Sunday 4 December 2022

Newsletter 61

4th December

I'm still on Twitter, but it's a bit like staying in a seaside resort after the crowds have left. The pier is still open and the lights are still on, but the cafes are empty, the gift shops shut. 

I'm also here now: Do join me.

Now. To business...

Newsletter contents

1.   Aid for Ukraine

2.   This week’s online gathering 

3.   Indie press news

        Bluemoose Books

        Faber and Faber

        Head of Zeus

        Sagging Meniscus Press

        V & Q

4.   Last minute gift ideas for the bathroom

5.   Auden on the BBC

6.   gorse 11 goes to print

7.   Elena Addomine

8.   The Idler (passim)

9.   The National Poetry Library

10.  Getting known

11.  Joanna Walsh: AUTOBIOLOGY

12.  S J Fowler klaxon!

13.  Next week's final online gathering

14.  Nudge


16.  PPS (solution to item 7)




1. Aid for Ukraine

We've had compassion fatigue and now I fear we're in the stage of compassion fatigue fatigue. Meanwhile the war goes on, and on.  

The most far-reaching aid programme has been, and remains, the British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal. You can donate quickly and easily here. Whatever you can, whenever you can.

Thank you.


2. This week’s online gathering 

Michael Hughes reads Samuel Beckett’s Whoroscope

James Brophy and William Davies co-editors of Samuel Beckett’s Poetry (CUP)

Samuel Beckett's Poetry is the first book-length study of Beckett's complete poetry, designed for students and scholars of twentieth century poetry and literature, as well as for specialists of Beckett's work. 

Toby Litt on A Writer’s Diary (published on 1st January 2023 by Galley Beggar Press)  

Natalia Zagxorska-Thomas on 'The Camden Hoard', a collaborative project featuring contributions from Will Eaves, Julian Stannard, Amy McCauley, Gav Clarke, Kevin Boniface and others.

Exacting Clam issue 7 launch. Publisher Jacob Smullyan presents the latest number of this transatlantic quarterly. 

Christopher Boucher on The Word Party (pre-recorded). 

Corina Bardoff reading from her ‘Food Restrictions’ 

Mike Silverton’s TRIOS

Kevin Boniface on the death of HMQ Elizabeth II

This issue also features Glue Factory stalwarts Kevin Boniface (again), Jake Goldsmith, Kurt Luchs, Melissa McCarthy, Paolo Pergola and illustrious others.


3. Indie press news

Bluemoose Books

The Hebden Bridge-based indie publisher, founded by Kevin and Hetha Duffy (below), consistently punches above its weight with an absolutely outstanding backlist and great books to come in 2023.

                                  Once in a Bluemoose

This week we learned that in the past year Bluemoose authors have been translated and published in Italian, Czech, Slovakian, Arabic, Turkish and Polish. In these dark days that's a cultural beacon. Good work!

Faber and Faber

A first mention in the newsletter for this venerable independent publisher, prompted by the announcement this week of their forthcoming re-issue of the American author Emily Holmes Coleman's only novel The Shutter of Snow (1930). 

Both the author and the book are entirely new to me but a foreword by Claire-Louise Bennett is recommendation enough, and just look at this gorgeous cover, reminiscent of Faber's golden age, when the great Berthold Wolpe was in charge of their design.

Coleman's Wikipedia entry is worth a look:

Described by the publisher as 'a radical dissection of insanity and maternity. Tragic and ecstatic, shocking and hilarious, poetic and unflinching – it is a timeless masterpiece.' 

It's published on 2nd February 2023.

Head of Zeus

Queer: LGBTQ Writing from Ancient Times to Yesterday is a superb anthology of LGBTQ writing over two millenia selected by award-winning translator (and Glue Factory mainstay) Frank Wynne. Every home should have a copy.

It's out in paperback on December 8th:

'A landmark anthology of queer writing.' - BBC Front Row

Sagging Meniscus Press

'Our favourite publisher of the unexpected.' — Seattle Review of Books

'Here’s a press with a name to remember. Here’s a press to impress. Here’s a press that takes chances and dances and remembers to put in its false teeth. Here’s a press in which wild cobras wear no bras. Here’s a press in which gods undress.' — Jack Foley

You want to know more about the name?

Sagging Meniscus Press publishes nonconformist, aesthetically self-determined literature — books that want to be themselves. More than 80 books make up a very impressive backlist. See them here on the new and bracingly interactive website:

A shout out to Jake Goldmsith, author of Neither Weak Nor Obtuse, of which the writer/researcher/broadcaster Tom Shakespeare says:

This wonderful book is like an unblinking conversation with one of the most literary, most honest, most human people you will ever meet. I thank Jake for sharing his life with us, and recommend that you take him up on his invitation.

V & Q books

Two Spring 2023 titles to look out for: In the Belly of the Queen by Karosh Taha (translated by Grashina Gabelmann) is 'a kaleidoscopic and formally inventive novel exploring class, race and gender' and A Light Still Burns by Selim Özdoğan, (translated by Ayça Türkoğlu and Katy Derbyshire) is the final instalment in the Anatolian Blues trilogy covering the life of Gül, split between Turkey and Germany. Both are now available to preorder.

In the Belly of the Queen by Karosh Taha, tr. Grashina Gabelmann

Publishing April 1st 2023

'In her kaleidoscopic novel, Karosh Taha expands our ideas of class, race and gender as she loops two stories around an invisible lynchpin: a woman who defies all expectations, a blank canvas for projections from all those around her. Deftly translated by Grashina Gabelmann, the book can be explored from either end, creating two very different narratives.'

Preorder In the Belly of the Queen here

A Light Still Burns by Selim Özdoğan, tr. Ayça Türkoğlu and Katy Derbyshire

‘A luminous conclusion to a trilogy that has no equal in any language. Through the story of one woman who insists, against the odds, on meeting the world with an open heart, it brings grace and dignity to the many unsung millions whose lives have followed the same zigzagging paths between Turkey and Germany over three generations.’ Maureen Freely, author of Sailing Through Byzantium and translator of Orhan Pamuk

Preorder A Light Still Burns here. Find out more about The Blacksmith's Daughter and 52 Factory Lane.


4. The Literature Clock

If you know Christian Marclay's astonishing masterpiece The Clock, a 24-hour long film installation made up of thousands of movie clips showing clocks that give the exact time of the day or night the viewer is watching, you'll probably know what to expect with this, the literary equivalent. But be warned this is a very deep rabbit-hole:


5. Auden on the BBC

My thanks to Edward Mendelson, Auden scholar non pareil, for this heads up. BBC Radio 3 recently broadcast a dramatised reading of Auden's poem The Age of Anxiety, which can be heard here (for the next month or so):

'Auden’s long poem The Age of Anxiety was written at the peak of his powers, and is claimed by many as his masterpiece. It contains passages of striking beauty, as powerful as anything he wrote. It is written in the form of a strange verse-drama: four characters, all single, lonely and adrift, spend an evening together, as Auden takes them on a fantastic voyage into memory and myth, in search of a way to solve the problems which have created this age of anxiety, the age in which we all now live.'

AUDEN ..... Julian Bleach

QUANT ..... Jonjo O'Neill

MALIN ..... John Light

ROSETTA ..... Genevieve Gaunt

EMBLE ..... Luke Thallon

Sound Design by Jon Nicholls

Produced and Directed by Fiona McAlpine

An Allegra Production for BBC Radio 3


6. gorse 11 goes to print

Editor Susan Tomaselli announced this week that the long-awaited 11th issue of gorse journal has gone to print and will be on sale soon, so form a disorderly queue here. It's bound to sell out very quickly.

I used to have a regular gig writing about all things indie for The Idler magazine, a London-based bi-monthly publication that seems to be aimed at folk with large disposable incomes. Larger than mine, at any rate. This is what I said in Issue 57 (Jan/Feb 2018):

'I can’t think of a better literary magazine than gorse – it combines assured editorial judgement with startlingly original content.' 

It does. Have a look at some of the web-only features


7. Elena Addomine

Our guest on last Sunday's online gathering, Elena is the New York-based president of OpLePo, the Italian equivalent of the French OuLiPo movement. She has kindly sent the following example of her work, an example of what she calls Homographic Translation. Those of you in the audience last week will know what to do. The solution is at the end of this newsletter...   

    Mi son salite




    onde di catene

    e di "se ..."


    è come se

    la natalità


    mi negassi,

    son certa,

    in me.


8. The Idler (passim)

What's that you say? You didn't know about my two-year stint as The Idler's indie reviewer? Here's a quick summary of the features, some of which I suspect can be found online, if you're interested.

Press gang. On Tramp Press (July/August 2017)

Found in translation. On Pereine Press (Issue 55 September/October 2017)

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of. On Peter Owen Publishing (Issue 56 November/December 2017)

Pressing matters. On Little Island Press & gorse magazine (Issue 57 January/February 2018)

Stream of consciousness. On The Republic of Consciousness Prize 2018  (Issue 58 March/April 2018)

Mag men. On Little Magazines, past and present (Issue 59 May/June 2018)

We're all doomed. Not.  On Will Self and the state of things (Issue 60 July/August 2018)

Fight the power. On Galley Beggar Press vs. W. H. Smith  (Issue 61 September/October 2018)

Go Gentle. On Spitalfields Life & Henningham Family Press (Issue 62 November/December 2018)

To the end of the night. On Guillemot Press & Winter Papers  (Issue 63 January/February 2019)

On the case On bookshelves & Spring 2019 highlights (Issue 64 March/April 2019)

News from Norwich On The Republic of Consciousness Prize 2019 & Boiler House Press (Issue 65 May/June 2019)

Lots of fun at Finneganight On Finnegans Wake & The St Arbuc Encyclopaedia (Issue 66 July/August 2019)

Paper weight On the costs of independent publishing (Issue 67 September/October 2019)


9. National Poetry Library

Tucked away in the top left hand corner of the Royal Festival Hall, the National Poetry Library is a wonderful cultural asset, run by Chris McCabe and his colleagues. The NPL is now inviting proposals for their 2023-24 Special Edition programme, seeking proposals for events from a broad range of organisers, poets and poetry enthusiasts. The deadline for applications is 5pm Fri 6 Jan 2023 - more info here:


10. Getting known

Startled to learn this week that I'm among those writers nominated for something called  The Pushcart Prize for one essay ('Confession') in Multiple Joyce my collection of 100 essays about the author of Ulysses. Startled and delighted, because I find myself in such wonderful company: 

We share a publisher, of course, who has been good enough to make the nominations. I'm also delighted to learn that some Exacting Clam authors have also been nominated, including Glue Factory regular Julian Stannard and roving reporter Melissa McCarthy, as well as past contributors Kurth Luchs and Thomas Walton  Congratulations to all. I feel a movement is forming...

The Pushcart Prize is entirely new to me but is, on the face of it, a Very Good Thing and clearly more covetable than (e.g.) the Wyndham-Campbell. But that's another story.


11. Joanna Walsh: AUTOBIOLOGY

This digitally-generated novel is now available to buy. It transforms the author's explorations in autofiction into a computer consciousness that reconstructs "her" and calls into question the very nature of writing & self.

From the website:

“The Labour of Reading is at the heart of AUTOBIOLOGY. Readership as authorship, authorship as readership – and all of it consequently as thinkership. Questions on ‘work’ and ‘value’ abound. Who owns language? What is a self in words? What is writing in the age of artificial intelligence? Is narrativising a way of forcing readers to cease questioning? What happens in the gaps between language and sense, and are those infinite spaces where the value of ‘literature’ is to be found?”

–Christodoulos Makris, author of THIS IS NO LONGER ENTERTAINMENTY


12. S J Fowler klaxon

 last event of the year, if you happen to be free next Tuesday evening, Dec 6th, we will be celebrating the great Stephen Watts down in Kingston. Please come by, and / or share with friends who might be interested if you don't mind.

Also a fun recent collaboration with viola master benedict taylor

Some letterpress work in the cotswolds

Two lovely new limited edition collaborations from Joan 


13. Next week's online gathering

The final Glue Factory on Sunday 11th December will re-visit highlights from the past year as requested by members of the audience.

It's an epic two-hour programme (with an interval, you'll be relieved to hear), and I hope you can join me to share highlights from the past year in the company of Sara Baume, Kevin Boniface, Marie-Elsa Bragg, Ray Davis, Wendy Erskine, Jake Goldsmith, Rónán Hession, Michael Horden, Michael Hughes, Laura Hopkins, Alex Kapila, Penny McCarthy, Paige Niblet, Julian Stannard, Guillermo Stitch, Philip Terry, Aea Varfis van Warmelo, Tony White and many others. 

Plus music from Wet Leg, Diana Ross and Lionel Jeffries.


14. Nudge

If you get this newsletter or join any of our online gatherings and enjoy either I do hope you'll make a donation, however small, however large, to this important cause, or local equivalent, whether in cash or kind. Whatever you can afford.

And did you know that you can also donate your Tesco Clubcard vouchers to help support the good work of the Trust?

From 28 November until 3 December, Tesco are matching all Clubcard vouchers donated. Every donation will help the Trussell Trust continue to support people who are facing hardship this winter


PS Next Sunday's final online gathering will, for a change, be a fundraiser for The Barbellion Prize. 

This week I've been contacting directly and separately all the literary communities I know - publishers, agents, authors, fellow literary hacks - and I hope by the end of the series we'll have secured the future of this important prize for at least another two years. The founder Jake Goldsmith is doing a fantastic job but this prize won't survive without our support, which is needed urgently. 

I'd like to invite everyone joining the audience for this final show to donate twenty pounds to the prize (this is easily done online within a matter of seconds). I know times are hard, so any donation is very welcome, however small. It will make an enormous difference. 

And we'll go out with a bang after Christmas with our third annual pantomime. This will be the last-ever performance by the Carthorse Orchestra Players and there will be full details in next week's newsletter. 


PPS The English version of the Italian poem by Elena Addomine is as follows: 

    My son's a lite.

    I deepen emotion,

    dedicate need.

    I see:

    he comes elan

    at a litany!

    Do mine,

    gassy son,

    certain me.

From: 'Forme for me - Traduzioni omografiche' by Elena Addomine, Biblioteca Oplepiana n.7

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