The Tangerine: a cultural magazine for a Belfast that’s turning the page
The North’s cultural scene seems more dynamic than its politics. Now the arts world has a new champion determined to be incorrigibly plural
The Tangerine dream team: Padraig Regan, Michael Nolan, Caitlin Newby and Tara McEvoy
The Tangerine came about in much the way these things do: after a lot of talk, and more talk, and the aspiration of adding something new to publishing in the North – a print magazine that combines culture and politics, creative, critical, and journalistic writing, illustration and photography.
To some, it might seem counterintuitive to start a print magazine in 2016. The digital revolution has profoundly changed the way many of us interact with new writing; nowadays, we’re as likely to come across a poem in our social media feeds as in a book or periodical. Of course, this has its benefits, but we’re still believers in the power of the printed word, in writing and reading that takes time. It’s a rite of passage for a writer to see her work in print, and at a time when many independent magazines are being forced to shut up shop or migrate online, we want to make sure that this is still a possibility for poets, short story writers, essayists and critics in Belfast and beyond.
With The Tangerine, we want to make something that you’ll read and reread, that you’ll hold onto – a magazine that’s beautifully designed, and filled with engaging, daring work. Happily, the beginnings of the magazine coincide with a period of intense creativity in Belfast, where there’s no shortage of live arts events. You can’t sneeze without falling into a reading at the Crescent Arts Centre or Bookfinders Café, No Alibis bookshop or a room above a pub. The Lyric and the MAC are producing new work of a consistently high quality. Belfast Book Festival draws waves of writers every year, and a host of other festivals are also growing in popularity. And this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to arts programming in the city. You’d wonder why The Tangerine doesn’t already exist.
It’s been almost 20 years since the Good Friday Agreement was signed, and in that time the North has changed markedly. This February, the first of the 110 peace walls confirmed for demolition across the North was brought down on the Crumlin Road in Belfast, part of a community-led project initiated by the Twaddell Ardoyne Shankill Communities In Transition group. Of course, such developments aren’t solutions to sectarian conflict. Yet, hopefully, the tearing down of this physical and psychological barrier (30 years after it was erected) might just be the perfect symbol of a city in transition.
Belfast today is trying to find its footing again, but it feels buoyed by a sense of possibility, and has benefited immensely from the influence of multiculturalism. No longer is it the city described by Robert McLean Wilson in Eureka Street – “Belfast was only big because Belfast was bad”. Perhaps it’s Emma Must’s poem Belfast Pastoral – a joyful meditation on a day spent strolling through the city – which best speaks to how far the place has come. “This,” she writes, “is no longer the city you’ve read about.”
All this isn’t to say that the path to peace runs smooth. Tensions linger, outbreaks of violence recur, political gridlock stymies progress, column inches are dedicated to perpetuating the same old divisive narratives. With The Tangerine, we want to open up a space for new stories, to offer a platform to people who have been left out of the conversation about where we are, and where we’re going.
We have a particular interest in receiving work from women, people of colour, members of the LGBTQ community, and people with disabilities. We’re determined to ensure that our magazine is representative of the diversity that enriches the North. We want it to be a window on the wider world; we accept international submissions, and are excited about the scope that this permits. Alongside new poetry and prose, we’ll be publishing features on anything from visual art and music to architecture and the environment, whether they’re memoirs, essays, or reviews.
That brings us to another foundational belief of The Tangerine: we think that a flourishing artistic community can only be strengthened by thoughtful criticism. We’re interested in work that doesn’t necessarily fit the creative/critical binary, pieces that defy our expectations of genre. Magazines are spaces for writers to publish things they can’t elsewhere. They are spaces for experimentation and boldness, as well as homes for writing that questions, challenges, and informs ideas of tradition and politics.
As for the title, it’s derived from a poem – Snow – by Belfast-born writer Louis MacNeice:
World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.
We hope The Tangerine will reflect this sense of the variety, and incorporate a plurality of voices across forms. Publishing three times a year, we hope to allow our writers time for reflection when they turn their hand to whatever they feel inclined to write about.
Our first issue is due to be published in December. At the moment, we’re doing everything we can to raise funds for the first print run. We also think it’s vital to pay each of our contributors. We’re having a fundraiser on November 1st, at 8pm, in the Sunflower Bar in Belfast, and we have a Kickstarter campaign online with some really good rewards, including prints from the local photographer, Art Schumann, music from Hannah McPhillimy, and signed hand-written poems from Ciaran Carson. If you can come along, donate, or spread the word, we’d be hugely grateful.