Last night at Sparks 7

Last night was Sparks 7. I had a great time, despite being nervous – but then I’m always nervous before standing in front of a room full of people. It’s probably a good thing – the only time I wasn’t nervous before reading my performance wasn’t great. Sparks seemed to go OK, and some people said nice things afterwards, so I’m happy.


I enjoyed last night’s readings, especially Naomi Foyle‘s prose poem, and Sarah Charsley‘s piece about going camping for the first time with a new boyfriend. I left early, at eleven and was sorry not to have the stamina to stay up partying with the others. Jo promised a surprise at the end of the night, and read out a letter she’d received that morning from Sarah Charsley. It detailed the things Sarah had learned as a consequence of previous Sparks nights, suggesting a certain amount of debauchery after previous events. (The photo above shows Jo reading from the letter).

I’m very sad to be missing the next Sparks event, in February. It’s a great night.


I’m reading at Sparks 7 on Tuesday 1st December

This coming Tuesday I will be reading at Sparks 7, at Brighton's Three and Ten (BN2 1TE). I'm reading my short story finis terrae, which is a little different to my usual work, partly because it features a female narrator:

"He used to call me Finisterre, whispering the name in my ear between kisses to my neck.  He’d sleep in my arms after making love and I’d stay awake, watching the sweeping lighthouse beam, the three-second, five-second rhythm of its Light Characteristic.  The radio would be on – not the lighthouse set but Mum’s old portable.  It never keeps a signal long and through the night it slips from voices to static.  I would hold him tight, knowing he’d soon be leaving."

The night starts at 8pm, with entry costing £5. Also reading is my friend, poet Naomi Foyle, who I read with at Short Fuse's erotic fiction night in March. There will also be stories from Sarah Charsley, Chloe Penney, Sam Mead, Gretel My, Jon Heath, Annie Clarkson. Each reading will be accompanied by the backdrop of a specially commissioned photograph.

If recent Sparks nights are anything to go by, there will be drinking and shenanigans afterwards. Do come along if you can!

Some photos from Fear of the Dark

The last couple of weeks have felt very busy but, after a tiresome journey on East Midlands Trains, I’m now recuperating at my sister’s rural compound. I’m currently working at the kitchen table, watching the chickens while catching up on things – like posting photos from last Thursday’s Fear of the Dark event.

Things seemed to go very well. I spent most of the performance backstage, so didn’t see many of the acts, but I enjoyed what I heard. Bernadette Cremin did a fantastic series of poems about a woman called Patsy; Kay Sexton did a couple of stories, one of which she dressed as a scary old lady for; Strawberries and a Peach did two lovely musical interludes; and Glue Gun ’91 produced a fantastic imitation of a dying swan, and a poem about Ruth Ellis that featured a staged hanging.

The final section of the night was performed in complete darkness. It seemed to work well (apart from one poor member of the audience who suffered an attack of the giggles). The evening was rounded off with serving cake to the audience. I’m not sure what everyone made of it, but I was pleased with what we produced: a spoken word evening like no other.

Another accounts is here (from performance poet/novelist Lou-Ice) and there are some morning-after tweets from @eldevri and @badgermind. The photos below show: Rufus Moonshine and Ruth Ellis relaxing before the show; a view of backstage; Ruth Ellis after the performance; and Gimley Whipple, serving cake, with an axe.

Thank you to everyone who came, and everyone who performed.




Reading at Short Fuse, November 8th

I'm reading at Short Fuse at the Brighton Komedia on November 8th. The theme for the night is Nouvelle Noir and it should be an excellent evening. Also reading is AK Benedict who I saw read a fantastic story at Short Fuse Hastings earlier this year (she has a great blog-post about seagulls here).

Headlining the night is Danny Hogan from Pulp Press. I blogged about his book, Killer Tease, back in March. It's one of the most exciting books I've read all year – partly because I liked the aim of Pulp Press, to produce straightforward literature that can be enjoyed quickly and cleanly. I think the world has a need for decently-written uncomplicated fiction. I'm looking forward to seeing Danny read.

I'm also appearing, with a story called Laurence Holloway's Cartoon Babylon. It's a secret history of Hollywood, about an English actor who used to go drinking with Bugs Bunny. The current version includes an over-researched extended joke about Apocalypse Now, which I need to review before Sunday. Wikipedia makes ornate research too easy.

Doors open at 7:30pm, and entry are £5.


The aim of Fear of the Dark was to put on a spoken word event like no-one had seen before. As you can see from the picture, last night's event wasn't your usual spoken-word night. Thank you to Kay Sexton, Bernadette Cremin, Glue Gun '91, Strawberries & A Peach and the Marlborough Theatre for helping make it such a great night. I am going to write a proper post, but that can wait tomorrow. My plans for tonight involve watching House and soaking in the bath.


I wasn't planning to organise another night in the near future, but I had an idea for an event this afternoon…

Fear of the Dark: final preparations

The final preparations are being made for tomorrow night's Fear of the Dark event. We had a meeting last night to plan the last few details and I'm very excited. When we started work on the event we wanted to do something special and I think we've managed that – tomorrow will be different to any spoken word night you've seen.

I'd love to say more, but I have a couple more things to do before bed. The night starts 8pm at the Marlborough Theatre. For more information look here.


Fear of the dark: an addition to the bill

I'm very excited about Fear of the Dark next Thursday, but putting on a night is also a little nervewracking. There are so many things to remember and I occasionally find myself worrying, just before falling asleep. What if I've forgotten something? What if nobody comes, and we're forced to perform to an empty theatre?

But there are some wonderful things about organising a night, one of which is watching a series of performers you think are great. I've just made the final addition to the bill, which is a musician, Strawberries and a Peach (you can listen to some tracks of her tracks on the myspace page).

Meanwhile, I'm continuing preparations with the other performers. I think this is going to be an exciting night, and will certainly be different to anything you've seen before. Tickets are available in advance from the Marlborough or, with paypal, from You must come!


1000 professional performance poets?

The Daily Telegraph has published an article on performance poetry today. It's a good overview of the scene, given the limited space. I was surprised at one section though:

"According to Geraldine Collinge, director of Apple and Snakes, the main
organisation promoting performance poetry in Britain, there are around 1,000
poets now making a primary living out of performance."

While I'd be delighted if there were 1,000 people making a "primary living" from poetry performance in the UK, the number does seem a little high. If it were true, I'd expect more of the poets I know to be living the high life and not working 'first jobs' as something else.

Fear of the Dark at the Marlborough Theatre, October 29th

At the end of the month I will be teaming up with Glue Gun ’91 to put on a very special Halloween spoken word event. Fear of the Dark will start in a brightly lit theatre, with the lights fading as the night continues, until the final acts are performed in near-complete darkness. We promise an entertainment like you’ve never experienced!

I will be reading short stories about clowns, zombies and worse. Rufus Moonshine and Gimley Whipple from Glue Gun ‘91 will be unleashing their own special blend of mayhem, including a performance of Swan Lake featuring special guest ‘Ruth Ellis’. Kay Sexton will be reading short stories and there will be poetry from Bernadette Cremin. We also have a musical interlude and a special guest appearance.

I’m very excited about this event. I met up with Rufus and Gimley earlier this week to discuss what we’re going to do. Every so often we’d come up with an idea, look at one another and decide that, maybe, that was going too far. We’re aiming for a mood a little like Jam and have some lovely ideas.

The night will start at 8pm in Brighton’s Marlborough Theatre on Thursday 29th October. Tickets are £5 (or £4 for concessions). You can buy tickets on the door or in advance. I’ll post a web link soon, and there’ll be tickets available behind the bar at the Marlborough from this weekend.

I didn’t even mention the apple bobbing, the cake, or the any of the other stuff… Fear of the Dark is going to be something special: you must come!