How to Take Your Leave: an editorial

This time is time to plant bulbs. Do it now, and in a short time you will have a variegated garden. ‘The taste for endless day is first and foremost a taste,’ writes Alice Hill-Woods in Opus (p 5). ‘let’s get this / garden planted / give our fruit / away to one / another,’ CAConrad prompts (p 99). ‘Conversation can’t be taught. But a social process of unknowing yourself, in company, can be acknowledged,’ 1 we learn. After reading Kathy Acker’s New York City in 1979, Esther Draycott notes how Janey hopes for ‘horrible disaster’ as she ‘desperately want[s] to see that new thing that is going to happen this year.’ 2 ‘The lowest rib in the human cage is full of static,’ writes Emily Megan Foster in Mesosternum (p 61). ‘We are here / We are here / We are here / We are here,’ she calls. A scuba-diver ‘jumps from the rim’ of María Garay Arriba’s green tea and, in one scenario, ceases to ‘remember what was before this wetscape’ (p 67).

‘After dinner K shows me upstairs,’ records Laura Guy in Dyke Research: Incomplete Index. ‘The first floor landing has a door that opens onto a narrow space. An empty closet but she tells me to look up and there’s a ladder that pulls down. What treasures await? She turns on the light from below. In an otherwise empty room, more patterned carpet, moths.’ (p 21)

‘They seemed happy […] to have this house to work on together,’ reports Kate Timney (p 85).

It’s the fifth anniversary of the Art Writing programme and we have gratefully celebrated this with another year of good writing, variegated thinking, and brilliant conversation. Kate Briggs concluded her time with Art Writing as the School of Fine Art’s inaugural Practitioner in Residence with a Friday Event lecture and the launch of ‘A Social Process of Unknowing Yourself in Real Time’: Work on Conversation, published alongside this fourth edition of The Yellow Paper. In autumn 2022, we presented the second part of Biographical Fictioning, our Open Studio project, this time focussing on The Lyric, and, stemming from this, we are delighted to publish an anthology of new writing, This is not a biography*, edited by Alice Hill-Woods, Kate Timney and myself. For The Lyric we were joined by artists and writers including Claire-Louise Bennett, Nicky Coutts, Laurence Figgis, Michael Pedersen, Margaret Salmon, and Susannah Thompson. Thanks to an incredible Friday Event lecture by Anthony Reed considering post-lyric as racialised intervention, together we spent two days querying how poetry might live in a space between subjects.3 Looking to the forms of attachment, homage and preservation present in the impulse or desire of writing with or about others, we asked how profound knowing might require the affective, creative, and vernacular dimension of the lyric. How is it that poetry continues to document an event that is still ongoing?

‘What did you think would happen?’ 4 Claire-Louise Bennett asks in ‘A Formal Feeling, Inside the world of Louise Bourgeois’, an essay documenting the moment of encounter with Bourgeois’ major retrospective The Woven Child, exhibited at the Hayward Gallery, London (9 February – 15 May 2022). Published in Harper’s Magazine and read at the autumn Biographical Fictioning event, Bennett continues:

That the artwork would punch you in the stomach and make you cry there and then? Cry and feel important for crying, cry and feel better for having cried. And then leave. Cry and leave. Cry and leave and sit somewhere outside on the South Bank in the sunshine and text someone and tell them you had been and you had cried and now you were sitting on the South Bank in the sunshine and would they like to come and meet you and perhaps get a beer in the sunshine? Or else don’t cry. Only stand there for ages feeling profoundly sorrowful and impressively stoical. Stand your ground for ages and then leave. Feeling sophisticated and erotic and elevated because of how long you stood without budging.

To document an event that is still ongoing, affect takes control. In workshops, in tutorials, in new work, the graduate writers collected here speak of atemporality, of opacity, of reading, of the play of (auto)biographical, ancestral, cultural masks, of formation, of unsaying, of new ways of conceiving the everyday. We speak in the moment of Kate Briggs’ attention to the site of conversation in an art school. On a sitewriting field trip with artist and writer Maria Howard where students visited the Hamiltonhill Claypits, alongside the Glasgow branch of the Forth and Clyde Canal, to cultivate shared somatic knowledge of material and site, together they ‘map the bank in inconsistent lines,’ record the ‘khaki canal stressed with reflections / solar panels tilt to white.’ And others: graduate Sarah Long was the recipient of the John Calcutt Prize for Critical Writing and in residence at MAP magazine, producing new writing, ‘The Sound of My Voice Will Haunt You: A Call to Gossip’ and ‘I Had a Dream Last Night: Politics and Repetition’, in February 2023. In April we invited Brian Dillon to Glasgow School of Art as part of the launch of Affinities, published by Fitzcarraldo Editions, and hosted Daniela Cascella at Good Press for the Glasgow launch of Chimeras (Sublunary Editions) and Nothing as We Need It (Punctum Books). We presented Soft Shell again at The Poetry Club and interim exhibition, Boys with Books, at French Street, Glasgow, and were thrilled to be joined by CAConrad who delivered a full length reading of The Book of Frank, followed by an in-conversation with Mason Leaver-Yap. This event launched nine international readings in celebration of the book’s 30th anniversary. CAConrad’s contribution to The Yellow Paper is introduced by Sebastian Taylor who worked with Art Writing to invite CA to Glasgow. Lucie McLaughlin and Caitlin Merrett King were the recipients of last year’s Yellow Paper Prize for New Writing and present pamphlets alongside this edition of The Yellow Paper. Our ever-unflinching Teaching Assistant, Esther Draycott, was with us for another year, briefly departing in the second semester for a fellowship at the Kluge Centre at the Library of Congress and as researcher-in-residence for the Women Make Cities network at the Royal Society of Edinburgh. And as ever, we extend an enormous thank you to Silas Lehane for his endless, but now ending, support of the programme. One key lesson in the art of good conversation is the manner of departure, or ‘how to take your leave’, and Silas, we wish you well with all things post- exit. ‘What exactly are we all holding onto anyway?’ asks Silas in his contribution to edition 4, French Exit.


  1. Kate Briggs & Laura Haynes, A Social Process of Unknowing Yourself in Real Time’: Work on Conversation, (UK: The Yellow Paper Press, 2023), p13.
  2. Kathy Acker, New York City in 1979, (London: Penguin Classics, 2022), p15
  3. Anthony Reed, Freedom Time: The Poetics and Politics of Black Experimental Writing, (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016), p 6
  4. Claire-Louise Bennett. ‘A Formal Feeling, Inside the world of Louise Bourgeois’, Harper’s Magazine, October 21, 2022.