Notes on Noticing


This post is by Laura Oosterbeek who is on the Publicity and Events team.

Originally from Aotearoa New Zealand, Laura is a Promiscuous Reader and Book Club Slut who spends her spare time biking around looking for sidewalk cats. Despite her allegiance to Cambridge, she is a fan of The Oxford Comma.

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I love the Fitzwilliam, I usually go there to look at the rugs (I know, they’re not actually part of the collection) or to stare at the bust of that girl in the green room, trying to figure out of she’s in pain or in orgasm. Probably both. I sometimes go there just to look at people look at art. The Fitz isn’t like the famous art museums of the world The Louvre, The Met, The Tate in which most pass through solely to tell others they’ve been, they look at artwork through the screen on their phones, pausing only to see if it’s gram worthy (how could da Vinci, Magritte, or Botticelli ever be considered unworthy?). At The Fitz people actually pause to look at the art, consider its possibilities, its history, its intent.

They notice.

As do the poets and artists in Notes on Noticing.

At Notes launches, I usually do the same take the photographs. I notice a look, a gaze, a pose, (the way Elizabeth and Alessandro perfectly mirror one another with their black turtlenecks and slight lean) and capture it in a click (every time having to overcome my shame in that interruption caused by the mechanical click in the silence of a poetry reading). I don’t like to read at Notes launches despite being asked to almost every single time. I don’t like hearing my antipodean accent in a room of Cambridge students, it makes me hyper aware of the twang and long vowels and cadences that always go up at the end, like I’m asking a question (I never am?). But I did this time because we were at The Fitz.

Jun let me choose any poem to read I passed over Lorcan’s Footnote as I don’t speak Greek, and Thomas Dixon’s, while a work of art in itself, was a mindfuck to read aloud, I loved Olivia Sutherland’s musings on free art and the overwhelming blue-ness of Antonia Cundy’s I think, but ultimately settled on Helen Grant’s Snowflakes.

As I read I noticed the grief and the distance in the poem, her words weaving a snowflake of memory. And I realised, this is what art is — a narrative of noticing that allows others to notice too.

Turns out she was in the room when I read a fit of giggles to my right as the last vowel dropped.

Happy new year from the Notes team!


Happy new year on behalf of the Notes team! We’re excited to bring you another year of the best creative work that our community has to offer – in addition to a new series of writer’s groups and art workshops.

As one of first exciting ventures, we’re going to be opening up an online store where you can purchase digital copies of our magazine for a reduced price of £1. As always, all proceeds go towards printing our fortnightly issues. Check out our store here:

And finally, take a look at some of our highlights from Michaelmas 2017!


News & Events

A warm welcome to all the new freshers of 2017 and to our usual readers and contributors! Notes is a student-run journal released fortnightly in Cambridge. We publish essays, creative writing, art, photography; anything that involves and would stimulate original thought. You do not need to be a student, nor do you need to be at either Oxford or Cambridge to submit.

Whether you have a poetry blog or photography page, or whether you have only just started making art, we want to hear from you! We also provide critical feedback to anyone who sends us their work. In addition to our fortnightly publication, we hold issue launches with poetry readings as well as writers’ workshops.

The submission deadline for the first Notes issue of term will be at 12 noon on Thursday, October 5. This is an unthemed issue, so feel free to send us anything you’d like us to consider for publication. Before submitting, please read our contributor FAQ – there are a couple of rules about how many things you can submit, and what format works best – before sending your work to

To get an idea of the kinds of things we have published in the past, feel free to have a look through free copies of Notes Three, our third Annual, as well as sample pages from past issues here, here, and here. Or have a read through articles written by the Tab and Varsity about our past publications and publication culture.

Maybe even have a look at footnotes, our summer publication focusing on micro- or flash-fiction of 100 words or less (or poetry of six lines or fewer) – sample pages can be found here. In the past, Ali Smith, Carol Ann Duffy, Ocean Vuong, and Simon Armitage, among other famous writers, have featured as guest contributors.

I was pleasantly surprised by an event that turned out to be a welcoming hub of musical and literary creativity, which I would readily trade for my usual Wednesday night pre-drinks.
– Alice French, The Cambridge Student

…it is clear that [a] strong sense of community and common interest in pursuing creativity is something which Notes will continue to perpetuate throughout Cambridge.
– Elizabeth Howcroft, Varsity

We’re still a young publication as we enter our sixth year, but each year Notes grows more and more as a creative network due to an amazing and inspiring audience. We’re all very approachable too – talk to the team at our fortnightly events, chat to us at the CUSU Freshers’ Fair, or message us on Facebook.

We hope that many of you will become regular readers and contributors to our publication this year and beyond!

The Notes Team

Footnotes III & Garden Party

News & Events

A Preface in One-Hundred Words

‘An idea is a luminous thing, and it is light.’

– Thomas Stell

Footnotes III celebrates brevity, being filled with sketches, tweets, poems, micro stories and snapshots, each offered up in one-hundred words of prose or six lines of poetry, or less.

We are grateful for contributions from Denise Riley, Ali Smith, Ocean Vuong, Carol Ann Duffy and John Burnside (and associated agents and publishers). We believe that each and every piece in this issue is truly luminous, and sincerely hope that you enjoy them all.

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Limited copies of Footnotes III are available to order on our website.

A huge thank you to everyone who came to our end-of-year garden party in June – here are some (extremely belated) photos from the event.

And finally, thank you to the graduating members of the 2016-2017 Notes Team for putting so much heart into our little publication and family. We’ll miss you, Savannah, Sarah, Amiya, Tessa, Freya, India and Ronan!