The last thing many of us want to do right now is spend even more time looking at a screen, but our reading of new work for this issue of The Manchester Review reminded us again and again that poems, essays and fiction can transport you or suddenly refract your immediate environs into a charged portrait of personal change.
For this suddenly very Manchester-based (or, better, Manchester-confined) editorial team, to come across stories like Melissa Wan’s ‘Departure Gate’ and Josephine Galvin’s ‘Going Downhill’, Jeffrey Wainwright’s poem ‘Coverdale’ and Patrick Joyce’s non-fiction depiction of Gorton as an industrial Jerusalem, made local roads as exotic as the sea crossed in Marion McCready’s ferry to Gourock, its waves ‘moving like a multitude of pigeons / feeding together, or Andrew Kerr’s ‘The Castleford Surtra’ which ‘likens the start of the Path / to a man pushing a boat through shallows against the tide // at some stage you hoist a sail and crack on’.
The work in this issue did carry us away: we hope you’ll let it do that too, maybe starting with Colette Bryce’s interview where she discusses how ‘poems might represent ‘selected experience’. They’re all pinned to the pilgrim process’. Unfamiliar places emerge across the issue, from the Ethiopian poems selected from Chris Beckett’s revelatory new anthology, Songs We Learn from Trees, or the searching and exhausting travels of Chris Cusack’s essay ‘The Glummest Rook’. Writing about Catullus, Jamie McKendrick asks, “How do names function in a poem?”, a question that could equally be applied to the immersive atmospheres of Éamon Little’s essay ‘Poillíneascannaí & The Junction’, which explores how a landscape becomes inhabited by networks of lore and memory. Micheál McCann’s poem ‘Late Blight’ conversely reads its human encounters from the landscape’s point of view, an uncanny invocation of place which also runs through Eva Esfandiari-Denney’s poems and “the strange dark space” it is almost a consolation to find in Jodie Hollander’s ‘Cello Case’.
If you enjoy the work you read, which also includes winners of this year’s inaugural Graham Greene Film Review Competition, and the brilliant and moving responses to the pandemic by high school, college and undergraduate students across Manchester, please let others know via social media, or get in touch with us. We are also keen to bring new reviewers on board for The Manchester Review, so email us at manreviewsubmissions@gmail.
John McAuliffe & Chad Campbell