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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If you’re based abroad, we’re happy to ship to you but p&p is probably a little bit more than it is within the UK – please email your location to poemsunderwater @t gmail dot com and we’ll figure out how much this is likely to be.
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.
‘Jenny Haniver’ is the mysterious name given to grotesque composite fish-creatures made by sailors. They were conventionally made from skates or rays, presumably because these are among the most anthropomorphic sea-creatures easily obtainable from a boat – compare Jean-Baptise-Simeon Chardin’s haunting still life ‘The Ray’ (below), where the dismembered fish hovers in the background like a lacerated human soul in torment.
Jenny Hanivers overlap thematically with ‘strange fish’ – curiosities from the sea displayed at fairs and markets for money. Strange fish might be either outright composite fakes or bizarre fish believed by their exhibitors to be genuine – in The Tempest Trinculo mistakes Caliban for one such, in the process evoking a contemporary English consumer culture of exotic objects:
A strange fish! Were I in England now, as once I was, and had but this fish painted, not a holiday fool there but would give a piece of silver: there would this monster make a man; any strange beast there makes a man: when they will not give a doit to relieve a lame beggar, they will lazy out ten to see a dead Indian.
Jenny Hanivers also have obvious connections to mermaid fakes – many ‘sirens’ were made from sewing a monkey corpse to a fish corpse, or indeed assembled from the ground upwards like craft objects (as with the talismanic merman at London’s Horniman museum, which seems to have had a religious significance). This strain is the less Pre-Raphaelite image of the mermaid in history.
Where exactly Jenny Hanivers get their bizarre name is not clear – in The Fabled Coast (previously reviewed on this website), Sophia Kingshill and Jennifer Westwood give the term’s origin in ‘Jenny’ (as in female, like a ‘Jenny Wren’) and ‘D’Antwerp / D’Anvers’ (‘from Antwerp’, where they were supposedly manufactured). Wikipedia gives an uncited emendation as ‘jeune d’Anvers’, so they are not gendered, but rather precisely aged. But it’s still not entirely clear what their purpose was – clearly they had a commercial value, since they were made in a trading port and (presumably) sold to sailors as souvenirs; perhaps they also had uses as low-level fakes giving credence to sailors’ yarns. I think, with their evident strangeness, they also have something of the talismanic about them – in a harsh natural environment like the sea, you need all the help you can get.
Jenny Hanivers tie together many of the ideas running through this project – they are hybrids (albeit man-made) and they speak to an ancient tradition of myth and legend surrounding mermaids, mer-creatures and the sea. They also appear to have had a commercial value, which is a telling point in the light of our last trip to Deptford Creek (a key trading port), as well as in some of the discussions we’ve had about the commercialisation of the mermaid in the twentieth century. It’s interesting, too, that they appear to have been gendered as female. I thought I’d have a go at making some.
To start the project off we will be visiting three locations – a shrine, the site of a merman’s capture, and the place where two rivers once got married – and creating poetry and art work based on this. We’ll also be posting about mermaid-related things, as well as showcasing a few modern poetry and other fiction books to do with the sea. If you would like us to review your book please get in touch with us! We hope this inspires you to get started with your own contributions!
Please visit the ‘about‘ page to learn more about the rationale behind the project, and its authors.