April 2019, Conversations in the Archives, The Still Point

The Still Point editor, Francesca Brooks recalls Polly’s contribution.

I remember Polly so well and fondly from The Still Point launch. Her piece was exactly what we had envisioned for the journal and I know that all of the editorial team, the illustrator and designer, enjoyed working on it with her. She brought the Russian archives to life so vividly. 

Polly’s story of the Moscow archive is immersive and transportive. The ‘socialist greenery’ of the pot plants of the bureaucratic staff at the library, and the air in the canteen ‘infused with dill, and a hint of pickle too’, were exactly the kinds of details we wanted our contributors to share with us. In our first Call for Submissions we reflected on what it felt like to be new PhD students, alive to the possibilities of the research and working and thinking in ways that were exploratory and perhaps a little undefined. We asked our contributors for pieces that were free of footnotes or bibliographies, that would feel more like a collection of conversations had with fellow researchers over coffee than academic papers. Polly’s writing was exactly what we had imagined and more: a piece of storytelling about the research process that affectionately captured the spirit of the women of Moscow’s cloakrooms, canteens, libraries and museums. The illustrations that Matthew T. Shaw produced to accompany the piece are testament to the warmth and liveliness of Polly’s voice here.


I remember Polly so well and fondly from The Still Point launch. Her piece was exactly what we had envisioned for the journal and I know that all of the editorial team, the illustrator and designer, enjoyed working on it with her. She brought the Russian archives to life so vividly. 

Polly’s story of the Moscow archive is immersive and transportive. The ‘socialist greenery’ of the pot plants of the bureaucratic staff at the library, and the air in the canteen ‘infused with dill, and a hint of pickle too’, were exactly the kinds of details we wanted our contributors to share with us. In our first Call for Submissions we reflected on what it felt like to be new PhD students, alive to the possibilities of the research and working and thinking in ways that were exploratory and perhaps a little undefined. We asked our contributors for pieces that were free of footnotes or bibliographies, that would feel more like a collection of conversations had with fellow researchers over coffee than academic papers. Polly’s writing was exactly what we had imagined and more: a piece of storytelling about the research process that affectionately captured the spirit of the women of Moscow’s cloakrooms, canteens, libraries and museums. The illustrations that Matthew T. Shaw produced to accompany the piece are testament to the warmth and liveliness of Polly’s voice here.

The issue that Polly contributed to was the very first that we would publish: we were learning and experimenting, but it was the work of our contributors (their creativity and imagination) that really made it something to be proud of.