From Criticism

Figuring It Out – Sean Preston

I hate flying. I’m not alone in that of course. But the fear of flying is new to me. It happened a few years ago in my late twenties. Very nothingy flight to a nothingy European airport, but I was flying on my own, and somehow, the routine soft vibrations of take off unsettled something inside of me. The woman next to me, also flying alone, asked if she could read my palm, and keen to distract myself from the stubbornly vague and new sense of terror I obliged. I thought she was mad, or perhaps some sort of answer to teenage me’s prayers, but when the jaundice of the seatbelt light overhead signalled, accompanied by the polite ding to bring our attention to it, I noticed her shoulders contract and when she squeezed my hand it became clear that all she had been seeking was distraction.

On Writing ‘Tonnage’ – Giselle Leeb

I had to look back at my first draft to remember which came first: the dream sequences about sharks or the woman narrator’s story. It was the sharks. Like so many of my stories, I often write something and then suddenly it will connect with something else which provides the spark to create a story.…

Confession – Alice Kinsella

Alice Kinsella discusses ‘Chase’ and ‘What has night to do with sleep?’, two poems featured in Issue Eight of The Lonely Crowd. There are some poems you want to write. Poems you sit down determined to write. You fiddle around with them until they finally settle, in all their gorgeous perfection, on your page. But there…

On writing ‘Wasps’ – Jane Fraser

‘Wasps’ is one story of twenty-three that form a collection of short fiction entitled The South Westerlies recently submitted for my PhD. The collection is experimental writing functioning as research in an attempt to know place. The place is my home patch of Gower: latitude 51 degrees north, 4 degrees west, an administrative part of…

How I Wrote ‘So Few Words For Rain’ – Angela Readman

There are lots of quotes that come to mind about story writing that feel right to me, about not knowing really what something is until you write to find out. I’m with Flannery O’Connor on this, like most writers I know. I never know the ending of a story when I sit down, I know…

Meeting The Blue Hare – Jackie Gorman

Jackie Gorman discusses her poem ‘The Blue Hare’ taken from Issue Eight. You can listen to Jackie read the poem here. For as long as I can remember I have loved hares and probably one of my earliest memories as a child is that of seeing a hare in the fields of Ballyglass, near where…

On writing ‘4am’ & ‘Sleet’ – Marc Hamer

As I sit here writing at my kitchen table, a ladybird is crawling on my leg. I accidentally bring a lot of wildlife home from my work, beetles and spiders, the occasional grasshopper under my collar, ants in the creases of my work trousers or fallen into my boots. The ladybird on my knee is…

On writing ‘Whale Season’ – KM Elkes

The story of this short story? Much like the story of every short story I write – random memories coagulating, some weird shit glimpsed in my peripheral vision, a character or two burping from the murk like hot gas. Stirred and heated and stirred again until, eventually, the voice comes – the thing that makes…

Philip Gross – thinking about about-ness

Philip Gross is a poet, librettist and writer for children. He won the T.S. Eliot Prize 2009 with The Water Table, and Wales Book of The Year 2010 with I Spy Pinhole Eye. Deep Field dealt with his Estonian refugee father’s final years and loss of language, an exploration into our place in the world broadened steadily through later collections, most recently A Bright Acoustic (2017). Recently liberated from 25 years of academic life, he is an insatiable collaborator across art forms, e.g. with artist Valerie Coffin Price on A Fold in the River, and with composer Benjamin Frank Vaughan on The King in the Car Park, a cantata about the re-discovery of Richard III, performed in Leicester Cathedral.

Timothy Richardson’s Return: On Writing ‘The Least of These’ – Jenn Ashworth

In Shirley Jackson’s work there is a single recurring character – often a very minor one. He appears under a number of different names: James or Jimmy or sometimes Jim Harris, and sometimes only as a mysterious unnamed man in a blue suit. Mr Harris is sometimes a writer. At other times he’s an academic, a researcher or a bookshop owner. The mysterious visitor is intimately connected with the written word, with books and the production of text. This charismatic and often dangerous stranger has been suggested by some critics to be evidence of Jackson’s intricate, career-long engagement with an old Scottish Ballad in which a women’s dead lover returns to lure her away from her husband. The lover, as most versions of this ballad emphasise, is the devil himself.