THE RICH NOTHING AT UGLY DUCK

by Carmina Masoliver

On a rainy Friday, people in-the-know gathered to listen to poetry in Ugly Duck for the launch of Sophie Fenella’s debut poetry collection The Rich Nothing. Ugly Duck is actually a series of different event spaces, with this particular one being located at 47/49 Tanner Street in Bermondsey. Inside this old Victorian tannery (where leather skins are processed), therein lies ‘The Garage’. On the ground floor, the space is described as having ‘a grungy urban warehouse feel’, and without much natural light at the back, it has an underground vibe in more than one sense of the word. With genuine caution signs for wet floors from leaks, it feels like an abandoned building that has been turned into an exhibition space – but in a cool way.

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THE GREATEST PRICE OF AUSTERITY? PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE

by Edward Grierson

As a child, I always looked forward to a visit to the National Museum of Scotland. An hour’s journey to Edinburgh was always a small price worth paying if it meant passing a wet weekend or day out from the holiday among dinosaurs, dioramas, steam trains and robots that could spell your name. Since then the museum has undergone countless changes, but whenever I return, I can always be certain to discover something new.

However, those trips to the museum were much more than just a fun day out. I can confidently say that they were a major formative influence for me, particularly in inspiring my love of nature. Without the influence of the National Museum of Scotland, I would not be who I am today. I can also confidently say I’m not the only one. I speak for countless others whose interests, whatever they are, were inspired by visiting trips to a museum.Continue Reading

40%

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by Alex Powell

I’m sure you’ve all heard it at least once. ‘40% is all I need. It’s first year, it doesn’t really count for anything.’ It’s obvious, right? If the year doesn’t count towards your final degree classification, then you don’t really need to try. Right?

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LOVE & LOSS, THEN & NOW: READING OVID’S POETRY OF EXILE

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by Justin Reynolds

Two thousand years ago this winter, a heartbroken Roman nobleman died far from home by the frozen shores of the Black Sea.

The poet Publius Ovidius Naso, known to the world as Ovid, had lived a very different life from the millions of Syrian refugees who today find precarious asylum in nearby Turkey, or the Rohingya, further east, camped in the fields of Bangladesh. But he too knew the pain and bitterness of exile.

In Rome, together with his contemporaries Horace and Virgil, he had been lauded as one of the greats of Latin literature. He was certainly the most fashionable. Born into the Roman aristocracy and enjoying the patronage of the legendary benefactor Maecenas, Ovid had won fame with his sly, knowing love poetry, before writing one of the classics of world literature, the Metamorphoses.Continue Reading

SELF EDUCATION, NEW SOLUTIONS

by Laura Potts

Schools stand as institutions of education, aiming to enhance and aid growth in various forms. Children growing through the school system will eventually leave as adults. However, in my generation, there is a trend away from exploring a key part of adulthood: continued self education.

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REVIEW: THE CIRCLE, BY DAVE EGGERS

by Eli Lambe

Dave Eggers’ The Circle, both the book and the recent feature-length adaptation, is a dystopia formed around a Facebook/Apple/Google/Amazon-esque corporation, one which hosts and shares almost every aspect of its users lives. The novel does a remarkable job of capturing the subtle ways in which this model is marketed to us, how this format of data-as-product is often shrouded in apparently progressive buzzwords – community, accountability, transparency, participation – whilst the company which operates under this model does so under the same values as every other corporate entity.

There is a veneer of progressivity and respectability that companies adopt in order to retain and gain customers – like Facebook making it easier to harass trans people, or implementing guidelines that protect white men but not black children, and at the same time, for one month of the year, patchily providing a rainbow “pride” react to the users who liked lgbt@facebook. Perhaps not as extreme as Eggers writes in The Circle, but eerily close enough: “Anytime you wanted to see anything, use anything, comment on anything or buy anything, it was one button, one account, everything tied together and trackable and simple, all of it operable via mobile or laptop, tablet or retinal.”Continue Reading

ARTS IN THE AFTERMATH

by Richard Worth

We’ve just got through the new Tory annual tradition of having the nation vote on internal party issues and having the result batter the incumbent Prime Minister. And, whilst the result is somewhat bittersweet with comedy boob-patting socialist Jeremy Corbyn – aka ‘the future liberals want’ – tearing chunks out of the Conservative mandate, we are still left with a government formed of a crypto-nationalist, sexist, and regressive party and an actual nationalist, sexist, and regressive party.

The truth of the matter is that no one was sure what would happen before the election, or during it and now we’re on the other side it’s only fitting that British democracy remains chimerical, confusing and dare I say it, unstable (take that May!). As such I’d like, as I do every fortnight, to say a few words about the current position of the Arts.Continue Reading

REVIEW: STATE AND SOCIETY, BY MARTIN PUGH

by Toby Gill

When Theresa May announced her snap election, I was travelling across Japan. At the time I was spending a lot of time on a variety of very slow trains (the famous bullet trains were somewhat beyond our budget). This gave me a lot of down-time to ponder my electoral choices, and consider which way I should vote. It also gave me a lot of time to read the latest tome of modern history I had picked up: Martin Pugh’s State and Society; a social and political history of Britain since 1870. It is not a politicised book; it markets itself as a rigorous work of academic history, designed to introduce new undergraduates to the period – a task it performs superbly.

However, this is a politicised book review.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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A THANK YOU TO COMICS ARTIST LEO BAXENDALE

by Richard Worth

The Beano was a part of my childhood I took for granted. To be clear, that’s not to say I didn’t value every issue I had, more that it was a fundamental part of my existence. It was always around and I assumed everybody read it in the same way I assumed everybody had tea in the evening. The Beano and its characters were accepted, not considered. Which brings me to a shameful point: I never thought about who created them.

The death of Leo Baxendale is a sad loss for the nation. Continue Reading

INSULT & INJURY – THE STUDENT LETTINGS RIPOFF

By Alex Powell

In 2014, the NUS reported that three quarters of students had suffered issues with privately rented accommodation. Such a high proportion is indicative of an endemic problem within the private rental market, a problem that disproportionately impacts students. Since the publication of this report, the problem has only gotten worse, as inflationary pressures have pushed up the price of rents while student loans have remained stagnant. Students now face more issues with finding decent housing than ever before, and many are left living in less than ideal conditions, to say the least.

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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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THE LONGEVITY OF ART

by Candice Nembhard

In times of national or personal struggle, we have long since turned to our favourite books, records or films for companionship and reassurance. We find comfort in these creative endeavours – the note of a song or the rhythm of a sentence – that often mirror the nuances of daily existence. Yet, whilst we use these tools of communication, we have yet to fully support them with our time, interest and money. With authorisation from government officials, local authorities have seen their arts funds and budgets cut consistently since 2010. Consequently, libraries, art galleries and museums have been affected most, with numerous closures occurring across the country.Continue Reading

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

WOMEN IN TRANSLATION MONTH – WHAT’S RADICAL ABOUT THAT?

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by Katy Derbyshire

If you read fiction, think of a translated writer. Just the first one who pops into your mind. Let me guess: Stieg Larsson? Karl Ove Knausgård? Thomas Mann? Marcel Proust? Haruki Murakami? If you thought of a woman off the top of your head, I salute you.

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DEALING WITH BREXIT DEPRESSION

by Kelvin Smith

Content warning: mentions depression

A sign of depression, I was once told, is that you do things that you know are against your own best interests. By this measure, the ‘leave’ vote on 23rd June was an example of a depressed populace voting ‘leave’ not because they thought things might be better, but because a majority didn’t care if they actually got worse.  Now for the first time, we really are all be ‘in it together’ — in the shit that is: happy as pigs.Continue Reading

A EUROPEAN LIFE

by Kelvin Smith

I was born shortly after the end of the Second World War in a nursing home that overlooked the Mersey, open to the world, “on the stream of trade” as my school song had it.

At primary school we drew Spitfires and Hurricanes in aerial dogfights with Junkers and Messerschmitts. There were bomb-sites in the towns and cities and there were Emergency Water Storage Tanks (marked EWS) everywhere. My first non-English words were Hände hoch and Achtung, closely followed by Frère Jacques. My parents had few foreign friends, although a Dutchman, a fellow chemist, had stayed with them in the early 1940s and he returned home with a broad Lancashire accent. “Reet bloody champion”, he would say.Continue Reading

STOP USING INTELLECTUAL SUPERIORITY IN ONLINE DEBATE

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by Carmina Masoliver

“You can’t even use apostrophes.” I may not have always said it, but I’m certainly guilty of thinking it and similar things to do with punctuation, spelling, and grammar. Whether directed at someone during an online debate, or used to make yourself superior because someone else has bigoted views or an unfavourable political standpoint. Even in cases where someone is verbally attacking you and making personal comments, you’re not the better person for commenting on their intellect or education.
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BEYOND THE CLASSROOM: CAROL ANN DUFFY’S POETRY DESERVES CELEBRATION

by Jake Reynolds

Here’s something that will make poetry sound a little more dangerous (but not really), and doesn’t involve tattooing Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ from your neck to your toes: it is said that the poets chosen for the UK’s prestigious poet laureateship are plagued with a curse.

That is to say, the poems written during a poet’s tenure as poet laureate – an honorary position in which there is no strict demand but certainly an expectation for the poet to write original poems for important national occasions – are sub-standard when read in light of poet’s earlier, or later, work.Continue Reading

SERIOUSLY VIVACIOUS READING: A FEMINIST POETICS OF LITERARY INQUIRY

by Linda Russo

I wrote To Think of her Writing Awash in Light as a way to investigate aspects of literary women’s lives that tend to be overlooked. The questions that interested me – how do lived spaces (domestic, urban, or natural spaces or environments) effect women’s relationships to their materials and ideas and language? How do women navigate these spaces and their various prescriptions for what women should or can do? – suggested a geographic inquiry, one that required leaving my desk and books behind to wander about and write in various environments, literal and imaginary.Continue Reading

DYSTOPIAN FUTURES; HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW

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By Sam Naylor

I’ve always felt an affinity towards the sci-fi and fantasy universe and embracing all of the nerdy stereotypes that are bestowed to Trekkies and Excelsiors alike. The out-of-this-world-experience that mediums such as superhero comics or dystopian literature can offer young people is a form of much needed escapism.

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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

LITERATURE VS GENRE – SECONDS OUT (PART 2)

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by Mike Carey

Continued from part one, published on The Norwich Radical two weeks ago.

I hate to rake up ancient history, but here’s another example from a little further back – dredged up because in this case it is a writer of literary novels (Edward Docx, in the Observer in 2010) who’s saying this, so the agenda is maybe a little more naked.

Even good genre… is by definition a constrained form of writing. There are conventions and these limit the material. That’s the way writing works and lots of people who don’t write novels don’t seem to get this: if you need a detective, if you need your hero to shoot the badass CIA chief, if you need faux-feminist shopping jokes, then great; but the correlative of these decisions is a curtailment in other areas. If you are following conventions, then a significant percentage of the thinking and imagining has been taken out of the exercise. Lots of decisions are already made.

Considering that Docx rails against “a fundamental dishonesty” in the way this subject is usually discussed, I’m going to pick my words with care.

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MEET THE WOMEN REVIVING NATURE WRITING

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by Tara Debra G

Among the young students who frequent this magazine it’s a safe bet to assume that most of us aren’t running to the nature writing section when we walk into our nearest bookshop. So let me introduce you to the women aiming to change that. Forget the image of a rambling old man in the woods with a Thoreauian beard, and come meet Cheryl Strayed, Kathleen Jamie and Helen Macdonald.

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LITERATURE VS GENRE – SECONDS OUT (PART 1)

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by Mike Carey

The argument about the relative merits of literary and genre fictions just keeps running and running. There’ll be periods of decorous silence, and then it will break out again, usually in the form of some egregious statement in a broadsheet or magazine, and it will be like it never left.

One thing you tend to notice after a while, though: it’s almost never writers of genre fiction who are picking the fight. To be fair, it’s often not “literary” writers either – it’s academics taking up the cudgels on their behalf; considerately telling us which stories are worth serious consideration and which aren’t. And I guess we appreciate the help, right? Because it’s a bewildering fictional landscape out there and an innocent young seeker after truth could easily go astray.Continue Reading

A KIND OF RIOT GRRRL POETICS

by Emily Critchley

My situation as both a writer and a feminist involves my trying to think carefully about how interior/private and exterior/public ‘realms’ constantly mutually inform one another.

Though I am sceptical about the explicit social/political power of poetry, I believe the thinking done by and through it, and other art forms, may have implicit and incremental social effects; as Leslie Scalapino put it: ‘poetry is society’s secret interior’.Continue Reading

BOOKS, OR, THE APOCALYPTIC INSTITUTION, OR, A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE END OF THE WORLD

by Jake Reynolds

The following poem includes 44 chopped-up book titles of novels that have won the Man Booker Prize. This poem comes after Marlon James won the prize last week with his brutal and cacophonous novel A Brief History of Seven Killings.

 

It is quite something. I remember the days of children
dreaming of spending their inheritance on books

now waiting patiently, in that English way, for nothing
to happen, staring blindly at the ghosts that besiege

the moon late at night, push it, give marching orders
and last warnings. Those small assassins send troubles

to elected people, young and old, gathering them as books
often do, from bodies, sacred fleshy remains, sea-wood

chewed offshore. The history dividing them: no matter.
for every hunger pang, famished child, books.

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LET US SIT AND TELL SAD STORIES: CREATIVE WRITING STUDENTS AND THE NEED FOR OPTIMISM

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by Jake Reynolds

Trigger warnings for mentions of rape, assault, substance abuse, violence.

When I tell people that I have recently moved into a house in which my bedroom window looks out onto a graveyard, I get one of two reactions. The first is a wince. ‘That sounds bleak.’ The second is a strange, slightly glazed and dreamy look. ‘Wow. Think of all the writing you’ll get done. That’ll be so inspirational.’

When I joined UEA as an English Literature with Creative Writing undergraduate in 2013, the prospect of my bedroom window allowing me to peek in over a graveyard was quite a dismal thought. As I prepare to enter my final year, nothing has changed. Yet being a creative writing student, there is an assumption that being so close to death in such a striking and obvious way can be nothing but a gift for what is, presumably, my twisted and morose mind.Continue Reading

GO SET A WATCHMAN

by Jake Reynolds

In response.

Atticus, he was real nice. – Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird

the room is ripe with adolescent sweat
pressed periwinkle to our backs as flies swoon
in circuits around our teacher perched on a table
with her feet inches from the ground
and whoever is still awake quietly questions
her decision to imitate Calpurnia’s accent
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