SEX & LOVE & ROCK & ROLL: TONY WALSH ON WOMEN

by Carmina Masoliver

CW: mentions harassment, domestic violence

When I first saw Tony Walsh, aka longfella, it was as a feature act at the Genesis Poetry Slam in Whitechapel. I remember being struck by a line about how growing breasts being something that labels some people ‘women’. This was a revelation to me, and yet something that I could identify with as a cis-gender woman reflecting on adolescence; it felt profound that a man could understand this experience in a way that made me feel understood in a way I hadn’t yet articulated myself.

When I later read what I assumed to be these same lines in Sex & Love & Rock&Roll, they didn’t strike me in quite the same way, as they offered something different. In ‘Start All the Clocks’, Walsh repeats ‘tell me how it feels’, as he asks of the readers

‘…tell me how it feels when you start to grow breasts
When Mother Nature writes ‘woman’ across a girl’s chest.’

It is in these lines that mean that Walsh is not solely a poet to hear on stage, but also one to read on the page, where you have the time to reflect and think.Continue Reading

WELCOME TO THE ARCHIPELAGO: REVIEW OF UNTHOLOGY 9

by Ellen Duncan

Content warning: article mentions suicide

I’ll start this review with a confession – Unthology 9, edited by Ashley Stokes and Robin Jones, is the first of the Unthology series that I’ve read. I can’t comment on the progression of the anthology series, nor on where any existing trajectory might take it. This review will stand alone, as Unthology 9 does for me.

It opens with an introduction: ‘Welcome to the Archipelago.’ This is a stylized, imagery-heavy bit of prose that could feel gimmicky, but mostly avoids the trap. And the concept – of an oceanic journey, of travel through and around and between and beyond the islands of an archipelago – feels appropriate to what follows.Continue Reading

REVIEW: FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOMINIDS, BY NALO HOPKINSON

by Eli Lambe

Hopkinson’s writing is enchanting. Her words wrap around you and inhabit you, they turn your skin to bark, the wind into a goddess, your body lifts and falls with the lines of beautifully crafted prose. To read her work is to be transformed, transported, transcended. Her first novel, Brown Girl in the Ring (1998), explored community, magic, and family in a Toronto “hollowed out” by white-flight and financial catastrophe.

Her second, Midnight Robber (2000), used language — particularly dialect — and mythology to imagine, from a Caribbean perspective, “what stories we’d tell ourselves about our technology – what our paradigms for it might be” and to bring together ideas of storytelling, colonialism and trauma. Since then, she has published several other novels and collections, all of which are thoughtful, accessible and fundamentally affecting, the most recent of which is the subject of this review. Continue Reading

REVIEW: SPAIN’S GREAT UNTRANSLATED, EDITED BY J. APARICIO, A. MAJOR & M. MONMANY

by Carmina Masoliver

I was given this book shortly after its publication in 2013 by mi abuelito, Juan Antonio Masoliver Ródenas, whose work is featured in the anthology of short stories, memoirs and poems. Currently living in Spain, it felt like a good time to read the whole book. The collection showcases twelve contemporary writers, in both Spanish and English translation, and definitely has a modern, experimental feel to it. The use of first person throughout blends the line between truth and fiction, and despite often feeling personal, there is always a sense of the political throughout. Continue Reading

REVIEW: THE ALTERNATIVE TO CAPITALISM, ADAM BUICK AND JOHN CRUMP

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by Laura Potts

On Saturday March 11th, I attended the launch of a fascinating new book from Theory and Practice publishing: ‘The Alternative to Capitalism’ by Adam Buick and John Crump. Many of us feel hostile towards capitalist structures. Being properly informed is vital to structuring our opposition effectively. I can heartily recommend this book as an addition to the education of anyone interested in the possibility of bringing capitalism down. Its content is manageable, it is inclusive not alienating, and most importantly it inspires hope in an alternative society.

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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: GRITO DE MUJER FESTIVAL OPENING NIGHT

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by Carmina Masoliver

Whilst living in Spain – though I have missed my loved ones – what I have missed most is the abundance of poetry and arts nights you can find in London. It wasn’t long before I arrived in Córdoba that I went in search of events. I saw an old poster for a “Poetry Slam” at the Jazz Café, but it didn’t appear to exist any more. I then stumbled upon Mujeres Poetas Internacional. I contacted founder Jael Uribe, from the Dominican Republic, and she soon responded and contacted the organisers in Córdoba, and even translated four of my own poems into Spanish.

I corresponded with Sergio Perez Rodrigeuz and Maria Pizarro, organisers of the Grito de Mujer at which I was booked to read. I emailed in Spanish, which perhaps led them to believe I could speak Spanish, which is certainly not the case (writing =/=speaking). There were awkward moments, such as me not realising a group photograph included me and having it retaken, and me staring blankly when trying to discuss the proceedings (thankfully an audience member with some English skills stepped in). But for a night of poetry where I could only pick out a few words, it showed that poetry was well and truly alive in Spain.Continue Reading