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 Cerys is judging the all new Sony Reader Award for Unpublished Writers.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.