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Briony Willis

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Interview | Sara Shamma: Modern Slavery at Arcade at Bush House

Simon Tait Slavery and the mother lode In 2014, shortly before a car bomb exploded outside her suburban Damascus front door forcing her to gather her two small children and escape to Lebanon, painter Sara Shamma saw a news report about an auction of girls and young women in Northern Syria with a tariff according to age (the younger the individual...

Review | Seen by your fingertips: Queen Mob’s Tea House and Berfrois

Anyone who thinks fiction and poetry are dying art forms needs to stay at home and get online more. As Russell Bennetts wrote in The Digital Critic ‘the revolution might not be televised, but will almost certainly be seen by your fingertips.’ Bennetts’s two literary websites [...]

Poetry | Letter to Bez by Chris McCabe

Bez, post-Victorian Boz, Viz incarnate / and Viceroy of the sinew, what is the name / for light that detracts from the stars? / Urban pollutants de-lux distant galaxies / as we walk after / parties through school fields, / via car parks, past vacant vats & waste lots [...]

Extract | Paradox by Incognito

Incognito Paradox i get lost in my head sometimes tangled and stuck in my thoughts. it took me years of trying to find ways to outsmart myself to realize there is no me. our thoughts rule our lives. we have become addicted to our thoughts. we feel the need to occupy ourselves and think of more thoughts to avoid the feeling of boredom; to avoid being alone with ourselves. * before i...

Review | September 1, 1939: A Biography of a Poem by Ian Sansom

September 1, 1939: A Biography of a Poem, Ian Sansom, Harper Collins Publishers, 2019, 352 pp, £16.99 (hardback) W.H. Auden’s image in the popular imagination is unfinished at best, and often plainly incorrect at worst. When Ian Samson told a friend that he was writing this book, about a poem written ‘uncertain and afraid’, they responded with a line that...

Interview | Oliver Payne on The Art of Warez

Acclaimed artist-filmmaker Oliver Payne, with the help of one-time ANSI artist Kevin Bouton-Scott, brings the lost computer-generated art scene back to life in a new film entitled THE ART OF WAREZ. The film carefully documents the ANSI art scene [...]

Review | Trodden Before by Patricia McCarthy

Our age is rich in lyric poetry; no age perhaps has been richer. But for our generation and the generation that is coming the lyric cry of ecstasy or despair, which is so intense, so personal, and so limited, is not enough. - Virginia Woolf, ‘Poetry, Fiction and the Future’, 1927

Interview | AlanJames Burns on Entirely Hollow Aside from the Dark

This September sees a powerful art event transform the unique setting of Cresswell Crags Cave, Nottinghamshire. In complete darkness, visual and environmental artist AlanJames Burns stages a psychoacoustic sound artwork entitled Entirely hollow aside from the dark [...]

Essay | A.E. Housman: Loveliest of Poets by Patrick Maxwell

A. E. Housman was an introverted man whose poetry is somewhat unique in its widespread appeal. Despite only producing two collections of poetry in his lifetime (A Shropshire Lad in 1896 and Last Poems in 1922), his reputation as a master of lyricism [...]

Essay | Come Back West, Magic Realism, We Need You Too

In 2016, Roisin O’Donnell published an article in The Irish Times which addressed the curious fact that so few Irish writers wrote in the magic realist mode. Putting in a plea for magic realism, she argued that “Ireland, with its healthy litany of bread-crusts-make-your-hair-go-curly superstitions, along with its hand-me-down myths [...]

Fiction | We Can Be Friends by Lauren Sarazen

There was a cluster of coats and hats careening over the railing, and when I got closer I could see what they were looking at. The basin, which had been full of water the last time I’d passed, was drained to the dregs and men in coveralls and tall rubber boots were crawling around in the sludge [...]

Essay | W.H. Auden: The Man Who Spoke for the Dumb by Patrick Maxwell

One of the hallmarks of a great artist is their often lugubrious disdain for their own work. The reclusive French composer Paul Dukas was self-critical to the degree that he only allowed fifteen of his works to be published. Needless to say, they have become much loved [...]

Essay | Travel Writers as Citizens of Nowhere by Cecily Blench

At the Conservative Party Conference in 2016, shortly after the Brexit vote, the new Prime Minister Theresa May gave a speech in which she said these words: ‘If you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere’. She made this point while trying to address the concerns of those who voted for Brexit because of immigration [...]

Review | 58th Venice Biennale

Venice, that city of dreams and the inspiration for artists and writers from Turner to Italo Calvino, sees its 58th art biennale. As thousands flock to the event the gorgeous palazzi sink ever further into the lagoon, damaged by the huge commercial cruise ships that daily disgorge yet more tourists into the fragile infrastructure. A fitting image of our...

Review | The Governesses by Anne Serre, tr. by Mark Hutchinson

In a large country house enclosed by a gold-gated garden, three young governesses are responsible for the education and general well-being of a group of adolescent boys. Inside, the governesses are willed into reason, order and a melancholic calm by the authorial Monsieur Austeur and his timid wife. But in the chaos of the ethereal garden, the governesses are...

Review | James Cook: The Voyages at The British Library

By Charlie Allen James Cook: The Voyages, British Library, 69 Euston Road, NW1 2DB It is appropriate that an exhibition about nautical exploration should take place in the British Library. Sea-travel and sea-exploration have always been curiously aligned with books and the imagination. Homer’s Odyssey, a founding text of Western literature, is essentially a peripatetic tale of a meandering seafarer. The novel and...

Review | A Girl Behind Dark Glasses by Jessica Taylor-Bearman

Review | A Girl Behind Dark Glasses by Jessica Taylor-Bearman Published by Hashtag Press, 2018 If you’re a certain age you might remember M.E. as the ‘Yuppie Flu’ of the 80s. A condition characterised by excessive tiredness that mainly affected people in the 20 to 40 age group but which had scant medical evidence. This illness courted scepticism at the time and...

Poetry | The Goldfinches of Rome by Peter Anderson

Carduelis carduelis (Fringilla carduelis. Linn. 1758) Dawn on the Palatine: planets bow out, stars pick their way through rat-traps and incident tape. The morning after the party of all time. The sun loves me like a cat wanting my sleep. I am trying to sleep in the lee of a wall in the wilderness backyard of an emperor. There is a lyric of ruins. It is a...

Poetry | Under the Loquat by Peter Anderson

He had that majority under the loquat, rain falling like a god in gold, the breakthrough sun, and the spin on things, tar growing a fur. Loitered there looking into the intenser day, as kids emerged along the road again in slops and polyester, kissing sugar. How sober could he be in a white-wine rain? Let’s say he showed a surplus. It matters not of what. But...

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