Every Sunday The Glue Factory will bring to your attention the kind of things you need to know.
I welcome suggestions from authors, indie publishers, press agents and creative practitioners of all kinds, in any medium, so please email me with anything you’d like to share with our readers in future issues.
And don’t forget that if you receive this newsletter you’ll also get an invitation to the live online gathering on Sundays at 7:30pm UK time. They are always free to join (but donations to The Trussell Trust or your local equivalent outside the UK are appreciated).
Let me know if you’d rather not receive this regular update and I’ll happily stop bothering you.
Let’s stick together.
1 Aid for Ukraine
2 This week’s online gathering
3 Indie press news
Galley Beggar Press
Independent Bookshop Week
4 Dan O'Brien and Paul Watson in conversation
5 You'll be taking out a restraining order . . .
6 Astrid Alben at The Horse Hospital
7 Thoughts on the Platinum Jubilee
8 Next week's online gathering
1. Aid for Ukraine
You’ll have many calls on your time and generosity when it comes to supporting the people of Ukraine and the ghastly term ‘compassion fatigue’ has been circulating. This weekly newsletter will continue to highlight some of the less visible initiatives but the most far-reaching programme is the British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal. You can donate here.
2. This week’s online gathering
This week's online gathering (starting at 7:30pm) will feature Alexander Waugh and Dr. Penny McCarthy on Shakespeare and the problems of attribution and the dating of the plays, with readings by Michael Hughes and Samuel Skoog, poetry by Nuzhat Bukhari, and a song by soprano Anna Kenyon ('The Hackney Linnet'). Also striptease.
You'll get a Zoom link at 6:30pm UK time. Join us for 90 minutes of cultural diversion and enrichment.
3. Indie Press news
The first non-fiction title from the mighty House of Bluemoose is Ghost Signs by Stu Hennigan, launched on 23rd June at Leeds City library
Ghost Signs is an eyewitness account of the author's experiences delivering essential food and medicine to some of Leeds' most vulnerable communities in the early stages of the pandemic during the first lockdown in 2020. It's a timely reminder of how life was for most of us during those unprecedented times, and paints a blistering portrait of the hardships being endured by deprived communities even before the current cost of living crisis hit. It's a visceral piece of reportage that is already drawing comparisons with George Orwell's classic work The Road To Wigan Pier, so this event is not to be missed. Stu will be in conversation with writer and academic Heidi James, discussing how the book came to be written, and to talk more about his experiences on the frontline as a keyworker in a city of 800,000 people at a time when the majority of the population was being forced to stay at home.
If you can't get to Leeds for the official launch you can join the author live on the Glue Factory on Sunday 12th June
And still with the Moose: you can now for a limited period download a FREE AUDIO BOOK of Sharron Duggal's Should We Fall Behind here.
(It so happens that I reviewed this fine novel for the TLS here.)
Galley Beggar Press
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
Denis Johnson, Jesus’ Son
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Hanif Kureishi, The Buddha of Suburbia
Beryl Bainbridge, Master Georgie
Independent Bookshop Week!
Originally published in Russian in 1930, Deceit is the first major work by Yuri Felsen. Felsen was a significant writer of the 20th century Russian diaspora who died in the gas chambers in Auschwitz in 1943, and whose legacy and archive was destroyed by the Nazis.
A modernist author known to his contemporaries as 'the Russian Proust', Felsen was part of a thriving network of Russian writers in Paris in the 1920s and ‘30s. He was even praised by Nabokov, who said of his writing ‘This is...real literature, pure and honest’. This is the first English translation of Felsen’s landmark modernist debut, and the first time that any of his full works have been translated into any language other than Russian.
Later this year in the Glue Factory we'll be featuring the new edition of Deceit published by Prototype, translated by Bryan Karetnyk, who will join us to discuss Felsen's life, work and legacy.
On Thursday June 29th there's a launch event at Pushkin House in Bloomsbury curated by Toby Litt of the TLS and Alex Pheby (author of many outstanding novels including Playthings, Lucia and Mordew)
And (still with Prototype) wprototypepublishing.co.uk/vacancies/ and for some reason the layout has gone completely wonky for what follows. Apologies. I type this out using a head wand, you know.
To mark the bank holiday weekend The Unbounders are offering a generous 15% off, sitewide, on pledges and purchases up to £100. Just use code SUNSHINE15 at checkout.
Click here and get cracking.
4. Dan O'Brien and Paul Watson in conversation
Anyone familiar with Dan O'Briens's acclaimed collection War Reporter and will want to read this fascinating conversation between the poet and his subject, the photographer Paul Watson.
‘A masterpiece of truthfulness and feeling, and a completely sui generis addition not just to writing about war but to contemporary poetry’
– Patrick McGuinness, Guardian
Let’s watch some more TV. Let’s drink some more wine.
As long as I’m safe I don’t need to do
anything. See, this is why I don’t talk
to people. People ask me these questions
they don’t want answers to.
Paul Watson won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1993 photograph of a dead American being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu; he has since reported from the Balkans, Rwanda, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria ... Deriving from correspondence between poet and war reporter and their eventual meeting on the shore of the Arctic Ocean, and from transcripts and Watson’s own memoir, these poems bear unsparing witness to the incalculable damage inflicted by contemporary warfare.
Buy War Reporter direct from CBeditions and you'll get a free copy of New Life, another fine collection from Dan.
5. Multiple Joyce launch events
You may want to skip this bit. Did I mention before that I've got a new book coming out this month?
Multiple Joyce: 100 short essays about James Joyce's cultural legacy is published by Sagging Meniscus Press and there are two events by way of launch:
Thursday June 16th Hodges & Figgis in Dublin. A Bloomsday gathering in Dublin's leading bookshop (which gets a name-check in Ulysses). I'm delighted that I'll be joined on the night by Nuala O'Connor (author of NORA, the brilliant novel selected as this year's One Dublin One Book campaign), with readings by Stephanie Elleyne and surprise guests. 6pm onwards. All welcome.
Monday June 27th Irish Literary Society, London. I'll be in conversation with Rónán Hession (who wrote the very generous foreword to my book, which just goes to show that no good deed goes unpunished). Details and tickets here. Enter 'Buke' for a 50% discount - a night out in London's West End for a fiver! There will be live music, readings, signings and no end of craic.
Other dates and venues, if any, to be confirmed.
There will also be a modest online launch during our regular Sunday online gathering on 12th June.
But still on Joyce:
6. Astrid Alben at The Horse Hospital
News from Astrid Alben, a poet who has featured several times at out gatherings, most recently with her beautiful artbook collaboration Little Dead Rabbit .
She has launched a new initiative to share human creative kinship, curiosity and unexpected correspondences.
This, the second Salon A:, is co-curated with @prototypepubs and part of artist Chiara Ambrosio’s Raft Festival at the Horse Hospital, Colonnade, London WC 1N 1JD. (We mentioned this in last week's Newsletter)
Join Astrid, Chiara and others @thehorsehospital on 15 June at 7PM for ‘Salon A: Escaping Landscapes’.
Through the work of poets, artists and historians this event will uncover and explore unexpected parallels at the intersection of poetry, art and geology, through a shared interest in shifting scales and perspectives, spatiality and the meandering patterns of language.
The event will be featuring Leonie Rushforth, whose debut collection Deltas was published in February, Chloe Aridjis, whose Dialogue with a Somnambulist was published earlier this year and is the author of Book of Clouds, which won the Prix de Premier Roman Etranger.
Also featuring in this fantastic event will be award-winning environmental writer and historian Richard Hamblyn; Eleanor Morgan, an artist and writer who explores material and processes of making across species; and writer Nancy Campbell, who in 2020 won the RGS Ness Award for her literary response to the Arctic environment.
For full details, and to buy tickets, visit
7. Thoughts on the Platinum Jubilee
Around the time of the silver jubilee in 1977, Charles Monteith of Faber & Faber asked Philip Larkin and Ted Hughes to produce short poems to commemorate the occasion. They were to be inscribed in stone and placed in Queen’s Square, London, near the Faber offices. Larkin submitted:
In times when nothing stood
But worsened, or grew strange,
There was one constant good:
She did not change.
It strikes me that the Royal Family's description of itself as 'The Firm' suggests more than a down-to-earth no-nonsense commercial enterprise. What if (like Larkin) we see it, or at least the Queen, as an adjectival noun, on a par with The Good, the Bad and the Ugly? The Firm as in the steadfast, the reliable, the durable, the secure? The Firm as the platonic incarnation of firmness.
And of course 'firm' has a particular association with the Turf (that synechdoche for horse racing, which is as close as HM ever gets to culture). 'The going is firm', say the bookmakers, and adjust their odds accordingly.
I'm OK with that. I find it hard to dislike the Queen as a person, because she doesn't qualify as a person. Her image (reproduced billions of times on coins and banknotes and stamps) makes her, paradoxically, invisible as a mere human.
But I find it quite impossible to like the kind of people who venerate the monarchy. That's my problem, I suspect. But when I see an estimated 100,000 of her subjects crowded into central London the gloomy thought strikes me that each one of them represents seven victims of the Covid pandemic, a national disaster that isn't yet over. This should, is it seems to me, be a time for mourning, and remembrance, and commemoration. And after that, and not before time, change.
8. Next week's online gathering:
We'll be joined on 12th June by writer Stu Hennigan whose first book GHOST SIGNS: Poverty and the Pandemic is published this month by Bluemoose Books. It's an urgent report from the front line of the pandemic in Leeds when the author worked as a volunteer delivering food parcels and medicine to the poorest and most deprived parts of the city. There he found the results not of Covid-19 but the long-term impact of austerity policies on nthe most vulnerable. This is a shocking book, almost unbearable to read. We should all read it, and be angry, and vote for change because our country isn't like this. It's what they've made it, and we know who they are.
We'll also have a look at 'verbatim writing' in a conversation with poet Caroline Clarke and the Swedish writer Marit Kapla, author of the wonderful Osebol.
In the third part of the show we'll be launching Multiple Joyce with readings, film, music and conversation, ahead of the official launch in Dublin. Joining the Glue Factory will be Nuala O'Connor and Ronan Hession, to share their experiences as 'One Dublin, One Book' authors and discuss the influence of Joyce on contemporary Irish writing. I promise that will be the last you'll hear of my book, and probably of me.
When you think of donating to a food bank, you may think of giving pasta, tinned food or cereal. Though this food is always appreciated, the food banks in the Trussell Truss network are also in need of some more unexpected, but essential, items.
Six things you can donate to a foodbank apart from food:
- 'free from' foods including gluten-free and dairy-free
- tin openers
- toiletries including toothpaste, soap and hand wash
- toilet rolls
- household items such as washing-up liquid and detergent
- nappies, baby wipes and other toiletries
By way of an envoi: the Platinum Jubilee celebrations are reported to have cost £2 billion. That's an awful lot of toiletries.