Saturday, 26 September 2009

Mini Reviews...

I have a couple of mini reviews on the Happenstance /Sphinx website. They specialise in pamphlets and chapbooks and I do occasional reviews for them. It's interesting because this time, each one was reviewed by three different people, so you get a real flavour of the pamphlet with comments from different readers, a good idea as most chapbooks get no or very few reviews. Happenstance and Sphinx redress the balance...

So, the chapbooks we reviewed are:

Corpoetics by Nick Asbury

Perfect Yorkshire by Leon Shann

Have a browse through the archive reviews... and maybe even find a chapbook you want to buy...!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Reading at Bolton Octagon with Chris Killen...

I'm very pleased about this. I've been invited to read at Bolton Octagon as part of the University of Bolton's Literature Live programme

Here is a picture of Chris Killen's book, and the blurb from the website
Chris Killen's first novel, The Bird Room, was published early in 2009. He is a graduate of the MA in Creative Writing at The University of Manchester and shortly after the publication of his novel, became writer in residence at the Centre for New Writing.

He won the 2007 Manchester Literary Festival's Blog Award for his innovative fiction site Day of Moustaches, which includes a 100-chapter 'supermarket nightmare' novel written on a chapter-a-day basis, and is a fiction editor at 3:AM magazine. He is working on his second novel, Indoor Fireworks.

Here is a lovely picture of Chris...I've met Chris a few times before, mainly through his live lit night no point in not being friends, but also at other lit events around Manchester. We read together once before at the launch of Comma's short story anthology Brace in which we both have a story.

It will be great to read alongside him.

Here is the blurb about me from the website (which you probably already know, but just in case you don't):

Annie Clarkson is a poet, social worker and short fiction writer from Manchester. Her first chapbook of prose poems Winter Hands was published by Shadow Train Books in 2007. Her writing has been published in many anthologies and magazines, including Unsaid Undone (Flax Books), and Brace (Comma Press). She blogs at

Tickets are £4 and can be ordered on the thatre's website (click above).

I have already planned what I want to wear. I'll be wearing these new shoes and a new dress, which matches the shoes. I haven't decided what to read yet. Probably a mixture of tiny short stories and prose poems, a mix of old and new, and I might give it a Lancashire theme, as in my mind Bolton is still in Lancashire (even though it's officially in Greater Manchester).

Please come along and support us. It will be lovely to see you there. If you do come along, come and say hi afterwards and tell me what you think, because I might be a little nervous, and often at these events people just disappear and I end up driving home thinking, gosh, did people like it, did I read the right things, was it good enough? We'll be signing books so you could buy a book from us, and if you say hi, I read your blog forgetting the time, I will do a little discount and do a special signature.

Friday, 18 September 2009

A short...

The kids on my street are playing war again. 'Put your weapon down NOW rat a tat a tat a Ten, nine, eight, soldier, soldier, coming to get you ready or not'.

I can hear their shoes banging against the pavement as they head round the corner, where the Polish man, who lives at the end house, is fixing his gutters. He pauses to watch them in their short shirt sleeves, ready for church or a christening. They hold imaginary AK47s, ready to gun down their friends, or a basking cat, or the pigeons resting on the razor wire. He wipes his sweat from his forehead, smiles at his boy playing alone, pushing himself along the pavement on a plastic tractor.

The kids are arguing over who will be Osama, saying, 'it's YOUR turn now, it's always MY turn. Ten, nine, eight, soldier, soldier, coming to get you ready or not.'

The ambulance is here again for the old fella four doors down, who might have had a fall and nobody can get in, banging on his door and shouting his name. The police have been called, but the Polish man offers to climb in the top window from his ladders, and the kids have a break from war now, so they can watch the action: old man carried out on a trolley with a mask on his face, Polish man dragging his ladders back to his house, and the police arrive just as it's all over.

The kids are deciding who will be Osama again, and they run down the street shouting, 'come out with your hands in the air. Ten, nine, eight, soldier, soldier, coming to get you ready or not.'

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Kindness (and a giveaway)

Last year, when my relationship with J ended, it was at times a bit of a struggle. It's difficult sometimes to work out why things happen the way they do, and how to repsond to them. My answer, or one of my answers, was kindness.

My philosophy was that if we all try and be kinder on a day to day basis, then the world would surely be a nicer place. Simple, yes. There is nothing complicated about it. Be kind and it will make people feel good, me feel good, and maybe perhaps it would spread.

At Christmas I was given a beautiful diary, and I never use a diary outside of work, using my mobile or outlook instead. So, I decided to start writing down good things that had happened, gratitudes, and kindnesses. It was my way of focusing on the positive, and remembering to be grateful for what I've got instead of wanting more or different.

Reaching September, I look back through this diary and see all kinds of brilliant, wonderful things - how much I have enjoyed some of the simple things in life, days out with friends, good films, books, walks, and some of the kindnesses I have tried to do for other people.

This fell away a little in August. I've felt as though I had less energy to send outside myself, and needed it for me. SO, the kindness has dropped off a little, and now I want to redress the balance.

Sue Guiney posted a blog called Pay it Forward, a while ago. A wonderful offer where she would send three people something lovely through the post if they promised to blog about it, and offer this to another three people.

So, now, I'm offering this out to three people. Post a comment to say yes please, then email me your snail mail address and sometime in the future I will send you a little something/s out of the blue. Don't mind where in the world you are, and I will tailor my surprise to something I think you will enjoy.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

800 words

I started writing a story today, in response to a photograph that I found very dull. It's strange how sometimes inspiration develops from the most uninspiring things. I sat down and started typing, and then got interrupted by the phone. When I came back, I discovered I'd written 800 words without even thinking about it. I really like the idea, the stem of a story that is quirky, interesting, and one I want to keep writing to find out what happens.

It feels good. It's been ages! It's also the longest piece I've written in a while, as most of my writing has been 100 word or 200 word short shorts. I love them, but sometimes there is something beautiful in the freedom of writing a longer piece than this.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

a list of everything to do with me right now...

So, I have a new review up at Bookmunch... Ali Smith's The first person and other stories is an interesting collection of short fiction, in my humble opinion, she is one of the best British short story writers around.
Many of the short stories in this collection are like this, wonderfully odd. They play with ideas of short story, narrative, and point of view, at the same time as exploring the most interesting ‘what if’ questions, and small intimate moments in characters lives.

I have another review in the brilliant September issue of The Short Review. Now, anthologies of short fiction can be a little hit or miss for me, but this One World is a find. I hope to discover more about these brilliant writers in the months to come, particulrly Petina Gappah and Elaine Chiew. Wow.


Inglourious Basterds, Broken Embraces, The Wrestler. Three brilliant films I've seen in the past two weeks. Yes yes yes. Broken Embraces especially, I love Almodovar films and los abrazos rotos is so beautiful.

The first of two pieces of lovely post was from Sue Guiney. A while ago she posted a blog called Pay it Forward, a wonderful offer where she would people something lovely if they promised to blog about it. I forgot about it, and then out of the blue, a package landed on my doorstep. She sent me a lovely card, a copy of her book, and a pendant. It truly made my day. So, I am offering this out to three people. Post a comment to say yes please, then email me your snail mail address and sometime in the future I will send you a little something out of the blue, so you too can pass on the kindness by writing about it on your blog, and making this offer to three people.

Another surprise through the post. The wonderful short fiction writer and poet, Josephine Rowe sent me her new book. Some time ago I reviewed her her collection East of Here, Close to Water on The Short Review. She emailed me to ask whether she could use a quote from my review on the back cover of her new book, which of course I was delighted to say yes. Again, I forgot about this, and now, months later, she has kindly sent me a copy of her beautiful new book, wrapped in brown paper straight from Australia. I can't wait to read it.

I had a lovely time at Geraldine Green's last weekend. We went to Solfest to read poetry in the wonderful Spoken Word tent, but inbetween we walked playing chasey stick with Roy in the woods, ate carrot cake, and sat by the fire chatting, or reading. It was a wonderful escape.

7. While I was there I read the first chapter of Simon Schama's The Power of Art. I never imagined reading this book, but it drew me to it on the bookshelf with it's striking cover. I thought I might flip through and look at the pictures, but got hooked into his wonderful style of writing, thoroughly engaging and so interesting. I read the chapter on Carravagio, which was brilliant, I never knew that religious art could be so interesting. I'm now bidding on ebay hoping to get a copy, so I can read more more more...

8. Personally, it's not been the easiest of months, but so is life sometimes. I haven't been writing at all, but hope once things settle more I might get a little inspiration. In the meantime, I am eating lots of cake, reading brilliant books, watching X-factor (I know, shame on me, but I can't resist, it's so entertaining), singing and all my usual day to day things. I've booked some reflexology to help me with migraines and other things. I've booked on a sewing class so I can learn to fix things, make things, and sew pretty whatever I happen to want. And everything will potter along and hopefully September will turn out a little more settled.