January 2021 saw the start of the Living Record Festival, which featured over forty artists and theatre companies showcasing digital work, from spoken word audio pieces to mini-web series. It has garnered many four-star and five-star reviews. In this two-part series, Carmina Masoliver discusses her picks of the festival’s most interesting shows. You can read part two here.
A book filled with moths, whiskey and full moons; reading Zelda Chappel’s debut collection The Girl in the Dog-Tooth Coat, published with Bare Fiction (2015), forces you to be in the moment with each and every piece. With each turn of the page comes a fresh clarity and precision, yet still connected like water – at times a stream, and at others, a rushing waterfall. It explores grief, and through its dark and sombre tones, there is a glimmer of hope: that this is a tale of survival.
Prerna Bakshi’s debut collection Burnt rotis, with love was published in 2016 by Le Zaporogue via Lulu.com. Poems featured in the collection have appeared in many literary journals, magazines and anthologies across the world. Hailing from India, Bakshi offers a refreshing perspective on feminism and the wider would, enlightening readers with its undeniable South Asian roots.
There is something to be said for the recent solidarity protests in London, Birmingham and Manchester as organised by the Black Lives Matter movement. Never have I seen such a positive, unionised display of blackness that has caught the eye of not only the media, but also the average citizen. As more articles are released, I am becoming more intrigued by the role that social media has played in galvanising mass movement, and implementing revolutionary politics that will leave behind a long lasting message for people of colour to come.
My experience in the UK regarding institutional violence against people of colour was that the baton was always passed to our stateside counterparts. It is not difficult to see why, when sites such as Twitter and Tumblr opened us up to the lives of Trayvon Martin, Ayesha Jones, Eric Garner, and Sandra Bland — long before it caught the attention of popular news sites and news networks. It was important that these narratives were being discussed, as it gave people of all races an insight into the practices within forces that are designed to safeguard us —especially in a society of 24-hour surveillance.
by Emma Draper
Disclaimer: mentions loss, bereavement, depression
Until 2013, the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) incorporated a ‘bereavement clause’ into the criteria for major depressive disorder, excluding patients from a diagnosis of clinical depression if they suffered bereavement in the last two weeks. Put simply: if someone you love has just died and you cry all day and can’t eat and everything is terrible — well, that’s a healthy and expected response which we call ‘grief’. The removal of the clause by the American Psychiatric Association was contentious, with accusations made that psychiatrists were trying to ‘medicalise’ mourning. One commentator called it the most controversial decision since the removal of homosexuality from the list of psychiatric disorders in 1973.
For me, this illustrates a lot of pertinent questions about how we think and talk about mental illness. What does mental wellness look like? How do we draw the distinction between the normal fluctuations of a healthy mindset and ‘pathological’ functioning? Does having the authority to categorise what mental states are ‘normal’ give psychiatrists social and ideological influence beyond their remit?
When I was in my last year of primary school, I experienced the death of a pupil in the year below; her name was Demi. She had epilepsy and was known to have regular fits, but they were often manageable and not entirely life threatening if responded to sufficiently. I distinctly remember one lunch time as I headed towards the playground, that I passed by Demi having another fit. Teachers and paramedics cornered me off, so as not to make a bigger scene and I ran off to the playground to inform others. Of course we were all concerned, but were mostly pacified in the knowledge she was in the best possible care.
The next morning at school, my teacher informed us that Demi had died. She was only 10 years old — they had been unable to restart her heart. In that moment, I felt a level of responsibility. I saw her in her last moments and passed it off as another episode that would soon rectify itself to see Demi in good health. Counsellors came into school and assemblies were given, but they did nothing to attend to the hurt and regret I felt for not being able to do more. I know that Demi’s condition was never my immediate concern, but there was always that part of me that took on the blame for witnessing her final moments. For many pupils including myself, it was their first experience with death and consequently grief.