CIVIL WAR

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by Carmina Masoliver

He rolls the ‘r’ in my name, and the resentment I’ve felt fades,
resentment for the absence of mi abuelito, and the language
my tongue stumbles over, yet hungers for like tortilla Española.

They greased their rifles with olive oil, with Vaseline, with cold cream, with bacon-fat:¹
an opera, with the occasional death.²Continue Reading

EMPIRE

by Julian Canlas

(in support of Black Lives Matter)

a, pustule, fleshspun, pierced, when,
echoes, become, loud, and, silenced—loudly silenced
when, burdens, are, called, gifts—processes, of, unintuition,
when, killing, becomes, justified, as, horror, of, the, natural,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

YIK YAK AI

by Jake Reynolds

I recently downloaded ‘Yik Yak’, the anonymous social media app prevalent among student communities, out of curiosity. I’d heard terrible things about it — it was posited as an anonymous forum in which people hurled insults and putdowns at one another in an act of self-generating bitterness. But when I opened the app, and scrolled through the comments as they rolled in, what I read didn’t feel like anger to me. It instead filled me with a strange and distant sadness. Yik Yak AI is my best attempt at rolling everything into one.

I need you to know I am hungover I need you to know
I went out and got alcohol poisoning I am in bed eating
pizza I am the real deal I need you to know I am the god
of all your comedy give me what I need I need you to
know I am jealous of you but I cannot say it properlyContinue 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

THE FREEDOM OF A LIBRARY

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by Rowan Whiteside

All across the country, libraries are being closed. This has been happening for years: quiet reservoirs of knowledge and fantasy disappearing from villages, towns, cities. Since David Cameron became Prime Minister in 2010, library funding has dropped by 16% and we have 549 fewer libraries.

It is difficult to really assess the impact of this. We know that visits to libraries have dropped by almost 14%, but we don’t know how many lives have been changed, how many jobs have been lost, how many children can no longer borrow something new to read. 549 libraries is an abstract figure. It sounds like a lot (because it is), but it doesn’t actually show what has been taken away. And what has been stolen is so much more than statistics can show.Continue Reading

SURVEILLANCE & TOLERANCE: HOW YOUR GOVERNMENT IS CONTROLLING YOUR MIND

by Gunnar Eigener

For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens,
as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone
.” – David Cameron

Ever since Edward Snowden, WikiLeaks and The Guardian’s revelations about state surveillance and data gathering were largely greeted with indifference by the public, governments across the globe have continued to find ways to watch and obtain information about their citizens. Yet increasingly it is the actions taken by these governments in response to healthy criticism and protest and the sinister erosion of human rights that should strike a worrying chord in each and every person.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.

Continue Reading

THE COLOUR OF SAYING NO

by Sara Helen Binney

It was November, and the school hall was packed with pupils and teachers freed from lessons. In the festive atmosphere people mingled and chattered and joked. A few nervously practiced their Bible readings; I stood, arms crossed, before a school administrator. She shook her collection box.

‘Poppy?’ she said. It wasn’t a question.
I said, ‘no.’ I doubt I was very polite – I was sixteen, angry and definite.
‘You have to wear a poppy, for the service,’ she said.
‘Why?’ I demanded.
‘Everyone has to wear a poppy.’
‘But I don’t agree with it. Can’t I refuse?’
‘You have to take a poppy – just make a donation.’

Neither of my parents had ever worn a poppy. They brought me up listening to the anti-war songs of the folk revival, and took me to CND marches while I still struggled to pronounce ‘disarmament’. But at school, saying no wasn’t an option. I eventually put a penny in the box.Continue Reading

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

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.

Continue Reading

THE PEOPLE WANT

by Jo Thompson

Hard to look, hard to understand
the softness of his drowned bones
rocked here by the waters.

How quickly banners can catch alight,
a mumble in the crowd growing up,
becoming certain of itself: the people
want to topple the regime. All’s parched,
and everywhere the green sickens yellow.
Outstretched hands wither into fists.Continue Reading

A CLIMATE OF POSITIVE THINKING — YEAR OF PUBLISHING (AND TRANSLATING) WOMEN 2018

by Alex Valente

The year is 2015: Ali Smith’s How to Be Both wins the Bailey’s Women Prize for Fiction. Malorie Blackman concludes her extraordinary term as Children’s Laureate. The Nebula Awards feature women in all but one entry. The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize is awarded to author/translator team Jenny Erpenbeck and Susan Bernofsky for The End of Days. 40 nominations for the Eisner Awards are women, ranging from writers to editors, colourists to pencillers, inkers and letterers.

And yet, research conducted by author Nicola Griffith proves that despite the multiple recent spotlights on the literary stage for women — both on the page and behind it — there is a significant disparity in their treatment when it comes to recognition. Collating data and results from the past 15 years of a number of prizes for literature, Griffith has found that books featuring women, focusing on women or written by women have a track history of receiving fewer awards than those by, about and from men.*Continue Reading

COME

by Alex Valente.

Original Italian by Patrizia Valduga (1953-), ‘Vieni, entra e coglimi’

Come, come in and pluck me, pick me, try me…
squeeze me free me tease me…
stoke me code me renew me.
Increase… decrease… lose me.Continue Reading

WAR-BLINDED

by Alex Valente.

Original Italian by Virgilia D’Andrea (1888 – 1933).

Tall and serious, his brow stark
his face towards the wide sea…
But the eyes now dark
speak of a bitter history.Continue Reading

I’M A WOMAN: MAYA ANGELOU (1928-2014)

by Cadi Cliff.

‘I’m a Woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal Woman,
That’s me.
Phenomenal Woman (1978)

On May 28th the voice of the six-foot-tall 86 year old, Maya Angelou, hailed as a Renaissance woman and one of the great voices of contemporary literature, fell silent. With a broad career as a singer, dancer, actress, composer, and Hollywood’s first female black director, she’s most famous as a writer, essayist, playwright, poet and civil-rights activist – she was, and will continue to be, formidable. Continue Reading