Although a little late, our editors picked out some of the Northern writing which inspired us the most in 2021. Amid all of the chaos, there was so much immense Northern talent to celebrate last year: although we all chose to take a closer look at some of our favourite writing and spoken word, we also came across and were even lucky enough to meet some incredible musicians and visual artists making waves across the Northern scene. Here's to 2022 bringing even more to energise and empower our creative community!
‘ C+nto’ is a poetry collection by Northern artist Joelle Taylor, dissecting the female body as a political space. In particular it focuses on 90’s butch counter culture and the riots which forwarded liberation for all female, nonbinary and trans bodies. Formally it is experimental, with fragments structured as plays. Taylor’s language is stunning; it is a deeply personal and emotive work. It is also the winner of the 2021 TS Eliot prize.
In October, All the Men I Never Married by Kim Moore came out, a collection of poetry exploring everyday sexism, growing up with the complexities of gender and relationships, and the female body as a site of danger and public perception. I saw Kim Moore read from the collection at a local festival a few years ago and was really excited to read the whole thing, and it did not disappoint; it is a powerful and arresting set of poems, which pulls out a lot of experiences and feelings that I, and others, often find difficult to articulate.
Lemn Sissay is a brilliant poet, from Wigan and various parts of Manchester, including Moss Side. Both his poetry and the city itself creatively grew together, which I find beautiful! His fascinating book 'My Name is Why' is an autobiography which recounts his growth from the care system and how it influenced him to become the poet he is today. I had the privilege of seeing and meeting him, learning about his experience and vibrant spin on the written and spoken word. He read parts from his poetry book, 'Gold from the Stone', and I'd definitely recommend watching his enthralling performances!
2021 was the year I discovered the Portico Prize-winning novelist Jessica Andrews, whose 2019 book ‘Saltwater’ explores the intersection of class identity and patriarchy through intergenerational female relationships. Andrews’ work stays close to her own Northern roots, whilst probing the experiences of Northerners who emigrate south. Her next book, ‘Milk Teeth’, will be published in July of this year. She also runs an online arts magazine called ‘The Grapevine’, which aims to support writers and artists from underrepresented demographics through offering opportunities for publication.