Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Literary magazine madness

New literary magazines are springing up like mushrooms all over the Northwest (last week Mancubist tipped me off to two more I didn't know about.) But there are plenty of established mags still out there doing their thing, like ... uh, really big mushrooms. Sorry, it's early and I'm out of coffee.

Anyway, check this out: Succour Magazine will be hosting an evening of reading and drinks in Manchester to mark the launch of its eighth issue, 'Icons,' featuring new fiction and poetry from both established and unsung writers. It's at the Briton's Protection pub on November 28 at 8. Anyone welcome to attend or read. They're also calling for submissions for the next issue on the theme of Fantasies. More info here.

Swings and Roundabouts (creative saviours of the northwest) have a shiny new website where you can download all of the stuff from their first six issues. It's been on a bit of a hiatus for the last year, but is still very much alive and kicking and looking to publish new stuff.

Transmission no. 12 is out and looking good - I really enjoyed this issue, especially the profile of Joe Stretch and Chris Killen's piece on Richard Brautigan. Editor Graham Foster says the magazine will be making a pit stop for a while to rest on its laurels and ponder the future before it returns to us looking tanned, rested and ten years younger.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Blogging workshops: Autumn 2008

Non-bloggers: Were you so inspired by the awesome display of blogging might Wednesday night that you're determined to start your own blog? If so, you're in luck: Chris of Mancubist and I are running two blogging workshops aimed at total beginners*.

(*You should know how to use a computer. You should know how to use a mouse and how to navigate the internet with it. But that's about it.)

Two sessions:
Saturday 22 November, 10-12am Gorton Library
Saturday 29 November 10-12am Crumpsall Library

And... we're doing something new this year: a blog lab. It's an open surgery for people who are already blogging but want some help making their blog all shiny and exciting. Drop in and we'll show you how to pimp it up with the freshest widgets, and also give you some ideas for new and startling things you can do with your content.

Saturday 8 November, 1-3pm
Manchester Digital Development Agency, Portland Street
(drop in whenever you like during the session, but please let us know you’re coming.)

The workshops and blog lab are free, but numbers are limited so please book. You can ring the Literature Festival office at 0161 236 5555 or email admin AT Please let us know when booking if you have any accessibility needs.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

2008 Manchester Blog Awards: The Winners

What a great night! Thanks to our talented readers, to everyone who came and packed out Matt and Phred's, and to those who helped make it happen in other ways, either by blogging about it or otherwise helping us spread the love.

And the winners are...

Best New Blog:
Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Judges: "It seems honest, and charming. The personality of the blogger comes across well, and I like how varied it is."

Best Writing on a Blog:
Every Day I Lie a Little

Judges: "Beautifully written and a pleasure on the eyes. I really like Jenn's style, sense of perspective and humour."

Best Arts and Culture Blog:
Winner: Northernights

Judges:"Very Manchester. Gives Mancubist a run for its money."

Best Personal Blog:
Travels with my baby

Judges: "The personality really comes across, and, considering it's subject, it really isn't very 'twee' and is engaging even if you’ve never held a baby."

Best City or Neighbourhood blog:
Manchester Buses

Judges: "Blogging is about passion and information. No one could ever accuse Manchester Buses of not believing in what they write. I've also used this site to gather news!" Manchester Blog of the Year:

Travels with my Baby

I'll try to link to all of the (sure to be many) accounts of what happened last night here: Check out The Mancunian Way

Leave a comment with your link if you want me to add yours. And if you have photos to share, Alan at MDDA has created a Flickr group here. The picture above is from Sam Easterby-Smith, who has many lovely pictures of the night up on his site.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

One week 'til the Manchester Blog Awards

So why should you come to the blog awards on Wednesday night?

You should come because we'll have all four of this year's best writing nominees in the hizzouse to give us a sampling of their wordy wares: Sally Cook (Nine Chains to the Moon), Socrates Adams-Florou (Chicken and Pies), Jenn Ashworth (Every day I lie a little) and Maureen Ward, ameneusis to Miss EP Niblock (Diary of a Bluestocking) will all read.

Maria Roberts, last year's personal blog winner for Single Mother on the Verge, will read from her forthcoming book based on her blog. It's due out in the spring from Penguin and we're beaming with pride.

Literary dynamo and cat fancier Chris Killen, whose blog Day of Moustaches won last year's coveted best writing award, will be reading from his new book The Bird Room (Canongate). Then I'll ask him some pertinent questions, and we'll have a Q&A so you can ask him some impertinent ones.

Music bloggers jonthebeef of Black Country Grammar and James Yer Mam! will be manning the wheels of steel during the evening's musical interludes and have hand-selected rare and strange tunes for your personal delectation.

And of course you get to find out who won this year's six blog awards, including the extra-special CityLife Manchester Blog of the Year award.

If you're coming you don't have to book a ticket in advance, but you can here if you're the sort of person who likes to make extra sure you're going to get in. (We had some problems before with the booking website saying it was sold out. It isn't.) Otherwise, show up with £2 in hand. You should come to Matt and Phred's Jazz Club on Tib Street after 6:30 and before 7pm on Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Pictured above: Ali's bird room.

Friday, October 10, 2008

CityLife Blog of the Year

Holy cats! Stop the presses!

The folks at have stepped in at the eleventh hour and upped the ante for Mancunian blogstars. They're sponsoring a new blog award this year: Manchester Blog of the Year. Our judging panel will pick the winner from among the shortlisted blogs. And the winner gets a big fat £300.

Yeah, £300. I know. It's a lot, isn't it?

The winner will be announced at the blog awards night on the 22nd of October.

I don't know about you, but I'm dead excited.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Rainy City Stories

I'm really delighted to announce the launch of a project that Chris (Mancubist) and I have been cooking up on the sly for some time now:

Rainy City Stories
is a website that publishes new writing set in Manchester. It uses a Google map of the city to organise stories or poetry linked to particular places. Readers can click on a place marked by the little cloud icon to read a piece of writing associated with that spot.

Who can write for this site? Anybody can. We're open to all submissions of unpublished work. To get things rolling, we've commissioned pieces from four outstanding Mancunian writers: Jackie Kay, Mike Duff, Nicholas Royle and Rajeev Balasubramanyam. They're up now - go take a look.

But now we want YOU to send us your stories, poems or bits of memoir. If we like them, we'll put them on the map.

We've got big plans for the future, too.

We'll be publishing more commissioned writing in 2009, and expanding our site to include photography, graphics, and audio and video readings to accompany the words. A series of related writing workshops and a live literature event featuring some of the Rainy City Stories writers will be part of the 2009 Manchester Literature Festival. And we're investigating a fantastically exciting new possibility that would involve some of the best writing from the website, but we can't say much more about that yet.

Erm, what else should we tell you? The project is part of the Manchester Literature Festival's Freeplay programme, and it's funded by the good people of Arts Council England. Chris designed the site on Wordpress and is in charge of the techy stuff. I'll be doing the editing. No ferrets were harmed in the making of this website.

I'd love to hear what people think about the site so far - if you have some thoughts, leave a comment or email me at themanchizzle AT gmail DOT com.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Manchester Review launches

It's always good to see a new literary journal starting up, but to my mind this one couldn't be more exciting. The University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing this week launches The Manchester Review, edited by the Centre's co-directors John McAuliffe and Ian McGuire. Most intriguingly, "it will depart from the medium’s conventions by existing only online, with new issues appearing each spring and autumn. These will often include broadcasts of new music, public debates and video pieces, as well as visual art, fiction and poetry."

The first issue is up now, with work from the likes of Paul Muldoon, Ali Smith, John Banville, Matt Welton and Chris Killen. Some more about the publication, from its website:

“The Manchester Review takes its cue from their proactive promotion of new writing, but uses online media to show and sponsor the interplay of poetry, fiction, music, visual art and essays by new and established practitioners. We hope that it will find new readers and audiences for exciting and innovative creative work, which is steeped in traditional virtues.

“This will be accompanied by the Review’s lively critical blog, which will take the temperature of - and maybe sometimes set the agenda for – the contemporary arts in the UK and beyond.”

Manchester is becoming quite the place for online literary endeavour. It seems like every week or so I add another couple of lit bloggers to the blogroll. We're blessed the with Literature Festival's geek-friendly Freeplay programme, and blogtastic live lit nights like no point in not being friends, with its tech-aided readings, Facebook group and antics on youtube. Even more traditional publishers and publications like Comma Press and Transmission are increasingly doing stuff online.

And new paper publications all seem to all have blogs, often as their main web presence. One such is the lovely Wufniks, started by students at the aforementioned writing school, with a fantastic tagline: "a mishegoss of shiny new words."