A poem by Iago Vendrell Kudos! Now it seems we have fulfilled our Technological dreams: a bright future Wrapped in plastic debree & drifting Along the sea. Does our madness See, hear, smell, feel or taste?   What a waste!   Right now, there it is… Guess what we’ve achieved With our lovely fast food dreams And this ‘superior’ human decency? Plastic sea doesn’t feel like paradise to me.       This content is published to coincide with UCL Climate Action Society’s flagship event The Sustainability Symposium. The Sustainability Symposium is taking place on 16 November 2018.  Featured image source: Real Salt. 

Toxic Dreams

FATIMA JAFAR reviews the poetry of Sandra Brown Springer and Remi-Lyn Brown, performed in an event celebrating black queer womanhood. DISRUPTION, an event marking the end of this year’s Black History Month, was held on campus last week. UCL library assistant and poet Sandra Brown Springer, and her daughter Remi-Lyn Brown read their poetry to an audience made up of UCL students, staff, and their close family and friends. Brown is a self-published poet, and part of the creative collective SXWKS, while Springer is doing her Masters degree in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, and is currently working on a short story and poetry anthology. This was the first time they had performed their poetry together, but, as they said, it will definitely not be the last. Their poetry focuses on the navigating of space and identity in today’s society as black women, and coming to terms with their queerness. Both…Continue Reading


ANNA VALL reviews the Waterstones event ‘Turning the Political Into Fiction’. When asked why he chose to engage so deeply with the political in his novel White Highlands, author John McGhie responded in his characteristically self-effacing manner: ‘if not us… well, who else?’ He reflected a sense of obligation, of necessity almost, for fiction to engage with politics. While fiction certainly is not required to mingle with politics, when it does so successfully it can yield remarkable results. In an evening of discussion at Waterstones Gower Street titled ‘Turning the Political Into Fiction,’ four authors shared insights into the role of the artist in politics, as well as the power political works of fiction can have in the modern world. While their novels and concerns were often dissimilar, they shared one common thread: the idea that political fiction can be used to promote understanding and unite people in turbulent times.…Continue Reading

Turning the Political into Fiction

SOL DIÉGUEZ reviews Dogman, a bleak crime story set in the streets of southern Italy.  Set in Magliana, a dingy suburb of Rome, Matteo Garrone’s Dogman is a skilfully crafted tale of drama and crime. Loosely based on a real story, the film follows Marcello, a good man in desperate need of acceptance and validation. Garrone’s take on such universal themes is soaked in brutal realism. This allows Dogman to fully immerse the viewer in a tense but powerful narrative. Marcello – performed spectacularly by Marcello Fonte – is an amicable but weak figure, who runs a dog-grooming business. His fondness for dogs is exceeded only by his love for his daughter, Sofia (Alida Baldari Calabria), whom he sees only occasionally. He is a well-liked member of his community and lives out his days pampering his pets and playing football with his friends. His nights, however, are spent dealing cocaine. Through…Continue Reading


EMER DALY considers Anni Albers’ retrospective at the Tate Modern. In the Tate Modern’s new retrospective of Anni Albers’ geometrically complex textile art, we are made to appreciate the many layers of weaving. From ancient crafts, to decorative art forms, to architectural weave types, Albers’ intricate artworks and designs engage heavily with many types of textile production. This exhibition guides us down the many paths that Albers took her weaving, first as a reluctant student and later as a teacher and renowned artist. Albers’ weavings are filled with contradictions. She takes an ancient media, traditionally ornate, and creates modern and linear patterns instead. She uses soft threads such as cotton, linen, silk and weaves them in bold, almost harsh designs. Neither two nor three-dimensional, her tactile works falls somewhere in between painting and sculpture. While teaching at Black Mountain College in the USA, Albers encouraged her students to ‘imagine […]…Continue Reading

Anni Albers: Multi-layered Master

KRISTIE LUI discusses what Jon M. Chu’s Crazy Rich Asians gets right, but mostly what it gets wrong. Jon M. Chu’s grand cinematic adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s 2013 novel Crazy Rich Asians provides American cinema with a portrayal of East Asians that it so direly needed. It is the first movie from a major Hollywood studio in twenty-five years to feature a full Asian cast – the last being the adaptation of Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club, a novel focused on the lives of eight Chinese American immigrants. Crazy Rich Asians is a romantic comedy starring Constance Wu, Henry Golding and Michelle Yeoh as leading roles. The film topped the U.S. box office with a jaw-dropping $35 million in returns in its first five days in theatres. The figures speak for themselves – in fact, they act as a powerful cry, demanding more Asian stories and representations on the big-screen. ‘Please let this…Continue Reading

Crazy Rich Fairytales

ALICE NELSON reviews British Library event ‘Leonard Cohen: The Flame’ Leonard Cohen, prolific singer-songwriter, poet and novelist, passed away on the 7th of November 2016.  Nearly two years after his death, the British Library event ‘Leonard Cohen: The Flame’ offered a chance to be surrounded by fellow Leonard lovers, in what felt like long-due and well-needed group therapy for a passing we’d all not really dealt with. Part of the British Library’s Season of Sound, the evening was hosted by Will Gompertz, the BBC’s Arts Editor. It featured readings, music and discussions, celebrating Cohen’s life and works with a focus on The Flame, a recently published posthumous poetry collection that spans Cohen’s literary life. The evening was intimate and often exceptionally moving, underpinned with an omnipresent admiration and affection for Cohen – his work, life, character and soul. Cohen has so much artistic insight and pleasure to offer us, and the…Continue Reading

Leonard Cohen: The Flame

A poem by SAM HUDDLESTONE you said “jump” in your mind   like a lead laden leaf, you fall; skydiving initially, you risk drowning thereafter.   you pollute it when you break its surface, holding breath and closing eyes,   caught by a fraction of the volume. a squint of high stakes but still the sun floods, floods all but you and the area directly below.   once adjusted you look to see your feet dangle and dance down in the blue. straddling oblivion; treading water in a sideways figure of eight.   who knows how many of your bodies make up the depth. you see it so it exists but it is nothing. what does that make you then? lost in mirrors and photographs. you set your sights to a time signature and can shoot if it gets too much.   your arms are spread, you start counting down…Continue Reading

top down bottom up?

A poem by WERONIKA BRZEZINSKA. The entire world: shadow of the moon, the past, the soon, caught in your eyes, and wants to play hide and seek with us. Come! Above our heads a million lights, beneath our feet a million lives whispering their stories to blades of grass that pass them onto us in sound and scent and swing. See? The sun is pulling the horizon down by a string. A renegade in retrograde, like me. Sunburnt sky, red my lips, Evening flare, burn my tongue, Swaying waves, teach my hips how to dance to summer’s song. Can you hear it, the music in the distance? Listen… The wind is whistling a tune for two, will you sway with me if I sway with you? Here we are, now we are, as we are d a n c i n g hiding from our decadence, silent by coincidence, waiting…Continue Reading

At Sunset

LUCY MANLEY discusses the intersection of her queer and Catholic identities. ‘Catholic’ and ‘queer’ are two words you probably wouldn’t expect to see side by side, and that is perfectly natural. Anyone familiar with Catholicism will be aware that homosexuality isn’t exactly approved of by the Church in general, and as a daughter of strict Catholic parents I grew up believing all forms of sexuality were taboo subjects. This, understandably, presented a problem when coming to terms with my own queerness. Let me be clear: I’m not criticising my parents. I became aware at around the age of fourteen that I was queer, and only really accepted it a couple of years later. Although I came out to my friends almost immediately, it would be another two years before I told my parents I was bi, which, even then, wasn’t strictly true – just easier than trying to explain pansexuality…Continue Reading

Queer and Catholic

WIKTORIA WROŃSKA reviews Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War, a feverish romance on political themes. Paweł Pawlikowski’s latest feature tells the story of two passionate lovers fighting tooth and claw to survive under the communist regime of mid-century Poland. The director of Academy Award-winning Ida delivers a visually striking and musically delightful film that manages to avoid the Hollywood trap of joyful yet predictable eucatastrophe. Because, of course, in such real political tumult, love rarely conquers all. Cold War opens on composer Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) and producer Irena (Agnieszka Kulesza) as they tour across Polish villages to scout singers and dancers for a new music group, ‘Mazurek’. From the crowd of candidates stands out a temperamental, confident town-girl called Zula (Joanna Kulig), who sees joining the group as a gateway to a better life. While Irena is unimpressed with her, Wiktor immediately becomes fascinated and takes her in. Pawlikowski goes on to capture the fickleness of their relationship through a non-linear…Continue Reading

Cold War

NICK FERRIS reviews Yuval Noah Harari’s latest publication 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. Nearly a fifth of the way through the 21st century, philosophical and anthropological man of the moment Yuval Noah Harari has come out with a manifesto of thoughts and ideas concerning the world we live in now. Following the largely historically-focused Sapiens and the more broad and existential Homo Deus, 21 Lessons offers 21 chapters on 21 abstract concepts and trigger words. From terrorism and religion to capitalism and artificial intelligence, the distinctions between the concepts become irrelevant as Harari draws everything together to weave a general understanding of the world. Created through an amalgamation of interviews and discussions Harari has had over the years, 21 Lessons’ premise potentially leaves it vulnerable to accusations of it being constructed on a commercial level to appeal to a click-bait-obsessed audience. Indeed, the acknowledgment at the end that it was a…Continue Reading

21 Lessons for the 21st Century