NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: The Verse is the University of Brighton’s student newspaper, run by and for students. With that in mind we, the editors, and contributors, want to write more often about what the wonderful people who make up our community create, research, and do – whether on their own time or through the help of the university.
Co-Editor in Chief Alice Pierre had the opportunity to interview Charlotte Howard, a third-year Music Business & Media student who created The Butterfly Publication, a digital and print publication, ahead of her next anthology, titled ‘Love, Lust & Life’.
The Verse: Could you tell us a bit about yourself, please? Your background, education, what interests you ?
Charlotte: I’m a 22-year-old writer and (newly) Editor-in-Chief of The Butterfly Publication, a digital and print publication dedicated to exhibiting the arts and literature of young individuals. I grew up in a small town, so I wasn’t truly able to pursue all of these creative endeavours until I moved to Brighton, but I’ve always had a love for poetry & photography in particular. I’d have to say French cinema is one of my biggest interests and inspirations, and as of recently, the artist Faye Wei Wei* has been a very big inspiration and influence on both my publication and my own personal writing.
The Verse: You are currently enrolled with the University of Brighton – what are you studying, and can you tell us how it is going and if The Butterfly Publication has anything to do with your studies?
Charlotte: I’m currently in my third and final year studying Music Business & Media. I absolutely love my course and course leader, but in all honesty my interests have changed drastically since I originally moved to Brighton. I’m not a particularly academic person, so I’ve found myself using my time at university as a means to meet likeminded, artistic individuals and partake in my own projects outside of class, and whilst The Butterfly Publication doesn’t necessarily have much to do with my academic studies, I have met a few other Media students that have contributed beautiful work to my publication, and that’s really special to me.
The Verse: What can you tell us about your practice as a writer, where you get your inspiration from?
Charlotte: I’ve always adored writing, but I really began to pursue it in early 2020. I began submitting my work to various independent magazines, and it wasn’t long before I was writing monthly Personal Essays that were being published all over the internet. In terms of inspiration, I find that a lot of it comes from personal experience. I really love writing about things I’ve felt and been through first-hand, particularly things that don’t always feel too comfortable to talk about out loud. Inspiration also always stems from having friends and strangers relate to certain experiences and feelings. I’ve actually made some very close friends from those in the past that have messaged me and complimented my work.
The Verse: What would you see yourself doing in five years? Do you know what’s next for you once you graduate? Where do you see The Butterfly Publication going? Any particular goals and dreams for your work?
Charlotte: Ideally, in five years The Butterfly Publication will be a much larger platform and will have more budget for printing and distributing, etc. I’d love to work on my publication as a full-time job, but for now I think I’m just focused on finishing my studies and enjoying the time I have left in Brighton. I’ve been really into the idea of studying a Masters in Creative Writing after I graduate, but ideally I’m hoping to secure a postgraduate job within publishing. I definitely have big dreams for the publication, and I’d love to being hosting exhibitions and events to showcase more print issues and artists’ work. There’s still so much room for both myself and the publication to grow, so it’ll be really exciting to see where it goes within the next year or so.
The Verse : How was The Butterfly Publication born? Is there anybody else working on it with you or is it a solo project?
Charlotte: I’d wanted to start my own publication for a while, I just didn’t feel that the timing was right, but after a particularly difficult time last year, butterflies became a significant theme in my life, and helped me during a time of healing. I found myself writing about some very personal and sentimental topics and didn’t know where I felt comfortable sharing them. That initially was when I began to consider starting my own publication, where I could have full control over the content being published. Right now, I’m the only one running The Butterfly Publication, though I’d definitely be interested in expanding once I have more time to dedicate to it.
The Verse: You’ve already published one anthology on the theme of ‘Abortion’. What prompted you to take on such work, and why in the form of a collection of writings? What made you chose the theme of ‘Abortion’?
Charlotte: I wrote and released a little zine titled ‘Abortion: Memoirs of Loss, Grief and Acceptance’ earlier this year. The project took over a year and was (still is) something that was very important and personal to me. I myself had an abortion early last year, and I found coping with it extremely difficult. I didn’t feel that there was enough support being offered to women my age, and there certainly wasn’t enough support being offered to women my age that were struggling with feelings of loss & regret. I found the experience extremely isolating, and I wanted to create something that would not only allow others that had been through the same experience to share their stories, but also for a young girl or woman to find solace in if they ever find themselves in the same, difficult situation. The entire project was prompted by me writing about my experience, and after having other women share their stories with me, it just made sense to give every woman her own chapter. Though understandably, I was hesitant to write and publish an entire publication with this theme, as it’s a very sensitive topic. Though since releasing it, I’ve had nothing but lovely feedback from many different women.
The Verse: Can you tell us a bit about the process of getting this anthology together? Any particular challenges you had to face?
Charlotte: I must admit, I did find working on the project for over a year quite emotionally draining. At the time when I began writing it, I was trying to find the balance between moving forward with my life, and also honouring what I had been through and using writing as a way to deal with all the emotions I was feeling. Once the zine was actually finished, I began to feel really hesitant towards letting others read it. It felt so personal, and I was worried I was oversharing or ‘trauma dumping’ as some call it, but ultimately it really did become a therapeutic outlet that allowed me to move on with my life.
The Verse: And how did you feel when you first saw it put together?
Charlotte: It was emotional, of course. I felt so honoured to have other woman trust me with their stories and knowing that I could be helping many more women to heal was something that made the entire process completely worth all of the grief and upset. I think, for me, the most special part of it all was having people that I know tell me that they’d read it and sympathized with it. All of the messages and support made my heart very happy, especially when the zine sold out!
The Verse: Can you tell us a bit about the upcoming publication, on the theme of ‘Love, Lust & Life’?
Charlotte: The upcoming issue of The Butterfly Publication, titled ‘Love, Lust & Life’ focuses on every element of life and existence. It focuses on growth and healing and finding meaning in the chaos. Over the last year, I’ve written a lot of poems that discuss my own ability to learn from mistakes, heal from the hurt and find peace in the present. I’ve also had a lot of inspiration, such as The Butterfly Publication contributor, Rebecca Bourmel, who submitted a beautiful poem titled ‘A Moment of Creation’, which she describes as “a reminder that life is beautiful”. All of this played a significant part in my inspiration for the theme, and I’m so thrilled to bring it to life.
To submit your artwork, head to this link: https://www.charlotteindiahoward.com/the-butterfly-publication/
*Faye Wei Wei, British painter born 1994, and graduate from the Slade School of Fine Arts, UCL, London.
Featured image: Cob Gallery
To follow The Butterfly Publication and Charlotte Howard on Instagram:
Link to The Butterfly Publication’s website: https://www.charlotteindiahoward.com/the-butterfly-publication/