Suffering Porn

Words by Joshua Cialis, picture by PBS News

24 hour Rolling News + Disaster = Suffering Porn

We live in an age of 24 hour rolling news, where the news of the day is beamed straight to our televisions 24 hours a day 7 days a week 52 weeks of the year. This, along with the world’s continual trend for disasters is leading to what I like to call suffering porn. Humans – or at least Western humans – seem to want that continual option to view suffering.

We’ve seen this suffering porn an awful lot recently, with the continual terrorist attacks across the world, the ongoing war in Syria, the refugee crisis, Storm Irma, and recent earthquake in Mexico. We seem to have forgotten that the only suffering we used to see was famine in Africa. We are so used to seeing suffering that its surprising that we live in such a sanitised society or maybe it is just so that we are voyeurs in such a sense of suffering because we live in such a sanitised society.
Yet it seems that this constant suffering porn has use, its emotive nature allows to see that people need our help. Let us remember the affair of little Alan [Shenu] Kurdi, the little Syrian boy who was photographed dead on the beach in Turkey. It is only after this horrifying picture emerged that anyone – in the West – really did anything about helping the ‘refugee crisis’. It seems that in our age of digital news, a description is not enough for a response anymore, we need to see the suffering before we believe it’s happening. And although many of us will not venture out to see the suffering or experience it we act as voyeurs looking into a world that isn’t our own from the safety of our own lounges safe in the knowledge that we are not suffering but happy to know that someone in the world needs our help.

Foxtrot Uniform encourages you to donate to a charity that supports the suffering world so if you enjoyed this article please donate to the Red Cross or Oxfam


The Vampire: An Evolution of Interpretation from the Romantic period to the modern-day

Words and Picture by Holly Royle

This article will briefly display the varying portrayals of the vampire in literature, beginning in the Romantic period with John Polidori’s ‘The Vampyre’ through to the controversial ‘Twilight Saga’ by Stephanie Meyer. Whether these various interpretations are highly thought of is irrelevant in the respect that they all form interesting interpretations which arguably, provide an insight into social issues or conventions of the time periods in which they were published.

Polidori’s work was published in 1819 and shares its beginnings with Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’. At the time, Polidori was working as Lord Byron’s physician, but was also aspiring to become a writer. During their stay in Geneva, along with Percy and soon to be Mary Shelley, they elected one evening to write horror stories. That evening led to the production of ‘The Vampyre’ and ‘Frankenstein’. Polidori’s vampire is a Byronic figure and explores themes of the vampire as a sexual predator, themes which continue to be present in other literary works.

Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’, one of the best-known vampire novels, was published in 1897. Themes of the vampire as a sexual predator are prevalent, particularly through the portrayal of female vampires. Other themes are also present; the idea of the vampire as a foreigner may suggest fears at the time of foreign invasion. The novel also explores themes regarding science and religion which are often seen as opposing forces, yet both are required in the pursuit and destruction of the vampire. This highlights the issues surrounding uncertainty in religious beliefs and increasing scientific knowledge which was rapidly occurring in the nineteenth century. Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’ was published in 1859.

Moving into the twentieth century, 1976 saw the publication of Anne Rice’s ‘Interview with the Vampire’. Similarly to Stoker, issues of religious beliefs are widely explored as the protagonist gradually loses his faith following his transition into the vampire world. The state of immortality removes any hope for the protagonist of an afterlife.

Moving onto the final example in this small sample of literary works, 2005 brought the publication of ‘Twilight’. While the idea of sparkly vampires widely divides opinion, the novel brings with it issues of young love, relationships and emotional manipulation. This may relate to an increase in awareness of relationships in which young people may have been emotionally manipulated by their partners and the negative impacts it can have. Although, it is often interpreted as a love story.

There are many more example of vampire fiction in existence, this being but a limited selection. However, it does provide an insight into the diversity of the vampire figure. Whether you agree with all the interpretations presented or not, it cannot be denied that they are firmly imbedded into our culture.

Can a computer write poetry?

Words by Joshua Cialis. Picture Courtesy of Jack of All Syntax

Before answering this conundrum, I suppose the first question we must ask is, what is poetry? The OED defines poetry as ‘literary work in which the expression of feelings and ideas is given intensity by the use of distinctive style and rhythm’. So if poetry is a deep ‘expression of feelings and ideas’; can a computer, void of feeling and personal ideas generate poetry?
Obviously according to the above definition a computer cannot write poetry.  However, in recent years, there has been a recent trend in bot poetry. Since the invention of computers and programming writers have been generating ‘poems’ using machines. These ‘poems’ use an algorithm to write text. Using word lists and numbers to generate the sometimes intricate, sometimes simple poems which can be random, funny, and sometimes downright weird.
Shall we look at some bot poems that I wrote using various poem generator websites?
Firstly, is this free-verse poem, which asks the writer to insert a theme and some nouns and adjectives to generate the poem. The theme noun I inserted was Beach. (free verse)

Because I could not resort for Beach,
It did kindly resort for me.
Beach, Beach, every where,
Yet not a drop to resort.

Why would you think the causeway is smooth?
The causeway is the most rough route of all.
Pause to connect, like the causeway does.
You can connect, you can pass, but can you span?

One afternoon I said to myself,
“Why isn’t the tidepool more high?”
Are you upset by how scummy it is?
Does it tear you apart to see the tidepool so deep?

Seashore is, in its way, the dog’s neck of shore.
Does the seashore make you shiver?
Does it?

This second poem uses the same website but is their Sonnet generator. Again it asks for the same insertion of nouns and adjectives but generates the rhymes and lines using its algorithm. (Sonnet)

My stout Beach hut, you inspire me to write.
I love the way you shelters, sits and store,
Invading my mind day and through the night,
Always dreaming about the merry war.

Let me compare you to a happy crust?
You are more patient, generous and kind.
Fat heat toasts the brisk frolics of August,
And summertime has the resolute grind.

How do I love you? Let me count the ways.
I love your dark child-like and relaxed.
Thinking of your homely fills my days.
My love for you is the prosperous akst.

Now I must away with a tiny heart,
Remember my bright words whilst we’re apart.

Lastly is this Tanka generator which only needs a theme (sea or urban) and uses a list of words. This one is interesting as you can change the coding to make your poem choose different random numbers from the given word list. (sea)

Never desire a mainland.
Where is the dead wind?
Courage is a stormy sun.
Where is the misty girl?
All sharks lead small, clear sailors.

Hope you enjoyed these ‘bot poems’ and let us know if you’ve experimented at all.

Magazine Preview!

We have been busy going through the poetry and prose you have been sending in. We have chosen our publication pieces. This week’s article, therefore, is a free preview to our upcoming magazine, the debut issue of Foxtrot Uniform.

The first issue of Foxtrot Uniform will be available from October 1st 2017, so place your orders at Issues will cost £1.50, and while you’re at it, let your local library know that they can order a free copy.

Remember: if your work is accepted into the magazine you will get a free copy sent to your door, so be sure to give us your address if you’ve been accepted.

So here’s your first preview, two poems: one by Joshua Cialis and another by Reece David Merrifield:

Club Night Journey – Joshua Cialis

Do you know that club
with the cages
where half naked girls
gyrate and swirl?

Half dazed giving you the eye
It’s a far cry from sanity
It’s a far cry from love

It’s obscenity!

Cruising through the night
you’d better hold on tight
while we shout
through the dark, the

lost men in our generation
groping something incomplete

There’s a show on;
contesting the contested
in their skirts and heels.

Where are we going?
Where have we been?
I’m not sure we’ve seen anything!

Mortal Multitude – Reece David Merrifield

I lie in patchwork sipping the shade from
European light as I think back to
the multitude of hours, nations, new
friends, old artwork, flat fields, fauna and
forestry, beer and whisky, pound and
krona, all language into one language,
one language lost in all language, the year
the longest constant on this vast continent.

I am three hundred thousand litres a second
tumbling down the seasonal waterfall
I am Kopparklinten, wanting higher still
There’s always pieces of Britain scattered
around, a puzzle never finished
I lie in a patch of Europe, my hands are
blind, my eyes stretched out, searching.

Ears in Cafes – Pt. IV

Words by Joshua Cialis, picture by Vinyl Head Instagram account.

Here is the final edition in our Ears in Cafes series. Due to Jade leaving us, this week’s poem is Joshua Cialis’ poem written in Vinyl Head Café in Ramsgate.

Ears in Cafes – Vinyl Head (Ramsgate)

Vinyl cracks in the corner
A reminder of where we were –
An escape from the grey world
Outside, where love and death
Walk together arm in arm.

But here is vibrancy
Where coffee and food
Dance in the intermingling
Of music and language
Where an old man sits –
As if in Paris:
But its Ramsgate –
A grey coastal town
Where only colour comes from
Shops and cafes
Galleries and eateries.

But here we sit
Making conversation
And watching the gentle clatter
Of mugs
While vinyl cracks in the corner.


Ears in Cafés pt. III

Words and photo by Reece David Merrifield

After an extremely long journey, FU’s Reece has written two poems about Cafés in Copenhagen…


of knowing where I am.

has seemed like forever.

and the happiest of hours.

of foreign fantasy, of familiar luxury.

Second Brew

A short walk from Nørrested
the serene cyclists
on the wrong side of my road
alongside urban gardens
with rope swings
with long hair
with Kierkegaard’s cemetery
round the corner on my short walk from Nørrested
on the corner of Jægersbroggade I sit
with a cold brew
as the cold brews
and a German nods his head and smiles
it’s all come together
at the coffee collective.

Sweden Bound

Our very own Reece Merrifield is off on a study year abroad to Sweden. Although he will still be on the Foxtrot Uniform team he may not have as much time to post as he always does. So here it is Reece, GOOD LUCK and See you soon!

Here is his poem ‘On Reading’:

On Reading
A writer builds a ladder out of words for eyes to climb and transcend towards
A multitude of clouds
Clouds of Victorian romance
Clouds of feminist breakthroughs
Clouds streaming in and out of consciousness
Clouds of sonnets, clouds of haiku
Clouds of Orwellian warnings
Clouds that reign over distant solar systems
Clouds that precipitate in more than one way

The eyes are captured within the shape of a teardrop and
land in a barren ocean
swimming back to shore to search for the feet of
authors, essayists, poets,
take a trip to the floor so they can hold your hand,
lift your senses,
exchange awkward, brisk

Hello’s and goodbye’s
Mentioning a name in-between
Jump on the rungs once more.


Ears in Cafés pt. II

Words and Pictures by Holly Royle

Later than usual, but here is the second instalment for our Monday Special written by Holly Royle…

The Café and I

I walk through the door and leave behind reality. I enter a universe of imagination and wonder. The shelves filled with books from floor to ceiling, each contain another world.

I sit down with my cup of tea at the wooden table and start to flick through a newspaper. It makes reality seem like just another world to read about.

I finish my tea and walk down the spiral staircase to the basement. I browse through the ongoing bookshelves. The oddities carefully placed among the books make me smile. The raven shaped book ends, Gothic candelabras, trinket boxes and tarot cards. I am not at all surprised by the skeleton leaning against the wall in the corner of the room. He smiles at me and I smile back.

I head back up the spiral staircase. The number of people in the cafe have increased. I see the wonder on the faces as the browse the shelves of different worlds. I smile to myself as I head through the door into the sunshine, and I see the world in an even better light.

Too be, or not two be

Words by Holly Royle

Too be, or not two be; the relationship between pronunciation and spelling in the English language.
The English language has been subject to critique regarding spelling and pronunciation for centuries. In the modern-day world those who reinforce the supposed ‘proper’ means of spelling and pronunciation are often labelled as ‘Grammar Nazis’, but where did this obsession with correcting others originate?
If we travel back in time the English language appears extremely different. A significant difference to modern-day English is the lack of standardisation; people pronounced and spelled words however they chose. For example, take the phrase ‘Þe Olde Book Shoppe’, this would be pronounced ‘The Old Book Shop’ even though many modern-day individuals pronounce it phonetically. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the English language was undergoing some significant changes; one being the Great Vowel Shift which involved a transformation in vowel sounds. The 1600s saw major changes and the start of prescriptivism. This involved a group of elite scholars who decided the English language should be made more prestigious. They decide to standardise the language and introduced more Latinate terms into the language in order to create a greater sense of sophistication. This had negative effects regarding the social classes. Those who lived in more rural areas or who could not afford to be highly educated would not be aware of these new terms, instead their lesser educated speech would deem them as being less prestigious. The scholars who created the supposed ‘proper’ means of spelling and pronunciation did not always link the two; hence why the language contains substantial amounts of words that are pronounced differently to the way there are spelled. This causes many issues with young children learning to read and write and those learning English as a second language. There is also confusion caused by words being pronounced the same, but spelt differently to identify their meanings, and vice versa.
The English language has undergone many changes over the centuries, this article discusses only a small amount that took place. Therefore, surely it is acceptable that language evolves and changes over time, whether in the form of spelling, pronunciation or introduction of new words.

Ears in Cafes – 1

Words and Pictures by Joshua Cialis

Our new Monday series is called Ears in Cafes and it features poems written in a café. Our first poem was written by Joshua Cialis in the Broadstairs café Peens.

Ears in Cafes by Joshua Cialis

Cutlery clatters
And chatter explodes:
Two old men reading tabloid papers
Talk of when times were better
And I in my coffee’s hour
Read tattered books
Bought in dusty shops
Down rambling roads.
A couple drink wine and eat
Their daily occurrence of words.
Children fight for attention
In this idle adult world;
A mother and her teenage son
Talk of father’s inheritance
While a busy barista clatters
Around – an unheard vivacity –
But I come down in my coffee hour
Finding who I am
In the pages of someone else’s words
And in come an attractive couple
Out of the rain
But sit in awkward silence
Avoiding something more painful
Than talking.
And outside a man feeds his dog
Sausage out his sandwich;
Just left eating buttered bread:
But we’re all living like kings
In solitary hours,
Shared cups,
Conversation and the day’s events.

I in my final sips
Gather the courage
To venture out to the wider world.