29 Mar 2015

The Grind - Remnants

The Grind, created by Gordon Johnstone, is fairly new on the scene.  It has struck a chord however, ringing in a misanthropic marriage of poetry, artwork, radio and events.

The publication, known as The Grind or The Grind Journal aims to publish short fiction, poetry, experimental writing, photography and visual art from artists in Scotland and Scottish artists around the world.

That’s what it says on their site at least! And so far so good - The Grind rocks, and is an ideal showcase for new writing. 

In all earnest, The Grind promises to be yet more - a place for artists in Scotland and the Scottish diaspora is what it says - although what I like the best is the part where it says that The Grind is here to collaborate and bring people together, avoiding the schiamachy and cliques that plague the arts.
That is one of the best promises I've heard coming from any grassroots publication, although The Grind be warned - those cliques are hard to avoid and you don't even know you're in one of them half of the time!  Still, with schiamachy on the run, all writers will be pleased.  

Yes! Fuck you schiamachy! And thank you Gordon Johnstone for scoping out and banishing this vile social affliction! 

What is most pleasing about all of this is that by every contemporary means possible, it is clear that The Grind and Gordon Johnstone are doing everything to promote, encourage and popularise talent of all sorts in Scotland, and yes, Scotland's diaspora.

There is even a radio show on Castle FM, currently from 9 to 11pm on a Sunday night.  To listen to The Grind radio show could not be easier - just go to castlefm.com and click on the Castle FM logo and you can listen online.  So far The Grind radio show has discussed science fiction and interviewed writer Joseph Ridgwell and journalist Kaite Welsh who is currently taking part in the Womentoring Project.

In the copy of The Grind Remnants which I picked up at their January 2015 event in aid of food banks, they have published Tracey S. Rosenberg, Stephen Watt, Emi James, Liam Dunn, Morgan Downie, Natalie Stypa, Cee Smith, Kevin McLean, Dee Sunshine, Elyse Jamieson, Jackal Trades, Kevin P Gilday and Andrew Blair.

I should add that this event was done in conjunction with another newish publication, called [Untitled] Falkirk.  I haven't checked out [Untitled] Falkirk yet, but I'm always keen on any person or group that makes use of the less frequently employed keys on a keyboard, and to this date the only guys out there who make good use of the crotchets [that's what these are properly called] are chemists and mathematicians. 

Back to The Grind line-up however, and a few of these writers you will have seen if you attend fringe literary events in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and in these cities all is going triumphantly well.  Many of the names are new and that is the best part of the deal.  Some of these writers are from the blogging underground while others are finding their level. Others have been on the scene for years.  Stephen Watt's poem The Saltings is a highlight, and you'll love Liam Dunn's illustrations, although a photocopied piece of A4 certainly does them no justice.

Look at this one, by Liam Dunn, called Varo / Noé which shows two ultrafine figures, joined at the hip it would seem.

Liam Dunn The Grind Journal
Varo / Noé by Liam Dunn from The Grind Remnants

The mix of new writers, first timers and experimenters (the experimenters win) means that there is the odd sophomoric moment in The Grind Remnants - but let's not dwell on them this time round. 

This is a home for writers and artists, and with the radio angle, it's also a locus for discussion and promotion.  Of course, real grassroots writing isn't beholden to any style and does not aim to please or seek patronage.  It’s the sort of thing best represented here by Dee Sunshine who has for decades demonstrated more than anybody the required staying power, the flexibility of expression and the sheer tenacity that makes someone an artist in this day and age.

Compare this with the other recent collection of ‘ones to watch’ — those in receipt of the Scottish Book Trust ‘Kiss of Death’ New Writers Awards 2015 — a list which runs Rachelle Atalla, DP Colgan, Basil W Davies, Julie Martis, Olga Wojtas, Stephen Keeler, Lindsay Macgregor, Aiko Greig, Michael, Richardson and Claire Squires.

All of these guys received £2,000 from the Book Trust in 2015 as part of a deal which guarantees you will probably never hear their names again, that is until that is you clock their name badge as they try to sell you a carpet at General George.

Ach but that's the Book Trust for you, far too trusting.  So my money is on The Grind lot, yes! Because there is at least evidenced in these writers a desire to be involved - to brave the literary field and publish from the heart and place their literary and artistic experiments on the page.  None of the pieces in The Grind outstay their welcome, which is a wise editorial choice, or maybe just the way these writers roll.

I'd like to see what more is planned with The Grind as a print journal, and if it will be more attractive than the photocopied and stapled zine which I bought at their food bank fundraiser event in Edinburgh.  But never mind, this is zine culture and although there are many variations and anything goes.  There is potential, and there is room for growth.

And best of all, the stern promise that schiamachy will be expulsed from within our midst at last! Fuck The Grind, as they say!