Failed States #1: Island

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Failed States, Photo From Cliff’s Edge, Isle of Portland, Dorset.

I took a bottle of water and a bleakening worldview. Moving forward, pretending not to be moving away from, following the A-road to the island, on the edge of the asphalt all the way along the causeway. I was attempting to come up for air in that not-quite-defeated repeating way that I do. The little bastard of optimism and the desire to be empty kept me coming round and round to this lurching motion. The island is tied, tethered at its northmost to the mainland; it rises up bluntly and then slumps forward a few miles south into the sea. The cliffside route offers breathtaking views.

I kept to the path, followed the diversions around rock falls, took in the crumbling limestone and the stacked up doorway and detoured into and out of quarry pits. I jellied my legs looking over the ledge, down into the breaking waves. The lighthouses mark an end, pointing outward off the promontory bill. I wavered at the edge of an outcrop of exposed Portland rock and leaned into a subsident seated position on a cut stone slab so that I could finger fossil gaps and breathe the Jurassic dust into my lungs.

Essay written for the first issue of Failed States, a new journal edited and published by Jamie Atherton. Failed States consists (largely) of short texts and photographs.


For issue 1, contributors were invited to respond to the theme of island within a suggested word-count of 200. Contributors included 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. Failed States, issue 1 was art directed by Sandy McInnes.


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