Nuclear Medicine Facility. Two hours, waiting. Kandinsky’s poetry strokes the walls and the chairs are extra comfy. It wasn’t going to take me long to make myself at home. I flick through some airbrushed dreams and watch the conga of shuffling patients on their way to the zapping room. Arms high linked to vines of iodine, stilling me in a room of pings and Manilow.
I look up at a large sign. No Mobile Phones. WTF? I rummage in my bag for entertainment. There is an unopened bank statement, lip gloss, tampons and a yellow highlighter. I start to draw. Bored, I dig deeper – Salvation! Right at the bottom, packed up against a hardened single serve cup-a-soup is Issue 14 of PUSH. Brilliant! Requiring no electricity, I do a quick head check, tuck legs under and glimpse the nurses station just in case I’m breaking any other rules and open it’s stiff face.
That was my first taste of PUSH. The cover all urban beauty boarded & condemned, but with a facade you just know is still well lived in. It’s a compelling pic by Paul Talling and for this eye, derelict is very chic and close to my heart. PUSH was shoved my way when I stumbled upon the excellent review by Kit Cayliss on the Best of The First Ten Issues Anthology launch – Momentum And Memory: PUSH Magazine – Poetry At The Gates http://thequietus.com/articles/16959-push-literary-zine-football-west-ham-fanzine-joe-england. I was curious as to what I had been missing and especially keen not to miss out ever again. That ten issue celebration, bound in blue, is now on a plane heading my way http://eastlondonpress.bigcartel.com/product/push-the-best-of-1-10. That’s another beautiful quirk of a zine. Limited runs sell out quick. When they are filled with writers like these, you want to be ready to pounce. Now that I am addicted to the format of Literary Zines, I need the pure stuff, the original short runs that keep paper and print alive. A quick blink through the contributors info has me excited. Names I know, towns and football teams I can empathize with.
I’m eased into what looks like a woodcut print, two footballers by Jose Arroyo, which brings me to publisher and editor Joe England. Joe sells PUSH the old fashioned way, outside games and gigs, a tradition the likes of Sniffing Glue, When Saturday Comes and many other passionate’s championed. What’s left is offered online and word of mouth. There is a heart to PUSH that is rarely represented by the mainstream publishers, you won’t see this in digital format. This is all about texture, great writing you can easily dip in and out of, mark with tea rings and thumbprints. Mine is already a mess. I’ve pulled it out on trains, buses, in queues, and at lunchtime shared with co-workers whose quick skims have turned into “can I borrow this”.
No wonder. Writer P.A. Levy comes out with an early goal with The ‘We’ Lies. This couple is drifting. Its ‘West Ham V’s Simone Weil’ storyline is as beautifully real as it is poetic. Michael Keenaghan’s Cally Blues is as tense as the last kick in a penalty shoot out. Great drama, real banter which seems to be a common thread in a lot of these pieces. English poet Tim Wells’ Thai Crack Chicken Lady is a delight, warm as chilli fingers, his style has left my belly grumbling. Wayne Holloway’s epic King Bun flies with a montage of image. For me this has a touch of the ‘Shaver Mysteries’ about it, a forteana life of it’s own truth or fiction. Set in the 1930’s Georgie Boy Pallen is angry and might be a few sandwiches short of a picnic. His story is to be continued, an old style trick of serialisation that I love. Writer Dean Lilleyman’s Seventeen smacks ya. He mouths off fast leaving one breathless and smiling, gasping at the adrenalin rush of words that is magic. Another bonus of all these writers is finding all their other work, their own literary releases. Like Joseph Ridgewell. His submission 7/7 ‘s look at mass panic in the London underground, survival instincts and a first hand witness to tragedy gave me goose bumps and crystal eyes. Just another writer whose work I will investigate.
Paper & Ink Zine’s Martin Appleby’s piece is as quick and sweet as a Buzzcocks B Side lament. Paul Reaney has your life laid out in two pages. Jim Gibson introduces us to a nasty piece of work called Skeb Again? Johno’s old friend, crazy as a cut snake, and on the streets, is a chilling read. You feel his anxiety and just know this ain’t going to end well. Punk Aesthetics now plagued by his “Creeping Nihilism” Gary Budden’s Up And Coming was another stand out. Last night at The Stockwell Arms, “standing in venues where the term shithole would be an aspiration”. Generations there for the send off, even those with “Jackets a bit too clean, badges yet to rust”.
The final pieces Gwil James Thomas’s Dick Head Poem I immediately loved and Ian Cusacks The Bogus Man. Bryan Ferry is god and the price of love is painful when pheromones are calling. Raymond Gorman’s Friends & Enemies sits centred and doesn’t budge with the strength of conviction. John Tait’s Snake Blood Shots broke my heart while Ford Dagenham did the summing up on life with his lyrical Living Jism.
PUSH 14 was well worth the fiver. My copy is already scarred from sharing an inch away from my knives, dogeared in battle, stained and shelved now. I sniff and yearn for England. Now over read and rough handled it makes a pretty addition to the words I found inside.
You can find all things PUSH via http://www.pushmagazine.co.uk/index.html
Connect w Joe England via twitter @JoeEnglandBooks https://twitter.com/JoeEnglandBooks