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From the Editor

Guillermo Stitch


e are grateful to every contributor, every time. In our infancy we have relied on the kindness and enthusiasm of the writers whose work has appeared in the magazine. I continue to be astonished at the talent we have somehow attracted. Long may it continue.

As we see out the second year of our existence with this, our eighth issue, I want to offer thanks of a more specific variety.

Firstly, to Jake Goldsmith—not only for his unforgettable contributions here, but also for his endeavours with The Barbellion Prize, the literary award he founded with a view to promoting work by authors who live with chronic illness or disability. In this issue we take the opportunity to showcase just some of the fine work which has been long- or short-listed for the 2022 prize. With the authors’ kind permission, you will read excerpts from Harry Parker’s Hybrid Humans, Lauren Foley’s Polluted Sex, Letty McHugh’s Book of Hours: An Almanac for the Seasons of the Soul, and Polly Atkin’s Recovering Dorothy: The Hidden Life of Dorothy Wordsworth—works which would grace the list of any literary prize.

Adviser to the prize, Tom Shakespeare, contributes an excerpt from his forthcoming novel, A Leap in the Dark (Farrago, 2025). As always, if you want full access to the whole issue, you will need the print edition. In it, long-listed author, Dr. Shahd Alshammari, contributes a reflection on her (other) self and previous winner, Lynn Buckle, has a piece on language—but not that language.

We’re equally delighted that around these Barbellion-specific contributions, a constellation of other work has formed, not directly related to the prize but just the kind of work the prize is intended to encourage. Thrillingly, we have cajoled work out of playwright and poet Dan O’Brien, Exacting Clam illustrator Kathleen Nicholls, writer and composer Matt Tomkinson, former care worker Doug Smith, Exacting Clam contributor Tomoé Hill, New York musician David Holzman and our own Jesi Bender, who contributes an excerpt from her sui generis work Kinderkrankenhaus (Sagging Meniscus 2021)—on themes as diverse as epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, cancer, neurodiversity and mental health. Again, several of these pieces are exclusive to the print edition.

Thanks to the above, to all the other contributors and to you, for reading. If you would like to support the Barbellion Prize or any of these authors, you know what to do. The prize accepts donations via its home page and I’m sure the authors do too, via book sales. Having familiarized myself with the listed works while preparing this issue, I recommend them all without the slightest hesitation.


Guillermo Stitch