The Runt, a Dublin based literary zine recently launched its seventh issue, entitled Night of the Runt. This issue focuses on dreams and nightmares and explores the darkness and complexities of the night time and the subconscious mind. I really admire the idea of using a zine to share stories. I love how zines defy the pristine branding of regular magazines. Night of the Runt is stapled together and adorned with photocopied images torn up and pasted one over the other. This captures the experimental, playful elements that make a zine. The intriguing front cover has been created by Lauren Turner and the layout and design is thanks to the creativity of Editor, Bobby Lowe.
Zines are simple to make and an effective way to communicate a message with others. Night of the Runt has integrity, something that can get lost when it comes to making art. The Zine displays an alternative way to share beautiful art. I am very impressed to see such a thoughtful, creative piece coming together in what has clearly been a labour of love.
The zine adopts a different theme every issue and casts its net out to our creative Irish writers, asking them to submit their writings. The theme gives some structure but the concept of dreams and nightmares has allowed its contributors to wander off on often bizarre channels, forming their own conceptions of what dreams and nightmares might mean. Each contributor has taken the liberty of wandering through the complexities of their own subconscious and poured this onto the page for us. This zine has showcased the skill of the Irish creative writing community, the talents and drive of Ireland’s undiscovered writers and artists.
The selection of poetry is dark and witty and at times monstrous. What I appreciated most about each piece was an exploration, a feeling of doubt and ambiguity which, of course, is the very nature of dreams. ‘The Body in the Garden’, written by Laura Blaise McDowell, captures the fright and confusion of childhood dreams. The visceral fear that comes with the nightmares that children conjure within their vast imaginations. The narrator, merely caught in a feverish dream is nonetheless trapped, looking on through innocent, overwhelmed eyes. ‘Then there is a change. It begins to drizzle, like silver fish falling’ The use of imagery here is very effective, the silver fish falling have surrounded the narrator and draped her in an entirely foreign and frightening place ‘I can hear my blood road like the call of the ocean as she just watches me with glass eyes and I’m afraid my heart might tear through my paper chest.’ The phrase ‘paper chest’ again emphasises the fragility of childhood.
‘A Living Together’ by the appropriately named, Horrorshow, is a sinister portrayal of bodily autonomy: ‘Whenever Denise enters the preserve of sleep, the thing would painstakingly drag itself out of her vagina, pulling itself free with long, spindly claw tipped limbs.
Rachel Quirke writes in ‘Unvollendete’, ‘It opens with a ghost, Spruce, maple, rosewood, ebony; a thousand fingers plucking nervously in a shimmer of semi quavers’. Quirke has a special skill in lacing words together, creating languid phrases and sensual imagery.
‘The Mighty Tenets of Post Reasonabilism: The Philosophy that Chooses you’ is a satirical depiction of social ideology. ‘Wiser than philosophy, truer than religion’. The writing is witty, it portrays faux intellectual ideas based around rhetoric and ambiguity that eventually morphs into a product for purchase. It is a clever portrayal of the fetishisation of philosophy. ‘And there are so many ways to pay. Our courses are available as a series of 800 convenience Blu-ray lectures, a 10,000 CD audio book of in the form of an 18 month ‘relearning experience’.
The launch itself took place in the Vintage Rooms of the Workmans Club, in Dublin. The collective had strewn the walls with snippets of paper scrawled with dreamlike reflections. There was also a selection of spooky themed cakes for the taking, the audience were encouraged to try a cake, in exchange for a dream of their own. The environment was one of revelry and experimentation. These small touches are reflective of the Zine itself. Both creative and thoughtful. The night complemented what is clearly a sincere fascination with the extraordinary.
The Runt is a work of art, not only for its simple and unique appearance, but also for its integrity in how it acknowledges the skills and talents of Irish writers, and its intention to share writing and literature in the city. It is encouraging to know people are still interested in creating something as unique as The Runt. A lot of work has gone into creating such an individual, considered piece, tied together with scraps of paper and intricate, disturbing imagery. I applaud the creative drive of those involved in The Runt, for taking the time to defy the generic. I appreciate the work of those who think outside of the boundaries when it comes to sharing their talents with others. The submission period for the eight issue is currently underway. The theme this time around is based on historical fiction or alternate history. Again, this broad theme gives its contributors some scope to explore the past and dig out its grimy secrets and intrigues.