Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bits of news, interview and poetry

Quick check-in, I haven't been much in a blogging mood recently, but do have something I want to discuss, when I have mulled it over. In the meantime, some tidbits: I'm interviewed over at the excellent UK Booktrust reading and writing charity today. Their tagline is "inspiring a love of books" and they do such great work, please take a wander around their site. I'm chatting about short stories, poetry, writing. Here's a snippet;
I read everything. EVERYTHING. As a kid I read the backs of cereal packs during breakfast, I couldn't stop reading. If it is well-written, I'll read it (okay, cereal boxes not so much): fiction, poetry, non-fiction, whatever. But for me only the short story is actually capable of perfection, and I know that because I have read many stories I consider perfect. They cause me physical pain when I read them, and that's what I want from great writing. To be shaken up, to be a different person, when I finish reading a story, even if that story is half a page long. And the best short stories do that, again and again and again. Who wouldn't be addicted to that kind of experience? I tell anyone who says that short stories leave them unsatisfied, wanting more, that they clearly have never read a really great story, because they wouldn't feel like that. No way. 

 On the subject of poetry, I have two poems in the British poetry journal Tears in the Fence, which is my first appearance in a print poetry journal, I feel like it's a really momentous event for me. The poems are a sort of sequence (can two be a sequence?) which is also a first, and they are imaginatively titled "1" and "2". Must get better at titles. So, the year of poetry is going very well.

I wanted to leave you with this, which is part of what I want to talk more about, but here, watch this video for a start, maybe this will kick of a discussion:

Friday, January 18, 2013

And We Were Hungry Short Story Contest

I received an email from these nice folk asking me to give them a shout-out on the blog. While I can't vouch for them, I have no connection to the magazine or the competition, it does sound interesting, and with no entry fee and a large prize, I will leave it up to you to decide!

AndWeWereHungry, a new online arts & literary magazine, seeks literary prose (fiction, nonfiction and essay), poetry, photography and artwork for debut issue & calls for entries to its short story competition!
The debut issue and short story contest (four winners shall share a total prize fund of $5000), is sponsored by "Ashes & Snow" artist Gregory Colbert. Debut issue & contest submission theme or creative prompt is "And we were hungry. . . .," or more broadly, "HUNGER." For after all haven't we all experienced hunger? And isn't it, in the words of Ray Bradbury, that very "lack that gives us inspiration?"
Consideration for contest's top prize of $2000 is reserved for stories that connect the theme with nature. Contributors are encouraged to otherwise freely interpret the theme. Submission deadline is March 31, 2013. Submission Guidelines, more info and themes & deadlines for future issues are found at While there are no contest entry or submissions reading fees, we are not a paying market at this time.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Poetry longlisting!

So, my year of poetry is going pretty well - my poem Me and Elvis Presley on Dartmoor, has been longlisted for the Gregory O'Donogue poetry prize! Congratulations to the winner, Judith Barrington, the other prize winners, the commended and the longlisted, I am in fine company!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Overheard Launch Video

So I am only just getting used to, well, appearing on film! And I thought I wouldn't want to watch the video made of the launch last week of the excellent Overheard anthology of Stories to Read Aloud (Salt Publishing), but actually, it's great, and I think I did okay, so here it is! I'm 29 mins in, but don't skip those 29 mins, such a fabulous range of stories, from the editor Jonathan Taylor, and contributors including Vanessa Gebbie, Micheline Wandor, Katy Derby, Ailsa Cox, Gemma Seltzer, Felicity Skelton - and and so many others...

Buy the book here!

Monday, January 07, 2013

Literature for Social Change

I wanted to direct your attention towards a blog post by my wise and talented friend Sue Guiney. It's a reprint of her article in the recent issue of "The Author", the magazine of the UK's Society of Authors, and its subject is literature for social change. What Sue wrote really made me think, and her topic is an important one, especially in this strange time here in the UK where the new school leaving exam seems to be dropping Arts subjects. Here's a taster of what happened after Sue's 2nd novel, A Clash of Innocents, set in Cambodia, was published:

I am a writer. I write stories about people I make up. So that should have been the end of it, right? Wrong, because the best part of the story was yet to come.
Many of us are lucky enough to go off and be inspired. Some of us can then create something out of that inspiration. But I realised I was one of the happy few who could bring the fruit of that inspiration back to the people who inspired me in the first place. And so I connected with a shelter in Siem Reap called Anjali House, which provides support for street kids and their families, and through them I founded a writing workshop for their teenagers. There I teach them to write poetry and stories in English, we publish a literary magazine, and then we hold a party where the kids stand up in front of a room of supporters and read from their work. I am now committed to running this programme three times a year, once on-site in Siem Reap, the other times via the internet.
When I came back to London from Cambodia after first setting up the workshop, everyone congratulated me. ‘What an incredible thing you’ve done!’ they all said. ‘How did you ever think of it?’ Everyone was amazed. But I was amazed by their reaction. I didn’t do anything special. I didn’t believe there was anything unusual about me that led to this attempt at social change.

... Read the rest of Sue's article here, and leave your thoughts on writing and social activism, it's something really worth discussing.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Nice way to start 2013...

... My Mother Was An Upright Piano: Fictions is reviewed in the latest issue of Flash: The International Short Story Story magazine, in the excellent company of Nick Parker's The Exploding Boy, the Flash Fiction Day anthology Jawbreakers (in which my story Stopwatching gets a kind mention) and collections by Etgar Keret and Jon McGregor.

In her review Louisa Yates says:
"A worthy successor to her 2008 debut... MMWAUP is at its strongest when dealing with matter, whether it takes the form of Google hits, neutrinos or moth's wings... As an assemblage of particles and people, Hershman's latest collection is a refreshing take on the brief meetings, one-off connections and partial viewpoints that are so often the subject of very short fictions."
I had said that I wasn't going to read any reviews but it's really fascinating to me how each reviewer sees different things, I love Louisa's talk about matter and particles in relation to my fictions, and it's always such a privilege when someone engages so deeply with my writing, it's a joy. 

Flash is a great magazine, available in print only, do go and get a copy, there are many excellent stories such as Husbandry by Eliezra Schaffzin, very short and very powerful, as the best flash fiction must be. A great read.