Fighting words: Fragments of wonder from our younger generation

There is a hint of unease in these stories, a quiet nagging pulse of worry

Alan Gilsenan: ‘Things just might be alright after all’

Alan Gilsenan: ‘Things just might be alright after all’


These are strange days indeed. No doubt about that.

Sometimes it’s hard to get our head around it all. Make some sense of everything. Articulate that nagging sense that lurks beneath the daily humdrum - those endless walks, the even more endless Zoom meetings. It’s hard, somehow, to express those deeply felt hopes and fears surrounding all our uncertain, shifting futures. So, mostly, it seems best not to think about it at all. Head down, carry on. By all means, give out about the government and Nphet and Astra Zeneca . But really, whatever you say, say nothing.

The talented young writers here haven’t done that. Haven’t taken the easy route. They’ve taken it all in. Looked hard at themselves and the world around them. Searched deep inside and far beyond. For there is a certain freedom to be found in lockdown. The possibility of a sort of creative jail-break. A chance to delve into the endless possibilities of one’s own imagination. But that can only be done with bravery and encouragement and in the belief that someone will listen and attend.

This wide selection of new writing was chosen from a vast array of submissions from across the island. The subjects were as varied as their authors. But, naturally, some recurring themes emerged: apocalyptic visions related to climate change; reflections on the current pandemic and life in lockdown; escapist forays into the other-worlds of fantasy and science-fiction; as well as thoughtful meditations on the natural world. But these themes and more were approached through the unique prism of each individual voice - unfettered, urgent and articulate. They are a joy to read and seem the embodiment of Fighting Words’ inherent philosophy of valuing every individual imagination and celebrating each and every person’s creativity.

Understandably, there is a hint of unease too in these stories. The quiet nagging pulse of worry. But stronger than this is the current of life and joy that permeates the writing. A lively sense of energy and a belief that hope will somehow overcome and we might just prevail. During recent times, our younger people have been unfairly vilified for supposed breaches of restrictions rather than celebrated for their resilience and fortitude. However, these pieces of writing capture something of the true energy and resourcefulness of our younger generations. Of new writers connected to the realness of things, responsible yet questioning, and still capable of laughter and delight.

Dive into these short stories and poems and fragments of wonder. Then go for your 5km walk or your sea swim or whatever. But first, just relax and read. And marvel.

Things just might be alright after all.

Alan Gilsenan, 27.04.21