This brilliantly inventive, powerful and vibrant anthology of poetry and short fiction showcases writing by the next generation of writers in the North. Many are members of Hive young writers’ groups or have attended Hive programmes and projects across the region. Some have been placed in our competitions. There’s also work from Hive award-winning writers such as Beth Davies, Safia Khan, Lauren Hollingsworth Smith, Naomi Thomas and Warda Yassin.
The anthology showcases a whopping 74 emerging writers and features 69 poems and 18 short stories.
A wonderful gift for fiction and poetry lovers | £8 (+P&P£2)
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Sample poems and story excerpts:
In a Singaporean Mall
the world’s first Salmon ATM is filled to the rim
with fillets, their grapefruit-orange flesh skinned
of platinum, sealed in vacuum-pack deliverance.
It hums and glows 24/7, rubber flaps the gills
that sing of all the silt and rivers a life can pass through.
I press my plastic currency to its tuneless jukebox,
and the conveyered current churns. They leap out,
still ribboned with light, still smelling of fjords,
a grizzly’s prayer answered in the palm of my hand.
The New Poor
You can find them dancing sockless to the sound
of a tin can rolling down an alley, it’s their oldest traditional anthem.
Most of them couldn’t eat a whole pig at once. And for supper,
they eat measles. Or is it weasels? They know about the world
the way a donkey knows the weight of certain books from carrying them
on its back like brass scales. When one of them gets a rash,
they all read their fortunes off it. There’s a mildew-flavoured noodle
they eat at Christmas, called timeless wok. Or is it tireless work?
I saw one in the rain once trying to catch dew on a medicine spoon.
They’re not really real though, their bodies are costumes.
Only their horses and homes are alive.
Why We Don’t Joke About Ghosts
There was an unwritten rule amongst those who worked at the cinema that you didn’t joke about the ghosts. Everyone followed it, even those who didn’t believe. Even they knew better than to mock the supernatural within those walls. Some tried to rationalise the things that happened, to come up with reasonable explanations, but when it was something they themselves had witnessed, it was a struggle to sound convinced. But this is what comes of working in a building rapidly approaching its hundredth birthday, standing in a city known for its hauntings, on the site of an old Roman cemetery.
Nothing bad had happened as such; nobody had been injured or attacked or threatened in any way. Still, ushers, front of house, even customers, felt ill at ease. And for staff, especially after closing, hairs stood up on the backs of their necks as they moved around what should have been an empty building, feeling as if someone – or something – was merely a step or two behind them. But they knew they’d locked the doors. They knew there was nobody else there. Nobody living at least. Customers have seen things too, come back to complain about someone sitting in their seat only to return to an empty room. Only one person (as far as I know) has ever physically felt something.
There was nothing unremarkable about that Tuesday. The shift was progressing nicely to the last showing, a steady flow of customers had just left Screen 3 after another packed showing of the latest Marvel movie. It was Tom’s turn to clean up in Screen 2, nod farewell to bleary-eyed customers as the credits rolled, pick up their Cornetto wrappers and nacho trays, wipe down their tables and sweep up their popcorn. There had been mutterings from several staff members about strange things happening in Screen 2 before, but nobody had really paid them any heed – dimly-lit rooms and an assortment of tense films was an excellent combo for the overactive imagination, especially when it’s-behind-you horror was in the mix.
Tom was ready and waiting for when the credits to The Darkest Hour rolled, propping open the doors and standing back to wait whilst the bulk of the customers found the exit. When he stuck his head back in the screen, the credits were nearing their end and the screen was empty, save for a solitary man, short and fat, wearing dark clothing, standing in the opposite corner facing the screen, his back to Tom and the door.
“Exit’s over here mate,” he called, turning to gesture towards the door as he did. When he looked back, the man was nowhere to be seen.
Excerpt from Why We Don’t Joke About Ghosts by Rebecca Payne