"I am animal-mad... There does seem to be a counter-movement now towards recognising they are sentient beings, which is soothing and hopefully signals a better future for all animals at our hand." Lisa Harding
February 2021
Runaways and free spirits

Runaways and free spirits

“Every landscape needs a figure in it, perhaps especially a figure that is only intermittently visible, that is mysterious and alert,” observes a gardener in Jane Smiley’s The Strays of Paris who spies a beautiful racehorse roaming freely in the middle of the French capital. The racehorse is Paras (short for Perestroika). She became a...
Bit by bit by bit

Bit by bit by bit

What happened? Everyone asked the question, had been asking since the election. They asked while watching the news, that storm of headlines, jump-cut footage of marches and speeches and hand-sharpied cardboard, an endless, swirling blizzard – a siege, really – of protests and counterprotests, action and reaction, people screaming at one another in the street,...
from Mother, Nature

from Mother, Nature

Aoife Lyall’s debut collection Mother, Nature explores the tragic and tender experiences of pregnancy and early motherhood, from antenatal complications and the devastating pain of miscarriage to the overwhelming joy of healthy delivery and healthy infancy. “Nothing prepares you for the loss of a child,” she writes in her prefatory note. “I turned to what...
from Lumen

from Lumen

How might poetry help us articulate the body in illness, in work, and in love? Tiffany Atkinson’s fourth collection includes the sequence ‘Dolorimeter’, which won the 2014 Medicine Unboxed Prize. Taking fragments of speech and found text from a hospital residency at Bronglais Hospital in Aberystwyth to pay homage to the inventiveness and humour of...
The vulgar, not the Vulgate

The vulgar, not the Vulgate

A brief note on the word, ‘sex’. I find myself avoiding it often. It is an ugly word. Not because it is boorish, but because it is too refined. ‘Sex’ is clinical: sterile, precise, institutional. It comes from the Norman French, originally Latin – what philologists Reneé and Henry Kahane called ‘the status symbol of...
Neema Shah: A place called home

Neema Shah: A place called home

If you’re non-white living in a majority white place or indeed a visible or identifiable ‘foreigner’ in a land, the chances are you will have at some point been told to “go back to your own country”. Especially in 1970s Britain. The people who regularly shouted this none-too-friendly command would most probably not stop and...
Black Britain: Writing Back

Black Britain: Writing Back

Penguin has pulled together a stunning new list of books by writers who have written about black Britain and the diaspora over the last hundred years. The six launch titles, each with a new introduction by Bernadine Evaristo, range from fast-paced thrillers to historical fiction, and showcase a diverse pool of black writing talent. The...
Towards a poetics of wreckage

Towards a poetics of wreckage

There is something thrilling about a beautiful book – a book whose aesthetic, material presence, and the evocative momentum of its ideas and the words that embody them, seek to touch a reader’s every nerve, even that insubstantial vital centre we call our soul. Susan Stewart’s The Ruins Lesson: Meaning and Material in Western Culture...
Hector Bisi: Not just dandy

Hector Bisi: Not just dandy

Writer and dandy Hector Bisi was born in Belém, in the Brazilian Amazon, and has donned several different hats since, working as an engineer, copywriter and modelling agent. He caused a bit of a stir some years ago with the publication of his debut novel Copacubana, which tells the tale of the owner of a...
Bad boys

Bad boys

Author’s note: What you’re about to read isn’t meant to be a positive or negative image or metaphor of Paris. Whether good or bad, beyond or besides all the clichés, and despite its possible arrogance, this book is meant to be Paris.   One possible September Beau Patrick returned. Paris wasn’t there anymore. A year...