Q.1 – You two – Nikki and Trini – met at The University of Roehampton when you were studying Creative Writing together. How did you get to the point of wanting to start a magazine?
We were on the BA and MA together, so we got to know one another really well. We started spending even more time together on the MA and realised we both liked experimental writing more than anything else. When we started going to readings and trying to submit our work, we realised that there were fewer outlets for experimental writing at that time. Then, one day, we began talking about starting an online magazine to provide a platform for people who write experimental poetry and prose. At first it seemed like a crazy idea but we couldn’t get it out of our heads. Then one night, at an event run by one of our lecturers called Xing the Line, we started to play with different names for it. I’m not sure we ever thought it would actually become a reality! Anyway, we were messing around with silly names, trying to find one that was memorable and would make people think. We were talking about Gertrude Stein’s ‘Tender Buttons’ at one point, discussing how we needed a strange juxtaposition of images in the name. In the course of that conversation, Nikki’s partner came up with streetcake. From that moment, it became real and gave us the final push to set it up.
Q.2 – What made you want to focus on experimental writing particularly and what do you feel the Prize will do for experimental writing?
As we said earlier, we felt there weren’t many platforms to submit experimental writing when we started streetcake (luckily, there are more now!). We both enjoy experimental writing and we wanted to expand the ‘genre’ further, as well as giving writers a new outlet. Over the years, we’ve published a lot of new writers but also established ones, which we think is one of the best things about what we do. Therefore, it’s our hope that the Prize will increase awareness of experimental writing and encourage young people (aged 18 – 26) to explore this genre and help them develop new and innovative ways to express themselves. The Prize offers mentoring to the winners, which we hope will give young writers the confidence and tools to really grow as writers. Another important aspect is creating readers of the future. If we want to keep reading experimental writing, we need to create new lovers and advocates of the genre.
Q.3 – I see you are supported by the Arts Council England and have links with the Writer’s Centre Kingston. How did you make these connections? I hear government funding is always quite tricky to secure, how was this process for you?
Applying for funding was not an easy task. We became very familiar with the ACE form! However, the most important thing was persistence and accepting feedback. Over the years, we've created relationships and networks via streetcake and our own writing, which meant we had lots of people to ask for advice and support. The other thing that we quickly learned was that if you ask people for help/support, they can be very willing to give it. We were actually close to giving up at one point but we got a surprisingly positive email from someone urging us to give it another try as they thought we had a great project - those small words of kindness played a big part! As for Writers' Centre Kingston, it was pure luck that we knew someone who suggested SJ Fowler as a judge, and he runs WCK. In fact, all the judges have been so amazing so far and they seem really passionate about the Prize, which is all we can ask!
Q.5 – Last question – I see you also do submissions for online magazine issues and now you have the Writing Prize too – how would you like to see Streetcake Magazine develop over the next few years and how can people support you?
We would like for streetcake to grow and to increase our audience even more. This may be too ambitious but we would like for streetcake to become ‘the’ place to aim to be published and a magazine to be read. We love to support writers, whether they’re unpublished or a so-called ‘career’ writer – we want to keep this ethos for our regular issues and for the Prize. In terms of the Prize, it would be great if we could provide another avenue for support for young writers who will go on to be published widely and support the experimental genre with their work and reading. Obviously, funding dependent, we would like to continue with the Prize and make it the best it can be. We’ve also flirted with doing print issues and events in the past so they’re a possibility. As for support, neither of us are the kind of people to shout about what we do from the rooftops, so while we try to do it a bit more ourselves, we need our readers and supporters to help us on our way. The usual ways are great; sharing our site, following us and interacting on social media, encouraging people to submit to our issues or Prize – basically, sharing what we do in any way! We started streetcake out of our love for experimental writing and hoping we could share it with fellow writers who wanted a platform, and nothing has changed for us. The Prize is just another step on that journey so the more writers and readers we have on that journey, the merrier!