Call for submissions for UK resident writers of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic heritage on the theme of ‘maps and mapping

Arachne Press is planning an anthology of fiction and poetry from UK resident writers of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic heritage. Publication will be October 2021. We will pay royalties. Once published in an Arachne anthology you may be invited to submit a collection or novel.

Our Editors:

Laila Sumpton and Sandra Agard

Laila Sumpton [recently the Keats House poet in residence who has edited poetry anthologies for the University of London, the Royal Free Hospital and Ministry of Stories] will be our poetry editor, and Sandra A. Agard [Professional storyteller, poet, short story writer, playwright, cultural historian, literary consultant, resident writer/reader and creative writing facilitator for over forty years] will be our fiction editor.We look forward to receiving new work from across the country and are excited to discover voices new and familiar.

  • Poets can enter two poems maximum of under 50 lines.
  • Short story writers can enter one story of up to 2000 words.
  • All work in English and unpublished
  • We will accept translation if it is of your own work.
  • All entries will be read by the editors.
  • No entry fee.

We have an overarching theme for all our anthologies for the next 12-18 months of ‘maps and mapping’. You do not need to take this in any way literally – ‘the map is not the territory.’

Consider new lands, homelands, boundaries – real or imaginary; journeys, ideas of territory and ‘your place’. Landmarks and directions, roots and routes, (dis)location and getting lost – the possibilities are (almost!) endless.

Deadline for submissions 14th April 2021

final decisions will be made by 14th May 2021

submit here

Review of No Spider Harmed by Rachael Smart

This has been hiding in a corner of our web, with the intention of finding a magazine to take it, but the world doesn’t quite work like that, so here it is, front and centre. Thanks Rachael!

Spiders frequently get bad press but according to folklore, the spider represents strong feminine energy, creativity and strength. Perceived to be portents of good luck I have long cherished the spider who lives in my car’s right-hand wing mirror, a miniscule and fine-legged specimen who shivers on her web whilst withstanding the most turbulent of journeys.  On cool autumn mornings there is nothing more beautiful to my camera than the belly of the sun bringing hundreds of dew-laden spider webs into plain view.

To celebrate eight years of publishing, Arachne Press are quite aptly celebrating their success with an anthology of spider literature. This volume of poetry and short fiction explores all things spider at close range, a reading experience which lends itself to being mutually magnifying and yet strangely distorting in its small world exploration of darkly haired creatures who straddle the borders of good and evil, of myth and folklore, of past and present. Crucially, nature meets with human in these narratives full of imagination. Skewered perspectives turn myth and stereotypes on their heads to bring readers the type of spiders that literature needs.

Stella Wulf’s Femmes Fatales is a five-stanza poem which personifies the spider via the timescale of human life from childhood through to adolescence, then adulthood followed by two climax stanzas in which we view the spider’s attack. It is akin to watching a nature documentary in which the spider’s life plays out before viewer’s eyes as we watch the courtship, the struggle. The female as both human and spider is located firmly in the male gaze and potent in the possession of her aesthetic power. The protagonist’s mother warns: it takes more than long legs / and fine bones, to get on in life. Here, we find a girl in adolescence who learns to climb proficiently and challenge social expectations yet discovers her ability to manipulate men reigns supreme. Assonance is shot through this poem, a soft assured chain of stealthy words that sound out the spider’s attack: ‘slip of silk’ ‘see them squirm’ ‘subdued’ ‘watch them sleep’ ‘spin my dreams’’ ‘skitter light’. This is a stunning poem dense with sibilance and sound which echoes that of the spider’s slow seduction of the fly and concludes fittingly: with the female triumphant.

Natalie Rowe’s If You Kill a Spider, the Rain Will Come is a touching poem about the significance a spider takes on following the loss of a father. The weight of grief is beautifully threaded through the close daily observations of a house spider. Longing for conversation, the protagonist:  ‘…began to talk to her / wishing her a good hunt’  As winter approaches, so comes dependence:  ‘I could not stand to lose/ one more  living thing.’ Grief is projected onto the spider’s survival as substitution for the loss of a father and fuelled by a desire to nurture her pet with cockroaches and flies to prevent further loss. Rowe captures that colossal fear post-death of having no control over external factors and exhibits quite painfully, in this tender piece, how we attempt to cling to hope and how futile our caring tendencies can be.

Phoebe Demeger’s Clearing Out the Shed is a flash fiction which features a narrator sorting out her parent’s shed before the house is occupied by a new family. Emotional restraint in the voice ensures that not all of history is given up, allowing the reader to fill the white space with their own interpretation of the parent’s last decade in the building. Setting is conveyed as stagnant and freeze-framed, the protagonist reluctant to ‘disturb the tomb-like atmosphere’ as though the undisturbed spiders in the shed are guarding her parent’s ghosts. A transitional story threaded through with nostalgia and loss, and yet, also, silvery beginnings, and the spiders who seem to represent guardians.

Elizabeth Hopkinson’s piece, Web of Life, draws on the myth of Arachne the weaver who challenged Athena to a tapestry duel and was subsequently turned into a spider. This is such an acoustic story which draws on crochet instructions to convey the process of web making: Chain four. Double crochet. Slip one. Repeat.  The repetitive labour of humans crocheting is closely associated with the spider’s spooling, a sound which can be heard and soothes the ears. A web big enough for the world is created, a handiwork way beyond any spider’s web. This is no lair but a safe house for all of nature’s winged creatures: Silver-Spotted Skipper, Adonis Blue. Hazel Pot Beetle. Language is used so economically, here, but the authentic species names and the specifics of the weaving process gives this small but global story an energy of its own.

This is an inspired and diverse collection of poetry and fiction which sharpens the focus of the lens on the life of the spider. Small-world is magnified for readers who get to see nature in action and often from slant perspectives. Sacred value is given to arthropods who inject their venom and snare with silk, who protect and guide, who attack and seduce, and in seeking out such a range of literary imaginations, the spider really is given new legs.

And now for some GOOD News

We could all do with some cheer in the bleak days of January, especially this year, so courtesy of Arts Council England, we are here to do just that.

We are the proud and happy recipients of a £45,000 grant from Arts Council England

This will pay for our next ten books, and (drum roll) audio books! Which means we can smack Covid on the nose by providing another way to enjoy our books without leaving home, and provide some work to actors who aren’t allowed into a theatre just now. I’m anticipating it will also be huge fun. Putting the plans together now with our audiobook partner Listening Books

Thanks to everyone who gave us their thoughts on whether this was the right way to go. It’s one of the fastest growing sectors in literature, but it’s tough to get right, and harder still to market, so the funding will also pay for …

A part-time marketing person, and a (separate) part-time admin person for a few months, so that I can concentrate on finding and supporting new writers and guest editors. We will be advertising these posts very soon. They will be remote working, so if you think that could be you, start polishing your CV, but don’t send anything until you see the advertisment please!

The Books

The books that are being supported by the ACE grant are:

This Poem Here – Poetry collection by Rob Walton (Just the audio book, as we’ve already done the rest)

Zed and the Cormorants -YA Novel by Clare Owen, illustrated by Sally Atkins. We are talking to Sophie Aldred about reading the audio book)

100neHundred -100 x 100 word stories by Laura Besley

Incorcisms -short, strange tales by David Hartley

Accidental Flowers -Novel in short stories by Lily Peters

Strange Waters -Short Story Collection by Jackie Taylor

Jackie

A Voice Coming from Then – Poetry collection (illustrated with collages) by Jeremy Dixon

An Anthology of poems and short fiction from UK based Deaf writers (no title yet) edited by Lisa Kelly and A N Other

Lisa

An Anthology of poems and short stories from UK based Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Writers (no title yet) edited by Laila Sumpton and Sandra A. Agard

Solstice Shorts 2021 Anthology (provisional theme: time is running out but we’ll come up with a better title!)

This Poem Here is …Here

traditional box of books shot. Cover image Covid Blooms by Paul Summers

One of my favourite moments in the publishing process, arrival of the first batch of books.

These will be going out to the author, Rob Walton, reviewers, and people who place pre-orders with us. You can do that in our webshop. If you want to buy it elsewhere you’ll have to wait until the end of March.

We first spotted Rob’s lockdown poems on his social media, because we follow him as we publishing several of his stories, and a couple of poems, in earlier anthologies.

After reading the first few aloud to my wife, I thought, this has to be dealt with, and enquired over the number of extant poems and how the creative splurge was going, and made an offer. A doesn’t remember all our author’s names, so when I told her we were going to do the book and she said who? my response was ‘What did you do on your first day back , darling? /Lick Yusuf. (1st June) and she knew immediately.

Then Rob went quiet on me, and on social media, and a tentative email revealed a covid related bereavement, shielding and a blaze of more poetry.

The light-hearted, funny and furiously angry observations of how life is lived in the Covid world remain, alongside the personal grief at how lives are also lost.

This book is dedicated to Rob’s dad, Frank Walton, 1933-2020

Frank Walton

Review of Tymes goe by Turnes on Blue Nib

This is probably the last review we will get from Blue Nib, as it is closing – due to an unsustainable funding gap.

I don’t know whether it’s yet another unforseen outcome of C-19, but a number of poetry and other literary magazines are on hiatus or have folded since I last checked for people to send books to for review.

As well as Blue Nib; Arete, Compass, Iota, and Antiphon have the shutters down on their website or have disappeared completely.

Many magazines, like small publishers, rely on volunteers to survive at all. I’m as at fault as the next person, I can’t afford the subcription (or the time) to read more than a couple of magazines, and yet we rely on them to spread the word about our books, and as discoverors and nursery grounds for writers who aren’t ready to offer a collection.

So maybe now is the time for an extra resolution for this year – to read a literary magazine, and support the work done by its editors, writers and reviewers.

In the meantime, a big thank you to prodigeous reviewer Emma Lee, for her review of Tymes goe by Turnes on Blue Nib.

‘Tymes Goe By Turnes’ is a timely anthology. Some pieces could be interpreted as being about the current pandemic, but all have a sense of timelessness. A sense that they could be picked up in several centuries in the future and, although the language would look archaic, they would still be understood.

Solstice Shorts 2020 Tymes Goe by Turnes Part Four

The final section of the festival, in pre-recorded video. The live versions will be available later in the week.

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Solstice Shorts 2020 Tymes Goe by Turnes Part Three

The third section of the festival, in pre-recorded video. The live versions will be available later in the week.

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Solstice Shorts 2020 Tymes Goe by Turnes Part Two

The second section of the festival, in pre-recorded video. The live versions will be available later in the week.

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Solstice Shorts 2020 Tymes Goe by Turnes Part One

The Lopped Tree In Time will Grow Again

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The first hour of the festival, in pre-recorded video. The live versions will be available later in the week.

Programme for tomorrow’s festival

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