03 February 2017

Call and response

A couple of weeks back, the Manchester Evening News published an article by writer Adam O'Riordan (no stranger to the press recently, having just published both a short story collection and a poetry book) about the live literature scene in the rainy city. You can read it here. It was good to see live lit getting some column inches, but a few regulars to the variety of events on offer were a bit underwhelmed to read nothing about any of these. University of Manchester student Roma Havers gathered a few quotes from writers, performers and event organisers, and has just published a response in The Mancunion, apparently Britain's biggest student newspaper and where I cut my journalistic teeth some years back. You can read Roma's feature here. For the piece, I submitted the following words...

I was pleased to see an article in the MEN about poetry in Manchester, but was immediately struck by how university-centric it was. Not one of the entries picked by Adam O’Riordan (as it happens, the new Academic Director of the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Met) was independent of one of the larger establishments; even Poet in the City featured MMU’s Helen Mort on the bill. It might have been nice to mention the great live lit and spoken word scene in Manchester, and how many established as well as one-off events there are. Stalwarts like multi-Sabotage Award-winner Bad Language, Evidently (hand-picked by Guy Garvey to showcase their wares at last summer’s Meltdown Festival on London’s Southbank), exponents of the experimental The Other Room (nine years old this spring), Stirred and Penchant at 3MT, Speakeasy and Beatification in the ’burbs… Yes, there are a lot to list, and maybe that’s why they didn’t, but to not even give a nod to the amazing scene of live lit seemed a little, well, rude. Aside from the resident nights, there’s a regular turnaround of visiting speakers, not least through Manchester Literature Festival, which has been going under that moniker for a decade (bursting out of the chrysalis of the Manchester Poetry Festival). No mention. No mention of the invaluable work of the likes of Young Identity at the Contact, or community events, reaching out to those less engaged in the arts, such as Scribble Festival organised by Cartwheel. No mention of how big the live lit scene is, and how many students and former students of the universities support it. The evening before the feature was published, I was one of 26 performers at the Manchester leg of the North by North West Poetry Tour, bringing together writers from around the region for specially commissioned collaborations – another example of how creative the independent scene is. Verbose turned two this week, once again welcoming three curated headliners and ten open micers to its stage. For the uninitiated, I’m afraid Adam’s piece might be offputting – there’s more to live lit than lecturers’ launches.

05 January 2017

Happy New Year!

Right, that darn 2016 is finally over and I'm back at my desk here at Words & Fixtures Towers, working on a number of projects, including a collaborative piece with the inimitable Fat Roland, host of Bad Language. This brand-new work is for the North by North West Poetry Tour, curated by the Enemies Project (aka poet SJ Fowler) and Zimzalla (aka Tom Jenks of The Other Room experimental poetry night). Check out my write-up on the tour over on Creative Tourist. Fats and I will be performing the specially created story at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation on Saturday 14 January, on a bill alongside lots of great talent from round these parts. Check out the Enemies Project website for the line-up here. It's free in, so hope to see you there!

21 November 2016

More words in the 'burbs!

It's been a busy old time lately, with performances and workshops as part of Scribble Festival, Transition Festival and Live From Worktown Festival, and trips far and wide to spread the live literature love, including to Bury and Bolton. I'm pleased, also, to have had a short-short story accepted for the third Live From Worktown anthology, which launches on 8 December, 5pm, at Bolton Waterstone's. It's a companion piece to a story published in The Bolton Review earlier in the year.

10 October 2016

Words and festivals

Just got a shiny new poster for the Scribble Festival, which is taking place on Sunday 6 November and Monday 7 November at the delightful Chapter One bookshop on Lever Street in Manchester's Northern Quarter. At 2pm on the Sunday, why not join me and Sawn-off Tales author David Gaffney for a creative writing workshop, Q&A and reading - all for free? Then later on, there's a poetry slam with a cash prize. Find out more about everything that's going on here.

On Saturday 19 November, we'll be in Bury town centre, performing in a giant Bakelite radio (I kid you not) at Transition festival (formerly Bury Light Night). For our special Verbose appearance, David is running a flash fiction workshop 6-7pm, then he'll be joining us on stage until 8.30pm, with performances featuring me plus other purveyors of fine flash fiction Billy Cowan, Nija Dalal-Small, Joe Daly, Kate Feld, Tamsin Macdonald and Fat Roland. More here

The regular Verbose, by the way, is back on Monday 24 October, with horror stories and tales of the uncanny from Claire Dean, Nicholas Royle and Conrad Williams, plus poetry and prose on the open mic. More here.

08 September 2016

Words back in the 'burbs

OK, so there's been a bit of a hiatus over the summer, but words will soon be back in the 'burbs, first with The Word at Home cafe in Didsbury next Thursday, then with Verbose at Fallow cafe in Fallowfield the Monday after. Excited about both - will be reading on the open mic at The Word, with the lovely Lara Williams (pictured) headlining, then happy to be hosting Michael Conley, Rosie Garland and Rachel Mann at September's Verbose, as we showcase the work of Bare Fiction magazine.

Check out my preview of The Word on Creative Tourist here. That's the other news - I'm now Literature Editor of Creative Tourist, so do keep me up to speed on what's going on books and spoken word wise.

Oh, and news just in... the next Speakeasy in Stretford is on Thursday 6 October, 7.30pm at the Sip Club - special National Poetry Day outing. See here for more.