Edited by Palak Tewary
As we stand on the precipice of the year’s end, I find myself both humbled and exhilarated to serve as the Showcase editor for this final month of 2023. Themes of perspectives and reality have woven themselves into the written words I encountered and have challenged me to question what we see, urging me to peel back the layers of our perceptions.
Here’s to a month of literary exploration, contemplation, and the celebration of the written word. May the words fill you with insight, inspiration and the magic of the season.
The team received some sad news. Local poet and ReadFest 2024: Poetry Slam winner, Willie Gowans, recently passed away. He completed and published two poetry collections, Glimpses and Glances just this summer, fulfilling the dream to see his work published. His long-time partner, Jo, has given permission for Planet B to be published below.
Look around and you will see
plastics from A to B,
smoke from exhaust
as we kill every tree.
Oil well spills.
Life it suffers the most,
just look to the coast,
seals and gulls glisten in black.
We are in a mess, that’s a fact.
How soon should we act?
There is no Planet B.
© Willie Gowans, 2023
As we approach the inevitable ending of one year and the dawn of another, the concept of change lingers in the air like the promise of a new chapter. Endings, after all, are simply the prelude to fresh beginnings. It’s a universal truth reflected in the seasons, the cycles of nature and in the narratives we craft for ourselves. In Paths Of Gems, Elaine depicts this very thing.
Paths Of Gems
Facets of a flower, and how the season’s change.
Memories are pathways that rustle through our veins.
The blush of dawn with it’s early rose, lighting up the dew,
Remembering the winter snows, emotions melting through.
The floating sky like lullaby’s, in hues that cry and smile.
The wise old oak, and owl’s eyes, pathways mile on mile.
The changing tune of the afternoon, it’s poppies, corn, and plough
Until the whispering leaves take flight,
and sunset lights their brow.
Neath the copper hills, the amber thatch.
Each changing, weaving, precious path.
© Elaine Hickman-Luter, 2023
In the fluidity of perception and relating and inbetween the eternal dance of endings and beginnings, we find the essence of the human experience and adapt to the changes that face us. But sometimes, we need to keep hold of what matters. In The Death Of Creativity, Vic Howard explores the changes we have seen, the changes we will see and how to keep hold of the important.
The Death Of Creativity
YouTube, my favourite TV channel, is currently flooded with warnings of human extinction that will be caused by Artificial Intelligent machines, computers and robots. As yet, it hasn’t kept me awake at night.
Anyone over 25 will remember the fears about the Millennium Bug. Many computer service companies made a fortune guarding against it and then, on the day, nothing happened. I suspect this isn’t the case this time, but who knows? I think, when it comes, the destruction of humanity will be a slow-motion affair, taking a generation or two.
The scenario of how disaster will hit takes various forms, but I have yet to see anyone talk about a danger I find very threatening; namely, the death of creativity and the desire to be creative. What will be the point of trying to write that novel you’ve been thinking about half your life, when you can just give an outline to GPT and ask it to write it for you? The same goes for visual art: be it photo, graphic, video or anything else. That’s just how we see it today.
What about our children and grandchildren growing up with machines doing everything for them? Already, there are fewer and fewer people who can read a map; GPS has made that unnecessary. I belong to the generation who still remembers times tables, allowing me to do mental arithmetic. How many under 20s can do that today? A simple example, perhaps, but indicative of what digital aids have done.
We’re all, or nearly all, used to searching Google for answers to the crossword or finding information. GPT5 is expected to do that for us. It will find, analyse, provide a precis of information available and give recommendations. Even the simple task of searching Google will become unnecessary.
The fears shown and talked about on YouTube are on a different level. They fear the day when AI becomes unaware of our existence and ignores our needs. The comparison of the motorway and the ant hill are frequently sited. We will be past caring ourselves by then.
AI cannot be stopped, that’s for sure. However, we can each pull the plug to stop it affecting our own lives and creativity. A hand-written letter with bad spelling is still better to receive than a perfect SMS from a grandchild. Guaranteed, hand-written, hand-painted, hand-made slightly wonky original anything, is going to be in short supply soon. Don’t let it happen!
© Vic Howard, 2023
Finally, I leave you with my poem Masks from my first poetry collection The Stanzas Of Time which explores how each one of us have a different reality to what we show the world.
In the sanctuary of my room
I take it off, the facade that I have worn all day
I must adorn another one soon
Even to just go down the hallway
I savour, these few moments
Touching my cheeks in awe
My eyes reflecting my truth
Where I am the only law
It’s getting trickier
To find these few seconds unmasked
I must get better at crushing my spirit
If they knew – alas, they would be aghast
Hiding in plain sight
I fear I may forget
The face that I am meant to be
The one concealed, with regret
I know I am not the only one who disguises
Knowing that – doesn’t make it any easier
If each one of us had the courage to show
Perhaps life would be dreamier
But no one takes the first step
As we each battle our own demon
And lose ourselves within our masquerades
Hoping someone, someday, will be a beacon
© Palak Tewary, 2023
You can connect with Palak on www.palaktewary.com or on X and Instagram: @palaktewary
The Stanzas Of Time is available free on Kindle Unlimited and can be purchased here: https://tinyurl.com/AmznTSOT
If you’d like to see your writing appear in the Write On! Showcase, please submit your short stories, poetry or novel extracts to: pentoprint.org/get-involved/submit-to-write-on/
Issue 18 of Write On! is out now and you can read it online here. Find it in libraries and other outlets and see previous editions of our magazines here. Look out for issue 19, coming to you on 12 December.
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