Essay | How to Run a Queer Reading Series at a...

Queers Read This is an ongoing reading series started independently by artist Richard Porter and myself at the Horse Hospital in London in 2017, and co-run with the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) since. Quarterly events feature readings of texts which work across intersectional systems of oppression, and challenge formal distinctions between prose and poetry or critical and creative writing. Themes range from pansies and twink mysticism [...]

News | Southbank’s Everyday Heroes art and poetry project to celebrate...

The Southbank Centre has announced a new public art and poetry project celebrating the invaluable contributions of key workers who have kept the country running during the COVID-19 crisis. Everyday Heroes will comprise original portraits - whether in the form of paintings, drawings, photographs and texts - reproduced as large scale posters for a dynamic display across the Southbank Centre from mid August to November 2020. The portraits are to be shown [...]

Review | Emma Rice’s Wise Children at Bristol Old Vic, 9...

Emma Rice’s stage adaptation of Wise Children, Angela Carter’s final novel, is raunchy, colourful and garish. We have come to expect nothing less from the acclaimed director, whose bold approach proved too much for theatrical conservatives during her spell as Artistic Director at Shakespeare's Globe. In this first production from her new theatre company – also named ‘Wise Children’ - Rice’s talent explodes into an all-singing, all-dancing drama, with high kicks, sex and scandal galore [...]

Poetry | The Older Touches by Bibhu Padhi

There are times when I remember / all of them fondly enough for them / to be here once more, all around / this house, which is far away from / where they were around, and at this hour, / far away again from my childhood fears. / Now I can just think of them. And / what is thinking except the mind’s / imaginings, the heart speaking to itself / in the darkness of default, fearing alien / ears, the world’s participation in the shame / of being touched in front of others? [...]

Interview | David Constantine on Writing Lived Experience, Fiction as Felt...

David Constantine counts himself lucky to be having a relatively peaceful lockdown at home with his wife, Helen, in Oxford. He spends his time going for long walks and, of course, writing in his shed at the bottom of the garden amidst the birdsong. The paperback edition of Constantine’s fifth short story collection, The Dressing-Up Box, will be released later this month by Comma Press [...]

Essay | Am fit. Always thinking of you. Love. by Sam...

Before he settled on The Plague for his title, Camus considered The Separated and The Exiles. Exile comes suddenly to the inhabitants of Oran, a ‘clean-cut deprivation’ of contact with their lives beyond the city. The roads are sealed overnight. Not even letters can escape for fear of infection. Phone calls are restricted to ‘urgent cases.’ Lovers parted by quarantine must ‘hunt for tokens of their past communion within the compass of a ten-word telegram’ [...]

Interview | Dima Alzayat on Alligator: stories of displacement, cultural myth...

Human beings are naturally drawn to a good story and that’s regardless of the medium, whether that’s writing or film or something else. I think fiction can help readers see ways of living and thinking that differ from how they live and think, and, at the very least, this can make them more open to or understanding of difference. For me, a good story puts the reader in someone else’s shoes and taps into a reader’s own experiences and emotions in order to connect them [...]

Poetry | Almost-Heartwood by Suzannah V. Evans

The rosy almost-heartwood of larch, / which sounds like lark, which sounds like singing, / which sounds like the wood could open its rosy throat / and pour forth the song of boats / sighing in the harbour, / swimming onto slipways, knocking against pontoons / The grainy planks of teak, / which sounds like talk, which sounds like the boatbuilders / as they ease about the wooded space, handling compass planes, / talking of cleats and chines and carvels, making tea [...]

Review | A Monster Calls at The Old Vic, 5-11 June...

This stunning Old Vic production, devised from the best-selling YA novel by Patrick Ness, hits so many emotional notes; it left me in bits. In its honest depiction of illness and grief, A Monster Calls is a timely production to stream. Conor, while coming to terms with his mum’s cancer, must struggle with school bullies, falling out with his best friend, and his dad moving to America with his new family. It is a lot to tackle in under two hours, but the play is well-paced and [...]

Essay | Wholly Communion by Scarlett Sabet

On June 11th 1965, over 7,000 people filled the Royal Albert Hall for four hours, smoking, applauding and listening to men that would soon become myth: Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Adrian Mitchell, and Gregory Corso were just some of the poets that performed that night at the International Poetry Incarnation. It was a counter-culture ‘happening’ in one of London's most affluent boroughs, the Royal Albert Hall itself a testament to the power and wealth of the old British Empire [...]

Interview | Leland Cheuk on the comic novel, stereotype and optimism

Leland Cheuk is the award-winning author of The Misadventures of Sulliver Pong (2015) and a short story collection, Letters from Dinosaurs (2016). He is the founder of the indie press 7.13 Books and teaches at the Sarah Lawrence College Writing Institute. I spoke to Leland about his newest novel No Good Very Bad Asian (2019) and his experience of belonging to the so-called 'model minority' in COVID-19 America. A cross between Paul Beatty’s The Sellout and [...]

Essay | Layli and Majnun: Romeo and Juliet of the East...

When it comes to love stories, none are as well known in the English language as Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. In Iran and elsewhere in the Persian-speaking world, however, another pair of star-crossed lovers reigns supreme. Lord Byron, who enthused over ancient Iran in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, called Nezami Ganjavi’s Layli and Majnun ‘the Romeo and Juliet of the East’. Though given to exaggeration, this was no exaggeration on Byron’s part [...]

Interview | Scarlett Sabet in conversation with Gerard Malanga

You ask how my week has been? I've been in lockdown now for 3 weeks or so, though I might've lost count. I have plenty to keep me busy in the house here, plus I have responsibility towards my 3 cats. And then there's dreamtime, between 4 & 6 in the morning. But suddenly I felt days back this ennui coming on, like, did the poetry suddenly disappear? Sometimes I'm concerned—but just for a moment mind you—whether I can match or even better the last one? There's no way [...]

Interview | Artist Nancy Cadogan on Keats, Gusto and the Keats-Shelley...

Nancy Cadogan is a British figurative painter. She was named as one of the ‘Top 20 New British Art Talents’ by Tatler magazine, describing her as ‘the new Paula Rego’ in 2008. Since then, she has been featured as one of 93 women artists to exhibit at The Ned, London, for its permanent Vault 100 exhibition. Her solo shows, Mind Zero and Footnotes (for the British Art Fair), were presented at the Saatchi Gallery in London. [...]

Review | This House, National Theatre at Home

Undeniably, the UK has experienced a turbulent political era in the last five years, but it certainly meets its match in the five running from 1974 to 1979. From fistfights in parliament, to faked deaths, to MPs brought in to vote from their hospital beds, this period saw it all. In the critically acclaimed This House, playwright James Graham and director Jeremy Herrin masterfully capitalise on parliament’s real-life melodramas, creating an accessible political drama exploding with tension and laughter [...]

Essay | Reflections on Orwell’s Coming Up for Air by Patrick...

"Call it peace, if you like. But when I say peace I don’t mean absence of war, I mean peace, a feeling in your guts. And it’s gone for ever if the rubber-truncheon boys get hold of us." What moves us about this passage? It is not particularly difficult to know which literary world we are in, which part of history we are being exposed to, and even which author is speaking [...]

Review | A Luminous Republic & Such Small Hands by Andrés...

Andrés Barba’s ghostly novella Such Small Hands met with resounding critical success in its native Spain, as well as in the UK and US with English translations by Lisa Dillman, in 2017. Darkly compelling, it was lauded for its unsettling plot and baroque descriptions, blending conventions from Greek tragedy and Gothic literature [...]

Fiction | Negative Capability by Michèle Roberts

Yesterday ended in disaster. Very late at night, I decided to write down everything that had happened, the only way I could think of coping. So here goes. Yesterday I woke up at seven thirty in my white-painted wrought-iron bed, felt lazy, decided to have a lie-in. Almost immediately, above me, the neighbours’ bed began creaking. [...]

Spotlight VI: Small Presses | British Book Awards Special 2020

With publishers big and small struggling through the current crisis, it is important for us to shine a spotlight on small presses, the work that they do and the books and authors that they publish. Recently recognised among the nine regional and country winners in the Small Press of the Year Award at the 2020 British Book Awards, today we shine the spotlight on four of the best small presses currently publishing in the UK and Ireland: Jacaranda Books, Sandstone Press, Comma Press and The Lilliput Press [...]

Virtual Exhibition | Unseen Spring by Joe Machine

The London Magazine is delighted to host a virtual exhibition of Joe Machine’s new paintings. The series comprises motifs of spring and his iconic animal figures, such as the magpie and the fox. As ever with Joe’s painting the work draws the viewer into a mythically charged landscape. Yet these are delicate, quiet and hopeful paintings. London Magazine subscribers will receive a discount and a percentage of all sales will be donated to the NHS [...]

Fiction | Radon Girls by Lauren Sarazen

I set my bag down at my feet, and looked back at the way I’d come, sweating, breathing hard. The path was narrow and shaped by switchbacks that snaked up the hill. It disappeared behind a bend adorned with a clump of morning glories that made the climb look bucolic and gentle. This was a lie. They hadn’t told me about the hills, the uneven quality of the roads. They’d told me to hire a cart to bring me up to the house, but I wasn’t in the habit of ordering carts. [...]

Fiction | Fear In Your Water by Julia Bell

I had been reading Foucault – and not understanding it properly; I was too distracted to concentrate. But I got the gist of it, at least what I thought was the important stuff, what he was saying about madness and how it has been civilised out of us, how back in the day it used to be that sane people and mad people all lived together and there wasn’t so much of a difference. And ‘mad’ people were often seen as visionaries with special access to God. It was only when people [...]

Interview | Rosanna Amaka on The Book of Echoes and Brixton...

Rosanna Amaka, born to African and Caribbean parents, began writing her debut novel twenty years ago to give voice to the Brixton community in which she grew up, a community fast disappearing as a result of gentrification and emigration. The Book of Echoes unearths the pain of the past through the narration of an enslaved African before moving between worlds as the scars of history present themselves in the future lives of Michael and Ngozi. Amaka’s searing debut hums with heartache and [...]

Interview | Ra Page on Stories of Uprising and Protest in...

Ra Page is the founder and CEO of Comma Press, a Manchester-based publisher specialising in short stories. He has edited many anthologies, including Protest: Stories of Resistance (2017), and Litmus (2011), an Observer Book of the Year. He coordinated Literature Northwest until it merged with Comma Press, and is a former director of Manchester Poetry Festival. Ra's latest collection, Resist: Stories of Uprising (2019), pairs fictional retellings of British protests through the ages with historical afterwords [...]

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