Epoch’s Summer Issue 03: Roots, to be released 1 May 2021

We are no longer accepting submissions for our Summer Issue (03): ‘Roots’.

The submission window for our Autumn issue (theme yet to be announced) will open on May 1st. Please visit our Submissions page for more details. 

Contributor Payment

Epoch Press is committed to paying contributors. At present, we offer the authors and artists of accepted contributions their choice of:

A. £15 per accepted piece


B. £5 plus a contributor copy (and shipping) per accepted piece.

We’re artists and writers ourselves; we know your work has value and exposure doesn’t pay the bills. Epoch Press is a brand new, independent publishing press with low funds but big goals. Paying contributors well is a crucial tenet of our long-term plan, and the amount we offer for accepted submissions will increase with our funding.

Featured Author

In addition to the standard payment for each contributing author, we will select one piece of writing in every issue and the author will be awarded an additional £25 prize. This selection will be our ‘Feature’ piece for that issue, and be made available to the public on our website (as well as published in the journal).

We offer this featured story so that potential readers or subscribers have an opportunity to connect with and evaluate a piece that we believe represents that issue.

Cover Art

Cover Art submissions should be sent to our Arts Director, Hillary: hillary@epochpress.org, from 1 February to 1 March to be considered. These art submissions will also be entered with consideration for general publication of art in Issue 03, unless specified otherwise. The standard payment for contributing artists is £15, while the artist of our Cover Art will be awarded £25. 

Please visit our Submissions page for more details.

What does Roots mean?

‘Roots’ is both a noun and a verb. As a noun, it can be either: 1) the part of a plant which attaches it to the ground for support; or 2) the basic cause, source or origin of something. As a verb, it means to establish deeply and firmly.

Other definitions:

  • The part of a thing attaching it to a greater or more fundamental whole;
  • Music: the fundamental note of a chord
  • Linguistic: a morpheme, not necessarily surviving as a word in itself, from which words have been made by the addition of prefixes or suffixes or by other modification.
  • Australian slang: a sexual partner of a specified ability, or as a verb, to have sex
  • Verb: cause (someone) to stand immobile through fear or amazement
  • verb: search unsystematically through an untidy mass or area; rummage.
  • Verb: cheer, or support

We asked our staff what roots meant to them and hopefully their responses will inspire all you creatives for the upcoming issue.

Connection is the main focus for me— whenever I think of roots (and this may be because my partner had a certain obsession with trees), I’m reminded of the coast redwood sequoia, which is the only tree species we know of that can support an albino tree to huge mature specimens. Normally, this is impossible because trees need the green in their leaves to photosynthesize, but it’s possible for giant sequoias because although their roots develop separately they connect underground and transfer the trees surrounding them with essential nutrients. Which is to say that I hope to see stories about the power behind roots that we develop, and how those roots sustain us through connection. A large part of the reason that redwoods can get as large as they do is because their roots are intertwined in a more complete way than many trees are. Other tree root phenomenon— sometimes when you get a tree cut down, because the root systems are tied, the stump will heal and the root system remains part of the other trees root system. It doesn’t grow again, but still participates and lives in a way.”

Roots can also inspire a lot of confusion and trauma, particularly for second and third-generation immigrant children. Knowing where you belong or where you come from often becomes a matter of where people link your ethnicity to rather than where you have rooted yourself. This raises the question of whether your roots are your history or your ancestors’ history. Maybe it’s both but maybe it is neither and your root, or the roots you attempt to plant yourself, have everything to do with what comes next and not what has already happened.”

“I think roots are usually seen as a positive, i.e. a family or community. But for many people, those can also be neutral or even negative things. Roots can be something you are struggling to free yourself from. It can be a past self you want to leave behind.

I think of roots as something both transformational and enduring. I grew up surrounded by Punjabi and Indian culture, yet I also absorbed American culture as I grew up as well. So when I look back at my “roots” it’s a mishmash of all those things. Listening to bhangra music while driving to a middle school band show as a kid. Going to a gurdwara and getting pizza after. Which is I guess the typical Indian-American culture, but it feels singular and evolving at the same time. It’s a piece of my ethnic culture but also physically where I come from.”

“To me, roots are the things that ground you, that connect you, sometimes to family, but always to the culture with which you identify. They can be carried with you, they can be torn out, or they can be put down. We know too that colonial violence is so often enacted against the roots of the vulnerable, especially indigenous and black people. In particular, I’m hoping to read stories that explore the resilience of roots, and stories that endeavour to explain the way someone might extract themselves from their own roots.

“Roots – can anything from happy to sad, simple to complicated. I, too, think of ancestry and how that may shape a person, even if that person discovers things about their ancestry later in life. I also think of generational trauma and the process of navigating that trauma and unlearning learned behaviours that may stem from one’s culture/ancestry/family/environment. I ultimately see “Roots” as being dichotomous: roots can ground you and be something you’re proud of, but can alternatively be something you want to break free from. Like when a branch gets so heavy that it falls off a tree – sometimes it can feel necessary or right to break away from our roots. But nonetheless, we can explore how we are connected to them.”

“While ‘Roots’ does remind me of family ties and long-standing heritages, I get a more physical image in my head of actual tree roots burrowing into the earth. It makes me think of longevity and the importance of its nourishment to survive. Trapped in place, roots are hidden in darkness, the unseen hardships of our growth.

As a visual person the first thing that pops into my mind when I think of roots are those giant roots you can find on fig trees! They are so thick and magical, they look like someplace safe where you can just lay and be cradled by the tree. When I think of roots figuratively I think of the saying to “put down roots”. I’ve always lived at home so putting down roots feels exciting and a like chance to explore and leave home to find my place.”

For me, roots can be the perfect metaphor for the human experience. Strong roots keep us grounded, they feed us and help us grow. Strong roots give us the resilience we need to weather any storm. But roots can grow, and as we discover new families and new identities, our roots come to represent not just our past, but our present and future too.

I think I’m saying something that has already been said a lot but… to me roots is about who we are.  The world is big but we have become individualistic beings. We constantly try to figure ourselves out and it’s almost impossible.  realistically we’re not just ourselves. The “answer” to who we are is in our roots. I’m thinking about transgenerational trauma. Roots is a trip to the centre of the earth. I guess what I’m expecting to read in this issue is about people attempting to make that journey! I hope this makes some sense…”

“I think of roots as a person’s ancestry, where they’re from, or places they’ve been that have influenced who they are. Places or events that “feed” you or something foundational to the present. / I’d also be interested in reading pieces literally about roots, plants, and the earth.

“When I think about the word Roots it is synonymous with history. Your Roots are your beginnings; they are the first lines on the map of yourself.

“I think the obvious association with roots is family, and I’m sure we’ll see lots of great places about ancestry etc. I’d also be really interested in pieces about cultural roots – historical, religious, things like inherited trauma. As a lover of ecocriticism/nature writing, I’ll also be thrilled if we get some pieces that take ‘roots’ in a more literal sense!”

I find roots very cyclical in nature, they spin from empowerment to entanglement and back again. I’m sure all of us have had the experience of being suffocated by our family and community, and most of us have probably come right back around to yearning for, and seeking out those family connections once a bit of time passes. I think people are just like that, constantly pushing away and curling back towards the source. It’s a great subject for this issue and I’m excited to see what people write.”

To think about roots is to think about the personal. When I think roots, I think about both where I come from and how that grounds me everyday and during the times that I feel unmoored. For me, where I come from has less to do with place and more to do with the women that helped shaped me. My late grandmother gave out household chores to her grandkids based on age, not gender. She had acerbic wit and a high level of confidence. Mother looks to God day and night. She prays for her family and the world more than she prays for herself. She treats others the way she would like to be treated. I can share anything with my sisters and get unbiased feedback no matter how hard it might be to hear. Therefore, regardless of how far away I am from my country of birth, my belief and these women’s teachings anchor me. Especially in a world where it’s otherwise easy to oscillate this way and that like the clapper of a bell on a cow looking for a way back home.”

“For me, roots are that undeniable part of you – that may take time to fully understand and appreciate. Those things that literally pull you down through life keeping you stuck to your identity and idea of ‘self’ … Also in a gardening sense! Myself and my family moved a bay tree this Summer, and for a while it was looking as though it may die when we moved it to its new spot but after 6 months the leaves changed back to green and we discovered it had created a whole new root system – so roots aren’t permanent in some sense? The roots come from within the plant itself, it sends them down wherever it finds itself. We once again have a happy bay tree even after it was separated from its original roots!”