Saturday, 28 August 2010

BYT: My latest blog on Mslexia

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AUGUST 2010
My latest blog on Mslexia

I don’t know about you, but Summer is turning out to be pretty hectic for me. What with going to festivals as a journalist, going to festivals as a performer, editorial work and preparations for the Bright Young Things book launches, I’ve got very little time for working on The Novel or slobbing about watching iPlayer. Let alone ploughing through my review pile of books. I did make time to write a short poem that was selected by Bugged though, yay, and I thought I ought to make time to blog here because I have some Literary Wales news…
In other news, I now also write for theatre bible The Stage and ace literary magazine The Raconteur have asked me to be a regular blogger for them on their all new digital edition website, so look forward to that from September.
It is Green Man festival this weekend. I’m reading poems with Patrick Jones, Mab Jones and Rhian Edwards at The Literature Tent on Sunday at 3pm. See you there!

Friday, 27 August 2010

THE RACONTEUR: BOOK LAUNCHES

Is there any point having a book launch?’ muses a maudlin writer at a recent literary pub outing. ‘Not the sort I’d like I suppose. A literary wake. A small bar in the middle of nowhere. Plenty of whisky. A coffin.’ I can do that all by myself. .. Oh, how very noir.

Still, as a writer with a book about to launch it got me thinking too. Do people care? Some, maybe. Is it just vanity? Probably. Do you sell books? It depends. Publishers don’t throw around money for these kind of things now. Time was there’d be wads of cash behind the bar of some lavish private members club. A literary launch party would be all champagne and cocktails and cigars and mixed up hotel rooms. These days you can usually expect a glass of tepid wine, two at a push, and a reading in a breezy arts centre. Perhaps you’ll sell a book to your Mum, and that ex lover who is still your BIGGEST FAN in rather a scary YOU DID NOT INVITE THEM way. [DISCLAIMER: Parthian assure me that the Bright Young Things launches will be nothing short of fantastic].

But then again, parties and literature have always made good bed fellows. Nocturnal gatherings feature in books everywhere from Zadie Smith’s White Teeth to Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones, from Jane Austen to Bret Easton Ellis and the Literary Brat Pack.  In his early 20s Ellis organised fabulous parties and issued invitations saying things like, ‘Because it's Thursday.’ These days, he’s calmed it down. Still bad behaviour at parties in literature is not new. Nor the arrival of unexpected guests – in fact, isn’t that half the thrill? Romeo is a gatecrasher at the Capulets shindig. The PM turns up at the party that concludes Mrs. Dalloway. In F Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway observes his rich neighbour's summer parties, ‘In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.’ Whilst The Famous Five were forever having gatherings with lashings and lashings of ginger beer (Crabbies, for sure, the naughty ASBOs).

In the real literati world, though, you’d be wise to spot the fake and the frenemies but beyond the regional book launch, the live literati party scene  is thriving from the mansions of London and Hay to the Marquees of Port Eliot and Latitude, writers are showing everyone how to have a good Book Club Boutique time, and if they aren’t they’d better hurry up and start. It is part of our job description now, don’t you know. This doesn’t bother me much, and I still argue the live literature scene has been thriving for aeons, the press has simply decided to catch up. The audience may be broadening though. It certainly isn’t the case that you have to live on the right London street to be in on the act these days.

Writers are strange creatures. Some are Dylan Thomas delirious to be out at the pub with you, whoever you are, so long as you are picking up the tab. Others want to crawl back under their rock.


Philip Larkin explains in his poem ‘Vers de Société’ which describes receiving an invitation to a soiree from a Warlock-Williams: ‘My wife and I have invited a crowd of craps/To come and waste their time and ours: perhaps/ You'd care to join us?’ No, thanks, I’d rather be alone thinking, says Larkin, instead of at the party listening to 'the drivel of some bitch/ Who's read nothing but Which' or 'asking that ass about his fool research'. In the end, however, he comes to the conclusion that the prospect of sitting alone makes him feel more depressed, thus he replies, 'Dear Warlock-Williams: Why, of course -'. I can understand the sentiment. More and more these days I feel I need more time to write, and this can force a resentment on all the do’s there are to go to, but also, I hate to miss out on The Fun. So, most likely, I’ll be there until the bitter end for as Groucho Marx has once quipped, although not about me, 'She is afraid, that if she leaves she’ll become the life of the party.' As such, there will be the consumption of too much cheap wine on the night and embarrassing Facebook photos and a bad head in the morning.

What of my guests? T. S. Eliot, when asked by a woman whether he was enjoying the party they were both attending, replied: 'Yes, if you see the essential horror of it all.' Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath met at a magazine launch party in which a poem of hers had been given a bad review. Feeling amorous Hughes tried to kiss her, and Plath, feeling less so, bit his cheek and drew blood. Even a bad party can start up one of the most infamous literary relationships of the 20th century.


So, with literature, literati and social gatherings one must learn to expect the unexpected. The internet is packed with tips on how to host a literary tea party. Hints include ‘Make the party fun, not stuffy.’ And ‘Choose a story that is funny and upbeat.’ 



So with my book launches coming up I shall hope that my guests turn up and are not, as in Chekhov’s story ‘The Party’ only 'boring cranks, hypocrites, or idiots…’ or, indeed, fakes and frenemies but instead friends, well-wishers, fans and literary lovers. You can hope that the hosts turn up and don’t do a Gatsby or Saatchi, but then again, I’ve heard that in their absence they throw the best parties.
BOOK LAUNCHES
Book Launches

Thursday, 19 August 2010

BUZZ: GREEN LIGHT FOR GREEN MAN



Whoop, whoop. I’ve sorted my set list and packed me bag. I’m off to Green Man in TWO hours and I’m excited!! Sorry I’ve been a bit rubbish on the Buzz blog front of late, I’ve got loads I should be telling you too, so I’ll do a bit of a catch up blog when I get back from the festival. Today, though, I want to talk about Green Man and ONLY Green Man.
So, it looks like it is going to be a damp one, but I have sparkly wellies so I don’t care. I shall be dancing to The Flaming Lips in the mud, just you try and stop me. Music-wise I’ll also be catching other favourites including harpy banshee Joanna Newsom, and the brilliant Beirut and Welshies Pen Pastwn (Richard James) and Race Horses. I’m also looking forward to seeing Fuck Buttons, Gold Panda, Sleepy Sun, Field Music, Tindersticks, First Aid Kit, Laura Marling, Wild Beasts, DJ Yoda, Bear in Heaven, Avi Buffalo, Islet, Mumford & Sons and Erland and the Carnival.
Green Man is always great for finding new favourite acts for me. Last year it was She Keeps Bees. This year I’m following friendly advice and going to try to take a look at Erland and the Carnival, Y Niwl, Planki, Hannah Peel (because she’s been collaborating with Mike from Tunng and I LOVE Tunng) and Gabby and the Other Animals (who were, by all accounts, ace at Stanton Calling).
It isn’t just about the music. I (Susie Wild) am performing poems in the literature tent on Sunday (3pm) along with Mab Jones, Rhian Edwards and Patrick Jones. I’m also looking forward to catching In Chapters (a music and spoken word multi-artist collaboration), the legend that is John Cooper Clarke, novelists Rachel Trezise and Rob Lewis and the ace performance poet Laura Dockrill. I shall also pop into the comedy tent, taking recommendations from Mab who will be performing there too, and is just back from her Edinburgh Festival show, and the cinema tent because they usually show some great films, and it is a good place to warm up and dry off.
See you there! I’ll be in my tiger hat, probably. You can buy me beer if you like…

Sunday, 15 August 2010

MS: Cherish Cerys

The Mslexia Blog


Susie and her tiger hat
Susie and her tiger hat (Photo by Rosie Reed Gold)

I don’t know about you, but Summer is turning out to be pretty hectic for me. What with going to festivals as a journalist, going to festivals as a performer, editorial work and preparations for the Bright Young Things book launches, I’ve got very little time for working on The Novel or slobbing about watching iPlayer. Let alone ploughing through my review pile of books. I did make time to write a short poem that was selected by Bugged though, yay, and I thought I ought to make time to blog here because I have some Literary Wales news…
Cerys Matthews has joined the judging panel for this year’s Dylan Thomas Prize. We love Cerys. I was a big Catatonia fan back in the day, but it still never fails to impress me how much guys STILL love her. I was dancing in the same tent as Cerys at a recent Green Man festival and you could hear the sound of multiple jaws dropping when they spotted the teeny-waisted blonde. She’s like our Kylie. Add to this fact she has brains, has given lectures of Yeats and is writing a novel herself and it doesn’t seem such a strange choice as when I first heard about the news. Cerys is judging the all new Sony Reader Award for Unpublished Writers.
What else can I tell you? I went to see poetic pal Joe Dunthorne read in his hometown (Swansea, also my locale) on 29 July. Lots of people and Joe’s Mum were at the Dylan Thomas Centre to hear him perform witty words from his recent Faber pamphlet. I love his dry humour and deadpan delivery, and the fact he reads the full, original version of one of my favourite poems, ‘Future Dating’ (which featured in the Valentine’s Edition of Five Dials): ‘we wear scrolling badges that display:/Name; Favourite thing; Emotional state./I am Joe; Money; Anxious,’ and includes the bit that Faber omitted: ‘“Keepin’ it old skool!” /– High five – /“LOL!”’ In the break Joe, just back from an amazing Latitude tells me that he has stopped signing his books the Faber way (crossing out his name on the title page, and signing above it) because somebody said it was pretentious and now he is embarrassed. In his second half he reads anOulipo poem and is heckled. It amuses me no end and sends Joe off on a tangent story before returning to finishing the poem.
As for me, I ventured out of Wales and performed stories and poems at a friend’s fundraiser in Chalk Farm the other day. I wore my new favourite thing, a tiger hat (see above photo), and the audience laughed in all the right places, which was nice. I think I may also wear my tiger hat at Green Man festival next weekend, certainly for the performing poems on the Literature Tent stage part. My slot is on Sunday, with Patrick Jones and two of my female poet pals Mab Jones and Rhian Edwards. If you are there come along and say hello.
The proof copy of my short story collection The Art of Contraception is off being printed. I’m so excited about that. Even in typeset PDF it looks pretty. The first launch is at The Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea on Friday 17 September. There will also be dates in Bangor, Aberystwyth, Cardiff and London. Visit www.brightyoungthings.info for more details as they come in, and feel free to come along to hear me read, buy a book and sup some wine. I’ve written the ‘How I Did It’ column for the next issue of Mslexia too.
And finally, some sad news. The Swansea novelist Iris Gower has died aged 75. Iris was the best-selling author of over 30 historical novels and was three-quarters of the way through writing another book, showing her passion for and dedication to writing stayed with her right to the end. RIP.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

BYT: Red Handed

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AUGUST 2010

Red Handed

Just a quick note to say that there are extracts from two of the Bright Young Things in the current (Summer) issue of Welsh lads mag RedHanded Magazine. Read words by Tyler and myself on Page 12. I also have bar and restaurant reviews further back. You can pick it up for FREE in shops, pubs, and venues across South Wales.
LONDON was great by the way, hello new and old London fans :) I’m really looking forward to our BYT London launch. Date to be announced shortly. Ooooooooooooh exciting.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

BYT: Little People

Bright Young Things LogoAUGUST 2010


Little People

‘Little people. Little people. Everywhere.
‘That was my first impression of Camp Bestival. There was also quite a lot of screaming, and not of the crowd loving a good band kind. More the ‘I’m teething waaaaaaaaaaaaaaah’ kind. Still, I’m a big kid at heart. I figured I’d survive as a childless punter at a child-friendly festival. I pictured balloon animals and top notch fancy dress.  I was not let down.’
I went to Camp Bestival in my ‘Top Music Journalist’ role at the weekend.
You can read my review about it over on Artrocker.tv … word count was teeny tiny so here are some other observations…
*Little people wake up early. This is worth remembering if you go to bed late AKA early, the kind of early that is perhaps a few minutes before those little people are up screaming, and playing tag around your tent. Loudly. I’d suggest stealing a pair of those brightly coloured kids’ headphones that you see on the children sprawled out practically unconscious by the mainstage speakers of an evening. They seem to work well at drowning out all noise. I failed to do that so got up early too. So early that the shower queue was only 2 hours long.
*Scroobius Pip doing his spoken word stuff without dan le sac is AMAZING. I had a nice chat with him after his packed out Lit Tent set and let him keep my pen for all the signings that were demanded of him. Proper good.
*Ellie Goulding: Besides the fact that she sings in that ‘allwordsrunintoone’ way that annoys the crap out of me, the fact that her trousers are badly ill-fitting distracts me too much. I walk away.
*These are some of the creatures I saw at Animal Farm: peacocks and hens and roosters and bunny rabbits and goats and ponies and pigs and birds that look a bit like emus, but aren’t emus. My favourite was Oscar the Rabbit. He looked fierce.
I’m performing in London Town this weekend at my pal’s fundraiser in Chalk Farm. There’s loads of top acts, music, fancy dress and fun and frolics. Come along :)