09 May 2021

Words, no pictures

Since last we spoke, dear reader, I've of course been to lots of events, including reading at Virtual Verbose, when Nicholas Royle and Naomi Booth headlined, and travelling far and wide from the comfort of my own home. 

I've been to a Poetry London shindig featuring Holly Pester (seen IRL some time back at Rory Cook's rather wonderful but short-lived Sunday soir salon Murmur), to a Glasgow hook-up with NYC-based Bernadette Mayer (fabulous, and a nice continual update on the snowfall in downtown), to Kendal Poetry Festival and the ever-brilliant Vahni Capildeo, to a Bad Betty launch, a Carcanet New Poetries VIII showcase, a "workshop" (more of a chat with Jerome de Groot, really) with Zaffar Kunial, to some StAnza stuff - a visual poetry talk with Chris McCabe and Astra Papachristodoulou, and the annual lecture, with Jacqueline Saphra, talking about her recent lockdown work - to Manchester's own No Matter, to another Live From The Butchery in Norfolk, featuring Jen Hadfield way up north in the Scottish islands, to an Arvon gig with Rebecca Watson (whose little scratch I'm about to embark upon reading), to a Welsh innovative poetry evening from Sheffield's Centre for Poetry and Poetics and Blackbox Manifold, featuring Lyndon Davies among others, to Poets & Players' first foray into the online event world (love their Reemergence prize winner Susan Shepherd's stuff), and to the Guillemot Press launch of Suzannah V Evans's new boatyard-based book Brightwork, also with a reading from Eleanor Rees, who spoke of the Red Rocks on the Wirral. How lovely!

My own Hilbre Island flash fiction found a home this month in the Irish e-zine Splonk (there's also an interview with a certain David Gaffney in there) and I've had some more pieces published, mostly poetry, which is all very exciting and encouraging. I have a piece in Poetry Scotland magazine, another (a 'Daily Permissible Exercises') with Osmosis Press and another pinned on the Litfest Places Of Poetry map here. Upcoming, my collaboration with Jazmine Linklater is coming out in the PN Review OuLiPo supplement, edited by Philip Terry, and I have a concrete poem in the Summer 2021 issue of Firmament from Sublunary Editions and an experimental piece in this week's instalment of PERVERSE. I'm reading next week at an event launching a Joan Eardley centenary anthology project organised by Colin Herd and Sam Small (more here) and on 8 July at this year's European Poetry Festival, organised by SJ Fowler, and for which I've arranged to hook up with Lydia Unsworth, whose recent lipograms I've been enjoying, along with loads of her previous work.

I've managed to do some more 'Daily Permissible Exercises', a year on from the first time, and I've written a few things for specific deadlines and invitations. Nonetheless, I've been feeling that I've not done enough writing (I suddenly got inundated with freelance work, including proofreading a book about French châteaux and writing copy for an annual report on climate change targets), but I aim to change that, having an upcoming rest from work for a week or perhaps a little longer booked into my diary. Phew. I'd fix the fonts in this post, but I have to go out and drink wine and show off my new haircut. I'm sorry.

17 February 2021

Onwards and upwards

Since my last missive, the UK has been in a prolonged lockdown starting midnight 4 November (a free-for-all on Christmas Day aside) and 2021 has got off to a somewhat bumpy start, with the sad passing of my lovely cat Pushkin, the founder of modern Russian literature, obvs, and featuring floods, pestilence and various other shitstorms demanding my weathering. Still, onwards and, hopefully, upwards - spring bulbs are starting to shake their sleepy heads and I just noticed the honeysuckle by the back door sending forth some new shoots and leaves. 

Event wise, I've had to duck out of a few I was hoping to go to, what with one thing or another, but before the festive period (or lack thereof), I did manage to visit Nottingham, where Lila Matsumoto hosted Samantha Walton (and her colleague Vicky Sparrow more recently welcomed Zarf's Callie Gardner live from Glasgow), and Sheffield, where Iris Colomb was the star of the show at the December outing for the Centre for Poetry & Poetics Safe Readings Series, hosted by Ágnes Lehóczky.

In the New Year, I listened as Lucy Burnett explained her new crossword book, out with Guillemot Press, and visual poet Derek Beaulieu and visual artist Rhys Farrell described their collaborative processes for Lens Flare, and I watched a bit of a showcase as Mau Baiocco, Kirsty Dunlop, Fred Spoliar and No Matter's Nell Osborne joined Maria Sledmere to celebrate her recent Guillemot launch alongside Kyle Lovell with his Broken Sleep Books Legitimate Snack pamphlet.

In sherry-drinking open season, I also did some readings, including on the open mic at prose poet extraordinaire Anne Caldwell's double book launch with Matthew Hedley Stoppard, hosted by Leeds Libraries, and at Rachel Davies' 4Word pamphlet launch, featuring Hilary Robinson, Kim Moore and others. I also had the absolute pleasure of collaborating with Andrea Mason for the most recent outing of The Other (pictured above), when writers swap work to read. Like me - so a very fortuitous pairing; thanks to the Fates! - Andrea is big on deploying constraints in her work and she sent me a piece made using the verbs from a source text to create her own work, which was published by Sublunary Editions. I'm super-pleased that Andrea is on the shortlist for The Manchester Writing Prize.

I'm still striving to develop my practice, so I've applied for a few things, not always successfully, but hey if you don't ask you don't get, and I've been putting my name down for various upcoming workshops and talks. I joined the audience for the Northern Writer Awards Roadshow looking at getting poetry published, hosted by Will Mackie, and featuring Uni of York's JT Welsch, writer Rommi Smith, Hannah Bannister of Peepal Tree Press and Jo Clement of The Butcher's Dog journal (above image). All very useful, especially as I make headway into the uncharted territory of getting my debut pamphlet out there...