Bleeding Ink – grassroots literature, part 2

Bleeding Ink, issue 5. (The current one)
Bleeding Ink, issue 5. (The current one)

Another ego post, apologies. This luvvie self-congratulatory stuff must stop soon.

Here’s a guide to each of the issues of Bleeding Ink. Again, I’m making no claims to it being a major or significant publication, but as promised, I said I’d try and cover all levels of literature in this neck of the woods. If any of you know anything about other magazines put out by local writing groups, please post a comment. And of course, if this stuff bores you to tears, and you want to read more about better known writers… there’s always other posts to move on to! (I’ve just posted on Roy Campbell, and a one time resident of the zoo for example.)

Issue 1 – Summer 2012

Artwork – Fountainbridge Library, by Alan Savage. Ink’s leaking out from the building. The other pictures are stock ones off the internet. Alan is an architect by training so he was the one to go to for an illustration of a building!

Tagline – “Let it bleed” (Sorry Rolling Stones)

Highlights – There’s some interesting poetry in here, covering everything from skimming stones to the dangers of having a hot shave at a Turkish barber. My favourite though is Rory MacCallum’s Invincible Machines, which reminds me of some of the happier times in my teens. To my mind his piece was as good as a lot of writing by the likes of Ian McEwan etc. Julia Boxer’s Uncle Ray (!) holds some promise – I hope she continues the story.

Other stuff – The foreword was provided by the novelist David Fiddimore (1944-2015), a supporter of the group. He also suggested having a red cover. Also includes Slighe nam Facal, a rare example of concrete poetry in Gaelic.There is also a guide to Fountainbridge on the back, which reminds people of its original name, Foulbriggs.

Issue 2 –Winter 2012

Artwork – Edinburgh Castle and Princes Street Gardens, a drawing by Michael Conway, who also illustrated #4. It’s angled to look like a postcard. Again, used quite a lot of stock pictures in this one. Astronaut Neil Armstrong got commemorated on the back cover (and more bizarrely in Sadie Massie’s piece about club sandwiches).

Tagline – “About Bleedin’ Time”

Highlights – John’s story about a whisky drinking goat. (Which is tame compared to his poem about a bike riding unicorn.) Julia Boxer’s Little Pink poems, which deal with a woman’s childhood and adulthood.

Other stuff – Contains small print about the terms and conditions of bringing goats into Fountainbridge Library.The rural issue? Several of the stories are set in the countryside, and one gives instruction on how to poach from rivers. I think this is the worst designed one in certain ways. It was meant to have a red cover but didn’t.

Issue 3 – Summer 2013

This issue is our only themed one so far, and dealt with the looming Independence Referendum. Group members were on both sides of the debate. Again, making no claims for our importance – the idea was that ordinary people had the right to discuss the issue, and that there wasn’t enough creative response to it either. Interestingly, most of the unionist material was more subtle than the pro-independence stuff.

Artwork – Nick Baikie’s Scrabble Board, as photographed by me. The back cover shows a door sign in Dundee University written in Scottish English. I managed to find a sticker advocating independence for Venice – appropriate given our proximity to the canal!

Tagline – “Bleedin’ politicians! Bleedin’ referendum! Bleedin’ Union &Bleedin’ Independence. Who bleedin’ cares? We do!”

Highlights – Scotland Think It Over, a song by John Lamb who is a folk singer based in East Lothian. Alan Savage’s Seventeen Forty Five, a story about an alternate timeline in which the Jacobites won. John Robinson’s poem is a good summary of how citizens probably should relate to their government.

Other stuff – The one and only appearance of Geraldine Joliffe. Rory MacCallum’s poem Diet was a holdover from the previous issue, but was political enough to be included. Some of the material was, ahem, on the strong side. Probably the most anonymous material in any issue.

Issue 4 –Summer 2014

Artwork – Poet at Neu Reekie  painting by Michael Conway. Neu Reekie is the name of a regular Edinburgh arts show organised by Kevin Williamson and Michael Pedersen. It is named partly after Paul Reekie (See earlier on this blog.) The original painting is on a red background. One reader suggested it was a picture of Satan! The back cover has a picture of a very large rabbit being held up by a small man.

Tagline – “Bleedin’ Hearts (an’ Bleedin’ Hibs) Bleedin’ ’Eck! It’s back again! Batten down the ’atches!”

Highlights – The cover despite the problems with the ink rubbing off like cheap newsprint! Anne-Louise Lowrey’s poem about seagulls and Morag MacLeman’s about a pompous duck seemed to fit nicely together. Nick Baikie’s alternative take on what Bleeding Ink might mean.

Other stuff – Includes a little known quote from William Goldman’s Marathon Man which praises the beauty of Princes Street. First appearance of Anne-Louise Lowrey.Death and Graffiti is my personal favourite of all my own stories in the magazine, and is an extract from a novel.

Issue 5 – Summer 2015

Artwork – Exmoor Ponies on North Berwick Law photographed by me. I liked the image, but Dolina MacLennan when seeing it said she thought that the horses looked sad and underfed – each to their own a Dholaidh! The rest of the artwork comes from a number of photos I took of street stickers and unusual images like the monstrous Titan Arum flower that grew in the Botanics.

Tagline – “They ran as he fell and bled,/Slowly the black ace turned to red…” (from John Robinson’s poem Best Suit)

Highlights – Taking Notes by Morag MacLeman. Given that she had produced very short pieces in the past, it was great to see her tackle something longer.

Other stuff – The welcome return of Rory MacCallum.A short tribute to David Fiddimore. Regrettably this issue didn’t include regulars Julia Boxer, Sadie Massie and Alan Savage. Possibly the most facetious blurb I’ve written, but luckily some people do seem to have got the joke. Quite possibly the first time a Latvian language story has appeared in an Edinburgh writing magazine even if it was on a photo of a sticker. A lot of the copies only have one staple… hmm… The Alexander McCall Smith parody, No 44 Ladyboy’s Detective Squad, will raise a few eyebrows.

Five issues is pretty good going for a magazine which doesn’t get any state funding. Also the fact that there’s usually enough material by the deadline is a sign that our output is healthy.


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