A stark cross in the brickwork. This is England and Hand Job have been exploring the best from the underground for 10 strong issues. This its final before they head into the heady territory of publishing via Hi Vis Press ‘Publishers Of the Unbound’, with many projects already slotted for the ink treatment.Blazers of the do-it-yourself ethos, this gang of word renegades are ready to share their finds and like minds, voices breaking out of an uninspiring age. They are part of the new awakening. The more I read from the many publishing houses that I have been introduced to via Hand Job and friends, the more I realise I have nothing in common with the popular. I am absolutely proud of this fact. I love the reality I have chosen, that is celebrating a part of the shaping of unheard and underheard voices of Britain, all in the comfort of my little nest in Sydney. I lived and worked in England for many years. It is very much a part of me and my loved ones. The only reason I started Urban F and reviews was for the sole purpose of staying connected with a place very dear to me. The people, the towns, the language, the humour. In doing so I have miraculously entwined myself with some of the most brilliant writers, comfortable in their talents, choosing to be original, rebellious and beautiful, with many ‘did I really just read that’ moments. I like the trust one develops with independent publishers, Hand Job wont give you a bum steer. They will sniff out all the bad, the profiteers and schemers.
This line up is the best of ten issues. So here I am again, with paper in front of me, a comfy chair. Silence, the day passing inside someone else thoughts. Yessica Klein “an excuse to jump momentarily into someone, the contours of their past”. It is this and a poet’s eye that we build ourselves by reading and exploring our responses. Thomas McColl goes the ‘sad tale, hard lesson’ road well with 50p and the his new creation myth, the very funny and weird Han The Headless. Regular Hand Jobber and Glove Lit Zine’s Ian Cusack hits the page with his matter of fact solid text. His faustian wet dream had me in shock. A thick retelling of close encounters on the motorway is amazing. He does misogynistic psychopath with so much flair you can’t help being torn. This is a hit with a brick tale. There is the compelling short stories from Amy Victoria Gray which seem to dissolve into each other. The Great Pyramid Of Tower Hamlets and Council Estate Ghost walk through concrete realities, she writes out of body of stark monotony, her story telling is heady and unique.
Terence Corless teases back and forth in a daydream with a taster 2nd Weekend from his upcoming novel Quarter Life. His second contribution Big Bruv is an eulogy of the living. A life encapsulated, his shortcomings forgiven. Miggy Angel smacks out four pillars of hard hitting sublime beauty with The Door, Alchemy, Life On Mars (Bars) & The Plastic Detox Mattress. His urban creative is endless, Burning House Press and The Arsonist Magazine just one part to keep an eye out for.
Holly Watson shines out of the page with two treats Jackie’s Marvellous Medicine and The Lie. I’m addicted to Holly’s storytelling, her funny light bending in our day to day, her take on family observations and growing up in Coventry has me reaching for the ventilon, keeping my smile on well after the her stories finish. Her Coventry Conch blog page is my favourite remedy when life starts to stink.
Shame by Ben Williams is a heart wrenching story on bullying, when children pack and encourage, roused by cruelty you understand how the right interference and a simple gesture can steer wrong intentions.
Regular at Hand Job central is Dean Lilleymen. More extracts from his novel Billy And The Devil. Check out his performances, recitals of passage on his fantastic website. These snippets will hook you to tackle the whole story and guide you to links to purchase. Another piece plucked from The Gospel According To Johnny Bender, a snapshot from the Edendale carnival is a smirk away from being uncomfortable, and is a definite on my reading list this year. There is also a piece called Diference = Exchange that is a knockout, “tricked by her own singularity in a meadow of same” Rise Up! indeed.
On to our host Hand Job president Jim Gibson. Thrilled to be seeing more of his work around the place, both these pieces An Essay On Woodcarving, Nature and the adrenalin kicks of Romance, has me paused and re reading to feel the atmosphere and mull over the sentiment again and again.
A couple of quickies from Joseph Ridgwell that at first glance would have you topping yourself if the blade was handy. It spits and hisses after a bad night on the booze, it’s vapour a mood changer. If New Year Blues has an opposite it would be serene observations and psychogeographical waltz of Wardie Bay Blues, and its lilting bliss.
Wonderful to see Gwil James Thomas on a new page. My main encounters have been poetic, this time Gwil tells the story of ‘how I’d meet Diego, the world’s greatest coach driver’ This is the same trip where beautiful prose materialised for some of the pages of Gwil Vs Machine available via Martin Appleby’s, Paper And Ink Zine offshoot. Gwil makes us all comfy, he tells it like we are all sat round a table sharing sangria, sunrise travels, reminding us all we have so many stories to tell, this one perfect and simply told.
Martin Appleby whose work has appeared in many past issues of this brilliant literary zine has the final page, Burger Man and Shit Jokes is punk word beats and past loves, funny, melancholic, straight up thoughts with no pretention. The accompanying picture has me pondering Martin’s finds.
Though the words are at the heart of Hand Job one must mention how their design just keeps getting more sophisticated no doubt accentuated by the artful eye of Sophie Pitchford. After gazing at the photography and layout of this Anthology issue, one gets a taste of what exceptional results the posse at Hi Vis Press can achieve.
This anthology is like a grown up version of itself. Ten issues, The layout, images, strong short stories and sublime poetry is planted perfectly. You can purchase this, back issues and follow new projects via Hi-vispress .com.