Tuesday, September 30, 2008

2008 Manchester Blog Awards Shortlist

Here is the 2008 Manchester Blog Awards Shortlist. We had 107 separate nominations this year, coming in from as far away as San Francisco. There was such a wealth of great stuff that it was harder than ever to do the shortlisting, particularly in the Best Writing on a Blog category (by far our most nominated-for.)

The force is strong with you, Manchester bloggers. Many thanks to all those who nominated.

Best New Blog:

Dear Kitty
Coco LaVerne
Follow The Yellow Brick Road

Best Writing on a Blog:

Diary of a Bluestocking
Every day I lie a little
Nine chains to the moon
Chicken and Pies

Best Arts and Culture Blog:

Quit This Pampered Town
Max Dunbar

Best Personal Blog:

Travels with my baby
Single Mother on the Verge
Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Best Neighbourhood Blog:

Hyde Daily Photo
Lady Levenshulme
Manchester Bus

This will now go to our panel of judges, which includes Sarah Hartley, blogger and online editor at the Manchester Evening News, Dave Carter of Manchester Digital Development Agency, Richard Fair of BBC Manchester and author Chris Killen, winner of last year's Best Writing on a Blog award.

The winners (who each get £50 and a large metal studded belt that is very heavy) will be announced at the blog awards event Weds Oct 22 at Matt and Phred's Jazz Club.

Friday, September 26, 2008

New blogs: The not from here edition

Here's a whole heap of new blog goodness for your Friday afternoon delectation.

Ken and Belly is the very engaging personal blog of Kelly, an American expat in Mancunia, who like myself wishes you could get Annie’s Organic Mac N Cheese here in the UK. And through this blog I found out about the Expat Blogs network, which has a few blogs right here in Manchester: Canadian expat Britt Breu writes Brittunia in Mancunia, and there's Singaporean Alex's World, as well as blogs written in Japanese and Portuguese. Guess I should add this one to the list, though I feel less and less like an expat these days.

Abbas Ali writes about films over at The Movie Hack Pretty impressive, with lots of Top Five Best... lists and a preview of the London Film Festival. And don't call me Shirley!

Anthony Richardson, who is just starting a Creative Writing MA at Manchester, has set up a lit blog. He writes: "The blog is called Anthony Richardson Writes Stories That Are Funny, which is actually sort of an arrogant title come to think of it. It isn't meant to be that way. I have all my short stories up there, plus I am writing a short story a week for a year, which started this week." He also likes to redo classic album covers using Microsoft Paint, and you can see those on the blog too.

14 sandwiches bills itself as a technology-media-music party for your brain. Martin Bryant writes it, and for the record he has not eaten 14 sandwiches in one sitting.

An intriguing new group blog with a manifesto: "The LRM (Loiterers Resistance Movement)is a Manchester based collective of artists and activists interested in psychogeography. We can’t agree on what that means but we all like plants growing out of the side of buildings, urban exploration, drinking tea and getting lost. Gentrification, advertising and blandness make us sad. We believe there is magic in the mancunian rain. Our city is wonderful and made for more than shopping. We want to reclaim it for play and revolutionary fun…"

Expletive Undeleted
is freelance journalist Smith3000's collection of reworked longer versions of published interviews and features. "It’s mainly music stuff at the moment, but that will probably change over time," he says. He also writes about older music at a section of the site called Hip Replacement.

Languishing in Levenshulme is a personal blog written by a resident of what has to be the best-represented nabe on our blogroll. Languishing has lived there for 7 years, and says: "I love it but kind of wish it was Hebden Bridge. I think some residents of Levenshulme would appreciate my point here. I have met some of the most fantastic friends here - but damn it I still live next to a thundering arterial road with a back garden the size of a budgie's tongue; and the closest I get to birds twittering and wildlife is the minging mice that scutter across my floor at 2am and the flying vermin (fattened on dropped Saturday night kebab) that my dog loves to chase around the Fallowfield loop. Despite all that, my heart belongs to Levenshulme." Awww.

Not a new blog, but a new site to link to: Manclopedia. "Manclopedia is a free, open content encyclopedia project operated by Hive Magazine. Launched in September 2008 it attempts to collect and summarize every aspect of Greater Manchester (including its history, culture, politics, people and places) with the aim of becoming the most comprehensive collection of information regarding this great city!" Nice idea, though there's not much on there at the moment. Any takers?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Short Stories at Friends Meeting House

Here's a cool event I only just heard about: On Saturday, Manchester Libraries are hosting Short Stories, an afternoon featuring writers, publishers and producers.

Workshop leaders include Frank Cottrell Boyce, David Constantine, Elizabeth Baines, Ra Page and Polly Thomas. This event is for anyone who loves to read short stories or would like to know more about writing for publication or radio.

It's at The Friends’ Meeting House this Saturday from 1-5pm, Tickets £8 in advance. For more info/booking go here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

No point in not being friends

Or if you prefer its gloriously full name, There's no point in not being friends with someone if you want to be friends with them. That's the new monthly reading night started by ace Manchester litbloggers Chris Killen (Day of Moustaches) and Sally Cook (Nine Chains to the Moon.) They have scheduled readers as well as open-mic slots on the night, which seems quite inclusive and as friendly as its name suggests. The third one is coming up on Tuesday at 8 and the lineup looks great. I've been meaning to get there for the last two but haven't and will make a concerted effort to get there this time, dammit.

Here's the rundown from the cats at No point...

"please come to the UPSTAIRS MUSIC HALL at the Deaf Institute on Tuesday 23rd of September for the third 'there's no point in not being friends with someone if you want to be friends with them' reading night.

we have lots of readers booked: Joe Stretch, John McAuliffe, David Gaffney, Jenn Ashworth, Thomas Fletcher, Socrates Adams-Florou, Sally Cook, Nicholas Murgatroyd, and loads more ... also, the american writer Tao Lin will be doing the 'video reading' and Matthew Davis will be performing a 'comedy monologue'.

And, as always, there'll be a few open-mic slots available on the night. if you've got something you'd like to read, just bring it along and speak to one of us. it should be good fun, and it's free to get in. it'll be the first night in the big upstairs room -- there'll be lots more space than in the basement, but it's also a much bigger room to fill so please come along and show your support."

You can check out the No point blog here, and they're also on facebook here.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Reading Capital

This just in... A fortnightly reading group dedicated to reading Karl Marx’s Capital Vol. 1: A Critique of Political Economy will begin on 6 October 2008 at The Salford Restoration Office.

Individuals are invited to join the group to read Marx’s Capital Vol. 1 in conjunction with David Harvey’s online lectures. Harvey, a respected academic and writer, has been teaching open classes on the book for 40 years, and the current set of lectures given at the City University of New York have been filmed and made available on-line. The lectures are accessible to all at anytime but the fortnightly sessions at The Salford Restoration Office will create a structured environment in which to read and discuss this
pivotal text.

Reading Capital is open to all who wish to attend and participate. Sessions are free of charge, but space is limited so please contact us using the email address here if you would like to participate. Meeting every other Monday from 6 October between 6.30pm and 8.30pm, the sessions will run until 1 December 2008, and begin again on 19 January until summer 2009.

For more information or to contact the organizers visit http://www.thesalfordrestorationoffice.org/

Thursday, September 11, 2008

One week for blog award nominations

Hello all: just a friendly little reminder that we have one week left 'til the close of the nominating period for this year's blog awards. Get 'em in!

By the way, anyone know if Sarah Palin thinks dinosaurs were here 4,000 years ago? Me and Matt Damon want to know.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Manchester-based blogger and poet Matt Dalby writes with news of a very interesting project: a poetry wiki. He says: "It is called 'mutapoem', and was conceived and launched (twice - in 2004 and again in improved form in 2008) in Manchester, from where I also moderate the site.

Mutapoem is a poem without final form or single author, it is a collaborative poem in the form of a wiki, to which anyone can add text, images, links, html, audio or video. More detail is available at the site itself - http://mutapoem.wikispaces.com/mutapoem - especially the page 'what is mutapoem?'

Basically the background is that mutapoem was inspired by one of Nobuo Sekine's 'Phase of Nothingness' sculptures, in which huge pieces of oil clay are placed in galleries for visitors to reshape as they like. They retain their plasticity and continually change. I was impressed by both the absence of any definitive form for the piece, and by the democratic process that enables everyone to contribute to the evolution of a perpetually unfinished work."

Pretty cool, eh? Get on there and start writing!

Monday, September 01, 2008

New blogs: The Britney edition

Clearly, blogging ain't dead. The number of responses to my last most seems to support that age-old blogger maxim about a provocative title generating traffic. Henceforth my titles will all contain the words "Britney." And I'll be experimenting with some other attention-grabbing words too.

A slightly poorly baby (no, nothing serious) prevented me from getting this new blog bulletin out all week, and every day seemed to bring a couple more new ones, so this is a long one. And an extraordinary percentage of this week's additions to the blogroll (4!) come from the same person: artist and writer Diane Becker, who lives up Preston way.

Her blog Dot7Seven explores the minutae of the everyday through short fiction, poetry and other observations.Pressed On is "comments and images relating to the theme 'Pressed On': including things you can press - buttons, switches, videos - or stick on stuff - chewing gum, blu-tac ..."

Ambient Nation is a collaborative visual arts initiative set up in 2003 by Becker and Mark Clements. And Famous Typist features cultural commentary plus art & fiction reviews. Sheesh. Anyone else feel slightly underproductive?

Follow the Yellow Brick Road is the blog of Katherine, who is a Manchester-based writer: "The blog is really supposed to be a place for creative writing, though it seems to have a mind of its own and has turned into a more general ramble about writing, visual arts, red shoes and whatever I'm doing." I sneakily saw that she has a second blog about visual arts books called Unpacking My Library, so I'm adding that too in the interest of encouraging rampant multiblogging.

How come I didn't know about your blog, Max Dunbar? Anyway, here's a link to it. A meaty literary blog that takes in politics and personal musings as well as providing a showcase for Max's writing. Great stuff.

Quit this pampered town is the online home of writer Richard Barrett. Recent posts include a riff on comics, a poem about inventing the wallet, and a completely impressive jigsaw puzzle of the Isle of Wight.

Joe Gravett has a very sharp-looking techy personal blog, or maybe it's a personal tech blog? He says: "I’m something of a geek, and love keeping up to date with what’s going on in the world of technology."

Run Paint Run Run "is intended to be a critical antidote to, and amusing assessment of, all the wonderful and not so wonderful Arts and Culture that is going on in Manchester." It's written by Ella Wredenfors.

Voices From The Below is a personal blog that's also concerned with culture. And it's written by someone with fantastic taste in music. (Jeru the Damaja: so underappreciated on these shores.)

And last but not least, we have Blog by Boz. It's a cat blog. I mean, the cat writes it. Hot damn.