The Importance of the ‘Other’

Social conventions have heavily influenced different periods in history, which can also be seen in many pieces of literature. Some literary works conform to social conventions, whilst some present an ‘other’ which defies social conventions, whether in the form of a character or theme. Modern examples of this include H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man.

The ‘other’ is not only present in literature but also extends itself into the wider world. Social conventions create the notion of what is ‘normal’, regarding fashion, music and lifestyle. Therefore, this leads to divides in society and the creation of subcultures along with issues of prejudice and discrimination. The ‘other’ in society and issues of discrimination have been highlighted as 2017 is the 10th anniversary of the death of Sophie Lancaster. For those who are unaware, in 2007 Sophie Lancaster and her boyfriend Robert Maltby were attacked for being ‘other’, by a group of teenagers who left them for dead. Maltby suffered brain damage, but Sophie’s family had to make the heart-breaking decision to turn off her life support thirteen days after the attack. Her family subsequently founded the Sophie Lancaster Foundation in order to educate that discrimination against those who dress differently is not acceptable or fair.

Of course, discrimination occurs regarding gender, race, sexuality, and individual beliefs. The idea of the ‘other’ is not likely to disappear anytime soon, however raising awareness of societal pressures may help in reducing discrimination against those who choose not to conform.

If you wish to learn more about the Sophie Lancaster Foundation visit:

The Wordsmith comes to Glasto – A review of Kate Tempest

Kate Tempest played the West Holts stage on Friday evening in a bid to bring poetry to the masses. Although she wasn’t the only one reciting poetry on one of the main stages; Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, also recited part of P. B. Shelley’s ‘Masque of Anarchy’. Although Corbyn gave the most rousing performance of the entire festival, Kate Tempest bought her ‘godly’ message of hope to the British people, a message against the culture of austerity and hate in which we live.

Kate’s mix of words and sound brings poetry to a large crowd in a time when poetry is not widely seen. Kate’s performance demonstrates the importance of delivery in the currently stagnant world of poetry. With her early climax, Kate delivered ‘Europe is Lost’, the dark and dreary – but exact view – of our world seen through the ‘broken blinds’ of Britain. Kate Tempest’s poetry is the aggressive message of hope that this country needs right now. It is great to see poetry at the forefront of festivals and culture again.


Picture courtesy of BBC iplayer.
By J.Cialis


On Sonnets

One of the most popular forms in poetry, the sonnet has taken on quite the transformation since its creation. Sonnet, derived from the Latin for little sound, was popularised by Petrarch in the fourteenth century when he wrote about his ‘beautiful and unattainable love-object’ (Raymond, Mark, …Opening the Sonnet’s Crypt, p. 727) Laura with the use of 14 lines in an abba abba octet followed by a cdecde sestet that can interchange in its variating rhyme.

In the mid-sixteenth century, writers like Thomas Wyatt and the Earl of Surrey had started to write sonnets in English, but it wasn’t until the Elizabethan period that the English or Shakespearean sonnet we know so familiarly today came to light. This form has a slight variation on the Petrarchan form by having three quatrains consisting of abab cdcd efef finished off with the couplet gg. Although this, in contemporary terms, is the most well-known form, ‘the peak of Elizabethan enthusiasm for sonnet sequences had already waned’ (p. 728) by this point. In-fact, the sonnet had started to become more and more neglected. It probably reached its lowest point when, in Augustan Literature, Alexander Pope termed it ‘a natural or morbid Secretion from the brain’ (p. 730).

Nevertheless, in the Romantic era the sonnet took on a revival that seemed to favour marginal individuals such as the ‘‘Cockney’ upstarts like Keats and Leigh Hunt’ (p. 732) and female poets like Charlotte Smith, Mary Robinson and Anna Seward. The sonnet, flirting with death, reinvigorated the poets using them and allowed them to breathe new life into the form, able to bring it away from the cliché’s of love and death and use it to respond to more natural themes such as Smith’s ‘To the Moon’ and Keats’ ‘Sonnet on the Sea’. This revival is summed up by ‘Dante Gabriel Rossetti [, who] would put it in the
mid-nineteenth century, [that] the sonnet is ‘a moment’s monument’ (p. 727).

Further down the timeline, we see writers more willing to experiment with the form that can be seen moving in a different, almost opposite direction. In the one hand, we have Gerard Manley Hopkins’ ‘Curtal’ sonnets which have been mathematically attuned to make the English sonnet closer to its Petrarchan predecessor with the introduction of 10 and a half lines; whilst on the other side of the coin, Tony Harrison wrote sonnets such as ‘Book Ends’ which included local dialect, the use of sixteen lines and interchanging
rhyme schemes.

Today, the sonnet still has major appeal and, indeed, relevance to our society. We’ve seen, especially as it’s matured, that it is a fully flexible form willing its writer to produce little sounds in varying degrees of pitch and tone. It would be too difficult to base the fundamental structure of the sonnet on its syllables, lines, rhyme or length: the sonnet, to my mind, is a loose structure that has the ability to expand the smallest idea or image or, equivalently, condense the largest image or idea.
I shall end with my take on a sonnet, written about Picasso:

A Pear-Shaped Cube

In the morning I arise

to wait and play for my knight

the green guitar.

Still not awake I splash on canvas

meditative colours for your

arrival. I must confess

I have changed but still

retain a skill

to encapsulate your mood:

not just knight but

muse. So, if you wake

I will play a cube

aubade; it may now however

have become slightly pear-shaped.

The Importance of Influence

How an Author’s Life Influence their Literary Works:

Every individual experience that we have affects our personality. This, in many ways, is the biggest influence over an author’s writing. An author is influenced by their past, which will translate into their work. Gender, Race, and socioeconomic statuses are also a huge influence over a piece of writing. Each personal experience within each of these categories can affect the way a person views the world, and therefore this will have a huge impact on the work an author produces.
It is also important to acknowledge influence of other authors. Not only does an author’s life affect their work, but the work they have read and the things they have enjoyed. Everything a writer has done was influenced by people of the past, and everything an author has done will influence literature in the future. Literature is constantly evolving into new and exciting forms, which are still informed from the past. The picture above is good example of the ‘tissue of quotations’ idea, presented by Roland Barthes. It is clear that every poet has been influenced by other poets, and this is true not only of literature, but of other art forms too.

Bret Easton Ellis – ‘Ernest Hemmingway had a lot of influence on me. But I like a lot of writers… I like Robert Ludlum, Stephen King, Phillip Roth, Don DeLillo, and the romantic life of Jack Keroauc, even though I’m not interested in his fiction – but I liked his life.’
Ernest Hemmingway – “Mark Twain, Flaubert, Stendhal, Bach, Turgenev, Chekhov, Andrew Marvell, John Donne, Maupassant, Shakespeare, Mozart, Quevedo, Tintoretto, Hieronymus Bosch, Brueghel, Patinir, Goya, Giotto, Cézanne, Van Gogh…’
Ray Bradbury – ‘I read everything by Robert Heinlein and Arthur Clarke, and the early writings of Theodore Sturgeon and Van Vogt—all the people who appeared in Astounding Science Fiction—but my big science-fiction influences are H. G. Wells and Jules Verne’
Hillary Mantel – ‘no book has mattered to me as much as the dirt-cheap Complete Works of Shakespeare’
Joyce Carol Oates – ‘I’ve tried to be influenced by Poe… but I feel a writerly kinship with Joyce.’

Every artist has their influence. Let us know who or what inspires you, in the comments below…

The Election Results Special!

This election has been interesting in a sense that there was no outright winners or losers. Every party both won and lost in their own way; The Conservative Party won in the sense that they got the most seats but lost in the sense that their majority was slashed to being the largest minority. Labour lost in the sense that they didn’t win enough seats to form a government but won in the sense that they did immensely better than they were expected to. The real winners though were the DUP, who manage to prop up the government without having any mandate in mainland Britain.
Like a lot of the country Foxtrot Uniform stayed up all night watching the election results as they came in, and there were many high points and low points that kept us off our ‘seats’. As a poetical tribute, we have chosen the theme ‘Compassion’ to relay our thoughts on what happened and what will happen over the coming days and weeks…

‘The Result’ – Joshua Cialis

The youth have spoken in their numbers,
But the sustained classes
Drag the dregs of Tories out to play
Another year of robotic politics.

Where we’re headed it’s hard to tell
But not going forward its back to –
The difficult experience we had last year.

Difficult policies,
Hate heated by the Unionist Irish
And their questionable mandate.
But its fair to say:

Labour will have their day,
When the Tories are laid to rest
And we’ve endured the test of degradation.

Red – Jade

Red is the colour
of compassion.
Red is the colour
of strength.

Red is a statement
of power.
Red is the symbol
of love.

Red is leadership
Red is stability
Red is the blood
of the nation.

Toxicity – Holly Royle

Despite the hatred our
world has seen,
the darkness makes
our kind hearts gleam.

The rain washes away
the horrors to reveal
those rays of sunlight
and hope to heal
the wounded. Look
around and see
the evil and toxicity, I
fear it will return one day.

But kindness will prevent
the world from truly
fading away.

1340 – Reece David Merrifield

One word we should all learn
has suffered longer than we ever
will in our lifetime. Surely for that
we may as well show it more than
just a little bit of compassion.





A Vote for Hope

This week in Britain there is an election. It is the biggest chance of our lifetime to change our lives for the better. This is Joshua Cialis’ poem ‘A Vote for Hope’. The poem’s message follows the journey of the Union Flag from its days flying over the British Empire through to the Hope of 1945, then into the gloom of Thatcher’s Britain and the recent Conservative/LibDem coalition right through to the hope of Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign.
Share it around and don’t forget to vote on Thursday. Vote to get the Tories out! Vote to protect the country’s pensioners! Vote to give the youth an opportunity! Vote for equality! Vote Labour!

A Vote for Hope

It all started one autumn –
The end of a generation –
Beginning a new Hope:
The hope for change
When light’ll shine –
Starting from the ground
and spreading all around.

‘Cause does it fill me with national pride
To see the Union flag flying on its side?
To see empire, slavery and hate
Tied up in Red Blue and White?
Images of armies, navies, and aircraft men
Stealing land under the flag?
But after war fascism was dead;
We opened our land to all that was Great and Good.
Opening our hearts as well as hospitals:
The NHS was born out of bankruptcy
And want for change.
We opened our arms as well as our borders
To Asians,
West Indians,
And Africans:
A social country grew through welfare
And with help from the State,
Industry boomed
But on the horizon darkness loomed –
“when did it all fall apart?
Sometime in the eighties
When the great and the good gave way
To the greedy and the mean.”
That woman paved a path
For this atrocity we now suffer.
Privatisation – giving away what was ours:
A war against society
Battles in the street:
Peaceful families kettled in London
And three NeoLiberal wars raged since
Now reported mistakes
While we sell off hospitals to the highest bidder –
Or a minister’s friend.
And mothers,
All queue at banks for food;
CONDEMned by a government,
Ideology, a cut.
Doctors must march for survival
While she can’t face us
But she is strong and stable –
But we can’t see any of it
While she sits in her high castle
Telling us to live within our means
While handing out breaks
To those who fill pockets with cash
While we sit in the streets
Reaching down to feed
A homeless man, and our family.
But there is an alternative
To this dark present situation:
A voice offering light out of darkness –
A Hope for the population –
‘Cause schools, and beds in hospitals
Should be our current concern –
The health of a nation
Over the rising line of stocks
‘cause we should invest in people
Rather than the dealer
Trading overseas.
But this alternative is possible:
A beacon of hope spreads
Across the faces of the land
Staring out across a future
Where we stand together
Shoulder to shoulder
Offering a hand up to those below:
That’s when I’ll be proud
To see the Union Flag flying on its side.

What have we become – A poem

Today we share with you a poem by Holly Royle who is our selections and corrections officer. We hope you enjoy.

What have we become
We watch, we talk,
We laugh, we walk,
Through mists of doubt,
Through judging eyes,
Their opinions shine
Although they are not of their own creation.
The hierarchy of this world,
The judgement that unfolds and turns
Into the threats and violence that you claim to despise.
Your fist, my face, alcohol pumping through your veins,
You claim your soul is perfectly clear
But what would the High Gods think?
Believe that you are in control,
But the truth contradicts your mind.
We are slaves, you save the day, you
Are no different to them.
What have you done?
What have we become?