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Welcome to Litro #147 – the Space issue. In this issue we explore the world’s ever-evolving urban social landscape. We’ve got art, stories, essays, cartoons, interviews – all examining the ways in which individuals and groups carve out their own spaces, dare to take up space and make their built environment(s) distinctly their own.
Our cover artist is Canadian artist Amy Shackleton, whose paintings portray urban life at its best, demonstrating ways that we can work with nature rather than against it. Her unique way of painting – Amy drip paints with squeeze bottles to build layers of organic lines (by spraying water and rapidly spinning each canvas) and straight lines (using a level) – has won her fans the world over with over a million online views to her work to date.
We have stories from writers, from a diverse selection of cities – from Peckham to Memphis – discussing how the issue of space and the rapid change of their neighbourhoods have affected them and their communities.
We open the issue with three personal essays, from three Londoners. In Notting Hill by James Miller, James reminisces on the lost counterculture leanings of Notting Hill, and how the neighbourhood has transformed into a sanitised and perhaps soulless mecca for the rich.
In Penny Metal‘s The We’evils of Peckham’s Gentrification, Penny looks at the gentrification of Peckham through the lens of a watchful weevil.
Meanwhile, Brixton-born Alex Wheatle MBE, with his essay Brixton, asks why nobody seems to be considering the futures and housing needs of young, working-class Brixtonites.
Nat Akin takes us transatlantic with his story Driving Range, set in a claustrophobic and rapidly changing Memphis neighbourhood.
In Diminishing Returns, Bethan James reflects on how a familiar space can suddenly become an alienating one.
Rachel Holmes’s story The Eyes is set in a primeval world and explores the themes of space as alienation, physical distance and becoming.
Finally, this month’s author Q & A is with Brooklyn-based novelist Naomi Jackson, whose dazzling debut novel The Star Side of Bird Hill is set in Barbados and Brooklyn. She discusses the pros and cons of the gentrification sweeping through of her predominately West Indian neighbourhood.
We do not give answers to the housing crisis or the crisis our generation is facing with the ever-dwindling urban city-scape. The issue does, however, ask and answer the question:
“How and where do you find the space to breathe, to grow, to create and simply be?”
If you’re new to the magazine and have read this far out of curiosity to find out what Litro means: the name Litro was made up by putting the “lit” into “metro”. We’ve since learned that the word has different meanings in different languages:. For instance, in Brazil, the word “litro” is the slang for a lighter among kids smoking weed. Pass the Litro, G.
We like to think of Litro as a small free monthly book of ideas that gives city dwellers an alternative to the daily freesheets such as the Metro. Litro is aimed at not just writers themselves, or even those with a particular interest in literature; instead, Litro believes in reaching the general reader whether they be a commuter, someone browsing in a bookshop or someone waiting in a bar or café to meet a friend.
If you’re a teacher who works with young kids or a parent to those aged 13-18, have them enter their words into our annual IGGY & Litro International Young Writer’s Prize. Aside from being good for them, there’s cash money to be won! You can find out more details by here.
Let us know what you think — we need a letters page —but only exaggerated flattery, please. After ten years we’re still trying to have fun with words. You can tweet us @litromagazine or send your letters c/o Editor 1-15 Cremer Street, Hoxton Studio 21.3 E2 8HD.
We hope this issue inspires and is read as an invitation for you to continue the narrative of Space.
Editor in Chief