Lucy Writers announces its new Arts Council England funded anthology, What the Water Gave Us, published by Takeaway Press, featuring fourteen women and non-binary writers from migrant backgrounds.
We are proud to announce the publication of our Arts Council England National Lottery Grant funded anthology, What the Water Gave Us. Published by Takeaway Press (with illustrations by its talented artist Oscar Price) and edited by Elodie Barnes and Hannah Hutchings-Georgiou, What the Water Gave Us celebrates the stories and voices of women and non-binary writers from migrant backgrounds. The anthology features thirteen personal essays and poems by writers from the platform and The Ruppin Agency Writers’ Studio, a foreword by Hannah Hutchings-Georgiou and Elodie Barnes, and an afterword by The Ruppin Agency co-director and agent, Jonathan Ruppin.
Produced during our highly successful year-long Arts Council England Funded mentoring scheme, which was run in collaboration with Dr Emma Claire Sweeney, co-director of The Ruppin Agency, the anthology brings together the experiences of mentors and mentees alike. What the Water Gave Us spans seas and oceans, cities and countries; it traverses borders and forges new geographies of feeling, as its writers explore what it’s like to be of migrant heritage in a para-pandemic, post-Brexit Britain. Featuring beautiful original writing from Shirley Ahura, Susan Barker, Jenny Chamarette, Yvonne Battle-Felton, Selin Genc, Denise Rose Hansen, Emma Korantema Hanson, Claire Hynes, So Mayer, Emily Midorikawa, Yen Ooi, Shamini Sriskandarajah and Rojbîn Arjen Yiğit, What the Water Gave Us plumbs the depths of migrant identity and positionality today.
The anthology will be launched at the award-winning independent bookshop Burley Fisher today, Thursday 29 June, and available to purchase at Burley Fisher Books, Brick Lane Bookshop, the Mosaic Rooms bookshop and other retailers thereafter.
Hannah Hutchings-Georgiou, Founding Editor-in-Chief and General Arts Editor of Lucy Writers, co-project manager and co-editor of What the Water Gave Us, said of the book:
‘Loosely inspired by Frida Kahlo’s painting of a similar title, What the Water Gave Us revels in the multitudes of migrant experience and the potentiality of migrant heritage and migration today. Much like Kahlo’s painting, which seeks to unite disparate aspects of her migrant identity and her position as a queer, disabled woman artist, our anthology brings together some of the best, most eclectic emerging and established writers working today. It has been an honour to work with all the writers and oversee the development of the book – and the project as a whole. This is an anthology where pertinent questions are posed, opening up a space in which to allow the pleasure and pain of lived migrant experiences to bubble up, be heard, held and appreciated. Readers of What the Water Gave Us will not only learn of what the water has given to our writers, but the water has given to them.”
Elodie Barnes, co-editor of Books and Creative Writing of Lucy Writers and co-editor of What the Water Gave Us, has said of the anthology’s publication:
‘What the Water Gave Us is a powerful, vibrant anthology; a vital gathering of voices shaped by the tides of migration. It’s been a joyous and humbling experience to work with so many talented writers, all of whom have shared their stories, experiences and creativity with passion and courage. I’m incredibly proud to be a part of it, and of the Lucy Writers community without which the anthology would not have been possible. It’s thrilling to see such a rich collection out in the world!’
Jonathan Ruppin, agent and co-director of The Ruppin Agency, and writer of the anthology afterword has said of the project and book as whole:
‘The children of migrants, with one foot in their present and another in the world of their parents, offer unique perspectives, especially the women and non-binary voices who remain poorly represented. The Ruppin Agency Writers’ Studio was founded by Dr Emma Claire Sweeney and I with the intention of supporting a broader range of voices in publishing and, as the son of a child refugee who came to Britain on the Kindertransport, I’m especially proud that we’re supporting a new generation of talent to make the leap to publication.’
Dr Isobel Maddison, Fellow Emerita of Lucy Cavendish College and advisor to the platform, responded to the anthology’s publication:
‘A ground-breaking, topical book introducing fresh voices alongside established authors. A wonderful, collaborative project raising important and current questions’.
Irenosen Okojie MBE, AKO Caine Prize-winning author of Nudibranch and recent Women’s Prize Judge 2023, has said of the anthology:
“Wondrous. These potent, deeply affecting pieces glimmer with beauty and vitality. Highly recommended.”
Jen Calleja, acclaimed author of Vehicle, translator and co-founding publisher of Praspar Press, also said of the book:
“A book that is a sanctuary for those of us who feel like we’re living mythologies; waking up not knowing how we got here, viewed like failed characters in someone else’s folk or ghost stories. I breathed a sigh of relief when I read it.”
Azad Ashim Sharma, winner of The Nicolás Cristóbal Guillén Batista Outstanding Book Award 2023 and Director of the87press, responded:
“This anthology is a wonderful feat of curation, mentorship, community, and lineage. Here, water marks an intersection that connects body, migration, and aesthetic inheritance; a continuous stream of new writing, perfect for dipping in and out of and embracing heterogeneous cultural forms.”
About Lucy Writers
Lucy Writers is an inclusive online platform devoted to uplifting the critical and creative voices of women and non-binary writers. In collaboration with Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge, Lucy Writers supports and promotes the work of writers all around the world, from inside and outside the college community. With a thriving Arts editorial, including interviews, reviews and features on the latest shows from Tate, Royal Academy, Sadler’s Wells, the National Theatre, Barbican as well as smaller arts venues around the UK, and original writing and previews from the likes of Irenosen Okojie, Jen Calleja, So Mayer, Amalie Smith, Ida Marie Hede and Davina Quinlivan, Lucy Writers aims to forge a nurturing and inspiring online environment for the next generation of writers and journalists. Tweet to us @LucyWriters and find us on Instagram @lucywriters
About the Ruppin Agency Writers’ Studio
The Ruppin Agency Writers’ Studio offers one-to-one mentoring services and manuscript assessment. Directed by Dr Emma Claire Sweeney – university lecturer and author of the novel Owl Song at Dawn and the non-fiction book A Secret Sisterhood – it pairs writers with over 30 published authors of adult and young adult fiction and narrative non-fiction. Mentoring packages also include advice sessions with literary agent Jonathan Ruppin, whose agency was set up in 2017 with the aim of increasing the range of writers from underrepresented backgrounds published in Britain. His clients’ books have won or been shortlisted for the Portico Prize, Walter Scott Historical Fiction Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, the Betty Trask Prize, the RSL Christopher Bland Prize, the Saltire Society Literary Awards and the Ockham Awards.
About Takeaway Press
Takeaway Press is a small publishing house issuing collaborations between artists and writers. Takeaway Press is based in London and was founded in 2019 by Pema Monaghan and Oscar Price. Follow Takeaway on Twitter @PressTakeaway and Instagram @takeawaypress.
We are grateful to Arts Council England for generously supporting and funding our project, and for recognising the value of our work and the work of our partner organisations.