When we arrived in Vence the Matisse chapel was closed. ‘No problem,’ I told my wife, ‘It’s open tomorrow morning.’ Except it wasn’t – I had misread the guidebook. Waiting until it reope… Read article
1638 You can only get to Lambeth by ferry.There have I ventured five several times to view the rarities at John Tradescant’s Ark,where I did spend the whole day in perusing,and that superficially, … Read article
Over the course of the past few years, I’ve become aware of threads, bright fibres, at the edges of my vision. Somewhere, someone has been weaving their way around the habitual bits and pieces of my… Read article
PERSEID METEORS TONIGHT – COMING FROM JUST BELOW THE W OF CASSIOPEIA IN THE NORTH EAST My father’s text message reaches me late on 12 August as I catch a train to Clapham. I glance out of the win… Read article
My mum used to run the Darby and Joan in the village where I grew up. It was a social club for local pensioners. Once a fortnight, she would drive round the village to pick up the members, and take th… Read article
I subscribe to a certain literary journal, which I’ll call the London Review of Books. Subscribe to it, but almost never read it. Who has time to do that, academics and book publishers apart? Every… Read article
I am in Brussels, numbering the Bruegels. It is a project. I have drawn up a spreadsheet of all 42 painted Bruegel panels, and a further 10 penumbral Bruegel works – possible misattributions, copie… Read article
‘Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, waheguru ji ki fateh!’ It’s a comforting exhortation. The sung greeting, chanted by officiants and congregations in Sikh temples around the world, celebrates the divine a… Read article
Every few months there's a news story about a teenage party that gets out of hand. Parents go away, child invites friends on Facebook, party goes viral, house gets trashed. I cringe at the headlines, … Read article
You know Orion always comes up sideways.
Throwing a leg up over our fence of mountains,
And rising on his hands, he looks in on me
(Robert Frost, ‘The Star-splitter’)
The pieces in Issue XIII of The Junket come up sideways. Many of them depend on an unusual perspective, a sense that seeing things askew might somehow mean seeing them more clearly.
In Sameer Rahim’s ‘An Afternoon in Vence’, the writer visits Matisse’s famous chapel and finds not just the peace the artist aimed for in its design, but also a serene concordance between the notionally Christian aims of the work and its engagement with Islamic aesthetics.
In ‘THE BRUEG[h]EL CENSUS’, Toby Ferris looks at other kinds of accommodation – between genius and diligence, between fidelity and inspiration, and most movingly, between fathers and sons. In numbering the Bruegels, and conducting a sort of ‘census’ of his own history as much as those of the artists, he moves towards a quasi-mathematical acceptance in which loss and continuity can co-exist.
Joseph Minden’s long poem ‘Dr Fox’ is an exuberant, unsettling retelling of a Russian folk tale, which twists and turns its way through the entrails of its poetic and narrative predecessors. Like its eponymous trickster, the poem is full of temptation, persuading you it’s one thing before revealing itself as another.
Maggie Gray’s ‘Perseids’ revels in the joyful unpredictability of the summer meteor shower. That something so astrologically routine can provide such reliable fascination says much about how experience is mediated by where you stand.
As Frost writes:
‘We've looked and looked, but after all where are we?
Do we know any better where we are,
And how it stands between the night tonight
And a man with a smoky lantern chimney?
How different from the way it ever stood?’
But things do stand differently today, and several of these pieces reflect social or political shifts. From a more local perspective, Riaz Dharamshi’s work as a geriatrician provides a rare insight into ageing, and how we think about the elderly in our communities. His ‘Old Days’ is a rallying call to care, a reminder that if we abandon those who came before us, we risk losing something important of ourselves. In ‘Party’, Anna Baddeley’s sharp take on her Essex childhood, she reminds us that while our youthful experiences shape us, they need not define us. And for Gerard McCann, engaging with the global Sikh diaspora invites comparisons with a personal story of movement and migration – his family heritage in the Irish diaspora enhances, but also sometimes clouds the way he understands Sikh history.
While personal experience might lead to insight, In ‘Spinning Yarns’, Kristen Treen takes a modern form of protest, guerrilla knitting or yarnbombing, and sets it against the stories of women in the American Civil War who knitted as a means of resistance. In ‘reading between the rows’, she recognises some of the less storied figures in that history, interpreting them through the symbols they left behind.
Matthew Sperling takes things ones step further in his poem ‘Tradeskin’, a curious inhabiting of 17th-century London. In its tour of the empire’s first public museum, the poem hints at the wider moral implications of cultural acquisitiveness, knowingly ambivalent in its celebration of the trophies and trinkets of exploration and conquest.
List of Contributors
Riaz Dharamshi is a Community Geriatrician in West Dorset. He spends a lot of time thinking about how to provide better care for elderly patients. @riazdharamshi
Gerard McCann is Lecturer in African and Transnational History at the University of York. @gezmccann52
Joseph Minden is a writer and guitarist. Recently, he finished work on The Polar Muse, a project commissioning poems for The Polar Museum, Cambridge. He is at the Heritage Lottery Fund and lives in Kings Cross. @josephminden
Matthew Sperling writes poetry, fiction and criticism. He lives in London. @matt_sperling