Amniotic City – Lucy Furlong’s Poetry Map Reviewed in The Guardian

Amniotic City

MFA poet, Lucy Furlong is featured by The Guardian today for her poetry map, Amniotic City. Dan Holloway describes her work as “a beautiful exploration of the way a city can consciously and unconsciously suppress an important part of its nature, and how a little imaginative trowel-work can reveal what is hidden – and transform the things you see around you every day.” You can read the entire glowing review on The Guardian website.

Lucy will also be reading this Saturday evening, 03 August 2013, at the Structo Issue 10 launch at 6pm in the Society Club in Soho, London. This lovely bookshop/gallery/cafe/bar is a hidden London gem and will be packed with fantastic writers and readers this weekend. The event is free, so drop in, hear some good writing and pick up a copy of this great magazine featuring the best poetry, fiction, essays and interviews from around the world. For more information on the Structo launch check out the event site.

The Society Club

Are you an MFA graduate, current student, lecturer or writer-in-residence with publishing or performance news? If so, let us know!

Advertisements

Writer’s Cafe at the Rose Theatre 06 August 2013 with Kayo Chingonyi

The Writer’s Cafe summer reading series returns on Tuesday, 06 August 2013 at 1:15pm. Come, enjoy a coffee and some fantastic writing from spoken word artist Kayo Chingonyi and members of the community. If you have a poem or short selection of prose that fits the theme of “musical words” please come along and share your work! This is a great opportunity to get some exposure and support. You can email vivienneraper@gmail.com to book an open mic slot or just turn up on the day.

Kayo Chingonyi at the Writer's Cafe Flyer

Writer’s Cafes featuring Writer-in-Residence Mark Barrowcliffe and MFA lecturer  James Miller  to follow in September and October with open mic slots every month. Pieces for reading should be no longer than 5 minutes in length.

This is a wonderful opportunity to meet writers, get involved with Kingston Writing School and to get public reading experience if you’re a writer!

A Look Back at the Kingston Writing School Athens Summer School

For four weeks this summer, writers from around the world gathered in Athens, Greece for intensive creative writing workshops led by Kingston Writing School writers in connection with the British Council.

Athens school logoThis very lucky editor was among the students there for the first week of the session and can attest to just how brilliant it was. Waking up in the ancient city of Athens, spending the day wandering through centuries-old ruins and the evening discussing writing with motivated writers was incredible. Inspiration lay around every corner.

Weekdays from 6-9pm we would gather at the British Council offices in Kolonaki Square, revel in the glorious air conditioning and workshop an incredible array of writing. There were several courses to choose from:

1. 2 week Intensive Prose Writing with novelists Adam Baron and Rachel Cusk

2. 2 week Intensive Poetry Writing with Jane Yeh and Paul Perry

3. 4 week Mixed Genre Writing with James Miller, Siobhan Campbell, Norma Clarke and Jonathan Barnes

4. 2 week Fiction and Poetry Writing with Jonathan Barnes and Alison Gibb

Teaching these classes were: novelists Adam Baron, Rachel Cusk, James Miller and Jonathan Barnes, poets Siobhan Campbell, Jane Yeh and Alison Gibb, and poet and novelist Paul Perry.  Students also benefited from visits from notable Greek writers.

One of the best experiences of the week was not only the amazing teaching, but also the opportunity to connect with other, international writers. The 33 registered students were in classes of between four and eleven writers and were able to socialise and discuss writing with the other classes through organised events. The power of literature in the face of the current economic crisis was evident in the classroom. It was fascinating to hear from Greek writers about the economic and social turmoil, and to see how it was represented in their writing. Students hailed from several countries including Greece, the UK, the USA and Mexico, ranged in age from teenagers to retirees and had professions from novelist to diplomat. The wealth of world and life experience added to the rich discussions of writing and literature.

Many students found that the intensive nature of the course encouraged them to produce more than they normally would have. For those students who struggled to start, the teachers gave writing exercises to kick start creativity. The summer school ended with an impressive and moving evening of readings by participants that highlighted the success of the program.

Huge thanks are due to all of the staff of the British Council and the director, Tony Buckby. Special thanks to Irini Vouzelakou and Maria Papaioannou who did an enormous amount of work to organise everything behind the scenes to make sure the summer school ran so well and to make it all possible. Their hard work and positivity put everyone at ease and made both students and staff feel welcome in Athens and at the British Council. At Kingston University, many thanks to the staff who taught and to David Rogers for his leadership of Kingston Writing School in forging this new bond.

The consensus from the teachers, students, Kingston Writing School and the British Council is that the first year of the Athens International Creative Writing Summer School was a huge success. Director of the Kingston Writing School, David Rogers says, “We have definitely established a special link among Kingston Writing School, the Athens British Council, and our new community of Greek and international writers.”

Kingston Writing School and the British Council look forward to further developing and expanding that community next year when the Athens International Creative Writing Summer School will return as an annual event. So if you missed out this year, not to worry! It is expected that similar creative writing courses will be offered and organisers are looking into possibly offering courses in literature or nonfiction/journalism.For more information, keep your eye on the Kingston Writing School and British Council Athens websites.

Writer’s Cafe – Summer Reading Series 2013

No Dead White Men is delighted to report that the first Writer’s Cafe featuring Nicky Matthews Browne was a success in the lovely setting of the Rose Theatre’s Culture Cafe. Nicky’s reading was well-received as were the readings by the public.

Some of the audience, although they did not intend to participate, felt so inspired as to spontaneously recite poetry from memory.

N M Browne reading at the 10 July 2013 Writer's Cafe

N M Browne reading at the 10 July 2013 Writer’s Cafe

A great time was had by all and we are all looking forward to the events yet to come:

Tuesday, 06 August 2013, 1:15pm – Kayo Chingonyi – “Musical words”

Tuesday, 03 September 2013, 1:15pm – Mark Barrowcliffe – “Devil in the details”

Tuesday, 08 October 2013, 1:15pm – James Miller – “Repetition and revolution”

All events are from 1:15 – 2:00pm in the Rose Theatre’s Culture Cafe. Entrance is free and you can purchase a coffee and a cake for just £3. Email the organiser (and MFA), Vivienne Raper, at vivienneraper@gmail.com to book an open mic slot or just show up on the day with poetry, prose or anything in between. Readings should be no more than 5 minutes in length.

Please come out and support your local writing community. You might even like to share some of your own writing!

Reviewing the Book Review: Crawling at Night by Nani Power

Alaa El Fadel is finishing her MFA in Creative Writing, working on a fantasy novel and a screen adaptation. Her blog is Mountain Quill.

The passage through the mountainous regions of craft has left me with a permanent love of literature and the arts. Wonder, spirit, boundless imaginings – those are the things that are worth writing about.

********************

When I was studying book reviews with my students, I pointed out that some critics only review books they liked. In literary terms I don’t believe this is healthy. Reviewing books you don’t like can deepen understanding of yourself and literature in general. What worked and what did not work to appeal to your interests as a reader? Having said that, here is the review I wrote on Nani Power’s Crawling At Night:

Crawling at NightOk so I’m reviewing this book… well… hmmm. Honestly this is a very difficult book to review and you will know why in a bit.

Crawling at Night by Nani Power was chosen for an undergrad class I was teaching. The story revolves around the characters of Ito, an ageing Sushi chef and Mariane, an alcoholic waitress, whose lives intermingle with several other characters in bizarre twists of fate. Power’s story is emotionally grasping as we are absorbed by the character’s choices and history. With a non-linear structure, the past and present fracture to unfold the horrors of why Ito and Mariane are the way they are. Sympathy grows for each character as more is revealed about them. Secondary characters are quite realistic and entertaining as they clash with Ito and Mariane.

Power uses several techniques including fracturing text, capital letters, italic and bold formats for specific sentences or words, 3rd and 1st points of view, flashbacks, dramatic irony and foreign names and words. The post powerful technique was the use of lists. With an introduction to how lists dominate our lives, food items and other things are listed at the beginning of each chapter. Sometimes, the last item kicks the curious cat, like ‘Sleep’ or ‘Tears.’ It’s a lot of fun to check things off the list and figure out how they play a part in the story. Like menus, the novel begins and ends with a list, enclosing all the information a customer needs in between. All of these elements would classify Crawling at Night as an experimental book.

Empirical books such as this are always fascinating; they challenge our perceptions of novels and question the novel form. After all, the original meaning of novel meant ‘something new.’ (Dictionary.com).

The page before the first list explains the term ‘crawling at night.’ Night crawling or Yobai is the practice of an unknown man crawling into a woman’s futon for anonymous copulation. Yup, you read right… If the woman rejects the man, the man saves himself from embarrassment by wearing a cloth to cover his face. He simply, crawls away without being identified.

Wrapped within the sushi roll of the plot, a dominant theme of coition is read in excruciating detail with intimate moments between characters and the defilement of innocents. The novel becomes emotionally draining and difficult to continue. In two hours, I read three consented couplings and two forced ones.

I could not believe this book was in the syllabus, but I understand why it was. The novel has two major sides to it – the story and the distinguishing literature. As a story, I felt quite sad and uncomfortable after finishing it. It did not leave me with wonder or satisfaction. However, when looking at the prose, the novel was a masterpiece in writing. To write proper and effective back-stories is a difficult skill for writers to perfect and Power’s does it fantastically. The dynamic plot drip feeds the truth without losing our interest, all the way to the very last list. If you can stomach the events then this is a book to learn from as a flourishing writer. But Crawling At Night is not the only book with well written back story and is certainly not the last one we can learn all these techniques from. This is not a matter of censorship but one of personal choice. So the question remains – is it worth trading skills you can get some place else for emotional disturbance?

Re-release of Scott Bradfield’s first book: The History of Luminous Motion

The History of Luminous Motion

We are excited to announce that Dr. Scott Bradfield’s highly acclaimed first novel is being re-released by Calamari Press in August 2013. Below is the press release:

Blue Velvet meets Oedipus Rex – Philip, a disillusioned and possibly psychopathic wunderkind, leads a Bonnie & Clyde existence with his increasingly despondent Mom before reluctantly settling down on the frayed fringes of suburbia, Then, like normalizing redemption, his affluent Dad arrives – only it’s not the sort of redemption Philip is prepared for. First published in 1989, this long-neglected cult classic features revisions and a new afterword by the author.

“A novel as mysterious, beautiful, sad and frightening as contemporary American childhood itself – and, fortunately, a good deal funnier. Bradfield’s California is haunted by vast primordial Lovecraftian forces – death, sex, credit cards, Mom – which threaten always to emerge from their ancient hiding places and engulf the world and the narrator, eight-year old Phillip and his preteen Karamazov friends. Those who think they know all about California and Oedipal drives will here discover the true extent of their ignorance. The thing is indescribably – violent, hallucinatory, comic and incredibly well written. Scott Bradfield has not simply staked out new literary terrain here, he has mapped and colonized an entire new planet.” – Michael Chabon

“Bradfield is one of my favorite living writers.” – Jonathan Lethem

“A wizardly writer of stories, His prose is so lucid and exact, his narrative sense so conficent, that you hardly know where he’s taking you until you’re there.” – Tobias Wolff

“Scott Bradfield has been writing some of the wises and funniest fiction for a while now.” – Sam Lipsyte

“Painfully beautiful writing.” – Mary Gaitskill

“As disorienting as it is seductive…casts an utterly irresistible spell. This is the voice, recombinant and renewed, of Thomas Pynchon exploring the reaches of inner and outer space, Don DeLillo exposing the vile politics of technology, John Leonard spitting up the whole vile twentieth century…a daringly original literary sensibility.” – Newsday

“If you spot it, grab it. If you like my stuff, you’ll like [The History of Luminous Motion]…extremely well done; most unusual…quite a powerful piece of work.” – J. G. Ballard

Scott's Press Release

Submit

Lucy Furlong is completing the MFA in creative writing at Kingston and currently writing a collection of poetry.  She had a poem included in English Pen’s award-winning Poems for Pussy Riot anthology, Catechism, and a poem recently in the Solidarity Park Poetry project in support of the Turkish uprising. Her poetry map, Amniotic City can be found at http://www.lucyfurlong.com

**********************

How often do you submit your work and where to? It does of course depend on what you are writing. Short stories and poems can be submitted across the publishing stratosphere, and that can mean anything from twinkling blogs and zines, to esteemed literary magazines and journals, not forgetting competitions and anthologies.

Novels are a different matter and recently a friend prepared the first three chapters of her book to send, plus blurb, synopsis and covering letter to an agent. This seemed to me to involve far more of an investment than firing off poems into the ether and seeing if anything stuck…otherwise known as The Spaghetti Method of submitting…not actually a sure fire way of getting your work published but probably a good place to start if you  haven’t done it before.

In fact, although this may be a way to get over the initial fear of submitting your writing, if you are serious about getting published you will need to put in some time researching where your work might fit best. The web is a good place to start and many sites will have a submissions policy which advises you to read the publication, whether it is a blog, journal or annual anthology, first to get an idea of whether your writing would be suitable for it.

I would recommend doing this too. It will save you a lot of time and you get to know lots of different publications, which is critical if you are going to carry on with this mad writing lark you’ve got yourself into. Also, you might read some fantastic and inspiring poetry, short stories or experimental prose…If you are a poet the Saison Poetry Library stocks a comprehensive range of poetry magazines, zines and journals which you can browse to your ‘art’s content. It also supplies handy copies of the latest submission deadlines for competitions too.

What is the best way to deal with the inevitable rejection and frustration which comes from this process?  My advice would be to be business-like. Develop a system and be pragmatic. If you’ve gone through the creative-workshopping process for any amount of time you will be used to having your work critiqued, albeit constructively and with colleagues you know. This will help to prepare you for what may come next. It could be nothing, as in no response- and possibly will be many times over. Then again it could be rejection letters and emails from editors who don’t know you and don’t care for the short story you have sent them.

All writers face this. And if you are going to be successful you have to face it too. Some people find it very scary and there is no doubt it can be disappointing to get a rejection which picks apart a piece of writing which you thought was your best poem yet.

Muriel Spark writes in her autobiography, Curriculum Vitae about her system for keeping track of where she submitted her work:

“I used to keep a notebook which I called my ‘Despatch Book’…On the right hand side of the page I wrote the name of the journal to which I submitted my work as I wrote it. On the left I wrote against it, when the fate of the submitted piece was known, either the words ‘accepted’ or ‘returned’ – more often than not the latter.”

She goes on to list a number of her poems and where she had sent them, which gives the reader an idea of how often she submitted and how often the work was rejected. Out of the six listed submissions sent in one week, five were returned but the sixth won The Observer short story competition. Her tenacity and no-nonsense attitude, as well as her talent, paid off.

So, know your spaghetti and find out where it is most likely to stick. And then keep chucking it at those literary walls.

StatCounter

wordpress stats
%d bloggers like this: