Thursday, 30 July 2009

Just a short post today to point you to something good I've spotted.

There's a great post on the Manchester Lit List blog. Since it's turning out to be a rainy summer, they've thoughtfully complied a list of great sites you can use to choose your next book to curl up with while hiding from the rain. Obviously, the other option is to go down to the library yourself and browse there, but why not choose one from the comfort of your own home.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Succour Salon

There is a rather wonderfully titled 'Succour salon' this Friday. I feel I ought to carry a fan and wear a bustle, and perhaps pre-prepare some witticisms for the event. The term salon makes me think of Mrs Dalloway or the opening of War and Peace. However, I'm fairly certain that the event will be something more down-to-earth - some lovely readings and copies of the new issue of the magazine on sale.

The salon is being held at the Briton's Protection pub on Great Bridewater Street from 8pm-11pm. It's free entry and there will be readings from Annie Clarkson, Melissa Lee-Houghton and Jonathan Hamnett.

I will definitely be there, possibly with a fan to flutter and cover up my lack of clever conversation.

Thursday, 23 July 2009


Geoff Ryman's reading at Central Library yesterday was wonderful. It's not even really fair to call it a reading, since Geoff added such an element of theatre to it that his work really came alive. He made an announcement about an exciting new collection that's coming out this Autumn (I think that's when he said). It's the product of a project that links writers to Manchester scientists, the collection of stories that comes from that will surely be very interesting. I know that Geoff has written one of the stories himself, and it should be really great, I don't think I've ever met someone who wasn't a scientist who could talk and write so well (by which I mean accurately) about science.

But now onto the more pressing news. There's yet another Unsung magazine out this week. Those pesky Unsung folk are so productive they make me feel awful that I've only got two issues of Bewilderbliss out in just about the same time they've done three Unsungs. I've still not managed to get along to one of the launches yet, but I'm finally free for this one. I was speaking with Max Dunbar of Succour yesterday and he assured me it was a really great event, so I'm keeping my calendar free for it.

The launch is this Sunday (26th July) at 8pm in the Thirsty Scholar on Oxford Rd. It is £2 to get in, but then the magazine is free, so it sounds like a bargain to me. There will be readings from the magazine and open-mic slots, as well as a raffle to lure you in if everything else on offer wasn't enough.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Geoff Ryman

The Manchester Book Market went really well at the weekend, apart from the weather obviously. There were readings throughout the weekend and I curated a set for the launch of the magazine I edit, Bewilderbliss. It went really well, and the magazine is now officially launched, it's available at the Cornerhouse and Blackwells.

Now that it's out and my to-do list has considerably shrunk, I will be able to get back to updating this blog regularly with news about readings and other literary events in and around Manchester.

The next one coming up is something that I'm really excited about - a reading by Geoff Ryman. He's a mainstream and sci-fi writer who is absolutely spectacular at live events. You may have caught him reading at the last No Point in Not Being Friends, and if you did you'll know how captivating he is. If you missed that, I can guarantee that you'll not want to miss this event.

Geoff Ryman is reading at Central Library tomorrow (22nd July) at 1pm, and there is a Q&A session following it.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Slight change of plans

I should have known that as soon as I put the plans for the Bewilderbliss launch on here they'd change.

It's mostly the same - still this Friday, still at the Manchester Book Market in St Ann's Sq (there will be a stage area at the church end).

The only change is the time. The Bewilderbliss issue #2 launch reading will now start at 4.15pm.


The next issue of Bewilderbliss will be out this Friday. It's on the theme of Doubles, which was set by Jackie Kay, who has also provided a poem for the magazine and done an interview that will appear on the website on Friday. I've been kept pretty busy getting it all together, and I've taken up some of my time with the lovely task of organising the launch.

As I've mentioned previously, this issue will be launched at the Manchester Book Market on Friday 17th (this Friday!) at 3.30pm in St Ann's Sq.

We've got pieces from 19 different writers in this issue, but I've had to narrow those down to just five for the launch. I've chosen a mixture of poets and prose-writers with quite different styles so there should be something to everyone's taste.

The list of readers is:

J.T. Welsch
Cora Greenhill
Eileen Pun
Danny Bird
Nick Murgatroyd

We hope you can join us to give this exciting new issue of Bewilderbliss a good launch off into the world.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Succour and apologies

Firstly, I have to apologise for the lack of posts last week. I was down in London for the launch of Elaine Feinstein's new book of Tsvetaeva poems. It was a lovely event and the book is fantastic, but going to London and back for it threw off my whole week and I didn't have time to keep up with any of my blogs.

But, I'm back with exciting news. Max Dunbar has just contacted me with details about the Manchester launch of Succour issue #9. He is a very succinct man, so this is what he had to say about the event:

The Manchester launch of Succour 9, 'Fantasies,' takes place at the Briton's Protection, Friday July 31 8pm.

Featuring words from Jonathan Hamnett, Laura Joyce, Annie Clarkson and Melissa Lee.

All welcome: spread the word.

He also added that submissions are welcome for the next issue of Succour, which has the theme of 'The Banal'. For details, see here.

The magazine is a beautiful presentation of some very good and interesting work, so do come along to the launch and submit to the magazine as well.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Book Fair

I've got some very exciting news today. The Manchester Book Market is returning!

It was very popular three years ago and now it's back as part of the Manchester International Festival.

The fair is running 17th-19th July in St Anns Sqare and as part of it there will be plenty of stalls as well as several readings.

I'm very pleased to say that Bewilderbliss, the magazine I edit, has got a slot for readings on the 17th at 3.30pm. We will (fingers crossed) be launching the new issue there, which contains poetry and prose from several new Manchester writers as well as Mark Piggott, who has a new book out, and Jackie Kay, who also set the theme for the issue.

Read up on what the fair's about and who will be there on the Literature North West website.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009


Firstly a reminder: it's Word Soup night. Sure, Preston is absolutely miles away to a Mancunian. But I've checked, and there are about five trains an hour there from town, and a long train journey is a nothing more than good book-reading time.

Secondly, the Manchester MA students reading has just been organised. It's the 3rd of next month, and it's another one of the lovely free Central Library lunchtime readings. The list of readers is really good. There's a great mix there, a couple are funny, a couple are experimental, a couple are heartbreaking, and one of them's me! There's definitely something for everyone there.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Knives, Forks and Spoons

Check out Knives, Forks and Spoons, it's a new Manchester-based poetry press. They focus exclusively on linguistically innovative/experimental work.

It's great to see a small press that's confident enough about the fantastic Manchester lit scene to get out work they feel passionately about. I think it's especially appropriate to have this sort of work being published here because our very own John Rylands Library houses the dom sylvester houédard archive, which has the most beautiful examples of concrete poetry.

Knives, Forks and Spoons are currently accepting manuscript submissions, and you can see their site for a list of the things they like and what they don't like. They say they intend to publish pamphlets, chaps and perfect bound books. They already have one publication out (Richard Barrett: backyard poems) and have another one from Tom Jenks in the works.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Fred D'Aguiar

Fred D'Aguiar is a poet, novelist and playwright. He is reading tomorrow at yet another wonderful lunchtime reading at Central Library.

D'Aguiar draws on his Guyanese/British heritage and deals often with ideas of where or what home is. If you need convincing to go along to the reading, check out this site for a recording of him reading his poetry.

I can't make it tomorrow since a friend is having an art show in Stockport then. However, please go along and make sure the room is packed out as it deserves to be.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Central Library Readings

I went to a reading yesterday at central library. It was a poetry reading from Carmine Starnino and Patrick McGuiness and it was absolutely great. I'm working in town this week, archiving the papers of Elaine Feinstein at John Rylands, Deansgate. I just popped out on my lunchbreak and enjoyed some truly wonderful poetry.
There were spare seats in the room, which I thought was a shame, since it was such a great free event. I know that it's a little more effort to go to these readings when you don't work in town. I myself am guilty of not wanting to travel into the busy city centre for just an hour long reading, but I'm going to try harder to do so from now on and I'm going to encourage everyone I know to do it as well.
Manchester Libraries puts out a booklet of all their upcoming events which you can get in hard copy from a library or download from here. There are some great events coming up, don't miss out.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Word Soup #3 - The Poetry Edition

Coming up on 23rd June is the next Word Soup.

Recently my inbox received some good information about what's going on that night, and I'm kindly passing it on to you:

Word Soup #3: The Poetry Edition
@ The New Continental Events Space, South Meadow Lane, Preston 01772 499207
£3 on the door 7.30pm - 10pm

Up until now our focus has been on prose but for Word Soup #3 we're focusing exclusively on poetry.

We've three great performance poets booked to perform (see below) and - in a change to our usual format, have open mike spots available to book on the night. Each open mike slot will be for three minutes, and unlike our first two nights, there is no theme - the night is completely open to new and emerging talent.

Sarah Miller is a playwright and performing poet. She recently performed for Apples & Snakes at PUSH in Contact, Manchester and at the Spoken Word Open Mic in the Brewery, Kendal. Sarah is influenced by youth culture, overhearing conversations and Barrow-in-Furness where she lives. Her plays Asboy, Ice Baby and Surfacing were recently toured by the Ashton Group Young Apprentice Actors.

Gary Bridgens is new to the spoken word scene but has been performing as a clown and street performer for 20 yrs. He took part in Superheroes of Slam which was his first slam last year and got through to the semi final. Since then he has impressed audiences with his witty banter and fast patter uke numbers. He has been support act to internationally renowned Polar Bear and he's been a guest performer and compere for Apples & Snakes in Cumbria.

Ann the Poet has been performing poetry in pubs, theatres and at festivals for fifteen years. She was the Poet Laureate for South Cumbria in 2006. She's a regular compère at the Brewery spoken word nights and at Solfest. She published her collection Synesthestic last year. She features on the poetry/sonic art net albums The Resting Bench by Ann Wilson and Clutter and The Resting Bench Remix Projects 1, 2 and 3 which can be downloaded free at For more info on Ann the poet or to sign up to her mailing list visit

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Book of 1000 authors

The Cutting Room votes have been cast and the literature event has been chosen. It's the book of 1000 authors.

Come along between 1pm and 3.30pm and write your contribution to the book. The text will be projected in real time on a wall so everyone can read it as it grows.

The rest of the Cutting Room events look good as well. I have to admit that a game of musical statues at 5pm appeals to me. The day runs from noon till 11pm and there's bound to be something in there to appeal to everyone, even if it's just watching from the sidelines as other people jump around looking silly.

Cutting Room Experiment

WHEN: Saturday, June 20, 12noon-11pm
WHERE: Cutting Room Square, between Blossom Street and Hood Street, off Great Ancoats Street, Manchester

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Orange Prize Part II

Just a quick update for today:

The reviews the UoM postgrad creative writing students have written for the Orange Prize books are on the Orange Prize blog now.

I've got nothing more to say today. Well in fact I've got lots of stuff to share but it will all have to wait till a later date. I interviewed Jackie Kay for Bewilderbliss, the results of that will go onto the website in a couple of weeks. I've also been reading lots of good stuff in the Elaine Feinstein archive. Check out my other blog to keep up with my progress with that. I will be writing something cohesive about the whole process of my work with the archive. Not sure where that's going yet, but I'll post details here when it's done.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Orange Prize

The time of the Orange Prize 2009 is upon us. Very generously, the Orange Prize people have sent copies of the shortlisted books to Manchester Uni Creative Writing postgrads. Obviously, they expected a review in exchange, but that seems like a small price to pay for a free book. The reviews will be going up the Orange Prize website soon, but The Manchester Review has a sneaky peak of them, so get reading and see which one you want to win.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Elaine Feinstein

For the next couple of weeks I will be delving deep into the immense Elaine Feinstein archive at the John Rylands Library. Much of this has not been explored as yet, and my job during my internship at the library is to describe the contents of some a portion of it for the library's records. I will also be writing something based on my work with the archive. I've had a small glimpse at the archive and the few letters that I saw were tantalising in the extreme.

I want to recommend the John Rylands 'Course for the Public' that is looking at the Elaine Feinstein archive, specifically its Ted Hughes based content. The course is on Thurs 25th June and I can promise it will be amazing.

Obviously, much of the archive contains things relating to real, living people. As such, it is protected and I can't discuss what I see with anybody. However, I will be writing about the parts that I am permitted to reveal on my other blog, which I just today found out that Elaine Feinstein herself reads. Catch up with my archival adventures there.


Back when Bewilderbliss was being launched, there was an announcement that another magazine, called Unsung , was also being launched the week after. Well, Bewilderbliss issue #2 is still about a month away, but those speedy Unsung folk have got the launch of their second issue this Sunday.

Unsung is free and it has some great ideals - it 'promotes all the unsung, underrated, underground, unheard voices of Manchester.'

Head along to the Thirsty Scholar on Oxford Road this Sunday (31st) at 8.30pm for readings, including an open-mic slot. Entry's £2 and there will be issues of the magazine distributed on the night.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Cutting Room Experiment

Everyone's blogging about the Cutting Room Experiment, and though I got the press release from the Cutting Room people about it, I didn't think it was particularly relevant to this blog.

I'm blogging about it now because I got another e-mail today from their PR person Carolyn, who writes the amazing blog Manchester Is Ace. She says that the Cutting Room Experiment needs more literature ideas, which is where we come in.

The literature stream has seven ideas at the moment, the top ones so far being 'pride and prejudice zombies' and 'book of a thousand authors'. Each of these have 8 votes, only the top 12 events get put on, and so far the top events have around 40 votes. Anyone who wants to have a literature-event on as part of the experiment should get their votes in or suggest their own ideas. Deadline for idea submission is 29th May 2009.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Desert Island Poetry

I was lucky enough to go to the first Desert Island Poetry night at the Greenroom a few weeks ago. It was a huge success - lots of people had brought along poems to read aloud that inspired or moved them, usually preceded by a story of what the poem meant to the reader. There were also several anthologies on the tables for people to find their favourite poems in as well.

There was a really lovely atmosphere, with people chatting across tables and promoting other reading nights they were going to or hosting. There was a bar downstairs and once the readings were over lots of people got drinks and stayed around to talk and meet each other.

Well, I'm very happy to announce that the night was so popular that it's being repeated - Wednesday 27th of May at 8pm is that next one. Bring along a favourite poem, or just come along to hear people reading something that's special to them.