Caught by the River deckhand Diva Harris assesses the latest publications to have kept her commute boredom at bay
If the current weight of my tote bag is anything to go by, the output of independent publishing at the moment is pretty damn great. The first thing I’ve been happily lugging around is gorse, a lovely little journal which found its way to me all the way from Dublin. This, its eighth issue, was published a couple of months ago, and features longform narrative essays, as well as original fiction, poetry and interviews. Though strongly rooted in literary interest, this feels far more robust than your average literary journal, with its inclusion of experimental writing in both English and Irish (the latter, regretfully, I cannot read). The pieces which particularly stuck in my brain were Sinéad Gleeson‘s colour-and-texture-saturated essay Your Chroma, Melissa Lee-Houghton‘s vertically-printed Four Poems, and Orla Fitzpatrick’s interview with Dragana Jurisic, the Croatian photographer whose current work focuses on the life of an aunt rumoured to have fled rural Yugoslavia in the 1950s, in favour of a life of espionage, sexual intrigue and glamour in Paris. Pleasing to the mind, eye, and touch, gorse gets top marks all round. Buy a copy here.
Next up is The 42b: Dark Journeys in Cardiff, an illustrated short story collection with a pleasingly foil-pressed cover, and the first book to be published by We Are Cardiff Press. Although all written by different authors – among them, our very own Cardiffian correspondent Helia Phoenix – the stories are tied together by their protagonists, who share a Saturday morning bus journey through the city centre. Morbid, funny, rude in parts, and pocket-sized enough to take just about anywhere, these little titbits are the perfect length to read on the tube – or, indeed, the bus. That any profits from sales are put straight back into funding new books is all the more reason to buy a copy.
Last but not least, and the current crowning glory of my bedside table, is the most beautiful Ernest journal. A self-proclaimed ‘periodical of substance created for folk who love to build fires, embark on road trips, camp under a canopy of stars and run full pelt into the sea’, Issue 6 contains features on Victorian wood engravers, south coast ritual and folklore, and the artworks of naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian. Included too is a piece on the allure of bothies and other basic structures by none other than Dan Richards, of Beechwood Airship, Climbing Days, and indeed Caught by the River fame. Just like the rest of the journal, his piece comes accompanied by a set of splendid illustrations. It’s best enjoyed, I suspect, in the great outdoors, with a Thermos of tea. Get your copy here.