Fletchski has a new site!

Greetings all you wonderful Lobsterites.

I’ve a lovely new blog over at http://fletchski.wordpress.com Why don’t you pop over and have a look at all the stuff I’ve been up to lately?

Cheers.

Naked Lungs

I was asked to read at the launch night of Naked Lungs a Birmingham based spoken word night in the heart of the city. This happened nearly two weeks ago and to be honest I didn’t know what to expect; spoken word nights can be a bit hit and miss and this was the first one. I’d met Chris Baker two weeks before and we’d chatted about what he was after, I was impressed with his enthusiasm and laid back approach to getting a project like this off the ground and promised him some stuff for the launch magazine. The magazine was the clincher really, not only would Naked Lungs be a spoken word night but it would also comprise a magazine that would feature work from all the writers on that night’s bill.

The Greenhouse Cafe is the venue for Naked Lungs and a mighty fine venue it is at that. Situated in the Custard Factory, the beating heart of Birmingham’s creativity, it is cool without having to try too hard, they do good green tea which was enough for me to give it a ringing endorsement.

The bill for that night was Seasick Fist, Annie-J, Garrie Fletcher (me,) Ben Jones and Keiran Goddard. I didn’t know any of them and I was that busy leading up to it that I didn’t even Google them, if I had of done I might have had an inkling of what a treat I was in store for.

Seasick Fist is young, vibrant and almost electric with words. He attacks the mic at such a rate that you’d be forgiven for thinking that someone had gone crazy with a diction machine gun, cutting down the rows of onlookers with nothing more than well aimed words. Annie-J is a wonderful poet that reflects upon her grandmothers courting rituals whilst extolling the virtues of playing Tomb Raider, both of these proved to be insightful and very funny. Both these performers had recounted their thoughts almost entirely from memory so I let the side down by having to read direct from my story, well, it is nearly 3000 words. I went down well and was really pleased with the crowd’s reaction to my story ‘Kowalski’ which is a tale of an elderly Polish man befriending a young Pakistani boy. Keiran Goddard was the last on and treated us to a fine selection of poems from his next collection, tales of rag-and-bone men, lost loves and city streets, which I shall definitely be checking out. However, for me, the evening was stolen by the marvellous Ben Jones and he wasn’t even in the room! Ben found himself double booked and unable to attend so he sent along a Powerpoint and audio track to stand in for him. Ben is a philosophy lecturer at Halesowen College and the flyer had promised ‘Free form philosophy, live on stage.’ Ben’s presentation, even though it wasn’t live, was enthralling to say the least. For twenty odd minutes he kept us all hooked upon his every word as he ruminated upon the philosophy of masturbation, yes, wanking. A few people I’ve mentioned this to have looked at me aghast to say the least but it wasn’t sordid or cheap; it was well constructed, painfully funny and penetrating (no pun intended.) Yes, it really made you think about wanking.

Anyway, those wonderful guys at Naked Lungs have posted a video of snippets from the first evening with a gorgeous soundtrack. Check it out, see what you missed and make sure you’re at the next one.

Naked Lungs

This Thursday at 7pm, in The Greenhouse Cafe, Custard Factory, Birmingham I shall be reading as part of Naked Lungs. Naked Lungs is described as a: ‘Birmingham based poetry collective looking to foster a community of like minded individuals for creative collaboration.’ Which sounds marvellous, only I’ll be reading a short story. However, I do have some poems in the magazine that compliments the evening so if you turn up you’ll be getting the best of both worlds.

Look out for this flyer around town!

Look out for this flyer around town!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The evening kicks off at 7pm but I’ll, hopefully, be there a little bit earlier so come and say high, hey, I’ll even let you buy me a beer.

10 to 1 Survival of the Lit(est)

Pigeon Park Press have set themselves a challenge: to produce a novel using ten authors over a year. Starting in May 2013 each of the ten authors will write a 1000 words on their character and each month a character will be voted off until only one is left.

20130121-164325.jpg

This sounds like a very interesting project indeed, Big Brother meets Pulp Fiction (the cheap fiction magazines of the early 20th century not the Tarantino movie,) something that could be great fun and quite manageable, at only a 1000 words a month, the trick will be not getting voted off. So its a popularity contest for writers? Maybe not writers but definitely for writing. I imagine who ever writes the most engaging prose, with the most intriguing character, will win, although organisers have said that ‘cliff-hanger’ endings, to get readers voting for the next instalment, will not be allowed.

pigeon Park Press tested the water with this idea when they produced Full Fathom Five another collaborative novel that should be out early this year.

20130121-164216.jpg

I think I’m going to throw my hat into the ring for this one, it sounds like fun and you never know I could be last writer standing?

Check out the Pigeon Park Press site for details and give it a go.

Martineau Gardens

Half term is here and whilst we’re both feeling shattered the kids are climbing the walls with cabin fever. We had a quick look on the web for places to visit near Birmingham but most of them we’ve done to death and then we noticed the Martineau Gardens.

I’d heard of the gardens through work as a couple of years ago the head gardener came out to talk to our students about working as a gardener. He brought some wonderful pictures and plants and I thought it’d be a great place to visit and then I just forgot about it.

The gardens are very easy to get to, just opposite the Priory Hospital on the Priory Road down from the cricket ground in Edgebaston.

We got out of the car and were greeted by the lovely Meredith Andrea, a local poet and publisher who volunteers at the gardens. Meredith showed us around and made us all feel very welcome. The. Gardens are wonderful, even in Autumn, especially the eucalyptus trees with their peeling camouflaged bark. The hot house smelt incredible, in a good way, but I’m not sure what of and the wild area was great for the kids to explore.

As well as a whole host of exotic and more common plants and fauna there’s a huge fire pit and a clay oven where local produce has been cooked and consumed. Next to this is a large play house made from wood and clay, or possibly dung and next to that a large stage in the shape of a boat called the African Queen but no sign of Humphrey Bogart.

We all thought it was an incredible place to visit and can’t wait to see it in the Spring and Summer. In fact we’re not waiting as we’re going back on Wednesday for Halloween stories around the fire!

20121025-204401.jpg

20121025-204429.jpg

20121025-204457.jpg

20121025-204518.jpg

Reliable Witness

I’ve just got back from town, Birmingham city centre that is, where I experienced the wonderful Reliable Witness multimedia story. The story was commissioned for this years Birmingham Book Festival (which is on now) and brought together novelist Mez Packer and play write Rochi Rampal to construct an interactive story across different media. The blurb promoting this claims that you will ‘…get right inside the story!’ and you do.

The story was launched at Arts Fest last month where Darren proposed, live, on stage, to Amy in front of a large crowd, who were innocently waiting for the next band to come on. Amy turned Darren down and rushed off in floods of tears. Many of the onlookers thought this was real, it even warranted a half page splash in The Birmingham Mail and scores of videos popped up on YouTube and other social media sites. Both characters have been very active on Facebook with people following them and interacting with them as the story develops. The final stage of this piece is an interactive experience that brings the story to a chilling climax, well the route I took did.

A shop in the ground floor of the Pavilions Shopping centre has been taken over be Reliable Witness where you will be greater by a very friendly member of their team who will recap the story so far for you with video footage of the proposal and the article from the Birmingham Mail. Next you sign up on a touch screen and choose who’s story you wish to follow. I chose Amy as I was curios as to why she turned him down. Amy then called me via a video link and begged me to get some stuff for her from her flat. The flat door opened and I entered.

The Adhere Creative team have done a very good job in setting up a believable space with touch screen computer, iPad, CCTV and speakers. Once in the room I received another video call from Amy and she explained why she turned Darren down.

I won’t go into too much detail becauseI don’t want to spoil it for you but all I’ll say is that there is a sinister twist in the tail and that I left the flat in a hurry.

The writers and the creative team have done a great job in creating a believable and immersive world that pushes the possibilities of story telling. A must visit for readers and writers in the area but more importantly for those people who don’t necessarily consume books but spend their time facebooking and googling, you guys really have to go see.

So, when you’re in Birmingham go to the ground floor of the Pavilions Shopping Centre and enter the Reliable Witness space, you won’t be disappointed.

Reliable Witness

Birmingham Mail article

Free Writing Workshops in Birmingham

I’ve just booked myself a place on a series of free writing workshops based at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts in Birmingham. The workshops are to be run by Andrew Killeen a local author who writes historical fiction. Andrew has just had his second book published and you can find more information about that and him here.

I have it on good authority, from Karen, Andrew’s wife, that there are still a number of places left. This is an ideal opportunity to hone your writing skills with the help of a published author, to read your work, or have your work read, at the Birmingham Book Festival and to possibly have you work published in  a book linked to the project. I for one think those are three excellent reasons for signing up, oh, and its free! so there’s four.

The Barber Institute situated in the grounds of Birmingham University.

I attended a writing course at the Barber a few years ago when Jack Kerouac’s original manuscript for ‘On the Road’ was on display. It’s a wonderful venue, Birmingham’s finest Art Deco building that the Observer described as “one of the finest small art galleries in Europe.” I’m not going to argue with that. Here’s the info I received with my booking confirmation.

Calling All Writers!

Andrew Killeen. Writer in residence at the Barber Institute.


Would you like your story to be read at the Birmingham Book Festival? Or even published?

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts invites aspiring writers to join a series of free writing workshops exploring the theme of ‘The City in Art’. These 3 workshops will be led by novelist Andrew Killeen; this year’s Barber writer-in-residence.

Participants will write and develop stories inspired by the fascinating exhibition Cityscapes: Panoramic Views on European Coins and Medals as well as other city-themed works in the collection. A selection of stories will then be read out at a live event during the Birmingham Book Festival, on Thursday 11 October, at the Barber, and may be published in a book produced as part of the project.

Workshop dates (all workshops 1pm to 4pm):

Sunday 12 August Exploring exhibitions/collections and developing ideas

Sunday 2 September Sharing and discussing drafts

Sunday 16 September Reading and celebrating finished stories

Participants must commit to attending all three workshops.

For further information and to reserve your place, please contact the Learning and Access Team on: Tel. 0121 414 2261 / 7335 or Email education@barber.org.uk