Saturday, 10 January 2015


Finally, finally, after months of thinking / promising / producing, Inky Paper is here: the physical, zine version of Inky, but evolved; collating visual art with writing to form something even better.

The zine has been composed of young peoples' work, from around the world. It includes photography, collage, poetry, fiction and illustration, encompassing every topic that this generation feel compelled to explore. 

For more information, and to buy your own copy for only £5, postage included, click here!

Thursday, 20 March 2014


Gerhard Richter's Seascape (Cloudy), 1969


When the boy was too young to even know he was a boy the wave that was taller by half again than his dad (who, though the boy would never know this, was considered quite tall) swept over the island and washed away everything, including the boy. 

Houses! Cattle! Dogs! Bicycles with patched tires and rusty chains! Fishing poles! Even monkeys, all washed away in a frothing green wall of ocean that rose up and across and over, and moved him (though he would not remember this) right out of his mother's arm as she clung with one hand to him and with the other to the tree outside their house (it was more of a hut than a house but, as the boy would never remember that nor have any use for the words house, or hut, we may call it either). 
And the last sound was his mother, as her baby was torn from her arm, her wordless scream encompassing all these emotions at once, emotions which are not capable of being reduced to one word, but which are describable as: 
The feeling a mother who dreamed for years of becoming a mother has when her only child is washed from her arms by a tsunami...  
...the feeling that same mother has when she wishes, suddenly, that she had held onto her baby with two arms, so they would be washed out to sea together, at least and she could protect him for an instant longer...  
...the feeling that woman has when she realizes that she is going to let go of the tree, but that it is already too late and her baby is far far away already... 
...the feeling of letting go of the only thing around you that is not water... 
…the feeling of everything being water... 
...the feeling, deep down inside one, that realizes letting go has been futile but knew not letting go would feel the same as letting go but would last longer... 
and the feeling of greenish yellow turbulence whipping away further and further above one's head as the water turns darker. Colder, as the water stills and one's toes feel colder calmer water yet further below, water that goes from green to deep green to blue to black, cold and black and quiet. 
The boy was not so far away at that point, and as he was tossed on a wave atop a crest, the sun improbably shining happily brightly on a new sea where an old village had sat, as he was moved away he saw (though he didn't know what he was seeing) his mother sink below the waves. 
Then he was spun and twisted and bounced up again, and he saw a monkey! 
The he was flipped over and around and up again and he saw a bicycle tire and a tree branch, entwined! 
This went on for some time and he was upset by the upheavals, crying, his tiny voice wailing into the screams of those around him (and the jabbers of the monkeys and the howls of the dogs and the splashes of the dying), fading from the loud anger to choked and waterlogged crying, dimmer and more hoarse, echoing off the slap of the waves on the debris, and then even that died away and there was only the tiniest sounds of water when it ran into a piece of something that used to be attached to the island where he had lived, but which now was attached to the sea. 
Where he lived. 
It was late afternoon when the wave had hit but by the time things settled down, by the time the boy bobbed up and down amidst all the water in the world having come to land on a piece of a wall that used to be a house it was early evening and his throat was sore and he had to be quiet, for now, although he was hungry and knew that soon he would need to eat or he would cry again, but all the swishing and turning and tumbling and sucking water into his small nose had tired him out and so he closed his eyes against the red skies above him and he slept. 
When he awoke, he would have cried but for the spectacle above him and around him: above him was the universe, and this would be his constant companion from now on, from this moment when he first opened his eyes on his new life until the final time he closed them, everything that was (or at least everything that was visible, which to him were the same things, from then on), was there with him. 
And it was beautiful. 
The stars! 
All around him in the sky were star after star after star after star star star star star, and though he had seen these before (over his mother’s shoulder, or past the edge of the roof outside the window) he had not seen them in such profusion and not blocked by palm leaves or trunks or monkeys. And he had not seen them reflected in the glassy stillness of the sea, its surface (perhaps exhausted after the upheavals of the day) calm and smooth as glass (which he also had never seen) and reflective, doubling, tripling, quadrupling the number of stars as the light flung back and forth and out and up and down. 
He did not cry. 
He sat amidst all the other babies blessed with a journey, for that is what the light of the stars was, babies like him. However old those stars may have actually been at the time, they were new when they first sent out the glows that now turned the boy’s entire world into a stunning universe of light, baby light flung out across the universe to land here on the sea around the boy. 
He did not cry. 
In the morning he was awakened by the sun, which when he first opened his eyes was so bright and large and incomprehensible that to anyone who knew of such things it would have seemed the world had moved closer to the lifegiving star it flung itself about continuously, but the enormity of the sun was not because it had somehow found a way to pull this planet nearer, but instead because the water, which remained preternaturally calm, reflected the sun more easily even than the stars and the effect was that the entire ocean stretching off to the east appeared to be sun, rising and growing ever more, and the boy again did not cry or feel upset, as he had no idea that it was in any way wrong for him to be lying atop a floating wall in the middle of the vastest sea on the planet. 
He looked away from the sun then, at the sky above him fading from violet to blue to black on the far side of the sea, although there were no stars there anymore and no moon visible, and slowly the sun climbed up and up and up up up up to rise above him until he began to feel hot, then hotter, then uncomfortable and he grew thirsty and the time had long since passed for him to eat. 
Life is miraculous, always. Sometimes it is not so obvious as it was for the boy, then, but always the miracles are too numerous to count, around us like hidden butterflies flapping their soft wings at every current of fate, stirring them up to keep us, in all our improbabilities, alive yet another moment. How could we survive, ridiculous things that we are, without constant and miraculous intervention? We could not. 
Clouds came wisping up from the south, the wind curling them far above the boy while barely brushing the ocean in a manner that made the gentlest, longest of waves slowly undulate across the broad expanse, so that the boy was rocked softly as first tiny streamers of moisture, then larger piles of it, then finally great rollicking billows of droplets of water tumbling pell-mell over each other formed clouds so high their tops could not be seen, and their bottoms blotted out the hottest of the sun and the rain fell, steady and soft and warm and light, and the boy, lying on his back for so long, sat up then and opened his mouth and the rain filled it up. 
He swallowed, and smiled, and opened his mouth again, head tilted back and eyes closed tightly, and the rain filled it up again. He swallowed again, and again, and when he was no longer thirsty he laid back down, on his side, feeling the rain wash over him and cleanse the dried salt off of him. 
And so it went, night and day and night and day and night day night day night day, the sun glowing down on him and warming him, the stars blanketing him in light at night, rain coming often enough that he never felt too thirsty. From time to time small fish would dart near the surface, that first day and thereafter, and at first he had watched them interestedly and then he remembered his father catching fish and his mother cooking fish.  These memories, eventually, would fade, their brief time in his life being replaced by endless happy and quiet days adrift in his new life, but that day they still existed and using them he had tried to put his hand in the water to catch a fish, but these little beings had been too quick, these darting specks in the top warmest part of the water, seeming to laugh at him and smiling as he played tag with them, his body half off the board that was his home now, and he had laughed back, feeling the fish brush the back of his hand, but as he grew frustrated and hungrier, as his brain reached back and remembered the smell of fish soup boiling above the iron stove his father had bought from a ship one day (this, too, would eventually fade from his consciousness), he started feeling the sadness in the back of his mind and his movements grew angrier, his hand darting and splashing more harshly and then he slapped the surface of the sea with palm in frustration, and the game stopped. He sat back on his legs, crouched, and stared. 
Three fish jumped out of the sea and onto the raft, flapping near his feet. 
Later, full, he would lean over to the sea, and, not knowing the words to say – for he had heard words but had never spoken any yet himself and was not sure how – tried to make his face look thankful, instead. 
And then, not knowing what else to do, he had pursed his lips and kissed the sea, as quick and shy as a boy might kiss a mother after he felt he had grown old enough to stop such childish things but not wanting to.  
That night, the crescent moon looked to him like a smile beaming down on him as he quietly drifted off to sleep. 
For days and days and days weeks months he drifted like that. During his entire life he never saw another person, never saw a boat on the horizon or land or trees, never saw any other sign that there was anything in the world but the sea, if one did not count the things that sometimes floated by him.  One day, a wooden bucket drifted by, half-swamped with sea water and he had reached out and grabbed it, and thereafter it would catch and fill with rainwater and never be quite emptied.  A sodden blanket dried out in the noonday sun after he fished it from the water. He found driftwood and pulled it out and dried it, built a frame and would drape the blanket over it during the day, so the sun did not have to go hide to keep from burning him. 
He ran his hands over the entire length of his home, over and over, getting to know every crease and seam and nick and crack.  At first, the raft was three of him long and four of him wide, but then he worried it was shrinking because one day when he did it again, the measuring, it was only two and a half of him long and three wide.  When he stood then, the edges of the sticks he’d found and formed into a tripod didn’t come up as far as they could have and he understood that he was growing and not the raft shrinking. 
During the day sometimes now when it grew hot, he eased himself into the water, the raft tipping a bit towards the edge he sat on as he dangled his feet, saw the little fish darting around them and nipping at his toes, and then put his knees in and slid in himself, staying near the top of the water, where the light made it green and then yellow and then clear, not looking down farther, yet, because when it did the sea went from dark green to blue to black and he could feel the cold from the depths, and did not like that.  He would go under water and up, keeping a hand on his home, watching the fish swim up to his face and back away, smiling at them.  He swam under the raft, watching it with blurred vision under water, touching every part of it, getting to know it from below as well as above, and back on top, he would lie on his stomach, feeling the top and thinking down below here there is a notch in the board, and off over here is where that dark patch is, until his skin grew hot and he went into the blanket-shelter again. 
He started swimming at night, too, his favorite being when the sea was calm like that first night and the stars were out, and he could dive into them and see their lights above him on the water, reach up and touch them, and feel like he was touching the stars themselves, and then when he climbed out he sat staring up at them, wondering how they had gotten up into the sea up above him (for, not knowing better, he assumed that there were two worlds, the one above and the one he lived on, and that the sun traveled between the two of them, and he wondered if there was a little boy up in the world above him.) 
Sometimes, he dreamed of people holding him, and in those dreams he was tiny and not able to swim and the people looked like him, but when he woke he dismissed these as imaginings, for there were no other people around.  There was just his home, and him, and the sea, which gave him fish to eat and cooled him and provided him sometimes with gifts when he had been particularly good. 
One night, he was swimming in the dark. The stars were out but the waves were large enough that the light did not reflect well, and the moon was gone again as it sometimes was (and it should be pointed out that he did not call these things moon and stars and sea; he did not call them anything, at all: they just were, but to tell his story we must use words that he would not understand, were he listening to us), and he swam in the dark, careful to keep a hand on the home so he would not drift away from it and lose it. He did not doubt that the sea would take care of him, if that happened, but he liked the home and did not want to leave it behind. 
While he swam, he felt as though something were nearby and watching him and he turned, around and around around around around without seeing anything, but the feeling grew and grew and grew, and finally he climbed back out of the water and stood atop the raft, staring around, feeling the board below him pitch and yaw.  He put his hands on his hips, and tried to look every where at once. 
A giant crashing splash sent a breaker of a wave washing towards him and it lapped up over the edge of the raft, wetting his feet in the warm night air and he looked at that direction just in time as a giant whale (he did not know it was a whale, particularly, but recognized that it was a kind of fish) came back down from its tidal leap into the sky, and to the boy it looked as though the whale had not leapt out of the sea and fallen back, but had been dropped from the world above to crash into his, and he wanted to dive in and find this newcomer from the sea above and bring it back to the raft, show him his things and play with him, but as he watched in the night the whale simply sank below the waves and did not come back up, and eventually the boy fell asleep. 
When he awoke, he saw something not far away from the raft, and the sun was bright, the sky blue, the sea calm, so he dove in and swam to this thing and pulled it back with him.  It was about the size of the bucket, but flat and solid like the home itself, and he pressed it and bent it a little and decided it had to dry out.  He spent the day with the new thing sitting off to the side in the sun, while he drank water and swam and caught fish and ate them and fiddled with the tripod of sticks and the blanket and idly ran his hands over the edge of the raft and stared up at some small clouds in the sky, and then when the sun was starting to set he picked up the thing again, and felt it was dry.   
He examined it.  The front was white, and had shapes on it, things that were round and square and angular, and he traced them with his fingers.  He felt the edge of the thing and with surprise saw that he could pull it apart, that it was two stiff things joined on one edge and had many thinner things inside it.  Each of the thinner things had shapes on it, colors, patterns, in unusual arrays, and he stared at each of them in turn, wondering. 
That night, in his imagination, in his dreams, he stared and stared at the new thing, at each part of it, and the shapes on it formed and rose up into what we would recognize as trees and cars and houses and animals, for it was a picture book he’d found, a child’s book washed over some boat or dropped into some river and drifting around the world, but he did not know what these things were pictures of, and his memory strove in vain all night to remind him of the fleeting life he had been washed away from so long before. 
When he awoke, he spent time paging through the book again, in wonderment, that such a thing might exist, and he assumed it was lost by the whale that had (to him) fallen from the sky the night before, and he resolved to give it back to the whale if he could find him, but surely until then it would not mind if he looked at these things? He tried to imagine what these things were but could not, knowing them only in the released wanderings of his mind when he slept, not remembering them when he woke. 
It was longer than he could imagine, longer than he could think, that he spent this way, months and months and months and years years years. He found another large board, and some cords, and he managed to tie them together, and he found more sticks, made a larger shelter, and day in and day out he paged through the book, and looked for the whale, and wondered if he could get enough wood to build a ladder tall enough to go high enough that he could jump to the whale’s world up above.  Sometimes he wondered if the whale had made it back to his home, or if the whale’s home above was now empty, and his world had two things while the other had none. 
He began to swim deeper and deeper, braving the deep green and even sometimes the blue water, but each time something made him turn back before long, and he came up slowly, feeling the water warm around him, grow less dense.  His face had grown hair on it, and that grew longer, as did the hair on his head, and he had to use a piece of the cords he’d found to pull it back out of his way. 
He had begun humming to himself, and though he did not know this, the song he hummed was the melody of the last song his mother had ever sung to him, before the tsunami. 
He would see the whale again one more time before he died, years years years from the first time, and though you may say it was almost certainly not the same whale, it actually was, but the boy would never have imagined there could be more than one whale, anyway, as there was only one of him, so how could there be two of another thing?  He saw the whale again on a night that was as calm and quiet and mirrorlike as the first night of this life, such conditions being infrequent enough that each time he stayed awake as long as he could to enjoy them. 

The night was still. He lay on his back, again, surrounded by stars, the air warm and his body tired after the day.  The book was next to him, faded and thumbed through and creased where his fingers had dozens hundreds thousands of times traced over the unfamiliar patterns, and he let the stars simply soak into his eyes from all around, the night absolutely quiet, not even enough water stirring to lap at the edges of the raft, when he heard a slight swish, and he rolled over onto his belly, staring off in the direction of the sound. 
A large, dark mound rose from the water.  The boy, no longer a boy, stood, then, and waved.  He called, using sounds he could make but forming no words, his call a kind of singsong melody of friendliness.  He held up the book, and tried to get the whale’s attention. 
The whale sat silently, for a long time, and the boy held the book up to him, and the whale swam silently closer, closer, closer closer closer. It came up to the edge of the raft and the boy saw its eye, right next to him.  He bent down and looked at it, right into that large kind, mysterious alien eye.  He held up the book, and the whale blinked. 
The boy reached out his hand, and touched the whale.  He felt how the skin was rubbery, slick but not wet, how it felt warm and kind.  He leaned on the whale, which did not move.  The boy put his other hand on it, and then, clutching the book, scrambled up the whale’s side to stand atop it. 
The whale then moved away from the raft. The boy was not afraid. He sat down and put the book between his chest and the whale, hugged the whale’s back as it dove.  He clung with all his might to the whale as it dove down down down down down, and knew the whale had gone all the way into the black water that the boy had never reached, and when they got down that far, the boy closed his eyes against the dark and cold, hugged the whale, feeling the book between him and the whale, and there in the darkness that was more complete than any he had ever before known, he felt the sadness emanating all around him. 
Sadness. Sadness. Sadness sadness sadness, and he knew suddenly why he had always been afraid to dive that deep, knew why he had feared the dark waters below him.  
“Mom” he whispered, the only word he would ever say in his life, spoken deep underwater and inaudible.  The water, at that depth, pressed in around him and pushed on him and clutched to him and finally, hugged him as tightly as he had ever been or ever would be held, and then let go, as always must happen. 
The whale reversed course, abruptly swimming up with such vigor the boy almost let go but he held on and the whale swam, swam, swam swam swam until it hit the surface of the water and flew into the air, up, up, up up up and into the air, the boy falling away from the whale and into the ocean, splashing his own miniscule eruption as the whale’s torrential immersion enveloped him, and when the boy came up again he was floating next to the raft, the book still clutched to his chest, his skin still remembering the cold, tight embrace of the deep dark water, and he quickly climbed out of the water, laying on the raft, chest heaving with excitement, staring up at the stars, which showed no change from the adventure. 
When he had caught his breath and cleared his head, he leaned over and stared at the once-more calm sea, then leaned over and gave it a kiss before going to bed. 
Briane Pagel. See more of his work here and follow him on twitter here

Friday, 28 February 2014

The Story Of Lyra - Part 1

I am Celeste. Hate the name. One day I am going to change it to something dead elegant like... Charlie, but for now I’m going to have to deal with it. So, my story starts in the morning. Everyday. But I guess before I start with today, there’s a back story calling.
I was born in Central Portugal, in a tiny hamlet-like village called Abitureira. My family was miniscule compared to my cousins, and their cousins and... You get the idea. It's just my papa, Juan, my mama, Maria, my brother Jual and me. Of course the chickens, pig, dogs and cats aren’t included in that Family Sapling. Nearly everyone is called Maria or Juan or Larinda, so if you forgot a name, its a pretty safe bet its one of those. We lived just on the outskirts and our back door opened out onto — well — brooks and rivers, sloping hill after hill, mountains and little ruins of previous houses. But my mum and dad, they got bored, I suppose. We had heard of exotic tales of a not so exotic place – London. So as soon as I was born we got Cousin Juan to get us some cheap flights from Porto to London and swapped places and businesses with Uncle Juan and voila! We moved from the homely, slate farm-come-cottage; to an edgy terraced house in Waterloo, a few streets away from O Forno – a Portuguese restaurant under new management, the most formidable force of them all – my mum. So now fast forward 16 years and we are back in the present.
So finally, my day. First challenge, wake up. My body clock wake time is approximately 9:47, and I proof-checked it. Today is a what? Sunday? I’ll bunk church thanks. Have a shower, get dressed. Next challenge, hair. It’s not so hard, actually, just brush, comb in Moroccan oil, and reapply dip highlights if they’re fading. By now this is what I’m looking like: just-above-waist length raven dead straight hair, with blue highlights from the tips about six inches long. (When I say dead straight, I mean it, I literally get out of bed with it like that, no bedhead whatsoever.) Then classic Portuguese coffee coloured skin with normal pores and stuff. My eyes are kind of navy blue, the only non-Portuguese aspect. Y’know, normal kind of nose, and “full lips” as my mum tells me. Swamping fluffy woollen post-box red sweater and a waist to ankle black loose pencil skirt. Oh yeah, and my Doc Martens’, the dark blue ones today. So that’s what I look like and basically my style in one outfit. Another thing, I dress for me, no one else.
So that takes about 45 minutes. Next, I’ll get out my iPod and the day begins for real. I’ll pump to Bastille, belt to Adele, yodel to Vampire Weekend, lament to Mumford & Sons, base-face to Haim, smash to Coldplay, pout to Lorde, laugh to Emeli Sande, bop to Katie Perry, scream to Florence & The Machine, mourn to Athlete, wallow to Elbow, cry to Lily Allen, ask The Killers, not necessarily in that order, and by now, Jual is banging on the wall. And it’s only 11.☁
Written by Maya S.P.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Q+U, as teenagers

Q + U, As Teenagers

Q and U were hanging out together, as teenagers do, and as they did, almost always.

Q was at that awkward, in-between stage.
U was not; U’s capitalhood hung on U already, a spectre that U would become soon fully enough but which even now suited U.
This made things difficult between them.
Alone together they almost never talked, which was the way things should work, almost always. But times like today it was the exact opposite of perfect, it was a reversal of the mechanism and each of them could feel at times such as today that the mechanism of their time together, past and future, this great Rube Goldberg machine of their relationship stretching before and aft, was, at times like this, not just stalled but moving in reverse.
Q knew it but was not yet capital enough to tackle the challenge.
So U did, summoning shades of their cohort to assist her. Lowercases could not do this at all; Capitals did not need shades to talk.
U summoned her shades:
what is wrong
U asked.
Q shrugged, the lowercase in him still hanging back, at first, but braved it:
will you always love me
In this case, the homonym fit perfectly, as it did in U’s reply:
It is You
U said
Who decides when we are together.
Q’s insecurity, U found fetching. It made U forgive those rare times Q left this confabulation of them, because U knew Q would always come back. ☁
Written by Briane Pagel. Read more of his work over here.
PS - Inky readers, Briane is going to become a regular contributor for Inky, starting next month! This is just a taste of his brilliant writing.
If you are interested in joining him and becoming another of our regular monthly contributors, drop us an email at inkymagazine[at]

Thursday, 20 February 2014

What Is Poetry?

Hundreds of love letters found at an abandoned mansion in Cornwall, 2013

What Is Poetry?

The reason poetry is so hard to define is because it becomes the term for anything that isn’t prose.

Poems have rhythm, sound and occasionally rhyme, but this is not what makes them poems. I think they’re meant to mean something. George Barker pointed out that even in ‘a society possessing no faults to which one could rationally object, it would still be the job of the poet to object’ and there’s some truth in this. Poetry isn’t all about anarchy and cynicism, but the belief of a better world is part of it. Even in the most depressing poems you can pick out undertones of optimism so fierce it becomes foolish.

There’s more to a poem than that though, isn’t there? It’s not just how it fits on the page, and what the poet is trying to say, but the words. Poetry is ‘the best words in the best order’ (as Samuel Taylor Coleridge put it), and such a huge chunk of poem rests on the shoulders of how good the words are. Poems are stitched of words that slip from the tongue, one crystalline syllable following another. Serendipity. Demure. Ebullience. Lilt. Moiety. Woebegone. Ripple. The way a word feels in your mouth is just as important as what it means. Poetry is a compromise of the two.

A moody teenager scrawls something that looks like song lyrics on her wall. An old man ponders the flowers outside his window with a notebook and chewed biro. A well-established poet produces yet another sparkling collection. Are all these outcomes poems? I strongly believe that whilst you can identify components of a poem – tone, concept, lyricism – a definitive explanation would be impossible. A poem is defined by its interpretation. And a good poet will notice the poetry in everything.