StepAway Magazine is an open access online repository of urban walking narratives. We encourage writers from across the globe to walk the streets of any city and submit their observations in poetry or prose. We select work that evokes the sensory experience of urban walking. Published quarterly, StepAway showcases new and established writers and has been doing so for over four years.
Based in the north east of England, StepAway Magazine draws inspiration from Frank O’Hara’s landmark flâneur poem, “A Step Away from Them”. As O’Hara strolled the streets of his beloved Manhattan during his lunch hour, training his camera-eye on the passing crowd, we ask writers to step away from their desks and take a walk through their chosen city, recording their observations as they go. The aim is to capture the sensory experience of urban walking in poetry or prose.
Founded in January 2011, by British editor, writer and researcher, Dr Darren Richard Carlaw, StepAway Magazine is a volunteer run, non-profit organisation that provides free, unrestricted online access to all of its sixteen quarterly online issues and special editions. Each issue features an editorial followed by a collection of carefully selected ‘walking narratives’ that allow the reader to step metaphorically into a familiar or unknown city and explore it on foot.
StepAway Magazine strives to support the work of new writers by urging everyone to walk and engage with the realities of street level urban existence. The work of prominent writers such as Iain Sinclair, Sarah Schulman and Lemn Sissay features alongside pieces by previously unpublished authors.
StepAway’s contributors hail from across the globe – from Los Angeles to rural China. Each writer shares a unique and deeply personal understanding of what it means to walk in a city.
Each issue also has a striking online cover that showcases photography or artwork with a relevance to walking in the city. Contributors include, amongst others: Life Magazine photographer Roger Minick, Elena Alhimovich whose work has appeared in Vogue, along with north east based photographers Andy Siddens and David Hall.
In October 2013, StepAway Magazine collaborated with the Wellcome Trust funded Hearing the Voice project, led by researchers at Durham University, to examine the phenomenon of hearing an inner voice when walking in the city. The resulting special issue, entitled Voicewalks, included ten pieces that explored the collision of external and internal stimuli experienced by the urban walker, each presenting a strikingly unique voice and profound personal understanding of voice-hearing. The acclaimed London-based writer Iain Sinclair was commissioned to write the opening story.
StepAway Magazine worked locally with Trashed Organ and the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts to encourage writers to walk the streets of north east England’s towns and cities, publishing a special issue entitled, Northern Wanderer and holding a poetry reading as part of Newcastle’s Festival of Belonging. The magazine also published a Fitzrovia Atlas issue in collaboration with the University of Westminster which celebrated the bohemian history of the streets surrounding the university’s Regent Street Campus in central London.
Over the course of four years, StepAway has gained an international reputation in the literary world and has received praise for its contribution to the growing body of understanding of urban culture.
StepAway Magazine is unique in its endeavour to shepherd writers out onto the streets, to explore the limitless possibilities of the urban walking and perhaps, most importantly, transport the reader, allowing him or her to rejoice in the sensuousness of urban walking via the written word.