Happy Birthday Shakespeare – he loved the 24 hour poetry marathon held in his honour.
Cough, cough, splutter! Apologies ladies, I fear I am feeling a tad worse for wear after my 24 hour poetry marathon fundraiser on the weekend. It turns out that staying up for 40 hours and performing rather a lot doesn’t have the best impact on your throat. Luckily I lasted throughout the wonderfully heartwarming event – no major hitches, poets from across Wales, visitors and cheerleading well-wishers throughout the early hours – and I have to say a big ‘THANK YOU!’ to all who helped: you rock, people
It has been a good year for Philip Gross, winner of the TS Eliot Prize for The Water Table,here nominated for the poetry and photography collaboration I Spy Pinhole Eye (Cinnamon Press). There is a dearth of females on the English-language list, but Jasmine Donahayeis a strong contender with her latest collection of poetry, Self-Portrait as Ruth (Salt) which deals in provocatively sexual and erotic terms with the Israel-Palestine situation, while children’s author and journalist Terri Wiltshire has been nominated for her debut adult novel, Carry Me Home(Macmillan, 2009). However, Welsh-language writers have done the XX-line proud, thanks to Manon, Manon, Sian, Siân, Caryl and Haf.
Chair of the English-language judges, poet Ian Gregson, found this year’s efforts inspiring: ‘This year’s list is especially exciting because almost all the best books this year were by lesser-known or younger writers, notably the two novelists and the three poets. It’s also conspicuously varied in terms of genre: as well as poetry and novels, it includes nature-writing, life-writing, short stories, and two books of intriguing and challenging critical exegesis.’
The Long List
Horatio Clare, A Single Swallow, Vintage
Jasmine Donahaye, Self-Portrait as Ruth, Salt Modern Poets
Philip Gross, I Spy Pinhole Eye, Cinnamon Press
Emyr Humphreys, The Woman at the Window, Seren
Peter Lord, The Meaning of Pictures, University of Wales Press
Mike Thomas, Pocket Notebook, Heinemann
Nikolai Tolstoy, The Oldest British Prose Literature: The Compilation of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi, Edward Mellen Press
Alun Trevor, The Songbird is Singing, Parthian
Richard Marggraf Turley, Wan-Hu’s Flying Chair, Salt Modern Poets
Terri Wiltshire, Carry Me Home, Macmillan New Writing
Plenty of budding writers had had the same idea and it isn’t hard to see why. Leaf Books is an independent publisher especially interested in supporting new writers and new forms including nano-fiction, micro-fiction and teeny weeny fiction. They run many a competition offering opportunities to get work published in one of their anthologies. That first foot in the door can prove so important, as the night’s youngest reader, Holly Howitt, must know: she entered and won Leaf’s 2006 Short Short Story competition with ‘Water’ and also had two stories, ‘Rock’ and ‘Harvest,’ highly commended. All were published in their Final Theory & Other Stories anthology.
Since then Holly has written a deliciously dark and highly acclaimed novella, The Schoolboy, and a collection of micro-fiction Dinner Time and Other Stories, both out from Cinnamon Press. She will also be co-editing a micro-fiction/prose poetry anthology that’s due out in the autumn of 2010. She has certainly found her niche in publishing since since studying creative writing in Cardiff: ‘My lecturer, Richard Gwyn, steered me towards prose-poetry and I began to make some sense of my work and how I fitted into literature as a whole – micro-fiction, nano-fiction, flash fiction, sudden fiction….’ Prosetry!
Jasper Fforde, interviewed for the launch issue of Leaf Writers’ Magazine, had quite a different tale to tell: it took him 13 years to get published, and he cited ‘loving what you do’ and ‘being stubborn’ as good qualities to get you through the dark times. ‘Never write to earn a living,’ he added, claiming that the found his creative space when ‘deadlines loomed.’
Next up: I am looking forward to Floralia Festival in Cardiff this weekend, a 2-day lady-led event in honour of Flora, the Goddess of spring and flowers. I shall be appearing at Telling Tales (reading a short story) this Sunday 2 May.