Joseph Ridgwell

Lit Fiends of the World Unite

Let’s just get to the heart of this. We all scour the classics. Yes, we that get off to the beat of Kerouac, Burroughs, stories that endeared us to Bukowski and Hunter S et all. Edgy literary giants that we suckle, that shape us. Though when exploring the gritty world of ‘cosmic realism’, shouldn’t our antennae be tuning into what is happening now? The writers that are living and just breathing because we are too immersed in being entertained by the dead. Writer Joseph Ridgwell is one of the undead. He lives inside pages, lucky to be alive and well. An original. Born and bred ‘Bow-bell’, working class, self taught, perfect.

ridgSo what has endeared me to this Londoner? Apart from my own stints living and working in the UK and a diet of British television, I grew up on the edges of working class Australia.  But it’s not so much nostalgia that I’m looking for or that you will find it in his books. It’s more the sensibilities beyond the struggle. A certain freedom of expression that only true great writers have the guts to spill. Writing that you will not find in the mainstream or in regular Indie. For quite often they just take on the same market as mainstream, forgetting to take risks, keeping a stagnant lid on something that should be growing and changing the way we think about the world. Not a warm and fuzzy fantasy fix or boring bourgeois farce. I love work that makes me uncomfortable, that is challenging, courageous. I am a lover of the banned, the rebels, but not shock just for the sake of it. A story where there is no hidden agenda or contrivance. When Joseph gets on a roll that’s all it is. It is natural, it is life. He says fuck it, the shields are down and it is one of the best characteristics a writer, a great storyteller can have. That gift of turning one’s imagination into something that feels completely real.

I’ve caught Ridgwell in the throws of release. His latest collection of short stories is almost dry. That’s real ink folks. Take a quick moment to delve into a lost art where one can be absorbed in a page instead of immersed in electronic aspic. How it is produced is only an aside. It’s what’s inside that counts hey? That helps a lot, but I also have a paper fetish and Bottle Of Smoke Press gone apeshit-ballastic-beautiful on this one. Especially with the collaborative ‘deluxe edition’ which packs Ridgwell Stories perfectly with six deep and edgy woodcuts from writer and artist Jose Arroyo. Ridgwell and Arroyo share similar spirits, collaborating on this project from different continents. When you stare at Arroyos images, truth reveals words without characters. “did I just see that?” eye rubbing etches that are absolutely brilliant. But if the 2 tons is a little out of your range (though entirely worth it) you can get your hands on signed hardcovers or straight out paperbacks. But, remember kids, short press runs. So like me, get in early with pre-orders here.

Shyly I approached Mr Ridgwell for how would a International Cult Figure, like himself find the time to chat. Well in fact I scored an exclusive. Got a little taster of what’s to come. I had read enough from guest spots in Lit Zines like PUSH, Paper & Ink  & Hand Job to know that I needed more. Also, catching plenty of buzz and work via more of his posse of exclusive underground publishers like leamingtonbooks, who have his ‘road novel to end all road novels’ Burrito Deluxe ready to munch.

ridSo I delve even more and next thing I know, four samples from Ridgwell himself are slammed into my inbox. Twisted, no holds barred adventures that would make Le Pétomane blush. Asking the question “how can you write about life if you haven’t lived” Simple and true enough, though Ridgwell likes to take things a little further. What I got to taste were psyche slayers. Very real dark fixes filled with primal fears, fast paced scenarios, and plenty of good ole bollocks. One thing is for certain. When you read a Ridgwell story, it will twist your melon, and that is a pleasure we don’t get enough of. You can discover more about Joseph Ridgwell here. You can check out more of Arroyas work via twitter.





Book Review Zines & Journals



Literary Zine number 16

Keys, check.
Opal card, check.
Money, just enough.
Phone, charged.
Note book, yes.
Pen, you never know.
Lipstick, red.
Zine – Go!

PUSH number 16. West Ham’s latest pin up girl, Debbie, on the cover *drool* and in full colour, really brings out those sky blues. I see the fist and know Tim Wells is in the house. The Column Inches. Could be about a woman, could be about West Ham, either way love is confusing and his piece is solid and self knowing. Zines bring out the real in a sugar coated saturated mainstream. Nothing could be truer than when this harsh play by p.a.levy turned my gut one page in. A hard hit. “I’m electric, the ghost is cold” Someone so hurt, that their idea of love is a “far flung magical kingdom” shocked me in Deeds Not Words In Five Acts. Mesmerised by the pain, repulsed by the realities. For a few moments, I had to look at buildings, to stop the images I had just witnessed. Then I read it again. Compelling. I moved locations, and settled into the sun to see where else Editor, Joe England, would take us. CHVrlkIUYAAtNEO.jpg largeNo amount of light was going to save me. I was now resigned to the fact that I was going to be entering into these writers dark matter, this wasn’t going to be easy. Anette Roller’s maternal word beauty lifts her character’s predicament of lies and promises, pain and rage in Handsome Devil, when madness enters the room. I’m seeing a theme, or maybe not. All I feel is trepidation, like a curry, hot, the flavour too good to surrender from the heat of it, I continued. Simon Dent’s Gunships sad truth and Michael Pederson’s crazy pub convo in …Meadowbank, poignantly leads into Geraldine Quigleys, The Mark Of The Hydra. Religion, politics and grudges, how punk saved the life of a boy from Derry. This issue has a cheeky centre in Jenni Doherty. Strange String Fellows, a symphony of saucy poetics, gongs, strong. Onto Ian Cusack and one hell of a lucky bugger in Them That Are Carried. It is an excellent story of one man’s walk through life. Peter Burnett’s There Are No Apple Bastards In Larkhall laments sectarian songs, still fighting old battles that chant forever. Michael Keenaghan‘s Easy Money like a modern kitchen sink, dramatising the young, desperate and gullible. It left a sadness in my smile. I’m beginning to discover what a terror Dean Lillyman must have been or still is. Shenanigans written with his unique perspective is wonderful, misspent youth revisited. This issue is filled with ‘right dodgies’, and no better than characters Darren and Wayne in The Chain. This has Joseph Ridgewell‘s fingerprints all over it. A test of ‘just how fucked up can I make this character?’ which leads to ‘just how fucked up can he make my mind?’ as I hop on city rail home. Now, every face I see has a sordid secret and a soundtrack to go with it. Ford Dagenham’s Laugh Our Death Away, should be sung, so emphatic, so true. Then there is Amelia by Martin Hayes. Unobtainable and tragic, suddenly I see a theme again. Is this love? Once the cover closed on PUSH sixteen, its heartsick voice squeezed back inside its sleeve. Fifty odd pages stayed in my mind for a long time, a few more authors discovered, more words I must find.

A short note on images.

The cover photography of Hukins/Lilleyman. Individually they have their own fresh eyes, their passion for it shows. Jose Arroyo’s intricate woodcuts displayed in this issue in panels, a collage of deep emotion. The nicks in the wood, his heart shown. Always worth a walk and wander is the photography and work of Paul Talling and his love of derelict London.

Remember short press runs means get in quick!

buy PUSH issue sixteen here

Zines & Journals

Night Of The Six Gun Gorilla

Just a short ride after his debut novel Voodoo Bosch, Weird West author Frank Fronash revisits the legend of the

Six Gun Gorilla

The stories of the weird west are passed like folklore. They are folklore, just more recent. Night Of The Six Gun Gorilla could be just that. Well, it is exactly that. Author Frank Fronash tells a tale that might be some campfire urge of the cowboy age. As the flames dance, we are told about the gorilla that was once this, that once did that.
Readers forget, stories don’t have to confound to be interesting. Complexity is a shaded scale. While a gorilla taking his revenge might seem to demand some greater logistics, this author handles them deftly. O’Shea, (the gorilla in question) is resolved in a mere sentence in the first chapter.
From then on, the reader is left with a fast draw and a loyal heart and when your hero is a bloodthirsty nightmare like O’Shea, you don’t need anything else. There he is BOOM, spare me the bullshit.
9_vXQNVI.jpg smallAnd that’s what I love about the weird west. The good weird west. The weird west that understands its roots. No time for getting pedantic, no hair-tearing, no struggle for a hero’s soul.
O’Shea doesn’t even know if he has a soul. O’Shea doesn’t care one way or the other. He understands “The gorilla had plenty of words, little as he knew what most of them meant” Villain or hero, O’Shea doesn’t spend his every waking minute wandering around wondering. He has a job to do and is gonna get it done.
There are no deliberate pulling of heartstrings, but I felt waves of emotion as the bloody turns of phrase, turned the page. Greed & gundowns, horses & hoorahs, savagery & yes, sweetness. This book takes you to those extremes, shouting out in front for the next scene, before diving behind a rock as it plays out, bullets smacking the ground around you.

This is not my usual book, even for weird west, but it’s now a favorite. I will definitely be keeping my spurs on for riding headlong into O’Shea’s next adventure.


You can find Frank’s work here.

Book Review




Editor Martin Appleby

Shitty Jobs. Our lives of revolving doors until something fits. Euphemisms, lies inside the classifieds. So lucky when one actually delivers the goods. We make excuses, until desperation wins. We take the abuse, the boredom, the pressure until we do a Peter Finch and the windows slam up.

il_570xN.767579836_dwoiPaper And Ink #5 dares to Damn The Man. What surprised me about this issue is just how many of the stories are about hospitality. I’ve never nodded so much empathy in my life. I have been in and out of the game forever, reviews I pop for shits and giggles. Anyway, love zines and this issue delivered.

Ffionn Purcell wakes us up lamenting the weekend, relishing the simplicity of preparing for the working week ahead. I often hear management parrot “they don’t fit into the culture of the place” They want machines in the name of productivity, another number. Megan Pattie’s Covering Letter 1357114 reminds me so much of this where one becomes insignificant. Soul destroying. It’s not long before I see his name. Joseph Ridgewell. Hey, I don’t care if I come over all gushy, but this guy excites. Pretty sure he saves his best for his ‘cult’ releases, but these amuse bouches he pops down our gobs are exquisite. I swear I have worked with his ‘Renata”. We all know the type and Joseph has her pegged quickly. The kind of person that finds “imaginary faults, making the job a thousand times harder than it actually was”. It is a bizarre personality trait, power trip, whatever. Joseph handles the whole scenario brilliantly. We get paid to do the strangest things and what better way to make up for any shortcomings in ones job, by breaking a rule or two.

Next, another great piece from Ford Dagenham. His is a picture of pressure that starts from above. A domino of bad mood, rules, screaming power trippers in a flailing health system. It’s not a pleasant place and would take a zen master to let it wash over. New name for me David Rosko’s Poem For A Failing Economy and I Was That Worker talk of structure and how basically all workers are fucked and the fantasies we all are prone to when we are in a job we despise. Equity by Lance Nizami and myself now connected. His poem sits inside my photograph that editor Martin Appleby placed so perfectly. It is a frame for his Marxist lament. Loved Dinosaur by Fikret Pajalic, great drama and dialogue inside a warehouse. John Dorsey, When Becky Was In Hollywood has a fun, bitter, bite and has to be a true story. Harriet Creelman has me searching for more of her work. I can tell I need to, just from those six lines. Jennifer Chardon, who I came across via an earlier Paper & Ink issue has an excellent piece called One Minute. Think she is having one of those days, existential angst without the rocking. Trying to feel present within the menial tasks and the frustration of believing that that might help, isn’t helping. Though writing wonderful pieces of literature like this certainly does.

Erica Plouffe Lazure thoroughly sprays revenge in her piece The Sauce as we head down to my town and microminimalist Trevor Crowe. Trev has a doctorate in shitty jobs. His hospitality rap sheet is worse than a council health inspectors clipboard and great fuel for his sad rainbows. Adrien Chen from Wired magazine comments on social media. Roy Moller’s Sex, Drugs and Key Performance Indicators is a breathless bombardment about the game of spreadsheets and graphs, a crescendo of excess and the question of what for? I really liked the layout in this issue. Each page has its own identity, which really suited Susanne Wawra. Susanne is a visual artist and poet from Dublin, her piece PLAY is in two parts and delves into how we lose our sense of play in our work. Meals by Mary Robles talks of the saddest jobs one can have, it is real and it hurts. So is animal rights activist Leane Bridgewater. She will definitely make you “think twice before you think your job is shit

So happy to see Jose Arroyo’s art again as well as a quickie with his story Back To The Barter System. Pepe is the god of summer but with the vicissitudes of the seasons, only a great imagination can keep the pesos coming. I adored his story. There is more shared art and words on the page from Anggo Genorge, his poem stamped onto Sophie Pitchfords beautiful piece of derelict architecture. Eyes become bright again as I spy a name I know, Gwil James Thomas. The Mule’s Early Retirement says it all. Every line stings me with my own experience, what a poem indeed. Akua Mercy is back. Her words crush against oppression, the remedy – more than poetry. Like always I don’t want this Zine to end. This is my first read of writer U.V. Ray and if it has to end, Beneath Stars That Do Not Care is the best way to do it. With his great taste in music and world weariness, he has the final say “revolution is dead in the hearts of man, we have been battered into slavery
Paper And Ink Zine and others from the UK like Joe England’s PUSH and Hand Job Zine are brilliant introductions to so many great writers from around the world. You’ll see many of these guys doing the rounds – the stories and topics just get better and better. Keep your eyes on submissions, the roll call forever changes. These compilers do all the hard work for us, finding the finest diamonds in the coal.

Find out more here

by Abbie Foxton


Editor Martin Appleby

Places to read zines #1.
When you lose your kindle on holidays and you’re in a pub in Wales.
What a place to read a zine dedicated to Identity. Just outside this window is Conwy Castle. For those who have never heard of it, Conwy is a walled city on the coast of North Wales that was built to subjugate the Welsh. Edward 1 wanted them to be his subjects, he was a little upset, they didn’t recognise him as King, manhood issues etc. Anyway, amazing structure and strategies if you’re into that kind of thing. A kind of economic warfare existed. I’m more interested in the stone and lichen, days of bandits and bedlam, paths made between the trees. Trade came from the sea, so they picked a great location. Who are the winners? Identity. Language and culture is so strong inside these walls. Dragons hide in the beams. It would be fitting to just leave this zine here in this pub, in Conwy. Maybe continue its travels around the world, but I don’t want to have a gap in my collection.

image Martin Appleby

image Martin Appleby

Identity covers so many facets in life. Sexuality, politics, heritage what bands you like. We all need something to identify with even if it is nothing. In here, Joseph Ridgewell bangs the drum first, summoning the ghosts of family and bloodline. Susan Lelliott’s special coming out with Somebody’s Daughter is beautiful. On A Scale Of One To Ten – How Fucked Up Are You? Is damn good. Jennifer Chandon has an exploration of personalities and more to be discovered. Alice Ash’s You is a great study about identity, self esteem and the search for the one. Mark Safranko’s Rainbow Connection is a perfectly paced sense of self, life’s trials and sadness, comfort and joy. A strong elongated piece from Jared A Carrie and Lucas Howard’s, Name, Occupation – ‘we don’t even need a consciousness to exist in someone else’s dream’ are beauties.
Terence Corless held me. The Life And Times Of The Infamous Mario Botticelli, a skewiff air floats as he talks about his life, feelings and love. A glimpse in a round about way of what shapes us, what we are supposed to ‘like’ fed by media, his life static beyond a twilight zone. Rude Girl’s A Stream Of Conciousness Apparently reminds us just how alone we all are and how we all should be fine with that. Gwil James Thomas’ Nicknamed is a great giggler. His sense of humour regarding the basic form of our identity, ones name, is a right chuckle. Aptitude by Raef Boylan is a perfect example of identity re education. His story rises above the fear of not being good enough, his self deprecating epiphany, regret and identity seem to share a bench. The editor himself gets a stage as well. Martin Appleby finds himself in a ménage a trios of mistaken identity and a glimpse of what might be if he was the other Martin Appleby.

Some edgy pics pounce occasionally, Crystal Square by Alexander Bratell although dark, stills punches and Rebecca Snotflower on the back smells like zine spirit. Because is an excerpt from Dean Lillyman’s novel Billy And The Devil. A fitting piece because he seems so lost, his identity is onion layered, a great excerpt from an extraordinary book. Akua Mercy and Sonya Cheney sit side by side. Love lost and how it effects the self. Andrew Climance tells it in black and white, a snippet from the Squid Inc Publishers poetry collection ‘No Cans or Cartons, No Hot Or Smelly Food’. Lastly, a surprise for me. I know of Jose Arroyo’s artwork via the great literary zine PUSH. It was a joy to read his piece The Years Have Taught Me Nothing, killing time with a health check, his observations and unique look at the whole process and what it stirred in him was another standout.
Zines are usually limited runs, so you need to get in early. Hey, all available issues could have already been snaffled up. Just in case, check out Paper and Ink Zine’s website and look out for Issue 5 which should be out soon.

by Abbie Foxton

Poetry Zines & Journals
Featured Image -- 2753

island life

Originally posted on urban f:

squid urban

Laid back, the early risers rest in wheelbarrows. Woven baskets with tubers piled high. Mountains of breadfruit, starch is staple, the perfect ride for exotic spices. Green leaves and bundles of onions, towers of eggs and flower stalls. Birds of paradise fenced us all inside, I felt drained of colour.

Noise and heat of the city zooms. Some guy with a fake ‘Ask me’ badge stops to see if I’ll fall for his scam. Flip a mental bird, my eyes say I ain’t no newbie wanderer, hassles the next in line, an elderly couple gazing in circles, pointing to the sky. Across the street a slower pace begins.

Fish markets wrap the periphery. Small catches displayed like Renaissance, backed by wood, stones and rifles. I have trouble eating blue, the parrot fish belongs to the coral. Big and bulging iridescence, to be admired not swallowed.

Kids swished away flies from…

View original 74 more words


Hunter S. Jones

PHOENIX RISING  by Hunter S. Jones


indexAuthor Hunter S. Jones has been busy since her poetical romance ‘September’ series ended.  Always one to have a constant project brewing, Hunter’s books range from voodoo lust to online trust, and often feature a little bit of slap and tickle. Hunter’s latest is a new venture. A historical romance in Tudor England. Anne Boleyn in fact. The Tudors have always appealed to Hunter. It was part of her undergrad major in History with an emphasis on the English Renaissance and Reformation, so looking forward to the mix of fact and Hunter’s beautiful twists that will be weaved inside the fiction. “The Tudors have always appealed to me, it was the beginning of the modern era. Anne Boleyn was a woman who defied all standards and paid the ultimate price, simply because she had such grace & charm that a man, a king, fell in love with her & changed a country for the love of her“.

Phoenix Rising is set during the last hour of Anne Boleyn’s life as told from a descendent of the astrologer/physician of King Henry VIII. Using a ‘star map’ as a guide, stories reveal themselves, a novel tactic indeed.  When a young Anne Boleyn arrives at the court of King Henry VIII. She is to be presented at the Shrovetide pageant, le Château Vert. The young and ambitious Anne has no idea that a chance encounter before the pageant will lead to her capturing the heart of the king. What begins as a distraction becomes his obsession and leads to her destruction.
Love, hate, loyalty and betrayal come together in a single dramatic moment… the execution of a queen. The history of England will be changed for ever. It’s a very human story. Sad but true

You can find Phoenix Rising here

SEPTEMBER ENDS by Hunter S. Jones

The dream of writers lounging around in cafes all day, filling journals with the spills of language is a seductive and cerebral fantasy of mine. Their inky black stained lips sipping dark stuff, is an extremely alluring vision. My passion lies with the poets, but in reality poets tend to make a living, well…not writing poetry.

Liz Snow is a seductive creature with a tormented past. A business savvy with a lust for literature, discussion and analysis. She connects with lawyer Pete Hendrix, her eyes win him “fifty floors up in a tower of glass. The full catastrophe”. Their online liaison soon becomes addictive. They question their sanity, themselves and their new addiction.

Fantasy,tragedy and poetry fill the pages of September Ends. This romance is wrapped in a very modern scenario. Neurons rule instead of pheromones and with that comes the vicissitudes of time, space and madness. So when you fall in love with a mind, do you fall in love with your own imaginings, or is that what we do, even if we fall in love with flesh and blood – no difference?

septemberLiz and Pete’s affection grows as they stare into the white light, each tapped line from a dusty keyboard sends them deeper and deeper in love. A mutual affection for words has them following and discussing English poet Jack O Savage. Jack is a poet with a punk heart. A sort of John Cooper Clarke with eyes dipped in Keats. He feels “as if this life of mine is not mine, that someone else is living through me, that I have no say in any of this, whatever this is” Well, Indie is dead, and ‘The Poet’ is pained with metaphor. Enter wings of a cyber butterfly and you will see lives unravel with all the hurt, beauty and pain of existence.

The story moves like an internal play. It’s all in the mind or inside something else. A circuitry of lyrical wires crossing and sparking at breakneck speed. Chat rooms thump with sexual tension, words are a powerful aphrodisiac. Pictures flick by, an innocent peep show, thoughts are raw and a natural awkward dialogue begins to be revealed.

Diary entries fatten thoughts, anxieties, doubts and storyline. When they inevitably meet, that’s when reality hits hard. The story now instead of being told in a vacuum now has a landscape, not just solitary figures looking for substance in their words, they have the sustenance of flesh, the hurt of lies… a bookend of tears.September Again

Savages’ poetic blog entries are pure joy. He bursts into chapters, his words reflect a train of thought for the lovers to share – a delicious saucy ride – “Unfurl your butterflying tongue” “It’s raining peaches in my tent.”

September Ends introduces it’s characters  lives and motives well. It’s a sweet romantic drama, dripping with tears. September Again, the second book in the September series is not far away and I look forward to the continuing saga of sin, love and words.

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