Swearing: Should we?

Words by Holly Royle

Disclaimer: This article contains explicit language.

Does swearing enhance or hinder creative writing?

Swearing is more prevalent in society nowadays than it used to be. Most television shows post-watershed contain swearing from ‘crap’ to ‘cunt’. Even the odd show during the day slips in the odd curse here and there. Music of all genres contain swearing, in fact, most mediums contain swearing. It is however, still primarily frowned upon in society. This is interesting as swear words are ultimately just combinations of letters. Any offence caused by these words does not derive from the words themselves but rather the negative meanings society attributes to them.

Swearing is of course used in everyday life. It is often viewed as being a sign of lower intelligence or a lower social status. In reality, people of all classes and situations swear. People swear in everyday life for several reasons. Some think it’s cool, some use it for emphasis, for others it has become a part of their speech.

With swearing being prevalent in most areas of life, how does it function in creative writing? Does it help or hinder it? Does it change the meaning of a piece of work?
From a linguistic point of view, swear words are very adaptable; they can be used as verbs, adjectives, nouns, exclamatives – very diverse really. When used well in a piece of creative writing, swear words can add an extra emphasis and display strong feelings of emotion.

An excellent example of this use of swearing is Philip Larkin’s poem, ‘This Be The Verse’. The poem opens with:

‘They fuck you up, your mum and dad’

This emphasis is incredibly powerful. If swearing was not used, this line would not make the impact Larkin desired. The first line of the second stanza also includes swearing:

‘But they were fucked up in their turn’

This again adds a huge amount of impact to the line. The harsh sounds of the plosives /k/ and /d/ give extra depth to these lines. Larkin only uses swearing on these two occasions in his poem. The minimal use of these words creates a greater effect. Works that contain swearing throughout often lose the initial emphasis; the more swear words are used in a piece, the more their shock factor decreases.

Swearing can increase the impact of creative writing – understandably some find the use of these words offensive however, surely that is part of the effect. The taboo nature that surrounds these words creates a rebellious element to them.

Here at Foxtrot Uniform we are completely accepting of writers including swear words in their writing for it is a freedom of expression. Yet we also accept clean poems.

Final April Challenge

Words by Joshua Cialis, Reece David Merrifield and Holly Royle

May is approaching and so we leave you our final challenge with the hopes of entertaining you for a brief moment and thus forgetting about the weather that shouldn’t be so dismal coming into the middle of Spring…

Reece David Merrifield – III

Everyday kiss – cooking
and cleaning side-by-side
the ladle gets passed

Joshua Cialis – Observations

The swallows catch
Their flies
Under the bridge

The duck makes
Waves among
The ripples

Students smoke –
Their feet
In the water

And I sit observing it all
From the cloud of my desk

The Unknown

Only having experienced darkness, can you truly see the light.

We cannot go on like this.
Too many opinions; all mouths and no ears,
We cannot voice our greatest fears.

The darkness haunts us in this place;
I fought the demons in my head,
I fear that you will act with yours.

The art and music all around,
Imagine this life with a different sound.
I do not fear that part of me,
For I know which side I choose to see.

This world is dark and cold but,
I am not afraid to strive for the light,
For the time we have is limited,
Before we enter eternal night.

An Informal Review of Irvine Welsh’s ‘Dead Man’s Trousers’

Words and Picture by Reece David Merrifield

*Warning: Spoilers may occur*

At first it struck me as odd that Welsh was releasing, in essence, ‘Trainspotting 3’, after the film was released just one year before. However, I should never have doubted that the man was going to make it work, and in his usual prurient, political and priceless manner, he manages just that.

Begbie deserves the first mention, for how Welsh manages to turn one of the most violent psychopaths in fictional memory into the sober family-man artist enjoying the sunny climes of California turns out to be a masterstroke, in terms of representing the increasingly symbolic working-class as just another branch of capitalist exploitation: the rugged man making it large, a mockery of the almost defunct idea of the American Dream, where rags ‘make’ riches. Of course, it is too good to be true that Begbie is now a ‘changed man’, and the sinister side still resides in a now more clinical, calculated fashion which could be argued is considerably more terrifying than the impulsive, alcohol-fuelled rage concomitant with that of Begbie past.

Renton, still out in Amsterdam, still in the music business, still owing money to his former friends, follows a path fairly linear to that of the previous novel: doing well, gets dragged back into the world of old, is screwed over, but manages to find a way to become better off in the end. I interpret the existence of Renton to be that of middle-class stature, where there shall always be pits to fall into (in his case pretty large ones) but a ladder is always miraculously there to bring him back in his place. This is not to insult the character in any means, but rather that I feel as if Welsh has achieved for Renton what he always wanted him to have, in line with his aspirations and previous achievements compared to that of the others. It is with wicked irony however, that our aforementioned bad guy gone (slightly) good both saves Renton and leaves him with a ‘wee lesson aboot ripping yer mates oaf’ as a truly moral ending that must (I say with caution) signify the end of our tale with the Trainspotting crew.

The Ewan McCorkindale sub-plot that runs throughout the novel has to be one of the despairingly cruellest yet funniest reminders of how even the most careful of men can have their life turned foul; Sick Boy being our port of call for both mischief and political wittiness is kept wonderfully modern with the times; but it is to Spud, our man wearing the trousers, that unfortunately lags and falls behind the rest, that I found myself feeling true sorrow at his wretchedly innocent life come to an end, with his sub-plot being the most typical Spud way to set off the chain of events leading to his demise. It is fitting then that Welsh gives him the last hurrah that interlinks both film and novel with the transcript he leaves Renton behind, immortalising himself in a way that neither of his counterparts have been able to do.

April Writing Challenge

We are nearing the end of the April writing challenge for Poetry Month. We have a lot of fun writing lots of poems and we hope it has been a successfully poetic month for you too.

This weeks poems include an observation by Joshua Cialis, a questioning of beauty by Holly Royle, and a view of the city through Reece Merrifield’s eyes:

16th – Joshua Cialis

There was a young boy strutting
down the high-street
in his sister’s skirt and vest.
It’s an April morning
and he’s shivering with confidence.

15th – Reece David Merrifield

Small specks of yellow
civilisation yawn at
the thought of city life

15th April – Holly Royle
I pull the strings tighter,
The corset pulls in my mistress’s body.
Her hair swept over her left shoulder,
I see the bones move beneath her skin as she breathes,
As she flinches.

So fragile, so pale, so weak,
Yet the men call her beautiful.

So trapped, so numb, so alone,
Yet she is at the height of society.

I may be plain, uncivilized, merely a servant but,
At least I am not kept in a glass cabinet
For men to lust over,
For women to fuss over,
For death to soon sweep over.

A look Inside 002

Hello poetry readers! This post is devoted to 002 of Foxtrot Uniform, we’ll unveil the cover art and show you the poetry, prose, and art being published in 002.

First things first, we’ve been working with a great young artist for our cover of 002. The art is a woodblock print produced and created by Isabel Duffy. You can see some of her other works on Instagram @isabelva.art.

To pre-order a copy of the magazine email us…

Ok so here’s the list you’ve all been waiting for, the list of published works:


Blu Maximo, ‘Artists’
Daniel de Culla, ‘Snorting Poetry’
DS. Maolalai, ‘The Girl in the Café’
DS. Maolalai, ‘The Trouble Publishing Poems’
Eduard Schmidt-Zorner, ‘Abandonment’
Eduard Schmidt-Zorner, ‘Mayakovskay Metro Station’
Gareth Hughes, ‘Marlon Brando’
Gareth Hughes, ‘The Moth’
Gilsenan, ‘Sixth Time Around’
Grace Rennison, ‘Beauty according to Byron’
Grant Tabard, ‘Soft Underbelly’
Grant Tabard, ‘To Be Cohabitants’
Holly Royle, ‘Our Species Greed’
Holly Royle, ‘The Unknown’
Jack Houston, ‘The not sure and the why’
Joshua Cialis, ‘Midnight in Suburbia’
Joshua Cialis, ‘Underpass of exit 3, Westminster Station’
Len Carber, ‘The Old Tracks’
Luke Scarisbrick, ‘Ian didn’t like my Rock Song’
Luke Scarisbrick, ‘Records for Liam’
Michelle Parkinson, ‘Bildungsroman’
Omar Ferro, ‘Are You Present’
Paul Fahey, ‘1313 Virgil Tracey Towers’
Poppy Harris, ‘We Sat on the Beach Listening’
Reece Merrifield, ‘2/3’
Reece Merrifield, ‘Compromise’
Rehan Qayoom: ‘A Poem of Maturity’
Sean McDonagh, ‘Notes from a Dream Sequence’
Sean McDonagh, ‘Sun’
Yohann Okyemba Ngassaki, ‘Cheat’
Gregory Santo Arena, ‘Hallo my little militant’
Gregory Santo Arena ‘I cry in bed at night’


Edward Little, ‘Mount Haku’
Rosie Saxon, ‘The Lady on the Roof’
Rosie Saxon, ‘The Noise in the Night’


Daniel de Culla, Collage
Matthew Kay, ‘Beyond this Place’
Matthew Kay, ‘On Thursday’
Peter Campbell Saunders, ‘Café’
Peter Campbell Saunders, ‘In the Snug’
Ruhi Cialis, ‘Danger’

April Writing Challenge II

To continue our April writing challenge series here are our 3 best poems from the last week:

II – Reece David Merrifield

Even if it was about the wrong sort of mince meat
or that was too strong what
will he make of this
or simply ‘he’s your kid not mine’
or he would bypass and
open the bedroom door to make
snide, false, bitter and brittle
insults and insights
the temporary sacrifice
of my tears doesn’t compare
to the permanence of hers

8th April – Holly Royle

Tea cups and saucers on trays of silver,
Ink pots and feather quills and “don’t waste any paper!”
Hand sewn carpets and curtains of satin,
Oh, how we have changed.
Novels and stories and poems galore,
Writing by candle light in dark panelled rooms,
Increasing the fire creating a stifling gloom,
Oh, how we have changed
Working and spending, working and spending,
Business proposals, deadlines and disputes,
Disagreements, fall outs, friendships lost,
One hundred and fifty years, we haven’t changed at all.

Evening Mass – Joshua Cialis

a crowd assembles –
the winter browns
and is ours to keep


Submissions for 002 have now closed. We are enjoying reading through your poetry and prose and looking at your art.

We are currently putting the magazine together, we have a cover artist, most of our poems have been chosen, and we’re getting excited!

If you’re as excited as us, pre-order a copy by emailing us…

Due to an increase in printing costs this issue will be on offer as a print magazine for £2 (plus non-UK postage). This price is to keep the magazine accessible to everyone.

To pre-order a copy email: foxtrotuniformpoetry@gmail.com

April Poetry Challenge/End of Submissions

Introduction by Joshua Cialis; Poems by Joshua Cialis, Holly Royle and Reece David Merrifield; Picture by Reece David Merrifield

April is Poetry Month and there is a challenge to write a poem each day of this month. Our editors will be taking this challenge and publishing some of their endeavours each Monday in April. If you enjoy our poems – or think you could do better – try the April writing challenge and fill a notebook with beautiful barbaric yawps of excited poems…

Broken Hearts (2nd April) – Joshua Cialis

She served him cake on an ornate plate
where the pattern mingled with the flowers on the windowsill –
like William Morris designed the room –

but the slice was battered
pushed delicately off the knife
from a height so the icing clouded a painted sun

but on top of that cake a polished glacé
cherry balanced daintily, finishing
the petals of a rose.

Dream World (1st April) – Holly Royle

I remained too much inside my head and ended up losing my mind – Edgar Allan Poe

You are our own worst enemy,
I am my own worst enemy,
Creating all this misery,
Creating falsehoods inside my head.

I am my own tormentor,
Confining myself to a dream world
Full of nightmares,
It will destroy me in time.

Come in! Take a seat!
Watch my despair unfold on the silver screen,
The horror film of my dreams
Is about to begin.

Wake up. There is hope yet still,
Look around you – really look.
Come back to reality, there are real monsters here,
No need to devise your own.

She looked hard into the eyes of her reflection:
“Who needs demons when I have myself?”

I (1st April) – Reece David Merrifield

Scratching plea,
a vulture’s morning meow
for the harder stuff

A reminder that we have officially ended accepting submissions for the next issue of our magazine. Our cover print is ready, we are going through what has been sent to us, and we are excited to see the final product coming very soon!