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The University of Edinburgh's three creative writing prizes, open for 2024 submissions
Alex Aldred: a facehugger sublets a one-bed flat

Alex Aldred: a facehugger sublets a one-bed flat

Alex Aldred lives and writes in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he is currently studying towards his PhD in creative writing. He was the recipient of a special mention of the Grierson Verse Prize in 2020. His debut pamphlet, Faces Adjacent, was published by Ghost City Press in June 2021.

You can find out more about his work by visiting his site,, by finding him on Twitter @itsmealexaldred, or by summoning him to speak with you in person, provided you have access to the necessary runes.


The Prize’s theme for 2020 was “rent”, a word which (for me at least) evokes a feeling best described as dread. I’ve often found that modulating my anxieties through a bizarre or speculative lens proves to be a useful tool for engaging with those anxieties in poetry; in this piece, I wanted to use that process to articulate the precarious, exploitative relationship between landlord and tenant.

a facehugger sublets a one-bed flat


Anchored by ichor to Artex ceiling,

the isopod: glistening carapace,

bristling antennae aquiver, feeling

me shiver in this dank, half-furnished place.

When I sleep it slithers close, mounts my face

and rams its slick proboscis down my throat.

This tenement mosquito, fat with bloat,

drinks me hollow, withers me in the night –

and though I’ve yet to find an antidote,

I know enough to name it parasite.


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