London's First Open Literature Magazine




 Let the words do the work for this crowdfunding campaign. Poor old Martin can’t even raise a smile…



Tokyo Metro_lz

The fourth article in Ariell G.’s Train Stories series arrives just in time. Read it here.



James Bruce May

“A breath of wind…” James Bruce May stares into the barrel of submission.

Get involved

Get involved


Read Paul McVeigh’s rallying cry to all short story lovers.




Have a gander at Open Pen’s recent interview with poet Sarah Perry. Here she talks about her career to date and the opportunities open to new writers.



Enjoying Issue Eleven? We hope so. Can’t find us? Let us know and we’ll get a restock out to your local bookshop.

In the meantime, take a look at a miniplay we put on in February to celebrate ten issues of Open Pen.

Published from Open Pen on Vimeo.

Massive thanks and congratulations on a fine performance to actors Harriet Green, Helen Booth, Lawrence Russell.

Out This Saturday

Out This Saturday

OP11_FROTNCOVERHow do you spend your Saturdays? We spend ours visiting bookshops, perusing, spending too much money and even judging books by their covers.

If you do the same, you’ll notice that Issue Eleven of Open Pen is out and about and in greyish mood (just in time for Spring). Here’s a list of bookshops you can pick up your FREE copy of Open Pen from. And please, if you can afford it, pick up a book on your travels. Buying books from your local bookshop is the only thing that’s going to keep them going, longterm. We much prefer the likes of Owl Bookshop to Ladbrokes, so if for no other reason, do it for us.

In Issue Eleven you’ll find the latest Londony column from our dear friend N Quentin Woolf (who has a book out), whilst our bookshop feature is handled by The Society Club‘s Carrie Kania. The cover piece, as announced last week, has gone to Jasmin Kirkbride for her touching tale drawn from the harsh realities of life discovered in youth, The Yellow Moth.

“The moth had revealed itself to her in Oma’s colleague’s holiday house in France. The colleague was absent, encouraging the Fuchsberg’s destruction of the quiet provinces with Uncle Joe’s industrious musical compositions, great-grandmother Ottilie’s complaints and two memorable, near-Italian emotional outbursts from Anise’s mother, Madeline Fuchsberg. The Fuchsberg’s deployed themselves throughout the house as far away from each other as possible, creating a negative equidistance between the seven-or-so spare rooms. Anise and Madeline were stacked away on a bunk-bed in the attic with a vibrant hot-air balloon frieze trailing the ceiling. It was to this room that Anise ran after she found the moth.”
Jasmin Kirkbride

Jasmin Kirkbride – Author of The Yellow Moth, and proficient in the art of photograph posing.

We’ve also got fiction from New Yorker Dr. Irving A. Greenfield, a sinister tale from Durham-based Anton Rose, S. Conde is on hand with a story in the form of a letter to new owner of a house in The Buyers, and Liam Hogan makes his second appearance in Open Pen with the aptly title Elevenses. Finally, we’ve got David McGrath with the laugh out loud satire A Lonesome Snow Leopard. Twitterphiles and writers will love it. here’s an excerpt:

“He gets to work on the first poem of his new collection. He titles it, The Self-imposed Bloodied Axe of Rejection.
He begins.
I wield the self-imposed bloodied axe of rejection.
It is a decent start. He goes downstairs for his dinner.
The next day, Ulick tries to check in on the progress of Prophet5387 but he cannot remember the password. He tries all of his usual’s—sacrificiallamb, misunderstood, nothingness. None of them work. He tries to access the Gmail account he used to create the Twitterbot. Again, he cannot remember the password. He uses his own Twitter account and searches for Prophet5387.
He cannot believe his eyes. It has attracted 2,011 followers in less than 24 hours. He checks on the sales of Life. Not one copy sold. Something is amiss.”


Look out for a video of David McGrath performing A Lonesome Snow Leopard soon.

Let us know what you think of Issue Eleven. We reckon it’s a great mix. Disagree? As always, let us know.

Thanks lastly to the lovely illustration by equally lovely illustrator Josh Neal.



Here’s a sneak peak of Open Pen Issue Eleven, out this weekend from any of our stockists. More info on content to follow soon.




London New Journal

Read about Joshua Lachkovic’s new literary outlet, London New Journal – a project that breathes life into the untold stories of the city.

and be damned

and be damned

The  journey from my office in Kennington to Clapton takes about an hour and fifteen minutes. I could get to Brighton in that time, should I have reason to. I don’t. It’s windy and far too proud of itself. Whilst Clapton is beginning to resemble Brighton in many ways, it still has great venues like the Hackney United Services Club where we have put events on four or five times. That’s probably unfair on Brighton, which presumably has buildings rich with history, if not rich with the splatterings of seabirds.


Brighton beach, July, 2013

On Thursday I had decided to work from home as I had an appointment with my doctor. The real boon to being home is that I live in Limehouse, and so getting to Clapton for our live show from there is pretty rapid, at least by comparison. I went by Overground, and the orange, spacious carriage afforded me a moment of a recherché calm. Tweeting playfully as I went, double-checking emails to ensure that everyone had been organised and bossed about sufficiently, I was feeling terribly pleased with myself for having affairs well and truly in order. Yes, if my doctor had given me a phone call right then and told me that, despite his earlier vote of confidence in my diet of leftovers and ale, I had actually rotted my gut through to the seams and could only expect to live for a few hours more, I’d feel pretty serene about it all, if not a little satisfied that I would be able to tell my partner (romantic; gave up any desire to be a cop after the novelisation of Police Academy: Mission To Moscow was dropped by HarperCollins) that I was right about bloody doctors all along.

I was at the the venue in Clapton at about 6:20, a bloated hour before doors opened, where I found my second-in-command Anna Harvey waiting for me in her car. She wore a look of concern but it troubled me not for I was in the mood to sort stuff out, no matter how in it had fallen. At that moment, the venue owner popped her head out of the front door and explained that due a last minute issue they wouldn’t be able to host Open Pen Live that night.


“What? Why?” The second monosyllabic query topping my list of priorities in terms of receiving an answer.

“The ceiling’s fallen in,” she replied, “we can’t have anyone here. The darts is off as well.”

Why do these things always happen to me, I thought, as the venue owner fought back tears. The sky had come down around me. I was doomed. This was a nightmare situation. I had a couple of writers coming down, a two-man Jazz ensemble, publishers on the guest-list, and everyone was going to think that I can’t do things properly, including the poor old writer who had her Mum coming over from Norwich especially. Writers are tender creations as it is. Asking them to stand up in front of people that love books and therefore love being critical (preferably with sagacious wit) is a big ask. Telling them with an hour before kick off that the show was off would truly puncture their fragile conviction.

“What are we going to do?” I demanded of my 2IC, desperate to address the increasing likelihood that my ego would be bruised.

Luckily, starkly, my Open Penner partner in crime (metaphorically – I had given up on crime for reasons outlined above) knew the area like a handy expression used to the point of nauseation. We bolted about the area that was once described as the most dangerous area in London and bounded over to coffee-house-cum-potteries and delicatessen-cum-creches until finally, lastly, the creperie-cum-gastrobar on the old Murder Mile accepted us with a warm embrace (potentially just a solemn, accepting nod, with the hint of goodwill – I wouldn’t know, I was in the car sulking) and said we could use the downstairs basement. The snag was that we could only have it till 9:30pm. This would cut into a lot of what we had planned that night, but beggars of live literary reading venues cannot be choosers of live literary reading venues. And as it went, the creperie’s basement, whilst on the cosy side, was beautifully lit, and its staff more than accommodating. Our readers were able read their stories, albeit in front of a crowd that we couldn’t possibly charge ticket admission for, given the mess around they’d been given. This basically meant that the evening that is meant to fill the belly of our budget, ended up leaving us down. Cry for us.

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 11.52.21

The Creperie du Monde, Clapton. Saviours of literature and/or Gallic confection.

Economical matters aside, it might have been worse. It was pointed out to me that the ceiling of the original venue might have fallen in on me whilst I was on stage. The thought gave me a moment to take a step back from the supposed nightmare situation and really count myself lucky; tragedy had been averted. Just imagine if the plasterboard had fallen in and spoiled my peacoat. Sobering.

In short, much shorter than I’ve just rambled on for, apologies to everyone that made it along and was shifted about like cattle, or gave up on arrival of the new venue, lost, confused, potentially hurt. An apology and much gratitude also, of course, to everyone at the event that performed a story for us or tickled the ivories for Jazzing pleasure. We aim to make it up to you in the early Summer with an outdoor event (take that ceilings). We’ll have more tricks up our sleeve than ever before.

To Creperie du Monde, thank you sincerely for saving our bacon on the night. I hope to enjoy said bacon with dollops of maple syrup at your fine establishment real soon.

Sean Preston

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Note from the web editor: Finally, if any Brighton-based bookshops would like to stock us, please send requests to our editor at

Open Pen Issue Eleven is out weekend of April 26th. Keep an eye on us for more details of its release.

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