Thursday, 23 February 2017

Things I love Thursday 23/02/17

Here's my appreciation list of things I'm getting off on this week. It's good for the health yo.

πŸ’œDecadent brunching πŸ’œ Fishnets πŸ’œ Hanging out with my old man cat πŸ’œ Really LISTENING to good music πŸ’œ Cake (the band) πŸ’œ Cake (the cake) πŸ’œ The smell of ancient books πŸ’œ Puppies that steal your pants πŸ’œ When your coach turns out to be a train πŸ’œ Taking myself on art dates πŸ’œ Just generally dating myself tbh πŸ’œ Lee's first time trying Oysters (he did not love) πŸ’œ Rosemary's Baby πŸ’œ Driving for hours in Storm Doris with music so loud I can't hear myself πŸ’œ Good coffee πŸ’œ Oh God the NHS, thanks guys πŸ’œ When Lee holds my ankle πŸ’œ Sketch πŸ’œ Finally making the wedding invitations for my favourite couple πŸ’œ Making my own t shirts/painting old denim πŸ’œ Left hands πŸ’œ Angry covers of beautiful songs πŸ’œ Getting my deadlift PR yo πŸ’œ Remembering to moisturise and feeling like a silky princess πŸ’œ Dad giving me free reign of the beer fridge πŸ’œ Getting into painting frenzies πŸ’œ LIFE LIFE LIFE I'M HERE FOR THE RIDE LEMME FEEL IT ALL I'M READY πŸ’œ


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

On Losing my British Library Virginity

So this week I took myself to the British Library for the first time. The Modernist Journals Project has digitised the majority of my primary source, which let me tell you I am *highly* appreciative of, but the final few years of The Little Review aren't yet available online, so I had to pop down to the archives in London. I say 'had to', it was actually such a motivating experience to be able to touch and smell actual copies of the magazine, carefully tucked away since the 1920's.

So, this post is a mixture of just chatting about my time in the Big L, and information about visiting the British Library that I wish had been more accessible!

I stayed at my friend Lindsey's house in Kennington, which is great because a) you can see the Shard from her house, and b) she lives with a Cockerpoo puppy. I got in silly late on a Sunday because I was in work during the day, and I thought it would be a smart idea to get a Mega Bus instead of the train... seven hours later, I kindof wished I'd just sucked up the extra £20 it would have cost me... Anyway, I got there, and we drank tea and gossiped and it was cute. The next morning we took ourselves for brunch at Sketch, which was even cuter.

After far too much faffing about around Carnaby Street, I arrived at the library. I had pre-registered online which I would definitely recommend, it saved me a lot of time. The British Library isn't like a normal library -you don't just walk in and take out books. It's more of an archive, and the security was surprisingly but pleasingly high; I had my bag inspected when I arrived like at an airport, and you're not allowed to bring large luggage into the building. Having arrived, I completed my Reader Registration which involved showing an ID and proof of address, and also having my picture taken for a card - I was super warm, so my hair was kindof gross,but at least I was wearing lipstick. Swings and roundabouts.

All that done, I had to put my stuff in a locker and head into the Rare Books and Manuscripts Department, to which I had pre-ordered the documents I needed. You're not allowed to really take things into the Reading Rooms - a pencil, laptop, glasses, your phone. It all has to fit in a clear plastic bag they provide. You're also not allowed to wear a coat,and it turns out they're pretty strict on this which was vaguely annoying - I was wearing a jacket which was definitely a thin indoor jacket and not a coat, but because it hung lower than my bum the man at the door made me go back and put it in my locker. So heads up - maybe wear a jumper if you're visiting, because the Rare Collections man is clearly not attuned to the nuances of the Spring/Summer catalogue. 

The archive work itself was magical. You are allowed to photograph the collection, so I was essentially able to create my own digital collection of the things I think I might need in the next couple of months. Also, there just is something really lovely about handling the actual entity, the thing you're dedicating four years of your life to. If you're a researcher and your source is digitised, I would still highly recommend doing some archive work, just to feel it.

I ended up staying quite late (the Reading Room is open 10-8), and then I went for dinner and some gin with my friend Alex, but we went to Wetherspoons, so I didn't take any pretentious toilet selfies there, sorry.

Being slightly cold aside, I had a really wonderful first experience.The man who completed my registration,and the people who found my documents were super friendly and impressively knowledgeable, and the atmosphere was really conducive to work. Also, just what a bloody incredible place - there is so much knowledge there, and so much untapped knowledge there, it was a real privilege to be able to be a tiny part of moving that forwards. I'll be heading back soon.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Happy Valentines Day, 1915 - Margaret Anderson on life, love and art

This poem, if you can call it a poem, was written by Margaret Anderson, the editor of the Little Review, and published there in October 1915. It was a little before her 29th birthday, and a year or so before she had her first great romance, with co-editor Jane Heap. When Jane and Margaret fell in love in 1916, they lived together in Chicago as a relatively openly lesbian couple, at a time when such things just weren't done.

The poem is longish, but I think its really lovely, largely because you can really feel Anderson writing it - the speed with which words are rushed onto paper, the overflowing overlapping confusing ideas that feel like love. It's the kind of poem I tried to write when I was 19 and failed - maybe I'll have more luck when I hit 29. 

Margaret Anderson, photographed by Georgette Leblanc.


BUT you don't know Life," they are always saying.
I wonder what it is they mean?

They mean humanity and the urge of it:
In the beginning and in the end the soul's longing to be known, to know itself, and to know others;
And that means, in the beginning and in the end, the quest for love;
Is the ideal of love and the finding of it;
And the magic of it and the drain of disillusionment;
And the luxury of sorrow and the voluptuousness of suffering;
And the vacuum that is beyond death;
And the conviction that ideals are better than reality;
And the decision to live for "art";
And the pull to new love...
And the discovery that love is enslavement;
And the breaking from it;
And the courage to contain life;
And the emancipation from something;
And the complacency of first freedom;
And the emptiness of it;
And the pull to new love...
And the discovery that rapture is not relived;
And the conviction that passion is not love;
And the dedication to "the spiritual";
And the pull to new love...
And the deepest agony, which is unrequited love;
And the realization of people;
And the discovery that the world is wrong;
And the glory of rebellion;
And the emancipation for something;
And the pull to new love...
And the birth of cynicism;
And the conviction that rebellion is futile;
And the discovery of one's self;
And the dedication to one's self;
And the discovery that one's self is not big enough;
And the pull to new love...
And the knowledge that love includes passion;
And the sense of rich growing;
And the hope of sharing growth;
And the longing to be known;
And the relinquishing of that longing;
And the discovery that perfection does not last;
And the sufficiency of self-direction;
And the completeness of freedom;
And the longing to know the human soul;
And the pull to new love...
And the relinquishing of that longing;
And the discovery of the peace that is in nature;
And the realization of the unimportance of man;
And the knowledge that only great moments are attainable;
And the hatred of consummations;
And the realization of truths too late to act upon them;
And the acceptance of substitutes;
And the pull to new love...

And every human being knows these things.


"But you don't know life itself," I am always saying.
I wonder what it is I mean.

I think it is something wonderful like color and sound, and something mystical like fragrance and flowers.
And something incredible like air and wind,
And something of grey magic like rain;
It is faded deserts and the unceasing sea;
It is the moving stars;
It is the orange sun stepping through blue curtains of sky,
And the rose sun dropping through black trees;
It is a green storm running across greenness,
And gold rose petals spilled by the moon on dark water;
It is snow and mist and clouds of color,
It is tree gardens and painted bird;
It is leaves of autumn and grasses of spring;
It is flower forests and the petals of stars;
It is morning - yellow mornings, green mornings, red mornings, gold mornings, silver mornings, sun mornings, mist mornings, mornings of dew;
It is night - white nights, green nights, grey nights, purple nights, blue nights, moon nights, rain nights, nights that burn;
It is waking in the first of the morning,
It is the deep adventure of sleep;
It is lights on rivers and lights on pavements;
It is boulevards bordered with flowers of stone;
It is poetry and Japanese prints and the actor on a stage;
It is music;
It is dreams that could not happen;
It is emotion for the sake of emotion;
It is life for the sake of living;
It is silence;
It is the unknowable;
It is eternity;
It is death.

And only artists know these things.

Monday, 13 February 2017

KrakΓ³w - Photo Diary/Recommendations

KrakΓ³w was potentially my favourite city break thus far. Edinburgh and Dublin will forever be my favourite cities, but for a holiday with friends, I can't recommend KrakΓ³w highly enough. We flew from Liverpool John Lennon Airport for about £60 return, and for four nights in a gorgeous apartment city centre we paid £50 each. Eating and drinking was ridiculously cheap - think a two course meal plus a bottle of wine for less than a tenner - and the local people were super friendly.  

The architecture is really beautiful, so much more so than Warsaw sadly, because Warsaw got pretty flattened during the war. Poland has a really rich history of different cultures, so the buildings range from Eastern European/Russian style to a more Parisian feel and beyond. We spent about two days just walking round absorbing the city, and we could have done longer. 

It seems that Emma Goldman is also making her mark in Poland.

I didn't get a photo of our apartment, but I did take this one of the floor. Tiles are cute.

This was the dish everyone said we had to try, 'pierogi', which are like dumplings. There were actually plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, which I wasn't really expecting - these ones were spinach with various herbs, and they were fit. The food generally was very rich. At first it seems like there maybe aren't many bars or restaurants, but that's because they're all seemingly underground.

This was taken in the Kazimierz, the Old Jewish Quarter. 

We ended up taking a WHOLE bunch of naps, I genuinely think because we just weren't used to being so cold all the time. It was between about -5 and -11 before the wind chill, and apparently it can get much colder.

I love Church architecture the most, and St. Mary's Basilica on the mains square was potentially the nicest one I've ever been in. It was so opulent and ornate and beautiful, it was genuinely quite a moving experience. Being in Churches like this is kind of like being in an awesome landscape of nature for me - its the time I find the concept of a God most believable. 

Love locks. Standard.

This was in a cute antiquey shop we found above a cafe called Camelot Cafe which is 100% my food and drink pick for KrakΓ³w. We went more than a little hungover, and they had the most amazing juices and cold presses and teas, and we had the most amazing baguettes overflowing with avocado and seeds and sun-dried tomatoes, and pastas, and paninis, and french toast, and it was the prettiest place, like being inside a pink cave. 

And of course, in any new city, one must take beautiful pictures of oneself and one's friends. Clothes are optional. 

Monday, 6 February 2017

I think I'm Emma Goldman

I don't know who made this illustration but its fantastic - if you do, please let me know so I can credit!

The first chapter of my Ph.D focuses on the reception of Emma Goldman in the Little Review's 'Reader Critic' letters section. Before looking into the Little Review, I had no idea who Emma Goldman was. Well, let me tell you - she's a bad ass. 

Goldman (1869-1940) was a hugely influential figure in the feminist and anarchist movements, with her work on spreading information about safer birth control and abortions being amongst my personal favourites. She absolutely lived her message, frequently being lambasted for her ideologies, getting arrested numerous times, and even serving three sentences in prison - once for supposedly inciting to riot, once for giving out pamphlets on birth control, and once for inciting pacifism. Her criticism of compulsory conscription for young men led to a two year stint in prison, and was followed by her deportation from the U.S. Goldman was born in Russia to a Jewish family, but moved to America as a teenager to live with her elder sister. 

I'll be writing about Emma Goldman a fair bit over the next few years, so stay tuned for more on her. For now, let me just leave you with the lyric of experimental hip-hop collective Sole's song about her - if you can, listen along:

Emma Goldman, I think I'm Emma Goldman
Used to ride for Karl Marx till I met Emma Goldman
My homey Ravi Zupa put me up on game
I know why communism always fails
A power-hungry communist is just as dangerous as a blood-sucking capitalist
From gulags to the prison-industrial complex
To each his own, no thrones no preachers spreading fantasies
God is a myth and man's enslavement is his reality
God don't like ugly
God hates flags, god hates cops
And is a mass murdering sociopath
And I don't need that bullshit tact, ethically

All I need is elaborate cause and the knoweldge that says no man is above me
Next time you fuck and use a birth control pill thank Emma
And the IWW for 8-hour work days and general strikes
Before kings stole the land from the peasants we have the commons
Private property is a system used to alienate people from their needs
That's why poverty is pandemic and capitalism can't eliminate crime
Ain't nothing fair in debt slavery and bribes
Emma Goldman, I know I'm no Emma Goldman
She opened up a ice cream shop to fund an assassin
That's gangsta
Welcome to the new black scare
Shouts out to the northwestern grand jury resistors
They say anarchism can't work
But all anarchists do is put in work
Not for the money, but out of necessity
Imagine a world where you could follow your passions
A federation, built on community
Shouts to Occupy Sandy stepping in with mutual aid
You'd find out you were an anarchist if you took the time to read
While academics debate tactics
We shutting down the Keystone XL Pipeline
We plant gardens in the projects
They push us to the sidewalks and we take the streets
We strike debt
We can bring things back to normal, or  do the opposite
We can bicker over differences or we can fuck up shit cuz shits fucked up and bullshit
In the 1800s anarchists were libertines
Only in America are libertarians an arm of the right wing
They put a gun in your face and tell you to be non violent
But ignorance is violence
Who spreads ignorance through public schools?
And sends the poor to die overseas to steal more shit
For you know who
You know who
If voting changed anything they'd make it illegal
She said that 100 years ago
Ain't shit changed but the manufacturers of weapons
Ain't shit changed they replaced churches with banks & mainstream news
This government was designed to over rule the mob
So we mobs design to over rule the government
Emma Goldman I think I'm Emma Goldman
In the belly of the beast made that motherfucker sick
Emma Goldman, I miust be Emma Goldman

 Must be doing something wrong if the feds ain't on my tail
You can say I'm guilty of propping up a cult of personality
 I'm a Malcolm X man, "by any means necessary"
Avant gardists say I'm dumbing it down
But Emma didn't speak in academic riddles; she spoke in the common tongue
No future utopias we building it now
Horizontally, no 10,000 MLKS getting popped
Red & black all day
I'm a Kropotkin man myself
The streets is my public offices where I plan my attack
You rap, we plot, you vote, we act
I'll never say bitch in a song again
I'm Emma Goldman

Editing The Agenbite

Here's me fangirling outside Nora Barnacle's house in 2015

When I started my PhD, I knew that I wanted to work, in some capacity, on Joyce. I also knew that I wanted to expand my research to look not only at Joyce, and I couldn't be happier in what I finally settled on (see 'Academic'!). As the first year of my research progresses, it's been such a joy to find new writers and artists to fall in love with (holla at my Emma Goldman tribe), but I have to admit, I miss the hours I spent with Joyce during my Masters. He's like an old friend - a weird, often problematic, probably-only-texts-you-when-he-needs-something friend, but a friend I love deeply non the less, because he teaches me things I didn't know I knew about myself.

A while ago, I met Sean Richardson, a first year Doctoral Candidate at Nottingham Trent University. Sean is generally just the best kind of outward facing academic - he runs the Modernist Podcast (which I was a panelist on!), the Queer Modernisms Conference, and is the editor of the Woolf Zine. Now, my relationship with Woolf has always been a bit distant. Don't get me wrong, I obviously know she's an incredible writer, and a hugely influential figure, and any woman who can have that said about them has my backing. Still, for some reason, I'm yet to really connect with her writing on an emotional level. I 'get it' in my brain, but it doesn't move me - I'm sure there's something I'm missing, and I'll have the light bulb moment any day. Any how - much as Woolf isn't one of my favourites, I couldn't help but be impressed with the zine - it was such an innovative way of platforming reception to her work in an accessible and discursive way. There aren't enough spaces for 'non-academics' to speak about their academic thoughts, and as academics I think we're often removed from our love of literature by the research process itself. I decided that the perfect way for me to reconnect with Joyce, whilst doing something small to make democratise Joyce scholarship, would be to emulate the Woolf Zine.

And so, The Agenbite was born. The title itself came very easily - it was always one of my favourite Joyce-isms, I stumbled across it first during my undergrad. Agenbite of Inwit is commonly conceived to mean the biting of one's conscience - the phrase mostly occurs when Stephen thinks of his mother - but as always it works on multiple levels. The again biting of inner wit - the thing that stays with you. In many ways, that's what Joyce and his work is for me, it informs so much of my work in academia and generally in life, and it continues to excite, frustrate and move me. I know there are so many people out there who feel similarly, and The Agenbite is a place for us all to share our reactions, thoughts and ideas in formats which don't normally get a look in. 

We're accepting submissions for the first issue now, with the intention of publishing in March 2017. Submissions can take any form as long as it can appear on the page - poetry, thought pieces, interviews, essays, cartoons etc. You can email me at to submit, or with any questions. Also, please go and follow The Agenbite on twitter HERE!

I look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, 23 February 2015

25 Things I Wish I'd Been Told About Sex (An open letter to my 13 year old cousin)

Hey babe.

So I saw on Facebook that you'd seen 50 Shades of Grey, and two things really hit home for me. Firstly, that you're really, really grown up now, which freaks me out a tiny bit cos I totally remember being on holiday in France and your mum being pregnant with you. I also thought about how much shit there is online at the moment relating to 50 Shades of Grey and whether it's abusive or not, but that's not what I want to go into now really, or at least not just that. More so, it made me think about sex, and how I wish there were certain things that someone had told me when I was your age. Soz if this is weird, or if it grosses you out, and I know you can find all this online anyway, but I wanted you to be able to hear it from someone that you know won't bullshit you, and someone that you know really, really loves you. Obviously there is plenty that I don't know, and plenty that you do, so I've tried to leave out the 'Don't do it till you're ready' stuff, because you know that and you're not stupid. I've tried to think of the random things I wish someone had told me, or things I've other people have told me they wish they'd known.

So, here we go. I apologise now if you can never look me in the eye again.

1 - There's no such actual thing as virginity. Loosing your virginity in terms of a penis entering the vagina is a flawed idea. It doesn't take into account gay sex, alongside a whole lode of other kinds of sex. And anyway, at what point does it count? As soon as the penis enters? Five thrusts? When you both cum? Whether or not you've had a penis in your vagina is objective, but whether or not you are a 'virgin' is something you get to decide.

2 -Whilst we're on the subject - you probably won't bleed the first time you have sex. You might never bleed, or it might be years later. The idea that you bleed comes from the idea that having sex for the first time breaks your hymen, which just isn't true, and anyway, the chances are your hymen is already broken from horse riding, gymnastic or whatever. If you do bleed, it might be that, or it might be because the penetration is deeper or at a different angle to what you've had before, or it might be that you're not aroused enough for your vagina to have lubricated itself. None of these are cause for concern, as long as its only a little bleeding, it doesn't last, and you're not in pain.

3 - If you're turned on enough, sex won't hurt the first time, or any time, unless you have a medical issue such as a tilted uterus. When you're aroused, your vagina lubricates itself and the muscles relax. If it hurts, slow down and go back to foreplay.

4 - Always, always go for a wee after sex, whether you used a condom or not. I know it might break the mood, but going to the toilet cleans everything out, and helps prevent cystitis, which let me tell you is more than a massive mood killer, it's fucking painful.

5 - Keep loo roll or tissue by the bed. Otherwise, you have to do the awkward waddle to the bathroom whilst squeezing your thighs together to try and stop everything running down your legs. Sorry, gravity's fault, not mine.

6 -Blue balls is not a medical condition. If a boy tells you he's so turned on he needs to have sex because his balls hurt, he is full of shit. Tell him to go have a wank, and then leave, because he's manipulating you into having sex.

7 - There is never, ever a time when you have to have sex with someone, or have to carry on having sex with someone. If he's been nice to you, if he's sad, if it's his birthday, if you've started and you changed your mind,  you can say stop. If you say stop and he doesn't, it's rape, even if you wanted to at first.

8 - Please, please don't send nudes. I don't care how much you trust him or how much he loves you, it will bite you in the ass. People steal each other's phones, people get hacked. I know so many people who have been fucked over by this, don't let it be you.

9 - Shaving your pubes is a terrible, terrible idea. Pubic hair regrowth is the seventh circle of hell. Trim with scissors, wax, use hair removal cream if you have to, or just don't - I've never met a man who didn't want to have sex with a girl because she had pubes. Some guys actively like it. Either way, what you do or don't do with your hair is your choice, and if he complains, it's because he's an immature little boy who thinks porn is how sex is in real life.

10 - Porn is not how sex is in real life.

11 - People lie about sex, all the time. They say they have when they haven't, they say they haven't when they have. It doesn't really matter, because other people's sex lives shouldn't affect yours.

12 - Having sex when you don't will make you feel like shit, and it does matter, even if it's your boyfriend. It is not easier just to go along with it for an easy life, because you will lose respect for yourself, and that's worse.

13 - Use your hands as well as your mouth when giving a blow job. It will make everyones life approx. a million years easier.

14 - If a boy won't go down on you but expects you to go down on him, he is a royal twat and you can do better. A man who really loves you will worship your vagina.

15 - Don't leave getting condoms up to him. Yes it's nice for him to sort it, but take responsibility for yourself and be prepared. Condoms are also only 90% effective when being used properly, so I'd recommend using something else if you can (not the withdrawal method, ever. There's plenty of semen in precum).

16 - If you're mature enough to be having sex, you're mature enough to talk about having sex. That means with your partner, with your doctor, and with your parents. It also means you need to be mature about who else you tell - be careful with people who will be careless with information about you, or your partner. Take it from me - your mum would always, always rather you spoke to her about sex than didn't. After the first couple of times, it won't be weird, because your mum is rad.

17 - Talking about sex with your parter is the best way to have better sex. Talk about what you like, and what you don't. Ask him what he likes, and what he doesn't. Everyone is different, and what one person loves, another person might hate.

18 - Your sexual preferences are not static. Just because you used to enjoy something does not mean you have to do it again. You can start liking something you used to not want. This also goes for the people you're attracted to. You can be straight for a while, then gay, then straight again. No-one can decide what you are but you. You also don't get to decide what anyone else is.

19 - The goal of sex is not for the boy to cum. If he does, and you want to carry on, tell him. If he doesn't, he's a moron and you can do better. Also, please don't feel the pressure to cum yourself. A lot of women find it very hard to orgasm through penetrative sex, and a lot of it is psychological - the more pressure you put on yourself to do it, the harder it is, like when you're trying to fall asleep. Don't focus on orgasm, for either of you - focus on giving and receiving pleasure, which can be anything from a hair stroke upwards. Intimacy can be incredible fulfilling without anyone having an orgasm.

20 - Your vagina is not ugly. Whether the lips are inside, out, long, short, etc., your vagina is normal.

21 - At some point, you will queef. This isn't your fault, it's when the penis leaves the vagina further than usual (allowing air to get in). The noise is when the air leaves your vagina, either because the penis re-enters you, or because you moved. You can ignore it, or laugh it off - again, any man who is weird about it clearly knows nothing about sex. Explain it to him with diagrams.

22 - If a someone fingers you with dirty fingernails, the chances are you will get an infection. Hygiene is important before, and after sex.

23 - Be careful not to criticise girls for things you wouldn't criticise a boy for. Don't call someone a slut, or frigid. When you put one girl down for what she does or doesn't do sexually, you put us all down, because you're saying that her sexuality has a bearing on how worthwhile she is as a person. This is not true. Someone can have a lot of sex with a lot of different people, and be a wonderful, kind, intelligent person. (Sometimes without realising it) Boys call girls sluts to put us down and to make us feel like we can't do the things they can. Don't be complicit in that.

24 - If a boy does anything you don't like, it's not sexy, it's abuse. If you want to have a BDSM relationship, that's cool, but be aware that that's not what 50 Shades of Grey is. If you use a safe word, and he doesn't stop, it's rape. If he sells your car without telling you, it's not romantic, it's controlling. You're intelligent - please see that just because you give a scene in a film a good sound track, it's not necessarily a romantic or desirable relationship.

25 - Sorry, I know I wouldn't say it, but - please just don't do anything until you're ready. You have the whole of your life, and I do believe it's better when it's with someone you love, who loves you back.

I love you lots xxx

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