In this episode we first take a look through Acropolis Journal's issue 1, we then chat to the wonderful Shiksha! We then chat with Tommy Dean about Uncharted Mag. The brilliant Farhana Shaikh has a wonderful chat with our assistant editor JP Seabright, before we round off by looking at some latest Beir Bua Press releases!
In this episode we first take a look through Acropolis Journal's issue 1, we then chat to the wonderful Shiksha! We then chat with Tommy Dean about Uncharted Mag. The brilliant Farhana Shaikh has a wonderful chat with our assistant editor JP Seabright, before we round off by looking at some latest Beir Bua Press releases!
Hello, and welcome back to the Full House podcast. Hope you are well. We've got some really exciting guests lined up for this episode. So let's just get straight into it. So to kick off the podcast, we're just going to start off by looking at a journal. So we're going to look at Acropolis journal and they're like a brand new online poetry magazine founded in 2021. They are a home for temples, ruins, darkness and myth. They love all kinds of poetry and are particularly drawn to dark emotional pieces. They love pieces surging with imagery, surreal, gothic, Labyrinth, abyss, grit, confessional pieces, they want to read pieces that people stayed up writing into the full moon. They like hybrid or strange pieces, and also the odd cat poem. And that just sounds absolutely fantastic. And the journal is run by Louise and Louise is a fantastic writer, creator, crafter. So it's just I'm really excited to dive in. So I've just had a flick through of the issue, and I've chosen my favorite pieces. All of the pieces are so fantastic. They have such a beautiful quality about them, really linking into what the journal is all about about ruins, and temples, myth and darkness, I really did get that from all of these pieces. So it's a really cohesive issue. And there were just some amazing pieces from writers that I had not heard of before. And artists that just blew me away. So I'm going to give you my standout pieces, and I highly recommend you read the issue. And I can just see there's going to be such great things that come from Acropolis journal.
So the first piece that really jumped out at me is a disabled dream by Daniel. I really like the way that this is formatted. And I really like some of the language and the way that it's describing what it describes. And I'll read you out few lines that I really enjoyed. I just thought were brilliant lines. So 'to have a body that barely lifts a whisper' is one I thought was amazing. Some of the imagery so gorgeous, so 'of ruined factories a thousand tender places
'. Another one, 'like badly-cut holes leaking light' I love the way that there's such a sound and a rhythm to these lines. Each one is so lovely. Yeah, I just think it's a really brilliant piece on I read enjoyed reading it. Um, yeah, this is definitely a piece but there's lots of little gems sorts of little details within this and within the language. Another one I liked was 'that doesn’t click on & off through the night like this broken fan'. So many lovely gorgeous phrases that Daniel has has written in this piece. And it just works so well. And I like the title. I like the way the piece starts and ends. And I like the way that language is constructed. And yet it's just a brilliant piece. And I highly recommend you check this one out.
And then another piece I really enjoyed was only he can heal me by Tahlia. And this is a great piece as well. Again, the formatting of this piece is really cool. I really like the way that's set out. The thing that I love most about this piece was the way that you know, like alliteration was used and the way that it sounds. I'm such a fan of pieces that have these sound patterns. So I'll read a few lines that I particularly enjoyed. So 'ready to receive the bread that breaks like tiny bones between my baby teeth.' So that's a section I really enjoyed and then 'mouth of clay mould me to the heat of you. no stranger desire' So that was really beautiful as well. It that just continues throughout the whole piece. It's really really beautiful way of description and its just got such a lovely flow and rhythm to it. I really liked the last line as well. 'what a dangerous gift it is, to have – the power to lay someone to rest.' just a fantastic piece really. I love the way that it sort of conjures up images. I really like the tone of it as well. I don't really typically read many pieces within this sort of theme but this piece just fits so well. Yeah, I just really like the way it's constructed. I really like as I say the sound patterns. I just think it's a really gorgeous piece and I'm so glad to have had the chance to read it. I just think it's beautiful and it's so well crafted. You can see how much thought has gone into every line. And I can just really you know, appreciate that from a reader and just thinking wow this writer has just put so much energy and time and dedication into the craft and it just reads so wonderfully. So I highly recommend you check that one out.
Another piece I really enjoyed was thinking too loud by Elizabeth. And this is one of those pieces where I just read like the first section and I was like, yeah, I know I'm going to like this, I immediately was pulled in, just by the way it was written. So the first sort of section is, 'I felt it that day. Must have been around lunchtime, about one in the afternoon. I felt it then. A warmth. A touch. Something deep inside, between my belly and my heart, calling to me, pulling me out of myself.' Just so well written. And I love the way that the tone is, is used there and I like the way that the writing style is, and it just made me want to carry on reading. It's a really great piece. Elizabeth is just a wonderful, wonderful writer. And I don't typically tend to read pieces that are longer than like two paragraphs. But this piece I just couldn't stop reading I was so pulled in. And yeah, I'm not typically a fan of longer pieces. But I mean, this isn't like it doesn't go on for pages or anything. It just it does exactly what it needs to in exactly the right amount of words. And I love the way that the description, it gives you enough that it tells you the picture, but there was also still room for you to sort of like conjure up the images that Elizabeth is is giving to us. And I just think it's really nice. I really like the the person it's written in like this, this voice. Um, it's just a great piece. I really like the end stanza as well. I like the italic parts. I just like everything in this piece. I think it works really well. Yeah, it's just a piece like you can really feel like the honesty sort of brim to the surface in this piece bubble up. And, you know, I really enjoyed the descriptions and just everything about this piece. I think Elizabeth has done such a great job in crafting this and giving the imagery and just really telling a narrative in such a brilliant way. So yeah, definitely recommend this one.
Another piece I really liked was sunless by Georgie. Again, this is one where I just know I'm gonna like a piece if I if I really liked the first few lines. 'pressed my nose against the window.
Something cracked: glass or bone.' And that just instantly pulled me in. And there are so many lovely lines, like really unique lines that hadn't you know, seen before and they weren't familiar to me. So lines like 'I divided the room into cubes'. I love that line I think that is such a great way describing something. 'Books softened into ponds, words grew scales that winked under'. And I just love the way that that's described. I just think it's a beautiful piece. And yeah, I really enjoyed it. I really felt it was really well constructed. Another line, 'I saw two cats,
tails low like whips'. I just thought the imagery and description was really really well crafted in this piece and really tight. I definitely see why it belongs in the issue. And it definitely was a stand out for me, I really enjoyed the way that the piece was constructed.
And then I really like the art piece Gaia by Helen, I thought that was such a beautiful piece. Really, really lovely. It just my eyes just went straight to it, searching for little details. I think it's really, really lovely visual piece. Super, super talented to capture something like that. And it really tells a story. The way that you know, like the lighting is and just the whole image as a whole. It's just absolutely beautiful and so special. And that was a lovely image to come across. And it really like was burned into my brain. Even after I read the issue. I just like that image just keeps coming to the back of my head and I just really loved it.
I also want to touch on Louise's piece, the shape of darkness. So Louise is the editor. I just thought it has some lovely lines, I thought it did a really good job of sort of capturing everything that this journal was about and what they were aspiring to do. I thought this was just the perfect example of a piece that fit really well and address those themes in a really really exciting, really well constructed clever, brilliant way. So the lines and things that I really liked, lines like 'the way it drenched the earth half-way between knowing you.' I thought that was a lovely line. And 'unravelling splintered seams from bloodless silhouettes,', another gorgeous gorgeous line. I really like the way that color is used within this piece as well. I thought this is such a lovely piece. The descriptions in this are just gorgeous. And I'm definitely not one who likes things that are like too descriptive and that. But Louise just has such a brilliant way of conjuring up these images and describing them and they are beautiful they really are. And it was just a gorgeous piece. So well written. I just can't fault it. It's amazing. It just fits so well. You know within the journal, within the themes and it's beautiful.
And then finally as a stand out piece was reunion by Matthew, I really like, again, the way the sound patterns are in this piece and the way the sound is used in the alliteration to really help the flow and really creates really good sense of rhythm. So a few lines that I thought did that so successfully, where 'She lies still, skin prickled, her body barely betraying breath. Her first finger rises, feels his ribs, smooths a ridge of strung muscle', I just thought that was so lovely. And the whole piece just its got such a delicate sort of way of describing but giving this really vivid sense of imagery. It's really, really lovely. And again, I can see why it's such a perfect fit for this journal on this issue. Yeah, it was just such a lovely read, I've read this a couple times now and just love it. I love the way that the description is used. And I don't write like this often like description, but it's something that I absolutely loved reading. And I'm like, I wish I could write so beautifully in this way. And yeah, it is an absolutely incredible piece. And so well constructed, I mean, there's a lot, a lot of detail that's gone into this piece to make it what it is. So yeah, it's a lovely piece really great. And just definitely get the check out if you can.
And so they were just a few of my sort of standout pieces from this journal their issue one, but Acropolis have some amazing pieces. And that will definitely like, you know, really ignite something within you. And if you like things about you know, ruins and myth and darkness, then you will adore this issue. I had a great, great, great time reading it and discovering some fantastic writers that I'm really excited to keep following their journey now. So this is a brilliant journal and their future is are going to be so much brighter and bolder. So definitely follow them along and submit to the next window when that will be. So yeh, really exciting stuff there.
And now let's move on to chatting to our first guest. So our first guest is the wonderful Shiksha, how are you today?
Thank you so much, Leia. I'm so excited to be here actually. I don't think people know, but I've never been on a podcast. It's very exciting for me. So yeah. And how are you?
Yeah, I'm great thanks. I'm really excited to speak to you and find out a bit more about your writing and how you know your processes behind writing. So to begin with, do you just want to introduce yourself to us and tell us a bit about your writing journey so far?
Okay sure thing. Well, as you mentioned, my name is Shiksha Dheda, and I would say that I am fairly new to writing and submitting. A few months ago, I didn't even know what submittable was. Now, I only check it like, every 10 seconds. I'm joking, maybe more like every hour. So yeah. I think for me, if I had to describe my journey with writing, it would be dynamic and ever changing, which I think is how many writers would describe their own journey with writing. I kind of seriously got into writing creatively when I was about 16, I'd say, and I wrote for solid three years. And then when I enrolled into my undergrad degree, which was engineering, I kind of became distant from writing creatively. And it was only in my final year of engineering when I chose an interdisciplinary final year project that I realized that, you know, engineering doesn't have to be separate from creativity. And that's when I started reading and writing for creative purposes again, but it wasn't until last year when the pandemic hit. And you know, people became housebound, and I became like, a complete shut in overnight, like, I'm not even exaggerating, that I stopped actually doing my Masters, I stopped doing anything really productive. I just couldn't do it. I think it was the pandemic, it was everything basically. And that's when I started mindlessly, sort of scrolling through Twitter. And, you know, amidst the memes and stuff I saw calls for submissions, people posting tweets about their pieces of writing being published, and it was only this year in January when I was like, Hey, you know, I have some unpublished things on my own pile. So why not try and submit them somewhere. And since then, I've been meeting interesting supportive, talented people on Twitter. And I'm very glad to have found the writing community and to be there. Actually, so yeah, that's my journey so far.
Wow, that's a great journey. Oh, incredible. I mean, I've read some of your work. And I absolutely love how you know, like bold and powerful and sometimes experimental your pieces are, how would you describe your writing style?
That actually does does mean a lot to me when anybody tells me that they that they've read my stuff, like, before they even give me what they thought of it, just the fact that I read your stuff. I'm like, I just feel seen, you know, like, even even if they don't think it's great. I just feel like, okay, somebody's seen myself they've interacted with it. So yeah, to answer your, your question, I don't actually think I have a style or anything in particular, I just, like trying different different things, especially when I came across visual poetry as well. I thought that was so interesting. Like how people can basically tie together two different sort of sort of spheres of art and to convey a message I thought that was, that was so cool. And some people have whole collections of visual poetry and stuff. So I think I just when I see something interesting or different, I'm like, I, I want to try that. You know, so I don't think there's a set style or anything, I'm just trying stuff.
Yeah, no, absolutely. That's, that's great. Um, yeah, I'm pretty much similar in that way. I think. Sometimes, yeah, just having no style can can be the way to go. And something else I wanted to ask you is, what does it look like the when you sit down to write or craft, describe to me like your external environment? What's happening inside your head? Just what does it look like when you sit down to write?
To give you a short answer to that is, I don't know. But if I had to think about it, I'd say basically, usually, if there is sort of, in some type of inspiration, and is a raw idea, I'll try and jot that down as quickly as possible. Maybe in my notes app, which is mostly where my raw ideas are. And then later, when I have more time or something, I'll come back to that and then build on it. So and there's no set process, because some, some pieces don't take long at all. And I'm happy with them. Within sort of 10/15 minutes, some pieces I can spend so much time looking at it and I just won't be be happy with it. And so I don't think there's there's a process, I think each sort of piece is different. I don't have a set process, I wouldn't know how to describe it if I had to.
No, that's great. That's a lovely, lovely answer. I love that. I think that's really interesting. And super, super cool. I mean, I know some people have like, really specific criteria that they have to before they can write. And I think I'm one of these people to be fair. And so I love here and the other perspective of you know, it just happens that it happens. I don't know how it happens. But it happens. So that's great. And I wanted to ask you, for anyone who you know, isn't familiar with your work, do you have potentially a favorite piece you've written and you know, a piece that you'd suggest people sort of read first to get an introduction to your work?
That's actually a great question. And I don't think I have a, I think, if there would be a favorite piece of mine, I don't think I've written it yet. Actually, um, I think today, streetcake magazine's newest issue was released. And I have a visual piece in there. And it's basically it's a series of infinity signs, basically. And the text, sort of the the first line is something like, in every intrusive thought, there is a memory. And it basically goes down a series, a cycle of what it is when somebody who has obsessive compulsive disorder, when the are stuck in a cycle of sort of intrusive thoughts, and how that has a domino effect, and how they reach the same state that they started in. So it's almost like it's a pointless cycle. And I think for me, that piece is is very special, because it's very personal. And it also articulates how I've sort of felt with my own obsessive compulsive disorder. So I think I direct them to that because I don't know if it best describes my work, but it best describes, I would say, my process or me, so I don't know if it's reflective of my work. But I would say it's more reflective of me, which sometimes isn't always the same thing. Well, not not for me, that is at least.
Yeah, no that is an incredible piece I can definitely vouch for the fact that you definitely go and check that piece out. It's so clever, so powerful, so impactful. I just as soon as I saw it, just the visual side of it is beautiful. But then when you actually read the words in the piece, there's just so much to it. It's such a beautifully layered piece. So I highly recommend this piece, and also the other pieces and streetcake's issue. So yeah, I for one absolutely loved it. And I know other people will, too.
Thank you so much Leia, like I said, I'll never tire of hearing people telling me that I've checked out your piece. And you know, this is the feedback. I don't think I'll ever tire of that. Thank you for that.
No, it was a gorgeous piece. I really, really loved it. And I mean, another question I have for you is, I know you've touched on this a little bit about some of your inspirations. So do you mind you know going a bit deeper and seeing a some of where your inspirations come from? Or is it just that completely varied?
I would say the there are two parts to this question. One would be in a lot of my writing, which is very specific. Like a lot of my pieces that are going to be in my debut collection, which centers around sort of mental illness, obviously, the inspiration of that was mental illness and dealing with it. But in a broad aspect, if I had to think about inspiration, it would be when I see other artworks when I see sort of visual art, dramatic arts, music, other writing, I think when somebody expresses themselves, or how they feel or their vulnerability, so well that it makes you think, you know, I want to do that I want to or try or try to do that. I think that's, that's my biggest inspiration. And on Twitter, there's so many people who are so unimaginably creative, that I think it's difficult to not, for one be intimidated by it. And two also inspired by it. So yeah, those are the two sets of inspirations I'd say personally.
Definitely no that is a fantastic answer. And the next thing I sort of wanted to touch on is, would you say there's any, you know, highs and equally lows in the process of writing? What would they be for you?
Um, for me, I think highs would be when I sort of have an abundance of raw ideas, when I'll be like, I mean, those those days aren't plentiful, but they are there. But when you just think, Oh, yeah, I could write that. And then you're like, oh but then I could also write that. Then you're like, Okay, all these ideas, are there yeah. But then I think the lowest for me in the process would be more when I think about my own writing. And I feel like, what if it never reaches a point where I'll be content with it, I think that's more of an evaluation of me looking at my own writing and feeling that not even in comparison to anyone else's just by myself. I don't know if other people feel this, but you have sort of a vision in your mind of how you want something to come out. Like a painting, for example. And then when you actually do it on canvas or paper, it doesn't match or line with what you had thought. And I think my lows would be days when I feel that my writing is very far removed from from what I envisioned. I mean, they they are mostly fleeting moments where I'll be like, okay, but sometimes they do last a bit longer. So I think those for me would be the lows.
Yeah, no, that's a pretty interesting point, actually. I mean, I wonder if for you these these pieces, you know, not what you expected. I wonder if for other people those would be the pieces that they're like, Oh, that's fantastic. And for you, it was sort of like a happy accident to create it. But for someone else that would actually be, you know, their favorite piece you could have ever done. So it's really interesting the way we have like these perspectives like on our work.
You know, now that you actually mentioned it, some of my writing, which I personally think sort of is my best till date are the ones that always get rejected. And then sort of the other ones, which I just added to, to, to the package to sort of make up the numbers and I'd be like that would never get accepted ever. And then an editor would get back to me and be like, I love that piece. And then I go back and actually check and I'd be like wait, they're talking about this piece. Once I almost responded to the email, I thinking it was another poem, which I actually liked in that packet, but they were referring to a poem which I even forgot that I had submitted it because I didn't like it at all. And I was so shocked. I was like, why that poem? You know, I don't like it. So that's interesting, I guess what we perceive and how we sort of perceive our work.
Oh, certainly, you can't plan for anything. Can a lot of writing, can you?
Yeah, no, I think you can.
No, that is great! That has definitely given me a lot to think about there. I think that is a really important point, especially when we have rejections and that, that, you know, it's all so subjective isn't that?
It really is, I think initially, when I started submitting, and I got my first rejections, I didn't actually take them badly, because I expected it because from what I heard it was that, you know, rejections are quite common. Interestingly, for me, after I had been sort of published a few times, that's been the rejections actually started singing, because that's when I thought I was like, did I just get lucky the first few times? Was it sort of hit and, hit and miss, and now, my luck has run out, you know, my beginner's luck. And now, its this like, are they seeing my writing for what it truly is and, you know, I think that's the imposter syndrome, which I think a lot of people have, I know, I'm not alone in that. And I think even pretty seasoned writers from which was shocking to me get quite a few rejections, like some people, I'd be on twitter and seen their body of work, and think they probably hardly get get rejected. And then they'd make a tweet or something like I've been rejected four times. And I'd be like, really, but your writing is so good. Like, why would anybody reject that even subjectively? So I think that's a common experience that arises that we, that we experience experience. And that's because, as you said, processes are subjective.
100% definitely something to think about. Sure. And so now tell me about what you're currently working on. If you can, it's top secret, don't worry. But give us a bit of insight into some of your sort of current projects and things that you're you know, currently, you know, crafting.
There's there's no secrets. It's not it's not top secret. As I think I had mentioned earlier, now that my debut collection is going to be out soon, I am, I'm a bit in sort of a directionless state, because a lot of my work had been focused sort of, on depicting or telling sort of my own mental illness journey. And a lot of that is in my collection. So now that I am trying to work on other things, I don't really have a direction. But I think I did mention a bit earlier that experimental poetry is sort of been intriguing to me. So what I actually do want to work on is a chapbook, or a series of poems, that tells a story through Venn diagrams, that that just the concept just interests me, I don't know how it will work out or if it will work out. But it's something that I would like to work on. So yeah, that's, that's where I'm at.
That sounds incredible, gosh can't wait to see that you've got to do it now.
Now I have to be accountable.
No going back, you've got to do it! I'm excited to read it. So that sounds great. And I mean, I want to ask you about is obviously a lot of your work explores some quite, you know, deep and personal things, and how did you sort of balance you know, that sort of challenges, you know, writing these things was it like a difficult process to you know, write about something that's so close to yourself?
Oh, actually, it wasn't for me, on a personal level. I know, for a lot of people it is. But for me, sort of when you have a mental illness, and I know, some people who also have sort of chronic illnesses, where you can't really see that they are suffering its not visible. So I feel like a lot of people with sort of invisible disorders feel they unseen. They feel like their illness is invalidated because people can't see it. And I think when I write about my mental illness, it's a way for me to make it seen. And I think that that for me is actually easier, then not speaking about it, or not talking about it. I think it's it's a very liberating process to make something which feels unseen, be more tangible, and even if people read it, and they don't agree with it, or they don't sort of align with it. I think the fact that they've interacted with it makes it more tangible and real. Obviously, no one's pain needs validation from anyone else. But it's good to be seen, it's good to have your struggles seen whether someone can help you with it or not, I just think it's important that things which aren't always seen but are experienced, should be more tangible. So for me, it's actually easier to write about it and speak about it, then it would be to not do that.
Yeah, that totally makes sense. That definitely makes sense. It's a really interesting perspective on that. And so, now sort of to wrap up, I want to hear a bit about your future, which obviously hasn't happened yet. But I like where do you sort of hope to see yourself, you know, grow to in the next few years?
I actually have no idea. I think everything for me that I've seen, or have accomplished since I've started submitting has been, has been a shock for me, because when I started in January, I was like, this year, I want to have 10 pieces published. That was my 2021 goal when I started submitting. And by the beginning of February, I had already sent pieces. So I was like, and that's partly because I have a mildly obsessive personality, not because oh, everything got accepted. But because I was submitting like, like crazy, because it was like, yeah, I should just submit to all these cool magazines that I that I've seen, you know, so I have no idea what the future is for, for me in terms of writing, I just know that, that there's joy in creating and in people interacting with your work. But I think on a personal level, if other people who have sort of mental illnesses and feel that they can't articulate that, or they can't elaborate on it, if they find meaning in my work, I think for me, that would be a big achievement. If somebody who is suffering feels seen, or somebody who knows someone who's suffering and doesn't understand it, if they started understanding it more, I think that would be a pretty big deal for me. So I don't know, tangibly about other things. But yeah, that would mean a lot to me.
Certainly no, and I definitely think you're going to have such an exciting future that I can't wait to follow that. Do you have any sort of upcoming pieces out and coming soon? Or any places that you're hoping to submit to soon?
Um, well, I think maybe in early September, the date hasn't been decided. But my debut full collection will be out with Alien Buddha Press.
Yeah, I'm very excited about that. So excited, actually, like sometimes when I think about it, I'll just be like, Oh, my gosh. And I also have, I think it will be in September, I'm not sure. But I will have a personal essay out, which will deal with suicide ideation as well. So it will be my first personal essay that would be featured because I mostly have poetry out. So I'd love to hear people's feedback on on that as an essay as well as on the content of the essay. So yeah, I'm pretty excited about that, as well.
Oh, definitely lots to look forward to. And how was the process of writing your collection? How long did it take to sort of fully form it?
Um, some of the pieces were written this year, and some were written years ago, so there wasn't an intention to make a collection at all. And then this year, when I started going through poems for submission purposes, I started seeing that they could sort of be linked together. Yeah. Like I could, like some of the poems sort of paralleled my experience with obsessive compulsive disorder. And I and I thought, why not tie all of these sort of together, and I found a way to sort of break it up into three stages, which I then named after sort of the process of hand washing for two purposes, one because that's part of my own disorder, and to because there's been such an emphasis on hand washing because of the pandemic. Yeah. So it wasn't an intention to sort of link them together. But I saw thr pattern and I thought, why not put them all together? So I can't answer that question. Because some pieces are from way back and yeah, some as recent as this year. Yeah.
Yeah, no worries at all, and how was the editing of that? Like, how do you edit by the way, cuz I know some people they write and then that is it, the piece is like done, a lot of the editing happens in their brains before they've even put pen to paper. So what does editing look like for you? And how do you find it? Some people love it, some people hate it.
Um, in terms of editing, I think I'll be more similar to those people who don't really edit, because sometimes I do, sometimes I don't, I think it depends on the piece. But mostly, if I had to think about it, on average, I'd say I write a piece, I'll it read through then check for sort of, you know, grammatical spelling errors, then I read through it, once again, make sure the line breaks are where I want them to be. They sort of have the effect that I want. So if I'd have to think of, on average, I'd say, I proofread, like twice, thrice, maybe. But hardcore editing hardly ever happens. Like I won't completely take out whole stanzas or restructure something completely, I think I've only done that maybe once or twice when I've liked the concept behind a poem, which I've written way back but I felt that it was lacking in every other way, except for the concept. So that's only happened like a handful of times. I'm not much of a hardcore editor. So yeah, I don't enjoy that much. So yeah, not for my own work, at least, like if somebody had to ask me to give an opinion on this it would be a bit easier. But that's why I'd happily give people my own work when editors have come back to me on what sort of proofs I'm happy to change things. So as long as I don't have to edit my work.
Fair enough. Yeah, I totally get that. And then, so when a piece is finished, how do you know it's finished? Because I know for a lot of people, they just like sort of intuitively know, yeh the pieces done, no more needs to be done. How does that work for you?
Um, think for me, I don't think it will be, I don't think a piece is ever done. Like, it can always be made better, it will always be more could be taken out more could be added something could be said better. So I think for me, it's just at this point, this is all I can do with this piece. And I'm going to send it off. If later I think, Oh, I can change that then I'll go back and change it and send it somewhere else. But at that moment, it feels like this is all that I'm capable of doing. So I don't know if the piece is done, it's more of I'm done.
Yeah, no, that's great. It's such a great answer. And yes, so to sort of completely finished off my last question for you what do you hope people take from your work?
I guess I sort of touched on it a bit before, but as a lot of my work currently focuses on sort of mental illness. I think if that message just becomes more commonplace with people, I think that would be fine with me if the understanding of mental illness becomes more prevalent. I know, with mental illnesses like obsessive compulsive disorder, it's very misunderstood. Many people just use the term very loosely. I don't think people understand OCD that much as maybe other disorders such as anxiety or depression. So I think, if that becomes just even slightly more understood, or better understood, I think, at this point, that's good enough.
Absolutely, definitely. Well, I for one cannot wait to see where your future takes you. And I can't wait to keep following along your writing journey. And seeing your fantastic pieces. So thank you so much for coming on and chatting today.
Thank you so much for having me for asking such great questions which I think cover a big basis. Thank you.
No worries, so that was such a great chat. And now we shall talk to our next guest. So next up, we're speaking to Tommy from Uncharted. So hi, how are you?
I'm good. How are you?
Yeah, great. Thanks, very excited to have a chat and find out more about yourself and Uncharted. So to start off with. Do you just want to introduce yourself and Uncharted?
Well, I'm Tommy Dean. I do have MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. My experience is mostly with writing flash fiction, literary flash fiction, but I've always been a huge fan of mysteries and thriller, The little bit of sci fi and horror, and fantasy, those stories that make us just kind of want to jump off our seat and say what is happening? I can't wait. And I yeah, I'm also the editor of a lit mag called fractured lit, which we publish flash fiction as well. So that's a little bit about me.
Yeah, definitely. And say, what's the origins of uncharted? And how did this come to be?
Yeah, that's a great question. Um, well, it first started with some other magazines. We are a company of about Seven or eight magazines total masters review was the first legacy magazine followed by some poetry magazines, frontier and palette. And then we have craft literary fractured lit the voyage journal, which is a YA journal, we noticed that there was a gap for us with genre short fiction. Again, those stories that thrill us and so me and Josh Roark, decided to get this magazine started and and see if any other people would be excited about writing and publishing genre short fiction with us.
Wow, that's amazing. So for you, Tommy, what is it about this shorter fiction that really sticks out for you?
I guess it's for me, it's a story that you can kind of sink into. It's not one like flash kind of goes by in a hurry. And I love that. But also, short stories give you kind of the advantage of sinking into the world, maybe not a full novel, with characters that you really care about taking really decisive and exciting actions. It gives you a chance to explore worlds that flash or maybe poetry doesn't necessarily lend itself to, we can go to space, we can go to these fantasy lands or islands and experience life through the character's eyes and actions.
Yeah, definitely. It's definitely such a strong advantage there for short fiction. And so what's the vision of Uncharted if you had to sort of sum it up?
Yeah, I think the vision for us was to find genre short fiction, speculative stuff, sci fi, fantasy, thriller, horror, crime and mystery stories, that we couldn't stop reading, that we were really excited about stuff that's gonna be more, I guess, cutting edge a spectrum of all those genres is what we're hoping for, from characters to, in reality to robots, to mysterious villains, just things that we couldn't stop reading.
Yes, definitely. And it just sounds amazing. What's the response been like, so far?
It's been really exciting, especially for those that have been submitting so far. We opened up our submissions about almost four months before our launch. And we since April, have already had over 2000 submissions, we are really excited that people are trusting us with their writing with their stories. And seeing us as a premier venue to publish their work. We launched just a couple of weeks ago, and we've had a lot of people that have been really excited about reading our work sharing the stories that we've published. And so we're just really grateful that people have come along with this journey for us. And just really excited to see how far it goes. Our first contest is up, Ken Lui is the judge, which is amazing for us to be able to get such an amazing, speculative writer to give our submitters a chance for him to read their work.
Yes, definitely. And you've got a few pieces up already on your site. So you want to talk about some of those?
Yes, I'd love to just a big shout out we have a story called evolution by Paul Crenshaw, that talks about a little bit of Darwinism, but way in the future. We've got room for rent by Richie Narvaez. Hopefully I said that last name correctly. I heard this is a reprint for us. I heard this story read by Levar Burton, and I just knew that it would be a great piece for us to help launch our magazine. And then we have starving by Ashley Bao. And that's a really it's a sci fi story but it's also is kind of horrific as well. And going along with horror and thriller, we have the passage of time in the Abyss by Sequoia Nagamatsu, which is again a reprint that's in his book from published by black Lawrence press. And then we have passage by Sutton Strother, which is a brand new story for us. And it takes us into some some dark and thrilling places. And last but not least, we have one mystery so far. And that's by Ellen Rhudy. And it's the mystery of the mislaid girls that has this really harkening back to pulpy stories, the the mom in the story, actually as a writer pulpy stories, and the girls have to figure out this kind of mystery through her previous writing.
Yeah, no, those pieces are absolutely incredible. I've had a flick through and some of them are just incredible. So definitely highly recommend anyone go and check that out because it's just such a promise of what's to come. And when when can we see more?
So we're gonna do like some of our other journals and publish on a weekly schedule. So our next story is going to come out this Thursday, August 19, we're still a little bit in debate about what that story is going to be. We have amazing things that we've that we've already accepted, it's just a matter of getting them scheduled for the best for the writer, and best for the magazine, all the stories we're excited about, I wish we could just publish them all today. But as I'm sure you know, trying to read everything, all the great stuff that's out there is already difficult as it is. So every Thursday, we will have a brand new piece of fiction. And then we will be filling up through some of the other days of the week in the month some of the other things like our our writing craft sections, reviews, interviews, those kinds of things.
Yeah, no, that's great. Lots to come. Really excited about that. And you have a really good team of readers as well as quite, quite a lot of you quite a big team, which is great. How did that sort of come out?
Yeah, so the exciting thing is that there are a lot of writers that would like to volunteer to read with literary magazines, not only to, you know, kind of put themselves in the center of this writing community, but it also really helps any writer to kind of get better because you kind of see what is being published what's being submitted. I know that my time with reading with magazines like split lip magazine, and craft literary really, I feel like helped escalate my own vision of what craft could be and what a short story or what a flash might be based on seeing all this amazing work that was being sent out. And then when I made a call out for our associate editor, so many people are so excited about joining our team, which I'm just so you know, grateful for. And so we kind of had an interview process, which was really kind of cool to get to know some people and then yeah, get some associate editors on our team, which I'd love to give a shout out to and I don't want to...So we've got Elizabeth Crowder, Josh Sippie, Kate Tooley, and Maria Picone, and those are our associate editors. And then yeah, we have a huge list of readers, which I don't know if we have time to mention all of them. Okay, so our team of readers and I hope I don't miss anyone is Caroljean Gavin, Tori Carl, Teal Fitzpatrick, Myna Chang, Kaitlyn Crow, Jess Koch, Anthony Maiorana, Barbara Lock, Stevie Edwards, Siarra Riehl, John Chrostek, Kriti Dhanania, Emily Behnke, Belicia Rhea, Barlow Adams, Melissa Llanes Brownlee, Solomon Forse, Alex Ruby, Suzanne Craig-Whytock, Ellie Jacobson, Teresa Plana, Janet Smith, Erika Franz, Jared Benjamin, Jack Giaour, David Oje, Jacqueline Toland, and Marilyn Dees, and I apologize if I said anyone's name wrong. They're the ones that are in the behind the scenes that are helping us move forward and finding all this amazing work.
Amazing. That's so cool. It's great that you have such a big team and so many people that are so excited about the site. So I'm just for one, really excited to see what happens and what other pieces published because it just seems that you've got such a strong vision. And, and I, for one, absolutely love shorter fiction. So it's definitely something that you know, there's definitely, as you say, sort of a gap in the market floor. It's definitely that intrigue there. And so what are some of your hopes and dreams in the future? Obviously, you're just starting out now. But where do you hope to grow to?
I think one of our hopes and dreams is making sure that underrepresented and diverse writers find a home with our journal, it can be difficult, I've found so far in reading some archives of some of the genre magazines, just in general, to have those writers find places, they have amazing stories to tell. And we want to make sure that we can showcase those stories. So we want to make sure that we're very open to those kind of writers, all writers really, who are telling exciting, thrilling stories, but we also want to make sure that yeah, that writers know that we have a place for them here. I'm really excited about giving writers a chance for our contest as well. Although we do charge a submission fee winners generally can win around $3,000 with second and third place, pulling in about 300 and 200 a piece. And you get hopefully a chance for a big time, author toread your work. We're just really, really excited about putting out really great fiction, and hopefully bringing along a lot of writers and readers with us as we take this journey.
Absolutely. And so tell me as a writer yourself, how's it feel being like having it flipped? And now being an editor? Is it strange experience? Obviously, you've been doing it for quite a while. But when you sort of first entered that stage, how did it feel?
I think it's a great question. And I think there is a little bit of a difference between a writer and an editor, I can tell you that being an editor has only helped my writing. Yeah, and being a writer has only helped me to be an editor, I feel like I do understand what the writer is going through when they submit and they have to wait months or weeks to hear back. And then when sometimes it's not the answer that you're hoping for. But you still have that hope and faith in certain literary magazines that you really want to be in. And so you keep submitting. So I think I understand that process better than I had before. I also see just how hard and how good writers are, like how hard they're working, how much their craft improves from story to story, how much of themselves, they're really putting into this work. And I'm just so like, grateful that people want to go on this journey with me and are just trusting me with their writing. They may not even know me very well. But hopefully we get we're providing a safe space for writers to, to want to apply, not apply, but submit to, to hopefully have their stuff published. And we want to reach, you know, as wide an audience as possible. And I think that's my goal, as the editor is to provide the writers that we publish as big a readership as we absolutely can. Because they all deserve it.
Definitely. And so if you had to sum uncharted up in say three words, what do you think would best describe?
Oh, that's a great question. Thrilling, fresh, diverse.
Oh, amazing. See what's what's not to love? Anyone listening that should just be what you need to go over and check out straight away. And so what's the process of submitting for anybody who's curious?
Yeah, that's a great question as well. Our website is probably the easiest way to go. It's Uncharted mag dot com, we use submittable. So all the submittable submit links are on there. Submittable does make it fairly easy to kind of submit and keep track of your submission. Once it comes to us, we try to get it out to our readers as soon as possible. I think we're averaging between two or three months in order to hear back from us. Especially if we pass, acceptances, I think are taking a little bit longer just because we're really really having some tough conversations about what stories we want to put in the magazine at this point. We've accepted quite a few pieces for 2021. But we're way open to 2022 and beyond. So we don't ever shut down, submissions are always open, always free, except for our contest that would have the fees in order to pay for our judges in our in our winners. So if writers are interested, they can submit. Yeah, anytime again, use our website or go through submittable.
Oh, brilliant. Okay, so they have everyone that's how you submit get your submissions in. So well, thank you so much. So thank you so much Tommy for having a chat, it has been so good to find out more about Uncharted on I for one I'm very excited to you know, see the future and just see the site grow.
Thank you so much for this opportunity to talk about Uncharted to talk with you. I love talking about writing magazines that you know that I'm running. And so hopefully this kind of gets the word out. So I so appreciate it.
Definitely. And now JP is going to chat to our final guest.
Hello. So it's JP here for the Full House podcast. And I'm absolutely delighted to be speaking to for Farhana Shaikh, as I've been wanting to speak to for Farhana for some time. Now, you may know for Farhana from several different things that she's involved in. She's a writer, and editor, a publisher, she runs Dahlia publishing, she runs Leicester Writes, a short story September, she also runs and edits the Asian writer, and many, many more things. So welcome Farhana really great to speak to you.
Thank you for having me, JP.
Actually Farhana, I know that I've really just scraped the surface in terms of all the things that you do, would you like to perhaps introduce yourself to our listeners and describe the multifarious things that you're involved in?
I was asked to do this recently and I was really confused, I was stumped as to, to I do writer do I do editor. But I think Yeah, I would like to, I think everything that I do comes into the bracket of Dahlia books. So I think first and foremost, my concerns are with other writers. So I'd like to, you know, if I do introduce myself, I would say I'm an editor and publisher who writes a bit.
Who writes a bit yeah, yeah, I think It feels like supporting other writers is very much at the heart of what you do. Because I know that you also offer lots of workshops and support sessions and everything from writers, you know, filling in their own application for funding to just sort of learning that the tools of the trade, and also sort of learning where there might be publishing opportunities and that sort of thing. I mean, what sort of started you on this journey in deciding that that element of supporting writers and a guest, particularly local writers, and I will sort of get into that, I think that that sort of led you to what you do now?
Okay, so I started the Asian writer, and everything really stemmed from the Asian writer back in 2007. So you know, feels like a very long time ago, I, it was quite selfish, you know, it was a selfish need. I had, I was sort of, you know, I'd come out of university, I'd had two children, and I was like, now is the time that I could really be stepping out of my own little world. So I'd probably written ever since I was a child really, very much a kind of quite secretively, and quite precious about my writing. But I never really saw myself represented out there, like in the pages of The Guardian, or anything that I was reading at the time. And it was hugely frustrating. Because a, I probably could guess that there were people like me, I wasn't that strange, you know. And also, I would, I took a class at university. And this was the first time that I'd actually encountered South Asian literature in any shape, or form. And I remember the tutor who was Rajiv , and he just said, We need people like you, we need people who are, you know, Asian, or in publishing, because my degree was in publishing with English. So I think I just knew that there was something in actually being in this space, and that I could have value in creating a sense of community amongst Asian writers.
And I guess sort of giving them giving them a voice because it I mean, I suppose it must be very difficult, where you're not seeing your own culture, or community or words being read anywhere, you know, it's difficult to find yourself, you're not being representative, it must feel even harder to feel that there's somewhere out there that would like to publish what I have to say.
Yeah, the Asian writer was always about platforming, and published writers, and at the same time inspiring the next generation. And I think, a year or so before, that, I must have read the secret, which was like, surround yourself with the people you want to become. So it was all like, Oh, well, how have they done it? And, you know, so that's where this sort of selfishness really came from. And I think, you know, was the internet, really, I don't even remember what the first Asian rights website looked like. But it was very much in the early days of creating your own website and setting up a platform. And I think one of the reasons why people sort of flocked to it was because there wasn't anything really like that. Yeah. Especially with just the niche focus of asian writers. Yeah. So quite quickly established itself as a little community.
Yeah. And I mean, from what I've seen a bit, I mean, it does look sort of fantastically popular. And well, you know, that there's, there's, there's lots of new writers on there, which is fantastic to see. And I guess, what, 14 years old now, that's, that's really quite quite a long history for any sort of piece of publishing. So I mean, congratulations on that. Are you going to sort of celebrate your your sort of 15th years, sort of next year where you've got plans to, to see it continue to grow and develop?
Yeah, I mean, I've been thinking about this myself, because, obviously, you know, the other projects that I've since done, so Dahlia books was very much, you know, the third anniversary of the Asian writer, and it was about, let's publish some of these voices, let's, let's stop talking about, you know, a collective voice but actually do something. And having a background in publishing, it did mean that had a little bit of confidence in you know, I do know what I'm doing even though I probably didn't at the time, to be fair. And then, when we celebrated our 10th birthday in 2017, we had a lovely gathering. So we did that for all we had at the Asian Writers Festival, which ended up you know, happening in 2018. And those times because we've had such a, you know, awful time lately, for more than a year where we've not done any face to face events, I really do look, look back at those events and they felt really special and quite rare as well because I'm quite isolated in Leicester, as a writer who happens to be. But when I went to London and did the Asian writer festival, I was really surprised that a people came from all over the country. But also felt exactly the same. And it was very kind of depressing in a way, but it was like, it made me realize that I still had work to do in the space. Yeah, when you're doing it for so long, you kind of think sometimes. Am I still relevant? Yeah am I adding any value to anyone?
Yeah. Well, like, I mean, imagine over that over the period in which you've set it up, you know, there has been quite a change in publishing, obviously, in society and culture as well. I mean, in some ways, I imagine it probably feels even more vital. Now, as much as it was in 2007. What do you feel are the main challenges, I suppose in British South Asian writers being heard? I mean, has it? Has it improved? I mean, we would hope that it's improved, but I can imagine it's still quite difficult.
Yeah, I mean, I think we probably will end up talking about this and come back to this point. But I think just from looking at the British, South Asian writers, you know, we're in South Asian heritage month at the moment, which runs across mid July to mid August. And I think, yes, we have been celebrated, to a certain extent, in mainstream literature. However, sometimes we're still viewed with that angle of literary fiction, which I think, has been really unhelpful for writers who were writing sort of genre fiction or stepping outside of that mold. So I think one of the challenges for South Asian writers or British South Asian writers, has been actually just trying to find it footing in terms of writing what they want, rather than what they wish, you know, that expectation of, well, you should be writing about like sarees, samosas or things like that.
Yeah. What what a white publisher thinks is that's that their tick box was sort of something, you know, diversity rather than, well, why wouldn't a British Asian writer write anything they want to write? I mean, it it's coming out of that pigeonhole? I guess, isn't it?
Yeah. Yeah. No, as I said, it's interesting. And I wondered whether you've seen I mean, you mentioned obviously, the last couple of years have been particularly difficult. And that's that sense of isolation as a writer, as well as just you know, that the sort of isolation that many people across the country, in different communities have undergone in the last sort of 18 months or so. I mean, are you noticing sort of different subjects or topics that are coming out from from the community in their writing, is the experience of, I guess, not just pandemic, but probably Brexit? You know, and the sort of increasing kind of backlash, let's say around sort of the kind of cultural diversity in this country? How are you noticing that in the sorts of writing that's coming to the Asian writer or the voices that people want to, to get heard?
Yeah, I think to be honest, it probably started just before the Brexit vote with the writing the future report by spread the word. And I think that that has been really powerful in shifting, or even just acknowledging that publishing has a diversity problem in the way that black and Asian writers are treated, when they actually get to that really difficult stage of being published. And as we know, there's probably lots of writers who was, you know, behind the laptop, or, you know, working on something that hasn't even reached that stage. So that report was really enlightening, obviously, very depressing, as well, you know, looking at the industry as a whole, and what is actually happening from all angles, so not only in terms of what they're writing about, but how they're viewed when they're marketed. So I think that has shifted, and then Brexit happened, and then we've had the pandemic. And I think what I'm noticing more of is actually writers being possibly not braver, or bolder, but there's more acceptance that yes, we are going to publish. We are going to publish that that has got a space on the bookshelves and people will buy it and also things Like the good immigrant, right? Because when that book of essays came out, originally, I don't know if Nikesh Shukla tried to pitch it anywhere, but we know that it was crowdfunded. So there might have been questions about whether that was a sort of commercially viable project. But we know that it became so successful and became a best selling book. That actually, it may have indicated to publishers that that rawness that realness our experiences, as we're viewing the world as minority writers, people are interested in that perspective, not just the, how is India viewed through white gaze say?
Yeah, yeah, it feels as though it's opened the doors a little bit, hasn't it I think what Nikesh did with that book and subsequently with with this sort of consultancy agencies supporting writers from from, you know, much more diverse backgrounds. I mean, do you feel there's a difference at all, between perhaps, I guess, the big five publishers, and what they want to put out, which of course, it has to be commercially viable for them. And perhaps what more independent kind of publishers or literary journals or magazines are trying to do to do today? I guess, speaking as one or as an assistant editor, at least, I suppose we feel as though we're trying to be more diverse. But I'm conscious that, you know, Full House still has two white female editors. And we still have that white privilege. You know, and as much as we might be trying to do the right things, I'm sure there's a lot more that we could be doing. I mean, what do you feel about the I suppose the independent scene and what perhaps more should we be doing to sort of support all voices?
I think it's really interesting that that is that there is this distinction. So the question in itself, raises the point that, you know, there is a disparity between the way writers are definitely coming through the smaller presses, I would say, which I think is interesting, because, yes, the big five may have, you know, we know that there's penguin right now, their own mentoring scheme that they set up after the spread the word report came out in 2015. However, I think there has to be an acknowledgement, which hasn't happened, that actually, these have very successful businesses, that should be investing in diverse talent. And the disparity exists in the sense that us in the smaller presses seems to be taking a lot of risk doing a lot of heavy lifting in terms of working with writers in a more literature development way, in many respects. So we're picking up writers who are not necessarily ready for publication, working with them through some sort of development and holding them through publishing cycles. And what will or does seem to be happening is that we are the stepping stones so the bigger five, or the Big Five will eventually come and offer often our own authors, the deals, and then they will, you know, obviously, you know that. I mean, I would personally say that the smaller presses are gems, and the way we treat and care for our authors is probably unrivaled, but we don't have the money. Yeah, we can't offer the same, you know, clout or anything.
Yeah, yeah. But but i think i think i think you've made a really interesting observation there hasn't, it feels as though perhaps some of the, the bigger publishers are looking at what the sort of smaller independent presses are doing. And and, you know, where, in a way, you're taking the risk, because things are sort of run a little bit on a shoestring. You know, you don't have this we have the marketing power behind it. But you're really nurturing individual writers, because you're caring about that particular writer and that particular voice and what they have to say, because you, you obviously feel that what they have to say is something important, otherwise you wouldn't be publishing it. And then you wonder whether then the sort of bigger publishing houses are keeping an eye on that and then sort of choosing where to where to sort of dip their toe in as as it were.
Yeah, and we know, it's a journey, right, like writing, it doesn't happen. Yes, the act of writing might happen in isolation, but then everything else that happens in the writing journey, you have collaborators and people who are championing you But the early stage, and that helps in terms of confidence, morale, just to keep going, someone just cheerleading you along the way. And I'm kind of really frustrated that the Big Five don't see that they have a role in play, you know, to play in terms of doing that cheerleading. Because what I kind of see is, yes, we're building writers, we're developing them, whether that's because they're coming through a prize, and then we're, you know, publishing them or publishing a collection by them. And then, obviously, they're getting stronger and writing more, or they might be going on courses or whatever. And then the Big Five thing, now's our time to step in, but surely, you know, you're reaping more of the rewards. So you should put in a bit more investment.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So so so tell me a little bit more about Dahlia publishing, because that feels that you know, as you mentioned already, that that was something you set up to kind of put your money where your mouth was, as it were, or sort of next step on from the Asian writer. You know, what, what's the sort of ethos there? Or what kind of work are you looking for? Or tell us a little bit more about what you've recently published?
Okay, so Dahlia was set up in 2010. And I have to stop myself. What's that? Right, I've got such a long time.
That sounds like a long time ago.
We recently, last year in the pandemic celebrated our 10th birthday, which is a whole different story. But the ethos has always been to champion regional and diverse voices. And I think that's where that duality comes in of looking at what's happening very much locally, because we are in East Midlands were underfunded in terms of across the country in terms of cultural investment, or writers don't really get any support from the local authority here. So I think that's always been really important to me that Dahlia, like, celebrates Leicester as a place and looks locally at Leicester and Leicester's story has actually also shifted a lot since we started. So that's been really heartwarming to see. But then this diverse voices are looking at diverse writing, I think, has always felt important because our roots have really come out of the Asian writer. So I think for me, the projects that we run, allow us to tap into those various communities that we want to sort of where we feel like we could be of use or add value, and where we see the gaps. So I think the short story space, which we entered a few years ago, has been really enlightening in lots of ways because that, again, it might not necessarily seem an obvious route. Right? If you're just like regional writers, or diverse voices, but actually short story writers, are like some of the most hardworking writers I've met, they'll be producing work and sending it out rate that you just can't even fathom. And actually they don't seem to be getting the acknowledgement from wider industry, you know, collections, we know, tend to be, you know, not sold as much or thought as highly of as a novel. I think it's, it's been lovely to enter that space, and be embraced by a wider kind of audience. And I feel like that's the direction that Dahlia will probably go into. So doing short stories September, this will be our fourth year. Again, it was the story of short stories September feels very similar to the Asian writer in that people just flock to it very quickly. Yeah. And it feels like it's got like a little community of its own. And we've obviously, recently been successful in our first arts council funding for Dahlia, which was a brief pause, and that is developing 20 short story writers, just in the pandemic, from January to October. And again, it's been such a wonderful project to be on to support and have that, you know, relationship with 20 writers.
Yeah, yeah. And lovely to sort of develop help support them and see them develop over that time period, I guess. So. So, it must be quite, you know, must must be quite heartwarming to kind of see see that growth, I suppose and be be a part of, you know, engineering that growth. Yeah. So for those listening who may not have heard of short story September, can you kind of give us a bit more of an overview of what it is and why happens and various activities and events during that month.
Yes, so I think it has evolved since it started. The idea behind it is to do an an annual campaign celebrating short stories in the month of September, we do a takeover on Twitter through at Dahlia books. And we will post a short story, a prompt and profile either a short story writer or a collection for every day of September. And I think, again, it's very like the ethos of kind of Dahlia and embracing this early roots of the Asian writers. So it has a strong community, we send out a newsletter to everyone on our short stories September list every week. And we profile writers, I feel very strongly don't get the recognition that they deserve.
It sounds great. And as you say, I mean, it's a form that sort of is a bit maligned, isn't it? You know, I mean, it's that that novel seems to be at the top of the hierarchy. And then there's flash fiction, which has become quite popular. And of course, poetry is a whole different kind of world. And it's that sort of short story that sort of feels a little bit lost in between, as you said, sort of main publishing houses don't tend to publish kind of collections, or that many anthologies, even of short stories, but it's where you could really a writer, I suppose, has a space and a medium to explore and to share their voice in a way that feels perhaps more manageable, at least and, and more shareable. So, so that sounds sounds sounds great. So anything in particular for this year that you're doing differently? Or you say it's sort of evolved naturally over time? Anything that you'd want Full House listeners to particularly look out for to join in with?
Always, there's always something isn't there? So on September the 25th, which is a Saturday, we will be running our short story festival in a day, which will happen online last year because of the pandemic we did weekly online events. But I think, due to personal reasons we've been in the midsts of moving house. And lately, I think one day is probably plenty. And we've got an amazing lineup of writers from Paul McVeigh to Kathy fish, who is a flash fiction writer. And obviously celebrating our own writers like Mona Dash, who we've published this year in the pandemic, whose first collection came out in June, let us look elsewhere. And we're going to be publish Reshma Ruia is collection and Mrs. Pinto drives to happiness. So they will be reading and taking part. But of course, we do have the leicester writes short story prize anthology that will be out that day as well. And an anthology that we're doing with our brief pause writers. So it feels like a huge celebration, kind of bringing a lot of the different elements and all the different facets of Dahlia on the one space.
Yeah, yeah. Well, it sounds fantastic. I mean, it's a lot of going on, I'm amazed that you have time for it. Oh, really? So So you must be very busy. So that the well that's That's great to hear. And and obviously we look forward to hearing more about that as we get into September and looking out for the Twitter takeover and supporting that. So So thanks for sharing that.
Because we've been locked down. I think people have got this burst of creative energy. And they're thinking of new ways, like what communities have we not reached? Where have we not been looking? You know, what more could we be doing? And I think if we have become complacent, and I know, surely that I must have as well. Because you're doing things for a long time and you're sort of not really looking at opportunities. I think it's given people that chance to sort of take a bit of a breather and go, Okay, this is really what we need to be doing. And I think if that's happening across like theatre to independent organizations, or organizers or community organizations, from university, I think that has been really revealing in that we can do so much when we come together, which has always been my belief anyway, that we do need more partnership building to be able to reach more people and actually, the joy of what we do is when we share it with others. But also what was lovely was they were like, we want to support our local writers, whereas previously that might not have that might have been a difficult conversation in itself. So this understanding that everyone has a sort of responsibility. If we're championing like a headliner, why can't we sort of champion people, you know, immediate community? I think there's definitely a healthy audience, for this sort of thing, any sort of literature or cultural activity at the moment. I mean, I haven't actually stepped out yet, and enjoyed some of these, and there hasn't been much like marketed immediately. But I think from next year onwards, we'll probably see the momentum pick up, especially for like, in person or live streamed events that are happening in cultural venues. What I've seen a shift in, however, and I absolutely, fully embrace is independent publishing. So people are setting up like literary journals, you know, I've got a friend of mine, she is setting up a literary journal, and they're publishing poetry. And also, Tim Grayson, who is a poet, he's setting up his own literary journal. So I love the fact that people have maybe been locked away and kind of just like, we all have been thinking about, what do I really want to do? What matters to me right now? And sort of saying, Well, you know why I can have a side hustle? And why not? So I think I've seen that. And I think, in itself, that tells me that we have got such a wealth of talent in the city and county that is constantly still being undermined and overlooked. But there are all these independent people, in fact, someone that I'd neglected to mention, because he was a co editor of a collection of mine, another poet, Ambrose Musiyiwa. He's also published, like an anthology of lockdown writing, there has been a lot happening. And I think, what I'd now like to see, again, because I'm one of those annoying peoples that is never satisfied,is
you'd like to be busy, I gues,
for the bigger institutions, who do have a lot of money, or who are able to get, you know, the cultural investment, so the local authority, the bigger, to collaborate with these independent writers, or artists, so they can actually sustain whatever for that they wish to do.
Yeah, yeah. No, I that feels as though that that we need to get to that point, don't we, where there isn't that sort of, sort of two tier level of okay, that the Big Five publishers, and then everybody else underneath, particularly when, as you were saying earlier, that, you know, it's actually often the independent small publishers are really putting the effort into to support writers and to nurture them. And then, and then the others might sort of come along and sort of cherry pick the things that they think might be commercially successful. But I think it feels also that we've reached this sort of conjunction of kind of internet hosting, as well as sort of certain publishing models, sort of certain printing models, being relatively cheap. With, with people just feeling that they're, they don't see themselves being represented, you know, they don't see their voices or their, their kind of their community being represented. And it's a sense of, Okay, I'm not, there isn't a space for me here. But rather than previously, that being just the end, at the end point is like, well, there isn't a space for me here. So I'm going to make a space where, where I want to be heard, and my community wants to be heard. So that's the great thing that we're starting to see it feels. But But then there's a proliferation of those, and it's just sense of where we need to, we need to sort of shine the light on those and, and, and, and, you know, treat them with the same respect and value as any other kind of form of publishing or or writing.
Yeah, absolutely. And what we have to remember, because I've had my own moment with this in the pandemic, where I said, I'm going to launch my own, I really wanted for a long time to run my own literary magazine. So why don't I just do it, and
I was gonna come to that.
But I think there has to be a sort of, I don't know, the kind of community around these people because one thing that I've learned through pandemic is actually, you know, there has to be a lot of self care for us independents like nobody's looking after. So I think that that can be, you know, should all the burden be on us not only in our bank balance, but also in terms of all the sort of responsibility that we obviously feel that we have in terms of championing these writers. So I think what I've been doing was when I've been out and speaking to people pre pandemic, I think that was probably a kind of acknowledgment that, burn out now is something that we're quite conscious of. So I think, again, the pandemic has probably given us a moment of pause. And when we come back, we're probably going to be thinking a little bit more of, yes, you can make a space and you can make a space for yourself. But looking at examples across the Midlands, so someone like, Naush, I don't know her surname, but she runs the poetry, Birmingham literary journal, actually, we do need to invest in our own writing, if we are artists, or whatever we doing. At the same time, we can also have this kind of collective space where we're doing things for others, because I think if you're doing it, and I did it for a long time, you're sort of nurturing other people's writing at the expense of your own. Yeah, that thing is, you're depleting yourself, because the thing that would nourish you is having that hour to write yourself.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Which is a wonderful lead into what my next question was, because I imagine with all these projects, and as you say, you're giving so much of your energy to other writers in so many different ways? I mean, do do you find any time for your own writing? Because I know you're a writer as well. I imagine it might be difficult to feel that you can put aside that much time that when you could be doing something else, you know.
Yeah, I mean, I think there's always a sort of, again, it's a personality thing. And I think putting myself first always feels like the most difficult thing. Anyway, I'm a mum of two children. And you know, what was what that's like, but it's taken me a long time to acknowledge and I think I have that, Oh, dear god moment, when my son turned 18. And I was like, I'm pretty sure I started this novel when I just had you. So it was a bit like a how did you get so big? And b where is that novel that I did start? And why have I not, you know, focused on trying to get it done in all these years. So I did put a dycp application, which is a developing your creative practice
With the Arts Council
because of the pandemic, the whole thing got pulled. And I was devastated. And I was like, you know what, I'm just gonna keep writing this novel anyway. And in a way, I think, when you don't have all the sort of diary commitments, because everything got cancelled, that was like a bit of an eye opener. But I think the thing that's really helped me is some of the online workshops that you've been, we've been able to go to, because that just like, Oh, yeah, I can go to that now. Because I'm not having to travel there on a train, and it's not going to take me like six hours there and back, then I can just go to this workshop, and it'll be done in an hour. So I think those things have really helped me to go, I need to look at my own writing now. And then I was successful later on. I think it was just, it was this this year, I'm losing track of time.
Time has no meaning to us anymore, does it?
Yeah, I reapplied for the dycp. And I was successful. So I started it in June. And I'm just making very slow steps. And being very kind because I did have a wobble. I won't lie. Earlier this last month was like, I'm not sure why I've spent a 20 years writing something that is absolutely awful, so it happens to everyone,
Ignore that thought and move on.
I have a motto with all the writers that I work with, which is keep going. So I had to tell myself keep going.
Yep. Follow your own advice and nurture yourself. And I'm sure you know, I'm sure that you're a very sort of nurturing and supportive kind of leader in workshops and with your writers. So you'll just have to make sure that you do that to yourself, which I imagine is also difficult, you know, we're always our sort of own worst critics, aren't we with these things?
Yeah, yeah. Well, I wish you good luck with with the novel writings. Very exciting. And I'm sure we will see that that that the light of day at some point. And I hope that you still continue to find that time for yourself to do your own writing, as well as all these sort of projects that you've got coming up. But so for Farhana, thank you, I have huge admiration for everything that you've achieved, you know, over the last sort of 10/15 years. I mean, it's such a lot of projects, and you've sort of given back to the writing community and to the local sort of Leicester community to such an extent, which I think is really admirable. So I hope you feel proud of what you've achieved. And I look forward to seeing what's coming up with short story September, and with present tense. So I think, when when's that first and issue out? Is that sort of later this year?
Yes. So the present tense literary magazine is due out in late October. And I'm just in the process of putting all the features and content together and it just feels like, I really do think this is a lockdown, baby. But I can see the for others as well. So I would encourage everyone to, you know, create their own space, especially if they feel like there's his voice that's missing.
Mm hmm. Yeah, yeah. No, I think that I think is a very wise words and probably good words for us to, to end on. So. So for Farhana, thank you again, for joining us. It's been really great to talk to you. Thank you.
Thank you for having me, JP.
And then so now we're going to do our sort of community review section. So we're going to look at Beir Bua's latest releases Beir Bua Press, are a fantastic experimental, bold, exciting press. And we're going to review some of their latest works.
So the first collection we're going to be looking at is I'd better let you go by Nikki Dudley. And this is such a beautiful collection centered around memory and emotion around the loss of Nikki's Nan, inspired heavily by Nikki's nan. And the thing I love most about this collection is though it's got such amazing experimental connections, it's got a really human tone to it. These pieces are so real. And I feel like you know, you can see the writer behind every word is really, it's not a distanced removed collection. It's such a lovely experience reading something or where the writer has put in so much of themselves and their memories and their experiences. And I think that really does reflect. So one of my favorite pieces is the night carer, which is such a beautiful piece, about the moment of experiencing this grief and, you know, is remembered in these moments of grief. And it's just a good piece. It's really powerful. It's really impactful it doesn't do too many flowery, detailed things it really relies on the tightness of the language. But in that way, it makes it very easy to get into the piece and read it. And then in that way you can relate to it is easily accessible to read this piece, you don't have to really struggle to find your way in. And I just think that adds so much more impact to the piece. And I'm just amazed that Nikki can fit so much power and emotion into this piece with not that many words, it is a really, really excellent piece. And this is definitely one that will stick in my mind for a while. It's just so delicately but impactfully for the, you know, laid across. So a really great piece. And something I want to touch on in this collection is we have these amazing pieces that really distort the way that words look and language is presented, we have some pieces that are a lot more traditional in the presentation and then a lot of pieces where words are blocked out or the way that the piece is presented is in a really unconventional way and you have to work a little bit harder to be able to read the words and understand what's going on within the piece. And it's more of an experience in that way. It really feels like you can get inside the collection. Because it's not just something you read once forget about read it in five minutes, it's done. This is something that you're actively a part of trying to unlock the work and unlock the meaning. And that's something that I really enjoyed when reading this collection. And then another piece I really enjoyed was to let go isn't simple. And this is a piece which is broken up by forward slashes and each individual part I feel like it just tells such a story. And then obviously sectioned and sandwiched together it just it just gives you so much of a picture but I really enjoyed reading this and then zooming back in on those little phrases And really just having a chance to get to know them on what they do within this piece. So a favorite of mine would be the line or lines is, 'fuck the money, she gave me a bracelet that didn't cost much. I ignored the hisses at your funeral'. I just feel like it's such a powerful segment. And each of these segments is so impactful, the way that they're put together. Nikki's got such a talent for conveying so much in so little or conveying it so tightly, every word means something, there is nothing in here that is redundant, or you know, needs to be should be taken up, everything is perfect. And Nikki has such a talent for working in that way. And I love experimental poetry, but I love it. I love it when it means absolutely nothing and its, you know, the form is just doing something experimental with the form and that's, that's the way it's experimental or unconventional. But the pieces I love most are the pieces where they do something on untraditional in the form of the language, but the meaning is there too the form doesn't detract in any way. And the two work very hand in hand. And I think sometimes something that people definitely struggle with, and is quite a hard thing to balance out. But I think Nikki's a perfect example of where the form and the language is just as essential as each other in making the piece. The the piece that it is, I love the piece do eyes exist, this is so cool. Visually, this is so exciting to look at. It's just brilliant. I highly, highly recommend, if you pick up this collection to go straight to this piece, or you can just obviously read the the collection order as you're probably meant to. But I always whenever I get a book, I flick through it first, especially if it's like a poetry book. And I just find try and find the ones that jump out at me. And then I obviously go back and read it. But this is one that when I flicked through, it just absolutely sprung out at me. And it's just brilliant. I love the way that the letters are used and the way that visually each letter is telling a story, you know, it's just such an excellent piece. And, and yeah, they were some of my absolute favorite pieces, but the whole collection is so wonderful read. And it's such an important experience. And I imagine it's something that a lot of people struggle with, and can relate to in that way. And yeah, just Nikki's done an absolutely incredible job on this collection. And it's just, it's brilliant. It really is. It's one of those gorgeous collections, but as I say is just is one of the most human collections I've ever read. I mean, that is like such such a compliment. Because I think conveying something that is really personal to you, but also can be reached by other people it's one of the most challenging things to do really. And Nikki just does it so well in such a bold, exciting way. It's just a brilliant collection and I loved the hybrid forms and the way that Nikki used so cleverly and delicately everything she did to explore you know, the themes that she's explored with like dementia and memory and loss and grief its just brilliant and highly recommend you check that one out.
And then the next collection we're going to look at as we're play by Helen Bowie and this collection is full of fun, excitement, the energy in this collection is just it's phenomenal. I just had such a blast reading this and it really is like in a play time and it's great to be able to unlock that sense of that fun play. I don't feel like I'm sitting here reading this you know really boring poetry collection. I'm having a great time it feels like um, do you say jungle gym reading Helen's gorgeous collection. And it's just I love the fact that within this collection, although it does have quite a clear structure and some of its piece is it's just such a free collection in the way that it approaches form and language and what it does with these things, even though there is a lot of really careful control in the way it's being constructed. It also has such an element of freedom of fun. It's a highly, highly brilliant, intelligent, so well constructed collection, and I want to share with you my favorite pieces. And so before I sort of touched on any of my favorites, the most magical thing about this collection is how interactive it is. So it always like you have like tasks and challenges when reading the piece its a really, really interesting dimension that adds to the whole being a reader because you're also in a way, because there is an element of construction in this an element of activity on the part of the reader, Helen very cleverly set up. For example, in the piece hierarchies of family, word ladder hierarchies of family, theres things that you have to fill in as well. And it really is adding a whole new meaning to, you know, leaving things for your readers to fill it. And this is very much in those collections where not everything is just at you do have to, you know, engage with it. And I think that's beautiful, I've really enjoyed the experience of really having a fun of this collection, it felt like almost like an activity book or something, it was, it was a really amazing experience. And, you know, not in like a childlike way necessarily, just in the way that it made me let go and sort of forget about all these necessarily rules and stuff, it just made me focus so much on the words and the language and the things that I love most about poetry. And the interesting thing this collection is it does have, you know, like an answer type sheet after each piece. So like, you could read the initial piece, the blank piece, and you could try and fill that in and make the piece of sort of like a version and just see what you get from it. But then you can also see what, you know how Helen has meant to construct it. And I think it's really interesting, the way that you can read this in a few different ways, you could just look at all of the the ones that Helen has put in, or you could, you know, sort of have a go at first. And I think that, again, adds such a different element. And it really takes it away from just being this very 2d type book, this is this is 3D this is a live and breathing, and you can be a part of that, which is just something that's so brilliant. One piece that I adored is word match negative space. And where we have two different columns of phrases and in the you could read it from left to right, and connects just you know one to A and two be what you've just go completely random with it. For example, if it was one a it would be Have I become the negative space floating in the Dead Sea. But if we did one e it would be Have I become the negative space, I am not the only fruit. And I love the way that these sort of nonsensical almost phrases you can bring out from this. It's so so interesting, I'll do another one, because it's so fun to play around with. So 11 G, the ground will hold you you are not broken. It's just amazing being able to play around with these phrases. And I love the way there is that space, you know, negative space as it's called, this would be a really good one to just get your pen out and just scribble all over and scribble around. I don't know if you're necessarily meant to or if it's one of these things, you know, like folding the corners over on books. Some people get really against that. But if you don't mind destroying books, this is a great one to just get your pen out and just have fun with it. One of the really clever pieces I think, is word scramble a checklist for self diagnosis. And the first part of it is just the scrambled parts that just mean absolutely nothing to me really reading it. I'm terrible at word on scrambles. But then the next piece you have alongside it the unscrambled version. I really like seeing them side by side, and seeing how the the nonsense turns into these really powerful lines and how just the two different things that comparison, it's almost like a side by side like, you pull it away, and you pull it back. And you can see how something turns how nothing turns to something, you know, I really enjoyed that experience of looking at that. And I mean that's present in quite almost all of the pieces, I think particularly in this one because this piece is a bit harder to sort of get meaning from without really working. It's really great to just see the two side by side and I love that experience. Another the piece I loved was dot to dot brain connectivity, part one and part two, it's just awesome. It's such a clever way of you know, experimenting and putting games and lines and art with poetry. It's so brilliant. If the more you know that I let go back and read I'm like yeh I definitely just get my pen out and just go for it. And that is just such a beautiful thing about this collection. Everything's been so thought out like Helen has thought out every single detail. Nothing is missed here. And it just means that the audience and the readers just can have the absolute best time in playing in deconstructing what's presented and having their own go at it, I mean, we have a word search blank towards the end, we have loads of blanks we have a dot to dot blank. So Helen really is giving you the opportunity and saying, look here is creativity is yours, have it. And just love that. I think that's such a brilliant, clever idea. And it's just wonderful. I love the way that Helen has ignited such creativity within this collection. And you know, it's just passing that on to anyone who's reading it.
And so another newly released collection is a pilgrimage of donkeys by Thomas Helm. And this is just a truly brilliant collection. Like when I flipped through this, I was just in awe of the creativity. And just the way that this has come out, it's such a pleasure to read through. So the first sort of half of the collection has these absolutely lovely drawings that are accompanied by words. And the way that these are crafted is just excellent. So I loved looking at each image. And then each individual image and section has so much to sort of digest and look through I mean, just as it is zoomed out taken in. It's absolutely wonderful to the cat so fascinating. But then when you sort of look close at each image, that's whole other other thing. And they're quite like abstract images that are really abstract images. But there's a lot that can be sort of still bought up from that. So when I originally looked at these, I thought one thing and I looked away and sort of cleared my head of it. And then I looked again, and I was seeing things I didn't see the first time, which was really interesting. And to me something like this is just like the peak of creativity, the definition of creativity, and it I'm just in awe of how these things have, you know, come out of Thomas' brain, and are these amazing things that I'm seeing, it's just, it literally blows me away. And I just love the level of creativity and craft in these pieces. It was just so fun looking through them and seeing the immense freedom in the construction of them. And reading the words and seeing how they work together. I just thought an enjoyable experience. And just the way that the story is told through these drawings is it's incredible. It's like this, it's like a comic. But a really a really abstract, unique, exciting comic. It's just it's absolutely amazing. And you need to get your hands on this and have a look because I think you'll be just in awe and just as I am just so inspired by the creativity that has been so cleverly crafted, I love the way that the lines are used. And there is this this gorgeous green color. And that's used as the sort of outlining to give details to some of the pieces in within the the drawings and is just fabulous. It's just so good. I can't even choose a fav. I just think that also special and all just the just brilliant. I love, love love looking through them. I could spend like years, just looking at each individual piece. And it just feels like this gorgeous little mini gallery that we've been given is fabulous. And you know, I've rarely seen such a narrative told like before, this is a it was a really unique reading experience for me. And, you know, visual experience. For me, having a story be told that way and having these stories be constructed that way and it works. It's so works, and it's just so clever, and I'm just I've never seen anything like this before. And when I get the chance to say that it just absolutely excites me. This collection is honestly like reading and experiencing something I've never experienced before. So after the gorgeous way that the story is told through the drawings, we then have a story narrative told through words and oh my gosh, the the way that the words can, it is brilliant. So I'm just gonna read out my favorite segment. So 'a tranquil mind aware of its empty and blissful nature turns everything it percieves into the spiritual gold of luminous awareness. The superficial distinction between subject and object diminishes.' I am in love with this writing style, the tone and the way it's so tightly constructed in a way the ideas and imagery is explored. It's just wonderful and it's just an I can't even describe the experience of reading this collection because it's quite a visual thing and I mean, obviously, the words are brilliant, and the pictures are brilliant. And just together, they work so well. And I mean, this is the whole different way of storytelling. And if you are interested in more experimental, avant garde ways of telling stories, then this is the collection for you. It's just brilliant from start to finish, I can barely choose a favorite moment because everything is so special. And this is the type of collection that I could literally spend years with. This is one of the ones that you know, you could bring to a desert island and just because you know, you would never get bored, you would never run out of beautiful things to look at and read and deconstruct and zoom in on. I just think this is just endless, endless possibilities for reading and watching and looking at and loving. It is the collection that doesn't stop giving. And I just so enjoyed the experience of reading something that I've just never experienced before storytelling in this way. And just I highly recommend you check this one out from Beir Bua.
And then next up, we have Twenty-One Computations by Sascha Engel. And so you know how I was saying earlier about flicking through, I try and find the ones that excite me. Yeah, there's not one in this collection, it's just literally every piece. And as I flip through, I'm just blown away. It just, it just excites my brain, like when I flick through this collection, and just look through the page is my brain just goes into just excited overload of just being so overwhelmed by the the talent, the the genius, that is this collection. This is everything that I could want from an experimental collection, and more. It's just beyond anything that I could ever fathom to create. It's just brilliant. And I'm going to try try my best to pick out my favorite pieces. But as I say, like they're just so magnificent that it's hard to choose one. And that's a common theme with all of these Beir Bua releases. So far, this press just publishes just pure talent, excitement. And you know, something is at such a high standard, when you just can't pick a favorite of any of these collections. I mean, every piece is just as good as the one next to it. And that's just so rare that that I have that experience of just falling so in love with words and Beir Bua have just absolutely smashed it out the park of these amazing, amazing writers. And this collection by Sascha is just next level like the craft in this is just unbelievable. So I will try my best pick out my favorite pieces. So one that I really enjoyed was thinking will be indexing, I think that's my favorite one. But they're all just brilliant in their own special way. They're all fantastic. But and there's something about indexing. So it's basically just single sort of words. And there's no punctuation, there's like absolutely nothing, it's just a series of words, all of this type of like computer jargon. But I love the way that the words have been ordered, and the way that they've been put together and constructed and the way in which they read, it's just, I like looking at visioni. And I like the space in between the words, I just, there's so much i love about it, I love the ending, I love the repetition of some of the words, and how that's been put in and thought about so carefully and close the and it's just worked sso well. This is definitely one load stick on a wall, I would just, you know, take out frame it and just look at it in awe everyday and just love it. And I could probably say that about most of the pieces in this collection, but probably that on the most. I think when it comes when a collection is so amazing like this, it just comes down to like personal tastes of which one you like best and which one speaks the most because they're also good. So it comes down to such subjective quality when it's when the standards are high. But another piece I really enjoyed was gating, gating is a really great piece. So there's a lot of that strike like using the strike through cross out. And then there are some words that aren't crossed out. And it's just a really great visual piece again, and within this whole collection, there's a really great emphasis on like some of the phrases are like way more faded. And when I initially picked the collection up, I was a bit confused like Oh, am I am I reading through the other side? Or is this the text , it took me a moment to sort of like, get my head in and figure out what was going on. And it's just wonderful. It's amazing. And I think this use of color fading is I'm really well at the last, the final piece, which is implementing, which is another fantastic piece. It just sort of fades into nothing. It's like this ombre at the end, and it just fades and it's brilliant. And then every so often we get these gorgeous images and visual pieces that are just absolutely brilliant. I just I can never do anything like this in my wildest dreams is just talent beyond imagination. It's just absolutely a collection. And just I'm just in awe of and it's fantastic. And if you love experimental pieces, then this collection would just, it'd be like Christmas and birthday. And just the best, just the best. It's amazing. And this is one that I will be holding on to just forever this will not leave my collection, my bookshelf it has firmly cemented its place forever. So a fantastic collection and is just so clever. So interesting. So innovative. It's just just bring it in and the way that a lot of it is so like not numerical, sort of in its you know, computer jargon. And there is there is numbers and stuff in it as well and it is there not familiar words that's really being used in this collection. But the same time so much is conveyed. And I don't know how I don't know how Sascha does it, but it's just brilliant. And yeah, 10 out of 10 highly recommend.
And the excitement doesn't end there. Because we also have bloods dream by James Knight and James Knight is an absolutely incredible, you know, writer, artist, creator, I have so much respect for James Knight's work. And this collection is no different. It's amazing. And you've probably seen this all over your Twitter feed of people sharing, it's got this gorgeous pops of blue. It's brilliant and these pieces. Like, you just have to wonder like, how is this even being constructed? That's, that's the thing of this collection, you don't even know how they've turned out this way. The words are so sometimes like distorted and turned around and they just words aren't words anymore. And it's it's brilliant. And I don't know how James has done it. And it just works so well. It just pulls you in, I could stare at these pieces for like forever and just, I'm just in awe some of them look kind of smudged some of them look kind of blocked out or like, like blotted out. We have some lines, we have some it's just brilliant. And again, this is one more like how do I choose some favorite pieces because they're all brilliant, scrolling through this and flicking through this, I'm just awe I don't know, I just don't know how creation like this is possible. And that just excites me like to know and when I feel so inspired by works, and this is one where if you read this, you're just gonna be blown away because it's an art gallery in the images hand, it's such an amazing experience in the pieces that go alongside them. I mean, all of James' work is brilliant, but if you pick up one collection from James this year, I would just highly recommend it be this. And on to favorites, I guess. I think one of my favorite is meat texture. I love the way that different words pop through. And then also we still have the words that sort of like rubbed out or smudged, how can you get a hint of where they are and where they would be. But it's just mesmerizing. The whole collections mesmerizing. And the way the titles are is really good as well. It's very interesting, very engaging. It's a very, very engaging collection. Like I feel like you could read this and just get lost in it. I'm trying so hard as I'm talking not to just zone out and focus entirely on these pieces. It really is an immersive experience in that way. Like it's all consuming when you when you look at this collection, it's hard to focus on anything else just because you're I'm so pulled in to the experience of reading this and looking at it because it is exciting for your your brain reading and looking and it's exciting for your eyes to sort of be pulled across and it's such a unique sort of style and such unique way of putting words and images and ideas across. And obviously, with James' pieces, there is a great emphasis on things like the form and the way that it's been constructed and played around with. But again, that doesn't detract from, you know, the words you can see in the images that are created for the language. They come through just as powerfully just as strong. Which is amazing. Just, it's so talented, this collection is just full, it is just a genius collection. There's no other way of putting it really. It's so nice. The images are so interesting, these these visual pieces, like, they kind of remind me of some like different like diving positions. And I guess that's the beautiful thing about these things. There's so much interpretation room for different interpretation. And again, this isn't a collection that you could just read and digest like you read it once and you're like, oh, okay, no, this is one that you could look at many, many, many times, and still, just find new things will see new details. Like, I feel like I need to spend at least a lifetime on every individual piece, let alone the collection as a whole. It's brilliant. It's so so amazing. And I just can't wait to keep reading this and rereading this. It's just an absolute wonder. Like, for me, this is visual craft just at its finest.
And then finally, to sort of close up on our first review of some of the most recent Beir Bua collections, we go to the brains behind the whole publication, and the whole press and that is Michelle, and Michelle's collection is amazing, I had not read much of any of Michelle's work before reading this collection. And so I was like, Oh, I didn't quite know what to expect, you know, as he do, and you go to a collection where you've never read the person before. And I was just so so so happy so like pleasantly engaged. And it's just exactly the type of writing and the creation that just ignites such an excitement in me, and just makes me so inspired and in love with writing. Reading this collection, it just makes me want to just go open word, get a notebook out and just type and write and create. That's the feeling I get when I see the absolute amazing pieces that Michelle has created. Incredible, incredible pieces. Again, how do I choose any favorites, they are all incredible. But I will try to choose some favorites that if you pick up this collection, which you should do, these are the ones that are highly recommend. Okay, I'm going to start from back to front looking through this collection. So towards the end, we have this sort of really cool interactive section, which is you know, write your own poem below in the weather report and habit tracker, and then you can tag Michel in it. And I just loved the way that gives you this really cool form to create something with. And it's definitely not something that I would have thought about exploring before reading this collection. So again, there's that innovative and engaging aspect that can really, you know, so interactive and helps you sort of, not only are you reading this collection and being enriched with how fantastic it is that you then are given the opportunity to go away and create even a glimpse of of what this collection is and you get to create something fantastic as well. So I just think that's such a beautiful quality to some of these collections. I can Helen's one, the fact it gives you the opportunity to go and create yourself is just, I mean, it must just know it must just know how good it is and must just know it's gonna ignite such a passion within you to then just go and want to create! The collections of brilliant and so more specifically looking at Michelle's, again, another piece that just I can't stop staring at is rest of the cars darling. And it's so good. It's so good. It's got so much to it, it's quite like like there's a lot in it. In terms of we've got a lot of elements, a lot of different elements are going along visually, it's a lot different I feel like tools have been used to construct this piece. And I love pieces that are just so there's so much that you can just look go back and look at and this is one of these pieces because again, I could stick this on my wall in like an office or like a bedroom or anywhere. And I could just look at it for like, ages and just every time I look at it, I'd see something different. Or be like, okay, I looked at this last time now I'm gonna really zoom in on this bit, this small section. And they are the pieces that really, really excite me. And I think favorite line is 'main courses, bone-china potatoes, the registration ends' just that phrase bone-china potatoes is brilliant. It's absolutely brilliant. I love the way that the writing style and the tone is used within this collection. The titles are just incredible. And I think titles can be such a tricky thing to get right. It can be really hard to find a balance of like reflecting what's inside the piece but being a title that, you know, stands out enough. I think a lot of the time titles can get lost. You definitely can't say that for Michelle's titles. They are so you know they sound so true and they ring so unique. Another favorite is probably Shoutin' And Roarin And this has a series of like boxes like tick boxes. And I love the way this piece starts. So 'This is where Almond "milk" comes from,
he adopts a leaping ballet pose, we smile
thinly - know it’s funny, don’t laugh after all
how close can we really bring the
forest to our cities?' It's brilliant. It's so so good, isn't it's just incredible writing. And again, this is the type of writing that I aspire to write. And I'm like, it's just so good. And if you haven't had a chance to read anything from Michelle, before, just go just stop you doing pause the podcast, go and find some of Michelle's work and see if you can read it because it's phenomenal. And you can't wait longer your life you need Michelle in your life you need some of Michelle's work in your life. Another one I really enjoyed was Clap Handies, which starts 'Draw me a picture. Take a line for a walk.' And again, it's just a phenomenal piece. Really, really great piece. I love the way these these lines are constructed. A lot of these pieces, again, they aren't like flowery and like really, really detailed. They're so tight. And I just love pieces that are like that, that have all the components there and doing so much without going over the top or without doing more than what's needed because it just makes what's there so impactful. And so great to sort of dissect, just brilliant collection through and through. And Michelle has just absolutely knocked out the park of this one. I just yeah, I can't wait to read this many, many, many, many, many more times. And definitely you should get involved with some of the interactive parts in Michelle's collection.
And so that reaches the end of this week's podcast. Thank you so much for listening and hope you have a lovely rest of your week.