Travellers Tales: First Event

Two weeks ago, I hosted the first of what I hope will become a regular event, Travellers Tales. The Sunday evening event is an opportunity for people to talk about all forms of travel, from holidays to business trips, from tours to kidnappings.

I was lucky enough to have three excellent speakers for the launch. Melita Dennett spoke about her visit to Hitler’s holiday camp; then Naomi Foyle, spoke about a trip made to Iraq to perform poetry. Finally, Sooxanne spoke about travelling to Pripyat, the town near to Chernobyl.

I wanted to hold this event as I felt that travel stories aren’t well served by Facebook posts and online photo albums. Giving someone fifteen minutes to talk about their trip allows them to explore it in a deeper way than social media or one-to-one talks allow. I’d had conversations with all three speakers about their trips, but still leaned new things in this format. It gave the stories space to breathe.

Our first event was held at the Hotel Pelirocco. Not having the talks lit up on a stage also worked well, making things more intimate and friendly. I have some amazing speakers lined up for the next event, which will be announced as soon as I’ve sorted out the date and venue.

Thanks to Kate Shields for the photos!

Launch night for Rosy Carrick’s Chokey

June looks like a pretty exciting month (World cup! Birthday! Trip to Glastonbury!) but the highlight is the launch of Rosy’s pamphlet Chokey (tickets available for £5 from the Rialto website). The event will be incredible, with performances, tattoo parlour, ‘beefcake videos’, themed cocktails and an actual real life chokey. I’ve never seen a spoken word event with this much planning and complexity. You must come!

Me, modelling the fashion accessory of the summer

For me, personally, the launch of this book is a huge event. I’m listed in the acknowledgements, where Rosy thanks me for help with editing the poems, and “for living through them with me for the last twelve years”. I don’t know that I’ve done much real editing, although it’s been fun discussing these poems in workshops, fields and late nights over the years. But I’ve definitely felt the intensity of living through these poems.

The thing I love most about poetry is the way that it captures intensely personal moments and opens them up for other people. No other artform does this for me in such a powerful way . Seeing these poems collected together in a single volume was like a reunion with old friends. It’s beautiful to see them gathered together to set out into the world.

Of course I love these poems, although some are difficult to re-read. Most striking of all is the penultimate poem, Thickening Water, an intense eight-page poem. I’ve seen it performed a couple of times and it’s breathtaking.

Rosy is having something of an imperial phase right now, having just done three Brighton dates for her show Passionate Machine (for more see this interview or review from the source). I turned up as a character in that, which was a weird experience, seeing some events from my life recontextualised. It was also good to see an explanation of what had been happening over the past few years, with Rosy’s weird trips and the odd letters that keep arriving.

(The other day I saw a stranger who looked like an older version of Rosy, and my first thought was that it must be Future Rosy, popping back in time).

Art is a beautiful, transformative thing, a way to share our feelings and our lives. It makes the world a better place.

2/6/18: More reviews for Passionate Machine:

Brighton Festival and Fringe 2018

It’s that time of year when Present James commits Future James to attending lots of events, even though Current James can’t stand the idea of going out two nights in a row. It’s great that the Fringe brings so much great entertainment, but it would be better to have it spread out across the year. There are too many things happening in a short time.

Of course, May’s highlight will be seeing the full version of Rosy’s show Passionate Machine. She performed a version of this in a previous fringe, and since then has been working with producers and dramaturges, meaning that the new version will knock people’s socks off. You can read about it in this interview with Rosy. I’m going to the Monday show.

  • Sh!t Theatre’s Letter to Windsor House is one of my favourite ever theatrical things, and I can’t wait to see DollyWould. I saw a version at Latitude last year and it was great: cloning, body farms and Dolly Parton!
  • The main festival is curated by David Shrigley, whose contributions include Life Model II, which replaces “the live model with David Shrigley’s caricatured sculpture of a nine-foot-tall woman“. So, not problematic at all. Kate Shields is one of the people appearing at a (free but ticketed) discussion panel at Fabrica on May 2nd, Between Artist and Model. Is this the art equivalent of an automated till?
  • Sunday May 6th, there’s a fun double bill at the Dukebox, with two spoken word shows on the same evening. Luke Wright is performing his Down the Pub show, a relaxed pub set. Earlier that same evening, Jonny Fluffypunk has a show at the same venue, How I Came To Be Where I Never Was.
  • On 8th of May, there’s Laud of the Rings. I’ve been thinking a lot about hiking and Tolkien as part of my Walkerpunk project so couldn’t resist this: “Josh Gardner saved Europe by reenacting Frodo’s journey to Mordor [travelling] from Oxford to Istanbul dressed as a hobbit
  • I’ve no idea what to expect from The O.S. Map Fan Club, but I don’t see how a show on that topic won’t be interesting.
  • Iain Sinclair is talking about his book the Last London on May 15th
  • On May 26th, David Bramwell is doing his The Cult of Water show.
  • There are a couple of good events at the Bosco Tent about theatrical genius Ken Campbell. His daughter Daisy is doing her show Pigspurt’s Child (“a romp through Ken’s legacy of lunacy, and a quest for Daisy to make peace with the gap he has left”) and there is a night dedicated to Ken Campbell too.
  • Rosy Carrick is an expert on weightlifting, so was definitely up for seeing Brawn.
  • And, of course, the surprise return of Dynamite Boogaloo!

The October Ritual

At the start of the year, one of my favourite bands in the world, The Indelicates, got in touch about collaborating on a launch event for their album Juniverbrecher. We decided the best way to do this was with a magic ritual to end Brexit.

There’s a clear precedent for this sort of thing. In 1967, the Yippies set up a ritual to levitate the Pentagon in protest at the Vietnam war. Even if you’ve not heard of this event, you’ll have seen some of the photos from it, when hippies placed flowers in the soldiers gun-barrels. There are some great stories about the day, with Arthur magazine’s novella sized account being a great place to start.

One of the best parts of running this event is helping to put the bill together. One of the support acts will be John Higgs, whose book Watling Street explores what it means to be British. I now know John in person, but I read his first book, a biography of Timothy Leary back in 2010, when Scott Pack gave me a review copy. Each book since has been increasingly strange and powerful. Watling Street draws together a lot of strange threads, and talks about national identity as something positive and inclusive. It’s a great book and each time I’ve seen John talk about it has been enthralling. We will be announcing additional support in the coming weeks.

Aleister Crowley defined magick as “the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will” – although, in this case, we’re going against the supposed will of the people. We’re really excited to welcome ritual magician Cat Vincent to carry out the binding and exorcism that will defeat Brexit. I first met Cat at John Reppion’s Spirits of Place event, where he gave a talk about, among other things, his 2014 working which is still leading to strange and wonderful ripples – the next one being September’s Festival 23 event in Brighton, “Is a hotdog a sandwich?”

The album itself is fantastic. The previous Indelicates record, Elevator Music was more optimistic – this is a bit more like 2013’s Diseases of England. I might use the word ‘hauntology’ to describe this new record, if that word hadn’t be banned. Besides which, this album has some great tunes, which a lot of hauntological music doesn’t bother with. It focusses on the darker things that led up to Brexit, a Britain where the figures of Mr. Punch and Jimmy Saville lurk in the boiler room. My favourite track, Everything English, contains the lyric “We told you so”. Given the scathing predictions in earlier Indelicates records, it’s amazing they didn’t use that for the title of the record; and all of the lyrics.

There might have been ways to deliver a great Brexit but what we’ve been given is a fiasco. I’ve read Daniel Hannan, I’ve tried to understand what we are getting out of this, and I am baffled. A mixture of pride, spite and arrogance is about to send us rushing into a massive, complex restructuring of our society. It’s like a GCSE student turning up to perform heart surgery. It’s a mess, a fiasco, and we’re about to be isolated and  trapped and on an island full of ghosts.

Unless… something wonderful and magical happens to stop this. If you want to see our attempt, tickets are available now…

Psychogeography Workshop on May 26th

On May 26th I am going to be running a psychogeography workshop at the Artist Residence Hotel in Brighton. This will be part of the Different Ways of Seeing series being run by resident artist Kate Shields. Previous events have centered around life drawing (see here, here and here) but the May sessions are a little different. May 12th sees a Introduction to Automatic Drawing and on the 26th I will be running an event on Psychogeography:

Psychogeography is a way of looking at cities to see the magical and the surprising in familiar places. Following a brief introduction, this workshop will feature a number of creative experiments. Whether you’re an artist, poet, writer or just a pedestrian, learn to see Brighton in a new way.

I'm really looking forward to this workshop, as it's going to be very different to any I've done before. Tickets are £5 and are available here. If you'd like more information about psychogeography my site has an introductory PDF

Reading at Grit Lit on December 9th

I am very excited to announce that I will be reading at Grit Lit on December 9th. The event takes place in the Red Roaster and will include readings from Tim Lay, Amy Riley, Joe Evans and Nina de la Mer. I'm particularly excited about seeing Erinna Mettler, whose novel Starlings sounds fantastic, "a daisy-chain novel set in Brighton" that Louise Halvarddson recently wrote about.

The piece I'll be reading is 'The Other Child', a horror story about ex-girlfriends and books.

"Sarah and I broke up a year back and we’ve both seen other people since, but she still calls me when there’s a problem. A few months after we split she phoned one Sunday morning because there was a spider in the bath. That time, with the spider, I thought it was an excuse, that she was too embarrassed to say what she really wanted. I flushed the spider, followed her to the kitchen and put my arm around her. It was fairly awkward when Sarah explained that it was just about the spider. I apologised and went back home to bed.
I’m the person she calls when the bathroom floods, or her house was burgled, or her new boyfriend needs another man to explain that it’s over and he should return his key. The Paula Sharp thing started with one of those ‘can you help me’ calls, but this time Sarah refused to describe the problem on the phone. “Just come over, please?” I’d promised myself I’d stop doing her bidding but was curious about what she wanted. And there was always the chance it might be the other thing.

Advance tickets are available here for £5. The event starts at 8pm on December 9th.

Next Not for the Faint-Hearted: November 7th

Not for the Faint-Hearted is a monthly writing night run by Ellen de Vries and me. We show a picture on a projector, and everyone spends a short time (usually three minutes) writing a response. It can be a story, poem, dialogue, or something else. When the time's up, everyone takes a turn reading something of what they've written. It's far less intimidating than it might sound and everyone seems to enjoy it. If you want to come along then sign up here. The next session is in Brighton on November 7th starting at 7pm.

Meanwhile, Tom has asked me to post some links to the pictures used in the last session, at the start of this month. Here they are:

  1. Tiny Kitten
  2. Mar Mousa Monastery
  3. The Best Way to Make it Through
  4. The Awful Truth, Day 4: Could be working harder
  5. Gravestones #1
  6. Vitral de Catedral de Berna


Reading at artistsmodelsink on October 3rd

I will be reading at the next artistsmodelsink event on Monday October 3rd at the Marlborough Theatre. Life Cycles is a life-drawing event featuring performances between the tableaux. Doors open at 7:30pm and the audience are asked for donations to cover the costs.

The first artistsmodelsink event was a great success and I'm very excited to be a small part of this one. The team have some fantastic scenes planned. There will also be a performance from Chris Parkinson, who has blogged about the night here (there's also a post about the previous event) and Rosy Carrick will be compere.

I don't know exactly what I'll be reading. I wrote a piece last weekend called The Pornography of Tea, but I'm not sure that's going to work here. I've got a couple of other pieces in the works though, and will finish one of them over the weekend.


Horseplay 29th September: Richey Manic vs Godzilla

It's been a while since I've done any spoken word, but I have a load of events coming up in the next couple of months, culminating in something very special for White Night. The first event is Horseplay on Thursday September 29th, where I'll be reading a new story called Richey Manic vs. Godzilla:

This is the story of a man who saved Tokyo! South Ataria Island, also known as Monster Island, is the prison of the world’s most dangerous monsters, among them Mothra, Rodan and Godzilla himself. A secret United Nations team keep watch to make sure they cannot threaten the world again. Among them is pop star Richey Manic. This is the story of where he went after his disappearance. This is a story of heroism and sacrifice. 

Despite the over-the-top concept, this is intended as something of a serious (and respectful) story, even if it does involve giant monsters.

Horseplay happens at the Black Dove in Kemptown, 74 St. James's Street. Also appearing is the fantastic Bernadette Cremin, as well as a group from Southampton who specialise in improvised sound-poetry. There are also open mic slots available. And it's free. Doors open at 7:30pm. You must come!

We Have Always Lived in the Slaughterhouse (reading on December 15th)

A new story of mine, We Have Always Lived in the Slaughterhouse is being read at the next Are You Sitting Comfortably night in Brighton. The event takes place at the Basement in Brighton on December 15th at 7:30pm, £6/£4. White Rabbit always put a huge effort into their nights and it is well worth attending.

The theme for the night is Horror. My story is an unpleasant story about an unusual domestic arrangement:

"When I was ten years old, I lived with my sister and my Mum in a slaughterhouse. Mum was hiding from her ex-husband, my sister’s Dad, and Uncle Harry thought we’d be safe in one of the old offices. Uncle Harry converted the disused office into a living area, with beds and a small gas stove. He even found some oilskin, hosed down and cleaned, and hung it as curtains, giving each of us our own areas. We didn’t mind living in that old office. Better to hide there than to see our mother beaten." 

I'm hoping that the night will be the perfect antidote to the Christmas preparations. See you there?