After a long winter of writing I’m finally emerging from my cave for a few events.
First, I will be reading at The Desert Cafe no. 1, a new event organised by small press death of workers whilst building skyscrapers. It’s an event in honour of Brenda Frazer (aka Bonnie Bremser), a writer associated with the beat movement whose work has not gotten the recognition it deserves. The press successfully crowdfunded a new edition of Brenda’s out-of-print prose writings, My True Stories which is expected soon. There will be a ltd. edition chapbook featuring work from the writers reading available at the night, which takes place in the subterranean Manchester bar Corbieres on Thursday 19 May at 8:30pm.
I will also be reading new work on Friday 8 July at The Real Story‘s New Prose Writing event during the academic conference English: Shared Futures. I’ll be performing alongside fellow Real Storyists Adam Farrer and Marie Crook, and we’ll be splitting the bill with writers from experimental press Dostoyevsky Wannabe. This event takes place at The Salutation pub in Manchester from 8-10pm, info here. It’s part of the E:SF fringe which has some more really intriguing performances on tap, check it out.
In March I organised Manchester Writers for Ukraine at The King’s Arms in Salford along with Adam Farrer and Ivan Wadeson. This fundraising event (pictured above) featured a diverse host of the city’s writers including Ukrainian refugee journalist Maria Romanenko; the screening of a powerful video address made for the night by the writers of Lviv City of Literature; and a beautiful film of a relay reading of Ukrainian poet Serhiy Zhadan’s poem ‘So I’ll talk about it’ by writers from all of the UNESCO Cities of Literature.
As one of the people who helped Manchester win this designation it was gratifying to see what the network can do as a force for good in the world. The event was a sell-out, which was pretty remarkable for something that had just been an idea two weeks before it happened. We raised more than £600 for the DEC Ukraine appeal and for one night we made a place for people to come together in solidarity, holding the grief, horror and anger we have all been living with since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. There were many reminders that there is laughter and hope even in times as dark as these – and providing space for this is a kind of work that feels important now. I was also reminded of what Hannah Arendt said, that laughter is the surest way to undermine authority. Laughter is itself a hopeful act and a weapon, and it’s a joy to see it deployed live again.
I’ll be on the judging panel for the 2022 Quiet Man Dave Prize administered by MMU Manchester School of Writing in memory of much-loved Manchester writer and theatre critic Dave Murray. Entries are now open for Flash Fiction and Flash Non-Fiction under 500 words, with £1000 going to the winner in each category. Entries close on 1 July and the winners will be announced in the Autumn. Details and entry link here.
I’ve had a few new publications since my last update:
‘Short take on the prose poem‘ in the folio twenty-eight short takes on the prose poem, periodicities: a journal of poetry and poetics, March 2022. This is a little essayette on writing prose poetry alongside two new prose poems, Hazard County and written in the back page of The Hearing Trumpet between 2 and 3 a.m. Sunday April 11, 2020
‘The Chorus Frogs of Junktown’, Sprout issue 2, March 2022
‘Pasaje Estrella’ (text and photography), Hotel, December 2021
The book that got me through the winter was Susan Bernofsky’s Clairvoyant of the Small: The Life of Robert Walser. Walser is an early 20c Swiss writer of short indeterminate prose whose work I have loved since I picked up a copy of Masquerade and Other Stories, Bernofsky’s first translation of Walser, at the St. John’s College bookstore in the early 90s. If you don’t know Walser I can’t think of a better introduction – this is one of the best literary biographies I’ve ever read, and offers deep insight into his weird and wonderful writing alongside the compelling and sad story of Walser’s life.