‘A Christmas Carol’ (2009) by Robert Lee Zemeckis – a movie review

By Beatrice Cargnelutti

Аs the Christmas season has begun, among the several tales defined as ‘timeless’, it is impossible not to mention Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ (1843). Its storyline reaches the soul and warms the heart, and because of its strong impact on the public, it has been adapted into numerous films. This review is on Disney’s animated movie adaptation of 2009, ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Robert Lee Zemeckis.

The plot of the novel the movie is based on is a known to most “evergreen”, but in a nutshell: the old miser and heartless usurer Ebenezer Scrooge, after being visited by three Spirits of Christmas, understands the true essence of Christmas and the importance of doing good to others.

Disturbing and dark, this version of the original novel is not characterized by the usual Christmas idyllic mood, being entirely permeated by the gruesome, with features of a horror film. Victorian London is where the events take place, twisting and stretching its setting to reflect the macabre atmosphere. Therefore, many viewers probably could feel it as being too frightening for a Christmas movie, especially if animated and aimed at a younger audience. But the extreme fidelity to the novel with which the characters and dialogues are portrayed makes it a very successful work, suitable for viewers of all ages, from children who are entering the literary world for the first time to adults nostalgic to see a new adaptation of a classic.

In fact, the movie captures in some ways the essence of Dickens as he merrily exaggerates. He often begins with brave young heroes, surrounding them with a sequence of characters and caricatures. In this case the main character is the caricature himself of the story as Ebenezer Scrooge’s thinness, stooping and bitterness are preponderantly accentuated and emphasized.

In a twinkling part of casting, Jim Carrey animates Scrooge taking on the archetypal role of the latter, serving up a really grumpy and emotional old type, not offering a foregone cartoonish performance at all.

Zemeckis’ film is rich of innumerable details; the soundtrack is touching and overwhelming, the tone is convincing, and the pacing pleasant. The balanced rhythm alternates between the strenuous slowness of some scenes and an intriguing virtuosic dynamism, guiding the viewer through extremely diverse sequences without overly clashing with each other. The film does not fail in the intent it sets out to perpetuate.

The use of the technique of Performance Capture translated into 3-D animation provides a sensational visual experience, with an extremely realistic representation of the different characters, some of whom are performed by the same actor. In fact, Carrey played not only the role of Scrooge but also of all three Christmas ghosts and Gary Oldman acted as Bob Cratchit, Marley and Tiny Tim. The actors are there beneath the performance-capture animation; it is possible to recognize their expressions, but in general the Zemeckis characters don’t resemble their originals excessively, as their facial features are effectively modified and adapted to the characters they perform.

“A Christmas Carol” is a famous classic that is re-proposed countless times each year at this festive season through its many different film adaptations. The 2009 version is one of the most recent and successful, faithfully evoking the atmosphere of Dickens’ novel, allowing the spectators to cathartically identify with the story and make them feel the pure spirit of Christmas.


Ella and her Mother’s Green Lime Tree

By Nusrat Ahmed

Image: Valeria Boltneva

Part 1

On that night, electricity was out, and so 3 candles had been lit in Ella’s room. She has been strictly told to memorize the 9 times table by her maths teacher. As a result, the pressure was high for her at home. Ella hated maths! She would think to herself, how does this have anything to do with her future?

So, she started sketching a baby elephant. Her paintbrush was just about to hit the trunk of the little elephant when,

“Ella! What on earth are you doing?

“Nothing mum, I was just trying to draw my kidnapped baby elephant which has been taken by your sister’s son.”

“Behave yourself! Is this how you address your elders these days? Sarah is your aunt and Toto is your cousin brother. Start showing them some respect.”

She picked her pencil and eraser up from the floor with a puffy, tear-stained face. Ella old enough to know better, but she still gets really upset and cries like a newborn when she gets yelled at by her mother. She begins to write the pointless 9 times table with her tiny fingers.

“I do not have the whole day for you Ella, just finish writing them, and give me some peace. I need to deal with the cupcakes and mini apple pies, those are waiting for me in the oven, which need to be decorated. Stop obsessing over a toy for goodness sake it’s not helping anyone. I have to deliver these cakes to the customers, as Halloween is just around the corner!” Ella’s mum yelled frantically.

Part 2

On a side note, Ella’s dear uncle John has gone to Australia to finish his PhD and he mentioned in his letter that he would not come back, so instead he sent Ella a baby elephant who would move its trunk when you press a button in his legs.

I hope you can feel the strong sentiments regarding the elephant, and for what reason Ella was so attached to it.

Ella started writing with a heavy sadness in her heart. A drizzle of rain was falling onto the soil, her white curtains were blowing; the scene reminded her of the movie “Casper.”

The candle lights shone onto her paper slightly conflicting with the numbers she wrote, she was still looking at her half-painted baby elephant with her runny nose at this point. As she was about to reach for a tissue, she heard her mother.

“Ella! Could you please go upstairs and bring me some rosemary leaves, and green lemons from the roof garden?”

Now you might be thinking it is Ella’s choice whether she does this or not, but as you can see from the urgency, it was not a request, more so a demand.

By that time the rain had stopped, a light gentle air was blowing outside. With her little feet she climbed up to the rooftop and saw something that she wasn’t prepared to see…

“A baby ghost!”

It  was sitting silently within the lemon tree, smelling the fruit, and munching on them. Such a sight was impossible for Ella to comprehend.

She immediately closed her eyes, tightly gripped her white dress, and started praying…

“Oh, dear God, what I have seen is just my imagination, it is not real, it is not real…”

She tiptoed, approaching her mother’s green lime tree, after regaining her bravery.

The baby ghost was still there…

“Hello, little Ella…”

“What are you doing in my mother’s lemon tree, and who are you?”

“Please accept my apologies; I was simply attracted by the fragrance. Ahhh! So fresh and tangy. Oh! I am Casper the friendly ghost, a movie has been made about me in 1995 directed by Mr. Brad Siberling. Haven’t you seen that movie yet? I am pretty famous, probably the last friendly ghost on earth. Come on everyone on earth knows about me!”

Ella was quiet for a moment.

“Casper…is it really Casper?” She whispered to herself.

She pinched herself to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. She had watched Casper, well 9×2=18 yes, 18 times. But she acted as if she didn’t even know Casper so that she can be hauntingly ignorant about him. Ella didn’t want him to be prouder of his role as a friendly ghost, he had already gained enough attention!

“Stop your movie promotion please! Listen, you Casper or Asper, green lemons should not be eaten in that way! You might be good at acting, but you certainly do not know how to behave with lemons! First, you cut them into pieces and squeeze them into water in a glass, add 2 cubes of sugar, and then you’re done and surprise! Lemonade is ready! Plus, lemons are widely used with cakes, lemon tarts, lemon drizzle cake, roast chicken, and fish. They contain vitamin C which is very essential for a healthy body growth. Hmm, very concerning I can see, since 1995 you were still as little as you are now.”

“Yes, yes but why are you screaming? I can hear you. My mum says, you always, scream to those who enter your roof garden, and eat lemons without any consent.” Casper stared blankly.

“So, Mr. Asper, screaming at you was clearly the right decision then!” Ella pointed out. “And would you kindly climb down from my mother’s tree? I need to get some limes and rosemary, or she’ll swallow me whole with the toasted cinnamon bread she’s preparing for us! Move!”

“Okay, okay you don’t need to be so rude!” Casper complained.

“Hey famous Asper, it is Casper, not Asper okay? Let her collect her lemons and rosemary.” Stated a gasping voice.

When she looked back, she noticed her missing baby elephant waving its trunk and struggling for breath.

“Hi Ella! I was finally able to escape from Toto’s house. He is a very naughty child as he wouldn’t leave me alone! As soon as he fell asleep, I somehow managed to escape from his house!”

“How are you even talking, you couldn’t talk as far as I was concerned?” Ella said in shock.

“I can, but I only speak with people I like. I’m an introverted elephant who attracts like-minded individuals; I can’t be open and chatty with everyone I meet. You are welcome to come down from the lemon tree and sit with us, Mr. excessively friendly ghost, hahaha, and stop biting on them. I just showed you how to eat them, a few minutes ago.

“Please accept my apologies once more.” Casper claimed solemnly.

Part 3

Ella’s eyes gleamed, all the stars above began colliding in her eyes. She started linking the stars together, one by one with her detailed touch in the charcoal black sky. Elephant’s trunk was moving, inviting all the radiant stars with him. Her fingertips traced the outline of a baby elephant.

“Ella!” A booming voice came. “It has been two hours since you came up here! What are you doing?”

Yes, that’s the problem with her mum, whenever she tries to do something attentively, mum has to break her concentration.

“Ugh! Coming, mum! Casper, you have to leave now, and baby elephant you please follow me to my room.”

Ella was found smirking at the dining table while munching on the toasted cinnamon bread and kept thinking about how she had met the famous Casper. As well as scolded him, probably the first person to do so.

She had scolded a Hollywood famous ghost actor! But it’s okay to be a mom sometimes, at least she could feel how her mum feels when she scolds Ella.

That night Ella had a peaceful sleep, affectionately hugging her baby elephant. The heavy, grey clouds drifted away slowly, as the adventurous night passed by…

Exit Stage Left Part 1

By C Parke

Chapter 1

I’m alone in my bedroom. My name is Daniel Warren. In the past twelve months, I’ve been afflicted with a condition that has robbed me of all of my joy and my reason for living. This past year I’ve lost all of my friends as well as my career, and my family now loathe me. I’ve lost the vast majority of my independence and now need a caretaker whenever I leave the house, it’s pathetic. I’m sitting there with the intent to end my life on this day.

It wasn’t always like this however, I once had the job I’d always dreamed of. Hundreds of fans applauding me and a healthy pay-check, but now I’m trapped in my own body and hear nothing but words of pity from those around me. Why did it have to be me?” I sometimes say to myself. Nowadays, I often reminisce about when things were good, the prime of my life.

I was a young performer in London’s West End, brimming with potential. I was the main actor in the romantic musical “A Rose without Thorns,” about a young German girl named Rosa (played by my friend Lucy) who moves to England and meets the handsome Damien, that role being played by myself, who helps her with adjusting to new life as they fall in love. Repeatedly, I find myself mentally reliving those wondrous days of theatre life.

“Daniel Warren needed on stage in five minutes.”

The speakers would call for me, but I was ready long before that, taking great care to comb my hair, brush my teeth and have a close shave. I’m itching to make my entrance, the first song, “A Strange New Place,” was always my favourite song in the performance with its upbeat sound, fast tempo, and the most intricate dance routine in the whole play. I’m there, impatiently tapping my foot against the hard wooden floor whilst some of the extras aren’t even fully dressed yet. I push that frustration out of mind whilst I wait for my cue to come on stage; that cue being when Rosa, sings “I’m lost in this foreign land!” I then rush onto stage to sing my verse and then the chorus. Damien, in the story, is an excellent dancer so I suggested to the director that I should incorporate some front flips and other acrobatics into the routine, even though that isn’t a part of the script. One because I thought it was befitting of Damien’s character and two, I wanted to show off a little. He liked the idea so during the song I do some stunts from different set pieces which would cause the audience to erupt with applause and a wide grin to appear on my face.

The view of the theatre is a memory etched into my brain. Hundreds of audience members would watch in awe as I perform on a stage that bathes in a bright yellow light. The set is modelled from Trafalgar Square, meaning small scale replicas of the four black lions stood in each corner of the stage, as images of the great fountain and the national gallery are projected onto the back wall. Exactly in the centre, is a model of Nelson’s column, shrunken down and hollow of course, so it can be moved around by the stage crew. The set itself is amazing on its own of course but Lucy, the extras and I help fill out the negative space simulating the hustle and bustle of the real thing. During all this, speakers play sounds of traffic and chatter to create the most immersive theatre experience in the West End.

Afterwards there were some story scenes without any songs. I’ve always felt indifferent towards these parts, I prefer dancing and singing over learning dialogue but if you want to be an actor you’ve got to take the good with the bad. I remember rehearsing these scenes in my bedroom. I would pace back and forth repeating the lines over and over again, sometimes visitors would come round our house, where I live with my parents and brother, and they would think I had gone crazy hearing me repeat the same lines over and over again from upstairs.

After Act One ends, I exit stage left and head straight down the hallway to the break room. I turn to the black vending machine, slip in a two-pound coin, and subconsciously punch in the numbers to get myself a bottle of coke. I sit myself down onto the small red settee, and since the lid was being stubborn, I get the bottle open with my teeth. As I gaze around, I reflect on how fond I am of this little room, the cosy red sofa, the cream-brown painted walls, the solid oak table that me and my co-stars would routinely play cards on, and the petit cupboards full of biscuits and treats that remind me of my grandmother’s kitchen in Ireland. It’s the trivial things in life that make me happy.

Whilst I was enjoying my break, Lucy walked up to me and struck up a conversation.

Hey” she said.

“Hey” I responded.

“What’cha up to this weekend?” she asks.

“Not much to be honest, I’m probably just going to chill out, I’ve been knackered these past few weeks with Morgan calling in sick.”

Morgan is the Damien of the blue cast and I’m the Damien of the red cast, the red cast performs four nights out of the week while the blue cast only does three so with Morgan gone, I’ve been having to work much more.

Lucy giggles “Must be tough, knowing Morgan he’s likely got a runny nose and declared he’s far too ill to go to work.” I laugh alongside her as Morgan was always a bit of a melodramatic.

“You’re right, he’s probably tucked up in bed feeling sorry for himself. But anyway, what are you up to this weekend?” I also ask.

“Me? Well, with the new puppy! I’m going to spend it getting him toilet trained, Charlie’s adorable but he’s probably the messiest dog I’ve ever come across.” I chuckle and say, “At least you don’t have our cat Silver, he’s a little devil when he isn’t fed or when we’re about to take him to the vet’s he’ll start tearing and scratching at the pillows and curtains like a maniac, nevertheless Mum still loves him to bits.” Lucy sits down on the sofa with me, “Well, that’s what mums are like, I may have had Charlie for only five weeks but he’s still my furry baby” she said with childish affection, we both smile as we head back ready for Act two. A casual conversation with a friend, I took that for granted.

We performed Act Two which had a scene where Damien, who is also a professional boxer, faces his largest and toughest opponent yet, a man named Trevor. Damien gets battered and bruised, but eventually wins with the power of love (And yes, I know that sounds incredibly cheesy). I remember training for this scene, of course I didn’t actually have to fight someone, but I needed to gain the proper physique. For many weeks, my daily workout routine consisted of a five-kilometre run, forty press ups, a one hundred-second plank, fifty Russian twists and twenty pull ups alongside a diet of mostly fish, nuts and vegetables. As Act 2 ends, I enjoy the sound of applause as the curtains fall, I congratulate and say goodbye to my co-stars, as I grab my coat and prepare to venture home through the rainy London night.

Once Upon A Time

By Nusrat Ahmed – Once upon a time, in the kingdom of England, there lived a green woman. She has a little hamlet built of green vegetables and Ladyfingers that she uses for décor. She used to wear large spectacles with a thin coating of green plastic covering the frame. Everything was green, from her spoon to her indoor plants. Her fragrances, as well.

By Nusrat Ahmed

Once upon a time, in the kingdom of England, there lived a green woman. She had a little hamlet built of green vegetables and Ladyfingers that she used for décor. She used to wear large spectacles with a thin coating of green plastic covering the frame. Everything was green, from her spoon to her indoor plants. Her fragrances, as well.

Every time they were packaged in a green bottle. She would use a green-coloured face cleanser and green-coloured fragrance oils before lying on her bed. She used to paint her nails green, dusted with yellow sparkles on top. When she used to leave her lush area, the school children would wave her goodbye. Everyone she saw on the street used to smile at her, shake her hand, and say something kind.

I was one of the children whom she admired the most because of my demureness and focus in class. I used to pack the vegetarian rolls and green peas in a green box built from the last pages of my school notebook at lunchtime. I would ring her doorbell and leave the tiffin box in front of the doorstep, so she didn’t know who was doing these charmingly illegal activities.

I used to grin pleasantly as I watched her lift the box from her doorstep. I used to go to class as if there were no consequences for the mischievous act that occurred only a few minutes earlier!

Hmm, roasted Ladyfingers tomorrow, visualizing…


The teacher yelled. It wrecked my ability to think about anything else, and all I could think about was her screaming melody. Ugh! It was definitely not a melody! Please accept my apologies for being a sarcastic infant.

“Yes, yes, Miss”

“What are you thinking?”

“Roasted Ladyfingers, Miss”


“Sorry, sorry”

After so many nervous attempts, “Emm” I uttered.

“Miss, I was pondering and trying to memorize the spelling of poemeeeeee yes, pomegranate. I’m having a hard time remembering that spelling.”

“Alright. Take a seat.”

I sat in the tiny chair, oh what an apprehensive relief!

The very next day as I placed my secret tiffin box, the green lady laughed “hahhaha caught you. So, this sweet little cherry has been the one leaving me these surprises for so long.”

“Come on my darling. Oh your nose looks pink today, have you put pink blush on it.”

Holding my nose, I spoke “no, no, it is just the cold that is messing with me.”

“Please take a seat in that warm, cosy chair”

“Oh my butt hurts, move right now!”

A green frog appeared in the chair with an exclamatory face.

“Behave! Todd.”

“Why are you sitting on my chair?”

“She’s our little visitor, Todd.”

Please accept my sincere apologies for the inconvenience. I frowned and asked how this large chair could possibly contain this little frog! Like an enraged oven, the frog became red.

“See what kind of guest you invite in, no respect nothing, talking about my size and length! Sure, I realise that chair is very gigantic for me, but it is mine!“

“Please, don’t be too noisy,” said the green lady. She took my hand in hers and led me into her home’s kitchen.

“I’ve prepared the best lunch. What is this… um, it’s made of coconut, and filled with the fruit that you’re still having trouble remembering the spelling of.”

I was just drooling over the ruby juicy pomegranate, covered with finely crushed red candies, with a burst of white chocolate ice cream leaving a cooling sensation in my tiny mouth. Although mom has strictly said no to ice cream, but forbidden acts are always delicious.  Just to add, a little act of mischief never hurts anyone.

Honestly, 5-year-old me had no idea what other ingredients she was talking about except pomeeee, yes pomegranate, I was not familiar with others items she discussed.

But it was spoon-licking good. While I was enjoying my lunch, I noticed she was pouring tea, which had a glittery appearance, as it flowed from the hot boiling kettle. She uttered “gold!” That, according to my mom, is really expensive. I have only ever seen a locket on mom’s neck made of gold. 

“Well, I’m the only one who can make gold teas. I have so many unique recipes that I will gradually feed you. Now finish it fast since you have to get back to class.”

“Oh wait, I need to warn you about something!”

“You are not allowed to spill the beans in the class about the little event that took place in my kitchen. Not even your mom should know.”

Without any hesitation, I grabbed my small backpack and began heading in the direction of my school. As you know, I am just 5 years old, I can’t hold any secrets from my mom; my tummy hurts to let those secrets reside in my belly. On that buffeting windy night, I just spilled the beans to my mom. Absolutely forgetting about the warning she gave. Now, who knew after spilling her green secrets, she would flee? With her green hamlet too.

Warning! (Do not spill the beans about this dish)

Image (Frog) – Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Image (Pomegranate) – Photo by Priyanka Singh on Unsplash

Poets Are More Than You Think

By Ciéra Cree – Poetry and poets are something which seem to scare people. Upon learning that poetry was being taught in an English class, I remember audibly hearing the…

By Ciéra Cree

Poetry and poets are something which seem to scare people. Upon learning that poetry was being taught in an English class, I remember audibly hearing the disappointment from people’s mouths whilst silently cheering to myself about getting to indulge in my passion. So, the question raised here – why do I not share in this feeling? What do I believe, or know, is different about poets to many who remain sceptical that they are little more than pretentious?

The Pretentious, the Posh & the Poor

Within the world of literature there’s, undeniably, a lot of stereotyping. As echoed by HuffPost’s article ‘6 Reasons Why People Hate Poetry’, poets and poetry in itself are often assumed to be pretentious and impossible for the average person to become. A poet is imagined as an almost mythical creature who spouts words that others can’t comprehend, deeming their lack of understanding as a sign of them holding a higher level of intellect. This thought is one of the main reasons why people can be scared off by the idea of poetry – inclusivity. ‘It’s boring, it’s elitist, it’s snobby, stuck-up or exclusive’, continues Rebecca Roach, citing a number of common reasons given by the public as to why poetry is not of personal interest.

Think back to your youth; how were you first introduced to poetry? For many people, their first steps into the world of poetry were through English Literature classes introducing them to the works of William Shakespeare and various other classic writers such as Carol Ann Duffy, Emily Dickenson and William Wordsworth. After being first acquainted with these poets, students seem to respond in one of two directions: they either love poetry or don’t care for it at all. idebate offers an interesting dual-sided debate based on the topic of whether poetry should remain as a part of the school curriculum. The debate delves into the pros and cons of poetry being kept as a taught subject, accumulating plus points as it being a method of self expression and exploration, as well as cons for its complexity not being of high importance for young children. 

‘Students need to study the basics of language, not a complex form such as poetry’ – idebate

I personally believe in keeping poetry in the curriculum. However, the ways that it is introduced need updating. Firstly, teachers need to work against the pre-existing stigmas of poets. I’m an ex-Sociology student and cease to forget the numerous lectures I attended stating that poetry is a form of posh-people’s “high culture” among society. Yes, this may be true in its historical context, but consistently ingraining this idea into the minds of young people today is off-putting. 

Secondly, I feel that it’s crucial to vary the content being taught within institutions about poetry. Neil Bowen, Head of English at Wells Cathedral School in the UK writing for Interesting Literature, believes that the reason for historical figures typically being taught at schools is due to the fact that teachers ‘simply have more expertise on the older Literature and are, therefore, more confident and comfortable teaching it’. 

I feel that this should be challenged. Yes, learning about Shakespeare is inspirational, but there are so many inspirational people alive in the contemporary world that young people may find to be more relatable. Additionally, it’s important that people know that they don’t have to be someone of the caliber of Shakespeare in order to experience creating poetry. Poetry should be accessible to everyone, for everyone.

And thirdly, I believe that poetry should be taken more seriously as a career. There are many write ups serving to break down the stereotype of the poor “starving artist”, but the notion of it remains to exist. It stands as true that to make a career out of being a poet with no other means of income is a difficult pursuit, although it is not impossible and can still be a strong side hustle. By building a hefty portfolio, submitting to magazines and entering competitions, a person can enter the professional aspect of how to become a poet.

My Beginning: From Silent Poet to Laureate

It was around the age of 7 or 8 where I can first recall writing poetry. I remember getting my first piece published in a primary school newsletter, happily talking in verse about the lovely things around during the summer.

By 2018, aside from that childhood instance, I hadn’t shared any of my poetry publically. I was sitting in the library at sixth form in a free period before Sociology when I decided that it was time to write, with the aim of producing a competition-worthy piece. I had heard news floating around that there was a competition being hosted by Norwich’s National Centre for Writing, and that they were looking for submissions from people like me.

So, I wrote. I imagined myself as an old-fashioned writer writing something profound; something powerful. I submitted my piece, 100 Years of Silence (Women’s Vote), and it won the competition. It also granted me the title of being the first female Young Norfolk Laureate.

Ciéra (second, left) at Dragon Hall (Norwich) with other entrants of the competition.

Being a laureate was a valuable experience. I was given the opportunity to spend a year honing my craft by working alongside established poets and exploring the broader realm of literature surrounding poetry.

I taught a group of Girl Guides about writing at their first ever Wonder of Words Festival, completed commissions and performed at various open mics. Some of the places that I performed at included the Anteros Arts Foundation, events hosted by Young Norfolk Arts and Dragon Hall.

Dragon Hall, now converted into The National Centre for Writing, is a 600 year-old building with a lot of history. It is said to have housed a number of great people during its past, including Shakespeare himself. But poetry isn’t all about walking inside of pretty buildings and using long words – it involves work beyond work!

The Hard Work and the Hustle

It was around three years ago that Molly Naylor, an old mentor of mine, introduced me to the minefield of online poetry submissions. She showed me a website called Submittable, and I was instantly hooked. Submittable is an online submissions platform for writers and artists of varying genres. On this website, creators can search for opportunities with magazines, zines and other platforms, and submit their work in the hopes of getting it accepted. Some opportunities pay their contributors while others – often the more prestigious ones – require an entry fee to submit to their publications. Submitting work and getting it accepted is a great way for poets to begin constructing their portfolio and gaining recognition. However, as Lewis Buxton (another great mentor of mine) once told me, ‘For every piece of work that [you] get accepted, you will receive at least one hundred rejections’.

I learned pretty quickly that he was right. I would wake up day after day to an inbox of rejection emails from places that I could only ever dream of being featured in. It was tough, but you have to persist.

There are also poetry competitions for aspiring poets to enter. A competition is on a higher scale than a regular submission, meaning that winning or placing well in one is great publicity for a poet. Upon winning some competitions, poets are even offered the publication of their own short book as a prize, too.

Competitions, although abundant, can seem impossible. Rejection emails remain ripe but, as ever, a poet must persist and continue to not feel disheartened. Over the years, I have entered many competitions aside from the one granting me a laureateship. I have been rejected by The Poetry Society, The Poetry Business and Mslexia, to name a few. But I have also had warmer receptions as well. I’m proud to say that I have been highly commended by The Royal Society of Literature for my poem, ‘Tranquility’, shortlisted and invited to a London-based event by Streetcake Experimental, and published in an Australian anthology of love poems with Poetry D’Amour 2019. I was even invited to the anthology launch in Australia, although I couldn’t make it.

The hard work and hustle involved in seeking publication is truly exhausting, but simultaneously amazing. After I while I learned to see each rejection email as an at-least-you-tried and as a stepping stone closer to the next piece of good news. It feels so good to have a piece accepted, but it’s important to learn to accept the downfalls along the way.

Broadening Your Horizons

Poetry isn’t just about writing, it can be performing, artistic and competitive! Below you can see photos from an Open Mic which I attended, the ticket of a poetry slam which I competed in and some blackout poetry that I created:

I hope that this article has taught you a bit more about what poets are. Poets aren’t idle dreamers; they are hard workers faced by torrents of rejection and stereotyping, and deserve to be recognised as artists in their own right.

Images: Ciéra Cree, Bee Newboult, Norwich National Centre for Writing and Laura Chouette

‘Conversations with Friends’ (2017) by Sally Rooney – Book Review

By Lily Brown – I finally got around to reading Sally Rooney’s debut novel Conversations with Friends last month. I had read Normal People in 2019 for a book club meeting and…

By Lily Brown

I finally got around to reading Sally Rooney’s debut novel Conversations with Friends last month. I had read Normal People in 2019 for a book club meeting and loved it, my appreciation for the characters growing deeper when watching the excellent adaptation by the BBC last year. I didn’t know whether I wanted to risk reading Conversations with Friends and risk it not living up to the same level of perfection. 

Disclaimer: Although not detailed in the review, this book deals with sensitive topics such as self harm. This review will also contains spoilers.

Conversations with Friends centres on Frances, a 21-year-old student, and her friend and ex-girlfriend, Bobbi who end up befriending Melissa, a journalist writing a profile on their performance poetry. The plot progresses when Frances and Melissa’s actor husband Nick, become involved in an affair which continues during a holiday they all take to France together. I find Rooney’s writing style compelling, her books taking me only days to read whereas others would take weeks. While I didn’t quite connect with the characters of Frances, Bobbi, Nick and Melissa in the same way I did with Marianne and Connell, the way that their lives became entangled was interesting even if some of the plot points seemed improbable at times. As with Normal People, I found the inclusion of the university setting to be an interesting addition to the novel, with Frances using the library as a space for introspection. 

Front cover image of ‘Conversations with Friends’ by Sarah Rooney (2017)

I’ve read some criticism of Rooney’s work with reviewers saying that they find her characters unlikeable and, therefore, the books unenjoyable. However, I feel that the way Rooney is able to depict real characters complete with flaws who are also able to identify these flaws in themselves is an admirable complexity. There are times when the characters might do or say something which they regret or behave in ways that they later wish to rectify. While not exactly pretty, these moments make up parts of all of our lives and it is valuable to see them represented among the book’s pages. It also makes it harder to fit the characters into particular boxes with none of the characters fitting the hero or villain tropes perfectly. 

While it would be easy to feel sorry for Melissa, Rooney reveals that she too, has been unfaithful in the past and Bobbi tells Frances that she and Melissa shared a kiss. Bobbi is portrayed as an overbearing figure at times, dominating conversations and alienating others with her opinions. As narrator, it is Frances’ thoughts and feelings we receive the most access to and her attitudes to various aspects of her life can seem confusing and misguided at times. When people ask her about future career options she responds ambivalently as though she doesn’t regard these considerations as urgent or pressing in any way. This is in stark contrast to other characters including Philip who works with Frances as an intern at a literary agency during the summer. 

Another thing that I find striking is Rooney’s interweaving of important topics into her writing. There are mentions of self-harming, alcohol abuse and chronic illnesses among others in Conversations with Friends, and while some of these topics are dealt with in more depth than others their appearance in the novel may help readers to feel that they are not alone when going through similar situations. I found Frances’ endometriosis diagnosis particularly moving as she reckons with the implications of potentially not being able to have children, highlighted by her meeting Nick’s beloved niece. Endometriosis can go undiagnosed for years so I think it is very useful to include it here, to raise awareness of this long-term condition and the effects that it can have on people. 

Many of these issues have no conclusion. Frances’ relationship with her father continues to worsen and his health deteriorates towards the end of the novel. The ending of the novel also leaves open a number of possibilities for Frances, Bobbi, Melissa and Nick. Frances has started getting closer to Bobbi again, although Bobbi makes it clear that she is not her girlfriend, and in the very last words of the novel Frances makes an impulsive decision to reunite with Nick. This ending indicates that nothing is final, that relationships we thought were over can be reignited and that we can move past the mistakes that we make, to make more, different mistakes while we continue to find our way. 

Images: Featured image by Emily Rudolph on Unsplash. Body image credited within caption.

‘100 Years of Silence’ – Poetry

By Ciéra Cree – plagued by her thoughts; an unfamiliar voice /
utters words of depreciation /
that permeate the silence…

By Ciéra Cree

In commemoration of ‘International Women’s Day’ 2021.

Disclaimer: This piece is not published with the intent of pushing any personal agenda.

plagued by her thoughts; an unfamiliar voice
utters words of depreciation
that permeate the silence
the depths of her mind etched out
in a cross of grey
smudging her opinion
& craftily painted lips
colour staining porcelain skin
is she worth more than this?
she holds a touch that’s feather-light
& sleek as a ballroom floor
a symbol of fragility
encased in a false serenity
adorning her heart on her sleeve
as she paces relentless streets
filled with dark corners &
societal mourners grouped in an
atypical fleet
protest leaks from the edges
of delicately pencilled eyes
fluttering from the lashes of
an unbound compromise

why should women have to disguise
& present themselves with a mask,
to be a walking “pop of colour” 
with a mind kept
sheltered in the dark?
one hundred years of silence
& a proudly retained composure
held together with a smile & the promise
of change creeping ever closer
she isn’t just an object
which is easy on the eye
she’s not merely a victim
failed by a system
that doesn’t try
to mediate opinion
& value individual worth
for this girl is wholly human
& that’s what should be put first

Image: Marina Khrapova on Unsplash

‘Journey To The Centre Of The Earth’ (1864) by Jules Verne – Book Review

By Soyeenka Mishra – Journey to the Centre of the Earth was a journey indeed, a fabulous adventure; a classic piece of Sci-Fi lit straight from the 1860s. It wasn’t exactly what I expected…

By Soyeenka Mishra

“As long as the heart beats, as long as body and soul keep together, I cannot admit that any creature endowed with a will has need to despair of life.”

Journey to the Centre of the Earth was a journey indeed, a fabulous adventure; a classic piece of Sci-Fi lit straight from the 1860s. It wasn’t exactly what I expected it to be (thanks to prior knowledge of the well-known movie franchise), but don’t worry – that’s a good thing. When it wasn’t being a rollercoaster of astonishing discoveries and mortal perils, it served as a great source of fun, for I loved the underhanded humour evident in particular points.

Warning: this review may contain spoilers.

Aesthetic book display by Soyeenka Mishra

Let me briefly mention the characters. The first, of course, is the narrator, Axel Liedenbrock. He is our practical-minded, logical, and pragmatic protagonist. I liked this character a lot, especially because of all the sarcastic remarks, most of which were directed towards his dear old uncle, Prof Liedenbrock. Call me deranged, but I found his perfectly rational concerns about their then-upcoming journey in the beginning of the plot quite absurd. I mean, of course I do understand his reasons, but hey, you’re getting to go on an adventure of a lifetime while we people are stuck here at our homes in this pandemic! Ha, but jokes aside, I loved his character arc; comparing the Axel at the beginning to the one at the ending, one will find staggeringly impressive differences. 

Now comes the star of the book, our very own Prof Otto Liedenbrock, the mineralogy scholar who is just the slightest bit insane (again, most great personalities are, aren’t they?). This guy just blows my mind. A man with immense knowledge (that he isn’t always the keenest to impart to others) and a violent passion for making the discovery of his life. His anger outbursts were hilarious to me, not to mention his ability to speak such a vast multitude of languages.

Our third main character is the quiet eider-gatherer from Iceland, Hans (not of-the-Southern-Isles) who does most of the physical labour among the trio. He speaks whenever absolutely necessary, doing whatever he’s told by his ‘Master,’ Prof Liedenbrock, perfectly, stoically, and efficiently as long as he’s paid weekly without fail. It is implicit that the Liedenbrocks wouldn’t have been successful in their endeavour had it not been for Hans, and it’s chucklesome when you actually process the fact that he literally went to the centre of the earth, facing unimaginable dangers with no questions asked but devoted obedience.

It’s finally time for the plot! What stood out to me the most was the writing. At many points, there was extremely vivid imagery of the surroundings which was exhilarating. The icing on the cake was the plethora of not-really-esoteric-but-still-kinda terms that only ones heavily invested in geology, geography, and the likes, might be familiar with. My favourite part of this book was the fact that Verne had given perfectly plausible scientific phenomena and believable reasons to explain all of his fantastical elements. I always love it when the out-of-the-ordinary things have logical explanations.

Readers completely devoid of scientific curiosity might find the book a tad boring, considering all of the long, excruciating treks that the trio set out on in the duration of their grand escapade. One might grow tired of repeatedly going through lengthy descriptions filled with scientific jargon. But people like yours truly who find exactly that sort of writing quite enjoyable will be pleased to find just how well-detailed the whole journey is.

I’d have loved it if the journey had been longer, though I wouldn’t say I’d choose it for a re-read. I’d suggest picking this book up when you’re looking for a quick Sci-Fi/Fantasy read that will not consume your heart, mind, and soul for all of eternity, unlike certain fantasy series.

Find the raw copy of this review here.

Image: Soyeenka Mishra

‘The Little Prince’ by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1943) – Book Review

By Soyeenka Mishra – From the looks of it, it appears to just be a children’s book short enough for a bedtime story. But the content inside is enough to blow your mind. The Little Prince…

By Soyeenka Mishra

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

From the looks of it, it appears to just be a children’s book short enough for a bedtime story. But the content inside is enough to blow your mind. The Little Prince, being one of the most popular and widely translated classics of all time, was translated into English by Katherine Woods. This one-hour-read is one of the best reads that I’ve had in awhile; it’s a tangle of valuable life-lessons and morals cleverly and intriguingly disguised as a frolicking adventure.

Warning: this review may contain spoilers.

(Right) 1943 edition of The Little Prince. (Left) Aesthetic book display created by Soyeenka showing a re-printed edition of the book.

The book starts off with a childhood memory of the author from when he was six, when he notices how the ‘grown-ups’ are simply just not wise enough to understand things the way that he does. That mentality sticks with him as he himself transitions into adulthood, and I’d even go as far to say he’s still a child at heart. All of his thoughts towards the grown-ups have a condescending taste to them, and albeit this book probably comes nowhere near the comedy genre, I found things quite humorous at times. The breaking of the fourth wall made the read very comfortable and amusing as well.

“It is much more difficult to judge oneself than to judge others. If you succeed in judging yourself rightly, then you are indeed a man of true wisdom.”

As mentioned in the blurb, “…this book is also a deep reflection on human nature.”  Every page, every chapter, will give you something to think about – something to contemplate on. Heavy on the symbolism, there are numerous gems of lines that’ll make you go “Aha!” as you realise how deeply and truthfully they resonate within you. The main message that the story conveys is to look beyond the surface level, since “what is essential is invisible to the eye.” The key is to go deeper, to read between the lines and use your intuition to sense what the purpose the bigger picture could be serving. It also tells us that we need to move forward no matter what happens. Time heals all wounds, and therefore even though it might take some time, you will get over it, and you have to trudge ahead. 

Rife with illustrations by the author himself, at no point will this book make you feel as if you’re doing some serious heavy reading. It will teach you life lessons as you follow the curious conversations of two unlikely friends: one with a knack for art but only knowing how to draw a boa constrictor from the outside and a boa constrictor from the inside, and another inquisitive soul from another planet who never lets go of his questions, shall they go unanswered.

“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.”

I’ll just mention a little about the ending without spoiling it. It is primarily tragic, but in a way, it doesn’t have to be, you know? After the narrator and his Little Prince’s story ends, the former has pondered what would have happened to the latter in these six years that have passed since their journey ended. It is up to the reader to assume if the inevitable truly happened, or if following the flavour of fantasy, the Little Prince truly found his way back home. It’s up to you to believe if the rose lived after all this time, or the missing leather strap of the muzzle led the sheep into eating the flower. But most of all, the readers need to realise how different the outcomes of each possibility would be, how vast and far-reaching the consequences would be. The narrator is still hopeful and on the optimistic side of the sitch, which is why he has asked the reader to be on the lookout for a little man with golden curls who laughs and doesn’t answer questions; to inform him at the earliest if we do since it’d comfort him.

Before diving headfirst into this small but power-packed bundle of classic literature, I’d advise readers to be ready for loads of introspection and rumination, all while reading it from a child’s point of view. Though largely marketed at children with the cartoonish illustrations and the childlike POV of writing, it is meant for the older generation as well. From little kids to adults, perhaps it’ll give you different messages depending on your age and maturity, but in one way or another, I’d say it’ll save you. Me? I was left with the strangest sense of contentment and restless agitation after I finished it, as hours later I still reflect on all of the things that I read.

Find the raw copy of this review here.

Image: Soyeenka Mishra and Wikipedia

Tottenham Hotspur: Road To A Trophy?

By Lorenzo Barba – It has been 13 years since Tottenham (also known as Spurs) have last won a trophy. 13 years of disappointment, semi final upsets and supporters not wanting…

By Lorenzo Barba

It has been 13 years since Tottenham (also known as Spurs) have last won a trophy. 13 years of disappointment, semi final upsets and supporters not wanting to go into work out of the fear of being socially outcast by their coworkers. However, this might be about to change. Spurs have recently made it into the Carabao Cup Final. It is here where they will play against Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on April 25th, 2021. 

Opening Round: A Win Without Playing?

Admittedly, their cup campaign started out with a helping of luck as Tottenham’s first opponent of five, Leyton Orient, pulled out of the game due to COVID related reasons. This meant that Tottenham were awarded a win automatically, and were therefore able to advance into the next tournament round immediately. This also meant that the team were far more rested for the next round against their arch rivals, Chelsea. While Tottenham had a very lucky break with this result, a win is a win as the saying goes.

Round Of 16: London Rivals Crumble Against Spurs

We move onto the next round! Chelsea were always going to be difficult opponents to face. They are notorious for dumping Spurs out of tournaments by beating them, admittedly, in a rather humiliating fashion. And with Chelsea scoring the opening goal in this tie, it was beginning to look like much of the same. However, this game was going to be very different indeed as a late equaliser from Argentinian player, Erik Lamela, saw Spurs level the tie and take it to penalty shootouts. It was at this stage of the competition, where Tottenham proved themselves as serious competitors, proceeding into the quarter finals.

Quarter Final: Tottenham Cruise Past Championship Opponents

On the surface Tottenham’s next opponents, championship side Stoke City, seemed like easy pickings. But if there’s one thing Tottenham will have learned from their loss against League 2 team Colchester United, it was that nobody can be underestimated in this tournament. Nerve wracking penalty shootouts were not a requirement in this tie as things went according to plan. Shots from Gareth Bale, Ben Davies and Harry Kane saw Spurs cruise past their opponents 3-1, leapfrogging them into the semi finals.

Semi Final: Easy Pickings To Advance To The Final

Onto the semi finals. Spurs were to face championship side Brentford FC. Spurs had somewhat lucked out in this cup run, facing just 1 Premier League team and receiving an automatic win in the opening round. Nonetheless, the team still had a job to do in this semi final tie and they were determined to do it to reach the final. A comfortable win with goals from Moussa Sissoko, Heung-Min Son and a goal taken away from Brentford due to Video Assistant referee (VAR) had Spurs leading 2-0 with just 20 minutes left to play. To add to Tottenham’s dominating performance Joshua Da Silva, midfielder for Brentford, received a straight red card for a serious foul (1:36). This made their job to see out their 2-0 lead all the more easy as Spurs cruised to the final with style. Tottenham, at this point, are now only one game away from winning the Carabao cup.

Heung-Min Son celebrates after scoring against Brentford
Final: First Trophy In 13 Years Or Much Of The Same?

The opponents for the tie are fellow Premier League side and current holders of the trophy, Manchester City. On paper, much like the game against Chelsea, Tottenham appear to be the underdogs in this competition. While Spurs have struggled to win silverware since winning their last trophy in 2008, Man City have done well to win a variety of trophies, including the domestic treble in 2018 consisting of the Carabao cup, FA Cup, and the Premier League. Just last season they took home the Carabao cup, defending their title as well as the Community Shield at the beginning of the season.

While this won’t be an easy task, the circumstances of a cup final on neutral territory (Wembley Stadium) means that anything could happen and Tottenham should not be underestimated in this tie.

Images: Ferdinand Stöhr on Unsplash and Getty Image piece via The Independent

‘Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine’ by Gail Honeyman (2017) – Book Review

By Soyeenka Mishra – I have lots to say about this book, though my feelings are mixed. It’s widely-popular with many, many loving readers, except unfortunately I don’t think that…

By Soyeenka Mishra

“As if a silver in the egg-and-spoon race was some sort of compensation for not understanding how to use an apostrophe.”

Warning: this book deals with topics such as depression. Although not heavily mentioned in the review, please bear this in mind. This review may also contain spoilers.

I have lots to say about this book, though my feelings are mixed. It’s widely-popular with many, many loving readers, except unfortunately I don’t think that I’d be counted under the same. This is the first time, perhaps, that I have taken so long to finish a book. It took me almost an entire week. The plot was densely mysterious from the start, but it took an awfully long time to unfold. I’ll admit that I was ready to call it quits at 25% through, but I trudged on only because of the fact that I hate giving up on a novel.

Aesthetic book arrangement by Soyeenka Mishra

Eleanor Oliphant, who wasn’t, in fact, completely fine (I know, right? Took me by utter surprise as well), initially came off as a very snobby and posh woman who looked down upon people. My very first impression of her was, “OMG, she’s the Karen of Karens!”. Eleanor is quite prejudiced throughout the book (but she does make an active effort to do something about it towards the latter half) and is quite knowledgeable.

She was just a little girl at heart who had been forced to grow too quickly, and even at the age of thirty, she hadn’t experienced half of the joys of life people half her age have felt long since. I liked the way that the author portrayed Eleanor’s depression. While there have been many variants and unique experiences of it published, I hadn’t read such a… physical description of it anywhere before, for lack of a better word. She had a very dark past, one she bore victory scars for. 

I really liked Eleanor’s way of speaking, too. Her way of viewing life. She didn’t understand the logic behind senseless social norms, and spoke her mind (often in a way that I perceived as funny). She enjoyed a good book and loved her cat (I totally love Raymond for getting her a cat, a black one at that!). While the snob inside her was only her witch of a mother’s voice, I liked who she was as a person. She had a very particular way for everything, and some might even describe her as eccentric. Nevertheless, you will eventually warm up to her at the end. If her personality doesn’t get to you, the puns definitely will!

In this book, the male love interest isn’t physically flawless and desirable at first glance, which is something I haven’t read of in many books (something that needs rectification ASAP), so that was a nice change. Raymond Gibbons made himself likeable to readers with the help of his personality alone, which is a commendable feat. Like Eleanor, there are some habits of him that are not improbably undesirable and noxious, but he’s a great man at heart, which is all that matters in the end.

This book had some very ‘real-life’ problems that were dealt with very logically (not the whole my-lover-cured-my-depression storyline) and tactically. Eleanor’s journey in therapy was a fruitful one and I’m proud of all the way she has come. That being said, there’s the problem of relating to the character, which I didn’t. I mean, for me, this time it wasn’t me putting myself in her shoes and living her life; it was just me reading her story, the story of Eleanor Oliphant. Perhaps it was because she wasn’t a feelingsy person, but I wasn’t completely absorbed in the book. I didn’t feel very… connected, if you will. It took me a painstakingly long time to make it till the end just because I wasn’t engrossed in the story enough. All in all, I’ll say it’s definitely a nice book with good writing, but I wouldn’t be picking it up for a re-read any time soon; as I say, I didn’t vibe with it.

Find the raw copy of this review here.

Image: Soyeenka Mishra

‘Caraval’ by Stephanie Garber (2016) – Book Review

By Soyeenka Mishra – I hadn’t immersed myself in a good fantasy book for an uncharacteristically long while. What better way to delve back into your favourite genre than a high…

By Soyeenka Mishra

“Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough for what they desire more than anything.”

I hadn’t immersed myself in a good fantasy book for an uncharacteristically long while. What better way to delve back into your favourite genre than a high fantasy trilogy? There was plenty of hype about this series, but that wasn’t primarily what made me pick it up. It was the synopsis – the setting and plot were unlike anything that I had ever read before. The foundation of the entire world wasn’t set on classic fantasy tropes; it was a wholly unique concept. Being the curious cat that I am, I couldn’t resist the pull of all the great things that it promised. Now that I’ve finished the first book, I’ll say that reading it is definitely a great decision.

Warning: this review may contain spoilers.

Aesthetic book display created by Soyeenka Mishra

It all started with a series of letters. The initial pages of the series may lull you into a false sense of security but I’ll take it upon myself to advise you against relaxing while reading this book. Things happen at breakneck speed so you will miss important information if you don’t devote undivided attention to every line.

My first impressions of some of the characters were way off the mark and I couldn’t be gladder. Almost all of them were important to the plot in one way or another, too. I loved the delicate world-building; the way that even a seemingly-insignificant event had a major role in progressing the plot.

Another thing that I loved is how us readers get to know as much information as our protagonist, Scarlett Dragna. She twice gets a warning to not get too carried away by the magic of the Caraval (a magical game), but she falls in too deeply. 

The catch is, though, that she’s not the only one. Readers get caught up in the maddening tangled web that is the Caraval as well. It’s like a splash of cold water on your face when all the big reveals are done at the end. I did manage to predict a few things that were later revealed, but that doesn’t mean that the story as a whole is predictable. 

The biggest selling point for me was the fact that, although you may solve some mysteries, you’ll realise that you never really got answers about the important questions you had from the beginning. It shouldn’t be a good thing but it is, because that gives us something to look forward to in the second book. 

Perhaps, for the first time in a review, I’m refraining from elaborating on all of the major characters. Hell, I didn’t even go into the details about Scarlett’s personality. I guess I feel that I still have to witness the full spectrum of their personas, since I’m only one-third into the series.

Now, I’m not all praises for this book (though mostly I am). There were certain scenes that felt… dry to me? I won’t specify which ones but I felt like the emotional toll that scenes of such likeness should wrench out of me wasn’t really felt. I wanted things to unfold more dramatically, and I wanted more time in between betrayals and the truth-reveals to process what had happened. I found the ending to be slightly underwhelming, but the epilogue does promise more turbulent times to come. So, with hopes of something better arriving, I end my two-penny worth here.

Find the raw copy of this review here.

Image: Soyeenka Mishra

A Winter Love (Short Story)

By Ciéra Cree – We watched the snow as it fell, amonting upon the floor. It looked so perfect there; untainted and untouched by humanity. I remember…

By Ciéra Cree

We watched the snow as it fell, amonting upon the floor. It looked so perfect there; untainted and untouched by humanity.

I remember that you were standing next to me and that I wished you were standing closer. Occasionally our hands would brush against one another and I could tell that neither you or I really knew what to do. Did you want to move away? I didn’t want to.

In my mind the moment which marked winter was when I could see my breath linger in the air. It never ceased to be able to fascinate me every single time. During those brief moments that piece of me stood still, adrift and able to fly. I bet it would feel liberating to be in that position; in a place where gravity was defied.

Your coat was navy but now hung speckled in ice. Despite the fact that the cold was clearly taking its toll your eyes remained warm. You were wearing one glove with the other hand vacant, dipping into the residence of your pocket in intervals.

I walked to the sidelines of the crowd, missing your presence immediately. My hand felt numb as it exited its glove, fumbling among my bag for a pen. Once I found the pen I wrote what my heart wanted to say:

‘My dear beautiful stranger

I don’t know who you are

And you don’t know me either

But I saw you from afar

I noticed you seemed funny

And the smile upon your face

It made my heart become filled with warmth

That could not be erased

Our hands were nearly touching

And I didn’t know what to do

So I’m writing you this message

To get my feelings through

I think you could be special

But if we leave I’ll never know

So if you feel it too

Come to the bench among the snow’

After writing the note I read it through, blushing loudly. Before giving myself the chance to second guess I ran back over to the crowd, tapping his shoulder quickly and thrusting the note into his hand. I had never felt so simultaneously brave yet embarrassed before in my life.

The time where I sat half hiding behind the bench seemed to last an eternity. Was I being too forward? Too childish? Too everything?

It was beginning to get darker and I knew that I had to go soon which was pretty heartbreaking. I glanced over to the crowd longingly one more time, unable to see the recipient of my ramblings. My heart sank into the snow, becoming cold too.

I took my bag and prepared myself to walk down the path home that I knew all too well, alone as usual. Suddenly something clipped the hat on my head, startling me immensely. What kind of childish idiot was trying to start a snowball fight right now?

It was a glove. Maroon and rolled up into a ball. I picked it up, unrolling it and wondering why it nearly hit me. There was a note inside, reading:

‘To the girl who ran back to the bench

With the silly bobble hat

I’m by far not a poet

But here’s my number

Let’s have a chat x’

My heart thawed. Maybe this winter was going to be warm after all.

Image: Josh Hild on Unsplash

‘PAIN & PEOPLE’ – Visual Poetry

By Ciéra Cree – alas, it appears that you ripped my heart / and now it’s leaking / bleeding unevenly / down and down and down and down / here, this…

By Ciéra Cree

‘PAIN & PEOPLE’ is a piece of experimental visual poetry about the ability to feel human emotion. It was long-listed in the 2020 Streetcake Experimental Writing Prize (London).

Featured image: Jr Korpa on Unsplash

A Witch’s Midnight Whisper (Short Story)

By Nusrat Ahmed – On that day a massive, sinful wind was blowing outside. The universe seemed angry. A black crow started staring at me with his wicked sense of eyes; his…

By Nusrat Ahmed

On that day a massive, sinful wind was blowing outside. The universe seemed angry. A black crow started staring at me with his wicked sense of eyes; his immoral wings gave me a strange, foreshadowing feeling. I observed the forest as I tiptoed towards a small green hut, before suddenly seeing an old witch. She was making an emerald green potion for someone, with a mischievous, immoral expression on her visage.

The fictional witch started reciting her melancholy poem, sparking imagery in my mind. It was a cold, chilly October; Halloween was just on his way. Autumn leaves had just landed under the maple tree precisely a few days ago.

Tiny beige twigs hugged and pinched my toes. “Ah!” I complained in pain, putting my hands over my mouth. A faint voice echoed in my ears, “Shhhhh! The witch might hear!”

Her enchanted magic wand took my senses away. It was so pleasant to watch her from a distance; her hypothetical sweet scent cured my illness and parted unpleasant situations that were hovering throughout my head.

Upon my curing she was left exhausted, doomed with the maddening curse of being sinful yet simultaneously equipped with an aura of healing. Sometimes I think of her now still, and about the little hut in the forest. I wonder what she is doing and how it would feel for her if she were to also have the chance to experience the imagination taking you to another world.

Image: Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash