Soyinka, Bambo, Editor in Chief, TNL Journal
Palmer, Grace, Managing Editor, TNL Journal
Transnational Literature, Vol 13, Oct 2021
Special Edition: Follow the Sun

Editor's Letter

At a time when we have been seeking connection more than ever, Volume 13 of Transnational Literature celebrates writing from contributors based across the world.

This ‘Follow the Sun’ edition takes its name from a conference organised by Transnational Literature, Paper Nations and TRACE in January 2021. For this event, we invited submissions on the themes of place and displacement, migration, movement, and the crossing of borders. The writing that emerged was thoughtful, creative and at times challenging.

Inspired by ‘Follow the Sun’, this special edition of Transnational Literature includes several new creative sections, audio-visual content and a new ‘critical-conversations’ section which includes informal pieces of writing. Our vision for this expanded volume of the journal was to fully represent and celebrate the breadth, depth and quality of writing emerging from our community.

Transnational Literature has always had a focus on writing across borders. The pandemic rendered this theme even more pertinent — as we found ourselves confined to our homes, unable to travel, writing was revealed as a means of reaching out and connecting with others. While traditional literary criticism helps us to understand the ideas and concepts involved in writing across borders, creative writing can embody those themes in a visceral way, and often acts as a form of connection and communication in itself.

The excitement of opening up the submissions portal to discover new work never disappointed. Heated discussions followed when it came to deciding which submission to move forward. Choosing was never straightforward and we appreciate the patience of the writers as decisions were made. The stories and poems that made the final cut invite the reader to explore the meaning of place, of being ‘other,’ and the experience of being a ‘third culture kid’. They look at navigating refugee camps, forced migration, racism, climate change, food, and so much more. We invite you to read and enjoy all these polyphonic voices. Every one of these pieces powerfully delivers their reflections on the theme of ‘Follow the Sun’.

The language and narrative styles reflect our global submissions. Listen to the musicality or formality of the writing, and consider how writing can reflect the signature of a place. Catherine Okoronkwo’s Black Pelican incorporates Igbo folklore and words, and the translation sections illuminate texts for a wider audience. One of the sections we are excited about this year is the special feature on poetry from Kenya. It is a delight to introduce to you poems chosen and introduced by Ngwatilo Mawiyoo, twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize and shortlisted for Brunel University's African Poetry Prize. This section shows us how writing can emerge from a place in a way that is unique to culture, history and locality. We hope to apply this same approach to different regions across the globe in the future, exploring how place and creativity interconnect.

In this edition, we have introduced some new sections to the journal. Ones to Watch highlights writers at the start of their careers and The South West section features writers working in this area of the UK, including the extraordinary global writing project, The Daily Haiku. Accumulatively, these writings show not only how writing emerges from a place but also how writing enables us to reach out across barriers and borders and make connections.

We'd particularly like to thank all of our editorial team who read the submissions with such care and bring their knowledge, academic rigour, passion and experience to the work. It is a global affair — Australia, America, Europe and Kenya are represented on the editorial team.
Our poetry editor Alison Flett curates the poetry section, choosing the featured poet and featured country, and selects poems from open submissions. Alison’s insightful comments and introductions to the poems have been an invaluable addition to the journal.

Special thanks to our editorial team: Rita Horanyi, Alison Flett, Ruth Starke, Piper Bell, Sabrin Hasbun, Elen Caldecott, Reza Haque, Fiona Willams and John Young, as well as members of our supportive community of scholars on the advisory board. Thanks also go to Jayne Marshall, who has been working closely with the Managing Editor, Grace Palmer, on the journal and with Professor Bambo Soyinka on the South West and Daily Haiku sections.

Finally, thanks to Ian Gadd from Gala for ensuring the journal's survival and to the team at Paper Nations — a creative writing incubator supported by Arts Council England that aims to celebrate the South West of England as a globally connected Place for Writers.

This edition of the Transnational Literature Journal shows that creative writing and dialogue rooted in place and shared across borders is now more vital than ever.

Bambo and Grace

Join our Community

If you've enjoyed what you have read and would like to work with us to develop the future of Transnational Literature then the following opportunities are available.

This year we expanded the journal to include new sections on poetry from Kenya, and writers from the South West of England. For the next edition, we are keen to hear from authors or editors who would like to curate a section on literature or poetry emerging from the area in which they live, or who would like to facilitate a creative conversation between two or more places.

We are also seeking to expand our multimedia approach to journal publication, and to experiment more with the inclusion of video and audiovisual content. If you would like to help us to develop a media rich approach to the journal then do get in touch! We are looking for podcasters and media makers with a background in creative or editorial video.

Finally, we have just launched a new ‘distance learning’ PhD with an emphasis on Storytelling across borders. Find out how to apply to the StoryFoundry PhD here.