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.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Rainy City Workshops

Very exciting news:

Rainy City (the zine not this lovely drizzly place) has got together with Commonword to offer some writing workshops.

The theme is 'Writing about place', naturally, and the workshops are being led by Suzanne Batty. Best of all though, the workshops are 100% free.

There are four sessions with just 12 places per session so sign up quickly or miss out.

The M'cr Literature Festival Blog has helpfully supplied me with all the where and when details:

Stockport Art Gallery Saturday June 13, 2-4 pm
To book a place, please ring 0161 474 4453

Bury Fusiliers’ Museum Wednesday June 24, 7-9 pm
To book a place, please ring 01706 823264

Hyde Library, Tameside Thursday June 25, 1-3 pm
To book a place, please ring 0161 342 4450

Standish Library, Wigan Saturday June 27, 10am-12pm
To book a place, please ring 01257 400496

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Interview with Jenn Ashworth

Jenn Ashworth, author of A Kind of Intimacy, has done an interview for Bewilderbliss. She did the MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Uni recently and is very supportive of new writers. She's given lots of good advice and information about her writing and the publishing process. She's also given details of her work with the Preston Writing Network, which includes the creative writing classes she teaches and the live lit night Word Soup.

Yes, indeed, it does seem that Jenn Ashworth does it all, she even has a job and a kid. She puts everyone else to shame, but she does it so politely that you can't hold it against her. She'll even sign her book with scented ink for you.

If you want to know more about Jenn Ashworth then check out her blog, which is always interesting, and nicely stationary-obsessed. She also has a website that features 'deleted scenes' from her novel, and details about how its beautiful cover got made.

Over at Bewilderbliss we've also updated the video reading page. We're currently featuring Anthony Richardson, writer and Microsoft Paint obsessive.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Succour Fantasies

The always interesting and beautiful Succour has a new issue out. The theme of it is Fantasies and it's having a launch here in Manchester. The launch is on the 31st of July at The Briton's Protection on Great Bridgewater St. They've not released details yet, but they'll be here when I have them, or check out their facebook page.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Dave Hartley

Dave Hartley is a Preston writer - he's part of the Preston Writing Network. As he mentioned in a comment somewhere down this page he's writing a story a week for a year. His blog is almost always apologising for the stories being slightly late, but he does get them done, so far he's posted 34 of the things. All of the stories are very different, Dave's not limiting himself to any particular genre. I'm always interested in people who are telling stories in new or unusual ways and Dave has really taken advantage of the web medium by telling one of his stories through scans of letters stored on photobucket.
This site is definitely worth checking out.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Manchester Fiction Prize

MMU is launching a new short story prize, with a prize of £10,000 up for grabs as well as a bursary for study at MMU. I'm not normally organized enough to think about competitions, and I find it dissatisfying to have a story stuck out there in the ether for the long long time it takes for them to judge. However, I'm getting excited by this one because it's nice and local and it's purely short stories. It gives me a warm glow inside to have MMU putting so much faith in the short story when so much these days is focused on the novel form.
Thanks to the LitList for alerting me to this. More details on the competition are to be found here.

Elaine Feinstein

I've just received details of a really exciting course from the UoM Courses for the Public. It's based around the Elaine Feinstein archive, specifically the part relating to Ted Hughes. I've actually been lucky enough to have a little preview of part of the archive, and been guided through it by Stella Halkyard, who is a tutor for the day course on 25th June. Stella is incredibly helpful and knowledgeable, her excitement is truly infectious. This archive is a treasure trove of tantalising letters to other great authors, it is something absolutely not to be missed.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Word Soup

The beautiful and brilliant Jenn Ashworth has informed me of a new venture she's part of - the Preston Writing Network. It's a project from They Eat Culture and it makes me think that Preston might just be the place to be.

Preston Writng Network is here to promote and develop emerging and established writing talent in Preston and the wider NW. We blog and twitter to keep you up to date with what's going on, and we hold classes, workshops, events and meet-ups to help you move in the direction you want to go.

The website has lots of details of workshops and writing opportunities, below are details of a couple of particularly exciting up and coming things:

Taster sessions, workshops and seminars with Jenn Ashworth herself. There are so many, and such a variety that you're bound to find something that interests you. They're at The Continental in Preston and the present programme runs from May through to October.

Word Soup - also at The Continental. It's a monthly live literature night, the next one, on the theme of SKIN, is May 19th from 8pm.
There’s a fantastic line-up of readers including EmmaLannie, a writer, performer, blogger and organiser of Derby’s Live LitNight Hello Hubmarine, Annie Clarkson, author of collection ofmicro-fiction Winter Hands and contributor to Flax Books latest digitalanthology Unsaid Undone, and Andrew Michael Hurley, the author of twoshort story collections, Cages and The Unusual Death of Julie Christie,and a regular performer at Lancaster's Spotlight Club.
As if all that weren’t enough, Word Soup 2 also features readings fromDavid Hartley, who is writing a short story a week for a year on hisblog, Richard Hirst, a graduate of the Manchester's MA in CreativeWriting and writer of top Preston blog I Thought I Told You to Wait inthe Car (not to mention a regular contributor to the Preston WritingNetwork blog), and Tim Woodhall of Manchester’s much-lauded Live LitNight and blog, There’s No Point in Not Being Friends, and contributorto Dogmatika, which you can sample here. Add some live music and a short film to the mix and you have all theingredients for a literary night to remember. See you there! Entry to the event is £3 on the door.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Apathetical Readers

Exciting things are in the air regarding An Apathetical Reader, I've seen details on a couple of other blogs, as yet just a tantalising taste of what Alice Apathetical is up to. The Manchizzle quotes this:

web magazine An Apathetical Reader, "a creative community site that hopes to give a voice to the vast numbers of unsupported, disillusioned young people in the city," writes a shadowy figure called Alice Apathetical. "The website will feature local news, national political comment, features about Manchester, music journalism and artist profiles. By creating a unique and quality webzine I hope to support creative people blown by the current economic climate and finding the city a difficult place to meet like-minded people."

It sounds very exciting. Keep all ears to the ground.

Children in Conflict

I just got an interesting e-mail from the New Student Writing Society (based at UoM), who are putting together their first collection at the moment.

More immediately, they're doing readings at the Children in Conflict event at Platt Fields Community Chapel on May 6th. The evening is hosted by Amnesty International, UNICEF, and DEC Gaza Appeal for Children in Conflict Week.

The event is a mixture of art and poetry, doors open at 5pm, with things kicking off at 5.30 and going until 7.30. Admission is £1.50, all money goes to charity.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Bewilderbliss Video Changed

As I've mentionned previously, I edit a magazine for new Manchester writers called Bewilderbliss. The first issue came out in March and we had a launch at the Deaf Institute. The readings from that night were filmed and a short video made of each of the readers. The videos are featured on the Bewilderbliss website, and I change them every couple of weeks. I've just changed it to Cora Greenhill, a great local poet whose website features some poems from her three collections.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Goodbye Ugly Tree

The Ugly Tree has died. The Mancunian poetry magazine has been around for seven years but it's dropped it's final leaves for issue #20.

There will be a farewell gig on 28th May, with readings at Central Library (Committee Room, 2nd floor) starting at 6pm.

There are still back issues to buy to mop your tears up with, and when I spoke to Paul a couple of weeks ago he said that Ballista is still continuing, which is good news for fiction lovers.

A Small Eternity

I went to the sonnet reading at John Rylands Deansgate on Thursday in celebration of Shakespeare's birthday. It featured some of the UoM students who have contributed sonnets to the small anthology that accompanies the beautiful exhibition in the Christie Gallery there at the moment.

The exhibition is called A Small Eternity: The shape of the sonnet through time, it's there until the 27th of June. You can pick up a copy of the anthology, which is very enjoyably and beautifully presented, and you can contribute your own sonnet to the exhibition. If that's not sold you on the exhibition, here's what the university has to say to tempt you to visit:

Crossing time, continents and cultures the sonnet as a poetic form has always captured the imagination of poets. So, what kind of poem is a sonnet and where did they come from?
Using sumptuously illuminated books, rare and early printed editions, unique literary manuscripts and writers' letters, this exhibition traces some of the stories told by the sonnet and explores why poets have felt compelled to write them.It contains examples of the work of a diverse range of sonneteers from Petrarch to Vikram Seth and Wilfred Owen to Lorna Goodison who have employed the form to speak of love-lost, found and forbidden, solace in war, and the nature of being and belonging in a complex world.
The exhibition will pay special attention to the sonnets of William Shakespeare five hundred years after their first appearance in print and offers you the opportunity to contribute to this anniversary by writing sonnets of your own.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Poetry School

This month through to June you can go along to The Poetry School for a variety of workshops for adults. They all run over a number of sessions, which is why I've not put details in the upcoming readings sidebar.

The one's coming up in Manchester that still have spaces are:

Elements and Forces with Grevel Lindop, it's 4 sessions starting 30/04/09, looking at the "fundamental elements of poetry and the forces that sustain it."

Poetry and Vocabulary with Matthew Welton, it's 2 sessions starting 25/04/09, which "explore the poetic benefit of developing an attentive approach to the vocabulary you use in your writing."

Reading Contemporary American Women Poets with John McAuliffe, it's 3 sessions starting 04/06/09, this course "encourages you to reflect on developments over the last forty years in American poetry, and perhaps how these relate to fashions closer to home. "

Monday, 20 April 2009

Back Again

I've been away writing over Easter, I went to the woods, lived deliberately, sucked some marrow. Now I feel as though I've lost touch with things in the writing world a little, I missed some great-looking readings. Luckily I'm back in time to see some UoM students reading their poems as part of a celebration of Shakespeare's birthday.

Do e-mail me with details of any other upcoming readings and I'll put their details on here.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Lit List loves booklovers

The Manchester Lit List has created a rather handy list of ten great websites for book lovers. Check out the list and lose yourself for a lovely self-indulgent day in book loving thoughts about social cataloguing, book-dropping, reviewing and book clubs.

Saturday, 4 April 2009


This is exciting news from my other project - local new writers' magazine Bewilderbliss. Jackie Kay, tipped to become Poet Laureate next month, has set the theme for the issue and agreed to lend a little extra support by writing something for the upcoming issue. The magazine will be out around the end of June, I'll announce the theme closer to the time.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
This is a little off-topic, but related to the plight of the small press. At a party recently I was told it was perverse to want to publish a print magazine in this day and age. That's not the first time I've had that reaction, but it's the first time a stranger's called me perverse because of Bewilderbliss.

Well help is at hand in the form of, this blog has come to my defense by proposing an ad campaign that highlights all the ways that books are sexy and cool. The post is funny and great and helps me feel like I'm not a troglodyte for wanting to read ink on paper.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Very Young and Trying

Last night I went to the Deaf Institute for the launch of the new zine WE ARE YOUNG AND WE ARE TRYING. The name is, if anything, an understatement - they are very young (I was one of the few people there not being asked for ID at the bar) and they have tried very hard.

The launch was a bit of a let-down because it failed to really come together, but I'll let the kids off for that on account of the fact that their zine must have worn them right out. There are plenty of pictures on their blog of what it contains - art-work, stories and a CD. And contrary to what their blog claims, one of the Young and Trying tribe informed me that there may be a Volume Two if this one sells well.

If you want to purchase a copy there are details on the blog of how to go about that.

Saturday, 28 March 2009


I picked up a flyer for the re-scheduled launch of this yesterday and just remembered I had it. The 'this' in question is the amazingly exciting-looking zine launch/exhibition of the shiny and new WE ARE YOUNG AND WE ARE TRYING: VOLUME ONE. The caps are theirs and they seem justified so I've stuck with them - there will be music, readings, art exhibitioning, book-stalls....the list goes on. Be there to check it out because it looks like there's so much stuff going on that I'll never be able to fit it all into a post.

The launch is at the Deaf Institute on Monday 30th March (yes that's this Monday!) from 8pm onwards, best of all it is '100% free of charge.'

The Young and Trying folk seem genuinely sorry that they had to cancel their previously scheduled launch so don't hold it against them.


Just a quick extra post today to say that you can now follow this blog by adding yourself into the 'Followers' widget on the right hand side. This saves you the trouble of coming allll the way onto this page, updates will automatically be sent to you. Though it would also be nice if you'd come here too, that way you can see the details of upcoming readings as well.

Nasty Safari and Capture Manchester

I got an exciting e-mail in my inbox yesterday. It's been in the works for a while, but the amazing new writing e-zine, Nasty Safari, is here. It's got fiction, poetry, drama and a frankly hilarious blog...and in fact that's just for starters, there's so much stuff on there that you just have to check it out. The highlight for me is Claire Urwin as I'm unashamedly in love with her work, she's a poet and a playwright, and she does both so well that I'm very glad she rarely writes fiction or I'd have to quit.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

This new Capture Manchester exhibition at the Cube gallery on Portland St is good for a bit of inspiration - gets you thinking about new ways to see the city you live in.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Subversive Spaces

Go to the Whitworth Art Gallery to visit their Subversive Spaces exhibition. Do it now.

This may not seem at first to be that related to writing, but there is a lot in there that's relevant to the subject. Within the exhibition there are some extracts of writing about Surrealist ideas, notably Brenton's. But more significantly, the whole exhibition is very inspiring to any sort of artist. The surrealists started out with very specific ideas, in this exhibition the concept of the home as a threatening space was a central theme and the artists represented it in a number of different ways within their work. The way the artists focused their ideas and considered what was core to them is very inspiring.

If you do go be sure to visit the instilation piece Kinderzimmer by Gregor Schneider. It has to be experienced one at a time, you need to collect a ticket for a ten minute time slot (apparently mornings are the easiest times to get tickets, if you go late in the afternoon you'll probably be out of luck). The piece has caused very mixed reactions, but even if you hate it, it will make you think. It's best to go in there knowing nothing about it, so I'll leave you to discover it for yourself.

While you're at the Whitworth you can pick up one of the cool badges that are floating around the city saying: If you read this, I'll give it to you (but then you must wear it). These are Katya Sander's newest project, which is part of the Whose Cosmopoliatanism? events. Pass the badge along to anyone who asks for it, thereby creating a social contract with them and setting off a chain around the city.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

No Point and Jenn Ashworth

I'm doing an MA in Creative Writing at the Centre for New Writing at Manchester University. Even though I've lived in Manchester virtually my whole life it wasn't until starting the course that I was able to really tap into all the reading events and the huge network of writers there is here. Me and two other people from the course set up a magazine called Bewilderbliss to collect together some of the best writing from the University of Manchester and MMU down the road. It's going really well - there are some great pieces in it and some of those were read aloud and filmed on the launch night. The Bewilderbliss website features one of those readings at a time and changes every week or two, you can see what's there now by clicking here.
In addition to the official launch night we also had a segment in the incedibly popular No Point in Not Being Friends last night thanks to Chris Killen , who is a writing fellow at the Centre for New Writing.

This month, in a very special episode of No Point in Not Being Friends, the very lovely Jenn Ashworth launched her novel A Kind of Intimacy, which I snapped up a copy of. The reading she did was very funny, and if it's anything to go by, the book (which comes in at a weighty 282 pages) will flick past in a flurry of pages that will have me wishing it was twice the length.