THIS ELECTION IS THE FIGHT OF OUR LIVES – HERE’S HOW WE CAN WIN IT

By Bradley Allsop

The world is on the brink. A shattered environment, gargantuan inequality, a burgeoning mental health crisis, fascism openly spreading across Europe, public services at breaking point… but also the possibility of more radical and progressive change than we’ve seen in decades. Higher education specifically also faces two radically different paths ahead of it: continued marketisation, eroding academic integrity, burdening a generation with enormous debt, crushing academics under enormous workloads, increasingly insecure employment and workplace stress – or publicly funded higher education that opens up space to imagine and create a different sort of campus.

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TRANSPARENT REFORM

prison wall tower reform

by David Breakspear

It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.
N. Mandela

A message I have carried whilst campaigning for reforms in our prison system has been one of making the walls of justice invisible. The walls that ensconce societies; mums, dads, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, other family members and loved ones and/or friends.

As someone that became, somewhat, institutionalised to the safety and comfort of prison, I saw those walls as keeping people out. I also saw this as a good thing. How ironic then, that here I am now, writing an article promoting transparency to those very same walls that were my protectors.Continue Reading

A CHRISTMAS BREXIT TALE, PART V

by Hannah Rose

(Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4)

Outside Selfridges on Oxford street at 5am Boxing Day morning, a queue had already formed. The sales could not start soon enough for some shoppers. At the same time, Aleksander’s father was waking his son up. He handed him a pile of thermal underwear and a hard hat and told him to get ready so they could go and ‘explore’ the site.

“Can I really see where you are working, dad!?”

“Of course, but you will have to stay in the cabin for a while as I have some large girders to move with the crane. If you stay in there you can watch out of the window. Bring your tablet and learn some English words while you wait, ok?”

“Ok dad.”Continue Reading

A CHRISTMAS BREXIT TALE, PART IV

by Hannah Rose

Later that night after Aleksander and his father had eaten too much food and watched a few films, and when Aleksander was asleep on the sofa, his father switched on the tablet and opened his emails. One was from his boss, the ops manager, and had an attachment. Do I need to read this now? He thought. Better to know what that tool has to say now, than worry about it all night. The email read:Continue Reading

A CHRISTMAS BREXIT TALE, PART III

by Hannah Rose

“What do you mean you sacked my team?” Aleksander’s father said to his boss, the operations manager late on Christmas Eve when he finally called him back. “It’s the day before Christmas and we were already behind schedule.”

“Look, mate,” the ops manager said. “the pound has taken a nosedive since Brexit, and your lot were asking for double their hourly rate, and expecting a Christmas bonus.”

“ ‘Your lot’” Aleksander’s father chastised.

The ops manager didn’t hear him.

“I’ve got the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi on my back threatening to pull the whole thing and leave a bunch of half built hotels in Battersea and a whole company of British workers made redundant if I don’t balance the books and get this thing sorted. I did you a favour by keeping you on. I had to let them go and get things level again. Otherwise there might have been a mutiny—sabotage—and how would that look for you, eh?”

You did me a favour’ Aleksander’s father silently repeated, bitterly.

“And what about my lot who have no money to send home this month?” He asked.

“Look, mate, we have to look after our own in this post Brexit world of ours. If you get the main building looking relatively ship shape by January 1st and the Sheikh is happy then I will consider bringing the Poles back for phase 2 of the project.”

“But why at Christmas?!” Aleksander’s father was desperate.

“Well it isn’t Christmas for the bloody Sheikh, is it?—he’s an Arab!”  Continue Reading

A CHRISTMAS BREXIT TALE, PART II

by Hannah Rose

The PM placed the Impact Assessment on Effects on Building Site Managers carefully down in front of her, crossed her arms and looked to her cabinet. “This Christmas,” she said, “you all have  homework to do.” I’d like you to read this Impact Assessment, inside out, and all the others, by the 1st January 2018.”

“Every single one ma’am?” The minister for education said, timidly.

“Every single one,” She replied. “And don’t call me ma’am. I’m not the queen—or Margaret Thatcher, God rest her soul.”Continue Reading

A CHRISTMAS BREXIT TALE, PART I

by Hannah Rose

Christmas in England this year made a festive looking smokescreen for the dirtiest of politics. Whilst civilians were stripping the shelves of Lidl of pickles, the PM and her cabinet were negotiating terms for exiting Europe for good—no one would see them slink away through the back door. In mid December the Brexit Impact Assessments, which had  taken up most of civil service’s working week throughout the year, sat in a sagging pile on the Cabinet’s round table, resembling the Christmas cake which no one actually likes but must stay there reminding everyone of the hard effort some relative put in to making it. “Who has actually read these?” the PM asks. Silence, except for the shuffle of feet. She picks up the top file between her forefinger and thumb and waves it at the men sitting around her. “Has anyone read” –she pauses to peer at the title—“’Effects on Self-employed Building Site Managers’?” The Defence Secretary coughs and offers a response.

“That isn’t my area ma’am.”

“Esteemed colleagues,” the PM says to her cabinet, not unkindly. “Brexit is everyone’s area.”Continue Reading

“HI, HOW ARE YOU?”

by Kev Walker

Content warning:  mentions substance misuse, mental health, homelessness, conflict

It’s all bling and totter, down the lights of the highstreet, drunk by the train journey there
Cackles and shouts, tales of shagging and swearing, cosmetics squeeze out the air
Bravado and vanity, beer and wine, heading for the first open club
Boys strut with their chests out, showing a leg, only thoughts are of getting a rub.

He’s crouched in the corner, a-top a damp box, wrapped in a half soaking doss-bag
A dog by his side, as companion and protector, a mucker to share a sparse nose-bag
He shakes with the cold, but also the comedown          the cider has long since left him
A blot-out, a release, from the pain in his mind and the mess he now finds himself in.Continue Reading

JOAN LEE: THE MARVELOUS MUSE

by Richard Worth

The story goes that Stan Lee was dragging his feet on Marvel’s latest bid to catch up with the Distinguished Competition. He was becoming bored with the monster-matinée mags he made with Kirby and uninspired by the sci-fi parables he produced with Ditko and now his bosses had tasked him with making a book to rival DC’s newest hit, Justice League.

Stan wasn’t one for superheroes. They were too perfect, too unflawed, and too unfit for the hyper-dramatised, purple prose that was Stan’s hallmark. He moped and complained about his artistic integrity, as writers are wont to do, boring all around him until his perpetually patient wife finally told him to get on with it. Continue Reading

REVIEW: LARRY SULTAN’S HERE AND HOME, SFMOMA

by Hannah Rose

Finding the right home for his pictures was a feature of Larry Sultan’s early career. Museums and galleries dismissed his satirical images—which played out an ironic commentary on modern American life—and found themselves on billboards scattered across America instead. Striking and immediate, perhaps they made more of an impact outside gallery walls.

Now Sultan’s photographs can be viewed in galleries including the Solomon Guggenheim Museum and SFMOMA, where his collection Here and Home is on view until July 23rd.Continue Reading

REVIEW: BETTER WATCH YOUR MOUTH, BY JENN HART

by Carmina Masoliver

The cover of Better Watch Your Mouth displays a set of lips and teeth pulling the kind of expression you would make after being told such a thing. It suggests an unapologetic rejection of censorship, which is later reflected in the poem ‘Ugh, Men’ with the statement ‘we will not censor ourselves (x3)’.

This is a collection that mixes everyday language with profound metaphor, and beautiful imagery with emotive stories. It begins with the telling of others’ stories and gradually becomes more personal, yet in a way that is also relatable, as time skips back and forth like the mind floating back to memories, some singed with pain and others with nostalgia.

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THINGS ONLY WOMEN WRITERS HEAR AND THE TROUBLE WITH TWITTER

by Hannah Rose

Virginia Woolf stated in her 1929 seminal essay A Room of One’s Own that, because women remain unequal to men in society, they are less likely to succeed as writers. A writer has two basic requirements in order to write productively: an independent income which provides basic necessities—food and shelter— and uninterrupted writing time. In 1929, the majority of British women were either working to provide the basic necessities for others, and did not have a private space in which to pursue a creative life or an independent income. This, says Wolf, is why the literary canon is dominated by men. “Intellectual freedom,” she writes, “depends upon material things.”

Almost a century later, some women are still having to argue their right to a creative life.Continue Reading

OXFORD’S PUBLICITY STUNT WON’T CLOSE THE UNIVERSITY CLASS GAP

By Lewis Martin

This month Oxford University, in conjunction with the Sutton Trust, launched a summer school aimed at attracting more “white, working class boys” to the university. While this has received praise from some sectors of society, it does not address the real reasons why working class people (not just boys or men) are not attending universities like Oxford.

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WHY THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE IS THE BEST BATMAN MOVIE

by Paige Selby-Green

Batnipples. There are many other terrible things about the 1997 film Batman & Robin, but the nipple armour tends to, well, stick out the most. The failure of that film led to an eight-year gap between its début and that of Batman Begins in 2005. You could argue that it also led to what was initially an exciting new trend for cinema in general and Batman in particular. Continue Reading

CIVIL WAR

1

by Carmina Masoliver

He rolls the ‘r’ in my name, and the resentment I’ve felt fades,
resentment for the absence of mi abuelito, and the language
my tongue stumbles over, yet hungers for like tortilla Española.

They greased their rifles with olive oil, with Vaseline, with cold cream, with bacon-fat:¹
an opera, with the occasional death.²Continue Reading

REVIEW: LOVE IS LOVE ANTHOLOGY, FROM IDW PUBLISHING

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by Gwen Taylor

How on Earth do I put these feelings into words? I’m sitting here just after finishing Love is Love and I have been utterly floored. 2016 has been an awful year all around, a year where hatred and intolerance appear to have won, and love has been  firmly pushed into a corner. One of the most horrific events of the year took place in June at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. One person took the lives of 49 others who were celebrating their individuality and love in what had always been regarded as a safe space.

Love is Love is an anthology of responses to the shooting published by IDW Publishing and supported by DCComics to raise money for Equality Florida. It contains 144 pages of beautiful stories designed to celebrate love following a tragic event. Each piece is 1-2 pages long and all are incredibly powerful; the sheer number of contributors demonstrates how this horrific event was felt by everyone.
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IS SPAIN’S NAME-CHANGING GAME-CHANGING?

by Carmina Masoliver

Since moving into my own place in the beautiful city of Córdoba, I’ve realised how important the aesthetics of our environment are to our well-being. Both inside and outside of the home, I feel uplifted, and can meditate on the simple pleasures of my surroundings. So for many Spanish people, the news that street names are being changed is a lot bigger than it might seem on the surface.

Franco’s dictatorship is an all-too-present memory, which I learnt more about when speaking to my abuelito, my paternal grandfather, about it. It divided the family, and although a majority of Spain looks back on this time with regret and sadness, there are some who still support his legacy. At such times where we are becoming more divided, and dominant groups increasingly scapegoat, discriminate against, and oppress minorities, perhaps this is an important message from a government which is currently in disorder.Continue Reading

MY MENTAL HEALTH AND POKEMON GO

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by Daniel Delargy

CW: depression

Since graduating from UEA, things kind of went downhill for me. I graduated with the grade I wanted, but I was stuck as to what to do next. I had no job, no sense of personal accomplishment, deteriorating relationships, and to top it all off I moved back in with my parents and felt ashamed because as the eldest child, I had this expectation that I had to be this success story which my siblings could look up to.

My old habits started returning. I tried to get back into an old hobby of mine, running – but quickly dismissed it. I hid myself away.Continue Reading

AN ORDINARY DAY

1

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Alessandra Racca (1979-), ‘Un giorno qualunque’

In the match
between what we call good
and we despise as evil
today a bomb will make noise
smoke will assault the eyes
scattering shards on screens
and people
a woman’s tears
will stand stillContinue Reading

INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY AND THE EU SHAMBLES

by Robyn Banks

This International Women’s day was supposed to be devoted to refugee women. Well, it was in name — the EU parliament website published a series of articles highlighting the plight of women refugees, such as the fact that two in five are underage. But as EU leaders hammered out a deal on the long night between Mother’s day and International Women’s day, it seemed that the only thing the EU really planned on doing to help women refugees was to use them as fodder for a Brussels photo exhibit.

For a long time, people in the EU from both left and right have been questioning if what they see is really what they get, and nothing is more exemplary of this dishonesty than the EU’s recent deal with Turkey. On two days when much fanfare was made about Mothers, about the trauma of women refugees, about family reunification, we learned about the EUs most absurd plan to date. The plan involves a one in, one out scheme whereby boats crossing to Greece from Turkey carrying ‘irregular’ or ‘illegal’ migrants — e.g. everybody not using official channels, refugee or otherwise — would be intercepted and forcibly turned back. In return for paying their life savings and risking their lives to make the dangerous crossing to Europe by dinghy, they will be sent to the ‘back of the queue’ for asylum seeking.Continue Reading

POETRY HITS THE HEADLINES, BUT IS IT FOR THE RIGHT REASONS?

by Carmina Masoliver

For those who are partial to a bit of poetry, you’ll probably have heard by now that Sarah Howe has been awarded this year’s T.S. Eliot prize by judges Pascale Petit (chair), Kei Miller, and Ahren Warner. You may also have seen this article, which questioned the negative tinge of the criticism of which Howe has received. Katy Evans-Bush argued that these criticisms were more to do with Howe’s age, gender and ethnicity (Howe is of dual Chinese-British heritage). Some seemed baffled both that it was possible to win on a first collection, yet also that it took her ten years to write. Surely the fact that she spent so long producing the poetry might suggest how it became possible to win? I mean, that, or witchcraft.Continue Reading

EAGLES OF DEATH

by Chris Jarvis

The skies over Damascus are silent tonight
as the Eagles of Death whistle through the air
and the Bataclan looks on, betrayed and manipulated.
A weeping cloud dampens the scarred earth with tears
and little splatterings of embers dance amongst the rubble.Continue Reading

BORDERLINES – WHY WHAT WHEN WHERE HOW

Borderlines is a collection of thought pieces, some creative, some direct accounts, some memoirs, all true. Borderlines collects stories from people who are not fleeing from one country to another, but rather chose to move, or were made to do so by a series of non-threatening circumstances. In these stories there is anger, hope, disappointment, joy, fear, optimism. They are all different, and yet all striking in their approach to the subject matter.

Borderlines aims to show the reality of migration, and how we are all, in our own way, migrants.Continue Reading

FAMILY PLANNING

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by Jake Reynolds

In response.

1. Policy

They watched him play alone
with teddies in a queue
for so long
that sometimes when drunk
they made love to be illegal, but

rumour has it the lady from
the tea-shop had her second
needled out
in the dark places between
the legal buildings.Continue Reading

THE SWARM

by Jake Reynolds

In response.

It was a murmuration demoted from dusk to night-time,
a climb of buzzing cloud, the open mouth of a life-line,
the sparkle of darkness at the end of a tunnel, the vertigo
of a hungry stomach pressed against lorry tarpaulin,Continue Reading

THE MET GALA: A DEMONSTRATION OF WEALTH OR IGNORANCE?

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by Jess Howard

Disclaimer: article discusses sensitive topics — features forced abortion.

The annual Met ball returned to New York this week. Held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the event charges ticket prices from upwards of £900, all in aid of The Met Costume Institute that opened in the 1940’s. The event is best known, however, for the guests that frequent it. Beyonce, Kim Kardasian and singer Lady Gaga all graced the red carpet. Draped in designs that supposedly followed the designated theme — ‘China: Through the looking glass’.

Celebrity interpretation was ‘interesting’ and, in some cases, borderline racist. For instance Fifty Shades of Grey star Dakota Johnson chose to accompany her Chanel Haute couture mini dress with a bag by the same designer. However, far from being a fun and exciting piece of couture, the bag featured a Chinese woman with stereotypically fine slits in place of eyes. As if Chanel, and indeed Johnson, were unaware of the thousands of Asian woman undergoing plastic surgery for the sake of achieving the western eyelid shape.Continue Reading