“It’s alive!” Proudly presenting charity student anthology ‘Myths, Monsters and Mayhem’

Cover design by Faizan Ahmed

Congratulations to all of the Creative Writing undergraduate students involved in this Summer’s anthology project.

Myths, Monsters & Mayhem is a collection of 22 flash fiction stories in the horror, science fiction, and fantasy genres.

The book is out now in Kindle e-book and paperback, and all proceeds will be donated to NHS Charities Together.

Please share the book link far and wide! http://mybook.to/MMandM

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It’s aliiive!

A book launch event with live readings by the student authors will follow this autumn (subject to Government health restrictions). Watch this blog for updates!

The Brunel Writer Prize 2021

Every year, The Brunel Writer Prize is awarded to the student with the highest graded article submission for the Creative Industries module on Brunel University’s Creative Writing Programme. This year’s winner is Gatlin Perrin whose article offers some insightful tips on navigating uni. Congratulations Gatlin!

From Freshers to Final Year: How to Do University

by Gatlin Perrin

Getting through university is difficult, and anyone who says otherwise is lying. Wherever you’re at with your uni journey, here are fourteen no-nonsense tips and tricks for getting from Freshers to final year with the majority of your limbs intact.

Good luck.

1. There is a room on the second floor of the library filled with study cubicles. This is the perfect place on campus to cry. Don’t ask me how I know this.

2. On the third floor of the library is the mental wellbeing centre, where you can ask for counselling. They also give out free stress balls, which can be used as projectiles if you prefer a more violent approach to problem solving.

3. Some people will tell you that you’ll make friends for life during Freshers Week, and those people deserve to be punched in the face for causing unnecessary stress. That group over there who are all laughing and hugging aren’t “friends for life”, they’re drunk. You will find friends when you find them.

4. If you live in halls, remember – everyone has their own idea of what “sharing” is. The statement “help yourself to anything in my fridge” is a grenade that’s just had the pin removed. Padlock everything. P.S., everyone also has their own idea of what “clean” is, so get ready to discover at least seventeen different species of mould on a dinner plate.

5. Mind your own business. If I’m not judging you for only having attended one lecture the entire year, you don’t judge me for literally crying with relief when a lecturer tells me my assignment wasn’t awful. This is a no judgement zone.

6. When in second year, do not compare yourself to the first years. They’ll always seem more talented, more composed and somehow better looking than your year. Try not to take it personally.

7. When in third year, do not compare yourself to the previous third years. They also had no idea what they were doing, they just hid it better.

8. Buy a dictionary. This is because whatever year you happen to be in, none of the words on the assignment brief will ever start to make sense.

9. Kidneys go for an average of around £5000 on the black market. You can survive with just the one but you’ll need at least six if you keep doing your weekly shop at Sainsbury’s. Lidl is your friend.

10. Third years, buy an umbrella. This is because as soon as you enter your final year you will notice the vast storm cloud of “life after graduation” approaching in the distance. It’s coming faster than you think.

11. In that vein, if anyone asks you what your career plans are for after graduation you are required by law to push them down the stairs. Refer back to tip five.

12. Having mental health issues at university is like contracting an STI: more people have them than you think, you shouldn’t be ashamed but you still need to do something about them before they get worse. Refer back to tip two.

13. Get hopeful. This is because you have to – what’s the alternative? You’re not the only one who didn’t get that internship or won’t get the first they wanted, and this does not mean that you’ve failed at life. Focus on you.

14. Keep focusing on you. The most important part of university is to get out of it alive. Drink water. Get some sleep. Talk to someone when you need help. You’ve got this.

Gatlin Perrin is a North Walian writer who pens books for children and scripts that are not for children. Their play Bear Hands was featured digitally at the Edinburgh Fringe, and their children’s novel His Royal Hopeless is out September 2nd 2021 under the pen name Chloë Perrin. Gatlin likes to think they can do it all, which is probably why they’re in therapy.

Appreciation Day Communal Poem

When Brunel Volunteers mentioned they were hosting an Appreciation Day on 11th May, the poetic form called the cento came to mind. This form was created as a way of celebrating the work of another poet that you appreciate by taking one-hundred individual lines from a variety of their poems and collaging them into a new poem – a bit like making a quilt.

We thought it would be great to invite people to write and send in short poems of appreciation, thankfulness and gratitude, from which we could compile a little communal celebratory cento – a  mutual ode of appreciation.

We received poems from Brunel students, staff, alumni, locals and from further afield including the USA and India. Looking through the poems, we were struck by the common themes that emerged, although perhaps these are not surprising given the year we’ve had. There were odes to nature, lots about bodies and touch, about longing and loneliness, about all the little things that have made all this bearable – a friendly text, a kind gesture, as well as portraits of family and friends, children playing, robins singing.

We then chose poignant, resonant, and striking lines or phrases from each of the entries and stitched them together into loosely themed stanzas to make the communal appreciation poem, which you can read below – enjoy!

Survival: A Cento

1.

For months we have gestated here,

our home a roomy womb, a cushioned nest.

An old cardigan pulled tight becomes a life vest.

Wrapped in warmth, a morning text,

a supportive word, chases pessimism away.

2.

Relax into a still, quiet focus – magic

or maybe scientific hypnosis:

the drip drip drip and hazelnutty hit

of freshly brewed coffee, the soft frivolity

of a brightly-coloured velvet scrunchie.

3.

The girls dance and shriek, trailing rainbow-coloured kites

through the yard. They are five. They exist

in this moment to laugh with one another.

At story time, five kisses. Brace yourself,

tiny creatures and grow a little more.

4.

I love you like our Hammersmith sky.

I much appreciate your sassy style,

eyes lit with remnants of cucumber peel.

I’m grateful you know me.

The postcard I send to you is empty.

5.

And we meet in the awakening garden,

both more crumpled than last year,

both more relieved to be here.

The whispers of the trees,

clear skies that never end…

6.

A red-breasted robin rests chest aflame.

Desolation snapped, vitality restored.

Notice this hug with shaky arms

around your oxbow curves –

you’re here, with me, for now.

Finally a big thank-you to everyone who sent in their poems to be a part of this project – we’ll be featuring commended entries on this blog and on social media via @BrunelWriter and @poetrycoterie soon, so keep your eyes peeled and do like and repost so we can share some appreciation, gratitude and thankfulness.

Contributors:

Anneka Hess | Emily Horton | Emma Filtness | Emma Mitchell | Fathima M | Hafsa | Kathryn Gynn | Keith Sterrow | Linda Hodgkinson | Marie-Teresa Hanna | Peter Eldrid | Ruth Sharma | Samantha Ley | Tania Bavarz | Wendy Allen | Wendy Rashed

Call for Poems on Appreciation

for Community Appreciation Day

DEADLINE: 16 APRIL 2021

Calling all Brunel students, staff and members of the local community – we want you to get creative & send us a short poem (maximum 10 lines) fitting the theme of appreciation, gratitude & thankfulness.

Brunel Writer, in collaboration with Brunel Volunteers, is celebrating Community Appreciation Day on 11th May 2021 by making a collaborative poem. 

Send your entries to brunelwriter@gmail.com by Friday 16th April with ‘Appreciation Day Submission’ in the subject line. Ideally poems will be attached to the email in either .doc format or as a PDF.

Shortlisted poems will feature on the Brunel Writer blog & social media, & may be shared as part of wider Appreciation Day communications. Please include a short third person bio & your social media handles so we can tag you, if you have them (anonymous entries are fine, too, just let us know).

Excerpts from a number of entries will be woven into a longer, collaborative community poem – think of it like a patchwork quilt made up of different colours & textures & lovingly pieced & stitched, patched & mended by many hands.

We’re also hoping to create some audio & video content of the final collaborative poem, so drop us an email if you’re keen to read/perform. We might also make a zine (a mini-book of the poem).

Here’s some inspiration to get you going:

Appreciation The act of recognising or understanding that something is valuable or important. Who are what is important to you? Why? Tell them.

Gratitude The feeling or quality of being grateful. You could try describe it.

Thankfulness The feeling of being happy or grateful because of something.

You could write a list poem of things you appreciate, value or are grateful for, or of things that you are thankful for, from the tiny and seemingly frivolous to the significant and poignant…

You could write an ode to a person, organisation or place that you appreciate…

You could capture a moment of kindness in a haiku…

Kypsel, a new way to share art

Interview with Brunel student and founder of Kypsel, Luca Mouzannar

Brunel Writer – Tell us about Kypsel. What is it and how does it work?

Luca Mouzannar – Kypsel is a platform that directly connects writers with their fans and enables them to take part in the artist’s growth. On Kypsel, writers can freely publish and sell their work with the advantage of keeping full control over their work. We allow artists to publish their work with a few clicks without interfering in the artistic and creative integrity of the product. Once a book, web comic, music track or short story is published any buyer can resell the work to their friends on their own social networks. In return, the fans get a referral commission for every converted sale.

BW – How did you come up with the idea for creating this platform? Did it come from your own experience of trying to publish/sell creative work or did you simply see a gap in the market?

LM – A little bit both actually. One of the co-founders tried to publish work through traditional publishers and faced several issues – mainly low royalties, no flexibility in claiming these and a lot of changes to the creative product. At the same time, being surrounded by artists who do good work, I could clearly see a gap in the market, especially in the era of social media where it is so simple to publish a post but very hard to publish and sell creative work. When we think that Harry Potter was rejected by many publishers before finally seeing the light, it puts a lot into perspective!

BW – Has your experience of studying creative writing at Brunel played a part in the building of Kypsel as you continuously interact with young creatives?

LM – Of course! I have met so many talented people who have so much to express and I can see how difficult it is to get our work out there. Fans should be able to decide what is good work without any buffer. I’ve seen so many artists and creative talents fall into jobs they hate because they aren’t able to monetise their craft. Before we know it, a side job becomes a main job and writing becomes a hobby instead of a craft we can live off.

BW – Why should creatives choose to publish with Kypsel? How does it benefit them over other more known online platforms such as Amazon, Google Play, Spotify, etc.?

LM – The first big advantage is that Kypsel is free to use and offers higher royalties than any other platform. Remuneration is a lot fairer and the creative product itself remains untouched. Kypsel is more of a self-publishing tool than a publisher. It is extremely easy to start and work can be published with a few clicks. It is also a non-exclusive platform which allows creatives to use all the means at their best disposal to get their work out there and see for themselves what works best.

LM – We also believe the referral engine is unique to Kypsel and will incentivise fans to buy, refer and sell the work instead of downloading it for free. It is a great way to fight piracy and we believe it will amplify the authors’ success and give them access to audiences they might not have reached when using other platforms. We like to refer to this video to illustrate a lot of the issues with the bigger platforms.

BW – Do you see self-publishing as the future of publishing art or are renowned publishing companies and music corporations still the way to go?

LM – We sincerely believe self-publishing is the future of publishing because renowned publishers and music corporations take most of the profits and leave very little for the artists who put in the work. Fans are also the ones who promote the art they enjoy, so the role of those companies is becoming more and more obsolete, especially in the era of algorithms and social media. Another issue is speed. People, especially the younger generation, enjoy content more than the form it comes in and want it faster than ever. We also tend to trust people more than big entities so Kypsel exists to cut the middleman who slows down the process and doesn’t split profits fairly.

BW – Finally, where is Kypsel headed? What can we expect from this platform in the future?

LM – We are hoping it will grow exponentially and allow young artists to express themselves so we can keep reading the stories we love and listening to music we enjoy. We want to connect artists with their fans and expand our offer to include any virtual goods such as short movies and apps. Our vision is simply to free content from the boxes that it is usually put into because of industry standards that don’t match the current realities of web and social media and we believe this can go very far.

BW – Thank you Luca!

You can visit Kypsel here and start sharing your work today!

The Brunel Writer Prize 2020

Every year, The Brunel Writer Prize is awarded to the student whose article submission for the Creative Industries module on Brunel University’s Creative Writing Programme is the highest graded. This year’s winner is Perri Wickham. Perri’s article shows how she used the various skills acquired through the Creative Writing course in an exciting industry environment.


HOW MY SHORT FILM ‘LONDON MADE ME’ FEATURED ALONGSIDE RAPMAN’S ‘BLUE STORY’ SCREENING

by Perri Wickham

During an unproductive day of tapping through Instagram stories, I came across the LDN Filmmakers application.  The week-long course was organised by the Mayor of London and Digital Cinema Media to help applicants write, direct, and produce a short film.  I immediately swiped up, excited to put my screenwriting skills to use outside of my Creative Writing degree, to finally get behind the cameras, and to connect with aspiring filmmakers.

The application process was straightforward.  I had to write down my personal information and in 250 words, explain why I wanted to participate.  I felt this was a fantastic opportunity for me to get equipped with new skills as I had never made a film before, and to put my vivid imagination into action.  A week later, I received a notification to say that I was successful.

Industry members from Chocolate Films Production led the training at Genesis Cinema.  During the introductory session, they gave us a brief to base our plot on London.  They told us that each of our films would feature alongside the screening of Rapman’s new movie ‘Blue Story’ at Genesis, which turned the pressure up a notch.  ‘Blue Story’ is an adaptation of Rapman’s 2014 YouTube series of the same name that explores gang rivalries in London. 

I teamed up with six participants, and we were allocated a mentor for support.  We brainstormed ideas about what London meant to us, and how we could capture our message cinematically through the plot as well as visuals.

Initially, there was a miscommunication on our first idea, as everyone had slightly different visions, which was confusing.  Thanks to our mentor, we managed to narrow it down enough to pitch to the other groups and their mentors.  Receiving feedback was essential as it helped us to clarify our concept and make it appropriate for younger viewers, as our film was going to be screened in schools. 

My group and I decided to tell the story of a protagonist, who on her way home, reflects on London’s vibrant culture and how it shaped her into a successful adult, using flashbacks of her past.  It only made sense to add an inspirational spoken word poem to talk the audience through her journey.  Since I am a poet, I volunteered to write and perform the voice over.

After receiving training on how to use film equipment, we solidified our storyboard, then set out to film in Stepney Greene.  The first day turned out to be experimental, and we decided to extend our filming location to Stratford as it had more landmarks that would benefit the visuals.  We spent the next two days knuckling-down, ensuring that we had enough footage to make a high-quality final draft. 

The final day of the course was crucial, as we had to complete a rough draft of our edits and create a shot list for Chocolate Films, who would polish it.  We had a guest visit from Amani Simpson, the creator of his autobiographical short film ‘Amani’, and one of the main actors, Ellis Witter.  It was inspiring to see a director who had no experience, establish connections, and gain enough funding to compose a successful short film with over one million views.

On the 24th November, I attended my first red carpet premiere in Hollywood.  Okay, it was at the Genesis Cinema.  Watching my first short film on the big screen was a powerful experience, as I was able to witness how a project, I made in under a week could transform into a dynamic yet professional piece. 

LDN Filmmakers taught me that if you strongly believe in your vision, it is possible to execute it with the right equipment, no matter the time constraints.  Now that I’ve gained confidence as a filmmaker, I am determined to make my mark in the film industry, and that starts now.

You can find Perri’s short film “London Made Me” on LDN Filmakers.

Perri Wickham is a flourishing Creative Writing Graduate looking to make her mark in the Entertainment Industry.  Hailing from Southeast London, where the trains run slower, Perri currently freelances as a blogger for Fledglink, a journalist/comms assistant for Brits + Pieces, and writes poems as well as scripts in her spare time.  If she goes MIA it means she’s working on a special project.  Her material is very audacious!

We Wrote a Book During a Pandemic

by Chloe Perrin

In May 2020, Britain went indoors and stayed there. Out of this sudden extreme burrowing came a flood of tweets and Insta posts documenting the myriad of activities the country was using to keep itself occupied while the world outside shut down.

Some people learned to knit. Others took up yoga.

We, the Horror, Sci Fi and Fantasy module class of 2020, wrote a book.

(Look! our book is the #1 hot new release on Amazon!)

Robots, Rogues and Revenants is an example of what happens when a group of writers are told to use their imaginations during possibly the most anxiety inducing period of their lives. And when you read the anthology of short stories for yourself, you’ll get to experience first-hand the kind of book a global catastrophe makes.

While it’s nice to have something soft and comforting during a time of such ridiculous uncertainty, some of us decided instead to really lean into the catharsis of creating something even scarier than the situation we were already in. I’m not exaggerating when I say this book contains a deliciously wide variety of nightmares, from the relentless pestering cries of the undead to the best canned meat you’ll find this side of London.

And I’m warning you now. There is gore. Lots and lots of gore.

You won’t be safe from it in the non-horror genres either – even our high fantasy authors decided to splatter a sizeable amount of blood on their pages, mixing magic with deaths so bloody they would make George R.R. Martin squirm.

But don’t worry about it too much. If gut squeezing, bone snapping horror isn’t quite what you’re into at the moment, we can respect that. When locked inside for months on end escapism is the name of the game, which is why entire pantheons of gods live in this book. Feeling terrified by the present day? Go back centuries to a time where deities and fairies mixed with mortals. Or maybe you’re simply missing the present we had only a few months ago, and just one more party will do – no problem. The amazingly cosplay-able rave witches of London have got your back.

And there’s the future, of course, where you’ll be provided with a service that allows you ownership of a late loved one’s memories – and in that vein I should really warn you that one or two stories will definitely have you wiping away a tear. Sadness is a catharsis too, and who doesn’t need a good cry while the outside world upends itself?

There is something wonderfully unique about Robots, Rogues and Revenants, not just in what it is but when. This book is a time capsule of a group’s imaginations during a global pandemic. Real life will always influence the stories we produce, making each story in this anthology probably the strangest insight into the strangest time a lot of us have ever or will ever live through.

Which is exactly why you should pick it up right now and read it.

(All proceeds to NHS combined charities)

Chloe Perrin is a North Walian writer living in West London. Her writing has been featured in previous anthologies such as Hillingdon Literary Festival’s We Are Here and Brunel University’s Letters to my Younger Self, and her one act play The Ghost We Live With was produced by Studio Brunel in 2019. She hopes to continue creating funny, strange, and oddly depressing pieces until someone finally stops her.

Screen Love

by Benjamin Parameswaran 

Picture 1

Lines across space will find,
New means to spend some time,
If only for some peace of mind,
It uncorks a realm not quite sublime.

Heads of this hydra may bite one another,
Trying to express to others,
That they themselves are lovers.

Growing fonder, watch out for it
A pedestal, on which they now stand,
A looking-glass for the wistful hearted,
Always shatter-proof upon reflection.

These trees grown together need firm earth,
For wires without roots prevent disclosure,
There is no rain or sun inside this house,
Life travelling on with an electric hum.

Hold on, effort is without limits,
This garden is vast and you were born in it.

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When I was a small boy, my mother used to set me writing tasks. Sometimes I wrote about my day, other times I came up with fantasies taken from whatever I could find. She wanted me to read, read, read. But being half-stubborn mule, more concerned with games, I failed at this task. Now at the age of 25, I read at the pace of a snail and have found a love in writing that I once denied myself.

Living in the Age of Coronavirus

by Marie-Teresa Hanna

As I write this from my bedroom, the sun is shining through the window, the birds are singing and I can hear a neighbour exercising to Andra Day’s song, ‘Rise Up’. My next-door neighbours are entertaining their toddler, and she is giggling at their duck noises while the neighbour across is washing dishes in her kitchen. Separated by windows, walls, and doors, we are all aware of each other and although our lives are different, we are collectively trying to get through this pandemic, each with our individual stories, worries and emotions.

As for many of us, this is the first time I have witnessed global fear and collective grief, not only for the uncertainty of the future, but most importantly, for the lives lost within the NHS, communities, family members and friends. With close friends working in pharmacies and Intensive Care Units, a vulnerable and high-risk parent, and elderly family members, I find myself taking precautions that seemed unimaginable before. In between essential bi-weekly hospital visits and once a week shopping trips, I am haunted by the fear in people’s eyes, floored by older members of the community who are unable to get groceries delivered, and the rising mortality rates where human lives are turned into numbers on the news. In contrast, staying safe at home and smelling of pure alcohol and disinfectant wipes is a small compromise.

Although I limit watching the news and social media, the impact of the Coronavirus is constantly on my mind and I have to remind myself that productivity is not the be-all and end-all. Some days I get on with university work, attend Zoom meditation and yoga classes, read, write a few lines of poetry or exercise. Most of the time, I watch Netflix, funny animal videos on YouTube, or end up daydreaming, aware that my mind is processing this current climate and forcing anything would be counterproductive. As I connect remotely with friends and call members of my book club, I hear stories of struggle, change and resilience. Talking to these members brings intergenerational connectedness centred around individuals who tell me their narratives of surviving wars, migration and several losses. Or my father, who recalls stories of waiting in six-hour queues for essentials such as bread and petrol, while growing up in Sudan. In these moments I am reminded that we are hardwired for survival.

In the future, this will be our story to tell. For now, all we can do is connect with each other, give ourselves time to feel, grieve, and remember, because like the sun that sets, we too will rise.

dav

Marie-Teresa Hanna is a British Egyptian-Sudanese writer, interested in BAME, Middle Eastern and North African women’s fiction. She is currently completing an MA in Creative Writing at Brunel University London. In her spare time, she runs a monthly hospice book club and always enjoys listening to podcasts, and long river walks while contemplating life. If you would like to follow her thoughts and ramblings, find her on Twitter @MarieTeresaHan3.

 

Brunel Creative Writing MA Students Write, Record and Mix an Album in a Week

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By Alex and Simone Ayling-Moores

The coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone. Whether it’s our collective isolation and restrictions leaving home comforts, or those fears and concerns for both loved ones, and those we’ll never meet: it is a uniquely uncertain time for almost all of us around the globe.

As both musicians and music teachers (and aspiring writers too!) we had the prospect of losing  a big chunk of our income so, instead of twiddling our thumbs, we decided to try and make something positive from all of this.

Thus the challenge to write, record and mix an album, all in one week, was something we set ourselves… and WE DID IT! Pushing through early mornings and very late evenings, the compositions were crafted and recorded with passion (and a lot of persistence!).

It wasn’t easy. But that’s not to say that it wasn’t fun too!

The album, entitled ‘Escapism’, was started on Monday (March 23rd) and was released Sunday (March 29th). It’s an eclectic album, which presents listeners with a smorgasbord of musicality. From dark harmonies, and electronic distortions, to offbeat lyrics and exotic rhythms, the album blends styles and genres to surprise, entertain and delight.

Like its title suggests, we want it to be a space you can escape into for forty minutes or so, and catch a little novelty and intrigue in moments of dismay and doubt.

‘Escapism’ is available for download through the link below for merely a fiver.

Any download or share really is massively appreciated – if we can make up even an hour’s worth of lost earning from this, it will all have been worth it!

https://alexandsim.bandcamp.com

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