Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Poem in the Irish Examiner!

I just discovered today that one of the poems from my chapbook, Nothing Here Is Wild, Everything Is Open - which is being launched next week at the Cork Poetry Festival! - was published in the Irish Examiner as their Tuesday poem! It's print-only, see below, hopefully it's readable! What a lovely surprise...

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Short story talk...

I've been asked to waffle on about short stories quite a lot recently, I thought I'd share it all with you - first, here are a blue-tinged me and Kirsty Logan at Fictions Of Every Kind in Leeds in November, talking about short stories and writing:

Next, I was honored to be interviewed over at The Short Story, here's a snippet:

How has the editing process informed your own work?
What an interesting question! First, I have to say that it’s far easier to spot things in someone else’s work than it is in your own. What I do when I offer suggestions on someone else’s story is to remember to come at it from within what the writer wants to do, not how I would write that story.

And this week the wonderful folk at the Bristol Short Story Prize, for whom I am a judge this year, asked me a few more questions:
What influence do you think doing a PhD has had on your writing?

As a short story writer – and now also a poet – while I loved what I was doing, no-one was really waiting for me to do anything, by which I mean, I imposed my own deadlines, motivated myself. I didn’t have an agent chivvying me, for example. So the main reason for me to undertake a PhD in Creative Writing was to have a framework, to get gently yet firmly chivvied!  
You may discover that I disagree with myself in these interviews - any thoughts on your own writing processes, what competitions mean to you? Please do share in the comments!

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Arvon flash course + new poems

I'm beyond thrilled to be one of the tutors for Arvon's very first course in flash fiction in August 2016! For those of you who don't know Arvon, they are an amazing organisation running 5-day residential creative writing courses at their centres in Shropshire, Devon and Yorkshire, and going on 3 of their courses over the first 10 years of my writing life changed everything for me, each time anew. I can't recommend them highly enough. Now, they are rather pricier than they used to be - £750 for a single room, £700 for shared room - but they do offer grants for those who can't afford this, saying:
"Last year we were able to help more than 90% of all writers who applied. Priority is given to first time Arvon writers. Writers can apply for any amount up to the full course fee, although most receive between £200 and £400."
The range of courses gets wider every year - not just short stories, poetry, novels, but graphic novels, songwriting, memoir etc... Check out what's on offer. If you fancy having fun with me and Dave Swann, my mutli-talented co-tutor (and our special guest, Carrie Etter) then we would love to have you!

That's all to look forward to, but in the meantime, I'm delighted to have two new prose poems in the latest issue, Issue 3, of The Lonely Crowd, a gorgeous print magazine which is stuffed full of so much good writing, it's hard to know where to start.  I've already read two stunning stories by Jenn Ashworth and Jane Roberts, am pacing myself before devouring the rest. You can read an introduction to the issue by editor John Lavin, in which he rather delightfully describes my contribution as "two playfully allusive prose poems that serve to add a dancing-light-like quality" - and can listen to me reading them here!

I also have a new poem in the Winter 2015 issue of one of my favourite lit mags, Stinging Fly, accompanied by what guest editor Billy Ramsell calls a "souterrain", a strange and creative prose piece he asked several of us to write, describing the origins of our poems.

Finally, should you be stuck for festive gifts, Bloomsbury are offering a 40-45% discount on books, including Writing Short Stories: A Writers and Artists Companion - head this way!
And there's our lovely general-relativity-inspired short story anthology too, of course >>

I am looking forward to 2016  - which will involve events in Hampshire, Cheltenham, Birmingham, London - as well as the launch of my poetry chapbook in Cork! I am open to other invitations, please do drop me an email.

I will also (I will, I will) be finishing my book for my PhD. Oh yes. And kicking off a few new projects which will require your involvement, funding permitting - so watch this space!

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Over Land, Over Sea: Poems for Those Seeking Refuge

This gorgeous poetry anthology, Over Land, Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge, edited by Emma Lee, Kathleen Bell, Siobhan Logan, has just been published, by Five Leaves Publications,and at just £9.99 - with all proceeds from sales of the book  shared between the charities Médecins Sans Frontières, Leicester City of Sanctuary and Nottingham Refugee Forum - it makes a wonderful gift that can help in more ways than just the enjoyment of the writing, sending aid to those who have no homes and are looking for a better life than the one they left behind.

Here's a little more about the book:

An anthology of 101 poems expressing solidarity with the refugees who are currently receiving so little welcome as they take to boats and rafts to cross the Mediterranean and make their way with difficulty through Europe. Readers are invited to take a view of the situation which is not governed by the fear and hatred whipped up by the language of media and many politicians.

The book has been produced in the East Midlands by an editorial committee, typesetter and publisher working free of charge, with the initial print costs were covered by a crowdfunding campaign

Contributors include: Alan Baker, Kathleen Bell, A.C. Clarke, Kerry Featherstone, Chrissie Gittins, Mark Goodwin, Tania Hershman, Siobhan Logan, Emma Lee, Carol Leeming, Joanne Limburg, Aoife Mannix, Roy Marshall, Hubert Moore, Thomas Orszag-Lund, Simon Perril, Sheenagh Pugh, Mahendra Solanki, Maria Taylor, Rory Waterman, Gregory Woods.
You can get hold of a copy direct from Inpress Books here.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

My performance at Sanctum Bristol!

So there's been this rather amazing happening in Bristol over the past few weeks - Sanctum, an initiative of American artist and initiator of public art projects, Theaster Gates. For 24 days, there was continuous, 24-hour sound of one sort or another in a brand-new structure which was built for this purpose inside the ruins of Temple Church in the centre of the city. And the sound? That was provided by hundreds of Bristol-based performers (and they let in a few non-Bristolians!) playing music, talking, reading, or creating in other ways! I was delighted to have been offered 3 slots - one at midnight, one at 2.40am (!) and one today at noon - to read some of my short stories and poems.

The whole experience was magical! Each performance had a different feel - Sanctum didn't release a programme, so people turned up not knowing who or what they would hear. I wandered by several times just to see what was playing...

At my midnight reading on Oct 31st there were rather a lot of zombies, it being Halloween... And at 2.40am, where I had expected it would just be me and the sound guys, there were 4 audience members and 3 staff! Today, I followed the amazing Tribe of Peace, a drumming and musical ensemble that had everyone dancing. I changed the atmosphere a little by reading mostly science-inspired short short stories and poetry for 20 minutes... if you'd like to listen, here it is!