Back Home in Old Kentucky – Bailey Vandiver

Kentucky governor Happy Chandler once said Kentuckians are always either coming home or thinking about coming home. On the day that tornadoes devastated my home state, I was longing to be home. It was December 11, 2021, and I woke up in a New York City hotel room to the news that tornadoes had ripped…

When Will My Sense of Linear Time Come Back From the War? – Nat Guest

Time’s gone weird, hasn’t it? Hasn’t time gone weird? I’m really struggling with it at the moment. I don’t know what day it is. I’m not sure whether it’s day. It’s 2023 next year. It’s still March 2020. It’s the dead zone between Christmas and New Year. It’s been Wednesday for months. I’ll be dead…

The Generation of Dogged Persistence – Marie McMullin

‘When All Looks Bleak, Keep Going, for What Else Is There?’ – The Generation of Dogged Persistence The setting: my kitchen in the early evening, lights filtering through the window and the door open onto the hallway. The atmosphere: cheerful but low-key, with a smidgen of excitement at the prospect of letting (reasonably) loose. The…

Reading Heat-Moon in Nicaragua – William Fleeson

For a dusty Central American beach town, San Juan del Sur has a ton of history. The former fishing village once offered passage to Forty-Niners on their way from the US east coast to California. Cornelius Vanderbilt grew his fortune by running a waterborne transit line for that gold rush: faster than overland travel, the…

The Trials and Tribulations of Route 17 – Zahira P. Latif

I stood at the bus stop, waiting for the number 17 into Birmingham city centre. I had been waiting for over 20 minutes, and the queue at the stop had now built up to well over 20 people. I can drive, but car ownership had lost its appeal. I was tired of having to cart…

My One of The Kind Relationship to Chinese Food – Chris Liberato

Before I became a more adventurous eater in my late twenties, my appreciation for traditional Asian food consisted of the bowls of phở that my friends would seek out when we visited Boston. I was fascinated in particular with how my chef friend Charlie approached his noodles: requesting his steak served raw on a side…

Mick Jagger Used to Call Me Mum – Jacqueline Ellis

When I was little, the dark staircase between the front and back rooms of my grandparents’ two-up, two-down terrace house had been a mountain. Each step a jagged, granite foothold; the shadowed landing a dark cloud hiding a kingdom of giants, or a castle encased in twisted branches. Their bedroom glowed yellow; the edges of…

Beowulf: You Know More Than You Think! – Danny Bate

As a living soul of the twenty-first century, if you take a glance at the opening lines of Beowulf, the Old English poem, the chances are that you won’t be able to understand it. If anything, you may perhaps recognise its famous first word, hƿæt. This is absolutely fine, I should add; Old English is an old…

Acknowledging the River – Natalie Timmerman

“Everyone has anxiety.” “Be thankful for what you do have.” “Others have it worse.” When I sunk chin-deep into my anxiety, when I waded through life with a churning stomach, pale skin, and clenched jaw, these phrases thickened the current; they made the wading harder. Sure, they varied in words, tones, and intentions, but they…

Oysters – Lynne Golodner

The oysters arrived on a paper plate, craggy half-shells pooling ocean brine. A server slung a basket of napkins, vinegar and cocktail sauce on the table. Dan lifted a shell and slurped. I forked one and bit into the softness, closing my eyes. I breathed in through my nose to taste more fully. These were…