Gabrielle Agyei reports from the PEACH: Recollections event last December
What is it that makes a writer? The human capability of thought and emotion is a driving force for creativity. A writer responds to the world around them, constantly using the environment as a kind of spring board with which to express and put into words the unexplainable. If this is the case all of us are writers at heart, not just writers but creators. Those who turn abstract feeling into the physical are merely brave enough to share parts of themselves with the world that leave us vulnerable.
Peach Magazine is a Student Media outlet totally dedicated to creative thought. They collect a variety writing, anything from poetry and prose, to visual mediums of art including painting, illustration and drawing. Ultimately, PEACH is a creative collective that welcomes all looking to create. And on 11th December 2017, I was lucky enough to attend their event Recollections, with all pieces evolving from the concept of memory; each one making us who we are. Upon setting foot into the Arts One Lecture theatre, which hosted the event, I was transported into what seemed almost magic. A dark room, lit only by twinkling fairy lights and the colours of gorgeous projected illustrations created such a beautiful atmosphere. It was the kind of atmosphere that found you leaving reality at the door, falling deeply into pool of delicious words and beautiful stories.
The talent exhibited at Recollections was truly amazing and inevitably after such an experience, there was a desire to gain a little more insight into how PEACH works, and its purpose for both creatives and art appreciators on campus. Greg Dimmock, the editor-in-chief of the magazine who plays a vital role in both running and overseeing it, shed light on PEACH and its place within Queen Mary.
What is the purpose of PEACH?
“I think PEACH fills a vacuum that is often neglected by student media and Student Unions, that being the distinctly creative community within a university. Usually creative writing or art is tied to a school or is presented as a niche in a neglected corner of a magazine’s website. PEACH aims to be a distinct platform for a diverse array of artists and writers, breaking down the boundaries that often separate them, and enabling talented students to get their voices clearly heard.”
Why have events like Recollections and what do you hope to achieve through them?
“In student media and the lower tiers of the creative industry, I think there is a lack of opportunities for writers or artists to vocalise their thoughts, feelings and creative energies in a really personal way. Usually you are just confined to a grey name on a word document or email. The events that we run – (events coordinators Joseph Day, Rachel Cleverly) – seek to enable creatives to connect to other people through their work. Then you come to our events I think that sense of connection is really palpable and quite inspiring.”
PEACH encourages both writing and art. Why is this and do you think they go hand in hand?
“I think they do go hand in hand in a rather symbiotic way. The amount of emotion an illustration or piece of art can bring to a piece of prose or poetry, and simultaneously the amount transferred in the other direction is quite amazing. It also leads to interesting and diverse observations, so meaning never seems fixed or static.”
What’s your advice for anyone wanting to get into writing and/or may have reservations?
“As a writer myself (if I can even call myself that) I am always terrified of sharing my work. I think that is natural. However, it can be overcome, or in my case it can, by realising that no one, especially in the PEACH team, wants to embarrass or belittle you. In the case of PEACH we always seek to give constructive feedback and help people become the best writers they can be. When people write they always have a somewhat individual style or voice, it would be wrong to say that voice is incorrect. In the PEACH community we want to help nurture that voice and watch it grow in a way that is unique to you.”
Amongst all the gifted contributors at the event was William Fear and his short story Nyhavn. It tells the story of a man revisiting a place he travelled to with his now deceased wife, with these memories seeming to haunt him. As the words of his tale echoed through the theatre I was left feeling moved, somehow deeply touched by something I have never experienced myself. Below is a short excerpt of the piece followed by a short interview:
‘You always had a lovely laugh – a dark, breathless click of a laugh. I once again felt the comforting weight of familiarity, all the other things I’d said since the start that pleased you and brought you closer. The party we met, Christ, an awful affair only made worth it by your appearance. And I always remember when you went home after because of the sensation I’d never felt before but would feel almost always after: missing you. I’d lie there at night and be unable to sleep for the smell of your hair, the look of your eyes, your mouth, all points south. As we grew together over nocturnal meals at Italian restaurants, and giggling, drunken walks home, I came to love that feeling when we parted, because it reminded me of you. And even with you gone I might be able to feel something like your presence’.
How would you describe your writing style/genre of writing and long have you been doing it?
“I’ve been doing pieces of creative writing since I was very young, and my style is rooted in imitating my favourite prose writers: Orwell, Camus, Amis, B.S. Johnson.”
What inspired you to write Nyhavn?
“I took a trip to Copenhagen a few years ago with a few friends and suddenly felt a wave of melancholy when we were sitting at a restaurant on Nyhavn Canal. That, coupled with my own emotional problems, was it.”
Nyhavn has such beautiful, emotive imagery. Do you think being a writer is possible if you don’t feel emotions strongly?
“Personally, I feel nothing when I read it – and I find it so peculiar (and humbling) that some people found it so moving.”
What is it that makes you write?
“Graham Greene said every writer of any kind has a splinter of ice in his heart. I’d say that’s why but I’m not sure what my ‘splinter’ is yet.”
William’s (and all the contributors’) work has revealed to me the reach of words. A work’s ability to resonate with others so strongly is what makes it a necessity; sometimes it’s only through others expression that we can come to terms with our own innermost feelings, even ones we weren’t previously aware of. Art is just another means to do this. PEACH places just as much emphasis on visual expression as a way to realise the abstract. When it thought and feeling the human mind isn’t black and white. Emotions are messy and all-consuming, they are abstract and so there can never be a ‘right’ to express.
Placing artworks by contributors such as Siri Christiansen (who produced the events cover art) alongside written pieces only shows this. Even when basing work on one concept, a multitude of responses are produced. It comes down to personal experience and the complete freedom to interpret and explore, something that PEACH absolutely encourages in all their writers and artists. There are literally endless possibilities when it comes to art so pick up your tool and start creating because your voice is worth being heard.
The theme of their second collection is Oscillations, and pieces working around the idea of ‘frenetic energy, uncontrollable emotions and a wild whirling of states’ are exactly what PEACH are looking for. Get writing and don’t forget that for your work to be published you must have a membership. It’s only £3 and you can join using the link https://www.qmsu.org/groups/10061.