Different Skies publishes bold experiments in creative nonfiction, criticism, poetry and prose. We look for writing that pushes language to its limits, if necessary to breaking point.
Formal experimentation in this sense is an attempt to crack open the dead shell of readymade language, to create a language capable of describing the shape of a broken world.
The search for a new language always risks producing a private language. Different Skies believes writers have to take this risk while holding on to the fact that the aim of writing, at the most fundamental level, is to say something about the world that moves people. Or to put it another way, to fight a battle at the level of affect.
Affect is something in between emotion, sensation and ideological atmosphere. It cannot be reduced to either form or content. In a sense, it is both at the same time, in that an event has an affective charge well before it splits it into form and content – like the wall of sound coming off a demonstration, or a baby’s smile. Affect names the plane of experience in which we intervene, in an effort to provide some antidote to cynicism and fear.
For writing this can mean dancing a circle so furious that the logic of appropriation dissolves in the wind, or slowing the pace of language to a cryogenic heartbeat. It can mean, at the same time, tracing the fine grain of everyday struggle, whilst mapping social relations as a totality.
Different Skies has grown up at a time of austerity and perpetual war. Precarious conditions define our employment, housing and everyday life, against a background of spectacular and digitally dispersed violence. The cultural-psychological adaptations needed to survive and thrive in these conditions – as we must – leave us poised between canny opportunism on the one side and clear-sighted revolt, or at least disillusion, on the other.
Postmodernism’s logic of dissimulation is for us neither an intellectual fashion nor an historical inevitability but a lived experience. And yet in many senses this logic has been overtaken by the current crisis, which seems to call for a heavy dose of realism, or for someone to resurrect the standard of the avant-garde.
We recognise there are others occupied with the same problems, and plenty who have gone further already. Different Skies aims to create a space for the alternatives that are beginning to develop. Politically, we aim to have a cultural presence on the left. This means knowing that what we can contribute is small, learning from wider developments and refusing to glorify writing as a political act par excellence.
We cannot imagine writing without creating a life for that writing. Different Skies is a collaborative community open to anyone who wants to be involved. We meet, we talk, we build something tangible in the short and the long term. The publication is designed to counter alienation – a space of commonality with writing at its centre.