13092084_1064576713617687_4188212781470577986_nIt was an absolute privilege to work with poets S J Fowler, Luke Kennard, Zaza Koshkadze and Lia Liqokeli as part of this year’s International Festival of Literature in Tbilisi, Georgia. The full programme can be seen here on the Georgian Writer’s House’s dedicated site; it was a wonderful week of collaboration, reading and exploration. S J Fowler’s account of the trip can be read on his dedicated journal, and some footage of the collaborations can be seen on the Enemies’ project website. Thank you to the Writers’ House on-site angel Davit Gabunia for co-curating, and to the International Literature Showcase Fund and the British Council for their support.

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It was great to celebrate the ten year anniversary of the brilliant Rich Mix centre with a Camarade poetry event. Brought together by the redoubtable S J Fowler, the full line-up featured:

Sandeep Parmar & James Byrne
Carol Watts & George Szirtes
Mark Waldron & Rebecca Perry
Prudence Chamberlain & Eley Williams
Giovanna Coppola & Clover Peake
Mischa Foster Poole & Chrissy Williams
Julia Lewis & Harry Man
Tasimbaradzwa Kanyangarara & Susie Campbell
Rachel Long & Elizabeth-Jane Burnett
Kathryn Maris & Amy Key

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Videos of all the performances can be found on the Enemies’ dedicated blog. The Camarade series began at Rich Mix and I will always be grateful for the collaborations and work that I have been able to encounter at the centre both as audience and participant. Wonderful, too, to have the opportunity to work with Prue Chamberlain again not least because she has a number of new works being published this year. Nice nice nice nice.

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World Book Night is an annual event to promote links between literacy and well-being, organised by The Reading Agency. I was delighted to turn up for a nocturnal stint at Goldsmiths in support the campaign as part of an evening that featured from staff and students from the university’s Black British Writing MA, current Creative Writing MA students as curated by LitLive, and performances by Iphgenia Baal and Julia Calver with The Literary Kitchen.  My thanks to Andrea Mason for the opportunity, and for the team at Goldsmiths’ Library for all their hard work.

In April I was lucky enough to participate in ‘Drawing Breath’, an evening of live reading and art. To take the wording from its website (from which the pictures above are taken, shot by Karoliina Helosuo), the project set out to ‘stage an encounter between spoken and visual language through a set of simultaneous performances’; without any prior introduction, and with each reading lasting only five minutes, an artist would respond in real-time to a writer’s performed text in front of the audience. Nik Nightingale was the artist I was paired with: his beautiful response to my piece can be seen above!

Other writer-artist pairings on the night include Daisy Thurston-Gent & Zeel, Ella Frears & Aurélie Freoua, Lisa Luxx & Spike Zephaniah Stephenson, Patrick Cash & Paola Pinna, Matt Martin & Claudia Juhre, Becky Moses & Sebastian T. Sjöstrand, Andrew Wells & Sarah Dawson, Francis Byrne & Helen Wyatt, Keleigh Wolf & Valerie Pezeron, Tim Kiely & Francis Byrne & Spike Z. Stephenson

Many thanks to curator Iris Colomb, host Zorro Maplestone and to the Ziferblat space.

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06/04/2016

Pleased to have worked with Prof. Adam Roberts this academic year, teaching Children’s Literature with brilliant third-year undergraduates at Royal Holloway, University of London.

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ENGLISH PEN
I was honoured to write and read as part of English PEN Writers at Risk‘s literary festival in London this April. It was a full day in solidarity with the work that PEN seeks to achieve – defending and promoting freedom of expression, and specifically campaigning on behalf of oppressed writers throughout the world.

I was writing directly in response to the writer Tsering Woeser, the Tibetan activist, essayist and poet who has faced house-arrest and censorship. She is incredible. Some of her articles can be found here and here.

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The full schedule was as follows:

Harry Man on Maung Saung Kha
David Berridge on Dawit Isaak
Kirsten Irving on Nurmuhemmet Yasin
Jen Calleja on Gao Yu
SJ Fowler on Khadija Ismayilova
Dave Spittle on Ahmedur Rashid Chowdhury
Prudence Chamberlain on Patiwat Saraiyaem and Pornthip Munkhong
Robert Hampson on Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace
Adam Baron on Can Dündar and Erdem Gül
Andrew McMillan on Ashraf Fayadh
Eley Williams on Tsering Woeser
Sam Winston (with Jamie Perera) on Zunar
Lucy Harvest Clarke on Liu Xia
Stephen Emmerson on Dina Meza
Alex MacDonald on Alaa Abd El Fattah
Drew Milne on Omar Hazek
Oli Hazzard on Enoh Meyomesse
Caleb Klaces on Jorge Olivera Castillo
Tim Atkins on Liu Xiaobo
Caroline Bergvall on Sanjuana Martínez Montemayor
Emily Critchley on Mahvash Sabet
Andra Simons on Amanuel Asrat
Sarah Kelly on Nelson Aguilera
Allen Fisher on Mamadali Makhmudov
Nathan Walker on Mohammed al-‘Ajami
Michael Zand on U Zeya
Mark Waldron on Zhu Yufu
Mark Ravenhill on Mazen Darwish and Yara Bader
Emily Berry on Raif Badawi

Co-curator S J Fowler gave an excellent and important account of the day here, which includes videos of the performances, while the official PEN blog can be found here. Many thanks to Cat Lucas at PEN for her dedication and hard work; please do consider reading more about PEN’s work and what membership might mean for their organisation: https://www.englishpen.org/

 

Images and video courtesy of PEN America, and the Enemies Project.

Silvia Koller with a Bird Cage

‘Silvia Koller with a Bird Cage’ (c.1907) oil/canvas, 100 x 100 cm – Collection Eisenberger, Vienna

As part of the Kakania project, I was able to present my commissioned response to the figure of Broncia Koller-Pinell during the symposium at the Austrian Cultural Forum dedicated to aspects of Habsburg Vienna. The day’s events were led and curated by Dr. Diane Silverthorne and S J Fowler; the Kakania poets spoke after a number of fascinating talks, including one by Dr. Silverthorne on expressionist landscapes in music and art, a paper by Dr. Leslie Topp that drew links between topics of ‘madness’, architecture and Vienna, followed by a presentation by Jamie Ruers on Cabaret Fledermaus. Other poets included Vicky Sparrow on Margarethe Wittgenstein, Stephen Emmerson on his multi-part performance art response on Rainer Maria Rilke, and by Marcus Slease writings on Max Kurzweil. There was also a screening of ALTENBERG: The Little Pocket Mirror, a fascinating documentary by David Bickerstaff and Gemma Blackshaw.

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22/03/2016

Delighted to have been awarded my doctorate by Royal Holloway, University of London. Many thanks to my examiners Prof. Patricia Duncker and Dr. Richard Hamblyn, and to my supervisors Prof. Judith Hawley, Dr. Kristen Kreider and Prof. Andrew Motion for all of their encouragement, candour and patience along the way. My thesis Unclear Definitions: Investigating Dictionaries’ Fictitious Entries through Creative and Critical Writing will no doubt be a staple addition to bedside bookshelves up and down the country.

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20/03/2016

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Proud to be part of the editorial board at Copy Press, the publishers of the Common Intellectual books (including a new edition of The Bound Man and other stories by Ilse Aichinger), the series Paraclete, the new Loop project series of work, and the curators of a dedicated Reader’s Union.

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I am delighted to be working as Fiction Editor for 3:AM Magazine, commissioning and editing pieces for this fantastic and important site. I have long been an avid reader and proud contributor; I can’t wait to be of use, and attempt to prove some mettle on the other side of the submissions’ desk. Fiction, poetry, essays, reviews and interviews all available here.