The simple judgement to make on WiTH 24 is that I celebrate its celebration of writers and writing.
The anthology is published by Falmouth University and the writing is drawn from their three English; Creative Writing; English with Creative Writing BA [Hons] courses, though this edition contains an additional three short stories from the Falmouth Young Writers Prize 2015. It is an eclectic book both in terms of genres and impact, though the latter aspect is one of subjective judgement – the beholder and all – and I genuinely reiterate the fundamental celebration.
I am naturally drawn to the poetry and I did particularly enjoy much of the experimentation represented. One particular poem that impacted – and not experimental in the ‘concrete’ sense – is the imagined statements from 43 named people who are disappeared [and researching online their realities adds a poignancy to the already emotive sway of their given voices]. Those statements/voices range across the platitudinous, the comic, the grotesque and the heartrending, this realistic reflection of self-epitaphs combining to give an unflinching portrayal of injustice and loss. The poem is titled they buried them not knowing they were seeds and is by Ophelia Ciocirlan.
There are also two short essays, one academic on Daniel Defoe’s Roxana by Sarah Cave, exploring the elusiveness of identity, and the other a review/analysis of Magnetic Field’s 69 Love Songs by Samuel H. Birnie, and I enjoyed both for their brisk insights, also their inclusion in this wide-ranging collection as I have already stated – but it is worth repeating.
Many of the writers in this book are on journeys and being published like this is such a wonderful pit-stop for re-fuelling with recognition and [repeating again, again] celebration. There are shavings needed still to some of the counter-aerodynamics of overwriting, or trims that gloss too brightly, but I never felt I was reading the disingenuous or the mere cleverclogs [and goodness knows I have to keep fighting that latter fight and should really go back and edit that repeating again, again nonsense but leave it there as evidence].
My favourite piece of writing actually comes from the Falmouth Young Writers selection and it is the story What Goes Around Comes Around by Hannah Sayer. It is a story about a boy who as a “Special-needs donkey” narrates his take on that name-calling and all that informs it, from his own feelings to the typical judgements of others. It is a story that should be read in all schools, not because it conveys such a powerful message – which it does – but because it is a cleverly structured tale with a wonderful ruse of repeating the quirks that rule our protagonist’s inner and outer worlds [the ‘clean/dirty things’ dichotomy which on the one hand characterise a believable, complex psychology, and on the other simply reflect a boy’s growing up with touching empathy]. This is an upbeat without being sentimental tale and I hope Hannah writes more of this story, as well as others.