I recently gave a talk at my department’s postgraduate practice-based research seminar series in Bloomsbury, presenting under the title ‘The Zebra Did It: Dictionaries as Loci for Surreptitious Fictions’. The hour was an opportunity to present the various – occasionally digressive to the point of weasels – strategies by which I’m approaching my thesis and the ways in which factual dictionaries might be judged to contain or reveal fictitious and fictional content and whether such content can be assessed as ‘creative’ work. I also touched upon the problematic ethics of lexicography (its attempts to ‘register’ rather than ‘fix’ language and vice versa, for example), literary hoaxes, and dictionaries and encyclopedias’ permeability as texts.
Thanks to Dr. Kristen Kreider for setting up this great series, fellow participant and performance-philosopher Nik Wakefield, Prue Chamberlain for keeping me in coffee and to all the seminarees for their varied, nuanced and irritatingly useful psychotomimetic questions.
As a member of Royal Holloway, University of London’s purpureus group, January saw the first of a series of readings of short fiction held in rooms off Gower Street. Writer Ali Smith kindly agreed to put all of our efforts to shame and kept the audience rapt and ready with her short story ‘Last’ from the OxTales: Fire anthology; huge thanks to her and to my fellow readers Ishita Mandrekar, Dimitris Melicertes, Preti Taneja and Emma Venables for making purpureus’ first event such an enjoyment to-the-extent-I-was-apparently-moved-to-perform-Beneficent-Condor-impressions:
Thanks also to Ben Crowe and Aamir Mehar for being on hand to assist. Copies of Ali Smith’s new work Artful are available to buy here, with recommendations to do so to be found here, here, here and here.
On Friday 18th January, Annexe Magazine hosted another evening of comedy, spoken word(s) and music at the Theatre Delicatessen in Marylebone. There was milk, some library books and a space formerly used by the BBC London offices, as well as fantastic sets by Inua Ellams, Phil Mann and Talia Randall.
Annexe‘s inhouse visual laboratory (and his laptop propped up on two pieces of wood) meant that I was able to read my piece with a whole projected wall of accompanying illustrations segueing and blinking behind me. Sharing a stage with an animated six foot piece of buttered toast has long been an ambition of mine – thundering squeezes to the team for making that a reality.