The postman has been particularly kind to me this week. I received two different print publications in the post both of which include one of my shorts. I thought I’d share some of the beautiful art work from these small, independent publications. Journals are increasingly partnering with fantastic visual artists and the designs emerging from these collaborations are almost as striking as the poems and stories they contain.
First up is Storm Cellar, a bespoke print journal from the United States. I was particularly taken with the beautiful photography on the back cover. I have a short called “More of a Handstand Girl” included in this volume which you can read via Storm Cellar’s website http://www.stormcellarquarterly.com
I also contributed a piece for a project my friend Martin Cathcart-Froden was involved in orchestrating. Alongside a handful of other writers we were asked to write pieces of exactly 500 words on the theme of bridges. Each writer was given the opening line, “a bridge takes us from here to there,” had to include the line, “this is the highest point” at the midsection of their piece and conclude with “a bridge takes us from there to here.” The pieces were debuted at last weekend’s Hidden Door festival in Edinburgh, unfortunately I couldn’t be there to enjoy what is usually a fantastic wee art festival. I thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with other writers and artists on Bridges though it was quite a challenge to weave imagination into something which at times felt like a structural engineering project. In the end I felt reasonably happy with the outcome, (included below), and was absolutely delighted when a print copy of the Bridges project with striking art work and gorgeous pieces from all my fellow writers, arrived on my doorstep this week.
If nothing else the postman’s given me a timely reminder to keep submitting my writing to journals and interesting projects. Thanks to all those involved for including my stories.
“A bridge takes us from here to there,” he says pointing five years into the future with both fingers crossed. The future looks like a particularly good episode of the television sitcom, Friends. The future keeps itself busy with cocktail parties, dinner parties and intimate birthday parties attended by closely friends and colleagues. We are always looking to the future. We do not want to spend any more time in the apartment where the only excuses are each other and the television/cleaning lady/pizza boy who doesn’t want to stay for dinner.
“Let’s build ourselves a bridge,” I suggest.
“What sort of bridge?”
“A baby-shaped bridge,” I say. I’ve read in various ladies’ magazines that a baby would bring the future, and all its fizzy blessings, right to our doorstep. That very night we turn the lights out before ten and begin construction.
We build a baby every year, for fifteen years, carefully measuring the distance between one child and the next so they progress in strides and stairs, forming a Jacob’s ladder to the future and the unfolding life beyond.
Babies make lousy bricks. They are oddly cut and inclined to collapse under pressure. Baby number 7 doesn’t fit in. Baby number 9 is a different colour from the others. Still, we are excellent bridge builders; cunning and determined to climb on the backs of our children from the living room sofa to all those future parties.
This is the highest point.
On the first day of the sixteenth year we stand back and admire our bridge.
“What a fine bridge we’ve built,” he says, “all those babies have served us well, my Love.”
And I say, “please tell me the bridge is finished now. The future’s here and I want to keep it. I have grown to enjoy the company of intelligent others and weekend dinner parties. I am too tired and busy to build any more babies.”
All is righteous for a decade. On weekends and holidays we scramble back and forwards across our baby bridge; coasting towards the social future on a wave of birthday parties and ballet recitals, High School graduations and sleepovers.
The future sits well with us.
He grows thick on other people’s cooking. I discover myself attractive to interesting people- both men and women- the kind of people I never once met in our apartment. The future expands to fit all available space. We become lazy bridge builders, taking our bridge for granted, expecting the babies to be always underfoot, always brickish and compliant. We are the worst kind of fools.
Baby number 7 leaves first. He has never really fitted in. Babies number 11 and 3 quickly follow. The whole bridge collapse, babies scattering to all four compass points and calculated rebellion.
When the last one leaves we are enjoying a quiet night in. This is the shape of things to come. We can see the future from our apartment window. Soft-lawned and liquored it haunts us by day and night.
A bridge takes us from there to here.