A quick announcement: for the next couple of months, I am thrilled to be Guest Editor at Visual Verse. This is a wonderful site!-journal!-anthology! that offers an ekphrastic prompt each month, and has collected so many fantastic submissions over its lifetime. It is a complete privilege to be involved and I look forward to working with Kristen Harrison and all the team at Curved House, getting my hands on all the poetry and prose that comes across my virtual desk.
I am especially excited to help behind the scenes at Visual Verse just as the journal’s stalwart editor Preti Taneja received exciting news about her novel We That Are Young coming soon from Galley Beggar Press.
To see this month’s image and to submit a response, please do visit here; our headline writers who have been chosen to start things off include John McCullough, Helen Ivory, Helen McClory, Wendy Choi and Prue Chamberlain. And have a read through VV‘s back issues; as the journal’s tagline states, the image is the starting point, the rest is up to you.
Issue 15 of The Junket alights upon the errancy of bees, a consideration of the Etch-a-Sketch and ‘the search for roots’ via shelving all through wonderful essays, prose and poetry by Lucy Barnes, Nathan Dunne, Damian Le Bas, Alex Niven, Joanne O’Leary, Tim Smith-Laing, Kristen Treen, Francesca Wade and Katrina Zaat.
My small piece of fiction, ‘Positive Feedback: A Game’, is in there too and develops an idea that was hatched originally for Matt Lomas’ Lange Nacht der Langeweile 2012 event series in Berlin. Yawning, stopped-gobbery and Boppard: many thanks to editors Jon Day and Kristen Treen for the opportunity.
I am delighted to be playing compere for this triple-threat: the launch of new work by Sophie Mayer, Preti Taneja and Nisha Ramayya. I had the pleasure of hearing extracts from these three great books while in the audience for this year’s Sussex Poetry festival and at a recent Feminist Library fundraiser event. To quote the event’s enblurburate,
‘Sophie Mayer’s fourth published poetry collection, (O), is a bittersweet lovesong to zombies, tattoos, lovers and sisters, Katniss and Pussy Riot, Artemis and suffragists. In three parts – I DO, I UNDO, I REDO – the poet undoes herself and all around her in a cycle that takes her back to the start as it comes to an end. Spirited, politicised, contemporary and Classical, these poems bring a poetic voice to the women that have lived in the cracks of history. In her own words: “Nothing – and everything – is sacred in this new cosmogony, beginning again with O.’
‘Kumkum Malhotra was one of two winners in the Gatehouse Press New Fictions Prize in 2014/15, noted by Maureen Freely for its ‘beautifully sculpted surfaces and terrifying depths.’ As its heroine unravels, the author strips a family and a society bare. In Kumkum Malhotra, set in New Delhi in the 1990s, Preti Taneja tells a familiar tale with startling freshness and an original, exacting style.’
‘We are also pleased to welcome Nisha Ramayya, whose debut pamphlet ‘Notes on Sanskrit’ is published this month by Oystercatcher Press. Nisha recently completed a practice-based PhD in feminist poetics, at Royal Holloway, University of London. Nisha works across various practices and forms – translation, performance, mythology and ritual to test the possibilities of a Tantric poetics. Her work can be found at Datableed, Jungftak, Quaderna: A Multilingual and Transdisciplinary Journal, and Visual Verse.’
The readings for this Cambridge launch will take place at Heffers bookshop, 13th October 2015, with all three books available for purchase on the evening. Tickets (free! but useful for the venue in terms of registering numbers) are available here.
Prudence Chamberlain and I were thrilled to be asked to judge this year’s Literary Kitchen flash fiction competition, putting our heads together and choosing fifteen writers from the open call for <300word fictions. The shortlist came down to these final few pieces; ricocheting in content from Moby Dick to hypoglycemia, do swing by the Peckham Pelican on Sunday 18th October to hear the winning stories.
Curated by Andrea Mason and packed with masterclasses, workshops, readings and more – featuring A.L.Kennedy, Kreider+O’Leary and the Death Café in due course – the full schedule for the 12-18th October festival can be viewed on the site, or downloadable as a .pdf.
The online journal dedicated to different approaches to contemporary prose-poetry sees a new issue this month, with pieces by Rowland Bagnall, Charles Bane, Jr., Fern Angel Beattie and Glenn R. Frantz.
Jungftak‘s new flight also features Sam Rossi-Harries, Jessica Schouela, Scherezade Siobhan and Hugh Smith. I am particularly pleased to be able to include extracts from Hygiene in Reading, the chapbook by Patrick Williams (no relation) that recently was awarded the 2015 Chris Toll Prize. As ever, all the artwork on the site is by Catherine Williams (every relation) whose work can be found here.
The new issue of The Lonely Crowd features my short story Bs, and it was a great pleasure to read for the journal’s Cardiff launch with Robert Minhinnick, John Freeman, Jo Mazelis, Mark Blayney, Kate North, Gary Raymond and Chris Cornwell. Many thanks to editor John Lavin for the invitation and opportunity, to the other writers and to our Coffi House hosts. More information – with photographs from fellow Lonely Crowder Jo Mazelis – available here.
I was recently granted a spot on For Every Year‘s roster, the ongoing online project conducted by Crispin Best that looks to commission ‘a story or poem for every year since 1400. Or something else’. At time of writing, the site includes work by Emily Berry, Harry Burke, Sam Riviere and many-uninked-lifetimes-of-others all collated here.
My piece is dedicated to 1785 and the birth year of Jacob Grimm, one half of Die Brüder Grimm / Die Gebrüder Grimm and their famous Fairy Tales: linguist, folklorist, lexicographer and suprapositivist Romantic conceiver of legal policy (as we all are, in our own way). Many thanks to For Every Year, and to Louisa and the team behind the Pentales’ Hemingway Residency whose generous time and space in 2013 allowed some research that went into the final poem.
Independent publishing house Penned in the Margins is holding a series of literary salons in the capital this year, featuring Helen MacDonald, Iain Sinclair, Joe Dunthorne and Tim Clare.
I will be appearing at the third of these events alongside Forward Prize-winning Kei Miller, poet Luke Kennard and Antosh Wojcik. It will be held at The Forge at 7pm, 15th September 2015: more details available here.
July update: Unfortunately the series had to be cancelled due to circumstances beyond the organiser’s control. Belay that diary order.
I’m pleased to be appearing on the roster of writers at this year’s Stoke Newington Literary Festival. The whole programme spans a long weekend in June and has Bidisha, Owen Jones, Will Self and Lucy Inglis as just some headliners.
As part of the festival, Kit Catless and Gary Budden at Influx Press are hosting a whole day of readings and talks at the White Hart featuring Test Centre press, Unofficial Britain (‘a hub for unusual perspectives on the landscape of the British Isles, exploring the urban, the rural and those spaces in between’), the Media Diversified organisation and George F with his Total Shambles.
I’ll be reading in their final slot alongside writers from Influx’s stable and Galley Beggar Press, including Clare Fisher, Paul Ewen, Sam Berkson, Dan Duggan, Alex Pheby, Anthony Trevelyan and Eloise Millar reading Megan Dunn.
6th June at 9pm with music.