Tag Archives: new writing

Solstice Shorts Festival lights up the Darkest Day

Solstice Hastings Dec 19Arachne Press pulled off a seven-venue, four-nation, simultaneous festival of stories and poetry on the theme of Time & Tide last week, including two of my poems (seen here being performed in Hasting’s Fisherman’s museum). Solstice, Kate Dyson

This is the sixth Solstice Shorts Festival to light up the darkest day of the year. Festival Director, Cherry Potts put out a call for stories set on, or beside, the sea or tidal rivers, with a historical flavour. Sailing under the title of Time & Tide (named for the Suffragette’s newspaper), Cherry was keen for this year’s festival to include pieces with a strong female voice.

Solstice Shorts AnthologyMy poem ‘The Fisherman’s Daughter’ is inspired by Brighton’s fishing heritage, and was performed in Lisbon (Portugal), Maryport, Hastings, Greenwich (England) and Clydeside (Scotland). My second poem about ‘mail order’ brides for British soldiers on a remote Atlantic island, was performed at Peterhead, Clydeside, Lisbon, Maryport and Greenwich. Neither poem made it to the Welsh event in Holyhead, but three countries out of four is a good innings!

In the slick, darkly covered anthology Time & Tide, you can find every story and poem performed at each of the venues of this year’s Festival – wonderful pieces to stir the blood on long, dark nights, including tales of diaspora, refugees, sex in beach huts, cockle women, Crosby Beach, Noah’s wife, the wisdom of halibut, and much, much more. Solstice, Time &Tide

There was live-streaming from each venue, and you can watch some of these films on Facebook. Facebook Solstice Shorts page It’s fascinating to see how different actors bring their own take to the exact same poem or story. Hastings net huts

I managed to make it to the Hastings gig, which was held in the enthralling (if slightly chilly) Fisherman’s Museum – a beautiful old church where men would worship before facing the dangers at sea. We were plied with mulled wine and mince pies by the volunteers who run this gem of a museum, and the turn-out (on a rain-battered day) was hearteningly good, with standing room only (well, two of us had to sit on a box!). The actors gave forth from a lectern on the deck of a fishing boat in what proved to be the perfect setting, both acoustically and thematically.

Solstice Hastings 19Thank you to Joan Taylor-Rowan for organising the Hastings leg of the Festival, to Simta Ali for filming it, and to Kate Dyson, Rebekah Wilkinson, Jared Stoughton, Patrick Keiley and Umi Sinha for their pitch-perfect performances. A big thank you also to Cherry Potts for keeping a steady hand on the tiller of this extraordinary Festival, and to all the crowd-funders and The Arts Council for financing it.

Solstice HastingsYou can see the entire Hastings at: Time & Tide Hastings

To buy a copy of the Anthology (Time & Tide), or to discover more about any of the Solstice Shorts Festivals, or the many other activities at Arachne Press, please visit:  Arachne Press

High Window, Ekphrastic Review and Celebrating Change – why publish on-line?

A recent flurry of my poems being carried by The High Window (issue 15), The Ekphrastic Review (August 2019) and Celebrating Change (September 2019) has made me ponder the pros and cons of online publishing.

Ekphrastic Review (25.8.19)You write a poem, you re-write a poem, you workshop it, you work on it again, eventually you submit, sometimes it’s accepted for publication. So far, so normal. Appearing in a magazine or anthology enables us to share our craft, our vision, our voice.  Being published doffs its cap to posterity.

So what can online publication offer that printed books and magazines can’t?  Well, for a start, online magazines are usually free to read. This, together with the fact that content can be shared more easily via social media, means you potentially reach more readers. There can be greater immediacy too when you by-pass the laborious processes of printing and posting out. This is particularly relevant for political poems. Online is so handy for journeys – no more lugging heavy books around. Stuck in a jam? Pull out your mobile and get reading. Online magazines allow you to search for individual poet’s work, often across many issues. At magazines like The Ekphrastic Review, you also get to see the painting or artwork that inspired the poem – a delight that books can usually only dream of. Online creative collaborations such as Celebrating Change can use film, music, written word or spoken word in ways that printed form simply can’t deliver. Not least of all, online poetry saves trees!IMG_20190928_125228151[1]

For many writers (and readers) however, the printed book or magazine simply can’t be beaten. There’s something about the quietness of paper that conduces to contemplation and absorption. Bad habits of dipping and diving on-screen can be left behind and poems given the space (literal and metaphorical) they deserve. Many online magazines can’t take unusual formats because line breaks get easily mangled. Goodbye concrete poetry!  In terms of longevity, a book can be retrieved from your shelves and re-read in years to come, whereas online work tends to plunge into oblivion remarkably quickly (unless it’s a bad review or embarrassing photo!)

There are no right or wrongs, of course. Clearly, online and print both have a place in our reading lives. It’s fun to embrace them both. As far as I’m concerned, thank you for taking my work, and vive la difference!

The Ekphrastic Review, edited in Canada by Lorette C Luzajic, publishes poems on a daily basis and accepts reprints: “We’re an online journal devoted entirely to writing inspired by visual art. Our objective is to promote ekphrastic writing, promote art appreciation, and experience how the two strengthen each other and bring enrichment to every facet of life. We want to inspire more ekphrastic writing and promote the best in ekphrasis far and wide.” Check it out here at: The Ekphrastic Review

The High Window is published quarterly by David Cooke and includes reviews, guest poets, poems in translation, occasional articles, and new poems by established and up and coming poets. He has recently started releasing it in instalments to allow for less pressured reading. By clicking names on the contributors’ list, you get taken straight to that person’s poems. Poets in the autumn 2019 issue include Claire Booker, Rebecca Gethin, Rosie Jackson, Maitreyabandhu, Angela Topping and Gareth Writer Davis. The High Window (issue 15)

Celebrating Change is an ACE funded story-telling project based in Middlesbrough led by Laura Degnan and Kirsten Luckins, which combines film, poetry and writing workshops around social change. It releases a poem every ten days, and accepts reprints. Guest editors have included Amy Kinsman and Jess Green.  Some of the poets published so far are Claire Booker, Rachel Burns, Sarah L Dixon, Catherine Fulkner, Moira Garland, Ye Min and Marka Rifat. Check it out here at: Celebrating Change

 

Prole issue 20 is out and proud!

Winner of Best Magazine at The Saboteur Awards in the year that Wales magicked itself into footballing history, Prole has a lot to be proud about.  Prole issue 20

Issue 20 of the Welsh-based lit mag is packed to the rafters with short stories and poetry from the Anglophone world. Poets published in time for autumn include Claire Booker, Matt Duggan, Mab Jones, Joanne Key,  Lisa Kelly, Tess Kincaid, Sue Pace and Jonny Rodgers.

To lift a quote from one of the many Saboteur Award voters: “Prole takes risks, is innovative and don’t take no bullshit from no-one.”  Yes indeed, Prole editors Brett Evans and Phil Robertson accept only clear-sighted work that isn’t dressed up in literary pretention.

Prole issue 20 Sparx' cartoon_0001One of the highlights for me in this issue is Bill Schillaci’s story The Artist Between Lives which had me hooked from the beginning with its ironic take on sessions with a psychotherapist. Also, Maureen Cullen’s Ring of Fire with its great observations and Glaswegian verbal dexterity. Poems that stand out for me include Tess Kincaid’s surreal poem Totem and Lisa Kelly’s Angelica’s Apology. There’s a guilt-inducing little gem from Robert de Born about slug extermination too. And a cartoon by Sparx rounds off the issue

If you’re a prose writer, there’s still time to enter the 2016 Prolitzer Prize which closes for entries on October 1st. Word limit is 2,500. For more details of the competition, or to submit poetry and/or prose to Prole, or buy a copy of issue 20, please click on: www.prolebooks.co.uk

Structo interviews North Korea’s ex poet laureate

Structo15 coverCan poetry truly exist in a totalitarian state?  Structo (issue 15) unearths some painful answers in its interview with Jang Jin-sung, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ex poet laureate.

Jang was once employed by Section 5 (Literature), Division 19 (Poetry) of Office 101 of the United Front Department (jeepers  – room 101!) where, as a privleged member of the elite, he was allowed access to Byron’s poetry. It had a profound effect on him.

Now living in South Korea, Jang explains how culture in the DPRK was (and still is) a matter of state politics. “Even on gravestones you cannot write what you want, because when over three people are able to read it, it is considered propaganda and is therefore subject to censorship. No private or individual literature can be written. No artists are free to be creative.”

Structo Launch 2016

Structo contributors and editors

More fortunate poets making a mark in Structo’s 15th issue include Daniel Bennett, Claire Booker, Marianne Daniels, Claire Dyer, Siobhan Harvey, Michael Metivier, Timothy Otte, Maria Ferencuhova (translated from Slovak by Juana Adcock) and the eternal Sapho (translated by Kate Wise).

The launch drew contributors from all corners of the UK and was a convivial affair in Oxford’s Albion Beatnik Books, with chat, tea and fabulous chocolate cake.  Holding up the side for poetry were Claire Dyer and myself, both reading some of our work published in this issue. I was particularly moved by Picture This  – Claire’s paean to maternal love (and loss). Claire Dyer at Structo

Structo without short fiction would be – well, something else altogether. We were treated to some eye-watering originality from Jude Cook, Stephen Hargadon, Paula Hunter, Dan Micklethwaite and Barbara Rennel who performed their short stories with gusto.

Structo Stephen DurkanA highlight for me was Stephen Durkan’s one-man blitz of a story ‘A Day in the Life of a Modern Man’. His first published piece, apparently. Bravo Structo for spotting a winning new talent!

Never judge a book by its cover, so the saying goes. But it turns out a good cover is: “a distillation, a haiku, if you will, of the story.” Structo’s interview with leading book cover designers Jennifer Carrow, Daniel Benneworth-Gray and Oliver Munday left me with a much clearer idea of what makes me stop, browse and buy. Think about it next time you make a purchase.

Talking of which, to buy a hard copy of Structo (issue 15) or to submit your work to the magazine, please visit:  www.structomagazine.co.uk   Twitter or Facebook  To download a free copy of Structo (issue 15) click on:  https://issuu.com/structo/docs/structo15

New drama grid-lock at The Pleasance

If you’re a director, actor or playwright, Director’s Cut Theatre Company are on the look out for new blood (see below for latest call).

They’re utterly professional, command healthy audiences and are a pleasure to work with, as I discovered when my 10 minute play, Pig in a Blanket, was performed at The Pleasance Theatre, Islington, earlier this year. No U-Turn It was part of a showcase of nine new plays – No U-Turn! – based around the theme of people trapped in traffic. Ironic, as it turns out, because on performance night, north London was plunged into havoc by engineering works and a defunct Picadilly Line. Despite this, more than a hundred people managed to get through to see the show.

Artistic Director (Heather Ward) and Dramaturg (Jessica Mayne) selected plays by Claire Booker, Mitch Day, Clare Knights, Callum McGowan, Michael Pearcy, Nikki Racklin, Julian Ross Davison, Julian Warren and James Withey from nearly 200 submitted to a very specific brief. No U Turn We had to create up to four characters stuck in traffic, unable to leave their cars, with a specific place they were heading to. At the end of each play, the traffic had to move on, yet we weren’t allowed to reveal what had caused the jam.

No U-TurnA total of 16 actors and 9 directors set to work turning our words into theatre, including specially created choreography to link each of the nine plays. A big thank you to Rosie Ward and Lauren Orrock for their finely crafted performances as ‘Rat’ and Ellie (animal rights activists with a nasty secret in the boot) in Pig in a Blanket. I had great fun at the first rehearsal watching them go through improvisation exercises with co-directors Kieran Rogers and Peter Gould, including revisiting Rat and Ellie’s childhood haunts and a pretty hard-nosed police interrogation. Pig in blanket

The next showcase Drafts is coming up on 29th May at Southwark Playhouse for which writers’ submissions have just opened. They’ll be casting next month.

For more details about Drafts or The Director’s Cut Theatre, including future writing, directing or acting opportunities, please contact Heather Ward (Artistic Director and Producer) at: www.directorscuttheatre.co.uk

Salzburg’s Hills are Alive with Poems

Salzburg is the land of Mozart, castles, the von Trapps, whipped cream . . . and English poetry? Yes, the hills are alive with the work of 53 poets in the latest issue of Poetry Salzburg Review. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A little left-field perhaps, but the literary magazine set up by the University of Salzburg’s Department of English and American Studies has an 11 year record of publishing original poetry in English. So I’m thrilled to have five of my poems included in their latest issue (No. 28).

Poetry Salzburg Review 28

The magazine comes out twice yearly, and delivers some of the best front covers of any literary publication. This issue’s dream-like sequence was created by Russian-born Michael Cheval who specialises in Absurdist paintings, drawings and portraits.

Content in Issue 28 is an eclectic mix of poetry from the Anglophone world, including poets from Canada, the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA.

Sharon Black, Jane Bonnyman, Claire Booker, Daragh Bradish, Meg Eden, Piotr Florczyk, Anne Harding Woodworth, Andrzej Lyszkowicz, Lindsay MacGregor, Rob A Mackenzie, Kim Moore, Stuart A. Patterson, Robert Peake, Hagar Peeterson (translated by Judith Wilkinson), Caroline Price, Wally Swist and Ross Wilson share between one and 5 poems apiece with the reader.

Poetry Salzburg Review 28 (2)Poetry Salzburg Review 28 (2)Issue 28 also contains reviews of John Silkins’s Complete Poems, Rae Armantrout’s Itself, the German poets Volker Braun and Michael Kruger, and collections by Caitriona O’Reilly, Kim Moore, Gordon Hodgeon, Mike Jenkins and Robert Peake. Plus translations of Michael Kruger by Wolfgang Gortschacher and David Malcolm.

To buy a copy of Issue 28 or submit you work to the magazine check details at  www.poetrysalzburg.com or email the editors at psr@poetrysalzburg.com

Monologue Slam at St James’ Theatre

Twelve actors, ten playwrights, one great concept!

CSRamQWXIAAjMJu Director’s Cut pulled off an adventurous evening of acting and writing talent on Tuesday, with its ‘Make The Cut’ slam at London’s prestigious St James Theatre.

It’s always a privilege to have a play performed by up and coming young actors. This time, not one, but two, got to interpret the role of Kips in my play ‘Sperm Vampire’ along with nine other monologues, also performed by more than one actor.

The monologues were selected from among hundreds submitted to the company.  Each play was performed twice, by two different actors.  Each actor got to learn three different monologues.  The first round comprised all 12 actors going head to head in pairs, performing six of the shortlisted plays.  The audience then got to vote who went forward. The six winning actors  then went head to head in three groups of pairs, performing a new monologue.  The final round saw three actors performing the final monologue.  CSVVaFBWoAAA7gT

Simon Desborough and Harry Boyd both gave sterling performances as Kips in ‘Sperm Vampire’ by Claire Booker. A big thank you and congratulations to them both for their excellent interpretations.

Congratulations also to all the short-listed writers, the other ten actors and mazeltoff to the ultimate winners, actor Sukh Kaur Ojla and writer Tom Ratcliffe.

If you would like to know more about The Director’s Cut Theatre, including future writing or acting opportunities, please contact Heather Ward (Artistic Director and Producer) at: www.directorscuttheatre.co.uk or on Facebook at:  https://www.facebook.com/directorscutTC

New drama alive and kicking in Clapham’s Bread & Roses Theatre

Unheard 2015Some stunning new dramas played at Clapham’s newest theatre, The Bread & Roses, last month as part of ‘Unheard’ – a four day festival of plays that explored themes of abuse and violence.   Vagina Monologues 2015 phto Ricardo Correia

From rehearsed readings to scratch performances and full productions, many of the twelve events organised by activist theatre company Goblin Baby played to capacity audiences. These included charity fund-raiser ‘The Vagina Monologues’ and two evenings of short new plays including ‘Deliverance’ by Amy Bethan Evans and ‘Bathroom Secrets’ by Claire Booker. Hot from its success in New York, the  ‘Maison des Reves’ shook audiences with the story of a woman who murdered over a hundred men in Czarist Russia, written and performed by the amazingly versatile Talie Melnyk.

Bathroom Secrets(Photographer Kenneth Jay)Tickets cost as little as £3.00 in keeping with Goblin Baby Theatre Company’s policy of bringing thought-provoking theatre to people at a price everyone can afford.

Susan Hodgetts

Susan Hodgetts

‘Bathroom Secrets’ was performed with touching honesty by Susan Hodgetts in the role of Bee, whilst Mark Lisseman brought poignancy to the role of her husband.  A big thank you also to director Suvi Peisanen and Goblin Baby Theatre Company for producing my work.

Goblin Baby Theatre Company are now preparing their next production due in April/May  – a contemporary take on August Strindberg’s Miss Julie featuring Tessa Hart & Rebecca Pryle. Do check out their website for further details at.:

Goblin Baby Theatre Co.

The Bread & Roses Theatre has been building audiences rapidly since it opened earlier this year. You can enjoy theatre, comedy or Open Mic events only a few minute’s walk from Clapham Common/North tube stations on most nights of the week. For a full programme go to: The Bread & Roses Theatre

Photographs curtesy of Kenneth Jay.

A Thousand Monkeys go Ape-shit in Guildford!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPop Up Poetry pulled a thousand monkeys out of a hat last night, with the launch of its spanking new anthology for 2014.

Congratulations to editor Janice Windle and host Donall Dempsey for a spectactular event at The Bar Des Arts in Guildford, Surrey, where poets and audience gathered for an evening of word, song and antics to celebrate the event’s re-branding from PUP to The Thousand Monkeys.

Performers included  Cat Randle, Elaine Stabler, Grim Chip, Kathy Tyler, the Stokey Bard, Amy McAllister, Tom Vliestra and me. There was music too from the Dirty Carols (don’t ask!)

At  183 pages, the Pop Up Anthology 2014 is among the most generous and intelligently put together I’ve seen in a good while. Open mic-ers were all offered at least one page in the book, and what you get is the best poetry from 70 poets who have read at some point during the year, including:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wendy Klein, Steve Pottinger, Sally Blackmore, David Cooke, Donall Dempsey, Louise Etheridge, A F Harrold, Mark Gilfillan, Claire Booker, Holly Luhning, Patrick Osada, Bethany Pope, Chrys Salt, Pauline Sewards, Isabel White and Janice Windle.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATo buy a copy of Pop Up Anthology 2014, or to find out more about the free monthly event in Guildford on the third Tuesday of each month, visit: Pop Up Anthology 2014_0001

 

 

Camden Fringe success for Goblin Baby Theatre Company

One of our Robots is Missing

One of our Robots is Missing

Goblin Baby Theatre Co. pulled off  a Camden Fringe Review ‘Hot Ticket’ status for 2 out of the 3 nights’ performances of FORESEEN – its four writer, three actor, two director bonanza of post-apocalyptic dark comedies that played The Hen & Chickens Theatre Bar in Islington from the 22nd to 24th August.

Associate writers Amy Bethan Evans, Claire Booker, Tessa Hart and Tilly Lunken each wrote 12 minute plays which the company wove into one darkly comic, thought-provoking hour of theatre.

Processed

Processed

The Appointment

The Appointment

Lucy and the Beasts

Lucy and the Beasts

Leigh-Anne Abela directed Amy Bethan Evans’ Lucy and the Beasts  (The Beast is what you make of it);  and Claire Booker’s One Of Our Robots Is Missing (Nuclear bunkers. Read the small print!) Victorine Pontillon directed Tessa Hart’s The Appointment (The legend of the Female Species and their mysterious swelling bellies); and Tilly Lunken’s Processed  (There must be somewhere to live, even when there is nowhere to go).

Actors Alice Bell, Michael Bagwell and Alexandra Vincent turned in a kaleidoscope of stunning performances, each creating four completely different characters, plus some state-of-the-art, on-set costume changes under the eagle eyes of enthusiastic audiences.

Next up is a Goblin Baby double bill: The Proposal by Anton Chekhov(in a same-sex version) and To Be A Wife by Tilly Lunken at The Space, Isle of Dogs, London from 7th-11th October (7.30pm with 3pm Saturday matinee).  For more details or to buy tickets visit www.goblinbaby.com