits at the heart of Indian life. At the same time, Devraj's daughter absconds - desperate to escape from the prospect of marriage. Her older sisters are handed control of their father's company - and there begins a vicious struggle for power, from the luxury hotels of New Delhi through to the slums of Napurthala. India is a frequent topic for writers the world over but they rarely capture the essence of such a multi-faceted country, instead veering between semi-nostalgic tales of the British Raj, or slum set tales of poverty that blend uplifting inspiration with heavy doses of condescension.

A Vivid Collection, Fresh and Unafraid To Challenge

I sat down earlier this week filled with good intentions. I had a new collection of stories to read and, rather mendaciously, told myself I’d just read one. Just one. I didn’t. I devoured the collection in front of me, moving irresistibly and greedily from one story to the next, incapable of stopping. The addictive book in front of me was Letters Home by Martyn Bedford, published by Comma Press whose mission is to put the short story at the heart of contemporary literature. Letters Home is a collection of twelve short stories, some previously published elsewhere, and some created for this collection.

Music, Dance and Narrative Reveal a Tapestry of Multicultural Britain

The seven artists of Protein line up at the front of the stage, staring at the audience. There are a few moments of silence, then the undulating voice of Anthar Kharana echoes, and the show starts. Border Tales groups together fears, stereotypes, identities, struggles, and the vibrancy of today’s multicultural community in London, weaved in a brilliant choreographed dance, music and spoken narrative. Everything is accompanied by sounds. Part of the music is pre-recorded, but a lot is done live by Kharana: from strings, to percussion, to modelling his voice.

Weekend Poetry: New York Morning, Six Years On and other poems

Dai George was born in Cardiff in 1986 and studied in Bristol and New York, where he received an MFA from Columbia University’s writing programme. He has had poems and criticism published in The Guardian Online, The Boston Review, New Welsh Review, Poetry Review and others. His poetry has appeared in several anthologies, including the Salt Book of Younger Poets and Best British Poetry 2011 and 2013. His first collection, The Claims Office, was published by Seren in October 2013. He is an editor at Prac Crit and a funded PhD candidate at UCL, where his thesis will examine the role syntax played in American poetry's postmodern turn. He is currently finishing a novel about the Gunpowder Plot, with the playwright Ben Jonson as the central character. Dai's fiction is represented by Georgina Capel Associates.

Weekend Fiction: House of Chance

No one remembers who really came up with the idea, but it was taken up by the new government with enthusiasm. It dealt with an epidemic that had been growing for years, and did it in a way that kept the addicts both comfortable and out the way of the masses, while still allowing their families a certain level of access to them. Gambling had been getting out of control, mostly amongst men between the ages of 25 and 65, and up until that point no one had suggested a workable solution outside of more regulations and more taxation. The gambling lobby simply would not have it: casual gamblers, they said, who genuinely gambled only on occasion for a bit of “light fun”, would suffer due to the excesses of immoral disreputables and the unfeeling iron gloved hand of the nanny state.

Power, Passion and a Transformed View of Illness and Disability

As a part of the new exhibition Opera: Passion, Power and Politics, organised in partnership with the Royal Opera House, the Victoria and Albert Museum last October hosted Hospital Passion Play, a live choral performance led by founder and artistic director of Rosetta Life, Lucinda Jarrett. As a charity, Rosetta Life is devoted to changing the perception of those who live with life-limiting illnesses, involving them directly in cultural initiatives and performance-based programs. 'Rosetta Life was set up to challenge the stigma of illness and perception of disability by enabling people to tell and perform their own stories,' explains Jarrett. 'We began 20 years ago by enabling those facing life-threatening illness in hospices to tell their own stories and, with a grant from

Bold and Original Theatre That Shines Light on the Dark and the Unseen

Just breath! Fog Everywhere, a Camden People’s Theatre production, is one of the more unusual artistic opportunities in that it reminds the audience of the harm involved in a vital and simple act of daily life in London. Known for its foggy air and sinister atmosphere, the British capital has reached appalling levels of pollution. In January, it was reported that the yearly toxic legal limit was broken by the city in just five days. So small it cannot be seen, apart from the black stains on the tissue after blowing your nose or when checking the train directions in the grey and obscure underground tunnels. London isn’t mysterious. It is just very dirty. With the issue of air pollution in mind, a group of young Londoners directed by CPT’s artistic director Brian Logan explores the arguments and risks of pollution in the city. The result is Fog Everywhere.

Music, Light, Laughter But Most of All Questions

Atresbandes, the experimental Catalan theatre company, are back in the UK with a tour of their latest show ALL IN, that stopped in London this week at the New Diorama Theatre. Formed by Mònica Almirall Batet, Miquel Segovia Garrell and Albert Pérez Hidalgo in 2008, the company aims to question everything its members encounter, believing that doubt and uncertainty are as important as mutual understanding. This time, they have also teamed up with performer Melcior Casals Castella - the first time that ATRESBANDES have created work with someone from outside the company. Despite having interviewed Atresbandes for Disclaimer, I was still surprised by the show. It takes you out of your comfort zone. It forces you to ask questions.

Weekend Poetry: The Boatman and Other Poems

Adam Day is the author of Model of a City in Civil War (Sarabande Books), and is the recipient of a Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship for Badger, Apocrypha, a PEN Emerging Writers Award, and an Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council. His poems have appeared in Boston Review, The Kenyon Review, American Poetry Review, ​Lana Turner, Poetry London, ​The Iowa Review, and elsewhere. He coordinates The Baltic Writing Residency in Sweden, Scotland, and Blackacre Nature Preserve.

Weekend Poetry: Four Suffolk Poems

Rebecca Goss grew up in Suffolk and returned to live in the county in 2013. She studied English at Liverpool John Moores University and completed an MA in Creative Writing at Cardiff University. Her pamphlet ‘Keeping Houston Time’, came out in 1997 with Slow Dancer Press. Her first full-length collection The Anatomy of Structures was published by Flambard Press in 2010. Her poems have appeared in many literary journals, anthologies and have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Arts online. Her second collection, Her Birth was published in 2013 by Carcanet/Northern House. It was shortlisted for the 2013 Forward Prize for Best Collection, won the Poetry category in The East Anglian Book Awards 2013, and in 2015 was shortlisted for The Warwick Prize for Writing and The Portico Prize for Literature. In 2014, Rebecca was selected for The Poetry Book Society’s Next Generation Poets.

"We Are Human": Putting the Stigma of Sex Work to Music and Challenging Preconceptions

SEX WORKER’S OPERA will be touring the UK, beginning in Cambridge, 4 November and culminating in London’s Ovalhouse, 2 December. The delightful and potentially ironic titled show aims to destroy the stereotypes and stigma that have long plagued the sex worker profession. Beginning its life in 2014, this is the fourth outing for the SEX WORKER’S OPERA. Across the cast, crew, directors and tech team, there are always at least 50% sex workers, with all creative processes sex worker led and all songs and scenes either written and sent in from sex workers or devised by all as a group. There are currently over 60 different stories sent in from 17 different countries and across 6 continents.

Weekend Poetry: Six Poems by Chris McCabe

Chris McCabe's poetry collections are The Hutton Inquiry, Zeppelins, THE RESTRUCTURE (all Salt Publishing) and, most recently, Speculatrix (Penned in the Margins). He has recorded a CD with the Poetry Archive was shortlisted for The Ted Hughes Award in 2013 for his collaborative book with Maria Vlotides,Pharmapoetica. He is writing a series of creative non-fiction books that aim to discover a great lost poet in one of London's Magnificent Seven cemeteries. This began in 2014 with In the Catacombs: a Summer Among the Dead Poets of West Norwood Cemetery (which was selected as an LRB Bookshop book of the year) and was followed in 2016 with Cenotaph South: Mapping the Lost Poets of Nunhead Cemetery. With Victoria Bean he is the co-editor of The New Concrete: Visual Poetry in the 21st Century (Hayward Publishing, 2015). He blogs at http://chris-mccabe.blogspot.co.uk/

Love, loss, and game design in Santiago

I was nervous about this book. The main character sounded like someone I could relate to and the Chilean setting intrigued me, but it's positioned as a millennial zeitgeist novel with gamer appeal, and I'm pushing forty with pop-cultural references that fade out in the late nineties. I needn't have worried: even I recognise Tetris and Super Mario, and with more mentions of Metallica than Facebook it's easy to forget the era and concentrate on the universal themes of love and stupidity. We Are The End is Gonzalo C Garcia's first novel and was published as a paperback in October 2017 by Galley Beggar Press. Set in Santiago, Chile this is a dark comedy about love, loss, and game design. Tomás is a failing game designer, a part-time university lecturer who hides under the desk whenever he's in the office, a man whose girlfriend has not only left him but gone to Antarctica.

Brutal, Bloody and Black Comedy - The Death of Stalin

What does it take to hold onto power? Steadfastness? A sense of duty? Or a swirling morass of scheming, in-fighting and paranoia? In The Death of Stalin it’s absolutely the latter, and it’s served up to such a degree that it makes the recent Conservative Party Conference look like a family picnic. The Death of Stalin, based on Fabien Nury and Thierry Robin’s graphic novel is the latest from master satirist Armando Iannucci, adapted from a French graphic novel. After skewering fictional Westminsters and Washingtons in The Thick of It and Veep, Ianucci now turns his gaze to a real-life chapter of history (and a dark one, at that). Setting a comedy in the Soviet Union is a tough ask, what with its tendency for purges and gulags. However, Iannucci and his co-writers tread the line perfectly.

Weekend Poetry: St John's Plan and Other Poems

Benedict is a journalist and lives in London. His poems have been published in Ambit, Magma, Orbis, Acumen, Other Poetry, Prole, Borderlines, Morning Star and South Bank Poetry. He’s a member of the King’s Poets, and makes poetry films – The Royal Oak was commissioned for Channel 4’s Random Acts. His first, Cul de sac, was shortlisted for the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival competition, Berlin, then included in a Special Programme of ZEBRA highlights at the 24th International Short Film Festival, Berlin. Both films have since been shortlisted for other competitions and have appeared at a number of festivals, with The Royal Oak winning the Best Animation Audience Choice Award at the Purbeck Shorts competition at the Purbeck Film Festival. Benedict has recently been awarded three time and space residencies with METAL Southend. For more information, visit benedictnewbery.com

Weekend Fiction: Three Pieces of Flash Fiction

“Learn how to spear a frog neatly,” one crane once said to my crane, “and you’ll live like a king in the swamp,” though I only smiled my wise-ass smile as I overheard that bird go on and on. ‘Truth be told, my crane is lucky if he can pierce French toast, much less come up with the slippery master of hops and plunges. However, my crane’s not a dead loss by any stretch. He comes to me able to analyze the motives in your love letters, and he’s always more than willing to wade through the tall grass of your sentences and the squoosh of your emotions. The fine mornings he flies down to my patio, he wastes no time getting to work on your latest letter after I’ve tossed it into the sunlight gilding the picnic table and turned back to polishing off my breakfast.

ATRESBANDES: asking questions about the individual and the crowd

ATRESBANDES, Experimental Catalan theatre company, is going on tour in the UK from 23 October to 11 November with their new show ALL IN, a sharp, surreal and humorous exploration of the millennial condition and the tyranny of the crowd! ATRESBANDES is a company from Barcelona with an international reach, whose work centres on a collective creative process, inspired by a diverse range of disciplines. Formed by Mònica Almirall Batet, Miquel Segovia Garrell and Albert Pérez Hidalgo in 2008, the company aims to question everything its members encounter, believing that doubt and uncertainty are as important as mutual understanding. In part an experiment in form, the role of the outsider is taken by performer Melcior Casals Castella and marks the first time that ATRESBANDES have created work with someone from outside the company.

Sing-Along with the Scythians, Muso is Distinct, Inspiring and Infectious

Standing outside its neoclassical entrance on a mild October evening is itself a pleasure, but entering the British Museum is to enter a trove of human history. Last week, however, the museum hosted an unusual show.Playing with words, beats and imagination, Impropera presented Muso, an improvised performance centred on the museum’s rich cultural collections. First started as an experimental project in 2015 at the Grant Museum of Zoology in University College London, the opera returns with a series of events for 2017-2018. First on the line is the British Museum, where the performance is centred upon its recently-opened exhibition Scythians - Warriors of Ancient Siberia. What Impropera aims to do is to create a connection between the audience and the artefacts that, in their cases, may look cold and far away.

Weekend Poetry: Dominic and other poems

Maria Apichella;s debut collection Psalmody has been shorlisted for the Forward Prize in the catergory of Felix Dennis Best First Collection, one of the most sought-after accolades in the UK and Ireland for established and emerging poets. Her book won the Eyewear, Melita Hume Prize in 2015. Her pamphlet Paga was a winner of the 2014 Cinnamon Press Pamphlet competition. She wrote these as part of her PhD in English and Creative Writing at The University of Aberystwyth in Wales, which was home for ten years.

Challenging but funny, Big Foot carries big responsibilities

Dipping a slice of roti into a bit of curry, the audience enters one of the two theatre spaces at the Stratford Circus Arts Centre. A dancing Moon Gazer (Joseph Barnes Phillips) welcomes them. He/she is dressed very colourfully and she dances at the rhythm of a Trinidadian music as they take their seats. A couple of questions here and there to the public, laughter and the curry in the cups is finished. The lights go down, and Moon Gazer slowly suspends her fluid movements to tell a tale, of Sensible Bill and Stupidity Bill and the latter’s questioning on love. Big Foot easily and immediately engages. This original new script is intended to touch a chord many will find familiar: those butterflies in the stomach, the impulse of doing everything and to be everywhere now and together, the feeling of the head flying.

Where Others Fear to Tread, Guest is a Novel with a Social Conscience

Lisa Jones is the pseudonym of a real woman who, in 2003, fell in love with a man called Mark Kennedy. An environmental activist, Lisa was with Kennedy for seven years until, in 2010, suspicions grew that Kennedy wasn't who he said he was. Lisa and her friends investigated - and found that Kennedy was an undercover police officer who had infiltrated their group in order to gain information on the plans and objectives of the activists. The life that Lisa had built for seven years was a lie - going public with her story led to a public apology from the police force, and a public investigation into undercover police officers. What wasn't explored though - save for the odd newspaper interview - was the impact that this had on Lisa Jones.

Weekend Poetry: Three Poems

Khairani Barokka (b. Jakarta, 1985) is a writer, poet and artist in London. Among her honours, she was an NYU Tisch Departmental Fellow for her masters, Emerging Writers Festival’s (AUS) Inaugural International Writer-In-Residence (2013), and Indonesia’s first Writer-In-Residence at Vermont Studio Center (2011). Okka is the writer/performer/producer of, among others, a deaf-accessible, solo poetry/art show, Eve and Mary Are Having Coffee. It premiered at Edinburgh Fringe 2014 as Indonesia’s only representative, with a grant from HIVOS. She was recognized in 2014 by UNFPA as one of Indonesia’s “Inspirational Young Leaders Driving Social Change", for highly prolific, pioneering international work in inclusive, accessible arts. Her first full-length poetry collection, Rope, will be published by Nine Arches Press in October 2017.

Weekend Fiction: How I'm Spending My Afterlife

Beach Drive has always had the smoothest pavement in the city because that’s where the money lives. I remember how the steering wheel vibrated in my hands—maybe “trembled” would be a better way to put it—that afternoon as I drove along the edge of North Shore Park, and I made a mental note to check the tire pressure in the morning. But then it occurred to me that in three or four hours I would be dead, and the Porsche would become someone else’s problem. I nudged the gas pedal and the Boxster’s engine responded, as if it had been anticipating the weight of my foot all along, just like it always did. I slipped past slower-moving Jaguar S-Types and Lexus SUVs piloted by retired hedge fund managers and solitary platinum-blond soccer moms.

The Absurdity of Ignorance: The Monkey That Speaks of our Fears

“It’s a story that must be told.” Although we already know the end, although there is no historical document that would prove the events, although the interpretations of the legend are multiple and the facts narrated date from ages ago, there are plenty of reasons not to miss The Hartlepool Monkey by Carl Grose. Gyre & Gimble, in association with Fuel Theatre and Stratford Circus Arts Centre, presents a sparkling production, combining the fascination of a myth and a strong message for the present. Hate and fear are often connected, and both the feelings link with the unknown.

Radical and Disruptive, The Northern Fiction Alliance Signals Change

The atmosphere in Waterstones Deansgate in Manchester is positively electric, the room is crammed with people and the excitement is palpable. Around the room, tables are filled with copies of the latest works published by a range of Northern independent publishers including Comma Press, & Other Stories, Dead Ink, Blue Moose, and Peepal Tree Press. Joining forces to give the London centric publishing monopoly a run for its money, these publishers have banded together to form the Northern Fiction Alliance, a collective designed to establish the North as a hive of creativity in UK publishing.