The Undertow Review

It's really the struggle, the argument with oneself, that interests...
― Robert Dessaix.

The Undertow Review is an online journal that aims to publish a vortex of poetry, art, photography and video that currents away from the surface mainstream.  All types of non-commercial, avant-garde writing and art preferred and welcome for submission to:

[email protected]

Send us work that is as water-proof as a post-box and as thick-skinned as an Incan mummy. Travelogues and memoir that inspires; poetry that provokes and photography or performance videos that transcend.

Up to six pieces either as a word document or jpeg or URL depending, along with a short bio. 

If published before, please say where.

“...'undertow'. It describes (...) how underneath our own everyday lives - the shopping and squabbles and weeding and trips to the vet - there's a sense of being dragged slowly off, not against our will but regardless of it. And fighting the undertow, as children are quick to learn, is not usually the best way of getting back to the beach. Floating along with it, on the other hand, can be fatal."

We want to publish the work that doesn't mind drifting away from the mainland 

because it knows how to survive at sea.


Edition Seven: HARD SLABS AND A FEW CONIFERS (January 2017)

A slightly delayed edition, but like any dilatory wealthy wife who has no interest in flowers this issue is landscaped by hard slabs and a few conifers, uniform in its collective brilliance though at night when the neighbours sleep in steady rows and our eyes are made the fools of other faculties, it wakes to decorate itself.  

As bright as a solstice bonfire it brings together the electrical matrimony of stapled carpets and disposable friendships, an a.m amen to wanderlust and street hauntings where ravens attempt to eat all buttons at times when the lonely and the lovelorn is more valuable than the loved-up.

Here dreams are not made of the magicians modern charms, or not lost to meta-narrative, ocean-tossed and whale-gulped, they are not hung upside down like the Hebrew alphabet, nor are they wrapped in a sarong of cloud- instead they spill in transit, shoe-laced and set on split-tongued roads that only tunnel the imperfect circles of secrets.

Through the commune of success and sorrow we can alternate perspective and allow light to pollinate most thresholds - welcome to the swollen crop, the inky bulkheads of January rain releasing another array of admirably creative humans...

Contributors -

Cover: Artist, Karen Strang.

Poetry: Richard Miller, Robert Joe Stout, Irfan Merchant, Drew McNaughton, Miriam Gamble. 
Photography: Adrian Barry.
Art: Jessica Kirkpatrick.
Memoir: Christian Livermore.
Video (Music): Alannah Moar.

Editorial- Janette Ayachi.


Edition Six: STILL IN MIAMI (May 2016):

Come lasso your limbs under the eclectic architecture of our Spring cocktail, a sunrise of poets and visuals that will puncture your being with the possibility of endless blue because when cities sleep they dream of Poseidon, feel his steely tongue reach the very static of their skylines pinned with claw-pegs and traffic-sirens, still we scintillously lock our doors at night seconds before bed fearing intrusion, those empty pillows only evidence of the greatest heist of all time which will always remain of the heart, still we wear the reaper lightly, as kitsch as a bonsai, more demented than a chained hound perfecting its frequency, let's dine those dollar bills into gold said too many Americans, money like humans is made to multiply but we grind those green faces like hot one night stands a truth as ludicrous as glamour in your seventies ---

Watch out for those girls with nerves spread as desperately as orchid lichen mooring slow mornings with their heels distilled by ephemera and glass such long foundations and I don't know if I blinked that part of my life but I swear I saw soil breathe today, all cemeteries are morbid puppet shows of symmetry, I want to stretch into the Great Wall of China stirring eternity in my kaleidoscope cup, there is a helpful smile in every aisle bleached by the gulf of self-loathing plus the alligators ate all the polaroid asteroids. 

It's disgusting how much people eat for breakfast. Feed your head instead with Edition Six, a stillness, and a still lingering, long after the party lights have dimmed the harbour. Disembark the choking cab ride, tear off your pre-war stockings and dive in ---

Contributors -

Cover: Fashion Designer, Octavia Judas.

Poetry: Scherezade Siobhan, Lauren Pope, GS Smith, Claire Lucille Trevien, Brandon Marlon, Glen Armstrong, John Challis.
Photography: Sarah Donley.
Art: Julia Sophia Sanner.
Memoir:  Ever Dundas.
Video (Filmpoem): Max Wallis.

Editorial- Janette Ayachi.

Edition Five: EMPYREAN PLEASURES (December 2015): 

Between the chlorinated gods and the century's poison battling light against dark we find ourselves at an impasse beyond strange pleasures, just imagine I had no tongue but was still able to taste you through the metal and dust, there will be no carnival of hearts in this realm, no stealth attacks, panic attacks, shark attacks, not in the clouds, she whispers, I have saved all my cadmium and marrow for brunch tomorrow, the season of cardiac is best kept for those unholy hours, a train of runaway brides and a coliseum of mannequins strung together in lace, I trusted the lions, there was a time when I pretended to be someone else and I liked it blind drunk, distraction bated for with shots of ichor, secrets given away as guns, because this issue is mostly about channelling the higher powers, the intruder doesn't disappear she just assumes another guise, like mad hybrid mime artists come night they will colonise your dreams with their fists wrapped around marigolds the same way a storm chokes the sun and sends truth to sleep.  But ahead of us, an alchemy of wonder is set to blaze and trim the char from the wicks of what we don't understand, stirring an impossible roulette of clairvoyance across the ether... so enter, this is a place you have been before...

Contributors -

Cover: Kirsty Macaulay.

Poetry: Sade Andria Zabala, Iona Lee, Colin Dodds, Siegfried Baber, Grevel Lindop, Rebecca Perry.
Photography: Claire Adams Ferguson.
Art: Federica Lucia Vinella feat. Martin Krupa.
Memoir:  Melanie Hayden.
Video (Music): .Eyes of Others (John Bryden)

Editorial- Janette Ayachi.


Edition Four: DRESSED TO KILL (May 2015)

Have you ever found yourself wrapped in shrieking garments, and suddenly possessing a flair for enormity under the imperial effect of buildings? Well come then, strip inside, take shelter past the drum-core of mannequins and the body as a nexus point, untie your hem from the gaudy briar rose and rest your eyes under the skirt of Edition Four: Dressed to Kill. Inadequacies are hidden; secrets are given away with an outshow of innermost attitudes, how are we perceived and how do we see ourselves, shattered in the mirror but pretty in pieces, the waiter will tell you he has a talking menu, to be undressed or addressed he says, and offers the love of exactitude that most people take for truth. What lies beneath hemp and twine but a shape maintaining hulking uncertainty, smokescreen or decoration-

We can get away with murder, as long as we are dressed for the part.

Contributors -

Cover: Dive Photographer.

Poetry: Abbi Mackenzie, Bob Beagrie, Anna Crowe, Brent Terry, Astrid Alben, Helen Calcutt, Thomas Piekarski.
Photography: Hazel Thompson.
Art: Tessa Berring. 
Memoir:  Roy McFarlane.
Video (Spoken Word): Paula Varjack.

Editorial-Janette Ayachi.


Edition Three: Dreaming in Phosphene (May 2014)

'In complete darkness only the portions of material thus rendered luminous are visible'- 

taken from a description of Louie Fullers 'Radium Dance' when she performed in Paris veiled in black gauze lit with florescent chemical salts. 

Enter this issue as we diminish the mise-en-scène of life to its darkest sojourn, don’t be afraid to go where your tired eyes take you. Let’s illuminate the hearth’s furious furnace under the cauldron of the heart as it pulls its face to grimace. Whether you borrow light from love, landscape or God, muses are raising their voices. Let’s count friends instead of suicide sheep, there is no paranoia without reason, if you are distracted you are available- tears on the retina swell the world to blur. Interpretation is a spectrum condition; put on the blind fold, stab out the ultraviolet nightmares and radiating propane stars, because only by dreaming in phosphene can we see in the dark. Go on, send your senses reeling…

Contributors -

Cover:  Chloë Harper.

Poetry: Tishani Doshi, April Salzano, Moniza Alvi, David Cooke, Allison Grayhurst, Bram E. Gieben (Texture).
Photography: Jenny Papalexandris.
Art: Ursula Cheng.
Memoir: Kirsty Logan.
Video (Spoken Word): JL Williams.

Editorial-Janette Ayachi.


Edition Two: Hebrew After Midnight (January 2014)

But why is it you sometimes cower from telling time, your hands should be far steadier than mine.

Welcome to the second instalment Hebrew After Midnight: where the worry dolls are kept in the pockets of prophets and the astronomical owl thrashes its talons against the ravine.  This is where the streets wear dressing gowns and hibernation becomes a chain to mercury-stained mornings.  A place of candles; icicles, tangled mandrakes and a tumble-weed of dying Christmas trees. This is the immaculate space of a New Year. Oh how the waiting gnaws at us....

Contributors - 

Cover: Artist, Jenny Hilley.

Poetry: Samantha Walton, Will Stone, Stephen Watt, Caleb Beissert, Wilna Panagos, Emily Pettit.
Photography: Brittonie Fletcher.
Art: Rachael Bibby.
Memoir: Colin McGuire.
Video (music)Vanessa Ferdinand.

Editorial- Janette Ayachi.


Edition One: Issue of the Beast  (October 2013)
Welcome to The Issue of the Beast: a space where the most primal expressions surface through this multiplicity of art forms. A focus on the greatest charm of human nature: knowing how to work the animal-self. Together lets climb the more dangerous cliffs, ravage in the realm of swans and embrace the devoted tendencies of a flooded consciousness.

Contributors -  

Cover: Filmamker, Iwona Jankowska.
Poetry: Rhian Edwards, Richie McCafferty, Andrew F Giles, Rob A Mackenzie, Agnes Marton, Simon Rogghe, Pippa Little.  
Photography: Charis Stuart.
Art: Anneli Holmstrom
Memoir: Anna Sanner.
Video (music): Kirsten Norrie( MacGillivray).

Editorial- Janette Ayachi.