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George Aird . Maureen Alsop . Stephen Eric Berry . Danila Botha . Rebecca Cohen . Ashley Greaves . Burcu Güney . Donna Mancusi-Ungaro Hart. Ian Hill . B.B.P. Hosmillo . Martin Jackson . Chiagoziem Jideofor . Helen Kay . Liz Kicak . Lotte Kramer . Elisabeth Murawski . Pamela Proietti . James Reidel . Nathaniel Rosenthalis . Alison Smith . Tara Van De Mark . Lydia Waites . Rory Waterman . Connor Watkins-Xu . Chisom WinifredJane Zwart . Contributors .  




I never grasped the enormity of a whale

until Jonah got swallowed up in the sea. 


A single gulp, or so it goes, and I imagined

the vastness of its body, 


the wet cavern of its fish-mouth, 

where everything is flooded.


When I became the whale, all blubber

and space, I lost the luxury of fullness.


I could swallow a man whole with all the room 

left in me, feel him kicking about,


the dull thump of his heels, the frantic resistance

all the way down.


Rebecca Cohen





copper. steel. i am a robot. my heart a bouquet of pins and screws and centuries 

of men lighting a dynamite shoved deep into an ear and watching it explode. 

everyday is the past is why the sun is an irritating occurrence, lustful, keeps 

coming back, yet unnecessary. speckles of light on my face scatter some red

hundred islands. my head a fist-sized animal clamped on a tree branch 

like a tumour. we don’t deserve light, i tell myself from a body humming distantly 

in foetal position. we do not deserve grasses and stems and crawling stones 

showing colours we didn’t know were true. i tell my cognitive dissonance 

i am inside an iron ball. i wobble everytime the world kicks a child off a cliff,

everytime it shots a wing in the sky with a medieval sling, anyhow it moves. 

i got fragile legs as if the ground is bursting every second, as if where i stand

is the truth of mercenaries, the besieged in the moment of their execution, 

handless, catching stones into delirium. i tell my panic i cannot find a person 

in me if it were looking for one. instead i got hallowed eye sockets and screams. 





I’m sitting out this round, pretending to watch

as the rest of the second team practices for a match

at Ulverthorpe or Culverthorpe or somewhere.

Their chic cars glint by a hedge, where sparrows flood


out then in. Men stoop in studied formation. 

A serve slaps a tramline. A second makes a safe arc

then toc! goes the ball, and the fat lad across the net 

lags behind it, gives up as it splashes the fence.


He’s a dad, and a lawyer or something. He must get paid

six figures. He’s set the wife up with a cake shop,

or so he’s said. Queen shimmers from the windows

of his Audi each time he creeps it up to the clubhouse


and ‘Hi John!’, someone will beam. ‘Hi Dan, Geoff, Pat!’,

though he just nods at me: we haven’t been introduced yet.

But on court he’s grease and grunts, aware and wary.

We’re both at home there. And now he’s calling for me.






The longest day. The day your best friend is buried.      

These solemn heads are fewer than he deserves,             

and numerous; his widow smiles and cries,

routine and unique; and there’s a space on my pew:

your wife didn’t want you here. So, I think of you,


straggled across that bed (some buttered toast

untouched beside you, perhaps, as it was this morning)

a mile away, gasping at fumes of a faith

or pining to be senseless? I don’t know.

You buried alive as high sun fills the window. 

Rory Waterman






Shortly before the darts was due to begin I needed to urinate. As I approached the tap room toilets it struck me that I’d never before been in them. We did not, as teenagers, drink in the tap room, an annex implicitly reserved for mechanics and taxi drivers, construction workers and other fulminating men.


A man from Bleckley’s team yanked his practise darts from the board with barely concealed frustration and stepped towards the toilets – I had to stop so as not to bump into the back of him. He pushed open the door, let it swing shut without a backward glance, but turned after I’d caught it, his mind missing the sound it was supposed to make on closing. He nodded tersely, barely perceptibly, perhaps irked I wasn’t familiar. Did I already know what was about to happen?


The toilets were small. Three shoulder-to-shoulder urinals, a rugby ball-sized sink, a cramped-looking cubicle, occupied. The predominant smells were the shit of the person in the cubicle, economical bleach, misdirected urine.


I did know. The darts player would not be able to piss. The irritation and astriction emanating from him was palpable. I felt apprehensive yet thrilled, this was something I’d been intending to write about for years.


He chose the rightmost urinal, separated from the sink by a small partition. Given the limited space, the urinals themselves had no privacy barriers between them. I chose the one furthest from the man, next to the cubicle.


He’d unzipped before I’d settled in front of my porcelain fixture, which had a small plastic model of a football goal inside it, a tiny ball dangled by thin wire from the crossbar, giving men with wandering streams something to aim at. The man held his dick in his left hand, wrist tilted slightly outwards to shield it from me. His pint glass clinked where he rested it, still gripped in his other hand, on the curved top of the urinal.


It is not egotistical to say that my presence, my very being, occupied his mind like Ever Given in the Suez Canal. Even as I performed, with all uncalled-for kindness, a casual little rock forward onto my toes as I removed my penis from my unbuttoned jeans – my wrist also politely tilted – his acute awareness of this other, unknown man was phenomenological.


Despite the pedantic normalcy of my actions, the lack of any hint of deviance or potential judgement, the rank foreboding of this man’s distress and shame felt louder than the commotion coming through the door to the packed tap room.


It’s important to be clear: I engaged only my peripheral vision, was not looking and would not at all look directly at this man. I even leaned forward slightly, as if to read the NOW THIS NOW THAT of Daily Mail dog-whistlery, that day’s front and back page spread in an Ikea picture frame, an installation no doubt intended to counter situations such as the one now most definitely unfolding.


The moment had come. We stood there, two men, both in our mid-to-late 30s, both staring into and through the wall, our gazes lasering out through the kitchen that would be reheating frozen meals supplied by the national distribution centre of the national pub chain, down the alley that ran parallel to Clackerton Street, past Brenda’s Bakery and Sweet Stems Florist and across the canal towards the centre of Bleckley, cognitive expeditions undertaken in the name of correctly utilising whatever muscles and glands were needed, whatever alliances of constriction and relaxation were required to piss out the electrolytes and potassium, the urea and uric acid of our waste without shitting ourselves, as we both had pissed and not shat ourselves so remorselessly, so many tens of thousands of times on and into this ever wetter planet.


There was arrogance, perhaps, in presuming he would not piss. And this mindset, I could see, this bearing and intent of my thoughts, they too were part of it; I thought of Sara Ahmed as I tensed to withhold. Even as, or perhaps because I stared so resolutely ahead, so absolutely not at him, he could not but feel the affect of my deliberate inattention, my anti-scrutiny, which was nothing but scrutiny itself.

As every fraction of every second passed without his piss commencing, it would become ever harder for him to piss, because he’d suspect, he’d know, that even if I had not yet tuned into his predicament I soon would. His gross failure would, any second, become recognisable, something that could be mocked, gloated over.


His mind would already be tumult and fury, who is this wanker, have I seen him in here before, has he noticed this yet, is he a poof, he’s bent I know it, did I look at him weird when we came in, is he going to say something when we’re back in there, I’ll fucking smack him if he looks, an inner logorrhoea of self-protectionism and violence layered over the backing track of self-flagellating exhortation, self-doubt, shame, come on lad, come on, what are you playing at, just fucking piss already, don’t think about pissing, something else, anything else, he can’t see this, this can’t be happening, not now, not tonight.


The man was basically a statue. Spine rigid, windpipe taut, anus a clamped-shut scallop. We were perhaps four seconds into our time stood there together with our dicks in hands – and there, there, what delusion, what con of language: in our hands! We held our dicks between two fingers, or finger and thumb, and there again I was, thinking, even most innocently, about his dick, and I will not hear from anyone that he could not feel my cognitive gaze, was not paralysed, at least in part, by the angle of my attention.


Five seconds. Shy bladder, stage fright, performance fear, bashful kidneys, piss shyness, an inability to void – paruresis, as the experts have it. Whatever the label, you always know when it’s going to happen but only just before it does. The feeling something like an anxious knot or butterflies in the stomach, the nexus lower though, an inch or so behind the base of the penis. It’s a defence mechanism, of course. To start to piss is to increase one’s vulnerability. Urination can be stopped mid-flow, something we all played with as children, but it’s painful to do so, impossible for more than a few seconds.


Seven seconds. We know that once thought it cannot be unthought. We know that it becomes catastrophically worse incredibly quickly, I thought of Jonathan Safran Foer as I tried to hear the man's breath coming through his nose, pent as a weightlifter’s, even though we know that straining is the worst thing to do. We know that it never, ever occurs in an empty bathroom.


Nine seconds. In his attempts to break the hateful spell the darts player reanimated, shifted from one foot to another, took a long swig from his pint, clinked it heavily down again. From the cubicle, I heard a flush, rushing water, a line being snorted, and distracted, my own piss streamed, the pea-sized plastic football jiggling frantically in its goal. And then, with one long waterfall of breath from his nostrils, the other man began to urinate.


I wondered how close he’d come to giving up and leaving, or shattering that clasped pint glass, and in the instant before it happened I knew he’d drink all of that remaining beer – and there it went, head tipped back, another loud snort from his nose amplified by the glass, and now I did look.


His eyes were closed, upper teeth bared behind the glass, Adam’s apple bobbing as two, three, four times he gulped, piss splashing against the side of the urinal, back onto his jeans, dripping onto the floor, as down his oesophagus and chin went the beer.


He was horse. He was man. He was functional.


He was ready for the darts. 

Martin Jackson





Stands there, in front of you

While you turn the pages,

You look up and see through


That clearness into their

Hearsay world, the heat,

The stench, you could not share


In Poland's cattle-trucks.

The old imaginings:

Hands that beseech and pluck


At air for charity

From somewhere, water most

Of all. Your lips are dry.


You reach out for the glass

But falter, cannot drink.

A feeble gesture, this,


No help to them to let

Your thirst be paramount.

And still you cannot lift


The water to your mouth.

This afternoon you sip

Saliva, feed on breath,


Know the necessity

Of useless obsequies

In solidarity


With shadows that will stay

Beyond this glass of water's

Living chemistry.




You move into the chapel of his colours,

Black over red,

And sense the slight manoeuvre

Of a black door

Trying to invade the deeper space.

A fragrance away

Another panel invites light

To come forward

Almost closing a shutter on the swing

Of self-knowledge.

But your eye is halted again and again

By the fear

Of discovery, of blackness

Assuming power

Over hidden whiteness reaching

Another world

Where the sacred is never static.



He stands above them like a giant God,

A web of wires moves inside his hands


And gives them life. Some dance and sing or act out

Fairy tales that have a nightmare ring


With limbs as agile as a lizard's tongue.

One flops into a chair and folds his legs


In bored, superior attitude, his head

Right-angled, bent, full of world pain.


Grotesque or elegant, they populate

The stage with all our masks and weaknesses,


His creatures every one, and yet he hides

Behind this power game of wood and wire,


His life a shadow of their words and songs,

The Grand Guignol performing till his scene


Has ended in collapse. Then they are folded,

Bedded side by side in tissued trunks


And he stands empty in his fleshly frame,

His ordinary hands hang by his thighs.



Today the river slinks like oil,

Hardly a current in its mud

As autumn leaves crawl on its face.


I left them in their blinding talk

To meet adopted path and sky,

And bend the grass for light and space.


Here I can hold the air with birds,

Still, solitary in their flight

Without man's calculated race.


Now only sun and water rule

Unchallenged over silent pain:

And the burst cry of a grey swan.



That the heart's wall

Should be so frail

After so much stone.


Even music,

Or a child's eye

Guarded its limit.


But a life-cry

Shattered like glass

The blood's core – and danced.

Lotte Kramer




'A GLASS OF WATER' *p. 232 (Selected and New Poems, 1980–1997, Rockingham Press, 1997)

'BLACK OVER RED' (Rothko) p. 301 (Black Over Red, Rockingham Press, 2005)

'THE PUPPETEER' p. 284 (Black Over Red, Rockingham Press, 2005)

'SILENCE' p. 401 (More New Poems, Rockingham Press, 2015)

'LIFE-CRY' p. 402 (More New Poems, Rockingham Press, 2015)

     *(page numbers refer to More New and Collected Poems, Rockingham Press, 2015)



The poet Lotte Kramer was born in Mainz, in the Rhineland of Germany, in 1923. She was nine years old when Hitler came to power and 15 when Kristallnacht, the pogrom of Jewish shops and synagogues, took place in November 1938:  the main synagogue in Mainz and the neighbouring school were burned down and the headmaster, Eugen Mannerheimer, and his wife committed suicide.  On 20 June 1939, with a cousin and two other Mainz schoolgirls, Lotte fled to England on one of the last Kindertransport trains. She lived at first at Tring in Hertfordshire with a Quaker family and Sophie Cahn, a Mainz schoolteacher. In March 1942, Lotte’s parents, Ernst and Sofie Wertheimer, were deported from Mainz to the forced labour ghetto at Piaski in occupied Poland and became victims of the Holocaust. She received the news on a 25-word Red Cross telegram.

In 1943 Lotte moved to London and married her childhood sweetheart, Friedrich (Fritz) Kramer, another refugee from the Nazis. They had a son, Stephen, and lived by the Thames at Richmond. Lotte did a variety of jobs, while channelling her creativity into painting. When Fritz changed jobs to work in Wisbech, they moved from London to Peterborough. Here Lotte became a volunteer at the city museum and began reading and writing poetry in English, under the guidance of the Fenland poet, Edward Storey. She said she heard a programme on Emily Dickinson on the BBC and that was her start: she began writing seriously. The ‘ice-break of words’ forced her to confront the traumatic experiences of her family and other German Jews. A torrent of poems was released as she began to write; her first publication in 1980 came from a local press, Annakin.


Poems about the Holocaust flowed slowly at first, intermingled with work inspired by the Fen country she was now beginning to explore and her expanding cultural interests. They were published by presses like Alan Tarling’s Poet & Printer, Roland John’s Hippopotamus Press and later Rockingham Press edited by David Perman – twelve publications, including a Collected which quickly sold out and a More New and Collected Poems in 2015 containing some of her late and finest work. Beatte Hörr of Mainz University translated a selection in German and Junko Kimura did the same in Japanese; a selection in French is forthcoming.

In 2007 the Centre for German Jewish Studies at Sussex University held a symposium on the Kindertransport and asked Lotte for poems to go in an accompanying book. The invitation came from Dr Sybil Oldfield, whose grandmother had been a German socialist writer banned by the Nazis. The result was Kindertransport Before and After, Elegy and Celebration, edited with an introduction by Dr Oldfield, with 60 poems by Lotte. It was widely praised and the poems were a strong evocation of the Kindertransport – from the old ‘Suitcase’ she had used on the train and the decaying ‘Tablecloth’, made by her grandmother, to ‘Exodus’ comparing the baby Moses in a basket to children on the crowded trains of the Kindertransport.

When Fritz retired, they travelled widely in Europe and Israel, including visits to Germany – Mainz, Munich, Dresden and a reunited Berlin which charmed Lotte: ‘Berlin behind us, surprisingly / Green and bright, even friendly. / My anti-Prussian prejudice / Has slowly subsided.’ She never lost her love and involvement in the culture of her youth, despite the saturation of English in her adult years.  She said she was unsure in both languages. After years of not using German, she felt closest in its poetry, while English was ‘a constant love affair / Still unfulfilled.’

Translations from German poets featured in most of Lotte’s collections, but she preferred to call them ‘versions’.  Rainer Maria Rilke was her special favourite. She said she was not superstitious but kept two ‘mascots’ by her at all times, in her handbag a propelling pencil her father had given her and on her desk a ‘small flat pebble / Shiny as glass / In silent eloquence / From Rilke’s grave.’  In a late poem, ‘Rilke,’ she praised the Austrian-born poet’s beautiful spirituality, his Schöngeistigkeit, and his celebration of love – ‘the angel’s oldest order’ – and wished that he was still alive, ‘fire-tongued with scalpel and white petal’ready to replace ‘our wilful ugliness’.  Her Collected contained versions of 28 poems by Rilke and 15 by other poets, including two each by Heinrich Heine and Heinrich Hölderlin. ––David Perman




Glittered forgeries,  

cayenne tongued and bursting 

with skull-howl 

hornetswarm, lemon juice 

in cat scratches and fingernails 

clutching open air. 

Sprint, lungs full of salt, 

veins full of voices. Sing, hot skin 

snapping, suffocated 

by bodies. Alone. 

Bless all corners like rice 

spilled on tile floors. Lure the ghosts— 

mandibles of sinners and saints.  

What are words if not the gilded homes 

of timeworn bones and teeth?




my hands shook the entire time. 

Always had a faith-craving  

heart and he was an answered prayer with skin  

steeped in rain and song, skin that stung the wasp.  

I believed when he spoke—said I was the moth  

that draws the flame, the spell that casts the witch.  


He spoke and I believed 

until the song became our second skin. Dizzy, 

breathless—like breathing in a closed garage  

with the car running. Laughter in the face  

of all that poison, until we spilled into the night  

where the moon on his skin was holy and I believed  


in the sanctity of that moment. Wasn’t it fun 

when I became the rain-singing girl? Your girl 

with flung-wide windows in a raging storm. 

Wasn’t I biblical in my blind faith for our world  

predestined to flood? 





Throlling, looping cries wake me 

every night. Audio clips by the dozen: 

Killdeer. Bobwhite. Willet. 

Wrong bird. Wrong Bird. Wrong Bird. 

I finally find her in an almanac: 

Chuck-Will’s Widow. I email my Papa— 

he knows the victory of naming, 

the taxonomy of heartbeats. He taught me 

warblers: blue-winged, prairie, yellow-throated, 

but never a widow bird. 


Yet, I’ve forgotten (how do I keep forgetting?) 

he is ash in an unseen urn 

nested in the back of my grandparent’s closet.  

His shirts still hung and ordered  

first by season, then by color. 

Grams takes him out and cries at night 

when she thinks no one can hear. 

There is no database, no register 

naming this sound that tears across the glade. 



Liz Kicak


James Reidel 
"Kameradsomething? The Young Weldon Kees and the Nazi Professor" 
(download PDF here)




and feeds them to a machine that sorts

the thes and ands into columns of penny,

and, because becauses are nickel, is is

a dime a dozen, like I’s and ares are, like

was was, like be, has, been. The machine,

of course, sweeps that little wealth away;

the sorter trucks only in silver, its smallest

denomination a slice of world, its Pisas

stacks of light and silos of dies. Mine

is a corpus of corpses, neon for marrow,

coin belts charged with wafers of earth.

Jane Zwart

Ashley Greaves

(click on images for full versions)


The Safety Plan

Her Dad was found before The Tides Assisted Living Community even knew he was lost. Elizabeth hadn’t known either. She slept as her Dad gave the security guard a nod, entered the visitor code and walked out the front door. The security guard was new and had assumed he was a doctor at The Tides. Later, Elizabeth would understand, her Dad was a doctor, although he would have specified a neurosurgeon. The problem is, he hasn’t practiced for a decade, not since the network of neurons in his brain started to break down. Hubris is the last of his attributes to atrophy.


Elizabeth’s phone rang at 3:18am. She fumbled to answer it but was jolted awake when a woman’s voice said, “I think your Father is sitting in my kitchen.” 

She had visited him earlier, bringing him salmon nigiri and he seemed fine, they even watched a documentary on how the mind can be deceived by perception. After hanging up, Elizabeth stayed cocooned in her duvet, thinking of that guy in third grade. She often returns to that horrible day, taking the memory out and turning it over and over. How her Dad drilled her that morning, like every morning, about The Safety Plan, stranger danger, missing puppies, and walking buddies. That Elizabeth tried to impress him with her speedy replies of run home, find an adult, and Angela and Molly. But, like every morning, he was back to reading the paper before she had finished answering.

“He didn’t have a coat on,” the new mom, Julia, had told Elizabeth over the phone.


Julia was the one who found her Dad. She had been nursing her baby when she saw him walking in the snow at 3am. It was his coat, the missing thing, which made the picture clear to Julia as she watched him through the window. Like that guy Elizabeth had noticed when Angela and Molly were home sick, he didn’t have a dog. No adult in their neighborhood walked alone, they all had children, or walking buddies, or groceries, or dogs. Unlike Elizabeth, Julia ran. She ran out the door into the freezing February night with her crying baby to stop Elizabeth’s Dad in his wet gray slippers and blue flannel pajamas.

“I almost believed him.” Julia confessed, “he said it with such confidence, ‘I’m going to the corner market!’ He even pointed down the street. But we don’t have a corner market.”


This was the problem, when her Dad speaks it sounds like unquestionable fact. Elizabeth’s Dad had told her weeks after that guy, there was a new plan, Mom would be picking her up from school the rest of the year, she had nodded okay. In fact, she had felt relieved that he hadn’t yelled at her for not following The Safety Plan. She had made a mistake, her Dad knew everything, therefore he had to have known about her mistake, right?


“Sorry, so how did you get my number?” Elizabeth asked Julia, always poised to be convinced that his dementia was misdiagnosed, that those moments of lucidity would last, that her Dad would snap out of it and his plans would return.


“Oh, right, he agreed to come inside so the baby would stop crying and I spotted your number embroidered on his collar,” Julia said.  


So, her Dad hadn’t remembered her number, Elizabeth had forgotten she had sown it on all his clothes when he went to The Tides. It wasn’t until college, when Elizabeth’s boyfriend at the time told her to order luggage tags with her initials not her name for safety reasons, that she realized this was how that guy knew her name. It had been embroidered on her blue LLBean backpack. Elizabeth told Julia she would be there in fifteen minutes.

The roads were snow-covered but drivable. As she neared the red dot on her phone, she softly opened and shut her jaw, and took a hand off the wheel to make small circles around the glands in her throat. This is what her new life coach had told her to do, reduce tension in your body and the rest will follow. This approach was working much better than the last life coach who wanted her to acknowledge the emotional claustrophobia and release it into the universe, your destination is the beginning of something new, not the end. Elizabeth realized she hadn’t told the new life coach about her childhood house, how it was one of six on a dead-end cul-de-sac. She knew all her neighbors, so with each street that guy crossed with her it became more clear that he was following her home.


She couldn’t stop whispering her thanks to Julia, the baby now asleep on her in one of those body wearing contraptions.


“Oh don’t mention it. I’m sure you would’ve done the same.” Julia replied loudly, the baby remained fast asleep.


Elizabeth was not so sure she would have done the same. In the kitchen her Dad was seated in a breakfast nook vibrant with embroidered yellow and blue cushions and curtains, hunched over a yellow and blue mug of coffee. He gave her a nod of recognition.

“Why hello there!” he said, as if meeting an old friend.


Julia took a hopeful breadth, but this was how Elizabeth’s Dad greets everyone now, pretending as if he knows them. That guy had pretended too, “Hey Elizabeth!” he yelled, as her home came into sight. Her Dad had lots of plans but not a plan for when her walking buddies were sick and that guy knows her name.

Julia handed Elizabeth a bag of homemade blueberry muffins as they walked out the door. Elizabeth had never made muffins.

“Drive safe, it’s icy out there!” Julia called after them from the doorway.

The door closed, leaving the sound of crunchy snow beneath their feet. At the car Elizabeth looked back to see her watching them from the sidelite, they waved to each other, and she heard the door bolt slide into place. The sound of a door bolt will always unlock something inside her. She couldn’t look back to see if that guy was there that day, she was focused on twisting the key and getting inside. Like touching base during tag it would mean she was safe. But as her key made the bolt move, opening up her empty home, she saw reflected in the shiny brass door knob that guy was right behind her.


She buckled her Dad into the front seat and put the car in reverse. He placed his hand on hers, both of them clutching the gear shift together. Elizabeth looked at him and he turned to her.

“So, what’s the plan?” He asked.


Elizabeth was sure of the answer, but posed it as a question, “How about I take you home?”


Her car was already heading to The Tides by the time he relaxed back into his seat and said, “Works for me.”



Tara Van De Mark 



Moundville, AL

We skated on the left side of the road

through our one-light town where everyone

knew too much, except why the corner stores

were always cycling through new owners.

We knew the words to “Kick, Push”

better than Lupe did. Mom said our DC shoes

were too big, but we filled them with adventures

past her boundary lines. We shot Sponsor Me

videos on my flip phone, little films about

quitting drugs and giving your life to God.

My friend smoked his Kools, hid the pack

in jean shorts sagged. One day in June, we hiked

into the infinite forest behind his house,

emerging to a clearing cut for transmission lines.

We ran home when the rain came, knowing

our mothers couldn’t bear to lose their murky boys.

I remember when we bombed that hill

on Elliot Ave. I ruined my knees, but he made it

to the old car wash. My wounds taught me fear

of going fast. We lost our heads, dreams of starting

a skate mag atop his mom’s shed. He ordered

TV porn one night, when she wasn’t home, didn’t think

about the bill for Backseat Banging 5 his dad would find.

I’d seen the ending before: a finger wag followed by

cartoon yelp. Grounded too. I couldn’t remember

the last time I got hit. I pushed home alone,

wheels clunking over sidewalk bricks. The last day

of summer, he gave me his hat, laughed

when I thought I broke my spine on a trick

at the Baptist church. It’s been a decade since then,

even years since I visited that Indian Mound town,

but still the red sidewalks carry cracks from our falls.


Mom likes to ruin our visits together for her own good.

It's easier to leave behind what’s left a wound. We drove back

to Texas on the only day the paralyzing Southern snow fell.

I knew we should have turned back in Louisiana, after the ouroboros

of anger, four hours of silence. Then Pandora radio found every curse

she wanted to chant over me. When we arrived at dusk, she told me

she was driving ten hours back home, right then. Bye, not Goodbye.

I couldn’t trust the road. I bent my arm into the van door jamb.

Morning brought a kind of mercy, a nail file smoothing

a returning edge. My weary soul given, like a bull on the pyre,

makes her clean. Our tradition passed down for years. We made

the best of last days, finding rainbows in dried snow puddles. Her arms around me

apologize for the brain that wants to drive her off the road. The part

she’ll try to evict when she returns home. The part I’ve locked away in myself.

Connor Watkins-Xu



our oldest brother was never immersed in play. 

he wouldn’t pick dye plums with us to eat in the rain,

never hurtled down slopes with stolen wheels from the mechanic shop, 

would rather gag than kiss our white dove.

under the moonlight, he always felt too grown, 

too repurposed, until the one year he didn’t.

the year a bomb dropped from the sky 

and we ran into holes.

the year we spent a long time running and hiding 

that when we emerged from the bushes,

home wouldn’t permit light, 

and the tricks we recalled refused to peak. 

but oldest brother seemed suddenly drawn to games, 

—played the game of regions severally with our new

neighbors, the ones who moved down in the years following the war, 

the ones with a father that worked and a mother that coveted.

the new game had him more serious and more animated. 

we watched as he grew quicker, longer legs,

watched him get better at gauging reactions, 

excelling at tricks he previously didn’t need. 

these games recorded slants and departures, 

yet he won each time, outrunning his assailants.

our oldest brother, as certain as a white dove 

after a year of running and hiding.

Chiagoziem Jideofor





We were already running late for the memorial service before the snow started to stick. Wide palms of ice drifting onto the windows, smoothing the trees and hedgerows rendering everything non-descript. It had been a while since I was back. Nearly a decade since I’d seen anyone from home (the memorial, I later realised, was in fact the ten-year anniversary). Earlier that evening, stood in front of the hotel mirror while Hannah assembled herself in the bathroom, I noticed all the ways I had become distanced from the person my friends would recognise. The faux-dishevelment of my beard, the immaculately casual cut of my too-expensive sports coat (that I called it a sports coat, and not simply a jacket). All it would take was one elbow of truth for the whole charade to collapse entirely. 

Hannah rounded a bend where Google maps said there shouldn’t have been one. She swore inaudibly forming only the shapes of curses with her lips and placed a hand on my thigh. She complimented how I looked, the new clothes I had selected, while we sat in the dark. The car was also new and I traced the line of the LEDs across the dash, blue and white plasma pulsing all around us. I thought about our life together and all the beautiful, unexplainable objects we had accumulated.


When I met Hannah I was already determined not to be myself anymore. I had moved away to the city, where we live now. I had been accepted onto a graduate programme in the civil service. My manager often described me as ‘a keeper’ and I was too naïve, too self-involved and determined to see his words as threatening or inevitable. 

When we met there was still enough of the original me left to be salvaged. I was still in contact with Ali then. Where I moved, she stayed. She used to send me pictures of her family’s dogs, and the woods behind our estate where we used to play as children and drink as teenagers. At the weekends I’d see her on social media with our friends from school in the same pubs and bars we’d always known. Hers was the last thread that kept me from unspooling into something else entirely.


It was Ali who got in contact about the memorial. In all this time, I was surprised that I’d not changed my phone number. Hannah saw the message. She knew about Ali as an old friend, that was the version I had told her. She also knew about Mike, the unavoidable thing from my past that bound me to people she’d never met. Maybe it was because I acted like I was happy for Hannah to see the message that it was easy for her to smile agreeably and suggest we should go. It would be a shame not to, she had said, would people not want to see me after all these years?



The pub was all repeatable commotion, indistinct and timeless. It had the appearance of movement without anything really going anywhere. Hannah led us to a quiet corner away from the bar where men sat like gargoyles clutching glasses to their chests as if they were stolen consecrated things. She leant closer to me and asked me to point out the people I recognised. Her warm breath mixed with perfume combined to smell like sweet, decaying fruits. I scanned across the room, nodding and reeling off names, remembering more than I expected. There were people we went to school with. Teachers. Co-workers. Parents. There was Mike’s family sat in a booth in the corner, a framed picture of him someone must have put up for the memorial hanging a few feet above to their left, looking out over the bar. There were people I didn’t know the names of but that I recognised from the search parties even now, years later.

I kept this up for a couple of minutes, the act of looking and not looking. Until, before I could get her name out, someone who looked like Ali was there in front of us, asking to be introduced. 



Ali told us how miserable her life had been since Mike had gone missing. She curled her hands into two fists and told us all the awful things that had happened to her in the last ten years. The lost jobs. The family traumas. The abusive relationships. The illnesses. A lost child. With each terrible revelation, her fingers would clench and release in the centre of a table, like oysters revealing precious, dark things.


‘You could have reached out, you could have told me,’ I said, not meaning a single word. She focused her attention on me and I shifted to avoid eye contact. I was relieved to go to the bar when we ran out of drinks. Thankful for a brief pause away from the torment of her life.


Being back there, listening to Ali for just a few minutes, I wondered how anyone could bear it. I found myself digging my toes into the soles of my shoes, the only way to stop all that nervous energy building up into inevitable movement. I hated Ali for being so easy with her secrets, for giving up the facts of her life, and surprised myself by how much I hated her for it. Why couldn’t she just be like everyone else? Do what everyone else does in the face of unrelenting, ambivalent cruelty. Where were the stories she must tell herself just to get some rest at the end of each day?

I looked over to the other side of the room where Mike’s family had gathered and noticed the circle that had formed around them. It was barely discernible, but in a room so busy it was there. The way people angled their bodies away. The memorial had been described as a celebration of Mike’s life. A thank you to everyone’s collective efforts in keeping his memory alive, all these years later. It was only natural that we’d all gravitate towards the distractions – the drinks and cheap crisps – rather than be confronted with the reality in the corner.


At the table, Hannah had moved to Ali’s side and had her arm around her. She was gently rubbing circles on her shoulder. I hadn’t noticed how thin Ali looked. Her collar bones jutted out from beneath her t-shirt. She looked worn out to the point of transparency.


‘You’re a good person,’ Hannah was saying, as I set the drinks down. ‘People love you,’ she said, looking up at me and smiling thinly. I smiled back. Look at us, I thought. We are good people. 



I try my best not to think about what happened anymore, but when occasionally I do find myself looking back there are one or two scenes that always return (that is the best way to describe them, scenes – something between a memory and a daydream). We are in the back of a taxi. Streetlights flicker and glitch outside, but otherwise it is perfect darkness. Ali and I are sat facing forwards, with Mike opposite. He is talking to the taxi driver, as he always did. Asking him about the music which sounded more Turkish bazaar than it did northern England in winter.

There were many nights like this. Nights where nothing happened. Where only the three of us were left. At times we seemed the only ones willing to wait late enough for the night to surprise us, and were somehow always left disappointed in taxis and bus stops. Alone in our childhood rooms.


In the taxi, there is the feeling of Ali’s hand on my thigh as we pass under shadows of trees, terraces and speed cameras. I’ve forgotten what Mike was saying then, but at some stage, maybe just as he was stepping out the door, I know he would have told Ali he loved her, and not wanting to disappoint, she would have said I love you too, her hand never moving beneath the dark.



When she had finished crying into Hannah’s shoulder, Ali told us that she couldn’t stop thinking about Mike. About what had happened to him. About where he was. Apart from, nobody knew what had happened to him, and nobody knew where he was, and I suppose that was half of the problem.


I did not say that to her, of course. I told her that it was only natural she’d be thinking about Mike, given where we were. We were all thinking about Mike.


At that, she exhaled deeply in a way that I knew there were words she wanted to say but that she was holding in. That my intentional misunderstanding of her had not gone unnoticed. I thought about what it must have been like for Ali in those first few weeks, months, after Mike. Their relationship was well-known around town and long-standing by the time he was reported missing, and with that came certain responsibilities. The grieving widow. The public appearances alongside Mike’s mother, a cold, broad woman who spoke almost exclusively in short, acerbic truths. Nobody said outright that Ali could have done anything, and she was never an official suspect. She was, in fact, nothing at all. A footnote alongside something tragic and much more interesting. Any unique details of her life suddenly rendered flat and without character.


‘I just wish I knew something,’ she said, quietly. Not to us exactly.

We didn’t say anything at that. There was nothing that could be said. Some part of me knew, however, that she had it all wrong. That it wasn’t what had happened to Mike that was important. Not now. That there were no words we could conjure to make the past explainable. Mike remained an open parenthesis, a white space. Something like an invitation. A thing to be reluctantly accepted and forgotten. 



Later, as we all filed out of the pub, Mike’s family nodding thank yous at the door, his framed picture tucked under one of his brother’s arms, Ali asked if Hannah knew about us. Hannah was already outside, walking towards the car. We’d become separated in the queue by another anonymous group of former volunteers.


‘What would I even tell her?’ I said.

Ali straightened. For the first time, I thought I recognised her. Something of her old self rising to the surface. ‘Stop talking like that, using that voice’ she said.


I pulled the sleeves of my coat down. The snow was heavy again. For a moment the idea that we might get trapped flashed brightly behind my eyes.


‘It was shit that you left, you know, so soon after,’ Ali said. ‘We could have…you know if you’d just waited, it wouldn’t have been so…’ she trailed off, turning her head away so that I couldn’t see the pools forming just beneath her eyes.


As we shuffled towards the snow and the trees that lined the back of the car park, I thought not about Mike, but about all the things I’d filled those spaces with over the years to avoid him. 




(grand theft auto)

(insurance fraud)

                        (sleeper agent)

(yeti attack)


At the door, I told Mike’s Mum it was lovely to see her, and that I’d been thinking about them, and that next time I was back we could do something.


As she looked me up and down, I found myself excited to finally hear some truth.



George Aird




Il vento soffia

sui muri delle case

aghi di pino.

Come spilli i pensieri

se non trovano quiete.



The wind blows

pine needles

into the walls of houses.

Thoughts are like pins

if they find no peace.



Vuoto di suoni

una nebbia si posa

su rose e spine.

Il velo copre adagio

la terra ove cammino.



Void of sound

a fog settles

on roses and thorns.

Its veil slowly covers

the ground where I walk.



Sulle tue labbra

risuona una risata


Si colora la foglia

sul ramo dell’acero.




a laugh resonates

upon your lips.

On the branch

a maple leaf blushes.



La notte entra

leggera nella stanza,

manto d’autunno.

Voci come lucciole

danzano in un sogno.



Night makes her entrance

and dresses the room

in a cloak of autumn.

Voices like fireflies

dance in a dream.

Pamela Proietti (translated by Donna Mancusi-Ungaro Hart and Stephen Eric Berry)




Waka, Note per una tormenta :: Waka, Notes for a Torment

Waka is a form of Japanese love poetry.

Paso doble :: Paso Doble

Meaning “double step,” the paso doble was originally a fast-paced military march which gave rise to the modern two-person dance style. The man is typically portrayed in the dominant role acting as a matador or bull fighter with the woman symbolizing the role of the red cape.

Momijigari :: Leaf Peeping

Momijigari in Japanese means the “hunt for autumn colors” or what is often called “leaf peeping” in northern U.S. states.


Arcadia :: Arcadia

The idyllic home of the gods Hermes and Pan in Greece, Arcadia has come to signify a simple place of rustic innocence or a peaceful state of mind.



Lightning forks the darkening sky.

Something moving through the grass

is just the wind.

To honor blood, the cow begins

to dance, adagio. Imagine

a long white dress. Imagine

a lighted candle, cupped

in the wind. The farmer sleeps

in his chair. He wakes

with a start, as if she’d dripped

hot wax on his shirt.

He slaps her rump.

“Come, Boss, no nonsense.”

Her eyes tie up the farmer.

He chews and spits,

drives her with a stick.

Here is the stall

where just last night

her mother slept. The cow

nuzzles the straw

for the familiar scent.

Imagine the mother alive

and well, before the kill.

Imagine the candle going out.

Elisabeth Murawski





Bales of hay are spread through the town square where the French soldiers rest in the plaza after a march. Rows of horses and men lower among the lingering dust, crowded among packs and munitions.  The streets and shops are closed.


I am staring at this photo and thinking how the women did not exist. The women did not exist. The women left the town in which they lived. When the men came, the women left for the seaport fifteen miles away without discussion. Of course, the children and the elderly left too. Their exodus was a new language of the time. Their disappearance had come to the townspeople and the soldiers knew how this happens. No one spoke of it or why.


The town was dirty and smelled like rot. The translator fingered the breadcrumbs on the kitchen tables. Glasses of water glowed on the nightstands. A body of warmth remained. A scrapbook lay singed beneath the morning light; a photo album splayed in the rubble along with a pair of wire rim reading glasses. 


The light from an east window is always sacred.


At some point the men would walk into the open landscape and the horses would walk behind them, up a slope in the heat. Under the open air they would lay in an encampment without tents. 





She wondered about the men. They were good men. It was a tireless human job, this human travelling from placed to place, an “othering” which occurs which must occur. She made a wish without thinking.


Her wish for love might settle between their shoulder blades, certainly love in certainty. Her prayer was a rust-coloured dirt on the ground which spread between the men as they lay in the night, in the open. A tarnish grew between them. A stain grew between the men, a thick scar, and this blemish stretched outward toward and between the woman far at the sea’s edge where she thought of their protections.

In an arid haunting over a thousand terrains, the lease was paid in advance, a sovereign landscape—the eastern front and the western front—diagrams pinned duress as location.


Why would they resist. After a time, closer and closer, the remote desert crept nearer to the women. At the marina, the wind in the masts flowered into the sound of a distant bell. They dream slow wounds. A halo breaks the horizon wide.  An impersonal failure begins. The women accepted the sea, accepted the make-shift shanties as spaces of prostration.

Some think it impossible to be hard, to be uneven. Some think that what happens to you will not happen to me because each experience is limitless.


I am an assassin to my own measures. I measured the light. But when I think of it, when I think of the light, it’s fair to say that light assumes its place. And it is fair enough to promise an attraction to the earth exists. And the earth, briefly gives, but in counterturn, folds a devastation toward us. Meanwhile, the earth exalts the spirit. And in my mind I must say, there were pleasant effects, the light, a yellow soot, ochre yarrow, like the center of their lips.


The city in which the women lived was an incomplete sketch. Years later, the women made drawings of the town and thought of home. The place a long time before, now on their deathbeds, was remembered.


Without speaking, eventually the soldiers rode the horses in the desert during the war. Through El Arish, Raffa, Magdhaba, Beersheba, further always they travelled. Behind their backs the ocean shrugged. Each wave, a salve, a dank promise of indifference and humility. 


Trainlines embroidered the Sinai desert.

Yes, soon there were trains which led them away. Soon there were piles of bones outside the city.

The liberties of the next generation were a freedom conceived close within the city we fled; we did not want, we did not feel our want. We were gathered in the one place. Sashes, like clauses in an agreement, we followed, assigned to each exception, as the soldier’s travelled hope’s shredded ribbons.


In Egypt, the villagers stacked loaves of bread on the tarp for the soldiers, and the mud ovens, like shallow trenches were prophetic. Their faces peered in from the outer courtyard traced with red shadow. Motionless, the houses burned, the transit centres and the prisons filled. The interrogation was a discordant list of names. Sudden assault, sudden darkness—the soldiers, the circumstance, the climates that eventuate.

A war is a merging and an emergence. A war is a pact in time which carries each person’s history forward slightly deeper. It is a luxury of the future. It is a native sun, a heat that closes one's throat while sleeping.


In distance, in distracted thoughts, an old officer led the soldiers to a high plateau where the nature of beauty would be exposed. On the hill, in the open, and all through the edge of that town which they passed months earlier, he’d thought of a semi-perfect number, a semi-perfect spring blossom, the apple trees in bloom, the orchard after a late snow. The landscape was luminous even as the squadron cleared the chamois and the goats over the hill. As if brine shifted the province, sand sifted across the charred valley.


Her hair was now a patch of black Hellebores at the woodland floor. 


There is an insular rule which sips them back into the loop--just as the sun rose, and just as the sun set, the infinity returns them to the same position.

Everything came into view. The world asleep; not even within it now the light of the old traditions.  The earth above. Wordless. We dropped formalities. We dropped through atmospheric miles. We touched the shape within the light which excised each darkness. I woke with the bell. And I ended the bell. I died under the ringing.


I loved three words hidden in the text, I loved the greenery and the groves which I might touch. We did not lose the body’s first sharpness.


You stand in her room at night and watch her breath. The gloam covers the grove and a group of the dead are the family that surround her.


The pages of the book distract me. I’ve cracked open the binding into the escape. Open into love. There is a blaze at the edge of the star picket fence in the west corner of the pasture. An osprey passes just as the night slips upward—he is the riding of light along the rail. I see you step out from the page.


Shade beneath shade spread out from the elm where you stood. Your wool grey coat shimmers with spring. Snow crusts the lake edge. The sound of ash falls. The snow is ascending in concordance with words and the ritual of words. It is a language which sweetens in the bristle and then slackens, it is this upward and downward tone, a lilt of wind through the pine. 


It was one reading I knew well. A duty. That inhabitant in the tiniest bone. Some soft necessity crushed by a loveless strength. Gladness falls to sickness. Victory is a sickness A dangerous refuge is taken by touch. Our freedom is half faraway, is half impatient. No, we did not lose the body’s first sharpness.

We were close to the city we fled. You slept in body armour as the shelling began. 

Passchendaele, 1917




They left me. Or I left them.


In the trench, one kissed my forehead as they lowered me into the far end of the mound. They couldn’t carry me up the hill though they tried. The commander passed in a cloud of fire shell and radio frequencies. Only that one time, I saw fear travel up the brigadiers’ shoulders and flatten his eyes.


We were left with no instruction. No reconnaissance. Nothing was buried.  Carcasses had spread disease all through the camp. Scent of chloride and lime spread against disease.


It seems clear, that if asked, I’d never been given permission to disclose the facts of my dissent. I would explore with impractical words, a loose entreaty.


For quite a while, time was written through the dreaming…



Strange as I entered your house and waited. I stood against the quiet. The weeds at the window, a wild clumsiness. Before the soldiers arrived I lay in the grass at night. I’d seen myself in the tight horizon. The street lamp’s triangular light floods row of elm leaves. The trees, a conviction of spring, like pallid sleeves of a woman’s lace dress, the front shadows flooding the asphalt. Constellations cross an emptying shoreline, they wove toward me like a disordered border. Banks of the tributary are a secret path. The scent of bergamot is dabbed behind their ears. 


Delivery and failure. The street lamps angles of leaves, a confetti shade rumples the grass.


I stand at the wardrobe touching your uniform, lint matching the shape of old conversations. Your voice, an air among the dreamless lenes. Epaulets, a clover field, ribbons as a crooked drape of plane trees over your shoulders. My language in rows, cultured as variegated wheat, is a stamp of arrangement. Lightly, I press my fawn hooves to soil. Moss grows over this shelter. There is a violet solitude prayer makes of home. It streams through the crack under the door. It lifts through me. It dissipates.


I followed the long bookcase that led back down a hallway past the creek into the first cave, onward, where under a rock, in your father’s country, I washed all your clothes before the battle. I motioned with my arms, my hands, under the nerves’ pathways, under the supplications, I joined each thread in my fingertips. Your rifle balanced on that single point. I regarded this, regarded the Pacific spitting-out it's black oiled fingers, stretching it’s mixtures of hate through the lower sand bars. A distant algorithm which would bring you back. Yes, a line you’d follow, by all possible means, a voice, the ancestor of your body—a smile, a knee bone, each province of the aftertime. A small myth you concealed. It was a dangerous echo. And gentle. 





I see myself in the heat, as the house closes in the gap between the louvers. The air burns. Motes drift past the mirror as I walk across the hallway. I gaze at the last image of the glass afternoon. The artillery supply wagon angles over the curve of the high cliff. Whole and still. I see myself. The eyes and mouth of the house close against the slanted sun. In the last light I see the militia-ghosts march across the sterling grass. They lean into the heat and tread over the damp aftermath, spaces the women’s bodies lay. I will take with me the mutable under sound. Water fills the mind, fills the square stump where the schoolhouse stood: flat, swampy, thick with mosquitos. In the water weeds, I find the shape of their skulls.





A horse stands in the room. He is cobalt, transparent, as if risen from a trapdoor. His ears are pricked. A confectionary snow scores his ribs, draws his outline.  He listens to the after world. The room is a province, the body’s practice. There is a look behind his eyes as he gazes upon the skylark’s flightpath, as if he has long wandered against the city’s wall, patiently stepping through thorn, until his outer body surrendered.  


A loosening hand straps across his innocence. The honest strain of the body. 





There was a night you stranded her in the uneven world. Salt swept the earth. Eyeless, into the infinite, they stood in line against the long lengths of wire, against a boundless fence, as their hope stretched a warped threshold. 


The field roots bent upward from the under dust. The punishment that came, came through the body. It was a slow restoration, cracks of blood on their lips, heat quickly marked their forehead, salted-crowns bloomed beneath their helmets. The soldiers sanctified the air. It was without myth. It was a clean reverberation — undervests, under pulse, under skull. These women travelled the eight turns of time. The horizon unravelled. You watched them enter the gate, you leaned again the habit of restlessness. You knew. You knew not to hold too tightly. Sentimental, you became what came toward you. You came to grief before the others. You remembered the young girls as they’d been at the village. You’d witnessed a mother drown her own child to save the partisans gathered in the reeds. The injuries became existential. The old forest’s patterns of light stung.


They cuffed the women to the rear, lowered them into a stress position. Only one woman, pregnant, walked upright.


We readied for no further shame. This was the war preceding the war. 

Maureen Alsop

Ian Hill

"The Memory of Water"

(download PDF here)

(click on images below for full versions)


Heading 2        



Today I saw

John Hamm


on a beach

reading Dante

translated by

John Ciardi

Versus the one

by Mandelbaum

I’m reading

Or that I once


my mind was small

John Hamm shirtless

on a beach

reading Dante

John Ciardi

I saw the perfect

body was

hairy Bulbous

where I’d handle

him On a gust

As for me I

once was a bird


Often I’d go

for a Dad type


in muscle shirt

His three kids


their glee Nothing

to do with me

Having that Dad

all to myself


Pink blossom tree

two yards over

pulling in wind

“On Wanting To

Have a Child” I

might title this


The pink tree

confused me

Dad’s left hand in

pocket The right

he let the boy

pull on A

latest find “in

the new world” to

riff off Jorie


Her green

hardback selected

flutters open

by my hand


What is the point

of the oh so

pointed leaves

I heckle them

Their outline in

the sun Crimping


I come right back

into the yard

via some calico

a neighbor called

Sat like nope Got

on all fours in

response to her

voice Neighbor gave

up Closed that door

Cat rose and turned

around to go

around I laughed

Tight or other

-wise in prose Same

people rarely


Neighbor o

-pens door Cat

streaks into house


Even porn would

work more than this

poem to show

off a stranger

I predict this

one bird upon

my porch

Two have landed

on my swinging

love seat One

juttishly looks

at the other

with straw in beak

The jut of head

suggests a


cop-out A

fluid head turn

Just like mine

when I put off

my moneyed tasks

and jerk in new


The fantasy

was me and Cruz

Lito Cruz with

his perfect worn

father figure


but I step

aside my will

I’m not green

The snow says

I have a how

do you say it


A sky at my



A non-Dad joke

could go like

this A thing is

about its own


A pink gnarled blos

-som sum of seeds

is better to get

feeling into

words Words keep wind

You open your

mouth to say them

A photo can’t

Put your fingers

to each temple

and press and close

your eyes When my

Dad died my Mom

needed me to

do that Words

keep wind



Nathaniel Rosenthalis





His lips danced the old riddle as he cleaned  

his champing, stamping teeth each night.   

Mum banned Coca-Cola from the house, 

told him the Mr Whippy van rang its bell 

because the ice cream had run out.


She was a sixties kid when young mouths 

were gold-mines of jargon, buccal, cavity

plaque. He is twenty before a tooth is lame. 

They scour dental websites, all now private:     

a week’s wage for one minute filling.


He flicks through celebrity posts of white,

straight, crowned horses doing dressage in a 

pink ring, then recalls his preschool sweetheart   

from Jhang whose teeth rotted because no-one 

told her parents cordial must be diluted. 


Her mouth kept shut. His tooth niggles sleep. 

He dreams of brown pit ponies, not stamping 

but worn down, crumbling, bleeding. His pain 

wakes him up. He wants to shout for all teeth  

to have fair treatment, all horses to champ. 

Helen Kay




She has skin like two percent milk, and blonde highlighted hair. She sits in class, swimming in expensive, designer-looking tan sweaters with horses on them, smiling a lot.


Her name is equally nondescript; Melissa. She used to go by Missy, she told everyone, but now she goes by Mel. Mel Schote, which if you say it fast enough sounds just like milquetoast.


If she has any of the same worries as me, about her weight, or where her next dollar is going to come from, or how to pay rent and eat, or avoid smelling like pit stains and mildew, she doesn’t show it.


I don’t know what grates on me most, her casual wealth, her bland people-pleasing personality, or the fact that she keeps telling me she admires me. I hear the awe in her voice and it makes me want to whack her in the face with my camera lens.


Every creative genius has at least one person they can’t stand. Roxane Gay is constantly tweeting about hers. Travis Shaffer did a whole photo series called Nemesis.


People think that love makes the world go round, but let me tell you, creatively speaking, the opposite is true.


Revenge and a desire to prove idiots wrong makes great art.


I get to our studio class early one day, hear her complaining about having imposter syndrome to our TA.  I stifle a laugh.


I hear her say, “Look at Toni’s work. It’s so detailed and beautiful. She’s so beautiful and accomplished.”

The TA, a guy whose sweet, perplexed expression always reminds me of Charlie Brown’s moments after the football gets snatched from under him, tells her it’s okay. “Antonella has a lot of experience. Don’t compare yourself to her. She got mentored by Joseph Kowalski last summer.”


“Wow. How’d she manage that?”

“Unbridled enthusiasm and talent. I don’t think she was born into connections.”


“I mean, I wasn’t either,” she started to whine.


I coughed and came up behind her.


I was wearing my hair down with my purple plastic orchid tucked behind my right ear, because Charlie Brown had told me he loved it once.


“Hi Antonella,” he said, looking startled. He always gets flustered around me, which I find adorable.


I gave him my best, “oh you” eyelash bat. I never give anyone my full smile because my teeth look like uneven rows of yellowing Peruvian corn, all different shades of not white.


“How did you think I got the internship, Mel?” I asked, spitting out her name like a watermelon seed.


I rolled my eyes and made my right hand into a fist and mimed giving a blow job to Charlie.


He blushed, which made him seem even cuter.


“I didn’t think that,” she said, her blue eyes widening. “I would never assume that.”

I snorted. Of course not. She’s as pure as the cleanly fallen snow, which is why she never has any original or interesting ideas.


“I worked hard. No one’s ever handed me shit.” She keeps staring at me, and Charlie is standing there awkwardly, looking down, and occasionally glancing up at me, his thick eyebrows raised, and I feel a speech coming on.


The class is filing in behind them, and I feel good, knowing everyone’s eyes are on me.


“It’s not complicated,” I say. “I’ve always known what I wanted to be, which is someone who captures life. Someone who shows it the way it really is. Someone who tells the truth. When my mom left my dad and I, she left one thing behind: her camera. I was so angry with her for a while, until I realized she’d given me the greatest gift, her camera and her love of photography. Well, that and my Italian citizenship.” I stopped for a minute and laughed, registered a couple of my classmates laughing awkwardly behind me.


“My dad’s a Turkish immigrant, right? He always says what do I know about art, Toni balim?”

“But he does know. He knows about pathos. He knows about struggle. He knows about being progressive, about marrying a Catholic woman instead of a Muslim one. He knows about being proud of who he is. That’s what I was capturing in my series, the apartment we moved to in Scarborough after my mom left us, the neighbourhood, the restaurants, the hidden graffiti, the tree next door. You can’t fake depth or a life that’s meaningful. People think cameras lie, but they expose everything.”


I took a breath, and a few of my classmates started clapping. Charlie ushered me to my seat but not before I took a bow. “Thanks for coming to my TED Talk,” I added.


Milquetoast came up after class to tell me I did a good job. She told me a few people had filmed it and uploaded it on their socials.


We walked together in the direction of the campus restaurants.


I wasn’t surprised when she offered to pay for me. I tried to thank her, but she shrugged me off.


“It’s nothing,” she said.


Money always seems like nothing, unless you don’t have it, I wanted to say but I bit my tongue and ordered more.


“I feel like I know a celebrity,” she said, and I laughed and flicked my hair back. “A lot of people had said that before,” I said.


I checked my email when we were sitting together, when she was rambling on about her latest photo collage. It was a mix of her childhood homes, first in London and then in Israel and now her family’s home in a lush, manicured suburb north of Toronto.


I wanted to tell her to call it Colonial Dreams, or My Life in Isra- hell, but I didn’t. She pressed me on all the things I thought she could do or change, and I shrugged. I didn’t want to waste my energy.


“Do you think there’s anything good about it?” she asked me in a little-girl voice.


I clicked on the email from the photo festival and found out I had a photo that was going to be in it. My head swam, it was a big, national festival. Thousands of people were going to see it. This was huge. I couldn’t wait to update my website and my socials. I flashed her the most generous smile I could.


“Your photos are very potent,” I told her.


She smiled and looked at me, like she was waiting for more, but I couldn’t hold it in anymore.


I told her what a huge deal this festival was, that they hardly ever let students be part of it, it was all professionals, and now I was one of them, officially. I wondered for a minute if she’d be one of those people who was jealous of me, who didn’t want to be my friend because of all my success. It had happened before.


She blinked at me and smiled. “Mazel tov,” she said.


“Are you Jewish?” I asked her, getting ready to explain about cultural appropriation. Because I was white passing, I was about to tell her, and mixed, people often made the wrong assumptions.


“Of course,” she said and laughed. “Why, were you expecting me to wear a giant Star of David, maybe have a menorah in my back pocket?”

I shook my head. “I worked on a Holocaust exhibit last summer. It was amazing, we got to travel to Poland to see the camps in real life. I’ve never cried like I cried at Auschwitz. Are your grandparent’s survivors?”


She shook her head. “No, I was lucky, my mom’s parents escaped to England just before the war started,” she said.  “My dad’s had lived there for years before.”


I tried not to show my disappointment.


“That’s lucky,” I said.

“I know,” she answered. “Believe me.”

We got into a pattern of hanging out after class.


I told her what my photos of women and measuring tapes were really about.


I told her about my mom’s eating disorder, the way she blamed her big thighs for my dad’s cheating, the way I heard her voice in my head every time I grocery shopped or ate in a restaurant.


I told her how angry I was that my mom had remarried rich and had so much money now.


I told her how much I loved Steven Meisel, and all his photos in Madonna’s sex book, how I loved Helmut Newton and his bondage photos.


I told her how hard it was that other girls were jealous of me.


The other day in class, I was wearing a tube top, and Charlie was checking me out so much, I had to tell him loudly to stop staring at my boobs.

One of the girls rolled her eyes, and another one snorted and told me to get over myself, but I knew what I saw.


I called them “flat chested asexual freaks” and Melissa laughed and laughed.


I told her about how I’d been bullied when I was in elementary school. I told her how kids called me fat, how they asked me how I could ever believe I was special. I told her about the girl who said I had a face not even a mom could love, and how much that hurt because my mom had just left. I told her how I still spend money I don’t have on make up, on looking glamorous and as good as I can so that maybe she’ll visit or want to see me more now that I’ve grown up and I’m prettier.


I even told her I’d only had sex for the first time recently, but I planned to have a lot more lovers.


She always listened. She never talked about herself, she just listened and pet my arm and told me I was beautiful and talented.


I thought I’d finally found a real friend until I saw her final project. It was called Blinded by the Spotlight.


It was portrait after portrait of me. Her artist statements were full of my personal stories. It wasn’t displayed on the classroom walls or in the student gallery, but Charlie saw them and our professor saw them and I was livid.

I grabbed her arm outside the classroom and shoved her.


“I trusted you.” I remember screaming. “I thought you were different, but you’re worse than everyone else because you know me and you’re trying to steal my life.”


She stared at me.


“Antonella,” she said slowly, “have you ever asked me anything about my life?”

She proceeded to tell me about her problems, her anorexia, her abusive mom, the fact that she’d moved out and supported herself since she was seventeen.


I cut her off. “I don’t care,” I told her. “I don’t have time to listen to anything you’re saying, and I don’t believe you anyway.”


She DM’ed me a long, rambling message that night, about how she was sorry she hurt my feelings, but she had her own issues, and I read it, but I told her I didn’t.

“You’re a pathetic liar, and you’re boring too. You’re just another privileged Jewish girl whose greatest asset is her trust fund.”


“I’m an immigrant, I don’t have a trust fund (I wish),” she wrote back. “Do me one favour, keep us Jews and whatever trauma porn you’re into out of your mouth, or you’ll be in trouble.”


I was a little rattled by that one, I admit, but then my brother, who was a cop, pointed out that the last part sounded like a threat. He got one of his buddies to call her like she was in trouble.


I heard she was so scared, asking about a permanent record, like she was in high school, almost crying.

I found another girl in class who also hated her, and we laughed about her. I even found two of her exes, one on social media, one in real life, and we laughed at what a loser she was. At least one of them made sure the conversation even got back to her.


I honestly never felt bad about the way I treated her. When you play with fire you get burned, and I’m a motherfucking forest fire.


She blocked me everywhere, but I follow her career. Her success infuriates me when I let it; I should have burned her up, killed any urge for her to create or even exist, but there she is, becoming famous and respected even as I struggle.

Once, in the last few years I actually missed her. We have a mutual friend, and Milquetoast refused to say anything bad about me. I don’t know if it was fear, or awe like before, if my friend was right and she just didn’t care anymore or if she was just trying to take the high road, but in that moment, just for a moment, I missed her.


Luckily, I let it pass. 




Danila Botha





I’ve never been one to struggle with parting ways or marching towards the unknown. Change doesn’t frighten me; on the contrary—the craving visits recurrently. It begins as a mere itch within my mind, then gradually becomes a weight upon my chest, compelling me to stir the water and depart from any unproductive strait I find myself in—a place, a job, or a relationship. Why I fail to find solace in the embrace of the familiar, the routine, allowing the gentle currents to guide me, remains a mystery to all, which remains through this age of mine, notably marked as halfway through the journey by the Turkish poet, Cahit Sıtkı Tarancı. Whether it’s the pursuit of peace and security or the avoidance of both, I always have a plan—at least half of it.

A free soul, indeed, but I wasn’t always rootless. The sense of belonging is no stranger to me. There was a place I thought I would leave and return to many times—which then would be called travelling—and eventually, I would settle down and live the years towards a future I can visualise easily, without the itch. I have tasted that peculiar sensation of alighting—more than once.

Istanbul, my birthplace, had been more than enough for a significant time. Moving through the several centres of this vast metropolis had become second nature, yet the city never ceased to amaze me. It was like the breath held underwater—a testament to vitality, one of the few privileges I thought I had back then. In all its magnificence, Istanbul demanded no prerequisites for your presence—the city belonged to anyone and no one, commanding attention in all its charm and almightiness. However, 'Istanbuller' has never become a thing, perhaps because it was never a lifestyle you can carry around the world with you—or wear—it’s still about being in there, in that moment. Not to forget the fogeys debating: ‘My family are seven generations of Istanbulites!’ If you truly were, my friend, believe me, you wouldn’t be wasting your time to prove it.

Feeling raw yet strangely acquainted in everyday conversation became a ritual, urging you to seek growth constantly: Read, listen, watch, and learn. Amidst the dazzling chaos of diversity, there was no time to dwell on the peculiarities among the bustling ten million voices, each immersed in their own narratives. The sense of belonging was unabashedly welcoming as if crashing a party you didn't know you were already invited to. You, my friend, were a unique fragment in the mosaic, valuable yet not necessarily indispensable. Authentic in essence, yet moulded to weave a narrative among the countless threads of the main story.

Today, I feel closer to grasping the essence of the subtle respect we nurtured among ourselves. It wasn’t merely a nod to propriety; it was aroused from mutual recognition and genuine curiosity. There was a time when it proved to be a formidable force, capable of sparking a revolution and conceiving a novel culture of co-existence. However, as often happens, it all fell apart. When the soul of Istanbul, or Constantinople, as some may still prefer, a mythical realm spanning a millennium, was lost to the grip of an oppressive regime, it didn’t take long for many others like me to flee from the anguish of witnessing everything unravel.


Once the endless possibilities tolled by the city turned out to be a rolling disappointment, the allure was supplanted by a longing for inertia. The desolation lingered for a while, and just when I thought life had lost its poetics, I found love and moved South. Bodrum, a coastal town in Southwest Turkey, was my first chosen home, where I started a family. The abundance of the beautiful emptiness surrounding us provided the space to become two and soon three. While I often describe Bodrum to those unfamiliar with it as Turkey's answer to Los Angeles or Ibiza, within its confines, it offered me the village it takes to raise a child. Isn't it ironic how the comfort feels almost identical, whether blending in among millions or living in each other’s pockets with a hundred?

Already battered by the government’s long-going regressive policies, the urban landscape was transformed into a cinematic dystopia during COVID-19 shutdowns—stripped of its usual cultural agenda, culinary delights, and vibrant social and professional networks. The rise of remote working arrangements prompted many young professionals to convert their idyllic holiday retreats into permanent residences, unwittingly straining the unprepared infrastructure of small towns. Concurrently, individuals nearing retirement seized the opportunity for early departure, further exacerbating housing prices. Witnessing this first-hand in Bodrum within such a short timeframe offered a stark portrayal of the paradoxical nature of development, serving as a crash course on the non-linear trajectory of economic dynamics. As once-abundant resources dwindle in the wake of societal shifts, the illusion of progress shatters, revealing the harsh reality beneath the facade of perceived advancement. Admittedly, we rode the tide and pocketed some gains. Classic capitalism, right?  It lures you with comfort before ensnaring you into its twisted game.


Overall, the lockdown experience in our small town was the opposite of that in the desolated metropolises, resembling a ceaseless feast spread upon a grand rustic table. The local economy thrived on hospitality, so despite a significant portion of the population becoming jobless, folks, being used to seasonal work, remained calm and relaxed, buoyed by the influx of domestic migrants and the promise of better days ahead. Most were quite confident that we were in the clear, thanks to the fresh air, scarce public transport, and seemingly, an antiviral secret weapon we had on every corner: Olive trees. Consequently, it was an autonomous version of a pandemic lockdown, where newcomers idled for a while, declaring their vaccination status before receiving the green light to join the carnival. Meanwhile, perhaps alarmed by the immobilisation, I, the entertainer in residence at the time, unexpectedly found myself devoting a significant portion of this period to contemplating the authority wielded over us by this widespread disaster and considering what to do with my life while it remained within my grasp. In other words, the itch was back, gnawing at my thoughts: ‘Must depart.’


Choosing our next home after Bodrum carried a sense of liberation, contrasting with the agitation upon leaving Istanbul—a memory that still evokes surrender. As I mentioned, two years of the mandatory slowdown had prompted a self-reflection, reconnecting my present self with the artist I had longed to become and clarifying my resolve to pursue a postgraduate journey. This was a much-needed break after a decade in the cutthroat entertainment industry—a breath of fresh air, away from its demands and pressures. Looking back, I can see it was more than that; it was a crucial change of direction for my artistic essence—a recognition of the constraints that had moulded me and the freedom I yearned to attain. The variety of destinations we entertained, each teeming with boundless possibilities, ignited a sense of wonder and anticipation among our nuclear family.

Content with our present circumstances, my husband and I savoured the opportunity to contemplate each potential path, free from the weight of urgency. How naïve. Neither of us had foreseen the natural, political, and economic catastrophe our country would face only months after our departure. We gazed towards English-speaking countries for obvious reasons—Canada, Australia and the UK primarily—immersing ourselves in the narratives spun by universities, programmes, and, inevitably, cities. This virtual journey cracked open a narrow portal in my adulthood, casting me into a realm of empowerment akin to that of a five-year-old, blissfully oblivious to the fabricated rules dictating my permissible coordinates of existence on Earth. Reclaiming the right to breathe in any time zone, even the mere thought of it, lifted some barriers within my mind and evoked recollections of the crucial junctures in my life, all achieved through aspirations others deemed unrealistic. I knew one thing unquestionably by then—not who I wanted to be, but rather, where I wanted to be: I wanted to inhabit every corner, to become a dweller of the world itself—everywhere and anywhere.


Ending up in Lincoln stemmed from a chain of coincidental events, one big question of ‘what if?’ that might compel even the most steadfast sceptic to entertain the notion that 'the universe operates in enigmatic ways.' Having your family with you undoubtedly helps, yet I must confess, it was absurd how acquainted we felt in Lincoln right after moving into our first house, despite our first experience of changing countries. We settled in a tiny cottage I chanced upon on foot, which has been treating us to a view of the ancient mulberry tree in the garden through its ample windows. I landed a job at the restaurant I had spotted through the lens of a tourist ascending the Steep Hill, nestled within one of the oldest buildings in this enchanting city that immediately enveloped me in cosiness, which would later cause occasional frustration due to its resistance to progress. Still, it was unexpected to exchange morning greetings with the towering window cleaner of the High Street I had seen on YouTube mere days after our arrival.

Today, after a year and a half—which could still be considered a relatively short stint in a new locale—I can confidently claim myself on the path to becoming a true Lincolnite. I am familiar with the term ‘yellowbelly,’ learned about the 1185 earthquake that shattered the cathedral into two, have been brainstorming quirky Steampunk gadgets, and even mastered the swift sketching of an imp. So far, so good. I am proud to say that Lincoln has been ticking all the boxes to prove that we made the right choice about our current home, and my master plan to acquire a myriad of homes around the world during my lifetime on this planet is completely feasible.

See, I feel no shame in admitting my greed for this. I refuse to face the disappointment of recognising my detachment from what I consider home, all while desperately clinging to the illusion of permanence, steadfast in my roots as everyone else moves forward, dragging me along until every bit of familiarity, everything I once held dear, dissipates into mere memories in the depths of my mind. I’d rather swallow that relentless momentum and take flight, witness hundreds of sunsets across diverse cities, savour recipes that never taste the same with tomatoes from different soil, listen to jokes that lose their charm in translation and sing the songs of countless lands I've yet to know, tales I’ve yet to be told; pick friends from all around the world, expand my chosen family, just like an avid collector, and perhaps call a decade later and engage in conversations as if only yesterday had passed; live in Montreal for some time, master my French, clear snow from my doorstep, and see a majestic moose on a casual hiking trip, then move to Tokyo, visit Okinawa islands and discover my ikigai, and train my soul for a long, fulfilling life. I want to be that woman who spins the most captivating stories, beginning with a precise time stamp— 'It was February 2024; King Charles had been on the throne for a little more than a year, diagnosed with cancer, and Rishi Sunak was serving as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom'— and return to the Mediterranean eventually, perhaps close to the end, live on the beach, wake up for a swim, and have breakfast with watermelon and cheese. Dance around the fire and drink with the youngsters.


I’d rather live countless moments like these, each one an ephemeral nativity, belong everywhere and anywhere, climb every mountain and breathe every air, fresh, warm, sandy and snow-covered. I plan to skip and hop across this massive globe, feeling safe, loved, and free—without borders—until such wanderlust wanes, and I can’t anymore.

Burcu Güney



Two Hours: a novel by Alba Arikha. Eris Press, 2024 £14.99, (paperback) 167pp, ISBN: 978-1-9997981-4-7

'Thirty-five years have passed, and nothing has changed. The memory has remained intact. Immutable. Burnished, like gold.' So begins the latest novel from author, poet, and musician Alba Arikha. Published by Eris Press this March, Two Hours hinges around a teenage encounter that lasts two hours of the narrator, Clara's, life—less time than it takes to read the slim novel into which her adolescence and adulthood are condensed. Arikha traces Clara's writing career, motherhood and fraught marriage from the moment she is transplanted by her parents from Paris to New York and meets Alexander; a pivotal moment in her life and recollection. 'We do not remember days,' the novel's epigraph, a quote from Italian novelist Cesare Pavese states: 'we remember moments.' Two Hours is a novel of moments. A series of fragmented yet seamlessly interwoven chapters as fleeting and episodic as memory itself and often as contradictory.


Clara's recollections are burnished by retrospect as much as Arikha's meticulous eye for detail. Arikha navigates between past and present, blurring the boundaries between reality and perception and challenging readers to do the same as we follow Clara between Paris, New York and London; to Berlin, Vermont and Rome. 'Here I am at sixteen,' Clara reflects, remembering her first moments in New York,

   standing over there on the street. 

   Me walking towards me. 

   My worried eyes. My frizzy hair. My spindly legs. My rebellious tongue. [...] I have only been in the city for a few days, and everything feels new. 

   The glint from the buildings. 

   The way the cold cuts through the air, like glass. 

   The ink black locks of his hair. 

   The violence of love.

Clara unearths and examines her memories as if observing another person's, distanced by retrospect as much as her third-person reflection. Still, Arikha's vignettes skilfully capture each vibrant cityscape, cementing the reader in time and place as well as moments of resonance and feeling. The melodrama of adolescence and of Clara's first infatuation is explored with empathy and humour rather than condescension. 'Alexander Karlick,' is all one chapter reads. A crush's name spelled out in a journal, a message in a bottle, and yet a refrain that Clara will repeat towards the novel's end with the same sincerity.

The brevity of Clara's meeting with Alexander spawns not only lingering feelings but 'unopened pages of possibilities' which shadow the rest of her life with promise. Arikha charts Clara's determination to forge a path different from her parents' through to her realisation that she has fallen into their same pitfalls; her search for belonging and for the elusive 'something more' she seeks from her life as much as her writing. 'This is where I belong,' Clara decides, playing truant in a Parisian cinema. 'Inside a book. Or a film. The perfect overlapping of worlds.' But life, as she learns—and as Two Hours continually, paradoxically, reminds us—is not like literature. Years later, Clara recognises herself in Picasso's fragmented portraits of women, unbalanced by the collision of her reality and the life she had once envisioned. She feels the weight of her fading language and femininity under the gaze of crafted female masks, judging her, Clara imagines, for the road she hasn't taken.


Clara is haunted by possibilities. What-could-have-beens. Intrinsic human struggles which Arikha surmises simply yet profoundly with Clara's recognition that 'life had not turned out as I expected. It was as fragile as lace [...] whatever I ended up with would always be instead of something else.' Two Hours is not just about coming-of-age but coming to terms, both with the path life takes and the necessity of altering its course, as Clara realises she must. It is about agency and womanhood, identity and displacement, time and memory—universal themes which Arikha condenses into a finely tuned and singular account of a woman's life and longing.


'We are made of chiaroscuro: pools of light and fleeting shadows,' Clara decides at the novel's midpoint. A musing on displacement and identity that pertains to selfhood as much as existence and memory; to Arikha's intricate assemblage of Clara's reflections. Two Hours is a work of chiaroscuro. An intricate portrait of a woman's life captured in fleeting bursts of memory. Fragments of light and shadow. In a series of artfully woven moments, Arikha tells a story that lingers beyond the margins and will linger with the reader long after its conclusion. 

Lydia Waites


Our Distance Became Water by Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos. Eris Press, 2024, 312 pp, £14.99 (paperback) ISBN: 978-1-912475-48-3

The conceptual debut novel, Our Distance Became Water, by writer and multimedia artist Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, is his literary response to the age of the Anthropocene(s) and rising sea levels, first explored in Book of Water (2023).[i] Now the partially flooded buildings described in some of those stories are almost completely submerged; the ontological and epistemological constellation of anthropogenic themes and motifs developed into a sustained, lyrical tour-de-force.


The main first-person narrative is by one of an unnamed, genderless couple, who recounts and reflects upon the unfolding of events from an assumed 'we', as well as 'I' and 'you'. But it is the interiority of this novel's language, rather than the linear narrative of a conventional fictional plot, which pervades our imagination and senses; as if the 'watery lines' permeate osmotically across the membrane of our skin. 


In the novel, a small group of residents of an unspecified city: lovers, friends, and neighbours, become drawn to each other as the waters rise and submerge higher and higher floors of buildings, adapting in ever more radical ways in order to survive. The introduction sets out a dystopian, almost post-human scene:


This is what’s left of our city. A manic precarity jutting out of a liquid smoothness, desperately trying to stay up, erect, glimmering. But the glow of glass and metal has been overshadowed by the flatness of the waters, already invading the second floors of most large buildings. The old imperial dream, that concentration of colonial sighs and capitalist saliva, is slowly sinking. Its foundations have now been replaced by aquatic life, unexplained sudden gurgles, steady corrosion, liquidity.


The city, though unspecified, bears the most resemblance to Venice. And it is the author's familiarity with Venice that gives the sense of immersion in his depiction of the city's rising waters, and of the residents' increasing environmental and existential anxiety, as all communications break down, and the old vertical social hierarchies and boundaries separating people and buildings dissolve and sink into a reflective glow of horizontal liquidity. As Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos' states:

the city of water that is built on perpetual defiance of the nonhuman (the elemental, the planetary, the aquatic) [yet] cannot help but precipitously succumb to the consequences of anthropogenic climate change.[ii]

"Buildings became tentacled ...," linked together with planks forming walkable highways. As a last resort residents swam, risking infection or impaling themselves on submerged metal. Residents keep leaving or disappearing, the city emptying of human life and its movement. People drown, commit suicide, become ill through polluted waters, eating toxic fish; the high humidity suffocating residents in their sleep. There are fable-like rumours about people diving like "inverted climbers," growing "gills and scales," "lithe roots," and "anemone-like heads." 


Direct speech in the main narrative is sparse, without speech-marks; a short phrase or two blending into the interiority of the stream-of-consciousness text, giving the sense of liquidity, of selfhood diffusing. Time becomes "slower" and "hazier," with people turning inward. Even before the city's waters rise, the couple's narrator describes an increased affinity to water, an almost metaphysical fascination with the ultimately impossible separation of water from water, related in 'everyday' episodes of surreal absurdity and dreamlike magic realism. For example, the couple visit their local swimming pool, fill plastic bags with pond water, take them into the pool, and swim, dangling them on their wrists. This echoes motifs in the Book of Water; in "Open Sea," a man rows out to sea every afternoon, empties a bottle of water, refills it, then rows back home. In the novel, an overnight guest gifts the couple a perspex box of murky water, and unknown to them, each member of their small group receives boxes of water, the significance of which we only learn later on.


Interspersed with the main narration are interludes entitled Waterspeak. Though not human, the 'voice' becomes anthropomorphised, 'speaking' to us in the first person, oscillating between prose poetry, philosophical musings, and street-talk cajoling, reeling the reader in: "Yeah fine, carry on, see if I care." An obstreperous persona that is also an almost godlike being – albeit still cantankerous – Waterspeak pronounces: "My breath is time." "My breath is of a universe that hosts me in globular suspension between planets...." Yet it knows it is caught "in the rattle of a dying sun...." For Waterspeak is not a sentient being; its voice not really a voice; it is everywhere: "I know you well. I am both inside and outside, crossing your skin, unstoppable." As Waterspeak tells us, it has not got access to our subconscious – for it is water, "reaching where your little skin-contained identities cannot." Waterspeak reminds us that it is irrelevant if we anthropomorphise or judge, love or hate it, that: "You are all an unintended consequence of my being here." It is as if we are observing humans as merely another transitory species, and 'our' world is just another planet.


In a few battings of the cosmic eyelids, I will be gone from earth, evaporated in trellises of interplanetary frivolity, off to play somewhere else with things neither better nor worse than you.


And it is this geological, cosmic quality, as in The Book of Water, that gives the novel an extra, non-human context, an unresolved disquietude as to climate change being the only cause of the flooding:


There was no convincing explanation for the flooding, except perhaps for a change in the earth's magnetic field exacerbated by an anthropogenic attrition that was playing havoc with gravity, making the whole globe a laguna of (relatively speaking) shallow water swamping the horizon.


Spatial and existential repositioning also figure, as the couple re-conceptualise the assumed certainties of their city existence: "Why is upstanding better than horizontal? We never questioned it during the early days."


As the novel progresses, the internal structure dissolves; the section titles signposting how language and substance become more dreamlike and haunting, bleeding into magic realism and science fiction, without fully leaving behind the projected near-future, half-drowned, everyday reality of climate change.


In part I, Where We Are Different, short numbered chapters, narrated by one of the unnamed genderless couple, are broken up with Waterspeak interludes. The subheadings: A few years before the waters; Long before the waters; A year before the waters; A few months before the waters; give the effect of the novel's timeline diffusing, mirroring how the mind transitions from recollecting near memories to those further back in time, before moving forward, again, complementing the stream-of-consciousness unfolding of events, interspersed with interludes by Waterspeak.


Part II, Where We Collapse Into Each Other, the shortest section, is a trio of prose poetry pieces: Collapse: the lovers; Collapse: the city; Collapse: Waterspeak. It is also the conceptual centrepiece upon which the novel turns, holding its watery skeins together; but broken into with disquieting fragmentary 'flecks,' where Waterspeak's voice interjects into the first two pieces, "I am inside." "I am continuum." "I am multiple." "I am one." "I am already." "I am closeness." "I am depth." Waterspeak then has its own self-contained piece.


In part III, Where We Merge, thirty-four numbered episodes in one block of text give the effect of diary entries, over a month or so, and describe how the band of survivors rows out of the flooded city, led by a mysterious old woman. As they leave the city, they synchronise their rowing and breathing, communicating subliminally; their individual selves become ever more melded and aquatic. Waterspeak's anthropomorphised 'voice' is silent. But Waterspeak is not absent; on the contrary, the band of urban refugees has become Waterspeak. Ontological selfhood and coupledom have merged with the water.


As the couple's narrator conceptualises: "A constellation of conduits was channelled between us, and our distance became water." This line, part-used in the novel's title, is also part-used as the title of A Constellation of Conduits (2022), acollaborative installation with Robert Cervera, with performances held in response to the book.[iii] The author's paintings also illustrate the limited edition of the novel, along with an album of the performed music. Watching the video of the performance adds a rich layering to the reading experience, so that it becomes an immersive sensorium.[iv] A tubular construction spatially representing the complex conduits of a city is filled with water; eerie, whale-like sounds are played through the tubes using a horn; extracts from the novel are read by the author, and sung by soprano Rosemary Forbes-Butler, who also responds to the tubular horn sounds. Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos drips different paint colours from a pipette into a perspex box of water, into which he also submerges his paint-smeared hand from his painting-in-progress, and the colours merge. This echoes episodes in the novel: the mysterious perspex boxes of murky water; the aquarium in which the narrator feels compelled to submerge their lover's cut hand, so the blood mixes in with the water.


The novel's Science Fiction premise is not dissimilar to J. G. Ballard's Drowned World, or John Christopher's The World in Winter. However, the novel is less about plot and story-line, more a conceptual undertaking, incorporating a radical methodology in which divisions, selfhood and language diffuse. Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos' coins this as hydrofiction, and describes how his methodological approach bleeds between different disciplines:


to write water in the texts, not just metaphorically but as a method. I have called this wavewriting, the all-connected yet perpetually withdrawing turn of phrase that does not lead to clear conclusions, truths and certainties, but to an accumulation of wavings that approximate a direction without a thesis.[v]


Rich with 'watery' imagery and metaphors, a tentacular stream-of-consciousness permeates through the narrator's description of the lovers' growing affinity to water, and the ultimate failure of language as a means to communicate. Recollecting their first meeting in a café, the narrator realises there was already an existential, oscillatory paradigm shift; their skin communicating more than the aborted attempt of language: 


Every question we threw at each other was aiming not for an answer but for that brief space of rupture between the hook and dot of the question mark. In that echoing space that language forgets, our connection blossomed and our skins carried on communicating, devoid of all social niceties. 


The narrator identifies the defining gesture, the habitual swiping across a mobile screen, with the 'writing with water' movement which would determine their future, after a glass of sparkling water is knocked over: 


you dipped your thumb into that agitated body of water and carbon dioxide and started making little waves across the table surface, methodically from left to right. Our fingers were already used to that wave-making movement, we practiced it every day with a concentration that belied the casualness of the whole thing.


As with The Waves (1931), the most experimental and 'difficult' of Virginia Woolf's novels, a languorous, marine-lit, stream-of-consciousness seems to warp the quantum physics of space-time as it ebbs and flows through the writing and characters. Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos states about The Waves: "Woolf wavewrote a narrative of whirls, reversals and non-endings, untruths and unquests."[vi] And in Our Distance Became Water, one can see the influence of Woolf's book, in the braiding of the characters' selves which blur together, so that they can be regarded as the shifting, "wavery," symbiotic associations expressive of one being. In The Waves, transitional interludes of synaesthetic poetic prose describe the passage of the day from sunrise to sunset: sea, light, landscape, the sound of sea, and birdsong blur; boundaries dissolve, narrated from a cold, nonhuman perspective. Of the sun fully risen, Woolf writes: "Tables and chairs rose to the surface as if they had been sunk under water and rose, filmed with red, orange, purple like the bloom on the skin of ripe fruit."[vii] These interludes are very similar to some of the more poetic Waterspeak interludes. However, as Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos states about his wavewriting methodology, he also aims at: "Confluence and conflict...," of "pluralising," encouraging us to: "Take your time. Speculate. Oscillate."[viii] And so this is what Waterspeak does, oscillating between philosophical musings and poetic prose, it confides, cajoles, chides; confronts us in a series of fractal soliloquies or dramatic monologues, with bursts of a satirical, everyday persona, emphasised by such phrases as: "––see how cool I am, seamlessly moving between philosophical parlance and street." 


Key to this reconceptualising, the novel's main narrator questions the continued positioning of ourselves in the outmoded postmodern: "We were all enlisted in the battle against this one element, postmodern Robinson Crusoes organising our floating islands like fortresses to keep the water out ...." Just as we too, as readers, are reconceptualising our supposed certainties, our outmoded false belief systems and metaphysical stances, highlighting the absurdity of all our divisions and entrenched positions.


The novel should also be seen as an extension to The Book of Water, the author's artistic practice and work in spatial justice, and part of the "disciplinary bleeding between different practices and knowledges ...."[ix] Reading the earlier book, one can trace the development of the non-human personas of Waterspeak. The unidentified, unexplained 'voice' of the italicised epigraph and section dividers in Book of Water: the lake is the others; the blue is here and / it's not going away; underwater passage, seabed membrane; and the internal "afterword" of this interjectory voice, which pronounces "this slow toil of poetic undoing, never ends," seeps into Our Distance Became Water and becomes Waterspeak, a non-human narrator, not even confined to this earth, but interplanetary, disinterested in human-centric pronouncements, or our response.[x] It is an imagined, even ventriloquised voice, 'speaking' to us from a projected future beyond our species' survival. Cold, unnerving, genderless, though anthropomorphised, with its echoes of Newspeak, the artificially constructed language used by George Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-four, this 'voice' is equally dystopian.[xi]


The coda, or postlude, which is given over to the heightened yet fractal soliloquising of Waterspeak, is the poetic culmination of what can be seen as a hybrid text, a novel which is also a prose poem, just as most contemporaneous reviewers of Woolf's The Waves regarded it as:  "something very like a poem," a "prose poem," and "a kind of symphonic poem."[xii] Indeed, if these two books could 'speak' to each other, I am sure they would have a lot to communicate, though conceived and written almost a hundred years apart – conduits through time. 


This is metamodernist literary writing at its finest, beguiling and immersing us in its amniotic lagunas, whilst waking us up to the perilous position of our planet, and hopefully to climate action, before "our distance becomes water," and "this slow toil of poetic undoing" collapses into irreversible entropy, and a posthuman future.[xiii]


By incorporating a modernist, stream-of-consciousness style into his conceptual methodology of wavewriting, Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos masterfully addresses the limitations of an outmoded postmodernism. Encompassing multidirectional conflicts and confluences, oscillatory and speculative, Our Distance Became Water confronts us with the anthropogenic consequences of our own capitalist hubris, and gifts us a symphonic prose poem of wavewriting, as crafted and beautiful and delicate as Murano glass. 


[i] Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, trans. by Sakis Kyratzis, Book of Water (London: Eris Press, 2023). See book review of Book of Water in Issue 2 of The Lincoln Review. (Note: uncorrected proof originally had the title The Book of Water, and pub. date then was 2022).

[ii] Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, 'Waters in Anthropocenes: Art, Hydrofeminism and the 59th Venice Biennale 2022', Anthropocenes – Human, Inhuman, Posthuman, 3.1 (2022), 1–6 (p. 5). Complementary Index. 

[iii] Robert Cervera and Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, A Constellation of Conduits was Channelled Between Us, and Our Distance Became Water, 25 March to 29 April 2023' [online] London: Danielle Arnaud Gallery, [accessed 30 January 2024].

[iv] Robert Cervera, Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Soprano Rosemary Forbes-Butler, A Constellation of Conduits was Chanelled Between Us and Our Distance Became Water [online video]  [accessed 6 February 2024].

[v] Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, 'Waters in Anthropocenes', p. 2.

[vi] Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, 'Waters in Anthropocenes', p. 2.

[vii] Virginia Woolf, The Waves (London: Hogarth Press, 1931) p.119.

[viii] Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, 'Waters in Anthropocenes', p. 2.

[ix] Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, 'Waters in Anthropocenes', p. 2.

[x] Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, trans. by Sakis Kyratzis The Book of Water (London: Eris Press, 2022), p. 63.

[xi] George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-four (London: Secker and Warburg, 1949).

[xii] Julia Briggs, Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life (London: Penguin Books, 2006), p. 265.

[xiii] Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Book of Water, p. 63.

Alison Smith


Writer's Postcards by Dipka Mukherjee. Penguin Books, 2023 $15.99, (paperback) 208pp, ISBN: 978-9815058772


In Dipika Mukherjee’s captivating new memoir, Writer’s Postcards, the award-winning author and poet takes readers on a journey through her peripatetic lifestyle. Through vivid prose, poetry and poignant reflections, Mukherjee delves into her experiences and musings as a solo female traveller. From her transformative writing residency in Rimbun Dahan, Malaysia, to her encounters teaching conversational English to ex-political prisoners who fled Tibet, and documenting the harrowing stories of their escape, each chapter unfolds with compelling depth. As she embarks on a quest to meet the Dalai Lama and grapples with the complexities of language maintenance as a distinguished professor at Shanghai International Studies University, Mukherjee's narrative brings to light issues of international concern. From literal heart-stopping moments in Kuantan to encounters with ancient rituals like the Danza de los Voladores in Chapala, Mukherjee fearlessly navigates themes of foeticide in India, the exclusion of women in ancient rituals, political unrest in Myanmar, and the vibrant world of Patachitra painters in Pingla. She offers reflections on finding home in new places, coping with loss, and the ever-changing landscape of identity.  


Writer’s Postcards details Mukherjee’s nuanced perspective on navigating unfamiliar territories, accustomed horizons and our collective human experience. She examines the extraordinary and the unheard, "told through a perspective of my own lived experience and imagination, a distinct narrative of a non–white female body as a flaneuse, travelling with intention, through our marvellous and varied world." The context is defined with a poem originally written by a Mutta—an Indian woman who lived 2,600 years ago and translated by Indian historian and filmmaker Uma Chakravarti and academic Kumkum Roy, 


So free am I, so gloriously free 

Free from three petty things:

From mortar, from pestle, and from my twisted lord

Freed from rebirth and death I am

And all that has held me down 

Is hurled away

With the book divided into three distinct sections––'Saviour', 'Musings', and 'Voyage'––Mukherjee skillfully tells stories with rich cultural and societal undertones that bubbles to the surface when stirred. In 'Saviour' Mukherjee navigates the complexities of familial relationships, cultural heritage and personal identity.  'Musings' is a museum of essays each offering insights into various aspects of life, from the mundane to the profound. Meanwhile, 'Voyage' is a heartfelt homage to cities, countries, to a father and brothers. Throughout the book, Mukherjee's narrative voice resonates with authenticity and depth, conveyed through her excellent use of lyrical prose. As she travels, pulled by writing residences, jobs, family, curiosity, she acknowledges the strangeness the world still offers to a solo travelling woman.


During her time as a writer-in-residence at Rimbun Dahan in Malaysia, a Grab driver asked her 'are you sure you are not a serial killer?' The strangeness she discovers later is the shell-enclosing admiration for her craft as by their encounter, the driver resolves to encourage his daughter to follow her dreams of becoming a writer. She learns in due course the multifaceted struggles of writers in Malaysia—the bilingual, bidialectal and multiplicity of the culture, the singularity of taboos in discussing censored topics and the need for recognition in English speaking countries, all of which validly feed the father’s concern. Similarly, her literary festival visit to Mandalay, one of the most censored countries in southeast Asia, immersed her in the political climate of the country. She examined the impact of socio-political unrest on art as evidenced by a female-led panel on self-censorship highlighting examples of women writing under pseudonyms and only men having authority over Buddhist literature. Her reflection of the dangers of artistically closeting a region with a plethora of untold stories, was succinctly captured in a poem by poet and professor at the Mandalay University of Foreign Languages, Zaw Thun from his book of poems At the Roadside Magic Show:


Now Myanmar is like the man inside the box,

being poked by sharp, inhuman spikes after spikes, 

tangible and intangible, 

from within and outside.


Yet, as after the show,

appeared the man from inside the bamboo box

with not a scratch on his body, 

So does Myanmar survive safe and sound…

terrorism finds no room here.


Thun’s metaphor of a man trapped in a box resonates throughout later chapters as Mukherjee encounters similar confinements in Itaparica, Brazil. During her residency at Sacatar to work on a novel, a Brazilian filmmaker cautioned her against writing about Candomblé––an Afro-Brazilian tradition––fearing it could provide ammunition for the government to completely ban these practices. Mukherjee reflects on this self-censorship by writers in the region, the scarcity of Brazilian stories in translation, and the subsequent impact on the region's narrative. She ends the chapter with the thought, "I wish there were books available in translation from this fascinating country for I am intoxicated by Brazilian voices by the time I leave." Mukherjee challenges readers to think of language, dialect, culture, and the stories we don’t have access to, the ones without websites or the printing press.


I am on my way to Pingla, home to about eighty-five families of Patachitra painters or Patuas, artisans practising an ancient art form by painting stories in a series of frames on long scrolls of cloth. As they unfurl the scrolls, they sing the stories. 


What gives her encounters and experiences a life of their own is her opinionated, often subjective approach. She recounts a Q&A session she moderated after the viewing of Shonar Pahar, The Golden Mountain, at the 2018 Chicago South Asian Film Festival and how it challenged her to critically assess the Bengali cinema drawing a pattern of misogyny in Bengali nursery rhymes. According to her, "From babyhood, girled are lulled to sleep with poems about swinging in the air, comb in hair, waiting for a groom to sweep them off." She cites a memorable nursery rhyme about a young girls wedding –


The moon is up, the flowers bloom 

Who sits under the kadam tree?

Elephants dance, horses sway, I

It's my darling's wedding day.

She argues that creative artists tread a fine line between verisimilitude and genuflecting on the archaic, and challenging accepted norms is only the beginning.  Likewise, during a visit to Guadalajara, a city in western Mexico, she discovers the Danza de los Voladores also known as the Dance of the Flyers, an ancient traditionally male Mesoamerican ritual still in practice. The Danza de los Voladores is deeply rooted in religion and is said to be performed to the rain god after a severe drought, to make the land fertile again. Her fascination became inquisition at the exclusion of women in this ritual. "...why, I wonder, are women not soaring too?" Our attention is further drawn to not only the exclusion of women in this ritual, but the barriers of language in documenting and retelling of stories. "...I have so many questions but I don’t want to come across as a clueless tourist engaged in cultural voyeurism, dishonouring ancient traditions." As a non–native Spanish speaker, gaining access to the answers she yearned for was daunting. However, when she returned in the company of Colombian artist Esperanza Cortes who speaks fluent Spanish, tongues were loosened and details flowed freely albeit still stiff on women's exclusion. 

In Writer’s Postcards, readers are transported to new places, cultures, languages, and traditions. Mukherjee wants readers to feel the warmth of the sun through the words, taste the food, caress the stone walls, lean outside the balcony with her vivid descriptive writing and for the most part she is successful. She expertly asks questions on the authenticity and accuracy of stories we read. She examines the distortion of knowledge from the perspective of the chronicler, as in her research about the Danza de los Voladores, where she discovers that the sixteenth century Franciscan friar Juan de Torquemada documented the practice of erecting a flying mast at major festivals (as seen in Danza de los Voladores), as archaic as he believed they were practising idolatry neglecting the spiritual significance and meaning it holds to its people. Writer’s Postcards offers an immersive journey to explore and learn in the way every reader yearns to engage with a book. Her command of language and narrative techniques not only shows her intellectual acumen, but the undeniable effect of travel on the creativity of an artist. As a sociolinguistic award-winning fiction and poetry author, Mukherjee eloquently delineates how travel serves as her conduit for creative exploration, cultural immersion, and invaluable research opportunities in this remarkable non-fiction travelogue. This is the book you should judge by its cover because it is everything it says it is.

Chisom Winifred




George Aird is a writer based in the North West of England. His short fiction and poetry has appeared in The New CritiqueThe North MagazineThe Interpreter's HouseUnder the Radar MagazineBirmingham Literary JournalEye Flash Poetry, and Ink, Sweat & Tears, among other publications. In 2019, his poetry was shortlisted for the Maírtin Crawford award. X (formerly Twitter): G_Aird

Maureen Alsop, Ph.D. is the author of Arbor Vitae (forthcoming); Tender to Empress; PyreManticApparition Wren; Later, Knives & TreesMirror Inside Coffin; and several chapbooks. She is the winner of several poetry prizes and was recently shortlisted for Montreal International Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals including Columbia ReviewHyades MagazineThe Laurel ReviewAGNIBlackbirdTampa ReviewDIAGRAMMemoriousThe Kenyon Review, and featured on Verse Daily. She has a debut short story forthcoming with South Dakota Review. She teaches online with the Poetry Barn. She is a Book Review Editor and Associate Poetry Editor at

Stephen Eric Berry is a writer, filmmaker, composer, and a recipient of a Jule and Avery Hopwood Award at the University of Michigan. His poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in: Michigan Quarterly Review, Midwest Review, The Los Angeles Review, Puerto del Sol, Tampa Review, Columbia Journal, Asymptote, The Mailer Review, Interim, and the Brazilian publications Belas Infíéis and Voz da Literatura. In 2017, he received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to be a visiting scholar at Amherst College. In 2023, he released "The Children's Holiday," a film exploring the artwork of Detroit-area artist John Elkerr. Film link: He lives in Chelsea, Michigan (USA).

Danila Botha is the author of three short story collections, Got No Secrets and For All the Men (and Some of the Women I’ve Known) which was a finalist for the Trillium Book Award, The Vine Awards and the ReLit Award. Her new collection, Things that Cause Inappropriate Happiness will be published in March 2024 by Guernica Editions. She is also the author of the award-winning novel Much on the Inside which was recently optioned for film. Her new novel, A Place for People Like Us, was published in April 2024 by Guernica Editions. She is part of the faculty at Humber School for Writers and teaches Creative Writing at University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. 


Rebecca Cohen is an American writer who received her Master’s in poetry from Royal Holloway, University of London. She has been writing poetry for over a decade, and in 2017, she won a college prize awarded by the Academy of American Poets for her poem ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’. 


Ashley Greaves has been producing paintings from his studio in Deptford, London for over 35 years. The work finds inspiration in various literary sources taking a narrative, exploring and expanding the meaning using paint as a sharp/blunt conduit. He has exhibited extensively and his work is in many private collections. Instagram @ashley_greaves 


Burcu Güney is an award-winning musician, multi-disciplinary artist, writer, and educator with a professional background in music and theatre, based in Lincoln, UK. Specialising in voice as a performer, she explores interdisciplinary approaches to contemporary storytelling. Burcu is an alumna of the MA Creative Writing programme and is currently pursuing her PhD in Performing Arts at the University of Lincoln. 


Donna Mancusi-Ungaro Hart is a graduate of Vassar College and received her Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures from Harvard University. Her field of interest is Italian Studies, specifically Dante and Italian cinema. She was awarded the “Dante Prize” of the Dante Society of America and subsequently published Dante and the Empire (American University Studies, 1987). She taught Italian for several years at Rutgers University and since 2005, has been a tutor and translator of Italian through the University of Michigan. Her translations have recently appeared or are forthcoming in: Michigan Quarterly ReviewThe Los Angeles ReviewColumbia JournalBelas Infíéis (Brazil)Interim, and Asymptote. In 2023, she was one of the winners of the Premio New York di Poesia “Italiani per il futuro” sponsored by the Istituto Italiano di Cultura. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan (USA).


Ian Hill is a writer, photographer and artist living and working in Cumbria. An environmental scientist by training, his work explores the connections between landscape and people, the historic and mythic associations of place. The photographs accompanying this essay have been taken on film and developed using Caffenol; a more sustainable form of developer made from washing soda and coffee.


B.B.P. Hosmillo is the author of Breed Me: a sentence without a subject / Phối giống tôi: một câu không chủ đề (AJAR Press, 2016) with Vietnamese translation by Hanoi-based poets Nhã Thuyên and Hải Yến. Their writings have also been translated into Indonesian, Korean, and Bulgarian. Founder and co-editor of Queer Southeast Asia: a literary journal of transgressive art, their writing has appeared in World Literature TodayThe MarginsKritika KulturaPrairie SchoonerTupelo Quarterly, and Transnational Literature amongst many others. In June 2019, they were awarded the distinction "Honorary Mayor" of the city government of Jeonju, Republic of Korea. In August 2023, they were featured in Winter Blooming, a festival that celebrates First Nations, multicultural, LGBTQA+ arts, culture, communities, and allies; co-curated by Dr. Christina Kenny of The University of New England and Rachael Parsons of the New England Regional Art Museum. Currently, they teach critical discourse, literature, and language education courses at the College of Teacher Education, Southern Luzon State University in Lucban, Philippines. Their website is


Martin Jackson is a Warrington-born, Berlin-based writer. His poetry received an Eric Gregory Award, and a pamphlet, ‘I find I felt’, was published by If a Leaf Falls Press in 2022. Short fiction can be found in Stand and Minor Literature[s] (both forthcoming in 2024), The London MagazineHotel, and as part of the Unreal Estates project. He also collaborates with artists around the world on exhibition and catalogue texts. 


Chiagoziem Jideofor is Igbo and Queer. Her poems have appeared or are scheduled to appear in POETRYReunion: The Dallas ReviewObsidianANOMLYthe minnesota reviewMichigan Quarterly Reviewberlin litVariant LitYaba Left Review, Passengers JournalSuperstition ReviewRigorousSpectrum Literary JournalUntitled: VoicesVersification, and so on. As a self-taught illustrator, Agoziem has worked on several book covers and digital art collaborations. 


Helen Kay’s second pamphlet, This Lexia & Other Languages ( arrived in 2020. She curates a platform for dyslexic poets: She was a finalist in the 2022 Brotherton Anthology. She is known on social media for her sidekick puppet Nigella. Twitter @HelenKay166. 


Liz Kicak lives in Tampa, Florida where she directs the Humanities Institute at the University of South Florida. Her poems have appeared in Orion, the New York Quarterly, the Tulane Review, and other publications. Her first collection of poems is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. 


Lotte Kramer has been described as a ‘Holocaust poet’ and it is true that she writes feelingly about the family and friends she left behind when she came to Britain in 1939 in the Kindertransport. But her canvas is much broader: she writes about the landscapes of modern Europe, about the Fen Country where she lived and about paintings and literature. Her poems have been translated and published in Germany and Japan, and she herself was a notable translator of German poems, particularly Rilke. 


Elisabeth Murawski is the author of Heiress, Zorba’s Daughter (May Swenson Poetry Award), Moon and Mercury, and three chapbooks. Still Life with Timex won the Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize. A native of Chicago, she currently lives in Alexandria, VA. 


Pamela Proietti's first book of poetry, il nome bianco, was published by Gattomerlino Edizioni (Rome, Italy) in 2021. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in: Michigan Quarterly ReviewThe Los Angeles Review, AsymptoteColumbiaJournal, Belas Infíeis (Brazil), Interim, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, in La nuova carne poetica, Vol.1 - della femmina intelligenza (PesaNerviPress, 2008), and in Il mare è poesia (Edizioni Progetto Cultura, 2015). She has served as an editorial director at Metropolis Zero magazine where she oversaw the "Letters to the Director" section and wrote on the "Mind the Gap" page. Ms. Proietti has collaborated with NiedernGasse magazine and the cultural association "House of Ink." She lives in Rome, Italy. 


James Reidel’s latest book is Manon’s World: A Hauntology of a Daughter in the Triangle of Alma Mahler, Walter Gropius and Franz Werfel (Seagull Books, 2021). 


Nathaniel Rosenthalis is the author of I Won't Begin Again (Burnside Review Press, 2023), The Leniad (Broken Sleep Books, 2023), and Works and Days (Broken Sleep Books, 2024). Individual poems have appeared in GrantaChicago ReviewLana TurnerConjunctions, and Denver Quarterly. He lives in New York City, where he teaches writing at NYU and Columbia University and performs as a proud member of Actors Equity (AEA).


Alison Smith is a Creative Writing PhD student at the University of Lincoln. She is Editor-in-Chief for The Lincoln Review, and Assistant Convenor of The Poetry, Poetics, and Literary Translation Research Group. She edited and contributed an essay and poems to The Big Walk: It Takes a Decade (Justice Arts and Migration Network, Lincoln Institute for Advanced Studies). She has also contributed work to The Abandoned PlaygroundThe Lincoln Review, "Poetic Conversations," responses to "I Am a Refugee, But...," as part of the Refugee Poetry Project, and to the film "5 Voices" shown at "On The Wings of Technology Festival" for the International Refugee Poetry Network. 


Tara Van De Mark is a recovering attorney now writer based in Washington, DC. Her work has been shortlisted in the SmokeLong 2023 Summer Competition and has appeared in Citron Review, Bandit FictionTiny MoleculesOn The Seawall, and others. She can be found at and lurks around X/twitter @TaraVanDeMark. 


Lydia Waites is a Yorkshire based writer and Creative Writing PhD student at the University of Lincoln. She is a Senior Fiction Editor for The Lincoln Review and has edited and contributed to From Wold by Fen: A Lincolnshire Anthology. Her work has appeared in The Baltimore Review, Door Is a Jar, Streetcake Magazine, Porridge Magazine, York Literary Review, The Abandoned Playground and more. 


Rory Waterman's new collection is Come Here to This Gate (Carcanet), published in April 2024. He is Associate Professor of Creative Writing and Modern and Contemporary Literature at Nottingham Trent University. He also co-edits New Walk Editions.


Connor Watkins-Xu holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland and a BA from Baylor University. His poems have recently appeared in PloughsharesRust & MothHawai'i Pacific ReviewstorySouthMAYDAYRed Ogre Review, and elsewhere. His manuscript was named a semifinalist for the 2023 Tupelo Press Berkshire Prize. He is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets University Prize and scholarships to the Southampton Writers Conference and New York State Summer Writers Institute. Originally from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, he currently lives in Seattle. He'd love to hear from you @connorwatkinsxu on Instagram.

Chisom Winifred is a Creative Writing MA student at the University of Lincoln. She has worked as the Beauty Editor for Glam Africa Magazine. As a copywriter she has authored pieces for multinational brands like MTVBase, Trendupp Awards, Fidelity Bank and MTN Nigeria.


Jane Zwart teaches at Calvin University, where she also co-directs the Calvin Center for Faith & Writing. Her poems have appeared in PoetryThe Southern ReviewThreepenny ReviewHAD, and Ploughshares, as well as other journals and magazines. In addition, she is the co-editor of book reviews for Plume; her own reviews have been published there and in The Los Angeles Review of Books



ISSN 2632-4423

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