Reading at Short Fuse, and other weekend activities

Last night I read at Short Fuse, as part of their Tainted Love night. I read 'LIBRARYS', a piece originally published in Penumbra a few years back. It was a very busy night, which made me a little more nervous than usual, but I seemed to do OK – and, being on first, I was able to relax the rest of the night. Tara and co. had picked a great mix of stories. My favourite was the second, a piece called 'Chasing Murakami'. There was also a brilliant open-mike story about living statues that rounded off the evening. Short Fuse is a very sociable night, and it was lovely to catch up with some old friends.

One of the most interesting things about reading out loud is how some stories work and others done. One of my favourite stories to read aloud is 'A Bad Place to Stick Your Hand', which always seems to get a good response. I've tried a few times to prepare it for print submission but it doesn't work so well on the page. Equally, I've got a few pieces that have been published which I don't think would be effective for a listening audience.

LIBRARYS was originally written as a series of bullet points, so I'd not considered reading it aloud. When I was invited to read it at Ride the Word in London, I had to think how best to perform it. In the end I settled for putting each point on a separate index card, which worked well; so much so that I've used index cards for other stories since. For some stories it's much freer than reading from A4 paper.

Among the other highlights of the weekend were Friday night's Jam at the skiff, which included guitar, cello, drum machine and the Alphasphere, a musical device made from espresso cups and wires (pictures of both are below).

I'd been planning to see the film Morris: A life with Bells on, but tickets sold out some time before. I did end up going (sadly, due to a friend's misfortune) and found myself at a spectacular screening. I'd expected a relaxed Sunday afternoon audience, but instead there were dozens of morris dancers, some of them performing outside.

These days you don't need to remind people to turn off their phones; but before this screening started with an announcement asking the morris dancers to remove their bells. Morris was the sort of film I love, like Spellbound or, um, Shakes the Clown, which transform a small subject into a life-or-death matter. Watching the film with an audience who knew the subject well was particularly interesting, since you could tell the in-jokes that would otherwise go unnoticed by civilians.

All-in-all, despite sleeping through Saturday afternoon and a vicious headache before Short Fuse, a pretty good weekend.



Wordia word of the day: wound

Today I am on the wordia site, defining the word of the day, wound: ‘the past tense and past participle of wind’.

The wordia project is a ‘visual dictionary’ which features short films defining particular words. Last week I went to the Jubilee Library with Rosy Carrick and Kay Sexton to be recorded for the site. Being filmed was a strange experience. I was very conscious of the stumbles and pauses in my speech, but Rob seems to have produced an edit which makes me sound more fluent than I did at the time. Watching myself on video is a strange experience and I’m more comfortable with it than I expected (although I definitely need a haircut!)

Kay blogs about the afternoon here. Kay defined row (to propel a boat by using oars) and Rosy defined note (a brief summary or record in writing, esp a jotting for future reference). Thanks to Rob Harper for filming and editing, and to Kay for inviting me to take part.

Rosy will be giving a talk on Thursday October 8th on ‘Cannibalism and Love Poetry in Performance’ at David Bramwell’s Catalyst Club.


I’m reading at Short Fuse tomorrow (Sunday 4th October)

In a late addition to the bill, I'm reading at Short Fuse tomorrow. The theme for the night is Tainted Love, and I'll be reading my story 'LIBRARYS'. It's probably my favourite of all the stories I've written, and describes a relationship with a woman who has too many books. 'LIBRARYS' is also very critical about books and the place they have in our lives. It was published in Penumbra a few years back and I read it live for the first time in June. I'm quite pleased with how it worked and I'm looking forward to reading it again.

I'm not sure who else is reading, but the night is headlined by Bridget O'Connor. The night takes place tomorrow at the Brighton Komedia Studio Bar and starts at 8pm. Entry is £8. It would be lovely to see you there!

I'm also reading at Sparks in the Three and Ten this Tuesday – I will add more details about that soon.