SPRING-BEARING COURAGE

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Verusca Costenaro (1974 – ), ‘Il coraggio che fa primavera’

It’ll be from your comicseyes

that a new courage will rise

for the autumn, it’ll tangle in the wind

and the wind will paint it snowinter

so that the sun may thaw it

fresh in spring, it’ll be

a bearing of violets and mixture of calls,

cerulean choir bearing life in the background to desire,

the sprint of wings on the field, to feed on the grass that will grow,

summervoice adorned of an evergreen yellow,

a remedy to the fears brought by good

dreams of a small evening in august.

Featured image via caffellattefirenze


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“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

THE GIFT: DYSLEXIA

1

by Alice Thomson

Igminae a wlrod wree the wetrtin wrod is as hrad to raed as tihs. Imagine that written word is in your first language, not a second or third. Imagine the difficulty it presents every day, how others perceive you, how exhausting it is to read, and understand. Some of you reading this won’t have to imagine. This is the world of a dyslexic.

Often people think of dyslexia as word blindness, or even attribute it to a low intelligence score. When I was a Primary School teacher I often heard people referring to dyslexia as a “nice way of calling middle-class children slow”. This attitude horrified me. Many attitudes in school staff-rooms towards learning horrified me. As a child, I remember my mother would explain out to my teachers my dyslexia at every parents evening. The same teachers, every year,  and it was always a surprise to them. As an adult and an educator, I had hoped attitudes had changed, but in my experience this is not the case.Continue 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.
Continue Reading

FROM ‘PRAYERS OF THE PLACE OF THE WORLD’

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Francesca Genti (1975–), da ‘Preghiere del posto del mondo’, in the ‘Ma il mondo, non era di tutti?’ anthology (Marcos Y Marcos)

word, my place in the world,
word who says things,
word who says stories,
who says war and says death,Continue Reading

STOP USING INTELLECTUAL SUPERIORITY IN ONLINE DEBATE

1

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.
Continue Reading

MAYBE TUESDAY

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Ginevra Lilli (1972-), ‘Magari martedì’

They come, small line of dromedaries
in the desert. Thirsty words
lined up, also tied up
one to the other. One line
seemingly obedient. Consenting.Continue Reading

THE RIGHT TO HATE: SEX, SCIENCE, AND THE ANIMAL KINGDOM

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by Paige Selby-Green

TW: sexual assault, rape.

It’s time we talked about sex. Or, actually – it’s time we talked about how we talk about sex. For people who put sex in every conceivable form of media, we get awfully squeamish when it comes to talking about it like grown-ups. We’d rather let ways of talking about sex remain unchanged for decades than update them to be less 1950s and a lot more healthy.

Let’s get to the point: how is it that the same species that can build spaceships and write masterpieces such as Hamilton came up with the phrase “the right to mate?” And why is it still in common use?Continue Reading

NOW

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Elisabetta Destasio (1968 – ), ‘Ora’

Now:
we are the word, the movement
the undertow and the tree’s crown.
Room, street corner,
the night.
Words, whispered.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

ITS A LANGAUGE FING

by Alex Valente

Unless you’re an internet native, have dyslexia, or just didn’t read it, the title of this piece is probably irritating you to no end right about now. It took me a while to intentionally write ‘wrong’. I do not apologise.

I was having a conversation with an ex-student and friend a couple of weeks ago, about how language is being dealt with by certain university courses, and we stumbled over some of the commentary brought about by Nietzsche and Cixous. The points, respectively, boil down to: we use language to create truths that underpin our concept of reality; that reality is predominantly, and prescriptively, structured — mostly in a kyriarchal way. While I am not disagreeing entirely, the danger is to view language as more of an abstract entity than what it really is.Continue Reading

VENICE, AGAIN

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Verusca Costenaro (1974 – ), ‘E Ancora Venezia’

Venice, again
and the taste of your distant steps.

Water sliding over waves of words,
telling each other of dreams and struggles.Continue Reading

WHAT PEOPLE THINK

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Manuela Dago (1978-), ‘Cosa pensa la gente’

It’s a wordy problem
even not being able to say
not being able to explain
explain your words
to those listening.Continue Reading

CONSTELLATIONS

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Gilda Musa (1922-1999), ‘Costellazioni’

Coppering of stars, gold
illuminated designs, visible flashing
vanguards of a thousand million invisibiles,
sigils of a space that’s close and signs
of remote spacesContinue Reading

SHELTER

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Antonella Anedda (1955-), from Notti di pace Occidentale.

She was running to shelter, covering her head.
She belonged to a tired image
not dissimilar from any other woman
surprised by sudden rain.

Continue Reading

DEEP DISCOMFORT

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Valentina Diana (1968-), from Bastarde Senza Gloria

Poems are not mats
on which to lie and catch some sun
and say It makes me think, how lovely!
that it really is like this.

Continue Reading

INVECTIVE AGAINST AUTUMNAL DISPLAYS IN SUMMER

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by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Alessandra Racca (1979-), from Bastarde Senza Gloria

Jackets in August
coloured, behind the glass
reminding me that soon
summer will be over

You’re so cute,
jackets,
so cruelContinue Reading

THE WRITING OF A REFUGEE

by Jess Howard

At the end of last month, an image of a refugee in Beirut appearing to be selling a handful of biros, with his young daughter held to his chest, went viral. The image was captured and tweeted by activist Gissur Simonarson, whose Twitter feed was then flooded with requests for him to identify the pair. Simonarson quickly set up #BuyPens to find them, and within thirty minutes they were identified as Abdul Halim Attar, a single father of two, and his daughter Reem.

After identifying Abdul, through a woman who saw him daily around his house, Simonarson then set about organising a crowdfunding campaign on indiegogo.com, with the aim of raising funds for him and his family. Since the date this article was written the campaign has raised $190,824, completely overtaking the original target of $5,000. The amount of money that has been raised is incredible, and will completely change the lives of Abdul and his children.Continue Reading

AN AFFAIR IN THREE ACTS

by Jake Reynolds

In response.

‘Everyone knows. The world knows. It knows. But they’ll never know, they’ll never know, they’re in a different world.’ — Harold Pinter, Betrayal

Act I

Look at the way you’re looking at me.
I upped the contrast and bleached my teeth.

I wanted to go for lunch next week.
I have pictures of him, a right Clooney.

We took an old canoe out to sea.
He came in my mouth and called me sweet.

He wondered if you’d like to meet.
You can tell he was raised by a proper family.Continue Reading

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD – IS IT JUST ME?

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by Carmina Masoliver

Recently, I went on a school visit to see To Kill a Mockingbird at The Barbican, and whilst I think the actors played their parts incredibly well – especially Zackary Momoh, who played the role of the falsely accused Tom Robinson – I’m not writing here to give a glowing review. I read the book around the time I started my job at the school three years ago, yet the play, adapted by Christopher Sergel, had a different impact on me.

Actors slipped in and out of character to read directly from the book, narrating through a multitude of different accents, obviously showing that they were each sentimentally and emotionally affected by the text. This sentimentality, however, was lost on me, and as the production drew on, I came to think of it as unnecessary that it was being heralded to such acclaim in 2015.

Continue Reading

SOON EVERY HOUSE WILL HAVE ONE

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by Carmina Masoliver

I first found out about Holly Hopkins by attending a ARTNAKED Poetry Session at Library Club in London, where she cut into the awkward silence of a tightly packed room with a mixture of chatting and poetry. For some, it would have offered an opportunity to gain an insight into her work, and for those like me, it inspired a purchase of her pamphlet Soon Every House Will Have One (smith | doorstop, 2014).Continue Reading

THE LAST WORD

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by Carmina Masoliver

The Last Word Festival is a annual festival of spoken word events at The Roundhouse. The organisation supports young artists with their work, giving them a platform to showcase their work, as well as featuring well-established names in poetry, such as East Anglia’s own Luke Wright. The programme was full of acts happening in every crevice of the building, spilling out into bar, where Talking Doorsteps videos were available to listen to on headphones in seating booths. Read on to find more about some of what this year had to offer.

Continue Reading

ROBIN SONG

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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

TO MY CHILD-TEACHERS

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Chandra Livia Candiani (1952 -), ‘Ai miei maestri-bambini’

I keep your walking
glue each step to the ground
I stay
for you I wake up
draw my face
beneath fingers and water
I keep your words
like bread dunked
in the milk of memoryContinue Reading

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

THE PROBLEM OF EXTREMISM

by Jonathan Lee

Prime Minister Erdoğan was speaking in reaction to the Obama administration identifying Turkey as a moderate Islamic country. The blunt statement challenges much of the narrative coming from Western governments, and forces the West to question the validity of the term as well as another of its favourite loaded words: ‘Extremism’.

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings and the heavily sidelined Boko Haram massacre at Baga, the media’s use of choice words like ‘extremism’, ‘radicalism’, ‘fundamentalism’, and ‘Islamism’ has once once again been unleashed in a daily barrage on our television and computer screens. The corresponding rise of Islamophobia, which was already latent in the West, has reached even higher levels, resulting in liberals, apologists, and leftists having to try and stem the tide of what is sometimes wanton bigotry and racism. An oft deployed tool of argument is the careful labelling and distinction between ‘moderate Islam’ and ‘extremism’, usually in the vein of ‘moderate Muslims are not to blame, extremism is’.

Continue Reading

AND I AM THE SUN OF YOUTH

by Hannah Jerming-Havill.

First inspired by Allen Ginsberg’s Kral Majales.
Originally posted on leonpoetry.

And I am the Sun of Youth round and fat
Buddha sighing
I am the Sun of Youth lean and boned
boy-shaped man suspended in mourning
and I am the Sun of Youth exploding clouded skies
skimming ozoned minds with UV-waves
sweeping radio faces shock-wave burnt
bored and dry
I am the Sun of Youth bursting balloon
stretched with canister thirst
bursting papered borders dividing
families dividing tolerance collecting
heavy guilted green infected
fat green capitalist dam burst
burst like young bodies ferociously fucking
and comingContinue Reading