Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Manchester Live Literature: Autumn 2016

As usual there are more literature events then we actually want or need around here, getting in the way and making a nuisance of themselves all autumn long. Everyone you know has written a book and needs to launch it pronto. You wanna to go to a poetry reading? We've got slam, feminist, experimental and Petrarchan sonnet nights. There's probably a short story slam happening in your pocket right now. Go on, have a look. Wait. Don't.

Take this Thursday. Just a simple Thursday evening in August, when we're all supposed to still be on holiday, right? New publisher Dodo Ink launches Seraphina Madsen’s Dodge and Burn with support readings from Jenn Ashworth, Lara Williams and Anthony Trevelyan at Blackwells' at 6:30. Up in the NQ at exactly the same time it's Book Bash at Kosmonaut, a new 'book social' from publishing guy Mike Murphy, AND across town The Other Room gives us experimental poetry from Joey Frances, David Kennedy, Wanda O'Connor and James Wilkes in The Castle Hotel from 7:30pm. Disgusting, isn't it?

Next week! Wednesday August 31 Bad Language's monthly open mic is headlined by Anna Chilvers, author of Tainted Love. Oh, and next month BL co-host an event with Edge Hill University Press celebrating the publication of a new anthology, Head Land, featuring stories from the first decade of the prestigious Edge Hill Prize; Jon McGregor, Rachel Trezise and Zoe Lambert perform at The Portico at 7pm on Thursday September 29 (£7, book.)

On Friday September 2 great weather for MEDIA present The Careless Embrace of The Boneshaker- the second Mcr event from this NYC based indy press, featuring performances from Rosie Garland, Harry Jelley, Rebecca Audra Smith, Amy McCauley, Chris Stewart, Nadine West and Emma Wooton alongside editor Jane Ormerod. 7pm at 3MT, £5 (book)

Then Saturday 3 September is the Anti Slam, a new event hosted by Paula Varjack and Evidently's Kieran King which somewhat alarmingly promises us that the poet with the lowest score wins.  It's judged by Lenni Sanders, Rebecca Audra Smith and Fat Roland. Potential for good bad poetry high. 7:30pm at 3MT

On Thursday Sept 8 at the Burgess Foundation it's the launch of a new anthology from MA students at the Centre for New Writing (6:30pm) with readings from contributors. Saturday September 10 at Central Library is the launch of Elevator Fiction- a new anthology of flash fiction and micro narratives from BAME writers published by Commonword (2pm, free.) That evening sees Nous magazine celebrate the launch of its 'work' issue with readings and music at Fuel Cafe in Withington from 7pm (free). 

Tuesday September 13 Blackwells celebrates my birthday with Blackwells Book Quiz 3: What We Quiz About When We Quiz About Quizzing.... Okay, so the folks at Blackwells haven't mentioned that 'my birthday' part yet. (I like books and also book tokens. And yessir I've got a bit of a soft spot for book-themed novelties.)  The following night live storytelling champions Tales of Whatever tackle the internet on September 14 at Gullivers (free, 7:30pm). Let's hope no one gets seriously injured this time.

Max Porter, author of the much-praised Grief is the Thing with Feathers is in conversation with poet Andrew McMillan at Waterstones Deansgate on Wednesday Sept 21 at 6:30pm (£5, book here) - this should be a great event. Also on Wednesday Sept 21 Pen:Chant moves to Gorilla and welcomes a pretty varied and interesting lineup, including strange comedy trio Gein's Family Giftshop, beatboxer Bellatrix and MOBO-winning/ Mercury-nominated alto-saxophonist and MC Soweto Kinch plus open mic. And on Monday 26th September Fallowfield's finest open mic Verbose returns from holidays with a Bare Fiction magazine special featurng headliners Michael Conley, Rosie Garland and Rachel Mann (7:30pm at Fallow Cafe, free).

And then? And then? Well in October (7-23 October to be precise) it's Manchester Literature Festival so you should probably go to that. All of that.  Incidentally my own outfit The Real Story is running a special MLF edition of our live nonfiction night on October 22 at the Burgess Foundation headlined by the great Horatio Clare, and we could use a couple more essayists to read at it. If you're interested, check out our submission guidelines here. You can also buy tickets (£6/4) here.

I have gotten wind of a special event First Draft are doing on 31 October at Chetham's Library (this is in addition to their regularly scheduled October night on Monday 17th at 7:30pm at The Castle Hotel, with performers responding to the theme 'crush.') Save the date for some spooky stories... Look, I'm not even going to talk about the rest of October. I mean, I'm tired of writing this post and you're not actually still reading this, are you? Wait... you are? Don't you have that Petrarchan sonnet to write? 

Monday, March 07, 2016

Manchester writing and live literature: Spring 2016

Another day, another slightly desperate call for female performers at a literary event hits my inbox, and I'm reminded of that old saying: "women: can't live with 'em, can't convince them to get up on a stage and perform their writing."

So we know that the majority of writers are not men. Writing happens to everyone (worse luck). But when it comes to putting the writing out there, either by performing or publishing it, lots of the women get lost. Why? Is it because we live in a patriarchy that rewards men for being confident and outspoken, and punishes women for being confident and outspoken? Is it because women with children and/or careers are less likely than our male counterparts to have the time and energy to devote to writing and performing? Is it something about this or that particular event/publication that makes women feel unwelcome, or is it a more systemic problem? And what do we do about it?

These are the questions that keep right-minded writing people awake at night. I am not going to answer them here, just ask them in mildly annoying rhetorical fashion. But some of these questions will be addressed at Regarding Women: a performance in the portraits gallery at Whitworth Art Gallery that's part of the Wonder Women-themed Thursday Lates event this Thursday March 10. Rosie Garland, Lara Williams and my good self will perform work on the male gaze and female identity. In newly-commissioned poetry, lyric essay and fiction we'll explore what it means to speak, write and act as a woman. It starts at 6:30pm and is followed by a whole FREE evening of entertainment including DJing from Violent Femmes, comedy from Gag Reflex and an art pub quiz.

Later this month we're back at the Whitworth as Lara Williams' debut short story collection, Treats (Freight) launches at a standalone Thursday Late event 24 March featuring an army of writerly support bands. Plus actual support bands. Should be a fun night.

Elsewhere there's plenty on this spring. Headlining this month's Bad Language is Nikesh Shukla on March 30 and the aforementioned Lara Williams headlines April 27. They've also got a couple of special events later this spring: poets Hollie McNish and Jo Bell read and converse in an enticing double bill at the Burgess Foundation (tickets going fast.) And on 12 May it's 'Voices of the City' - a host of local writers perform new work inspired by archival film footage of Manchester at the Jewish Museum for Museums at Night.

On Monday 14 March poets Carolyn Teague and Daisy Thurston-Gent headline poetry performance monthly Evidently Salford at The Eagle Inn. Storytelling night Tales of Whatever presents tales about Road Trips this Wednesday 9 March downstairs at Gullivers, and have posted a list of upcoming themes for their monthly nights on their website - get in touch if you want to tell a story and work with the organisers to develop your performance. On Monday 28 March Verbose at The Fallow Cafe in Fallowfield features the Manchester New Left Writers plus their typically eclectic open mic.  Ever-inspiring performance night First Draft collaborates with Manchester Sound Archive for Voices, a sound response themed event Monday April 18 - and an intriguing event called Perspectives on 18 May at People's History Museum.

Manchester Literature Festival presents Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh in conversation with author Kevin Sampson on Sunday April 3. He'll be talking about new book The Blade Artist, writing, music, film adaptations and the legacy of Trainspotting in the 20th anniversary year of the film's release. At The Centre for New Writing events series, Howard Jacobson reads from new Shakespeare reworking Shylock is my Name at the Martin Harris Centre on 11 April, while on Monday April 18, writers Vona Groarke and Adam Thorpe read at the Burgess Foundation. And Poets and Players is bringing Carrie Etter and William Letford to Manchester on 19 March and Andrew McMillan and Ira Lightman on 29 April.

Looking ahead to June, our live nonfiction night The Real Story has just confirmed a really exciting headliner: Amy Liptrot, whose stunning memoir The Outrun has been garnering rave reviews all over the place. Describing it as 'a future classic,' The New Statesman said 'Liptrot is an Orcadian warrior with the breeze in her blood and poetry in her fingers." We're really looking forward to hosting her first Manchester event. Save the date! It happens on Thursday 23 June at Gullivers, at 7:30pm.

And remember Aspidistra Books, which we blogged about way back when? Well, their business model has changed and they're now setting up shop as an online bookseller with a sideline in literary events. They're keen to hear from any Manchester literary types who are interested in working together on events, particularly LGBT folks. Email Joseph Parkinson on hibsjoe07 at gmail.