June issue of Visual Verse now open for submissions

The June issue of Visual Verse is now live and open for new writing submissions. As always, we provide a compelling image and invite you, dear writers, to respond with 50-500 words, written within one hour.

This month it is wonderful to publish a very special picture, taken by the writer Jenni Fagan. Having an author supply a photograph gives us a unique insight into how the narrative eye works – what inspires it, how eclectic it actually is. Jenni is a prolific photographer, and a celebrated writer – and in the responses to her work, ways of seeing are certainly examined. 

visual verse anthology of art and words

We are also delighted to have George Szirtes leading the writing this month. In George’s eliptical directness is the encouragement to write and most of all to read, deeply and with concentration, what the world offers. This month George has also responded to Jeremy Paxman’s accusations that poets ‘have connived in their own irrelevance’ and are only addressing each other. If Visual Verse’s speed of growth and Twitter engagement is anything to go by, then we say Paxman has it wrong. And, one of our last month’s supporting poets, Vidyan Ravinthiran, is on the Forward Prize shortlist for best first collection – is that conniving irrelevance?

Our support poets for this month, writer Doug Cowie and Karen McCarthy Woolf, share a sideways view of the world, although Doug’s work is more in the noir genre and Karen’s remembers a recent past that shocks with its difference. Our new ‘never been published’ slot goes to a young writer called Annamika Sarod, who has taken Jean Rhys’ Modernist classic ‘Voyage in the Dark‘ as her starting point, and fused it with Jenni’s picture to imagine a gloriously doomed voice for Rhys’ protagonist and her times.

We hope you enjoy the issue – submit, tweet, read, be inspired, and thank you for all your support.

Kristen Harrison and Preti Taneja

Adam Foulds, SAND Journal and unknown writers making it

This month is proving a very exciting one for Visual Verse contributors. As well as having Booker Prize nominated author Adam Foulds headlining on the site, we are thrilled to announce a collaboration with the Berlin based literary journal, SAND.

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More of that shortly, though. First, Kristen Harrison (Visual Verse curator) and I want to thank all the contributors who made the March Visual Verse our best month since we launched last November. Our image was by artist and illustrator Denise Nestor: a precariously balanced tower of birds who seemed to be sleeping, or dead. The writers loved it – so much so, we had 80 submissions in one month, which was unprecedented. Each piece was astonishing: carefully observed and written to make every word carry weight. The chapter as a whole is a thing of beauty in itself, it is fascinating to see how one image can bring so many responses.

Some of my favourite lines: ‘What does the sheep think of the sky?’ in Tristan Forster’s elegiac prose poem; Sarah James’ wonderfully  forensic piece, with the line,  ‘the delicacy of coiled intestines and death plucks song’ and of course our lead writer Adam Marek’s short story, with its simple control of voice: ‘The cheese was all prickly. Like battery tops. We fought the cheese was bad, but when we noticed the same taste was in everyfin, we realised it was our mouths.’

This month is lead by another Adam – Adam Foulds, whose Booker nominated ‘The Quickening Maze’ and ‘The Broken Word’ are poetry laced with violence and despair. The perfect choice for this month’s image, by photographer Marcus Bastel. I absolutely love reading all the submissions we get each day, and even more taking part in the conversation about them that is growing on twitter. I read and consider everything  – there are only a couple of rules – it must be 50-500 words, written in the space of one hour in response to the image. It should not have been published anywhere before.

Those who submit find new opportunities opening up for them too. I’m delighted to say that Berlin-based SAND journal will be featuring Visual Verse in their next issue. In consultation with us, they have selected four pieces to publish in SAND Issue 09, both in print and online. SAND exposes fresh literary talent from Berlin and beyond and we are proud to be featured in it.

I can’t wait to read what the month will bring. If you are thinking of submitting, the only thing I would say is  – you won’t regret it. Visual Verse is all about collaboration between what you see and how you write, you, us, our readers: art and words. The image is the starting point, the text is up to you. Enjoy!

Preti Taneja
Editor, Visual Verse