[Written by Rowan Bland]
[Image Credit: Sappho and Alcaeus, oil on panel by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1881]
[Written by Rowan Bland]
[Image Credit: Sappho and Alcaeus, oil on panel by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1881]
[Written and Illustrated by Scott Norval]
[Written by Rowan Bland]
[Image by Elena Roselli]
[Written by Asta Kinch]
[Image by Aike Jansen]
[Written by Meli Vasiloudes Bayada]
[Image Credit: Pixabay//ArtsyBee]
[Written by Sherlock Crockett]
[Image by Alice Hill-Woods, Creative Writing Editor (@alice35mm)]
I ask myself the same question until I can’t remember the answer.
I figure that I can reach my limit,
that I can choose to lose truth’s whisper
and lose myself in the process. I struggle
to make it so that maps will never matter.
I want to forget the street under my feet until I’m standing in a garden
[Written by Erifili Gounari]
[Image by Erifili Gounari]
Last week we ran some of our first workshops of the year including a wonderfully well-attended zine making workshop! To coincide with our Fresher Week mini-theme of ‘Tomorrow’ we collected pages together to create a zine on the theme and the result is absolutely fantastic!
This is just a taster of the kinds of workshops and events we’ll be running for the next year. Always with a goal to be inclusive, encourage collaboration and engage in creative pursuits, regardless of experience or ability!
[Written by Alice Hill-Woods – Creative Writing Editor]
The future has been analysed, fortified and deconstructed; met with elation, met with anxiety; always written about. Writing about tomorrow can be an act of rebellion, or a manifesto for the future, because it requires the intention for change. In this sense, it is a wonderful prompt for creative outlet, as it finds its place between dichotomies such as the known/the unknown, hope/fear and change/rigidity. It presents itself as an opportunity to reimagine and reconstruct our environment or ourselves on the premise that it is a fresh start.
[Written By: Andrew S George]
[Photographer: Silvia Sani]
Column: A vertical beam
How could support
Here I sit, broken hearted
With dreams of Greeks
Column: A vertical beam
Computers were built
To answer these questions
Now, paper and pen firm in hand,
I feel my brain buckle and turn to sand –
Verify general solution and constants;
It can’t just be me that thinks this is nonsense.
[Written By: Jennifer Constable]
[Photographer: Gabriela Saldanha Blackwood]
How accomplished are we, to possess the
means to loop a leash on Mother Nature herself.
No more “accidental leaking” and goodbye to
those days spent doubled over our duvets.
At last! We have outsmarted our own bodies,
no longer to be enslaved to the sullen waves of
hormonal tides and currents of cramps that toss us side to side
in a monthly cycle of aches and pains to be braved in silence.
We are now prescribed our silver foiled sachets of
twenty-eight pink hued pearls, popped
into the innermost pockets of our purses;
discreet and dainty like the pamphlets had promised.
We have scheduled each bodily function to
be timed to our exact convenience.
How naive were we, to believe that leash would be
looped on Mother Nature so easily.
Those peals that once held so much wonder
now sit weighted in ever-younger wombs of
calcified cysts and infantile tubes blocked with
clots from the bleeds we’d thought we’d managed to staunch.
The aches and pains we endured still exist now
paired with the constant panic of something which
burns just below the surface. The hormonal tides still turn
ever more turbulent as we struggle to keep our heads above water.
Blindly, we ingest those pink orbs like polymer prayers to
swell our stomachs and bloat our breasts
until every inch of our skin has been
stretched over limbs made puffy by our own pride;
the artificial regulation of our own menstrual system,
that we thought was ours to command.
[Written By: Gabriel Rutherford]
[Photograph: Ruarí MacManus]
Who am I? What am I?
[Written By: Isabelle Hunt-Deol]
[Illustration By: Lara Delmage]
Man of the house
Señor of Cecil Street
Look at his paws
So tiny and sweet
Rustling his whiskers
Scurrying around in his ball
‘He’s in the kitchen!’
‘Running straight for the wall!’
3 short lived months
In a cold student flat
Should’ve got a tortoise
Or maybe a rat ..
Six spoons in the garden
Resting peacefully, under the leaves
Lies dearest little Cecil
In the crisp, autumnal breeze
By: Anna Lumaca
By Diana Wei Dai
We didn’t believe the nice things we said to each other
at the same time, we took it too personally when we were being mean.
We always focused on what we want
but ignored what the other person wants.
We love them the way we want to be loved
but we never ask how they want to be loved.
The love is always there, and valid.
We put our eyes in the perfect faraway future
and the beautiful image blurred our eyes of seeing the true meaning of each other.
Of living in the moment.
We tried so hard to let the other person understand us,
but we never saw what the other person wants to express
We were hard on ourselves.
We were also being too hard on each other.
We use excuses and personal histories,
projecting the unsatisfying part of ourselves on to each other,
and then we ask;
Why it wouldn’t work?
By Niki Radman
gentle drops twinkle
in the misty cold
By Annegret Maja Fiedler
“I only care about what happens ten minutes within a moment”
I just wanted to hold you
I didn’t want you to be left in that Southside McDonald’s in a drunken haze
You let me hold you
You let me draw you
From freshly developed film, I found you sleeping in my bed
There was a smirk on your face, before you left, supposedly, for good
“Do you think I care about you 10 minutes within a moment?”
Feeling numb and empty isn’t foreign to me
That night is an involuntary photograph engraved in my fragile heart
“This will be the last time I ever see you”
I knew you would apologise a month later
But your words still sting
Written By: Rachel Shnapp
On the first of the month, write a letter. It doesn’t have to have an address, it doesn’t have to be finished. Write a letter and find out what it is you haven’t let go. Don’t let it eat at your mind, but breathe in fresher air.
I don’t like to leave trails. I see myself as a piece of string, getting longer and longer the more traces I leave. An unused email address. Three library cards. Two copies of the same book. The truth is closure does not exist, but time brings with it peace, and the knots slip away. What you don’t keep will erase itself eventually.
Try new things all the time; coffee, people, music, theories, places. Treat yourself like a stranger you want to know everything about, and let that person change as easily as the leaves on the trees.
The fast way isn’t always the best way. Slow down. You aren’t in a hurry. To feel and smell and hear is part of being. I don’t take trains because I don’t want to stay on the tracks, a lonely A to B, as though there aren’t a whole other 24 places to see. Take time to be as happy as you can. Moments of grace come to those who have time for them.
The lesson is old, and often told. Let yourself be filled with all the best things. Pick yourself flowers, make yourself a cup of tea, and be bold and kind, always.
Written By: Gabriel Rutherford
The world shines in a loud bright grey
The glory of humility
Getting louder every new old day
Who decided you have any say?
Man muss ihre Hertz jetzt finden
Neu Welt, auf Unter den Linden
Written By: Leora Mansoor
The rose that blooms before its time,
in winter when the trees are stark,
is no more beautiful than a rose garden.
“You might want to pad that box with tea towels or something, to soften the blows if it gets knocked about a lot in the van.”
“I know that, do I look like I’m five? I was just about to get to it.”
“Fuck, Emma, sorry, I was just trying to help. I know you can get a bit absentminded. And that’s the box with your grandparents’ wedding china, right?”
“Yeah, I know, I know. Shit. Sorry. This is…”
“Yeah. Super weird.”
I stood in the car port waiting for your hand on the handle. Through the blur of glass, I could see your chair-lift slowly descend knowing your legs couldn’t reciprocate their desire to run and see me. You greeted me with the warmest smile and a loud hello in your Irish accent making all the cold bones that structure me feel heat. I slowly pushed myself up the stairs ensuring you didn’t feel left behind whilst we exchange our recent news. Your home was warm, pleasantly cosy and comfortable. It wasn’t because your love of the heating being on for 12 months of the year but it was because you filled me with heat. Everywhere smelt faintly of your home-cooked meals and as you brushed past me your Lancôme perfume comforted me. As we walk into the living room, the green carpet was lit by your four gold art-deco lamps that were spotted around the room on the mahogany cabinet and desks. I then walked into the kitchen from the living room and made us tea while you ambled your way to your chair. To all the family it resembled a throne, it stood alone and didn’t match any of the rest of your aqua blue settee suite.
By Audrey Summers
wind blowing my skirt up
walking past where we all sat
now dogs shit there
wind’s brushing the leaves
brushing a new season
finished with the past.
It’s you, it’s over now.
By: Charlotte Dean
The Bird Catcher
out of withered broke feathers
He’ll jump Mr death
one more day,
sizing up the ripe horizon
where are those shiny pretty things?
By Audrey Summers
As I walk down Byres Road, I ask myself the same questions that Bilbo asked himself when dwarfs overtook his home. Where did they come from? What do they want? And for how long do they plan to stay? Ten years ago nobody had heard of a “hipster”, much less seen them or knew what they were. One day, they began to appear and, suddenly, they were everywhere. There was never a first hipster, a father of hipsters nor the Adam and Eve of hipsters. Nonetheless, similar to an alpine avalanche, hipsters have become unstoppable and they are multiplying exponentially for each passing day.
I don’t think anyone has ever met a self-professed hipster (if you have, please leave a comment, I would surely love to meet them). No one has ever introduced him or herself to me and openly declared “Hi! My name is _____ and I am a hipster”.
It seems we cannot be sure hipsters exist at all. Even though, everyone knows what signs to look for: retro clothing, broad-rimmed glasses, tote bags and an unread copy of Kafka or Camus under their arm. There is no way to prove that someone identifies as a hipster unless they say so themselves.
As I continue my walk down the road, I watch them closely. They roll their skinny cigarettes or carefully apply wax to their moustaches. I feel the urge to grab them and shake them and shout: “Who are you? Why are you doing this? Take me to your leader!”. But that would be crazy. They do not have an ideology. They are not a movement or a subculture as such. There is no charismatic leader and they do not geographically belong. There seems to be no point to their conceptual existence at all.
I begin to wonder where my hipsterphobia (my innate fear of hipsters) comes from. It’s a burning question for any reader who made it this far. I am a young vegetarian woman with a straight fringe, who studies English Literature, loves to go on angry feminist rants and only buys clothes from charity shops. I seem to check all the right boxes. Yet, I have never identified as a hipster, and I know I have not always been this way. I wasn’t born riding an old stripped-down bike with the urge to go to Berlin and visit underground nightclubs.
So, how did it happen? Perhaps, I woke up one day and felt the inexplicable urge to play vinyl records and wear Doc Martens boots. Or maybe, it happened by slow degrees through careful societal manipulation and social pressure to be different from the mainstream. I must have bought into the trend for some reason. But I still don’t want people to call me that word. Hipster. It fills me with dread.
I tear my hair because I can’t figure out why the word feels so shameful. The concept contains an inherent contradiction. As everyone attempts to be different, mainstream becomes difference and the essence of difference continually slips away and stays slightly out of reach. It becomes a competition and a race: who has the artsiest tote bag, who went to the most underground party and who read the most obscure book…
I’ve made a decision. It is time to let go of the shame and step out of the closet. This is who I am. I accept. I cannot hide it anymore. My desire for woolly sweaters and delicious cups of tea is too great to be contained. So I step forward and in a loud voice I declare: I am hipster, hear me roar!
By Sofia Linden
I would wet my tights for him in puddles,
so that he might notice the way my toes curled
and be distracted from the fact that
I don’t know how to carry my teeth.
My eyes are positioned perfectly
for him to notice just how blue they are,
but, his gaze is fixed to the buds which bloomed
earlier this summer.
Him? Him sitting alongside me?
He is a child, with pointed hair.
Spiked to a crown,
the king of our castle
in his clammy cardigan.
And with sweat soaked hand he might stretch,
and cautiously touch my shoulder,
which I have let slip, like a secret,
pale and sly from its strap
so that he might not see the way
that I don’t like my face today.
But, never mind.
He stinks of Lynx
and adolescent self loathing
and his clothing is what was picked for him.
And I am Bambi,
in ridiculous heels that make me ten feet tall
yet I still feel small
and all they play is House
yet I don’t feel at home.
But, never mind.
that one day that crown will thin
and fall on to his pillow.
And I know,
that he is a rabbit
caught in the flashing lights
which caught my carefully crossed arms
and he likes the angle that I make.
When one runs as frequently as I do, it is easy for various jaunts to simply blend into one. By the weight of
their number and steady accumulation there is, for each run, a stealth to the quirks and features that obtain
and thus stands in defiance of individualisation. They are though, all different. Even if one deploys the same
route (or a ‘routine course’), one is unlikely to feel the same, or to run at an identical pace and time.
My run that day was notable in that I only managed to traverse the first couple of kilometres of a (planned)
longer run. This, and the fact that it was a full five hours following my departure before I returned home
distinguished this particular bout of exercise. I had, it emerged following an impromptu hospital visit, check-
up and diagnosis at the Western General Hospital, suffered a seizure at some point, presumably about ten
minutes after setting off.
There is a hallucinogenic quality to my recollections of the seizure itself. I can recall brief impressions and
sensations that flitted across my mind’s eye (or mind’s ear; or mind’s extremity) though they are mere
synaesthesic snapshots that defy any attempt at re-ordering, or chattelling them into some kind of storyline.
There are flashes of light; the brush of a branch (or bush) as my hand mis-gropes in attempting to break a
fall; voices of others elide with mumbled replies from me.
When attempting to imprint a timeline or narrative thread on otherwise abstract sensations the logical step is
– as with frayed wool or thread – to look for a start point. I can just about remember walking out the door at
the foot of my stairwell, I think. Am I recalling That Day’s exit, or merely another identikit run? I would like
to think that I can recall jogging downhill onto the walkway beside the river Kelvin. But these final, pre-
seizure and ‘conscious’ steps are sufficiently embedded to preclude divorcing any one instance from the
One is left instead with piecing together the story from the shards of memory that emerged from the
shattering of sanity, and attempting to weave backwards from the tendrils of impressions that occurred in the
ambulance and, later on, in the hospital.
x X x
The sharp and jagged pain to the rear of my tongue only really emerged as I half-sat, half-lay on a hospital
bed-cum-trolley in the corridor adjacent to the A&E department. Borderline supine, I was also still in the
process of resuming acquaintance with most of my autonomic responses. [I should add that at roughly the
same time that this pain began to command attention, I alighted on the bed-heads of the hospital trolleys
likeness to a tombstone. Coincidence?]
I had been relatively lucid – or recently returned to lucidity – for about an hour by this stage, and had talked
at length to the paramedics who retrieved and admitted me, though had yet to alight upon this source of pain.
It was a strange and delicate sensation as flaps of skin flit over the surface of my teeth, as if an errant piece
of food has become stuck there. Despite the general viscosity of the skin on our tongues, they are nonetheless
tautly affixed to the organ itself – as with any other part of our upper dermis.
Furthermore, had the doctor examining me not queried as to whether I had bitten my tongue, there is every
chance that I would not have volunteered it. As it was, this was apparently the clincher (no pun intended…)
so far as my diagnosis was concerned. The pain, over a week later, was still occasionally sharp and severe
depending on the temperature of the food imbibed.
x X x
‘Do you know why you’re here?’ a male voice demands of me, fairly insistently. He repeats the question,
primed, no doubt, by my shocked and vacant demeanour for little in the way of insight. This interrogatum
gives way to a minor personal reverie as I take in the apparatus that surrounds me in the back of the
ambulance. It is said of presidential (and prime-ministerial) bunkers that such is the infrastructural network
contained within that a war can be waged and managed from one. Ambulances may be constrained by their
dimensions, but the sheer variety of ailments and conditions that they are equipped to deal with – to staunch,
to splint, to revive – is never far from one’s attention, no matter one’s confusion.
‘Do. You. Know. Why. You’re. Here?’ A female voice this time, though less questioning than designed to
command my errant focus – the explanation hot on its heels: ‘You were found running around in circles; you
didn’t know where you were/what you were doing.’
Still I glance between the faces of the (three, in total) paramedics, my gaze alighting on some tube or
tourniquet. I may at this point have mumblingly interjected that I did not indeed know, or that I didn’t
understand. Didn’t understand any of it. One faceless soul proffered the factoid that many runners wear
bands or some form of neck-wear that bears details of prevailing health ‘issues’, or emergency contact
details. This catalysed my own sense of alarm, and momentarily sharpened my focus.
‘This has never happened before,’ I mumbled, or something to this effect. I padded around my midriff for
possessions that I must presumably have left the flat with. My only pocket bulges with keys and my running
hat, though my mobile phone is missing. The male paramedic – the other two being female – peels off; to
look for the phone? I think I supplied him with a number, though I’m simultaneously struggling to recall my
address. I tell them my name, and there is a palpable release of tension as I am addressed as ‘Scott’ where
previously I was but a nameless, and wholly unwilling convict of circumstance.
Am I a student? Do I have a job? What do I do for a living? Am I supposed to be at work just now? The
sheer variety of probable, and likely, responses to these queries returns me to mass-confusion. How many of
these questions were put to me by the paramedics, and which merely flitted across my mind I cannot at this
stage recall with any confidence. Before long, it was deemed appropriate to take me to A&E, and I readily
On the journey over lunacy jockeys with lucidity for primacy, and there are snatched conversations with the
two female paramedics about running in general, and races ran and entered, before some form of reflection
eventually seeped out of the patient. The walk from the driveway entrance to A&E is deemed an insufficient
and inappropriate addendum to the episode, thus far, and I was squired by a hospital bed upon a trolley to the
bowels of the Accident and Emergency department of the Western General hospital.
x X x
The paramedic who had wheeled me in stated that the couple who had found me claimed I was speaking
‘gibberish – as if a foreign language.’ I assured them that I speak no other language fluently, though did
briefly wonder whether my episode had afforded me a savant-like, near-perfect command of a foreign
The clinical aroma that shrouds one’s apperception of the frailty on show lingers in the memory. One
wonders if actual doctors and nurses can ever completely free themselves from this psychological anchor.
There is an aphorism that states that much of what we recall is based in – and can thus be triggered by –
smell, and this is especially pertinent in a hospital setting. Much of my visit was, initially, expended in the
corridor, and thereafter waiting in an examination room as various blood samples and heart-readings were
taken and filtered through the medium of my responses and recollections.
Once ensconced in a room of my own I was permitted a moment of privacy to relieve myself. Having taken
on a fair bit of water during the course of the day, my bladder was now full; mercifully so, I ought to add: it
is not uncommon for minor bouts of incontinence to afflict the seizure patient. This aspect of my hydration
levels was at some odds with my other symptoms, which spoke to prevailing states of dehydration. My lips
felt dry, and the skin on my face rather pinched. I could almost feel the friction of my eyelids against the
surface of my eyes. My brain felt as if it had shrunk to a quarter of its size, and was now bashing around my
parched skull. The resultant headache is the one ailment that was medicated during the course of my visit, as
the young doctor attending me dispenses a pair of aspirin.
I’m left alone for a little while whilst a vial of my blood is ferried away for analysis. In the room next to me
a patient awaiting further consultation – and perhaps diagnosis – manages to sound both resigned and
concerned at the same time as he claims to be cognisant of a figure looming over him. I glanced across the
hallway where one of the tombstone silhouettes hooks my gaze once more. I occupied myself by pacing
around my temporary commode in my hospital gown – a loose-fitting, backless number.
Shortly before being discharged, an elderly female patient and I were afforded the luxury of a visit to the tv
area where Question Time is showing. My concentration had not yet recovered to normal levels, though I
would, without hesitation, question the holistic appeal of the political squabbling on show. I was eventually
released, and trudged resignedly uphill to my flat, a short walk from A&E’s back door, making it home
shortly before midnight. Weariness and an adrenal exhilaration sparked by my ordeal keep me awake for a
while, before putting the day to bed.
I recorded much of the preceding account in the days immediately following the event, whilst various
impressions were fresh in the memory. A couple of weeks later I was referred to the seizure clinic of the
Western General Hospital where a specialist groped for a fuller diagnosis. This isn’t intended as criticism of
any of the care or insight that I received; but the primary diagnostic feature of seizures (particularly first-
time or isolated incidents) is their unpredictability and – therefore – an inability to attribute them to any
particular cause or menu of lifestyle factors.
As such, the offerings of the consultant supplied little in the way of succour, though retained the capacity to
focus the mind, somewhat. I currently occupy a hinterland between the experience itself and a fuller
diagnosis that could in turn presage a prolonged period of medication. I was packed off with a bulk of
literature on epilepsy, and how we might come to regard it as less of an affliction than a mere challenge.
Once again, much of the insight contained within is slightly eye-watering. I cannot, for the time being, drive.
Marathons of partying and nightclubbing are verboten; alongside retiring the dancing shoes, climbing
ladders without supervision is now also a feature of my past.
The ‘missing’ phone was at home all along (I never run with it). I can only offer grateful and belated thanks
to the paramedic who both attended to me and partook in this fruitless treasure-hunt.
Independence. Efficacy. Fallibility. Frailty. These are some of the synonyms that I had jotted down in the
margins at various points over the course of crafting this piece. I don’t feel different, though have never felt
more alien in those moments immediately following the seizure. I am relatively free of concern as to my long-
term, life prospects, though too often we are labile as to the short-term implications of our lives. The fact that
another seizure might strike me, without warning, at some point in the future ought to be alarming, though
really I’m ill-disposed to live life on such tenterhooks.
University of Glasgow Narrative Non-fiction Writing Competition
We’re inviting you to submit pieces inspired by any research at the University of Glasgow, past or
present, from the sciences to the humanities. So you might write a personal essay about the origins
of Scotland’s oldest museum, or maybe you’re more interested in writing a moving memoir on
ultrasound, developed at Glasgow University in 1956. The competition is open to all and we are
also running free writing workshops in Glasgow on narrative non-fiction to get people started,
along with monthly social evenings where researchers, writers and readers can meet and discuss
their interests over a glass of wine. More details can be found at
Give it a go; we’re looking forward to reading what you come up with!