Friday, 31 July 2009

migraine friday

I won't be performing tonight at the Briton's Protection. My head feels like it's been slightly cracked open down one side and I was sick earlier. I'm in bed at the moment in dressing gown feeling very sorry for myself.

Today was supposed to have been my last day in my old job, my leaving lunch and a very lovely time with friends. As it is, I've slept half the day and had a bit of a panic attack. So, boo hiss to a bad day.

I can't face going to the shops yet, although I am a little hungry which is surely a good sign.

small bits of news...

Small bits of news and small successes keep me going...

like, having two pieces of writing accepted by the gorgeous Ouroboros Review for their winter issue, two of my recent prose poems, one about rain, another about dancing.

like, being invited to read at Solfest in Cumbria at the end of August, where I get to mingle with poets and musicians, and camp out for the weekend, and enjoy everything on offer.

like, reading two prose poems at an event tonight.

Tonight, was a reading run by Manchester Poet Dave Puller at Barnabus Emporium.

It was to raise money for a small local charity called Barnabus, who are a Christian organisation working in the city centre with homeless people, and people involved in prostituion. They run a day centre with all kinds of activities, do street outreach work at night, giving out food, etc, and they also do some work in two local prisons.

The event took place in their new charity shop and cafe on Wilmslow Road in Withington. It was such a lovely night, a small crowd of people, a lovely cafe in the basement with gorgeous hot chocolate and homemade cakes, poems and a singer-songwriter. Money was raised. Poetry was shared and there was a really nice vibe there, friendly, political in a non-antagonistic way. It was really nice to be invited to read my two prose poems.

These small events are such a joy, they keep me going, inspire my writing, make me feel like a writer. I suppose it is affirmation.

It has inspired me to send four prose poems to Succour magazine for their latest call for submissions on 'The Banal'. Deadline is 21st August, and Succour is a wonderful print magazine, very slick, good writing, well designed.

It has inspired me to want to write more about 'Dolly', a character that appeared in a prose poem recently. Dolly functions at much less than her age. She is an adult, but has childlike qualities. She lives in a street that has been mostly boarded up. She has a very vivid imagination. Or is she just more sensitive to what is happening around her than the rest of us? I like the idea of having characters that reappear in other stories or prose poems.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

want to write about...

... Manchester Book Market on Sunday. How the rain poured down. It was dripping from the gazebo, and shoppers, poets and poet friends squashed under the canvas ready to hear a few poems. I was first on the microphone in a smaller gazebo in St Ann's Square. The rain stopped for a brief time, so a few people stopped to listen, and sat on benches and hovered with their shopping bags. I read four poems. Mostly about love, slightly stalkerish, some self-harm, prescription drug use, and a little mental ill-health thrown in for good measure. I forgot when I chose my poems how this was a sunday afternoon, in the busy shopping area of a big city, that there might be children there and people who didn't want to be depressed by my wintry poems.

but people listened and it was nice to have a moderate crowd of people who clapped after my poems, and smiled in parts, and didn't wander off mid-poem to go to GAP or Starbucks or one of the other many American stores surrounding us... and I didn't need to worry about my material being ill-chosen, because the woman after me read poems with many swear words in and talked about exposing her breasts, so by comparison mine were jackanory.

I particularly enjoyed hearing Polly Atkin read. I thought she had a beautiful reading manner and I liked her poems about foxes or dreams about foxes, I also liked the fact she has written about other peoples' dreams, instead of her own, and hasn't told the people whose dreams they were. I liked the way her brother smiled in the crowd as she read the part about one of his friends boiling a fox's head in a saucepan. I spoke to her briefly afterwards and she was lovely, and I bought her chapbook Bone Song which I will write about soon...

I enjoyed Ian Seed's poems, as I've never heard Ian read, despite Ian being my publisher/editor. He read a wonderful poem with an Italian phrase in it that I loved. I can't remember the Italian at all so he might need to remind me. I do remember the way he read his poems, which was with such confidence and bringing to life his poems in a way I would really like to learn.

I enjoyed hearing Elizabeth Baines read her short story 'Daniel Smith Disappears off the Face of the Earth', a brilliant story. I loved her collection, but have never heard her read (despite meeting her numerous times at readings etc). I liked being in the rain listening to her read this story, especially the last sentences...

I loved Nick Royle's story about taxidermy, birds, and tweeting. It has a wonderful stalker quality to it. It's not the first time I've heard Nick read, one time he read another brilliant story about a tropical bird being regurgitated onto a dinner plate, and another time it was a stalkerish piece about a man coming home from a football match and hiding in someone's back yard. I feel as though I want to be part of a stalker 'school' of writers with Nick Royle at the helm. He reads them in a way that creates a stalker kind of tension, and also there seem to be elements of 'truth' in the stories, an authenticity (a character called Nick Royle, or a character that could very much be Nick Royle) who then does slightly worrying or disturbing things. I feel I could belong to this school of writing, as I write stalkerish fiction about characters that are sometimes called Annie Clarkson or characters that could very much be Annie Clarkson.

I saw many writers there, it was lovely to talk writing, hear writing, browse books,catch up, drink coffee, hear writers' voices compete with the sound of rain.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Manchester Book Fair...

The time has come for another Manchester Book Market... it's a THREE DAY event in St Ann's Square Manchester, where you can browse book and zine stalls, listen to a variety of Manchester writers read all kinds of wonderful creative stuff, drink coffee, loll about, meet publishers, discover new writers, support grass-roots writing, buy a Manchester libraries bookbag (as above)...

Brilliant readings include from writers... Joe Stretch, Tony Walsh, Julian Daniel, Mike Garry, Akiel Chinelo, Elizabeth Baines, Louise Wallwein, Conrad Williams, Ailsa Cox, Zoe Lambert, Eleanor Rees, Mike Duff, Tim Lees, Annie Clarkson (YES, ME), Segun Le French, Tom Fletcher, Lula Blue and many, many more

Sounds like a perfect way to spend an afternoon to me.

It's on Friday 17th - Sunday 19th and you can read more about it on Literature North West or The Manchester Lit List (where I pinched the gorgeous book bag's on my shopping list!)

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Flax calls bloggers for submissions...

Just wanted to plug the latest call for submissions from Flax Books, which is based in Lancaster. It's an interesting one. They are looking for non-fiction writers or bloggers from the North West of England. Flax 019 will be an online anthology of creative non-fiction... I'm not sure how this will turn out, but it has huge scope.

Having worked with Flax, I know what a great opportunity this is. A chance for work to be published, but also have a profile on their site, professional photos taken, digital recording of you reading from your work, a launch, and a whole lot of publicity (which when I was involved meant some beautiful postcards being printed, and a whole internet noise about the anthology), plus the chance for a life coaching session.

They are asking for up to 1000 words, which could be one blog post, or several... but which have not appeared on your blog so far. I'm not going to tell you all the ins and outs of it all, you can read that yourself at the Litfest/Flax website

North West bloggers I would love to see in this anthology are wide reaching, but include:

The brilliant, political, literary, confessional Max Dunbar

Chris Killen and his quirky blog Day of Moustaches (which seems to currently be called 'oh no')

The writer of the wonderfully insightful blog My Shitty Twenties

Elizabeth Baines with her analytical, discursive blog Fiction Bitch

Now, that would be my kind of anthology...

Monday, 6 July 2009

reviews, interviews and readings...

My review of Mark Illis' Tender
is in The Short Review this month... a great collection of connected short fiction that I loved loved loved. As with many of Salt Publishing's short fiction titles this was a beautiful read.

Here's s snippet from my favourite story in the book...
There’d be an autopsy, George Clooney out of E.R. would cut me open and look at my heart and push his finger around in my guts and he’d take off the mask and point those big brown eyes at Mum and Dad, all sad and softly spoken but accusing. "You should never have put her through it", he’d say. "This girl died for nothing". Or, no, "This beautiful girl died for nothing." My mum would be crying, Dad would be looking at his shoes, and George Clooney would literally be holding my heart in his hands.

Have a read of my review, and the interview with Mark Illis in The Short Review.

I have a heap of news actually:

1. I'm interviewing Eleanor Catton about her ground-breaking novel The Rehearsal, the interview will be on Bookmunch in a week or two.

2. I have been asked to read at the latest Succour salon, at the Briton's Protection in Manchester on 31st July. Succour is a brilliant literary magazine if you haven't read it, beautiful print magazine with some very good writing in it, looks professional and always focuses on an interesting theme...

3. Another reading, sometime over the weekend of 18th-19th July in St Ann's Square in Manchester, there will be an independent book fair for three days with live readings throughout the afternoons from various poets and other literati. Sounds like an amazing event for those who like books, poetry etc. I'll post more details as I get them...

4. Plus (a little advance information that I'm slipping out here)... I'll be reading at Bolton Octagon on October 12th, part of the University of Bolton's poetry and prose reading series. I'm very very excited about this one. Again, more information about this when I know more details.

I have so much more I want to say about life, dating, cats, changing jobs, my birthday celebrations, holiday plans, and on and on. Head on over to my myspace blog and add me as a friend if you want the more personal stuff...