How to get your own Issue #1 in print

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Our first print issue is here! Printed, delivered, unpacked and neatly-piled. The journal includes fourteen pieces of creative non-fiction, poetry and visual work, produced by researchers in London. And it desperately wants to be read by you. Continue reading

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An evening of poetry, prose and music

The research experience is often imagined to be impersonal and isolated: anxiety-ridden scholars reading alone at their desks. Last Sunday, the launch of the journal’s first print issue proved this to be far from the truth. Researchers, writers, and friends came together to share their own peculiar experiences and to enjoy the curious connections between our work. It was with this aim in mind that we created The Still Point Journal, and pushed for it to be published in print, as well as online.

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launch 5The event took place at the beautifully lit Gallery Café in Bethnal Green and featured live readings from our contributors and music from The Interiors. Over good wine and great music, people were put in dialogue with one another in an informal, relaxed setting. Hearing the stories and poetry read aloud introduced a new tone and rhythm to the words, helping to continue conversations and start new ones, as well as put faces to pages. It was a showcase of everything we had hoped to achieve.

launch 3The evening was also a celebration for us personally: a culmination of twelve month’s worth of planning. We have thought about, written about, and talked about The Still Point Journal in various ways. There were initial emails asking if anyone was interested in setting up a new literary journal that would offer space to explore our research creatively. There were conversations in coffee shops, corridors, and wine bars, where we argued the pros and cons for keeping the word ‘The’ in the title. There were submission deadlines, all-day proofing sessions, and design meetings. There were ‘Still Point’ events: afternoon poetry readings and evening art exhibitions.

Now, finally, it’s officially launched as a print journal. It is, in fact, so official that it has it’s own ISSN number and a copy will be kept in the British Library.

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A brief round of thanks: to The Gallery Café for letting us take over; to The Interiors for providing the soundtrack to the evening; to sound engineer Natan for stepping in last minute; to the designers and contributors; and to all who came to celebrate with us.

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Photos by Christopher Webb, view them all on our Facebook page.

Write up by Briony Wickes, a second year PhD student in English Literature at King’s College London. Follow Briony @brionyjoy

A Literary Topography of the City of London

Trawling through a database from 1650 to 1800 whilst sitting in the clock tower on Chancery Lane trapped in starkly lit, windowless white box number ‘4’, or in the simultaneously overheated and overchilled department on Kingsway, I find myself constantly at the heart of my research. Monotonously documenting the publication history of the translations central to my study has instead turned into a mapping of the 1-mile radius surrounding my research vantage point. The ‘Bibliographic’ column instead becomes the topographic:

The Strand
Catherine Street
Chancery Lane
Middle Temple Gate
Fleet Street
Black-Fryars
Temple-Bar
Pater-noster Row
Little Britain
Gray’s Inn

Stretching from Nelson’s Column to St Paul’s, they are the London landmarks and checkpoints of my morning commute. My own personal guided tour of the eighteenth-century interaction with Lucretius. My university life is a constant retracing of my research’s physical history. A daily pilgrimage of sorts; I pay my dues to the producers of these texts through walks from library to library to study the product of their work.

John Strype 'A new plan of the city of London, Westminster and Southwark' 1720
John Strype ‘A new plan of the city of London, Westminster and Southwark’ 1720

As I print the copies of these texts from my department on Kingsway, they gain another printed life in the centre of the square mile of their original emergence. By adding my own 21st century marginalia the texts are born anew, becoming my own manuscripts as I hope they will ‘guide [my] searching mind to farther truth’.

In this search I use the poem as my guide:

Pursue coy Truth with an unerring sense
Into her close recess, and force her thence:
Go briskly on, and in such things as these
Ne’er doubt, I’le promise Thee deserv’d success

It is in this pursuit and promise of success that I walk the close recesses of London herself. I weave through the Rows, Inns, Gates and Bars as my eighteenth-century counterparts in my search for ‘coy Truth’, becoming a new addition to the ‘curious Youth’ Creech’s translation of Lucretius’ poem originally appealed to. Retracing the history of my text, I cover 150 years in an hour’s circuit.

Through my poetic walk, Lucretius promises that ‘We from one Thing known/ To hidden Truths successfully go on’. These landmarks are my current ‘one Thing known’ in the depths of my uncertain research, not just cells of data but physical connectors between me and the eighteenth-century readers I’m trying to understand.

Here my research has a sense of true belonging, from my vantage point on Kingsway the streets of this eighteenth-century city pull me along, retracing the journey of my texts to uncover the ‘hidden Truths’ waiting to be discovered.

To turn to John Banks in 1738, ‘This is London! how d’ye like it?’

James Morland is a first year PhD student in the English department at KCL, researching the changing interactions with Lucretius and Epicurean philosophy in eighteenth-century poetry. After spending a year in art school, James has spent the past few years studying English literature, though constantly tries to find ways to tie together the academic and visually creative sides of his thinking. Follow him @jameswmorland

WANTED: Poet

If you have time for deep scientific knowledge, and want to use your poetic skills to express that knowledge to people – this post is a request for your help. I am working on a short documentary about viruses, and I would like to consult you on the script.

Some documentaries exist for rather impersonal reasons: to make people feel worried about ‘flu, guilty about HIV, or impressed by people in white coats. I don’t want to do those things – I want to give people beautiful and powerful insights into the natural world.

We have images, experiments, histories and visualizations that are going into this documentary. But I am not a poet – I’m not skilled at using diction to send shivers down people’s spines, so I worry that my script will not have the impact I hope for. That’s where you come in.

I’m Hamish Todd, and I made this:

I work on simulations of biological things, and I care about profundity. I like maths a lot, for example, but only when it is profound. Continue reading

Notes from Literary Events I attended in First Term

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24.09.2014

Adrian Henri at the Liverpool Biennial

(On the train back to London).

If I had the energy to write, I’d write about Adrian Henri and the Mersey Sound.

I’d write about the sounds of Liverpool and how these sounds and the chiming of Liverpuddlian, can be lyrical, sensual and richly musical.

I’d write about how you can stand in the research centre discovering Adrian Henri for the first time and overhear two Scousers talking about their own adventures with the Liverpool Scene, and about a singular meeting with the round, black-bearded and be-spectacled Henri himself.

Yes, if I had the energy, that’s what I’d write about.

04.10.2014

Alice Oswald- Tithonus

A poetic jig.
A foot tapping.
A fly.
But shouldn’t they have driven us out to some field at dawn?

I will reflect a little more later, I promise.

15.10.2014

Ali Smith: Living Translation

It began with Ali Smith’s ‘Provocation:’ a rolling, breathy work of sound and voice and soft (irresistible) accent.

Smith speaks like a poem. She holds her breath until she reaches the end of her thought-rhythm, before introducing the next etymological haiku. What genius it takes to craft a polemic into a sound poem: a rapid fire, perfectly formed stream of provocation.

Smith says that “translators are more writer than the original writer” for this is “a double layered writing, a twin responsibility, an osmosis of the self.”

Smith says that we should be learning languages when we are so young that “language structures sink into us like butter into toast.”

Smith says “the translator sees what the writer did not write – it takes that level of close reading.”

Smith says “look and all languages display relation.”

That’s all for now, I will write more later.

29.10.2014

Caroline Bergvall- Drift

The tking of the voice, almost the sound of a typewriter or a haptic phone dialling, signals a visual layering of type – a streaming of new letters sounded into illumination.

Understanding is a process of fluctuation.

Letters shrink into illegibility but become small islands of type, shifting land-masses of notation suggesting a map; or are they the lights of the distant city which Bergvall speaks of, the hallucination on the horizon which promises respite yet is not as solid as a land-mass, but is a gathering of sound in words: as material (or immaterial) as the voice which resounds in space until it fades away.

I will write more, later.

10.11.2014

The Joy of Influence: Paul Mason and Anne Enright on Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow

This is all I wanted to note down from the event last night.

During questions at the end (this is more of a comment than a question), a Scottish man in the audience says: “I sped read the book again on the train down from Holyhead to London with some page notes I made in the 1970s. I finally think I know what the book’s about.”

Francesca Brooks is in the first year of her PhD at King’s College London, her research looks at multilingualism, translation, and aspects of orality in Old English manuscripts and the printed poetry of David Jones. Follow her @Frangipancesca

What We Talk About When We Talk About Death

Sarah Boulton Correspondence with JM

Correspondence between Sarah Boulton and James Morland

This text was written as part of The Still Point’s ‘Creative Exchange’ which paired artists, from the Slade, with PhD researchers, from UCL and King’s College London, for an exhibition of visual art work and live readings at FAT RELIC. More details can be found onthe blog and photographs from the evening are on our Facebook page

I am the supposed translator of conversations spanning centuries,
Witnessing poets combatting poets:

A first century exclamation responded to from an eighteenth-century graveyard:

[…] death to us, and deaths anxiety,
Is less than nothing, is a less could be.
For then our Atoms, which in order lay,
Are scatter’d from their heap, and puff’d away,
And never can return into their place,
When once the pause of Life has left an empty space. [Lucretius]

………………

If death were nothing, and nought after death,
If when men died, at once they ceas’d to be,
Returning to the barren womb of nothing,
Whence first they sprung!  Then might the debauchee
Untrembling mouth the Heavens; then might the drunkard
Reel over his full bowl, and when ‘tis drain’d
Fill up another to the brim, and laugh
At the poor bugbear Death [Blair]

I decode this ‘death-talk’:
This is a language game congregating around nothing,
Writing on the timeless and unresolvable.

In attempts to make something, I separate my clauses with the trusty colon:
Conning myself into thinking I have some sort of order:

DEATH-TALK: PHILOSOPHICAL DISCUSSIONS

THE DARKNESS OF THE GRAVE: NIGHT AND THE SENSES IN THE GRAVEYARD

SHUDDERING ON THE BRINK: THE EXTREMES OF NOTHING

But thinking of this nothing, it is me, not the poet, who shudders on the brink:

Procrastination is the thief of time;
Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
And to the mercies of a moment leaves
The vast concerns of an eternal scene. [Young]

The poets mock my academic practice,
Instead of leading to a solution, they taunt me, as together:

We sigh; and while
We sigh, we sink; and are what we deplored;
Lamenting, or Lamented all our Lot! [Young]

all the magnanimity of Thought
Resolves; and re-resolves; then dies the same [Young]

This is my death song:
To write of death is the thief of life,
Hours spent writing nothing about ‘nothing’.

My writing is about the poetry and emulates its futile ambitions;
The poets’ straining to see around the corner to their own death mimics my academic composition,
Our words are like the first century atoms that caused this whole project to arise:
An endless cycle of regeneration, a stream of chance encounters where some hit and many miss.

In writing on a nocturne darkness where men ‘see not all clear’ [Vaughan],
I instead quote the camera obscura, as a ‘darkened room’,
Referring to the stanza, as a ‘capacious dwelling, a receptacle’.
Returning to semantics to interpret a physical something from their poetic nothingness.

In thinking of death, then, we must relate it to something. It becomes images and myth:

The knell, the shroud, the mattock, and the grave;
The deep damp vault, the darkness, and the worm;
These are the bugbears of a winter’s eve,
The terrors of the living, not the dead.
Imagination’s fool, and error’s wretch,
Man makes a death, which nature never made;
Then on the point of his own fancy falls;
And feels a thousand deaths, in fearing one. [Young]

So in talking about death, I must document this cycle of centuries:
death has become something from a sublime sense of nothing through the fool and error of an imagination. It should instead be seen as nothing by the dissolution of something:

Therefore death is nothing to us, it matters not one jot, since the nature of the mind is understood to be mortal.  [Lucretius]

When I talk about death I resolve, and re-resolve about the vast concerns of something and nothing.

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‘Spiderboy’ videowork by Sarah Boulton installed at FAT RELIC, photo by Giulia Legora

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James reading his piece at the Creative Exchange, photo by Giulia Legora

James Morland is a first year PhD student in the English department at KCL, researching the changing interactions with Lucretius and Epicurean philosophy in eighteenth-century poetry. After spending a year in art school, James has spent the past few years studying English literature, though constantly tries to find ways to tie together the academic and visually creative sides of his thinking. Follow him @jameswmorland

Sarah Boulton is a student at the Slade. She is currently working with [including]: diamond doves, relationships, verbs, internal parts, live editing, light videos, friends and words (talking). http://saraboulton.tumblr.com/

Simone

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It began among female student intellectuals

seeking to appropriate the Other.

Only a body can touch another body.

She took great pleasure in urinating in the country.

Becoming prey,

the housewife knows little

of the discovery of treasure.

She locks up the parlour to save the Pope;

does it for a definite reason.

Where are the women?

It is not enough to have a

woman’s body,

exactly symmetrical,

the domains of thought

and art

and the suicide of Lucretia.

But in fact there is no question.

I read between the lines –

you see how it is. Become Kafka,

justify our existence.

The free woman is just being born,

Will be poet!

 –

Each night I said a little farewell

and put the cap on my fountain pen.

Thus she appeared in her childish distress.

This poem is made up of lines from the writings of Simone de Beauvoir.

Sophie Peacock is a poet and designer living and working in London, she is interested in gender, sexuality and collage. Follow her @saudadesophie