With the house’s curator, I’ve organised a poetry evening for 23rd January 2013 to be held in the former home of Dr. Samuel Johnson. With pieces exploring the strictures, structures and authority of lexicons both real and imagined, come along and hear new work dedicated to the celebration of Johnson’s ‘harmless drudgery’ by Kate Potts, Nisha Ramayya and Prue Chamberlain. The evening will be hosted in the garret, where Dr. Johnson’s famous dictionary was compiled.
We will be joined by Giles Goodland, lexicographer and winner of the Cardiff International Poetry Competition, alongside John McCullough whose debut collection The Frost Fairs (Salt, 2011) was awarded the Polari First Book Prize.
Tickets for the evening include a glass of wine served in the Withdrawing Room – doors open at 6.15pm.
For more information about Dr. Johnson’s house: http://www.drjohnsonshouse.
Annexe Magazine held its second Interrobang Festival last Saturday, hosting music, comedy, book-making workshops and readings from Inua Ellams, Akiho Schilz and Claire Trévien. I was there trialling some new work in the afternoon alongside James Brookes, Nick Murray and Gary from Leeds, co-editor of The Alarmist: ‘eavens to Betsy. The festival was also holding a book fair in the Free Word Centre next door, allowing space for a number of independent and small press publishers including Penned in the Margins, Emma Press, Belle Park Pages and Influx: a good way to fling your pay packet directly at 30sq metres of Farringdon. Many thanks to Nick, Alex and Hannah for their behind-the-scenesing, and for a warm audience.
Hosted by Royal Holloway University of London, the Generative Constraints practice-based conference was held on 16th November at C4CC. Saturday saw fantastic papers, performances, exhibitions and addresses from Prof. Jane Rendell, Tim Etchells, Matthew Goulish and Lin Hixson, Amanda Beech, Bryan Eccleshall, Eleanor Rees, Sotirios Varsamis, Richard Barrett, Sarah Cole, Sophie Hope and Jenny Richards, Madeleine Walton, Heather Pennington, Daniel Oliver and Mr Ferris, Gareth Damian Martin, Rachel Smith, Ron Herrema, Steph Driver, Tom Jenks, Laura Burns, Johanna Linsley and R. Justin Hunt, Pema Clark, Deborah Pearson, Andrew Johnson, Annabel Frearson, Annie Runkel, Georgie Grace, Ghazal Mosadeq, Katy Connor and Mark Peter Wright. A long list that’s testament to a full day of text, art, music, restraint and a programme of big-thought much-make.
With thanks to Kingston University for their select financial assistance; if you are interested in practice-based studies and its outcomeliness, do follow the work of their research unit.
Thanks too Dr. Kristen Kreider and Jane Gawthrope for their assistance and encouragement, and congratulations to the committee of bustaguts comprising Deborah Pearson, Jayne Lloyd, Kate Potts, Nik Wakefield, Prue Chamberlain, Diana Damien Martin and Nisha Ramayya: find a Big Top and let any one of them lead the ring. Follow the (dedicated) Publication and visit the (dedicated) Gallery to keep abreast of all aspects explored during the conference. Thanks again to all involved.
Susan Gray, Emma Venables, Ishita Mandrekar and I are hosting an evening with Picador author and member-of-my-Creating-Writing-MA-year Liza Klaussmann.
“With sultry prose and a sure hand for suspense, Liza Klaussmann expertly weaves a vivid tale of glamour and despair, fidelity and betrayal, secrets and abandon. Tigers in Red Weather will have you furiously postponing all human interaction until its gripping finale.” — Maria Semple, author of Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Whenever I had to scramble across London to get to RHUL’s campus on Egham, for a good four months I passed this advertisement. Motivational visual aid right there. Many thanks to Liza for her time, and to my fellow readers.
Listed as one of Foyles’ Magazines of the Week, I have a short story in Belleville Park Pages No. 10. Pocketsized and Paris-wrought, you can scoop yours up with a bumper wee fold-out work ‘Halves’ by Sophie Haigney for a mere £2. Here are both, modelled first by a good-looking man:
and second by my sister who picked up a copy in situ at Shakespeare & Company bookshop LIKE A CHAMPION.
On the first of the month I performed two pieces as part of ‘Written & Composed’, a showcase event with members of Royal Holloway’s creative writing and composition departments.
It featured fiction readings and literary/musical pieces commissioned for the evening. My two collaborations were with composer Zoi Dachri and an Oulipan skit with Ishita Mandrekar. It was a great evening, with thanks to Susan Gray, Lucy Harrison, Leda Kalogeropoulou, Ishita and Zoi, Preti Taneja, Emma Venables and Tom Wilson for their work and for pulling the evening together.
My short story ‘Scutiform’ is up on the great Visual Verse site, a journal recently launched at the Writing Platform fair and conference 2013. Edited by Preti Taneja and with patrons including Ali Smith, Andrew Motion and Bernadine Evaristo, writers were asked to respond in one hour to a set image: in our case, this photograph of a Galapagos shell by Marc Schlossman.
What I found particularly interesting when reading the submissions were the shared associations that had been clearly ploinked out by the exercise and the image: the word ‘coracle’ and recourse to dictionary definitions are two cases in point. With a roster of different images to come, the journal wants your work too – submit to them here, and read contributions from Nisha Ramayya, Sophie Mayer and others.
Ambit recently relaunched under the directorship of Briony Bax and celebrated its new issue at the University of Notre Dame building in London.
With work by Alan Brownjohn, Jehane Markham and winners of the Joseph Brodsky/Stephen Spender Prize and a front cover by Doug Argue as hot as a thumbed retina on a summer’s day, my short story ‘Spines’ is bundled-up in the prose section. Many thanks to Mike, Gary and Declan and Kate on the editorial team, and to all of Ambit for the sausage rolls.
There was poetry, prose-poetry and nudgings all for less than £1.01. Many thanks to Jade French for organising, Paper Dress Vintage for hosting and to fellow readers Kareem Parkins-Brown, Karl Smith, Antony Hurley, Prudence Chamberlain, playwright Devawn Wilkinson, Rosie Spence, Tash Cordeaux, Kate Lewin, Sam Stensland and Imogen Mahdavi for noises and faces in exemplary order.
On 16th October I had the opportunity to present some of my PhD research with a talk centred on ‘alphabetical indexes and narrative’ for RHUL’s Practice-based department.
‘Ages ago, Alex, Allen and Alva arrived at Antibes, and Alva allowing all, allowing anyone, against Alex’s admonition, against Allen’s angry assertion: another African amusement… anyhow, as all argued, an awesome African army assembled and arduously advanced against an African anthill, assiduously annihilating ant after ant, and afterward, Alex astonishingly accuses Albert as also accepting Africa’s antipodal ant annexation.’
- Walter Abish: Alphabetical Africa (New Directions, 1974)
Seed catalogues, telephone directories, war memorials’ lists of the dead: alphabetical indexes provide a simple, consultable system of collating written data. When the model of a follows b follows c is disrupted within a text by an author, it automatically signals a refutation of such artificial demarcations. I hope to discuss the ways in which various creative works, from children’s battledores to Ron Silliman’s thousand-plus-page poem, challenge traditional claims of abecedary structure and permit an expression of reality’s unruliness. In terms of my own practice, my novel’s central character works at a dictionary house; as his inability to perform with and within the codes required by his employers increases, the reassurance he found in alphabetical taxonomies and lexicographical strictures begins to fall away. Correspondingly, the novel’s architecture and content becomes disjointed and disarrayed. My talk and reading will examine my work and research into texts’ adherence to or purposeful subversion of conventional alphabetical order, and the ways in which the use of the alphabet as subject and procedure can affect narrative.
And so on and so forth. This was followed by a corresponding talk by Amy Cutler; an expert on everything that is interesting, this evening she gave an account of ‘forest trauma’ and cultural geographies of the coast and wood. You can catch her award-winning Passenger film project this week at Somerset House as part of The Culture Capital Exchange’s Inside Out Festival. Do’t.