In August of 2014, a fun back and forth on Twitter about literary canons between publisher Kit Caless (Influx Press) and writer Aki Schilz (The Literary Consultancy) turned into a conversation that quickly gave birth to the hashtag #LossLit: a hashtag for original, creative tweets driven by loss.
To our surprise, the hashtag quickly gained momentum and soon we had enough tweets coming in (our very first Storify gained 2,000 views within a day) to realise that a space was needed to accommodate the hundreds of spontaneous, creative, moving, funny, pithy and profound tweet-length, creative responses to ‘loss’ flooding in from all over the world. We’d struck a nerve, and we wanted to capture what was happening in the digital moment; to show how the spontaneity and brevity of Twitter was enabling and facilitating an intense and varied exploration of up-to-the-minute and off the cuff responses to the day’s politics, to bereavement, to climate and landscapes, first love, final memories, the agony of sporting losses, ageing and the erosion of memory and of course, losing keys…* #LossLit now runs a popular Twitter writeclub on the first Wednesday of every month, 9-11pm (UK time). It is open to all.
We were interviewed by Josephine Corcoran in 2014, a year before we set up LossLit Magazine (and a year before we were shortlisted for a Saboteur Award), and the principles remain largely the same now, in our third year. LossLit started as, and for now continues to be, a digital literature project. The magazine takes long-form poems, short stories and essays to examine loss from all angles, and the results are funny, jarring, moving and enlightening, just as they are on Twitter in micro-format. We also ask each contributor to nominate a title into the LossLit Canon so we can begin to build an archive of literary work driven by loss for others to explore. But it’s also a safe space for creative play, both confessional and imaginative, and it has become a supportive community with people, whether they are ‘writers’ or not, dipping in and out, reading quietly along or joining in every first Wednesday of the month, from all over the world, tweeting together to form a picture of what loss means today, to all of us.
“#losslit brings incredibly diverse voices forward, [helps you] meet new people, read incredibly moving (&funny!) stuff. the time limit gives an urgency, character limit brings ingenuity. most fun & accessible poetry collab I’ve experienced.” – Saboteur Award nomination for Best Collaborative Work 2015
We now have an Associate Editor on board, Jonny Keyworth, to help us think about the future of LossLit, and to help us read through submissions to our magazine during our new submission months. We’ve published an incredible array of new and established voices over five issues of LossLit Magazine, and have had contributions on Twitter from Tony Walsh, Nicola Barker, Chester P, Salena Godden, Steve Camden, Joshua Idehen, Toby Litt, M John Harrison, Sarah Perry, Inua Ellams, Chimene Suleyman, Fiona Melrose, and many, many more (as well as an early endorsement from Jenny Diski who decided to follow the @LossLit account to read our tweets, which we were much moved by). We’re immensely proud, and can’t wait to see what the future brings for LossLit. We thank you all sincerely for continuing to join in with us and supporting us, and the writers we publish. Happy reading!
*A private joke between editors is to see whether we can survive a two-hour #LossLit writeclub without someone mentioning losing keys. We have not managed so far.
About the Contributor
Kit Caless and Aki Schilz co-founded the LossLit project in the summer of 2014. The project ran initially on Twitter, with the hashtag attracting hundreds of contributions from around the world and a Storify of curated ‘highlights’ reaching thousands of views in a number of days. Now, the Twitter writeclub runs monthly (first Wednesday, 9-11pm UK time), and all tagged contributions are shared from the @LossLit account. Associate Editor Jonny Keyworth joined the LossLit editorial team in 2017.
More from Issue Six:
- Give Sorrow Words by Anna Vaught
- Pull me in by Melissa Fu
- Variations on Girl with a Red Balloon by Tessa Torgeson
- Written in Advance by Nathan Fidler
- Mrs Fox by Marian Womack
- Tomorrow by Vivienne Burgess
- The Kulaks Of Chelsea by Tadhg Muller
- Some Kind Of Happiness by Heidi James
- Dust Covers and Margins by Jennie E. Owen
- Sitting, Standing, Mending by Alison Jean Lester
- Ghosts by Catherine Mitchell
- And I was filled with such delight by Catherine Edmunds