Essay | Books That Changed My Life: ‘Tales from Ovid’

‘I don’t get poetry.’ It’s a miserable cliché, but generation after generation takes it to heart. In fact, as a teenager studying for my GCSEs, I believed it myself. Still sporting K-Swiss trainers and a swooping Justin Bieber fringe long after it was a good look (if it ever was), I was stuck in my old ways. I was a novels person, I thought — poems were too brief to affect me deeply or really sear themselves onto my psyche […]

The London Magazine Poetry Prize 2020

Over the years The London Magazine has been home to some of the most prestigious poets in its long publishing history, from John Keats to Sylvia Plath and Derek Walcott. Our annual Poetry Prize seeks out new voices in poetry, providing a platform for publication in the UK’s oldest literary journal. All poems submitted must be previously unpublished and no longer than 40 lines. We have no criteria as to theme, form or style but we are looking for fresh […]

Fiction | ‘Notes from Underground’ and Dostoevsky’s existentialism

Dostoevsky’s literary legacy lies not so much in the style of his novels as in the characters that inhabit them. His characters drive narrative forwards and fulfill their plot function yet are also miraculously idiosyncratic. It is this which makes them so resonant: their apparent freedom of will that so often leads to tragedy. Whether it is the Byronic heroism of Raskolnikov or the troubled Ivan Karamazov, Dostoyevsky is interested in egoism and irrationality in the human condition […]

Interview | James Shapiro on cinematic storytelling and ‘Shakespeare in a Divided America’

My first exposure to Shakespeare wasn’t until the age of fourteen, at high school in Brooklyn. We were assigned Romeo and Juliet and set off on what felt to me like a ‘death march’ through the play. I hated it, didn’t even get the dirty bits my classmates sniggered at, and swore I’d never study Shakespeare again. I never did at university. What changed everything for me was seeing the plays performed […]

Interview | A. Naji Bakhti on ‘Between Beirut and the Moon’, inheritance and coming of age in Lebanon

Between Beirut and the Moon (Influx Press, 2020) is Naji’s first novel, praised by Roddy Doyle as ‘engrossing, warm and gloriously funny’. Adam, the narrator, dreams of becoming an astronaut: but before he can be the first Arab on the moon, he must contend with issues much closer to home, as he comes of age in post-civil war Lebanon. On the phone from Beirut, I spoke to Naji about reaching an Anglophone readership, humour in the midst of conflict, and […]

Essay | The Moving Finger: Edward FitzGerald and the consolation of Omar Khayyam by James Tarik Marriott

It is bad practice to search for a single moment in the life of an artist for explanation of their greatest work, but for Edward FitzGerald such a moment calls out for itself. In 1856 Edward Byles Cowell, FitzGerald’s companion and close friend, decided to leave for India following his graduation from Oxford to pursue a professorship in Calcutta. Up until this point in his life FitzGerald had been listless, finding little to enthuse him […]

Fiction | The Wild Laughter by Caoilinn Hughes

The night the Chief died, I lost my father and the country lost a battle it wouldn’t confess to be fighting. For the no-collared, labouring class. For the decent, dependable patriarch. For right of entry from the field into the garden. Jurors were appointed to gauge the casualty. They didn’t wear black. Don’t they know black is flattering? The truth isn’t. They kept safe and silent. I didn’t. When is a confession an absolution and when is it a sentencing, I’d like to find out […]

Fiction | Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud

I understand a kitchen. I’m not saying Miss Betty can’t cook. But give Jim his gym-boots. She hand nowhere near sweet like mine. Two of us coming home from work, same tired, so I took over the cooking three times for the week. As it’s Sunday I decided to do my nice steamed kingfish, callaloo with salt meat, rice and, just for Solo, a macaroni pie. While the pie was in the oven I went on the porch. Solo was there swinging in the hammock, head in the iPad as usual. Why’s lunch not ready? {…]

Review | Wasted at the Southwark Playhouse

A grungy rock musical about the Brontës and their challenging lives, battling against addiction, disease and poverty, promises to be an exhilarating take on this famous family. Bleak, poverty-stricken Yorkshire becomes a stark, wooden platform that stages a series of powerful rock ballads. With music by Christopher Ash and book and lyrics by Carl Miller, Wasted’s undeniably talented cast have the potential to create something really exciting, but sadly, the production’s […]

Fiction | Tunnel by Will Ashon

We began the tunnel behind the bunk bed in the back bedroom. We chose the back bedroom because the guards went in there less often. They were lazy and also had to queue outside the supermarket for an hour or more, which made them lazier still. Some of them were eating cat food straight from the squeezy pouches. It dribbled down their chins and made their eyes go funny. I wonder sometimes if they even knew what they were guarding […]

Essay | An argument for theatres by Amber Massie-Blomfield

The last show I saw before lockdown was Love Love Love at the Lyric Hammersmith. 500 of us were in that room; all gathered together to do what, in my pre-quarantine life, I used to do two or three times a week. I didn’t hug my friend when I met him at the start of the evening. It was the beginning of March and what constituted acceptable public behaviour seemed to shift on an hourly basis. We touched elbows. ‘This is probably the last theatre show we’ll ever see,’ […]

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