This Thursday, May 14th, I will be appearing at Eastbourne’s Towner Gallery as part of their Nocturnal event. I will be talking twice during the evening, about night, sleep and dreams. The research I’ve done has been fascinating, and I am looking forward to sharing it.
There are a load of other things happening – music, mask-making, an awesome cocktail menu, video and a sound installation from Gazelle Twin. It should be a fantastic night!
It’s a month until the Brighton Fringe Festival kicks off, and I’ve been buying lots of tickets. The thing I’m most looking forward to is How to be Fat, a one-woman show by my friend Mathilda, one of the organisers of Slash/Night. From what I’ve been told so far this will be funny and provocative. She’s been blogging about her preparations, including how to be on a Diet.
Another highlight is the Late Show: Election Night Special, which will be screen the election results until 9 in the morning. I love election broadcasts, even if they’re likely to go the way I want. Hopefully I can book Friday May 8th off work, as I won’t be getting any sleep the night before. Apparently (the award-winning) Chris Parkinson is involved with this show in some manner.
I met Bill Jones through the Short Fuse nights many years ago. I loved his work and invited him to perform at a night I ran. He moved away to Stroud but is returning to Brighton with his show Graveside Manner. Another poet is John Osborn, performing his first show. John’s poem ‘Most people aren’t that happy anyway’ is one of my favourite poems.
Two things I’ve booked based on the fringe ads are The Skeleton Coast and What’s in the Punch. The first of these is a talk about an expedition along the Skeleton Coast, a brutal stretch of African coastline. What’s in the Punch is a play about the 352-year-old Mr. Punch being in a nursing home.
As ever, the Odditorium, curated by the Infamous Dr. Bramwell, offers a variety of different topics. I’ve booked tickets to their Lost Worlds of Albion and Occult Brighton events. At the end of the month I’ll be one of the speakers at the Death in Brighton event. The Spiegeltent is also hosting club nights by Copperdollar and Dynamite Booglaoo.
On top of all this, puppeteer Daisy Jordan has just announced a new show with Jane Bom-bane featuring “song, puppetry and untold surprise” which I need to fit in somehow. This looks like being a very good fringe.
Back at the start of March, Rosy asked if I wanted to be local spoken-word artist at Hammer and Tongue in April. I suggested I reworked the piece I did for Artists, Models, Inc a few years back, “adding audio/visual elements – basically, a psychogeographical response to Brighton.” Over the last few weeks I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what I meant by that, and reworking the original piece so much that only a few sentences of the original remain.
So: I’ll be performing this ten-minute thing at Hammer and Tongue, this Thursday. Doors open 7:30pm at the Komedia Studio and entry is £6 on the door. I’m pleased with how it’s turned out and looking forward to see what the audience make of it – I’m aiming for either blank incomprehension or rapturous applause. The Infamous Muffy Hunter saw it last night and liked it, so that’s a good sign.
Also performing is Hannah Silva. Rosy has been trying to book Hannah for some time. I recently read Hannah’s book Forms of Protest; the poems are both gripping and experimental and I can’t wait to see them performed live. It’s going to be an amazing evening – and it’s the night before the Good Friday bank holiday, so you can all stay out late!
After a quiet winter, I have a few upcoming events:
On April 2nd, I will be performing at Brighton’s Hammer and Tongue as local poet. I’ve promised Rosy a psychogeographical multi-media spoken word piece about Brighton. I’m not entirely sure what that means so I am frantically working on something that fits the description. If that fails, expect something about Clowns. Tickets £6 on the door open, doors 7:30pm, show starts 8-ish.
On April 16th I will be speaking at the Catalyst Club. The Catalyst is a Brighton institution, where three people speak about their passions. The subjects in question aren’t announced until the event starts, so you don’t know what you’ll hear about, but it is always interesting. Come along and find out what I’ve been researching.
I’m waiting to hear about a Brighton Fringe event, as well as a festival booking in August, doing an expanded version of my talk, The Internet Will Destroy Us.
Slash/Night 2 happened way back in mid-February and was amazing. I organised the first Slash/Night because I am fascinated the culture of slash. The second event was organised by Muffy Hunter and Mathilda Gregory, which meant I could sit back and watch – although I was roped in to running the lights and sound, which I was brilliant at.
For me, the highlight was Helen Raven‘s talk on the pre-history of Slash. One of the things I love about slash is how it has thrived underground, with enthusiastic, generous audiences. It was good to hear about the pre-Internet slash days and to see some of the Samizdat publications. Hearing Helen Raven talk about her long career as a slash writer was inspiring too, particularly strange and creative world of Professionals slash.
Way back in September, I teamed up with Muffy Hunter, Chris Parkinson, Mathilda and Kate to put on Slash/Night, a celebration of slash fiction. For me, this was more a night I wanted to attend than one I was particularly knowledgeable about. Putting on the event was hard work (particularly when Chris had to excuse himself for a film premiere) but it all went well and I was very pleased with the night we put on.
Slash is a hugely popular genre and probably has a larger following than literary fiction. Yet it is mostly ignored or even mocked. For me, one of the best things about the night was that for some fans it was the first time they’d been somewhere they could discuss this in person.
I’ve handed over the running of Slash/Night to Mathilda and she’s put on an amazing bill for Slash/Night2. We have the novelists Naomi Alderman and Julie Cohen reading. We have pre-internet slash. We have a talk from Muffy about her experiences. We have Welcome to Night Vale slash. We even have a creator reading slash written about their own creations.
The last event was funny and filthy and this one looks like being even better. Even better, I’m not organising, so I can just sit back and enjoy the night. You should come too.
On Friday night I gave a talk at the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne as part of their Ghost Worlds event. The night was inspired by both Mexican Day of the Dead and Halloween, featuring performance, music, crafts and a spoken word area.
The best real-life example that I learned about was the McCullough Effect – which I find too disturbing to try for myself.
I enjoyed being in a gallery after hours as well as catching up with some old friends; Tara Gould read a creepy ghost story, which ended just as you realised what awful things were about to happen; and Umi Sinha did a great telling of WW Jacob’s The Monkey’s Paw.
I enjoyed giving the talk and wish I had more opportunity to do things like this, but I’m not sure where the audience is for such things. I could certainly have talked for much longer about the subject.
This Friday (28th November) I will be giving a talk at Eastbourne’s Towner Gallery, as part of the Ghost Worlds event. “A nod to Dia de los Muertos and Halloween“, this includes a dance performance, salsa taster class, Latin DJ, bar, exhibitions and crafts. I will be part of the ghost stories section, speaking in a candlelit room about ghosts on the Internet.
This is an expanded version of a talk I gave back in September, at the Flash-fiction cinema event. The research for that talk gave me terrible nightmares and the research for the new version is much darker. Last night I dreamed I was the only person found alive in a crashed plane which weirdly contained no dead bodies; but it later turned out I’d died anyway. So, cheery stuff.
Tickets are £4-6. I really looking forward to this talk, mainly because once it’s done, I’m never again researching anything this disturbing.
The MechaPoet had its first performance at the Brighton Fringe last week as part of Chris Parkinson’s Moonshine show. The interesting thing about any performance is that you learn a lot when a piece encounters an audience. Responses can greatly – I’ve delivered the same story to both helpless laughter and stony silence – but seeing your work in front of a group of people adds new dimensions.
I’m reasonably happy with how the performance went. We had no technical hitches with the MechaPoet, and the audience seemed interested by it. The main problem was that it slowed down the flow of Chris’s show. Chris’s work is funny and energetic, whereas the MechaPoet’s voice was a little too slow and there were just not enough funny lines.
Which means an interesting weekend of hacking around with the software, trying to make it funnier. The audience laughed most at lines about actual real things, references to Brighton and the like. So I’m going to try building a simple Bayesian Classifier to filter out bad lines and find funny ones. The perfect thing to do on a weekend that’s supposed to be a heatwave.
Bayesian classifiers are, basically, the tool used for a lot of spam detection. As usual, I’m using rather crude algorithms for the project. While this was part of the idea, when I spoke to a proper digital artist this week, he suggested moving away from the Markov Chains. Once I’ve got the current run of performances out of the way, I definitely want to do something more sophisticated – along with my plan for using the MechaPoet to destroy haiku.
It’s amazing how much work a silly project can generate.
And Chris’s show? Of course I’m going to say it was excellent. It was particularly good to see a sustained performance from Chris (outside of a timed slam that is, ha-ha). It’s sometimes hard to take in exactly how much poetry Chris has done over the years I’ve known him. The middle section of the show is a sequence of his political poems, which make an interesting retelling of the last 7-or-8 years of Westminster life. There are short films too, including the stunning Pigeon in a Pizza Box. And Unreal City is still the greatest poem ever written about Brighton. The remaining shows are on the 22nd and 29th May.
The MechaPoet visits Chris’s work (photo by rmmbs)
Exciting news! The MechaPoet’s first outing will be as part of Chris Parkinson’s solo show, Moonshine. The MechaPoet will have a short set, but I’d recommend going for the (human) poetry, short films and outright lies. Tickets are £5 each and the shows are on the 8th, 22nd and 29th of May. But don’t leave it till the last show to go see it as everyone else is planning to do that too.