Letter From The Founder
At the start of each new month we bounce around Symposium ideas- some silly, some serious; some incredibly niche, some incredibly obvious.
But as soon as ‘Death’ established itself as the front-runner and as soon as the first few early submissions started to arrive I knew we were onto a winner. Some topics just grab people and pull the work out of them, rather than them having to put in effort to push out some words or images that fit the bill.
I would like to say something amusing or clever to sign this off and tee-up the work that follows but all that I can say- with absolute sincerity- is that I am blown away with how good everyone’s work is this month. And I trust that you will feel the same way.
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The Problem With Legacy by Phil
This is where a positive legacy can act as a perfect Instagram reel on steroids. Something that would stroke our egos daily if we weren’t six feet under.
But is legacy something we should be proactively working towards, or just an after-affect of how we live our lives?
Great essay from Phil here- personal, nuanced to the point of going against the grain of a lot of contemporary received wisdom about legacy (especially from the business/self improvement spheres) and heartfelt. This is the real deal.
On Death by Minna
Minna asked if she could submit an older piece from her archive to this Symposium. Normally I’m against this practice but I gave it a read out of politeness and once I read it I simply could not refuse.
The Dance of Light and Dark by Clint
Short but powerful with each of the many two, three or four word sentences acting as sharp jabs to try and wake you up and get you to think and feel. I had high hopes for Clint on this one and he absolutely delivers.
the unfortunate death of a world inspired by Deepansh
Fascinating to see the usually equanimous, playful Deepansh explore genuine pessimism in his writing. Shows the extent of his range, and that there can be no understanding of the light without also surveying the dark.
How to Prepare Medications, and/or Thoughts on Life and Death by Lyle McKeany
This took me back to my own previous line of work where I had to draw up medication (I am extremely fast at the 14 times table because each blister pack of has 14 pills within it and when you have to check the counts of dozens of different medications this skill can save you a lot of time over the course of a shift). A truly wonderful piece as always and the lesson about specificity in writing is one that is absolutely worth its weight in gold.
Elden Ring, the Omen King, and the Shadow of Death by Lyle Enright
I know nothing about Elden Ring and haven’t played computer games for decades. So the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed this story speaks to its quality. And yes, Lyle, I do forgive you for selfishly keeping you death fiction for yourself!
A Good Death by F.B. Fanat
The beauty of the Symposium is that it can coax our members who do not see themselves as writers especially to get involved. F.B. is a fine example of this and I’m proud to have him on the roster. This is a very, very good essay indeed.
The death of writer's block by Terry
I’m surprised only Terry chose to exploit the to my mind obvious ‘death of’ loophole here. Talk about ‘the death of X’ and you are still on topic for the subject of death while simultaneously being able to discuss whatever you want. He’s a wily fox that Terry, and a highly skilled writer too it turns out.
The Arbitrariness of Borders by Samantha
Stories bring order to the chaos and randomness of human experience; they extract sense from nonsense. But what happens when our old stories no longer serve us?
Man, I could pull so many great quotes, one-liners and insights from this one. An absolute banger, up there with the very best of Samantha’s work which is saying something.
Sir Terry Pratchett's Death by Vita
I believe it was one of Sir Terry’s Discworld books that was the first non-children’s book that I ever read. So I felt this.
I suspect you will too.
The Great Herenow by Edward
Just under the wire from Edward. But more than worth it. This truly gets to the heart of the matter and explains the drive that makes the man such a prolific and fascinating writer. This piece is as real as it gets.
I am Ichabod by Minna (again)
Something old (see above) and something new. I loved the voice of this one- our modern ancient narrator throwing out his casual thoughts and observations. This was someone who I thoroughly enjoyed spending some time with.
Growing and Dying by Adam Kozak
I think one of the highest and truest compliments you can pay a story or an essay is to say ‘I wish I’d’ve written this.’
Well, I wish I’d’ve written this.
A Slow Death by Jeanne
Jeanne has the exact type of humour I look for, just the right mixture of dark, silly and absurd. I loved this one.
DaaS by Vanya
There’s just no one else like Vanya writing today. A unique voice among unique voices, a writer writer…
Soon by Vanya (again)
… which is why I have both allowed him to be featured twice and feature a piece here that has already been showcased on the main STSC Substack page. When you are talented enough you can get away with murder it seems.
None of This Makes Sense by Victor
Fantastic. I reckon this might be Victors best story to date. Read it immediately.
Velvet is the Excised Skin of Night by Trilety
The fact the url for this piece reads /please-suggest-a-title-for-me made me chuckle. I think every writer has been there- ‘I have this idea, this thing, but I’m not exactly sure what it is and I have no idea what to call it.’
I guess maybe this happens with Trilety with some regularity given how unusual, unique and without precedent here work and her style is. But would you really want it any other way.
If We Meet in the Cemetery by Yardena
Yardena campaigned for the topic of Death hard over at the STSC community. Now I see why, and given the quality of this and all of the other submissions on display I’m glad she did.
Bury me in a shanty of notes that follow me down. by James Maynard
This sonnet may be reproduced in full as an image below but that doesn’t mean that you can get away with not clicking the link above and subscribing to James or at least giving him a like and a comment. Remarkable work as always.
Memento Mori by Ann
Ann is a new member and this is her first STSC submission. And what a way to kick things off. This is how it is done.
Does the cicada say by White Rose
I must say that I have neglected poetry reading for some time but this Symposium has genuinely got me back into slow-reading verse and absorbing all of the colours and textures of its imagery and rhythm.
I think everyone should read poetry, so long as it is as good as what White Rose and our other poets have provided us with.
Ego Death by D.B.
And the grand finale.
D.B. has absolutely gone above and beyond and created an entire short film for this Symposium. Sometimes you don’t have to say much, you simply just step aside and admire.
I would strongly recommend that you follow D.B’s viewing instructions for this. It makes it a whole different kind of experience.
So that was the STSC symposium on Death. We hope you enjoyed reading it as much as we enjoyed creating it.
Thank you for your support with these projects we share, thank you for reading them and thanks for all of your comments, feedback and notes. Thank you for taking the time to share them and pass on the word.
And of course above all thanks to all of the contributors and those who help keep the STSC going via their kind support, especially those who keep a low profile, I hope we will be able to coax more of you into taking the plunge and participating in future issues.
"wily fox" 😂 Thanks, Tom. Looking forward to reading yet another great collection. Thanks for putting it together.