Wednesday, 20 October 2010

BYT: Bugged

Bright Young Things LogoOCTOBER 2010

I am looking forward to the Birmingham launch of the Bugged book tomorrow. The event takes place at the wonderful Ikon Gallery as part of Birmingham Book Festival. I’ll be reading my Bugged poem and shmoozing about. It also offers me chance to catch up with a friend I just don’t see enough of, and return a book I borrowed aeons ago.
Here is the Bugged blurb:
‘Bugged brings together well-known names like Stuart Maconie with new and emerging writers like Jenn Ashworth and Susie Wild. The idea was simple: on a single summer day, writers all over the UK joined in a mass eavesdropping experiment – and wrote from what they heard. The results were funny, touching, sinister or uplifting. This is a brilliant new anthology of the best in British writing.’
Hurrah :)

BYT: Look Nan, I’m on the telly!

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Look Nan, I’m on the telly!

Okay, not really. Spill Media made a film of our Swansea book launch though and you can watch it if you like :) I think I prefer being behind the camera – cringe cringe cringe!

Friday, 15 October 2010

MS: Poets, Lovers, Spies.

The Mslexia Blog

The cast from the new NTW show Love Steal Us From Loneliness
The cast from the new NTW show Love Steal Us From Loneliness
Libraries are changing. This week I performed at the first event of this year’s BayLit Festival – Poems & Pints in Cardiff Central Library. Yes pints, actual real ale thanks toCAMRA. The crowd didn’t seem any rowdier for it, and the poets didn’t fall over. Also showcasing some symbolic new work was Cardiff poetDavid E Oprava, from what I heard I reckon the new book is sure to get snapped up by a savvy publisher soon. Poetry has had a leading role in my recent history, not least because it was National Poetry Daylast week. Sophie wrote a rather excellent blog about it here. I had a splendid day reading poems, writing poems, talking about poetry on the radio, and performing with Saturday Live’s Susan Richardson who is always smiling and a pleasure to read with.
I also had the chance to chat to Wales’ National Poet on the telephone in the name of journalism, and indeed, poetry. I was interviewing our very busy Gillian Clarke for Cardiff’s Buzz, you can read all about it in next month’s issue, but there were a couple of snippets that didn’t fit in with publication dates that I am going to share here. The first is that she is performing with the wonderful, lyrical Paul Henry who she encourages women to flock to because apart from being a first rate reader he is ‘very handsome.’ He also has a brand new collection out with Seren which I’m looking forward to tucking in to. Flock to Wyeside Arts Centre on Thursday 21st October. The second was that Gillian tends not to return to her old work, especially for readings unless she is reading on a theme. However, in terms of other people’s work there are some books that never make it back to the bookshelf and are often at her side. Recently she has enjoyed Seamus Heaney’s new collection Human Chain and Don Paterson’s Rain.
National Theatre Wales have been doing a stellar job of reinvigorating theatre here. On Monday I went along to the press night of their latest show Love Steals Us From Loneliness. It was staged in a rock club – Hobo’s – because Bridgend doesn’t have a theatre and the cast was fantastic. You can read my review of it online. Personally, I’m starting to get quite excited about the possibilities of performance and the stage, and I can feel a new writing project coming on.
The National Eavesdropping Project launched the Bugged book at Manchester Literature Festival last night. The brainchild of National Poetry Day Director Jo Bell, the live event featured performances from Jenn Ashworth, Cathy Bryant, Dorothy Burgess, Emma Morgan, Susannah Hart, Emma Lannie, Liz Loxley, Ian Marchant, Lynsey May, Angi Holden, Alicia Ogg, Calum Kerr, Valerie O’Riordan and Phil Williams. I shall be performing my short poem from the book at the other launch at Birmingham Literature Festival next week along with the brilliant Mil Millington and others. It should be fun.
Wales’ best literature magazine that does not receive any funding, The Raconteur, is moving from print to digital at the end of the month. Since Borders went bust, it has been a real pain getting hold of, and indeed distributing all the ‘little’ or ’specialist’ lit mags I love without going to an art gallery. Or Bristol. I’m looking forward to hearing BBC broadcaster Adrian Masters in discussion with The Raconteur editors Gary Raymond and Dylan Moore. They will talk about what challenges face literary magazines in the digital age at BayLit festival in Cardiff Bay on Saturday 30th October. They are on right after the final Bright Young Things tour event so it should be a good day. I’ll also be writing occasional blogs for The Raconteur on whatever takes my fancy.
In other news, Zoë Brigley is back in sunny Pennsylvania after a month in Wales. She informs me she has just finished her second collection of poems, and is now at that nailbiting stage where it is being looked over by discerning and trusted types. You can read some new work by her in the next issue of New Welsh Review. Hurrah.
‘Nan, I’m on the telly!’ Well, sort of. Spill Media made a little film about the Bright Young Things and our Swansea launch party. You can watch it if you like. After all, my fellow BYT Wil was once Wales’ 13th sexiest man.Permission to drool granted, I’m sure his wife won’t mind.
I have been reading:
Jo Shapcott’s Of Mutability – I keep returning to this collection. She wanted to be deft, and she has managed it. I love it.
Michèle Roberts’ short story collection Mud was a new discovery for me, so I’ve a huge back catalogue to work through and I can’t wait. She’s a brilliant writer. I am in complete awe. I also have a bit of a thing for short stories written by poets. Good poets, that is.
My Poetic Licence by Attila the Stockbroker: I performed at his Swansea gig as part of his 30th Anniversary tour and Mrs Attila stopped me in the Ladies to say she liked my poems. The punk poet is still a great performer after all these years, and while I like his politics and his taste in music, I also found his long poem on Alzheimer’s and his mum absolutely heartbreaking and I recommend you all read it.
Next up: I have two Alcemi titles top of the pile by the bed. I’m looking forward to them both. First up, and just started is the second offering from Penny Simpson – The Deer Wedding followed by a novel double the size,Bamboo Grove by Romy Wood. You can get your hands on both now.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

BYT: Feeling Like An Actual Proper Writer

Bright Young Things LogoOCTOBER 2010
Feeling Like An Actual Proper Writer

Thursday was a good day for me. National Poetry Day. I cooked and ate a good lunch with a fellow poet. I read some poems in books, and watched some poetry films online. I wrote some new poems on this year’s theme of home, including my current favourite: ‘Home is where the Marmite is.’ I talked about poetry with Ian Mcmillan on Radio Wales . I performed some poems with Saturday Live’s resident poet Susan Richardson in Cake Gallery in Mumbles. People bought copies of The Art of Contraception. Someone gave me a cheque. It was a GOOD day.
It has been a GOOD week, in fact. My prose poem ‘Postcard to Seattle’ has been commended in the Leaf Travel Writing & Postcard Competion, and will appear in Issue 3 of the Leaf Writers’ Magazine. I have even been booked to teach, yes TEACH, a poetry workshop in a couple of months time. I’ve also got a bit more time on my hands than has been the case for a few months, deliberately, so I can get my teeth into the novel. So I really should hop off the blog… but first let me remind you of my two gigs this week…
I am performing a couple of poems at Poems & Pints as part of BayLit festival in Cardiff on Wednesday. I am also the main feature at The Crunch, reading stories from The Art of Contraception in Swansea on Thursday. Hope to see some of you there!

Friday, 1 October 2010

BYT: The Art of Contraception = Book of the Month

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The Art of Contraception = Book of the Month

Susie at the London BYT Launch (Photo: Rosie Reed Gold)
‘BOOK OF THE MONTH: This is Susie Wild’s first collection of short stories. The title hints at a connection to contraception but some of the stories hold only loose connections, concentrating more on relationships and the obsessive behaviour of the often odd characters. Wild’s stories seem to have their core buried in the small things; those hidden behaviours we all try to keep secret – in the same way that Raymond Carver does. Veering from the purely observational into a strangely unnerving other-worldliness, these stories have at times a Lynchian (or even Twilight Zone) quality. Like the story of the pregnant woman at work looking for a sandwich thief while at the same time trying to hide her bizarre cravings. The stories in this collection are all interesting and well constructed [...] this collection actually becomes easier as you get used to her style of writing and the more you read the more you appreciate the tales.’