Publishing opportunity

This is just a reminder that if you would like to be considered for publication in the next issue of Foxtrot Uniform, you need to send us an email with some work. We are accepting poetry, prose and art.

We are looking for new and exciting ideas, forms and images for publication in our upcoming print magazine. We want to see your work!!

If you’d like your creativity published send it to us in the next 3 weeks. The email address is foxtrotuniformpoetry@gmail.com

A Reflection on Hannah Gadsby’s ‘Nanette’

I stumbled across this stand-up comedy show scrolling through the digital wilderness at that point in the evening where anything will suffice to get you through to an acceptable bedtime hour. Hannah Gadsby is an Australian comedian who has been on the circuit for around 10 years or so, but in this show she explains that the circuit has only taken her around on a vicious cycle, and explains it is not enough for her to be just ‘funny’ anymore.

She starts off, however, in normal fashion (although she would pertain her fashion is ‘not so normal’). Very dry, thorough and to the point with her humour: she does her job in almost scientific terms, dissecting her jokes and timing their ‘two-points’ of tension and relief with the utmost precision (and she knows this as well). One joke in particular underpins the show as its fundamental core: the message that, as the show reaches its powerful and penetrating climax, made comedy take a step back and really assess what its purpose in the world should be.

Two women are at a bust-stop: herself and another, just chatting away (‘maybe having a little flirt, who knows?), before a man, who we very soon find out to be the other’s girlfriend, shouts out ‘oy you faggot!’. The man in question then clocks that she is not a man but, indeed, a woman, and retracts his statement to say that ‘I thought you were a man hitting on my girl, and in any case I don’t hit women’. Cue the ironic ‘what a guy’ from Hannah, the classic build-up of tension and swift removal to make everyone room at ease, the reason why most came to stand-up in the first place. However, as she goes on to explain, this ‘joke’ has been on too long a hiatus, and needed to be developed into a more conventional ‘beginning-middle-end’ story, delivering a fatal blow to the punchline.

The man realised that actually, she was a ‘faggot’, and proceeded to beat her to within an inch of her life, leaving her on the street in tatters. Yet she would not go to the hospital, or call the police, or ask for help, because as a marginalised individual in this world she has felt as if help did not belong to her, that she did not deserve it. This ending is not funny, it is not joke, but for ten years she had made it so, because it is what the business requires: humour, not honesty. And kudos to her for shattering the illusion, as we reach this point in time where even the rosiest of entertainments cannot hide from the cruelty of our society, where you see comedians like her all over using self-deprecation as a means to something better, but not the end.

Finally, I want to reflect upon her discussion of Picasso, the patriarchal strings that have pulled him up tight and paraded him around as a hero, and how it made me a feel. She was very visceral in her criticism of white, heterosexual males (of which I’m part of) and I must admit, it did stick in quite deep. She highlighted his philandering, abusive conquests, including that of an underage girl, and the deep misogyny rooted in him she labelled as a mental illness (and so it should be). But she highlighted (unintentionally to me of course but to the ‘group’ I belong to) the prejudice that is also deeply rooted even in my psyche. She mentioned Woody Allen in a list of truly evil men who are still celebrated for their work and the argument that you should ‘split the artist from his work’. Now Woody Allen’s comedy to me has always been truly tremendous, both his prose and his films. And (now I know, naively s) I have defended that ‘one and the other’ argument precisely because of that. But her message, that we live in a rigged system of men in my mould who are only now receiving dents of criticism, put me to shame, and rightly so. I still have a lot to learn, and performances like hers will soon open up those dents so that we can configure society in a completely new way.

You Can Grow Alone Too, Y’know?

We’re in a world where everybody’s connecting with everybody, and this has untold benefits for the future don’t get me wrong. But, if we’re just talking, we’re not (for the most part) listening, watching, reading, observing etc etc..

When we talk we grow: our language can expand, unexpected moments occur, being social is almost as important as the next meal. Yet, it doesn’t hurt to switch off once in a while. Grab a book, watch a movie, scribble, doodle, paint, turn on the radio, find new running paths, listen to a podcast at the same time, cook a new meal, it’s a list in abundance. Getting acquainted with culture in our own time not only develops us but when we get back to talking to our friends, family, strangers in a bar, they develop too, and will probably teach you a thing or two at the same time.

Nowadays it seems increasingly insulting to be introverted, to want have time to yourself. We’re all expected to connect, to know this guy or that girl, to have an x + 1 amount of followers, it’s a never ending quest to pull all the strings together. But sometimes it is necessary to be ‘selfish’ for yourself, not to care what others are doing, and get on with whatever it is that makes you tick.

 

A reminder once again that out magazine is on sale now, we’ve just made a second batch ready to be shipped out to yours truly. Who knows, maybe buying our magazine is the perfect opportunity to grab some alone time!

           

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 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!

Is Literary Creativity Restricted by Language?

Words by Holly Royle

The English language is continually expanding as new words are frequently introduced. The Oxford English Dictionary publishes four updates every year as new words are added to the dictionary. The latest update was January 2018 in which over 1100 words, senses, and subentries were introduced including hazzled and electric catfish. This ongoing evolution of language means that surely we will never run out of words for self-expression, be it in the form of prose or poetry. Concepts of love and hate, for example, can be expressed in many different words but with so many writers exploring these concepts is repetition inevitable? Language can be limiting no matter how many new words are added or developed or change their meanings over time. It can be difficult for writers to find the right words to express their ideas. Is creativity limited by language?

This possibility of the executions of creativity being finite is applicable to other art forms. With a finite number of notes the world of music, it is not unlikely that we will one day run out of anything new. The seven notes of music; A, B, C, D, E, F and G, do have variations. This and the combination of instruments, rhythm patterns and music technology are enabling musicians to develop new sounds. There are however, already many songs in existence that use the same chord progressions due to the finiteness of music notes. If you’re interested in finding out more, this video by Axis of Awesome displays this excellently: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pidokakU4I

Returning to the world of literature, the limitations of language are unlikely to be overcome completely. Different languages have different words for different concepts, for example the German word schadenfreude is defined as the pleasure derived by someone from another’s misfortune. To express this feeling in English would be a far more clunky collection of words. However, this being said, English is a very diverse language with words deriving from Germanic and Romanic languages and has a larger vocabulary than many other languages.

So, how does this affect one’s writing? When composing poetry or prose or any other type of work of writing, my advice would be to keep a thesaurus nearby. This will help to an extent in finding the best fitting words that express meaning, even if the definition of a word does not exactly portray your intending meaning.

Do you agree with this? Are creative mediums limiting the expression of creativity? Let us know what your opinions are on the subject in the comments.

P.S. Have a happy Easter weekend!

 

Information sourced from:

https://public.oed.com/the-oed-today/recent-updates-to-the-oed/

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/schadenfreude?s=t

What Gets in My Way (Or Does it Really?)

Words and Picture by Reece David Merrifield

I don’t think there’s ever been a moment for any of us where we can really say ‘I have nothing I don’t want to do today’, and if you do say that, I promise it will come sooner than you think. It can be the smallest of things: like washing the dish you’ve just eaten from or doing the weekly shop; or it might be unfortunately necessary, like a University course that you (I) particularly never wanted or thought of doing before, or attending interview after interview to find the job you really want (or, in the end, ‘a’ job that you’ll need in the end)

Now, some choose to put these things off in the vain hope of doing what they want all the time (most of the time, guilty as charged), or they pursue these chores with the knowledge that, the quicker they’re done, the more time they have to enjoy the things they want to do in the first place. However, as a writer, I’m aware that these things are usually a goldmine of information and experience, as doing things leads to the unknown of what could happen whilst these things are being done (especially those of a clumsy nature). It’s all well and good going by the philosophical motto ‘I think, therefore I am’, but you should also add ‘I do, therefore I live’.

Washing a dish leads to cleanliness and, combined with shopping, can become the plate later on in which you have cooked and tried something completely new. Interviews create social interactions and affiliations which can be tapped into if you come across well to others, even if you didn’t get the first job. And if you do get the job, then the money flows, you keep active and possibilities are more than endless. From my current personal perspective, a course in macro economics is not particularly what a call a walk in the park or time well spent right now. Yet, when completed, it can only look good in the long-run, and if not, I can still write about the boredom I have and am still experiencing in an amusing and positive fashion.

So, if you’re a writer, a painter, a photographer or in the sphere of creativity whatsoever, I advise you not to discount the things that get in our way. As I’ve come to realise, they actually end up enriching in your life in ways you never expected but will be rewarded with sooner or later.