LOVE, HONOUR AND FOREPLAY – LAUREN KAYE’S I’M ALL IN, FIVE YEARS ON

By Carmina Masoliver

August saw the five-year anniversary of Lauren Kaye’s ‘I’m All In’, a poetry collection described as a ‘seductive collection of romantic and sensual poems that speak on the inevitable episodes of love, sex and relationships’. The occasion was marked on social media – at a time where artists are forced to be more resourceful than ever when the stage is taken away. As Kaye outlines in the introduction, her poetry ‘is written much how I speak’, and it is best to have seen her live or see live videos so you can then hear her voice as you read coming through the pages.

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THIS IS MY LOVE STORY

1

by Anonymous

cw: sexual assault, PTSD

There’s something weirdly intimate about being curled up in a corner of a bed, completely naked and sobbing uncontrollably, unable to catch your breath and being very conscious of the wet space between your legs where a warm body was just seconds ago. The face belonging to this body is now centimetres away from my face, asking too many questions, and panicking more than I am.Continue Reading

REVIEW: MILK – AN ANTHOLOGY OF EROTICISM, BY SALO PRESS

by Laura Potts

Salò Press is a Norwich-based independent publisher of poetry, prose and experimental writing. The surreal nature of much of the work by the imprint allows a new ground for experimental writing, and the eventual outcomes that follow. Their most recent book  – MILK: an anthology of eroticism – has just been published and I have the pleasure of reviewing the work.

The first thing evident within MILK is the importance of independent publishing as an arena to allow a multitude of voices, as there is a very broad range of writers with varied backgrounds and circumstances included. It shows a much wider cross section of society, and the creative work embodies that greatly: we find a freedom to pen emotions so strong that you wouldn’t initially think literary testimony could do them justice. Writers such as Jessica Rhodes, Rosie Quattromini, and Jane Jacobs have done just that.Continue Reading

REVIEW: AUTUMN, BY ALI SMITH

by Eli Lambe

Rich with reference and metaphor, Ali Smith’s Autumn is a triumph. Published incredibly quickly following the chaos of the EU Referendum in June 2016, it fully captures the feelings of isolation, division, and distrust that seems to have characterised the 12 months since. The atmosphere of unreality is masterfully tied together with dream-sequence, ekphrasis, and lies. The principal character, Elisabeth sums it up concisely as an eight year old in 1993: “It’s about history, and being neighbours.”Continue Reading

YARL’S WOOD

by Alison Graham

Content warning: mentions violence against women, rape.

Britain has the greatest area of land dedicated to the indefinite detention of human beings in Europe. This is legal.

See:

A former inmate looks at the place in which her back was physically, literally, broken and says don’t give up. Women thread flowers through this border within a border within a border. The border is admitted only by the letters IRC. Green paint flecks cling to the toes of your boots. On a hill do not question whether the people with the kite-fluttering hands can see you.

Instead:

Is it rare to recall dreams. Where can I find this on gov.uk. If the guards are rapists what does that make the walls. How do you resist the lines you were born the right side of. How do you resist. Can love and hatred happen at the same time, and transform you equally. Are there two kinds of hatred. How about three. How about in the same place, at the same time. And built into the container itself – the beige, the smallness of the windows, the low shade of the roof, the two fields away from the road where no one is living. How are you. Do you need water. Can you read the sign from that window. Is this your first time. When will we deport Theresa. Is there a postcode for here. Have they repainted the fence. Is it really violent to kick it so that it thunders. Who is bringing the smoke flares next time, and in what colour. Do you need water. How do you resist. Is it violence when your window looks over an unreachable place, when that unreachable place is so blooming. Is it when everything is glass and unbreakable. What is the consensus on winding yourself at a border with a child’s party toy to say in a way I make noise therefore you are. Are there two kinds of hatred. How about four. How about one for each piece of sand on a beach in southeast Europe. Do you need water. Is this your first time. Is it violent. When this is all over, will people laugh at the theory of lying flowers on a has-been border, as if it were a wrist.

Featured Image credit: Jan McLachan


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THE WOMEN ARE LAUGHING IN THE GYM

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Caterina Sinibaldi, after Alex Valente’s translation of Andrew McMillan’s ‘the men are weeping in the gym’, ‘le donne ridono in palestra’

the women are laughing in the gym
on smooth backs words run to the music,
thoughts and dreams on sweaty mats.
solitary machines with white towels sing the intimate exhaustion of a quietness
women.Continue Reading

REVIEW: A BOOK OF FRAGMENTS AND DREAMS, REBECCA McMANUS

by Lewis Buxton

Despite being called A Book of Fragments and Dreams, the poems in Rebecca McManus’ collection are far from fragmentary. They speak loudly to one another and are rooted decisively in the people, places, and objects of her life. Unthank Cameo has released this collection posthumously after Rebecca McManus was killed by a speeding driver whilst waiting at a bus stop. She was 21 and just weeks away from graduating from the University of East Anglia.Continue Reading

REVIEW: MOONRISE BY ELLA CHAPPELL

by Lewis Buxton

Moonrise’s publisher, As Yet Untitled, is an ‘independent press that specialises in limited edition, handmade works that embrace the breadth of possibility in the book’s form’. The book is beautifully made, a fragile thing one worries about reading with a cup of tea too close. Interesting then to consider the fragility of the book’s form with the robustness of the poems. Moonrise, by Ella Chappell, is a book about sex and love and flowers and moons and stones and good nights and bad nights and scientific theories and the gravity that pulls at us all. These aren’t new themes. But that’s what I like about this book; there is at once a familiarity to it but still a newness in the words, a fresh light on the scene.Continue Reading

CAN WE CALL IT LOVE?

by Alice Thomson

(Content warning: mention of sexual assault)

I’m sure you’ve all noticed the Valentine’s Day gifts and cards that seem to be everywhere at the moment. Like Christmas, it’s almost impossible to avoid. When I got outside I can barely move for all the soppy rom-coms, chocolates and flowers that are being bandied about. And all of them carry connotations of sex.

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REVIEW – CARMEN GASTROFLAMENCO

by Carmina Masoliver

I’m not usually one for instrumental music, or music where I don’t understand the lyrics. Perhaps as a writer, I cling onto the words to evoke feeling. Perhaps this is also the reason why writing about music proved to be truly ineffable on a ‘Words and Music’ module I took at UEA, leaving me with a respectively low grade. I have been to operas and seen classical orchestras, willing myself not to be bored, trying not to fall asleep.

Often, I pretend to myself that I enjoy these things, or that at least it was “an experience”. I don’t like to reject a whole genre of music, so that is not my point here. I wouldn’t desecrate classical music as a whole, yet believe that we all have particular music tastes. For example, instrumental band 65daysofstatic are able to provoke emotions and excitement without the need for words, to me. Similarly, I was recently able to enjoy a performance of flamenco in Córdoba, and it happened both while instrumental, and without understanding the lyrics.Continue Reading

REVIEW: THE GIRL IN THE DOG-TOOTH COAT, BY ZELDA CHAPPEL

by Carmina Masoliver

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.

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REVIEW: AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES, BY JOHN GREEN

by Carmina Masoliver

I picked this book up on my travels from a Silent Meditation Retreat in Ubud, Bali. Reading a good book is like meditation for those of us whose minds won’t shut up. It’s something I know I should do more, especially as an English Literature graduate and as a writer. But in the age of social media, I find myself clicking on different articles deep into the night instead. That said, a good writer will keep you hooked enough to pull you away from such distractions.

I had read John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars, which rightfully brought him to critical acclaim (as well as a film deal). An Abundance of Katherines was first published ten years ago, but is seeing a revival now that Green is a bestselling author. I felt excited to start reading it, and I enjoyed it so much that I made sure I had a copy waiting for me when I returned home, in between jetting off to Spain, where I’m now living.Continue Reading

TRISTAN THINKS ABOUT THE NEWS, WHILE EATING RICE AND BEANS

by Julian Canlas

Isaiah 11:2 New International Version (NIV)
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—

Tristan does so without the fear of God, like a pinprick—
a spitting image of all those heretics and unknown curses—

no doubt, in this bog of a living room, where moments
of explosions become dictators, pushing him headfirstContinue Reading

CROMER, 2013

by Carmina Masoliver

The rush of the lapping waves of the sea,
the sound of shells, smell of salt, is where,
the humdrum left behind, I can just be.
The horizon before me, I can stare,
watch where the sea meets sky and then it leaves –
nowhere I’d rather be than standing there.Continue Reading

FIRST LOVE, OF COURSE

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Valentina Pinza (1982-), ‘Primo amore, naturalmente’

It was love, but we didn’t notice
none of us knew
years have passed
enough
for us to forget everything, the breathing and all the rest
we’ve thrown out those t-shirts
summers and summers ago
maybe even the following year;
that night we watched the stars
who said wishes are lonely?Continue Reading

AN UNUSUAL LOVE STORY: APPRECIATING THE DEPTH OF FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS

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by Sunetra Senior

The story of Noamh Baumbach’s 2012 film ‘Frances Ha’ focuses on the drifting friendship between two women in their late twenties. There is a particularly poignant scene where Frances (Greta Gerwig) awakes to find that her best friend, Sophie, (Mickey Sumner) has left without saying goodbye after spending the night sleeping over when they haven’t seen each other in a long time. As Sophie’s car pulls away, Frances runs after her screaming her name.  This boldly illustrates the highly sentimental nature of many women’s friendships and the pain that inevitably results because, we as a society, do not respect it. Indeed, through all the big life changes Frances explicitly undergoes — moving between different apartments, facing financial troubles, and trying to launch a tentative dancing career —what remains as palpably constant are the unrequited affections for her ever elusive friend.

Unfortunately, this is very much reflective of what happens in ordinary life.Continue Reading

ANTI-CONFESSIONAL 3

by Jake Reynolds

I don’t know where I go
but boy, do I go.
Meadows, mole-holes,
traps of dead thistle.
Manholes for ditches.

You’ve been ditched. Remember?
I watched you cough dust and wipe
sand from your eyes. You said
you’d seen me in a past life.
We were here, on this dirt road.Continue Reading

REVIEW – EMILY HARRISON’S ‘I CAN’T SLEEP ‘CAUSE MY BED’S ON FIRE’

by Carmina Masoliver

I have seen Emily Harrison share her work countless times at Burn After Reading events, and at my own night, She Grrrowls. She never fails to amaze me in the way she is able to articulate herself, speaking out about mental health issues – amongst other subjects – interwoven with links to gender and class. When I read lines about imaging someone loves you ‘when you simply asked/during a routine blood test, ‘Emily, how are you doing today?’ I sort of imagine she’s what I would be like if I were an extrovert.

The first couple of poems are familiar to me, and it’s hard not to picture Harrison on stage delivering these words, because as much as it’s incredible to be able to read the pieces, seeing them live is an important part of the way the text works, as it tends to be with Burning Eye Books – the go-to publisher for writers who refuse to remain on one side of the page/stage divide.Continue Reading

BEYONCÉ AND HER REFRESHING LEMONADE

by Emmanuel Agu

Lemonade, Beyoncé’s latest album, is aptly named. In the political climate we live in with constant reminders of the atrocities that black people face, and a music industry that seems to be losing its greatest and brightest this year, nothing could have been more refreshing than this album for popular culture and especially for black women. This is undoubtedly the strongest piece of work Beyoncé has ever produced; musically, visually, and politically. With features and samples from a wide variety of artists including James Blake, Jack White, Diplo and for a second time another sample from Outkast’s’ ‘Spottieottiedopaliciousness’ (which I will never complain about), Knowles-Carter goes from strength to strength and I am truly left to question if it is ever possible for her to release an album less brilliant than its predecessor.

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BEAUTY

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Rosita Copioli (1948-), ‘Beltà’

Look, everything returns, even the markings on the wall
and behind the bushes the eyes of our heavens
without a reason to be tend towards a return,
they return not to forget, how much each
and every one finds their own pleasure – adspice:Continue Reading

BLAST FROM THE PAST – CHRISTINA AGUILERA: STRIPPED

by Carmina Masoliver

I have a strange memory of Christina Aguilera performing Genie in a Bottle on Top of the Pops and my dad asking if I liked her songs. Strange, because it’s so unremarkable to be kept inside my head. At this stage I her career, she had made her big break, and soon enough I was listening to her album, with hits such as What a Girls Wants and Come On Over (All I Want Is You). Yet, it was three years later, when she released what I will always think of as her best album: Stripped.

I was having a hard time at school, and listening to this album was the very definition of empowering. I had been pushed out of a friendship group during a time where looking back, I honestly believe I was depressed, and this escalated to the extent where I felt I was a target for lots of different groups at school. I did make some new friends, and remember connecting with one of them through a shared love of this album. This was before we had learnt to talk about why it is that Beautiful holds so much resonance with us, but fourteen years later and we are still friends, now sharing a love of bell hooks.Continue Reading

DEBRIS STEVENSON — PIGEON PARTY

by Carmina Masoliver

Deborah ‘Debris’ Stevenson is founder of The Mouthy Poets, based in Nottingham, who are a collective of 50 young poets. A poet herself, with a blurb of incredible achievements, I can’t help but envy her success as someone so near my age (she’s actually younger). Watching from the outside, I can see how much she has grafted to get where she is today, and her enthusiasm for what she does shines through at workshops, performance events, and is inside every well-chosen word on the pages of the Pigeon Party (2014) collection with flipped eye publishing.

Poems are enclosed in two-part poem After The Blackstone Rangers, which sets the scene for the collection. They describe a childhood growing up in cities, where “everyone was learning”, whether rolling cigarettes, or dancing. The words are both familiar and unexpected; a place where love and friendships are based on fun that is “still disposable and warm” — referring to the “can of Scrumpy Jacks”— but also holding a wider resonance, like most of Stevenson’s work.Continue Reading

THE HOURGLASS

by Carmina Masoliver

 

grains of sand pass like biology
my body ticking like a heart
my love straining like teaContinue Reading

THIS MAN

by Rebecca Tamás

This man is an angel
because
he is not a man

I reject the penis as my chosen ontology
even when his penis is in my hand
even when his mouth is open like a sodden
breastContinue Reading

ON LOVE, PUNK AND CAPITALISM

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by Armando Razo

In 1981, news anchor for NBC, Tom Snyder, asked the only band that matters why did they decided to be introduced as a “news giving group” instead of a “Rock & Roll music group” to which Joe Strummer, eloquently replied: “Too many songs have been written about love already, subject’s covered… The news is news, right? So it’s not boring, I mean… it’s what’s happening now”. So what’s happening now? It’s 2016 and we have sources of information everywhere, some of which are important, some irrelevant. Some true, some false. Some will endure the test of time and some will be instantly forgotten. But, do we really know what’s happening now?

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COMPUTER GENERATED IMAGES

by Carmina Masoliver

we grew up on html

love was a cartoon heart
pink or red
we dissected some cold slab of meat in science labs

and with that, every Disney film turned dirty
we would publicise our most private thoughts
kidding ourselves it was poetry
when it was catharsis at bestContinue Reading

BORDERLINES – WHEN MIGRATION SHAPES TRANSLATION

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

LETTERS TO CATE BLANCHETT

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by Jake Reynolds

In response.

Cate Blanchett, it’s come to this. You know they say the world will end when
BBC Radio Four stops broadcasting? Well, I’ve been playing with the dials on
my Roberts Revival RD60 DAB and I don’t know about you but down my end I
swear the voices are getting fainter and fainter.

Cate Blanchett, look, it’s like this: the world is a ruin, like I said. I’m not pulling
your leg. I wrote a poem called Strikes because I thought talking about
doctors and bombs was really clever, see, because… sure, you get it.

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BORDERLINES – AN INTERSECTION OF PRIVILEGES

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

LENSES

by Jake Reynolds

In response.

I can’t wait to get out of these clothes and braid
our legs together, hold collarbones like fridge handles
and wait for the glow, then poke your dimples
like they are soft depressions on a hot cake.

I like Evie, for a girl. Rory for a boy. And I like the way
that you are everything, that you hold the world up
as a photograph of a photograph, or how you sing
when you re-enact The Lion King with the cat.Continue Reading

ROBIN SONG

1

by Jake Reynolds

In response.

I descend / Toward the brink… – Thomas Hardy

The robin pegs its washing on the line, following a feud
in which a red snuck its way into whites. Its dark eyes
probe the meadow, robed in dismembered scarecrows.

It seethes at a pinkish shirt, and curtly calls for the culprit
to come forward. I will find you, it chirps, I will take joy
in severing your spinal cord, in hanging you to dry.Continue Reading

COUNTRY OF LOVE

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Grażyna Miller (1957-2009), ‘Paese d’amore’.

And I, here to take in the old land
beauty and love call to me.
Lost souls find refuge here
– spirits parched for truth,
violated by the lies of history.

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IF YOU NOW CAME TO KNOCK AT MY DOOR

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Patrizia Cavalli (1947 – ), ‘Se ora tu bussassi alla mia porta’

If you now came to knock at my door
and took off your glasses
and I took off mine which are the same
and then you entered my mouthContinue Reading