Failed States is a journal of new writing about place, helmed by MagCulture’s very own Jamie Atherton. Born out of frustration with borders, walls, and the UK’s departure from the EU, Failed States’ first issue, recently launched via Kickstarter, considers the notion of islands.
The compact magazine begins with a note from Jamie (above), who comments on the impact of the deteriorating environment on low-lying islands, and also speaks of the issue’s limitations, which lie in its western bias. He states that as the journal emerged organically, most of its writers have hailed from the UK and the US. It is refreshing to read a magazine that is aware of its limited perspective, and that in turn roots the reader in the fact that each of our worlds are so small; we are all, in effect, islands.
Starting with ambitions for a 64-page volume, the standard of submissions saw it grow to be a more significant 114 pages. The issue includes a carefully paced mix of poetry, photo journals, artworks, lists and personal essays. Everything is brief and to the point. Excerpts from Joseph Curran’s ‘On the subject of creating a film on a remote island’ crop up at several points; vague and intriguing diary entries about his time working on a film for the National Trust.
Elsewhere, Martin John Callanan presents a table of statistics from some of the world’s many islands, which include population size and data rate per person. More conceptually, Paul Clinton imagines islands and otherness in his essay ‘TGI Friday’, which responds to Michel Tournier’s 1967 novel Vendredi in relation to Brexit. The ‘other’ comes up as a recurring theme throughout the issue.
Failed States is presented as a scrapbook of ideas, its pacing and large text size making it easily dipped in and out of. It muses on its theme imaginatively, offering a glimmer of hope, creativity and clarity in adverse times.
Contributors to the first issue include Anh Do, Beth Bramich, Bryony Quinn, Cally Spooner, Calvin Seibert, Carrie Friese, Doris Ho-Kane, Eli Diner, Euan Macdonald, Fi Churchman, Gabriella Beckhurst, Isabel Taube, Jasleen Kaur, Jay Simpson, Jeremy Atherton Lin, Jesse Hewit, Joseph Curran, Joyce Dixon, Julie Lindow, Lucy Watson, Luke O’Sullivan, Martin John Callanan, Mary Hannity, Mary Manning, Matt Connors, Matt Wolf, Monique Mouton, Niki Ford, Nina Schack Kock, Olivia Laing, Oscar Gaynor, Paul Clinton, Richard Dodwell, Sam Ashby, Sam Williams and Thea Smith.