Friday, 18 April 2014

Spring Update 2: My Own Writing

Catch me airing a mix of new and old poems at The Back of the Pub Poetry Club in The Fountain Inn on the Friday Night of the Dylan Poetry Weekend (2-4 May 2014) in Laugharne, along with Mab Jones and pals. My dearest friend Rhian Edwards is on at 7pm that very same night. Loads of other great people doing proper turns on the rest of the bill, and some brilliant theatre bits and bobs too. I will also read a couple of poems at the Bare Fiction event on the 30th of April at Gwdihw in Cardiff.

The Arabic translation of my short story 'Aquatic Life' appeared in Albataka Review: Brush with Fate - Voices From Wales along with other stories in translation by Rachel Trezise, lloyd robson, Nigel Jarrett, Jon Gower, Tristan Hughes and Lewis Davies.

high-piled books... The Work & Stuff update

Hello long-neglected blog.

So, I've made it to the other side of teaching my first semester on the MA in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Gloucs (and some undergrad bits and pieces there and at Cardiff MET)... and also to the other side of organising Griff Rhys Jones' Cardiff Cameo Club Book Launch, The Welsh Cultural Embassy at The Wheatsheaf, and trips to both Laugharne (Take 1) and London Book Fair almost intact, bar a sprained ankle - damn you rainy road potholes.

Time for some R&R and a bit of a Spring shake up in between seeing friends and family.

BUT first for two updates...


Lots of the books I - and my brilliant authors - have been working on over my last year at the editorial helm of Parthian have recently been, or will soon be, launched into the world and I've been meeting with my 2015 authors too. Congratulations to Craig Hawes who has been longlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize for his debut collection The Witch Doctor of Umm Suqeim, which probably softens the blow of his book recently being banned in Dubai.


In January my short story anthology Rarebit, celebrating Parthian's 21st birthday, was made Book of the Month in Waterstones, and some of these writers - Dan Tyte, Carly Holmes, Tyler Keevil, Holly Muller and Rachel Trezise - will read at our 21st birthday Gala Evening at Hay Festival on Monday 26th May (The Cube, 8.30pm). They will be joined by Dylan Thomas Prize shortlisted poet Jemma L. King and winner of the Young Person's category of the Planet Essay Prize, Sion Tomos Owen (also 2nd prize winner in this year's Terry Hetherington Award for Young Writers). Many will also be signing their own new (and older) books in the festival bookshop at 6pm.


Today, it is a Good Friday for Dan Tyte - his debut novel Half Plus Seven has been reviewed by The Daily Mail and they liked it:  'A coming-of-age novel snorting with energy, outrage and scatological detail, it is in places eye-watering. Yet what disarms is Bill’s quasi-religious yearning for order and goodness, plus an outrageous honesty which refuses to compromise.'

Dan has had a lot of good press so far - the book was Book of the Month in Buzz Magazine, Wales Arts Review wrote 'Half Plus Seven could easily be mistaken for a Nick Hornby novel, but a Hornby novel with a touch more Zeitgeist and a slightly sinister, grimy underbelly.[...] Dan Tyte has either been a very dislikable young man at some point, or he is an author with a great deal of promise.' and Dan signed books with Griff Rhys Jones in Waterstones, Cardiff and then read alongside 90-year-old legend Dannie Abse at our Welsh Cultural Embassy at The Wheatsheaf in London at the beginning of the month (see below).

More on Dan:

Dan Tyte's website

Dan on Twitter

The Selling of a Novelist - Plastik Mag

BuzzFeed: 17 Reasons Why We're Generation Y-hine

Wales Online: Through Dan's Keyhole. Who lives in a house like this?

All of Dan's press in one place

We had a brilliant launch with a cast of tramps, misfits and mystics at Porter's in Cardiff (see Dan's website for some amazing photos of the night), Dan will also be reading at a number of festivals and venues over the summer, but if you can't wait that long, why not watch him read from his novel in this short film:

YouTube: Half Plus Seven short by @madebyernest and @NextDoorFilmsUK


Up ahead, Helen saw the police line harden into a barricade of bodies and shields. Resin batons thudded on Perspex shields; slow, thuggish, brutal. Goosebumps studded her arms and legs. Her pace slowed to the truncheons’ beat. Mary halted a yard from the riot shields, raised her megaphone.
‘We are women from Ystrad an’ from all over Wales,’ she said. ‘We are here to make peaceful protest. Here in solidarity with the men.’
The drumming quickened.

Also reading with Dan and Dannie, Kit Habianic launched her debut novel Until Our Blood is Dry at The Welsh Cultural Embassy ahead of London Book Fair earlier this month. Based around the 1984 Miners' Strike, the novel is currently serialised in the Western Mail in Wales, and independent booksellers in Wales have chosen Until Our Blood is Dry as their Book of the Month for May 2014.

Words With JAM: Kit on adapting fact into fiction

Kit on Twitter

Kit's website

Wales Online interview: Kit Habianic

Fellow Parthian author Debz Hobz-Wyatt interviews Kit for her blog and shares an exclusive free sample of the novel

Triskele Books Author Interview: Kit Habianic

Triskele Books: Review of Until Our Blood is Dry

Kit Habianic will be at Waterstones, Newport signing copies of her novel on Saturday 24th May 12.30 - 1.30pm. Come along and say hello.


Kit also previewed the novel on our Writing from Life panel at xx women's writing festival (6-8 March 2014, Chapter Arts Centre), which I co-organise with three wonderful women - Firefly Publisher Penny Thomas, Head of Creative Writing at the University of Southampton Carole Burns and Poetry Editor at Seren Books Amy Wack. The second wonderful xx women's writing festival appeared to go down well with the audience, the panels and guests and the critics. I really enjoyed hosting my two events - (1) Cardiff Literary Salon with my authors Carly Holmes, Georgia Carys Williams, Tiffany Murray and Seren debut novelist Rhian Elizabeth (and some fab music from Hail! The Planes singer and Rarebit contributor Holly Muller) and (2) Script and Screen panel discussion with Sue Vertue (Sherlock), Ceri Meyrick (Eastenders), Rebecca Gould (Soho Theatre) and Helen Griffin (Twin Town, Caitlin). I also enjoyed hearing Shani Rhys James talk about her wonderful paintings with Fran Rhydderch, the poetry of Kim Moore, Katherine Simmonds and Jemma King and the short fiction and witty asides of AL Kennedy.

In Wales Arts Review John Lavin wrote: ‘Taking place shortly after Cardiff Council confirmed it will remove its entire annual funding to more than ten arts organisations, including Chapter (where the event was held), the XX Women’s Writing Festival acted as a timely reminder of why a venue like Chapter exists, providing as it did, an excellent example of the cultural vibrancy of Wales’ capital city. The events combined a fabulous array of the new and the internationally renowned and were all well attended, while Chapter as a whole was full to bursting point throughout. It was also, of course, an ideal and, indeed, an important and empowering way to celebrate International Women’s Day.’


When I first saw you, I had the sun in my eyes. You shone around the edges, a fireball of a man. In the moments it took me to focus on your centre, I’d absorbed you completely.
I re-made myself in tune to your blinks, your frowns, your glances away from me and then back. I read your needs as they soared across your face, and I carved myself anew again and again…

Next Friday, 25 April 2014, we'll be launching Carly Holmes' lyrical debut novel The Scrapbook in Cardigan.Carly has been up to all sorts of wonderful things including guest editing the next issue of The Lampeter Review, being awarded a Writer's Bursary from Literature Wales to work on her second book, a collection of ghost stories, and having some splendid short stories published / accepted for publication by Wales Arts Review, Honno and The Ghastling. You can see a round up that I wrote about all of all these great things on the Parthian website. Carly will be reading at Hay Festival and Dinefwr this summer.


In May you'll find me in Hay and 'working' some of the time at the first of the Dylan Weekends in Laugharne with Mab Jones, Jeff Towns, Dylan's Mobile Bookshop and Jemma King. See my next blog for more on another side of this...

In June I am looking forward to welcoming Michael Oliver-Semenov (formerly the poet Mao Jones) back to Cardiff to launch his travel memoir Sunbathing in Siberia - like Doctor Zhivago but with a huge reality check. He'll be over from Siberia, touring Cardiff to Aberystwyth and stopping off in Swansea and Cardigan and some other places too. More on this soon.

I will also be announcing my next batch of brilliant authors and titles for the end of 2014 and all of 2015 soon. Exciting!

Looking ahead to November, Do Not Go Gentle festival has had a lot of lovely mentions in the press too. Jasper Rees wrote in The Sunday Times - 'Do Not Go Gentle festival, in the Uplands, the lively suburb just down from Thomas's birthplace, features scabrous comedy and raucous music in English and Welsh.' Good work to Pierre and the rest of the team. We're just finalising our literature programme now.

On top of all this, I've still been reviewing the odd piece of theatre or dance for The Stage, and restaurant or bar for RedHanded.

Phew! Hence this long-neglected blog.


Happy Easter all!

Sooz x