Wish You Were Here

Writing and Reflections on Travel

This issue of the London Reader invites you to pick a date, book a ticket, and step out your front door into the words of travellers from around the world. Wish You Were Here: Writing and Reflections on Travel is a collection of stories, poems, and thoughts about life on the road, in the big city, and even in our own backyards as seen by a visitor from somewhere else.

This issue features interviews with prolific writer and traveller Don George, who wrote Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing, and Mary Morris, author of The Jazz Palace and multiple travel memoirs and editor of The Virago Book of Women Travellers. The issue is introduced by travel writer and academic Mark Anthony Jarman, and it features travel stories by Sneha Abraham, Lucas Abrahão, M. M. Adjarian, Mia Gaudin, Nancy Ludmerer, Clare O’Brien, Fiona Sibley, Elen Turner, and Alexis Wolfe as well as poetry by Allison Adair, Rose Condo, Ben Fagan, Charles Leggett, Lindsay Reid, and Kaz Sussman.

If you miss the sea, especially if you’ve never been before, if you want to get lost with an old friend and find yourself somewhere new, if you want go where there’s no mobile reception or where you can hide in the crowds, if you want to set out for thirty days on a river and feel the ache in your shoulders under the pale northern lights, if you want to remember your honeymoon or remember that restless spring in Madrid when even the buildings were sweating in anticipation of the night, if you want to travel, next week or next year, this issue of the London Reader is for you.

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Open Call: Writing and Reflections on the Lives of Animals

After Words: Animal Reflections

Deadline: January 31, 2018

The London Reader is issuing an open call for fiction and nonfiction writing about animals, in the form of short stories, minifiction, creative essays, or poetry, as well as art and photography on this theme:

We live side by side with animals. A flock of pigeons roosting on a rooftop is as apparently ordinary a scene as that of cats scrapping audibly down the street or squirrels teasing their would-be chasers before turning tail to safety. Dogs are practically everywhere—many are members of our own families. How often we forget that we, too, are animals, and that our relationships with animals speak tellingly both to the history and condition of our species.

After Words: Animal Reflections will focus on the lives of animals—in themselves, in imagination, in relationship, and in thoughtful combinations thereof. In fable, fantasy, allegory—and in forms more and less traditional and experimental—submissions for After Words will reveal the moving ways animals have visited and haunted our lives and writing, and explore how, in our basest and most elevated moments alike, we belong to their number.

What to submit: Creative works can be standalone pieces or collections, but should be fewer than 4,000 words. Final selections will be weighed in favour of shorter works. Multiple submissions are welcome. Artwork should be favourably viewed on a tablet or a single page.

How to submit: Email submissions and questions to coordinator@LondonReader.uk. Place ‘AFTER WORDS’ in the subject line.

Please include a short biographical statement in the body of the e-mail, and indicate whether the submitted pieces have been previously published and whether you hold publication rights to them.

The deadline for submission on this theme is January 31, 2018.

Words from Within

Stories of Mental Disturbance

It often feels to those who suffer from mental illness that words cannot convey their experiences. The twenty voices in this issue of the London Reader take up that challenge in creative writing. If there are any words that come close to capturing our mental states, it is the climactic sentence of a short story, the concluding line of a sincere confession, or the final metaphor of a sharp poem. Within these pages, writers and poets, essayists and lyricists, psychologists and sufferers, lay bare their experiences with mental illness, showing us both its ugly and its sympathetic side, with their Words from Within.

What is mental illness? It is different for each of us. It is being awake all night and feeling the buzz of a neon sunrise without looking. It is a ransom note demanding you give up normality in exchange for your life. It is sitting at an empty shoreline and deciding whether to swim or give in. It is a troubling phone call from a close friend that could be the last. These images come from the emotional and captivating stories and poems within the pages of this volume.

Featuring…

Interviews with award-winning novelists Matthew Quick, author of The Silver Linings Playbook, and Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from renowned writers like Beth Aviv, Amy Bee, and Alexis-Rueal, award-winning poets like Fern G. Z. Carr and Leland James, psychologist Alberta Nassi, sisters Rebecca and Carinya Sharples, and many others whose work has been inspired by their or their loved ones’ struggles with mental illness.

The creative writing of Words from Within: Stories of Mental Disturbance brings to the page both the pain and the perseverance of the everyday and the extreme experiences of those who suffer from mental illness.

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Subscribe to either the Print or PDF edition of the London Reader to receive four great issues per year

Open Call: Writing and Reflections on Travel

Wish You Were Here: Writing and Reflections on Travel

Deadline: November 5, 2017

The London Reader is issuing an open call for fiction and nonfiction travel writing in the form of short stories, minifiction, creative essays, or poetry as well as art and photography on the same theme.

The freedom of fitting all your responsibilities in a backpack; the mixed anxiety and excitement of your airplane taking off; the swelling contentment of watching the sun set into a foreign sea. Wish You Were Here will feature the stories of world travelers—stories of following the call of the road, of feeling small in a big world, of coming of age by going abroad, and of losing yourself to discover yourself.

What to Submit: Creative works can be stand alone pieces or collections, but should be less than 4,000 words. Final selection will be weighed in favour of shorter works. Multiple submissions are allowed.

How to Submit: Email submissions or questions to coordinator@LondonReader.uk. Place ‘WISH YOU WERE HERE’ in the subject line. Please include a biographical personal statement in the body of the e-mail, and indicate whether the submitted pieces have been previously published and if you hold the publication rights to them.

The deadline for submission on this theme is November 5, 2017.

The Hate Speech Monologues

This issue of the London Reader brings you heartbreakingly personal stories of experiences of hate from around the world. From stories of escaping genocide or mass-murder, to dealing with hate in the home, the classroom, or on the street, the Hate Speech Monologues deals with the ugly realities of prejudice in the wider world, but it carries with it the hope that hate can be overcome.

Each of the pieces selected for this issue of the London Reader was originally performed on the stage. They were written from personal experiences and presented by the writers. These storytellers come from all over the world, but shared a stage together in Budapest as part of the original ‘Hate Speech’ Monologues. This issue of the London Reader presents some of the most powerful and compelling narratives and poems performed at the ‘Hate Speech’ Monologues in celebration of its fifth anniversary. This issue stands as a tribute to the power of stories to build connections and to stand up to hate.

Drawing on their own personal experiences of hate and discrimination, this issue features personal stories and poetry from: the award-winning poet and TEDx Talk speaker Nilofer Khan Habibullah; Mariya Parodi, Communications Associate for the International Rescue Committee; Elizabeth Joy Loudon; Philippe-Edner Marius; Sarah Ahmed; Ruth Simister; Jacob Verhagen; and more. This issue also features interviews with the academic Theodore M. Shaw and author Ibram X. Kendi on hate speech and racism in America.

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Open Call: Stories of Mental Health

“Words from Within: Stories of Mental Health”

Deadline: July 31, 2017

The London Reader is issuing an open call for both true-to-life and fully fantastic short stories, minifiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, art, and illustrations that explore the experiences of mental health and mental difficulties.

“Cheer up,” you say, because it seems that easy.

“Please, understand,” I ask, but it’s just as useless when it’s not words but weights that I’m feeling.

How can you tell someone what it’s like when bedsheets become manacles or bedsides become clifftops? Those suffering from depression, anxiety, or other mental difficulties have often turned to stories and artwork to communicate what the dictionary fails to define. When one’s thoughts don’t make sense, sometimes only fiction can make sense of them. Words From Within will lay bare the experiences of living with a mental health diagnosis through the anecdotes and imaginations of those who suffer and those who love them.

What to Submit: Creative works can be stand alone pieces or collections, but should be less than 4,000 words or no more than 6 images for photography/art. Final selection will be weighed in favour of shorter works.

How to Submit: Email submissions or questions to coordinator@LondonReader.uk. Place ‘WORDS FROM WITHIN‘ in the subject line. Please include a biographical personal statement in the body of the e-mail, and indicate whether the submitted pieces have been previously published and if you hold the publication rights to them.

The deadline for submission on this theme is July 31, 2017

The London Reader, Love 2.0: Rewriting Romance in the Digital Age

Love 2.0: Rewriting Romance in the Digital Age

As we check our smart phones after every ping, we fail to concentrate on any one thing for more than a few minutes. In an age where we turn the lens on ourselves more than towards our lovers, is it still possible to love each other? In this new millennium, where we right-swipe for the next date, look for love in online match algorithms, and check new messages both during dinner and between the bed sheets, are we still capable of loving? Or are we forever held prisoner by the short-lived act of falling in love, over and over again?

The fiction, poetry, and interviews in Love 2.0 depict a multifaceted vision of romance in our modern era. This issue features a new collection of minifiction by Arthur C. Clarke award-winner Jeff Noon and creative writing by April Pierce, Rob Hartzell, Shalini Adnani, Liza Dezfouli, Eleanor Gall, Kathleen Latham, Carter Vance, and more. Together they explore, challenge, and ultimately redefine the experience of falling in love for the 21st century. The issue also presents interviews with Jeff Noon and author, columnist, and prolific tweeter Dana Schwartz and asks them their thoughts on writing and romance in the modern era.

In Love 2.0, nineteen different writers share their diverse stories and perspectives on romance and relationships in our increasingly digital age. What does it tell us about love? And what does it tell us about ourselves?

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“When I came to the United States…”

South Texas Detention CenterMore than 90 Somali nationals were deported from the United States at the end of January. They are being returned to a country of strife that they crossed an ocean to flee.

Writing in the most recent issue of the London Reader, Somali-born Ali Dahir tells the story of his persecution in Somalia and later Ethiopia as well as his detainment as a refugee in the United States, where he was held at the South Texas Detention Center.

Read more about the issue, “Home: Stories of identity, belonging, loss, and migration”

“When I came to the United States, I never expected a situation like I experienced in detention. Perhaps I expected a warmer reception. I faced a lot of problems in the immigration jail: racism, discrimination, and abuse both at the hands of the officers and the other detainees. I had no dignity left after being terrorized by the police in Ethiopia, but I was not immune to the words hurled at me in the detention centre.

“Behind the razor wires, steel bars, and concrete walls of the prisons, the Muslim inmates are treated the worst. We were the objects of sarcasm and ridicule by other inmates. If you tried to complain to the officers, they normally sided with the detainees. I regularly heard mocking calls and jeers, like ‘Hey Osama! Did you come to bomb the US or do you just want to bomb the cell?’ Muslim detainees are the longest-serving detainees.”

He was deported from the United States in the summer of 2016.

You read more of the Dahir’s story alongside other writers and artists exploring the concept of Home in PDF through Patreon.com or on Kindle through Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

“Nobody Knows”

CHILD: “Mother, where is our house?”
Mother: “Son, it’s been crushed. But don’t be scared. We will build another one.”
Child: “Mother, where is my school?”
Mother: “Son, the tent became your school.”
Child: “Mother, what is the future?”
Mother: “My son, the future’s unknown — nobody knows it except God.”

Girls painting“Nobody Knows” was written by a 14-year-old Syrian refugee and is featured in the latest issue of the The London Reader, “Home: Stories of identity, belonging, loss, and migration”.

These stories, drawings, and photographs come from a small group of Syrian girls aged 11 to 16. The girls are living in Akré Refugee Camp, a former-Suddam Hussein intelligence centre, in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq. The refugees’ houses are former holding cells. The camp has a heavy presence. When the building was first opened, all you would have seen, in every direction, was the peeling, yellow walls and, hung large on the 2nd floor, the Kurdish flag. Standing in the centre of the camp, turning in a circle, you would have seen the same image, again and again. The bareness. The despair.

When the children arrived in the camp, this scene of desolation and misery is all they had left to call home. The children had fled the Syrian war, some on horseback, many on foot, across the desert. They had been lined up at checkpoints, counted, told where to avoid landmines, and sent to the camps. Many of the children had lost relatives, and some had seen bodies scattered in the streets. Here, at the camp, the horrors that these young children witnessed are not spoken of. They are dealt with silently, gently, and personally.

The children, however, transformed the camp, reclaimed the space, called it their own. Over the last two years, the children have covered nearly every available wall with their thoughts, their feelings, their anger, their misery, their longing for the past, and their hopes for the future.

You can see more of the girls’ artwork and stories alongside other writers and artists exploring the concept of Home in PDF through Patreon.com or on Kindle through Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

Open Call: Love in the Digital Age

“Love in the Digital Age”
Deadline: February 7, 2017

The London Reader is issuing an open call for short stories, minifiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, and art that explore love in the digital and narcissistic age.

“Love isn’t something natural. Rather it requires discipline, concentration, patience, faith, and the overcoming of narcissism. It isn’t a feeling, it is a practice.” – Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving

#DigitalLove: Checking our smartphones after every ping, we fail to concentrate on any one thing for more than a few minutes. Lacking the ability to delay gratification, we’ve no patience, no faith; we want it all and we want it now. In an age where we turn the lens on ourselves more than towards our lovers, is it still possible to love each other? In this new age, where we right-swipe for the next date, look for love in online match algorithms, flirt with 2D emoijis, and check new messages both during dinner and between the bed sheets, are we still capable of loving? Or are we held prisoner by the short-lived act of falling in digital love, over and over again?

What to Submit: Short stories, minifiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, and art can be stand alone pieces or collections, but should be less than 4,000 words or no more than 6 images for photography/art. Submissions can be true to life or speculative fiction. Final selection will be weighed in favour of shorter works.

How to Submit: Email submissions or questions to coordinator@LondonReader.uk and place ‘DIGITALLOVE’ in the subject line. Please include a biographical personal statement in the body of the e-mail, and indicate whether the submitted pieces have been previously published and if you hold the publication rights to them.

The deadline for submission on this theme is February 7, 2017.