Kowalski

T-34

T-34 Russian Tank.

I had some rather wonderful news today: my short story Kowalski has found a home. Those wonderful people at Unthank Books will be including it in their marvellous Unthology anthology either this November or summer next year. So in honour of that I thought I would post a picture of a T-34 tank which makes a cameo appearance in the story. Also I really should get my finger out and write a review of Ashley Stoke’s excellent short story collection The Syllabus of Errors which is very good indeed.

Check out Unthank Books.

 

 

 

Unthank-Books-Unthologies

Previous Unthologies.

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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.

Made Up Words

Cool Competition

Grabbed from their website…

English PEN and Arvon join together to give you a chance to win a place on an Arvon creative writing week!

For this year’s Arvon brochure competition, English PEN has teamed up with the UK’s leading creative writing charity to run a competition called Made-Up Words.

We’re giving you the chance to win a full place on an Arvon course at one of the three English Arvon centres, plus travel to the Arvon house (the equivalent of a second class train ticket within the UK). Arvon run an exciting and broad range of courses for writers at all stages.

How To Enter

All you need to do is write a poem (maximum 14 lines) or a piece of flash fiction (maximum 100 words) with a title that is a made-up word.

Submit your entry in the body of an email to competition@englishpen.org by 29th March 2013.

Good luck with your entry! You may only submit one entry and you may not alter or amend the entry once it’s been sent. See below for further terms and conditions.

What’s a Made-Up Word?

All words, in a way, are made up, and we want you to feel as free as possible, but you might also be interested in exploring words that people make up and use in their families and friendships (think of Paul Muldoon’s poem Quoof, his family’s strange word for a hot water bottle) or nonsense words (think of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky) or perhaps combinations from words of other languages, or onomatopoeic words, or words that are somewhere between sound and sense, or… Good luck exploring your own Made-Up Words!

Judge

Writer Femi Martin is the judge of the competition. Femi is a writer and performer who is best known for her flash fiction. She was appointed the Dickens 2012 Young Writer in Residence.

Be Inspired!

Femi Martin – the judge – has written some inspiring words for you to help you come up with your entry! Have a read and get writing!

Competition Partner

Made-Up Words is part of europolyglot, an English PEN festival of events, workshops, night classes and roundtables that celebrates multilingualism and active ageing in the UK, in partnership with the European Commission Representation in the United Kingdom.

Terms and Conditions

1. To be eligible, entries must be received on or before the competition closing date, as stated above.

2. You may only submit one entry (either a poem or a piece of flash fiction) and you may not alter or amend your entry once it’s been submitted.

3. The competition is open to all aged 16 or over. Winners aged 16 and 17 must be able to provide a consent form from a parent/guardian.

4. The prizewinners will be decided by the judge and the judge’s decision is final.

5. The competition ends as specified on the competition page; no entry received after that time will be considered. The winner will be announced on this web page. There is one prize of a full place on an Arvon course at one of the three English centres, plus travel to the Arvon house (the equivalent of a second class train ticket within the UK). A selection of the best entries may be published on the English PEN and Arvon websites.

6. The promoter reserves the right to amend the specification of the prizes or offer alternative prizes of equal or greater value.

7. The prizewinners will be notified by email. If any of the selected entrants do not meet all of the contract conditions, other entrants will be selected from the remaining eligible entries.

8. The competition is not open to employees of English PEN or Arvon and their sponsors or their immediate families.

9. The right is reserved to terminate or withdraw this contest at any time.

10. Entries must be submitted by the named entrant and will be invalid if found to come from a third party. Multiple entries from a single source (e.g ‘competition entry’ website/company) will be disqualified. Entrants may only submit one entry.

11. Entry to the competition is conditional on acceptance of these terms and conditions.

12. The email address you provide to enter the competition will be used by us to contact you if necessary, and will not be shared with other companies. English PEN and Arvon will only use your email address in compliance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 and in accordance with our privacy policy.

via .

Original post can be found here.

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

City Voices

ImageLast night I read my short story Kowalski at Wolverhampton’s City Voices. City Voices is run by Wolverhampton’s Literature Officer, Simon Fletcher. Simon is a writer and poet, mentor, teacher and runs Offa’s Press a small poetry press based in Shrewsbury. Simon runs a tight ship, each reader has a 15 minute slot and performs through invitation only. I’ve read here twice before, the audience has always been warm and attentive and the readers top notch. I was on first as Simon said he wanted it to start with a safe pair of hands which was very flattering.Now I’d timed my story at around 17 minutes and thought that Simon would be ok with that but he was quite firm and asked me to maybe leave something out of the story. I thought about possibly reading some shorter stories but then decided to stick to my guns and read it in full. I was a bit nervous about reading, not because I’m reserved in anyway but because this was the first time I’d ever read fiction out in public. Now I’ve previously read out quite a bit of poetry in public and I’d shared my fiction with the writing group I’m involved with but as far as I was concerned this was a step up.

The reading went well, very well. I got three or four laughs throughout the story which was excellent as it’s not a particularly comedic piece but there are touching moments of fragility within it that warrant a laugh, and a rather loud, rapturous applause at its conclusion. I was dead chuffed with the praise I received afterwards especially as it came from Simon Fletcher, Jane Seabourne and John Edgar. I think that the most important lesson I learnt from this is to believe in yourself, your material and most importantly, if you are going to run over your time slot don’t tell anyone.

On the night it was great to hear Lee Hamilton break his reading cherry, watch out for him in the future, he has a keen eye and a dry wit. Jane Seabourne is a rather wonderful poet and it’s well worth getting hold of her first collection ‘Bright Morning.’ What really made the evening for me was seeing John Edgar perform for the first time. I’ve heard John’s stories a few times on Radio Wildfire but seeing him perform in the flesh was really something. John owns the stage, he has ‘real’ presence and is totally unflappable. He was nearing the end of his first tale when someone opened the door to the bar and said, ‘Are you open?’ Without missing a beat John looked down at his fly, checked it with his hand and said, ‘No, but thanks for asking,’ brilliant.

Check out the links below for Jane and John and if you do live in the Wolverhampton area get yourself down to City Voices, you wont regret it.

Jane Seabourne

John Edgar

Simon Fletcher

Offa’s Press

2012 Bristol Short Story Prize Launched

Have just sent my entry off for the Bristol Short Story Prize so fingers crossed. The link below will take you to BS5’s info page. Entries need to be in by midnight tomorrow (Sat 31st March.) There are no restrictions upon theme or format but entries should be no longer than 3000 words and there is a £7 entry fee.

Here’s some info grabbed straight from the site:

The 2012 Bristol Short Story Prize is now open.

Stories can be entered online or by post. The closing date for entries is 31st March 2012. Please read the rules and competition details before entering.

First prize is £1,000. 20 stories will be published in the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology Volume 5. The winning story will, also, be published in Bristol Review of Books and Venue magazine.  The 2012 Bristol Short Story Prize awards ceremony will be the final event of our 2nd ShortStoryVille festival which will be held next July.

The 2012 judging panel will be chaired by former Random House editor, Ali Reynolds, who now runs her own Literary Consultancy in Bristol. Ali will be joined on the panel by the writer broadcaster and critic, Bidisha, Anna Britten, writer and contributing editor to Venue magazine, and the celebrated novelist, Chris Wakling, whose latest novel  ‘What I Did’ was published by John Murray in September. Ali Reynolds says: “I’m thrilled to be chairing the judging panel for the 2012 Bristol Short Story Prize. Over the last few years the prize has celebrated diverse, heart-wrenching and powerful stories of such high calibre and I’m certain 2012 will build on this success. It will be a joy and a privilege to be involved in a prize with such international scope.”

2012 Bristol Short Story Prize Launched.