There’s a story about James Joyce that goes like this: a fan comes up to him and asks, “May I kiss the hand that wrote Ulysses?”, to which he responds, “No – it did lots of other things too.”
What that hand did was write a series of fantastically obscene letters to Nora Barnacle (whose own side of the correspondence is disappointingly lost). All writing aspires to do something to its readers – to engage, to enrage, to educate, to stimulate, or just to entertain. Letter-writing even more directly solicits a response. But pornography might be the most performative genre of all: its raison d’être is to act upon the body in the most physical, literal sense. Whatever other interesting things we might excavate from those letters about Joyce and his life and his work and his obsessions, it’s fair to say the act of their writing had one primary objective: to turn Nora Barnacle on.
Letters to Barnacle seeks great art and writing that explores the boundaries between public and private, between performance and intimacy, between art and pornography. There’s no shortage of erotic writing or images on the internet, but we look for work that’s a pleasure in more ways than one. We want to read stories about sex and love and lust, reflections on the politics of desire, and lovingly crafted smut. We want to read fiction, non-fiction, and – most of all – writing that inhabits all the places in between. And we don’t just want an orgy of sex positivity, because sexuality isn’t simple: we want critique as well as celebration, with all the messy complexities of what it’s like to live as a body that desires or is desired.
We want to art and writing from people of all genders and sexualities, but we’re particularly interested in the kind of desires that don’t get much coverage and the perspectives of people who might have something to say that we haven’t heard before. The James Joyces of the world have had plenty of space for their words to be heard; we’d love to hear more of Nora’s side of the story.
We eagerly await your response.