In its quest for new creative work, The Tangerine provides a platform for new artistic voices who aren’t afraid to get their hands sticky. From poetry and creative prose, to long-form pieces with a journalistic focus, the writers of these pages capture the beauty and reality of culture and politics in Northern Ireland and beyond.
Letter by Grug Muse
During the lockdowns, I regularly dreamed of gardens. Not because I was deprived of one, unlike the millions confined to concrete and windowsill during those pandemic springs. I was living then with my parents, in a rural part of north Wales, with a large garden and an expanse of common land that I could freely access.
When I find myself missing home, I close my eyes and picture it. Not the little house where I grew up, but the many mountains right outside my doorstep that I spent my childhood hiking in, and the vast ocean at their feet. I see how the water glitters and I feel the shock of cold when I jump in. I think of the tall mountain ranges that are capped with snow even in the height of summer, and the smaller ones that are so steep you can only think about breathing while you climb them.
Mid-afternoon on Easter Monday, I sit down for a chat with writer, artist and art museum grants manager, Hannah Jansen. As I join the call from my little flat in Nottingham, Hannah logs on from across the pond in Maine, dealing with a five-hour time difference that means she hasn’t yet had the chance to grab her morning coffee. For the next half hour or so, we talk fairy tales, Anne Sexton and the importance of letter writing in today’s world.
In keeping with The Letters Page tradition, we’ve sent Hannah Jansen a gift subscription to one of our favourite literary journals as a thanks for letting us publish her letter. With Hannah based in America, the subscription we’ve chosen is for the US literary, arts and culture magazine A Public Space. Here, Chloé Rose Whitmore takes a deep dive into this award-winning journal.
Letter by Hannah Jansen
Who knows if, or when, you’ll get this. It’s rather wild out here where I am, and I can’t speak to the reliability of the mail service. Anyway, time doesn’t matter much here, even if you’re getting on where you are.
After our customary longer-than-expected pause, we’re ready to hit your inboxes again with the first letter from Volume 6, an atmospheric response to Anne Sexton’s ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ poem, written by the wicked stepmother herself. Ahead of publication, Chloé Rose Whitmore considers the influence of fairy tales on contemporary writers.
I can’t say that I have received many letters in my life. I’ve never really had cause to write one myself either, except for the sheer novelty of it. And it is a novelty now. Gone are the days where sending letters was as mundane a task as sending a text, though I suppose that is what makes it feel even more special.
By the time it occurs to us to hit record and shift our conversation to ‘interview mode’, I’ve already been sitting with Lindsey Coombs for four hours. It’s two weeks before Christmas, and we’ve just finished a lavish meal of roasted squash and pear carpaccio. We’re down to our last dribbles of wine, so we order another glass. The night feels wide-open.
Like many shy or awkward kids, I spent my lunchtimes at school in the classroom of my favourite teachers. This for me was the music room. Five years after leaving school I reached out to one of my former music teachers, Scott Richardson, and it strikes me that I have now not seen Scott for the same length of time as I knew him during my years at school.