In conversation with Lauryn Anderson, Guest Editor for our seventh issue

Our seventh issue has been edited by Lauryn Anderson, a 19-year old English Literature student at the University of Cambridge. She has written stories and poetry throughout her teens, and has had work published in Cambridge publications Notes, TCS, Varsity and Escapade. She has edited two bi-annual zines for her university feminist society, and currently edits the creative writing section of the student newspaper. She enjoys film photography, attending talks and scrapbooking, when she’s not reading or writing.

Why do you think that poetry, literature and the arts are important? 

Poetry, literature and the arts are vital to engaging with culture – our own and others’, past and present. It’s not only vital that we read poetry and literature, however, but I think that there’s an increasing need for young people to produce the literature themselves and document their experiences of growing up in our multi-faceted, diverse and changing societies. Literature helps us to record and explore these different facets, whilst poetry is an incredible medium to process our emotions and relations to events happening around us. HEBE is an amazing platform for these ideas to develop, and the freedom of such a platform for young people is remarkable.

What made you want to get involved with HEBE?

I wanted to get involved with Hebe as soon as I discovered the magazine on twitter. I love the concept of a magazine dedicated to young artists, as personally, throughout my teens, I found very few accessible platforms for young creative voices, and often found my own creative pursuits discouraged as a result.

The quality of work in Hebe is only testament to its necessity; in your latest edition, the acute self-consciousness of self-Megan Leung’s ‘twenty-first century mulan’ particularly struck me – it’s tone and form were extremely mature, and in many ways reminded me a lot of the work of Sarah Howe. I thought that Alex Bain’s poem, {Confessions Of The World’s Strongest Man}, was similarly evocative in dealing with vulnerability and developing identity. I also loved the magical realist undertones in Cia Mangat’s ekphrastic poem and artwork in ‘Hope’ – the last two lines, ‘I fear that if she cries, a / fat droplet of juice will swell out, tender enough to bite.’ were wonderful.

Moreover, I think that the shared outlet for art and photography is great, especially as many young writers lack a platform for dialogues between different art forms; I shoot 35mm film, as well as write poetry, and I think that the artistic scope in both is completely complementary – it’s one of the reasons I am establishing an ‘experimenting ekphrasis’ section in the student newspaper which I edit.

Our issue seven theme is ‘freedom’ – what does freedom mean to you?

Almost paradoxically, freedom is a very knotty word. Freedom to me means choice; the ability to choose who we are, what we do, and how we do it. This could be from writing a poem as opposed to a short story, or expressing a fundamental personal belief without ostracization and condemnation from other people.

I think of Maya Angelou’s poem, Caged Bird:

 

A free bird leaps

on the back of the wind

and floats downstream

till the current ends

and dips his wing

in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks

down his narrow cage

can seldom see through

his bars of rage

his wings are clipped and

his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

 

The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.

 

The free bird thinks of another breeze

and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees

and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn

and he names the sky his own

 

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams

his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream

his wings are clipped and his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

 

The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.

 

How do you approach your role as an editor?

When I edit other people’s work (such as for the feminist society zines, or the student newspaper), I am always keen to work with and alongside the writer, as opposed to arbitrarily rejecting and accepting pieces. I think that it’s important to act as a guide rather than a judge, especially with young writers, who are still developing and experimenting with style and voice!

What piece of advice would you give to young creatives looking to get their work published? 

Keep writing – write lots, don’t get disheartened and listen to feedback. Look for online competitions (a list with links can be found here), and don’t let rejections get you down. All of us young writers are still finding our own voice, and that is what makes writing so exciting in how much it can teach us about ourselves! I used to run my own blog too, where I published short-stories. These are free to set up on sites like Blogger or WordPress, and it’s a really wonderful way to get feedback and find other young writers. But most of all – keep submitting to HEBE!