Busy, busy, busy

I didn't get much done last week. I wasn't feeling great (possibly a side-effect of cutting out caffeine) so took things easy. I didn't even do any writing, just concentrated on getting some sleep.

At the weekend I journeyed up to Lancaster for a conference, The Critic As Artist, which looked at the fusion of literary criticism and creative writing. Creative critical writing is different to every other type of writing and each of the papers I watched was delivered in completely different ways, including powerpoint experiments, fictional scholars, and post-it notes. Most fascinating for me was a paper by John Goodby that was edited into a poetic form and discussed "high street" poetics vs the experimental. I also saw presentations by a couple of University of Sussex poets, Abi Curtis and Sarah Jackson

I wasn't sure how I would find the conference after a couple of years outside academia. The ideas and techniques used left me invigorated. I know there was a lot I didn't understand but I was fascinated by what I did get.

One advantage of being in Lancaster was bring able to visit my cousin, as well as meeting his new daughter for the first time. I spent Sunday morning visiting the playground with my cousin's family before braving the train network, the only downside to any weekend away.

I've returned with Lancaster for various ideas on my work, as well as a renewed excitement. Which is a good thing as I have various projects people are waiting on. One is my reading in this year's Melbourne Festival (Melbourne, Derbyshire, that is). I've been thinking yet again about Matt Webb's presentation at dConstruct 2007, which is one of the most provocative talks I've seen. It dispenses with the usual structure of 'say what you'll say, say it, then say what you've said', in favour of 'a fool's alphabet'. I'm going to try something similar for my Melbourne Festival piece and see what that leads to.

I'm also possibly reading some work between bands at an event this weekend, which is something I've not tried before. I've been looking for pieces that will work best in this context, as well as writing some new ones. I'm most excited about 'Michael Jackson in heaven' which I wrote last night.

I'm also running again after a couple of weeks injured . I've signed up for the Brighton Marathon in 2010 and am very excited. A little exercise will do me good too – I was shocked by the photos from the last Short Fuse where I look more like Alfred Hitchcock than I'd like. I'm suspect this is what led to one of the poets at the conference remarking that I 'didn't look like a vegetarian'.

My latest post on literaturenetwork.org

My new post is up on literaturenetwork.org: Let's have a golden age:

"Every year 1,300 creative writers qualify from British universities. Every year. Think how much raw talent that represents. Thousands upon thousands of people capable of crafting their experiences, hopes and fantasies into decent prose and poetry. So where are they? Where are all the little magazines, spoken word nights, pamphlets and small presses? There are some out there, but not enough to reflect the work of 1,300 additional writers a year. It’s an artistic version of the Fermi paradox: if they’re out there how come we don’t see them?"

One of the things I've enjoyed most about writing for the literature network is exploring different aspects of the explosion in creative writing. In this post I'm considering the huge potential of the huge number of people studying creative writing. Please have a read and add a comment. Thank you!

A week off

I've spent the last week on leave from work. It's been a very busy week and I've not done half of the things I planned to do (while managing to do a few things I hadn't expected).  A few exciting opportunities have also opened up, which I will be working on for a while.

  • Last Sunday I went back to Henfield, the village where I grew up.  I visited Jake Spicer's art show as well as looking round the village, comparing it to the one I remembered. The roads all seemed far smaller than they were when I was young.
  • Monday I was in London for Ride the Word X, a collaboration between Spread the Word and Ride the Word. The reading seemed to go very well. It was lovely to see Alex and Elle from Penumbra, as well as meeting Vincent de Souza and Jay Merill, who read a fantastic story called Billericay.
  • Tuesday was Telling Lies. We had some amazing performances from Rosy, Chris Parkinson and Bill Jones, with fantastic musical interludes from Madame's Butterflies. The set was dressed by Jake and the pictures looked amazing. Thanks to everyone who came along and all the people who helped out.
  • Wednesday was my birthday, which was celebrated in Brighton and Derbyshire. Rosy, Kitty and I shot zombies on the pier and then went on the helter-skelter, which provided great views and friction burns. We had lunch at Terre-a-terre then I headed off to Melbourne to see my sister before she went to Chicago, and ate lots of Indian food.
  • Friday I visited my friend Sarah Harvey's sound installation, Chambers. This was based on some ECG recordings, which had then been transcribed to musical recordings and performed by voice, double bass, saxophone and piano. It sounded incredible – the urgency of the rhythm made me very aware of my own physicality, almost disorientatingly. It was well worth the detour to Wimbledon.

I'm now back in Brighton for a while. Tonight is the next Trailer Trash night, Tarantino, then things are going to be less hectic for a week or two. I'm looking forward to doing some writing.

Below are some of the photos I've taken in the last week.


Jake Spicer's art show


Kitty Peels rehearsing for Trailer Trash


Chris Parkinson performing at Telling Lies


A tasty cake made by Rosy


Rosy and Kitty on the Helter Skelter


Sarah Harvey's Chambers installation

I’m reading at Ride the Word in London on June 15th

I had a fantastic time at Short Fuse last night.  There was an excellent line-up and it was lovely to read just before Rosy, who has done some amazing performances recently.  The night ended with stories from David Bramwell and Ros Barber, both of whom were enthralling.  I loved being be part of such an exciting, friendly night.

I'm currently very excited as Alex and Elle, the folks behind Penumbra Magazine, have invited me to
read at Ride the Word X on Monday June 15th.  The night is organised by Salt
and features a range readers, including Salt poet Vincent de Souza and short story writers Jay Merrill and Richard Bardsley.

Alex and Elle are doing a talk at the start of the evening, which will feature readings from myself and Luke Roberts. I've been asked to read LIBRARYS, a story of mine that was published in Penumbra's first issue.  It's probably my favourite story, but I'd not considered reading it aloud until Penumbra suggested it.  I'm very excited about reading this piece since its formatting makes it interesting to reproduce orally.

The event takes place at Stratford Library, E15 1EL (map here).  Admission is free and the night starts at 7pm, continuing until 9:30pm. It would be lovely to see some familiar friendly faces there.

I’m reading at Short Fuse tonight (June 7th)

I was asked last night if I could read at Short Fuse in Brighton tonight as one of the other performers was unable to read.  I am going to be reading my story Puddlejumping.  Also reading tonight are the stunning Ros Barber, as well as Cheeky Guide author David Bramwell and my friend, poet Rosy Carrick.  The theme for the night is True Stories.  Ros is reading an award winning piece called 'Re-Shape Whilst Damp', and David Bramwell has "an hilarious
story set at a Saltdean Seance
".  It's going to be a fascinating and exciting night, so do come along.  The night is held at the Komedia's Studio bar and doors open at 8pm.  Entry is £5.

Short Fuse Hastings

Last night I read at the opening night of Short Fuse Hastings, which was held at the Rooms. It was my first trip to St. Leonards in a long time but I didn’t get much chance to explore. I was reminded, however, exactly how dull the road from Brighton to Hastings is.

The Rooms was quite a small space, which the audience easily filled. The night featured a mix of Brighton and Hastings writers – Short Fuse is good at picking an interesting mix of writers, and all the stories were interesting and engaging. My favourite performances were AK Benedict‘s fairy tale Zoetrope and an excellent story by a recent Sussex Graduate about unemployed slackers watching TV.

I read a story called ‘Puddlejumping’. I’d rehearsed it quite a few times so, once the first few paragraphs were done, I felt fairy relaxed. When I’m reading and it seems to be going well I sometimes feel weirdly disassociated. I’m reading the words, but at the same time part of me is looking at the audience and wondering what they’re thinking of the story. Which is fine, except I sometimes panic because I won’t remember actually reading the previous paragraph aloud: what if I’ve been standing onstage, reading it in my head? But I’m sure somebody would have told me if I had a habit of doing that.

Thanks to Tara for inviting me to read. I’m looking forward to watching the next Short Fuse, on June 7th at the Komedia, which features Ros Barber and David Bramwell reading true stories about Brighton.  I’m also hoping to visit Hastings for the next event there, and will maybe explore some old haunts beforehand.

Today has been tiring, so I’m off to bed to read comic books. Hopefully tomorrow will be less trying.