LINES UNDERWATER is a mermaid anthology exploring mermaid myths in the modern world and creating new ones. Featuring artworks, writing and audio from over 40 contributors, here are tales of botched cosmetic surgery, 1950s glamour girls, mermaid chairs and singing sirens, postcards from Jenny Hanivers and memories of love affairs in the navy. Edited by Laura Seymour & Kirsten Tambling
“…this is a long way from the somewhat clichéd traditional view of a mermaid as an enchanting woman with a fish tail. Lines Underwater is by turns playful, thought-provoking and above all packed with original work.” – Caroline Davies, Sabotage
“A beautiful, mesmeric piece of work … there are no low points here. Here is a space that explores the grotesque, amusing and heartbreaking aspects of mermaids, as well as the fairytale portrayals we’re all so familiar with.
“Take a deep breath and jump in.” – Squeamish Bikini
Our brand new full-colour, 52-page anthology is now available for immediate dispatch for £10 + p&p in just one click. Checkout with Paypal below for a safe and secure purchase.
If you’d prefer an alternative method of payment (such as a cheque), feel free to get in touch at poemsunderwater @t gmail dot com.
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Thank you very much for purchasing ‘Lines Underwater’, we hope you enjoy it. We’d love it if you could let us know what you think of the book, either by commenting here, sending us an email, or leaving us a comment on our Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads pages. This is an independently published anthology, and we appreciate your support!
In order of appearance: William Kherbek, Christopher Brown, Rebecca Gethin, Tony Winn, Katie Hale, Andrew Howell, C.R. Resetarits, Jennifer Brough, Jeanette Stevenson, Ieuan Edwards, Sara Eliot, Agnes Marton, Cheri Allcock, Piotr Cieplak, Karen Tang, Kirsten Tambling, Sarah McKee, Sue Wood, Christopher Mulrooney, Nicola Moorhouse, Phoebe Power, Polly Atkin, Andrew Souter, Bernd Sauermann, Kate Noakes, Ron Carey, Michele Brenton, Charlotte Higgins, Claire Trévien, Luciana Francis, Marie Naughton, Adam Steiner, Hilary Hares, Virginie Colline, Debby Akam, Jo Stanley, Meredith Knowles, Philip Burton, Chelsea Cargill, Jessica Taylor, and Ella Risbridger.
Thank you to everyone who’s been involved in our project, by coming over to our website and submitting work to us. Thanks, too, to people who took the time to let us interview them and gave us comments about mermaids and their doings, especially Susan Wicks, Leo Geyer, and Martin Kratz.
And thank you to everyone whose fabulous work appears (or is soon to appear) on our website: May Dy, Penny Pepper, Sal Jones, RV Williams, Graham Burchell, Gill McEvoy, Katherine Shirley, Stephen Devereux, Denise Weaver-Ross, Kimberley Hayes, Oliver Comins, Loz Atkinson, and Sandra Burnett.
If you are in London this February, you might like to come down to Kilburn Comic & Zine Fair hosted by OOMK Zine on the 15th,
We are going to bring some copies of our mermaid anthology ‘Lines Underwater’ to the fair, so come and say hi and get a copy if you’d like your very own book of new artwork and writing featuring mermaids! Take a look at a couple of the pages. Copies can also be bought right now from our online shop.
Zines of the Zone is a travelling library of independent and self-published printed works containing, and relating to, photography. It’s going everywhere from Barcelona to Athens, and will be exhibiting the pieces it’s collected at special events in every city it visits.
We were very happy to hear about this fantastic project, and to donate a copy of our mermaid anthology ‘Lines Underwater’ for inclusion in the travelling library and exhibition.
Here on our website, you can read about some of the photography in our anthology, which ranges from a semi-animate bench and a romantic turtle to a mermaid’s-eye view with an underwater camera and a wiry siren (seen here in its fleshless glory), as well as lots of photographs by Kirsten Tambling. You can also take a look at some of the other artwork involved in our project.
Tony Winn’s great song The Mermaid is featured in our anthology, which you can buy online. He’ll also be performing it at our launch party this Saturday:
I don’t want to sit on this rock for ever
I can’t get to sleep on the sea bed
My complexion has been ruined by salt water
And who wants seaweed – all over her head
she prays for the day when a bold sea captain
will be lured by her mystical charms
and his ship will be wrecked on the rocks below
and the tide will bear him to her arms
but these days sailors are better educated
and they don’t believe in mythical sights
and they know that the sound of the mermaid’s song
is just the wind in the night
there was a time long ago when it was easy pickings
and you just had to hum a little tune
and a thousand sails would appear on the horizon
reflecting the beams of the moon
but these days ships are different
and they’re powered by the diesel engine
and you can’t hear the sound of the mermaids song
above the din of the piston thumping
one day she was sitting on her usual rock
with her tail stretched out in the sun
when a sailing yacht hove into view
she lifted up her head and sung
and the ship hit the rocks & the wind tore her sail
and the sailor was clinging to the wheel
and she knew that if once her eyes met his
his heart she would surely steal
but then a noise she heard
like a chopping sound in the air
and a rope came down and the sailor went up
air sea rescue – it just isn’t fair.
Essex man Tony Winn writes and performs his own songs and poems in a variety of styles covering all aspects of life, love , the universe and whatever else there is or may be!! An actor and member of a number of groups he also performs his one-man-show “Singing in the Bath” – Visit his world at www.tonywinn.org.uk
Sara Eliot’s song Velvet Skies, feat. Mark Hutin on piano and Ian Peaple on trombone, appears alongside an amazing linocut by Ieuan Edwards in Lines Underwater. Have a listen:
Sara Eliot is a London based poet & singer/songwriter. Her unique sound – soulful vocals with a raspy edge – harmony and a touch of Jazz – delivers smooth lyrical poetry.
If you are interested in the other audio-visual responses to the project, make sure you check out our youtube channel!
We liked Michele Brenton’s photographs because, like Katie Hale’s poem Siren’s Song, they explored the idea of a ‘mermaid’s- eye view’, whereas traditional accounts often present only a ‘sailor’s-eye view’ of the seductive mermaid. Michele writes,
“When I take a photograph I am trying to capture every moment and view I have experienced with that space over an extended period of time. It could be seen as the diametric opposite of cubism as I attempt to concentrate as much as I can into one simple image. This series of images was taken with a waterproof camera, one is completely underwater, four were taken as I trod water after swimming some distance out from the shore and one was taken from a rocky outcrop at sea which I reached by swimming and climbing so I could take the picture looking down at the boundaries between rock, dry weed, wet weed and open sea. All are places intimately known to me and I hoped that the images would give a sense of being surrounded by water and allow me to share the sensual essences which collected make up each individual image. I felt a spirituality of connection to these places and in my humble way I tried to capture the soul of them with my camera and eye and heart.
“Spartia at Dusk is a photograph taken from the sea off Spartia beach on Kefalonia in the Ionian Sea where I lived for three years.”
Michele’s beautiful photograph Spartia at Dusk can be seen in our anthology, and will also be exhibited at Deptford’s Undercurrents Gallery throughout October. Meanwhile, here are five more of her photographs, and a poem A life on the ocean’s wave!
Michele Brenton self-identified as a writer before she was five & now past fifty realises self-identification is a complex, never-ending journey of discovery and surprises. She does not like to imagine what her life would be like without the internet and the people who live in her computer. She hangs out on Twitter at http://twitter.com/banana_the_poet
Sue Wood works as a creative writer in various health care situations. She is widely published in anthologies and journals, including the Forward Poetry Anthology, 2010. Her first collection Imagine yourself as water won a Cinnamon Press Award for Poetry.
Bernd Sauermann has contributed an excellent poem, ‘The Give and Take’, to Lines Underwater. Here, you can read another of his poems, ‘Recessional’. He explains,
“My writing process is, for the most part, mysterious to me. My poems often begin with random lines presenting themselves to me. If a given line catches my attention, I just sort of flap in the breeze behind it in the composition process, often not fully realizing what the poem is going to be about until the poem’s rough draft is fairly complete. Then, in the revision process, I tighten things up, paying close attention to the nuances of words’ sounds and meanings in the context of the poem’s dramatic situation. I’ve been drawn to prose poems lately, partly because the form (or lack of) I think forces readers to focus more exclusively on content and idea, vs. focusing on content and idea as a part of a “poem,” though I guess a “prose” poem is still, ultimately, just another “form” of poetry.”
I float on the warmth of fingers through warm hair. A
future is strung like Spanish moss in the trees, and the
bayou rises to meet the laughter of a woman. Later, a
truce is drawn: I gather moss, and a laughing girl
watches the rain wet my hair. She describes the rain
to me in glances, and I take in her glistening syllables,
someone who used to wallow in a dry heat, the glare
of a red sun setting on a highway receding in the
cracked rearview mirror.
Bernd Sauermann teaches at Hopkinsville Community College in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and is also the poetry editor at Whole Beast Rag, an online (and sometimes print) journal of art, ideas, and literature. He has poems, stories and photographs published in The McSweeney’s Book of Poets Picking Poets, Southern Indiana Review, New Orleans Review, Nimrod, Poet Lore, The Kansas Quarterly Review of Literature, Leveler, Mad Hat Review, ežRatio, Vinyl Poetry, and many other publications, a chapbook titled Diesel Generator from Horse Less Press, and his first full-length collection, Seven Notes of a Dead Man’s Song, will be published in the coming year by Mad Hat Press.
Christopher Brown’s photograph Mer Bench has just been published in Lines Underwater, our anthology of new artwork and writing that re-envisions mermaid myths for the twenty-first century. One of several works in the anthology that brings the mermaid into the city (another is Kate Noakes’ beautiful poem Melusine at Chatelet which you will have to buy the anthology to read!), Mer Bench will form part of a month-long exhibition of some of the artworks from our project at London’s Undercurrents gallery this October.
The Starbucks symbol, a melusine, is perhaps today’s most commonly-seen mermaid. In Mer Bench, a coffee-cup lid has become mere detritus: a very unfortunate twenty-first century mermaid indeed. For us, the froth in the photograph evoked the myth that, having no souls, mermaids turn into unhallowed froth when they die. It looked to us as if the frothy mermaid had exceeded, and burst out of, her mass-produced Starbucks container!
However, it is the bench that is the true mermaid in this picture. Christopher Brown is one of the only people in the world to have witnessed the activities of a Mer Bench, as he explains in his artist’s statement below.
Mer Bench, by Christopher Brown
(click on the image to enlarge)
“Mermaids tend to live at sea, but Mer Benches are equally at ease in seawater or freshwater (think of them, in that sense, as bi-curious). At night they scuttle off in the water, where they rid themselves of the memories of having been sat on, before returning to their former positions by sunrise.
“Mer Bench is one in a series of photos I took in late 2006, around the lake in central Geneva. It was a chilly, wet morning, so there were very few people about. The exceptionally strong winds meant that the iconic Jet d’Eau had been turned off, and I remember feeling exhilarated as I explored the empty jetties, promenades and playgrounds.
“My gloves were too thick to operate the camera properly, so I had to remove them every time I took a photo. As a result of the bitter cold, my hands were soon red and sore.
“Mer Bench came into being after the wind blew some waves over the promenade, which washed up against a nearby bench, spitting up a coffee-cup lid in the process.
“After I had taken the photo, a peculiar thing happened. In broad daylight, the bench got up, stretched its legs, then headed into the lake for a swim.
“Like me, it must have thought there was nobody else around.”
Christopher Brown is a film director and screenwriter. His feature project ‘Knock-Out’ recently won Best Screenplay at the London Independent Film Festival, and the Cordelia Award for Best UK Screenplay at the LA-based BlueCat contest. His latest short film ‘Remission’ is forthcoming in the autumn. Chris lectures in filmmaking at the University of Greenwich and has published articles in Film Criticism and the Quarterly Review of Film & Video.
Christopher has also donated four more photographs he took on that windy day to our digital collection of mermaid artworks. You can enjoy them below, and check out our online gallery for even more fantastic responses to the project.
Luciana Francis’ beautiful song Canto Para Sereias appears in Lines Underwater. The song is based on a poem she wrote in her native Portugese, and translated especially for us. Have a listen:
Under the waves they roam
Sea, galloping, horses
Rafts slide by unnoticed
Where mermaids pay their visits
And I know that they call
Out for you, and I know that they
Sing to enchant you
Their hair bares curls like waves
Starfish are ever so daring
Alluring sailors to the deep
Promising their invisible kingdom
And I know that they call
Out for you, and I know that they
Sing to enchant you.
Luciana also writes novels and short stories. Below, you can download one of her short stories, Memoria, which, like Phoebe Power’s poem Stella’s Body in our anthology, links a siren-theme with Marian devotion.
Luciana Francis was born Luciana Saldanha in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She moved to London in 1998, where she still resides. She graduated in Anthropology & Media at Goldsmiths College and is currently writing a novella in her native Portuguese.