Sparks Night 2

Last night was the second Sparks night at Brighton's 3 and 10. Brighton has a good range of literary nights, and both Sparks and Short Fuse feel like short anthologies.  Last night's stories were an interesting range.  They started with my story about a ventriloquist's funeral, 'A Bad Place to Stick Your Hand', and ended with Vanessa Gebbie's polemic about World War 1; in between were stories about gym trial memberships, ice-cubes of rainwater, school reunions and gold-fish.  It was a fascinating mix.

What makes Sparks unique is that each story is illustrated by a specially-commissioned photograph.  The image below is the one provided by John Biggs to illustrate my story – thanks, John.


After the stories everyone milled around in the bar – it was one of the
friendliest night's I've been to.  Thanks to Jo for organising
everything.  I'm looking forward to the next one.

PS – Sparks now has a new blog.

Rosy and Jake

I've been meaning to post this photo for a while (I took it back on the 16th). It's from an event where Jake Spicer did a live painting of Rosy Carrick at Art@TaylorMade. I've seen lots of paintings but not much painting. I arrived in time to see Jake make his first marks and loved watching how Jake picked out which lines from the real world he was would use.  Jake said that he can't look at a person without mapping out their face for a portrait or planning the shading.


A long strange Thursday

I had a strange day on Thursday, not helped by having very little sleep the night before.  In the evening I had a photo shoot by Sam Collins at Brighton's Hotel Pelirocco.  Sam was shooting various people for a Tight Lip project.  While my involvement in the project was minor being photographed was fun.  Apparently the final images are good.

After the photographs I headed to the Victory Inn to see Glue Gun '91.  It's their third show but I missed the other two as I was performing elsewhere.  It was awesome: the first half was fun, with two poets reading, but things became very strange after the interval.  An appearance from 'Jerry Springer' was followed by a man doing a striptease while riding a unicycle; he then sang songs about things like headless chickens and hagfish.  I'm looking forward to next month's event, which will include an appearance from famous poet Philip Larkin.



Why I love Brighton

I saw the sign below while walking home on Monday:


I missed all of the Halloween festivities this year, but it's good to know they're going on.  The same evening I also saw a poster for Brighton Wok (click for a larger version):


I was amused to see the poster quoting this weblog.  I stand by that comment – I have no desire to watch Iron Man a second time but I will be at the Duke Of York's on Saturday for the Brighton Wok screening, even though I have it here on DVD.  Iron Man may have starred Robert Downey Jr. but Brighton Wok's Ninja Flakes were more creative than anything I saw in Iron Man.

Also this week, I've noticed one of those little signs of aging.  I no longer have to say no to the flier touts near the HSBC on North Street.  They don't even offer me their fliers now.  Guess I'm too unhip for dance clubs now.

Howling lampost

I was looking through my old digital photographs recently.  I found lots of images I'd forgotten all about, including the one below.  Rediscovering this image, taken 5 years ago, I was delighted.  In the years since the photograph was taken the poem Howl (text here) has become even more important to me.  Finding this shot was a wonderful surprise.


who wandered around and around at midnight in the
railroad yard wondering where to go, and went,
leaving no broken hearts,
who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing
through snow toward lonesome farms in grand-
father night,
who studied Plotinus Poe St. John of the Cross telep-
athy and bop kabbalah because the cosmos in-
stinctively vibrated at their feet in Kansas,

Hip-hop night (possibly with cakes) – Nov 14th

My housemate Kirsten is helping organise a hip-hop night on Friday 14th November.  It starts at 9pm and costs £4/3 and will feature a set from Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer.  From the facebook blurb:

"THE MESSAGE. Unique within Brighton, The Message is a night of old
school and golden age hip hop. The Message offers live acts, Dj’s and a
few surprises in between. Opening night is hosted at central Brighton’s
prestigious venue, The Hope, where Mr B and a selection of mint-fresh
Dj’s will provide entertainment. As hip hop crumbles amongst egotism,
The Message is a reminder of what rap was designed to do…

And, according to Kirsten, there may be cakes.  I'm looking forward to seeing what type of cake Kirsten selects as the perfect complement to old-school hip-hop.


Reading at Short Fuse, October 23rd

I'm going to be reading at the next Short Fuse event, where the theme is Tales from the Crypt.  The event starts at 8:30pm on Thursday 23rd and will be in the Studio Bar at the Komedia.  Tickets are £4 on the door.

A few years ago I saw Stewart Home read at Tight Lip.  His reading was impressive – partly because he read one story through a ventriloquist's dummy, and partly because he'd memorised his stories.  At the start of the reading he announced, "If it's worth reading, it's worth remembering." 

I'm going to try memorising the story I'll be reading next Thursday.  The interesting thing is whether the reading will work without the prop of a sheet of paper.  It may be that my performance looks better when I'm holding something rather than having my hands free.  I'll have to see how well it works during my practise.

The 23rd also sees the launch of Ros Barber's new collection, Material.  The launch party starts a little before Short Fuse, so hopefully I can catch Ros's reading and pick up a copy of the new book before heading to the Komedia.

Back to Brighton for Sparks Night

I spent a lovely long weekend in Derbyshire.  I visited ChristmasWorld (photos to follow), read, and fed the ducks with my niece – or, rather, fed bread to the ducks with my niece.  I feel wonderful after the break and seem to have brought some of my calm back with me.

I returned yesterday in time to go to Sparks Night at the Three and Ten.  Sparks night is a short story night which distinguishes itself from other local nights by adding a visual element.  A photograph is commissioned for each story and projected behind the reader.  I've been wondering for a while about the addition of musical/visual additions to spoken word and it seems to work very well indeed, helping to focus attention on the reader. 

The standard of the stories and the readings were high.  The night started with Joel William's story about dwarves (as seen in Penumbra #3 – full text also available in this PDF).  There was also a brilliant story about physics and grief, but my favourite was Porn Mallow by Sara Crowley (full text available here).  The reader said she was nervous, but did a brilliant job.  The photographs were also very good and had a range of different styles.

It's exciting that Brighton has so many live literature events at the moment and that they're of such a high standard.  I'll definitely be at the next Sparks night in four weeks time.

Restorative yoga

From an interview with Toby Litt:
"Q: Is there a secret to writing?
A: Yes. There are no short cuts

It's been a fun day today.  It started with a run followed by coffee with a friend at the Meeting Place ("open 7am till dusk") where I had rock cake for breakfast.  I love being back in Brighton and having time to enjoy the seafront. 

At lunchtime I went to the restorative yoga drop-in run by Yoga with Socks On with Rosy, Kitty and L.   This is a relaxation session involving pillows, bolsters and blankets, recommended by a friend.  I wasn't sure what to expect but was very impressed.  The session involved lying in a variety of positions and relaxing – self indulgent but worthwhile.  One of our group unwound so much they had dropped off to sleep at the end.

Then I came home and did some writing.   I sometimes wish for shortcuts, that I could magically produce an exciting novel with no mental effort.  But if it were that easy then everyone would do it.  So I make a little progress each day, reminding myself to appreciate that.

PS – I love the trailer for Synecdoche, NY