How often do you think about… your bones? The topic might be unusual, but there’s certainly room in the mundanity of the organic substance that forms our skeletons to inspire a variety of art forms. If you don’t believe us, get your hands on the freshly printed annual issue of Somesuch Stories’ magazine. Themed “BONE,” the issue explores the topic as a symbolic representation of both life and death, as examined by an exceptional list of some of the most exciting names in the worlds of literature, art, poetry, and photography.
Editor Suze Olbrich has curated the stellar lineup of contributors for this 7th issue, including Denise Ariana Pérez, Vincent Haycock, Rosalind Jana, Jenkin van Zyl, and more. And here, she sits down with us to discuss the inspirations behind the theme, what readers can expect from the issue, and insights into the future of the publication.
First of all, congratulations on the issue! Could you tell us a bit about how the overall project and how it all started?
Thank you! We love it. And we’re really excited about people getting their hands on it this month!
Somesuch Stories began by dint of creative serendipity. Many years ago, when I was still producing as well as writing, I was taking a (sorely-needed) minute during an intense Gucci shoot when I got a call asking if I’d come into Somesuch to chat with co-founder, Tim Nash, about curating an engaging online space for rising writers.
Tim’s an avid reader – when the film biz allows. And Somesuch have always been about backing idiosyncratic storytelling talents, no matter if the media those stories are shared through is film or text.
Can you share insights into the theme choice, “BONE”, for this year’s issue?
I actually have Berlin’s Easter to thank for this one, specifically: ‘Bone Marrow Stem Cell’. Had it on Spotify in early January – wasn’t even trying to think of an issue theme, just having a chill. About 1 minute into that cut, I felt BONE was it. So I kept it on loop, typed phone notes.
I guess what I was after (without knowing it) was something visceral, emphatic, immediate. A theme writers and artists (and later, readers) would have a deep connection to. That was rich enough contributors could explore it through pieces about physicality, society, sexuality, the natural world – while also inspiring a punchy aesthetic concept. No doubt, bone is deadly serious, provocative and playful.
The contributors for this issue come from various creative disciplines, including fiction and photography. How did you go about curating such a diverse line up of talent? And what criteria were you looking for during this curation process?
I’ve been lucky enough to commission certain great writers, such as Jessica Andrews and Eli Goldstone, repeatedly. As far as new contributors for BONE, I’d read – and adored – Jinwoo Chong, Priya Guns and K Patrick’s banging debut novels so just had to get in touch.
On the visual side, it’s a joy to feature works by Sheida Soleimani, whose exhibitions at London’s Edel Assanti have floored me, and I’d caught Jenkin van Zyl’s phenomenal show at that same gallery. Whereas, Vincent Haycock is a Somesuch director, and he was just very into this theme. Thankfully, even with back-to-back shoots, he carved out time to deliver a stunning story.
In terms of what I look for. Tricky to put that into words. Something either is or is not ‘it’. But usually there’s authentic resonance and low-key irreverence to the things that are ‘it’.
“Guns Out” by Lydia Garnett is featured on the cover of the new issue. Could you provide some insights on the significance of this series and its connection to the theme?
It’s an epic cover. And I’m so psyched to have Lydia’s new series as Issue 7’s cover story. They’re a stellar photographer. As soon as I saw their pitch for this queer muscle series, I knew it’d be outstanding. Not least as their prior portrait series, Close Shave, an intimate look at queer barbershop culture was beautiful. Whereas ‘Guns Out’ – was always set to be powerful, bold and a bit of a tease. Which is what Bone is all about.
What can readers expect from the pieces featured in the issue?
Some light terror, a few tears, a hell of a lot of laughs. And, even with such a bodily theme, a lot of soulfulness. The hope for every issue is that readers find a new (to them) writer or artist to keep engaging with, either through exhibitions – such as Julianknxx’s fantastic current Barbican show – or books, e.g. Moïra Fowley’s gripping recent story collection.
How do you see this year’s issue aligning with the zeitgeist?
It’s weird putting an annual out as it’s hard to call what’ll resonate with readers that far ahead. The again, we’re all present in the same (pretty frightening but endlessly inspiring) day-to-day reality. And we’ve all had to adjust to living with and through perpetual precarity of varying kinds since 2020. Had to crack on – find ways to express ourselves; to be strong and genuine and playful. So hopefully the issue’s overall tone is something people readily connect to right now.
And what’s the importance for you of provisions a special platform to showcase and support unique and emerging creative talents?
Not to sound like a prat, but it’s a privilege to publish extraordinary talents, such as the writers and artists in this issue. Looking at how scarce arts funding in this country is – at how even bastions of the literary scene, eg. The White Review can be forced into shutting down – Somesuch’s commitment to backing an arts journal, just because it’s a vital and exciting way of contributing to contemporary culture, is a low-key marvel. And without platforms (and galleries, festivals, theatres, music venues) where people can keep developing their craft, present new ideas, and find new audiences – we’ll be left with a barren and vapid culture.
Can you share any memorable moments or challenges you encountered while working on this issue?
First up, within about two minutes of getting the editorial prompt, Eli Goldstone fired back the poem she’d just written that’s in the issue, which was so spot on it was an instant commission.
Way, way later in the editorial process, when we were almost full, Sally Campbell (a Somesuch co-founder) emailed from LA to ask if I’d consider re-working the issue brief for a supremely talented pre-teen photographer, called Razelle. I checked out her shots, and: damn. Thus the piece that closes this issue is by our youngest ever contributor.
In your opinion, how has Somesuch Stories evolved over the years, and what makes this annual issue particularly special?
The outstanding design and art direction-graft put in by Thomas Coombes of Guest Editions, our designer is a major reason this issue turned out so beautifully. From early graphic iterations through perfect paper and cover material choices, at every stage of the process, he absolutely nailed it.
The biggest evolution as far as content goes is the inclusion of so many more visual stories. We’ve transformed from a solely text-based entity to one that showcases a swathe of art forms. And I love that.
Finally, could you provide some insights into the future of Somesuch Stories? Are there any exciting developments or upcoming projects that readers can look forward to?
Well another issue, for a start. But we’ve also got a major announcement to make towards the end of this year. (Follow @somesuchandco for updates.) All I can say for now is that I’m hugely looking forward to expanding our editorial range in coming years.
Read more about the issue here.
Buy the issue here.