The Climate Issue
No. 16. Autumn 2019.

The Anthology

The Mechanics’ Institute Review is Birkbeck’s annual anthology of short-form fiction, non-fiction and poetry by emerging and established writers from across the UK.

With 15 issues published to date, The Mechanics’ promotes inclusivity, diversity and opportunity while publishing new work of the highest possible quality. From Issue 16, we are widening our content to include non-fiction and poetry, while remaining steadfastly committed to championing the short story as an art form.

The Mechanics’ has received critical acclaim from the Guardian, Independent, TLS and Time Out, and endorsements from Ali Smith, Damian Barr, Kevin Barry, Tessa Hadley and Courttia Newland among many others. We have been privileged to feature more than 40 guest authors over the years, from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to Evie Wyld via Zoe Gilbert, Jackie Kay, Rose Tremain and David Foster Wallace, to name but a prize-winning few. Meanwhile a significant number of the approximately 220 new authors we have published have found agents and landed contracts as a direct result of their inclusion in the anthology.


The 37 stories, essays and poems in this, the sixteenth issue of The Mechanics’ Institute Review, seek to make climate visible. Through tales that mirror the present – austerity, knife culture, mental stress, weather extremes – and imagine the future – flesh-melting heat, mind-blanking winds, living as a tree; through essays spelling out scientific facts and their omni-impacting consequences, recounting personal experience or questioning the role of literature; and through poetry confronting drought, birth, grief, pollution, policy, portents – and dodos – this anthology makes us see.

Featuring new writing from Richard Hamblyn (The Invention of Clouds), Jean McNeil (Ice Diaries: An Antarctic Memoir) and Fran Lock (Dogtooth), a foreword by Julia Bell, photography by Diego Ferrari and the exceptional voices of both debut and established authors from across the UK, each piece offers a compelling view of what it means to be living in our time, in our particular climate, right now.

Never has the subject of climate been more urgent or inescapable. This collection is a call to arms: to debate, to engage, to empathise, to reconsider what we think we know and to acknowledge that the “climate issue” can no longer be ignored.

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