Review of Cambridge Creates anthology

A compilation & celebration of art within our community.

There are 78 individual contributions listed in the contents to this stylish new anthology of contemporary Cambridge art and writing.

The striking and intriguing cover design halts the attention, like an unfamiliar logo, and draws the reader in. My first impression was of abundance, where to begin, no obvious path in. I scanned the contents and found a name I recognised – Jonny Wrong and started in from there, taking in Sadie Few, Nicky Smith, Trishna Shah, Bella Basura and ‘Anonymous’, amongst others, along the way. That the contents are arranged by contributors seems to immediately place the emphasis on those taking part, an editorial choice which focuses attention on the people involved.

This putting people first is echoed throughout the anthology, and is central in the opening piece, a poem by D Mulvey. The poem highlights how retrogressive government policy is impacting social welfare within his own community – “closures of vital local Mental Health Service providers”. This is community in the old sense, not the facebook sense. This is community as a gathering of people celebrating their diversity in vibrant reciprocality, practising cultural inclusivity, tolerance and exchange within a tight geographical location. This is Cambridge, and particularly the folks who contributed to, compiled, edited and produced this intelligent and moving book.

Cambridge Creates itself “captures a moment of individual expression offering a unique reflection of social and personal experience”. All the contributors live in Cambridge, and found out about the project either at a local Cambridge Creates benefit gig or by word of mouth. They are all part of a loose and unintentional network, a community in the oldest sense of the word..

Because the Editors chose to select with the lightest of touches a floribund diversity of form flourishes freely – there is poetry, photography, short story, painting and collage, similarly content and style vary in multiplicity too. Yet, the pieces are all delicately collated by the Editorial team, and the layout is impeccable and attractive throughout.

The Editors placed no thematic or political restraints, so contributors have written what they like, about the things that really move them. They are creating from the heart, for themselves and each other and those that care. Nobody expects to get rich by it, all proceeds from the book go to local charities. The honesty and openness that this freedom to just create brings is evident on each page.

It is a wonderful book to dip in and out of, to while away a drizzly afternoon with, to idly browse in pleasure when you should be on the internet or at the pub. It’s much much better than telly.

Cambridge Creates is a credit to its contributors, editors, community and to Cambridge, it is a triumph of the creativity, effort and talent concentrated in this small East Anglian town. Which only goes to show: Cambridge, not just a website.

If I had a bookshop on Mill Road, I’d sell this book like hot cakes.

Jean Dark
Jan 2011
Previously unpublished

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