Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Manchester writing bits and bobs

A few interesting new developments in Manchester's blossoming online writing scene:

Nasty Safari is an online home for the best new prose, poetry, drama and non-fiction," they tell us. "It's a strange journey through the world that makes even the mundane exotic. And it may or may not involve zebras. Everyone involved in Nasty Safari lives, works and studies in Manchester, and we're really keen to get lots of submissions in from writers in the North West."

Willow Hewitt of Bewilderbliss has started Manchester Writing, "a new blog about readings and writing related things in Manchester. It's just getting going but I'm soon going to get a full diary of events on there of all (or possibly something between 'some' and 'most') of the readings around town."

Also just getting off the ground: web magazine An Apathetical Reader, "a creative community site that hopes to give a voice to the vast numbers of unsupported, disillusioned young people in the city," writes a shadowy figure called Alice Apathetical. "The website will feature local news, national political comment, features about Manchester, music journalism and artist profiles. By creating a unique and quality webzine I hope to support creative people blown by the current economic climate and finding the city a difficult place to meet like-minded people."

... "The magazine has strong links with The Chapel Social Centre on Platt Fields, where contributors can meet and discuss their ideas. It is also affiliated with People's Voice Media - the 'Reuters of the community' - which encourages and trains young people in visual media industries." To get involved, get in touch with Alice via the website.

WE ARE YOUNG AND WE ARE TRYING is "an art & literature zine with a cause. Each volume includes a piece of writing and a piece of art from ten different people and music and art from one more. Five are primarily writers, five are primarily artists. We hope to encourage creativity and trying new shit as well as providing a platform to show off the shit you do anyway."

There's news of a workshop linked to the upcoming Text Festival: Writers and artists 16 and up are invited to take part in a workshop series run by Bury Council. Participants will learn about Bury Art Gallery’s Text exhibition, have time to explore your creative ideas, work together to develop a script then help create a short digital animation which will go online for public viewing. Each workshop will be run by a range of artists for 2 hours each Saturday afternoon (2-4pm) for 6 weeks starting on the 16th May. For more information and a brief application form contact Farrell Renowden, Arts Development Officer at Bury council: artsdevelopment@bury.gov.uk or 0161 253 5804

I'm also nearly finished organising our first series of Rainy City Stories creative writing workshops. I'll post the details here soon.

A tale of two trees

Happy tree:

Tib Street at its most charming. Not the same without the old LSTD's outdoor tables, but still one of the loveliest spots in town.

Sad tree:

This tree died of embarassment after being forced to participate in the Triangle's horrifying mall sculpture atrocity. For shame.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

More Manchester Spring Festivals

Okay, so a few alert readers let me know I left some festivals out of my last schpiel. Yes, there are more festivals in Manchester this spring. There are so many, in fact, that I ran out of steam and decided to do the update in two parts. But I didn't tell you that, did I? No, I wanted it to be a surprise. So, holy cats, look over there, there are some extra bonus festivals you didn't even expect queueing up on the calendar. It's like finding a freshly-baked strawberry rhubarb pie on your doorstep.

13-16 May, venues around the city

Next year it's going to become the scarily-named FutureEverything, but first we have one more year of old school Futuresonic. And the sonic element of this year's fest is especially interesting. I knows some of y'all are going to be thrilled at the chance to see Phillip Glass perform at RNCM, the joint with the best acoustics in town. He's by far the biggest name. The delights of the festival's music programme are definitely esoteric; unless you're a trendhunting digital ambient anorak with £300 headphones you may not have heard of them, but who cares? Pick one that looks interesting (and they pretty much all do) roll up, and more likely than not get your mind blown.

I'm especially excited about Soap&Skin at Cross Street Chapel, and can't decide between the two great-looking opening night gigs. Music aside, there's the usual programme of arty hijinks around town, and the excellent social technologies summit too.

Bury Text Festival
30 April - exhibitions run into June, venues around Bury

The Text Festival is a biennial programme of exhibitions and events that span the overlapping ground between poetry and text-based art, based at the wonderful Bury Art Gallery. Director Tony Trehy's energy and curatorial nous help make this a gallery that punches way above its weight... and I'm not just saying that because I live in Bury.

This year's Textfest features artists including the American visual poet Geof Huth, Poet Ron Silliman (who has been working on a single poem since 1974) and artist Jenny Holzer among many others. The Bury Poems features poets Tony Lopez, Carol Watts and Phil Davenport responding to their stay in Bury with poems.

MAPS Festival
1-4 May, venues around the Northern Quarter
Note: this date has been changed (had the wrong one, thanks Diana.)

Wait a min... what? Last week I told you about Hungry Pigeon, which is meant to be the reinvention of last year's MAPS festival. Well, turns out there's been a mysterious schism between the organisers of that event last year. Some of them splintered off under the flag of the Hungry Pigeon, while others stayed on to organise the second MAPS festival - and both camps are claiming to be the real thing. Hmmm. Curious. Aaanyway, we get two festivals in the N. Quarter this year instead of one. So we're the winners here, no?

And the MAPS festival is looking like a grand old time. Check out that clever map on their website - it's a tree and a map at the same time. Very cool. As Chris has already pointed out, MAPS is strong with local promoters who look set to put on a good show. As for the bands playing at a spate of traditional and not-so venues around the nabe, well, again, I haven't heard of many of them. But I'm sure that's pretty much entirely down to the fact that I don't get out enough anymore. Go, enjoy, and maybe next year we'll get three NQ festivals in May.