10 July 2017

Science and fiction and other stuff

So, Manchester International Festival is in full swing, and I've managed to snaffle some comps and have had my first MIF 2017 event review published on Manchester Confidential. It was for the world premiere and for-one-night-only concert-come-film Last and First Men, at The Bridgewater Hall; created by Johan Johansson and adapted from the sci-fi novel by Olaf Stapledon. This book, I noted happily, was at the Blackwells pop-up store at bluedot festival at Jodrell Bank (pictured), which I went to yesterday, courtesy the Centre for New Writing. You can read all about what I thought of Last and First Men here.

22 April 2017

Re/Place(d) - site-specific storytelling

New creative writing project Re/Place(d) just launched! Read all about it here.

18 April 2017

Word search

Manchester's best avant garde poetry night, The Other Room, recently celebrated its ninth birthday, with a temporary shift of venue to the King's Arms in Salford in order to accommodate a choir. There were noises, repetition and bubbles, as in the kind kids blow about. The rather excellent event also saw the launch of the experimentalists' ninth anthology, which brings together work contributed by all the artists who have performed at The Other Room over the last year, including yours truly. Loving the word search-inspired cover. Get a copy here. One third of TOR organisers, Tom Jenks, will be reading at the official launch of David Gaffney's new novel, All The Places I've Ever Lived, on 18 May at The Wonder Inn. See more here.

21 March 2017

Funny flash fiction, haha

Just out! The Funny Bone anthology has been published by Flash: The International Short-short Story Press. It includes 60 flashes by 60 authors (including yours truly plus David Gaffney, Tania Hershman, Vanessa Debbie, Nik Perring, Lydia Davis, Roddy Doyle... oh I could go on). Feel rather honoured to have been asked to submit alongside some amazing flash fiction pioneers. Profits go to Comic Relief - order a copy here: http://www.chester.ac.uk/flash.fiction/press

03 March 2017

Parks and recreation

It may be mizzling as I post this link, but my trusty Met Office app reckons the weather's going to buck up over the weekend, perfect for getting a bit of fresh air. Here is a guide I've just written for Creative Tourist, picking out some of the parks and gardens we have in the Rainy City. Feel free to use it. You're welcome. (Pictured below: Didsbury Park.)

03 February 2017

Call and response

A couple of weeks back, the Manchester Evening News published an article by writer Adam O'Riordan (no stranger to the press recently, having just published both a short story collection and a poetry book) about the live literature scene in the rainy city. You can read it here. It was good to see live lit getting some column inches, but a few regulars to the variety of events on offer were a bit underwhelmed to read nothing about any of these. University of Manchester student Roma Havers gathered a few quotes from writers, performers and event organisers, and has just published a response in The Mancunion, apparently Britain's biggest student newspaper and where I cut my journalistic teeth some years back. You can read Roma's feature here. For the piece, I submitted the following words...

I was pleased to see an article in the MEN about poetry in Manchester, but was immediately struck by how university-centric it was. Not one of the entries picked by Adam O’Riordan (as it happens, the new Academic Director of the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Met) was independent of one of the larger establishments; even Poet in the City featured MMU’s Helen Mort on the bill. It might have been nice to mention the great live lit and spoken word scene in Manchester, and how many established as well as one-off events there are. Stalwarts like multi-Sabotage Award-winner Bad Language, Evidently (hand-picked by Guy Garvey to showcase their wares at last summer’s Meltdown Festival on London’s Southbank), exponents of the experimental The Other Room (nine years old this spring), Stirred and Penchant at 3MT, Speakeasy and Beatification in the ’burbs… Yes, there are a lot to list, and maybe that’s why they didn’t, but to not even give a nod to the amazing scene of live lit seemed a little, well, rude. Aside from the resident nights, there’s a regular turnaround of visiting speakers, not least through Manchester Literature Festival, which has been going under that moniker for a decade (bursting out of the chrysalis of the Manchester Poetry Festival). No mention. No mention of the invaluable work of the likes of Young Identity at the Contact, or community events, reaching out to those less engaged in the arts, such as Scribble Festival organised by Cartwheel. No mention of how big the live lit scene is, and how many students and former students of the universities support it. The evening before the feature was published, I was one of 26 performers at the Manchester leg of the North by North West Poetry Tour, bringing together writers from around the region for specially commissioned collaborations – another example of how creative the independent scene is. Verbose turned two this week, once again welcoming three curated headliners and ten open micers to its stage. For the uninitiated, I’m afraid Adam’s piece might be offputting – there’s more to live lit than lecturers’ launches.

05 January 2017

Happy New Year!

Right, that darn 2016 is finally over and I'm back at my desk here at Words & Fixtures Towers, working on a number of projects, including a collaborative piece with the inimitable Fat Roland, host of Bad Language. This brand-new work is for the North by North West Poetry Tour, curated by the Enemies Project (aka poet SJ Fowler) and Zimzalla (aka Tom Jenks of The Other Room experimental poetry night). Check out my write-up on the tour over on Creative Tourist. Fats and I will be performing the specially created story at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation on Saturday 14 January, on a bill alongside lots of great talent from round these parts. Check out the Enemies Project website for the line-up here. It's free in, so hope to see you there!