Thursday, 13 August 2020

A Leap in the Dark 39

A Lark in the Deep  Friday 14th August 2020

We’ll have canto XXII of Spring Journal by Jonathan Gibbs, read as usual by Michael Hughes, followed by the latest Letter from Dinan by Susanna Crossman. Then we’ll have The Translator’s Funeral, a new short story written and read by Rónán Hession.

After the interval A Leap in the Dark becomes A Lark in the Deep as three brilliant writers - Emma Devlin, Melissa McCarthy and Isabel Waidner - dive into the fluid issue of maritime gender. 

There's no charge for taking part in A Leap in the Dark, but please make a donation, no matter how large, to The Trussell Trust.


The Programme


1 The Pale Usher welcomes you

2 Spring Journal canto XXII by Jonathan Gibbs, read by Michael Hughes

3 Letter from Dinan by Susanna Crossman

4 The Translator’s Funeral 
  a new short story written and read by Rónán Hession 

5 ‘Revelation Apocalypse’ performed by Aea Varfis-van Warmelo


Interval 


6 Melissa McCarthy on Sharks, Death, Surfers

We encounter the world through surfaces: the screen, the page, our skin, the ocean’s swell. Here on the sea is the surfer, positioned at the edge of the collapsing wave. And lurking underneath, in a monstrous mirroring, is the shark. When the two meet, carving along the surface, breaking through the boundary, is when death appears


7 ‘It’s only an island if you look at it from the water.’ 
   The Pale Usher on Jaws

8 The Settee Salon: Emma Devlin, Melissa McCarthy and Isabel Waidner 

9 The Pale Usher signs off



The Company


Susanna Crossman is an award-winning Anglo-French fiction writer and essayist. She has recent/upcoming work in Trauma (Dodo Ink, 2020), Neue Rundschau, (S. Fischer, 2019), (translated into German), We’ll Never Have Paris, (Repeater Books, 2019), The Creative Review, 3:AM Journal, The Lonely Crowd, Berfrois and more. Co-author of the French book, L'Hôpital Le Dessous des Cartes (LEH, 2015), she regularly collaborates on international hybrid arts projects. Her debut novel Dark Island will be published in 2021. For more: @crossmansusanna http://susanna-crossman.squarespace.com/ 

Emma Devlin is a graduate of Queen’s University Belfast. Her work has featured in Blackbird and The Bangor Literary Journal. She can be found on Twitter: @theactualemma. Her short story Home, Sisters won the 2019 Benedict Kiely prize.

Jonathan Gibbs is a writer and critic. His first novel, Randall, was published in 2014 by Galley Beggar, and his second, The Large Door, by Boiler House Press last year. He has written on books for various places including the TLS, Brixton Review of Books and The Guardian. He curates the online short story project A Personal Anthology, in which writers, critics and others are invited to 'dream-edit' an anthology of their favourite short fiction. Spring Journal is a response to the current coronavirus pandemic taking its cue very directly from Louis MacNeice's Autumn Journal.

Rónán Hession is a writer musician and civil servant from Dublin. His debut novel Leonard and Hungry Paul (published by Bluemoose Books) has been nominated for the Irish Book Awards, British Book Awards, the BAMB awards, and long listed for the Republic of Consciousness prize. His third album Dictionary Crimes was nominated for the Choice Music Prize for Irish Album of the Year. He is currently completing work on his second novel Panenka, which will be published by Bluemoose in 2021.A third novel, Ghost Mountain, will appear in 2023.

Michael Hughes is the author of two novels: Countenance Divine (2016) and Country (2018) both published by John Murray, the latter winning the 2018 Hellenic Prize. Under his stage name Michael Colgan he recently appeared in the acclaimed HBO television drama Chernobyl.

Melissa McCarthy is a writer based in Edinburgh. Previous books that she has edited or coauthored include works on documentary filmmaking and on incarceration. She has worked as a film curator and arts journalist in London and Durban, South Africa. Her monograph  Sharks Death Surfers was published by Sternberg Press in 2019 and is available here: 
https://www.sternberg-press.com/product/sharks-death-surfers-an-illustrated-companion/ 

Amy McCauley is a poet and freelance writer. She is the author of OEDIPA (Guillemot Press, 2018) and 24/7 Brexitland (No Matter Press, 2020). Amy’s first full-length collection of poetry will be published by Henningham Family Press in 2021.

Isabel Waidner is a writer and critical theorist. Their latest novel We Are Made Of Diamond Stuff (2019) was shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize and the Republic of Consciousness Prize. Their first novel Gaudy Bauble (2017) was the winner of the Internationale Literaturpreis and shortlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize. Waidner’s writing has appeared in journals including AQNB, The Happy Hypocrite, Frieze, and Tripwire. They are a co-founder of the event series Queers Read This at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), and an academic at Roehampton University, London.


The next Leap in the Dark is tomorrow (Saturday 15th August)and  will be curated by Laura Waddell of Tramp Press, the Dublin-based independent publisher founded in 2014 by Lisa Coen and Sarah Davis-Goff. In just six years Tramp Press has become Ireland’s leading indie press with a stunning roster of writers.  

Featured authors are:

Doireann Ní Ghríofa (The Ghost in the Throat)

- Ian Maleney (Minor Monuments)

- Sara Baume (handiwork/A Line Made by Walking/spill, simmer, falter, 
  wither)

- Jack Fennell (editor of A Brilliant Void, an anthology of 
  Irish science fiction)

- Sarah Davis-Goff (Tramp Press co-founder and author of Last 
  Ones Left Alive (Tinder Press)



Join us on Saturday for an evening with the best indie press in Ireland.


Stay well!


The Pale Usher

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

18th century trolling

Here's a blog I wrote four years ago but for some reason never got around to publishing.






Sunday, 27 March 2016



The clocks went forward one hour during the night - it's now British Summer Time and I'm experiencing the usual bi-annual mild disorientation. It's either 6 or 7am (which means little enough, given that time is a random sub-division of eternity). Everyone else is asleep. We're in a remote backwater of Suffolk and from one window of this tiny cottage I see open fields and some pheasants, from the other the medieval parish church of St Mary, Battisford. It's Easter Sunday, but there will be no service as the church appears to have been decommissioned (though not deconsecrated).  Very few people live around here, and fewer still, it seems, are church-goers.

I'm dipping into Swift's Satires and Personal Writings, the solid Oxford Standard Authors edition, and reacquainting myself with The Partridge-Bickerstaff Papers.

John Partridge (born John Hewson), 'an obscure cobbler', set up as an astrologer in London in1678 and became rich. King William appointed him court physician, grateful for his denunciations of Popery. Partridge was a dolt, and the object of ridicule by the Wits of the day. Swift published, under the pseudonym Isaac Bickerstaff, Predictions for the Year 1708 in which he made a spirited defence of astrology before offering some thoughts on what the future would hold. His first prediction - 'but a Trifle' - was that John Partridge would 'infallibly dye upon the 29th of March next, about Eleven at Night, of a raging Feaver'.

Other predictions followed - some of mesmerising vagueness ('On the 15h [of May] News will arrive of a very Surprising Event, than which nothing should be more unexpected'); others of a startling specificity ('On the 29th [of June] the Cardinal Portocarero will Dye of a Dissentery, with great Suspicion').

On the morning of 30th March Swift published an Elegy on the death of Partridge:

Here, five Foot deep, lies on his Back,
A Cobler, Starmonger, and Quack;
Who to the Stars in pure Good–will,
Does to his best look upward still.
Weep all you Customers that use
His Pills, his Almanacks, or Shoes;
And you that did your Fortunes seek,
Step to his Grave but once a Week:
This Earth which bears his Body’s Print,
You’ll find has so much Vertue in’t,
That I durst pawn my Ears ’twill tell
Whate’er concerns you full as well,
In Physick, Stolen Goods, or Love,
As he himself could, when above.

A few days later a longer piece appeared, called An Account of the Death of Partridge. His victim made a huge error by claiming, insisting even, that he was still very much alive, prompting Swift to print a Vindication.

The hoax became the talk of the town and many of Swift's contemporaries weighed in - Congreve, Gay, Pope and Steele - an avalanche of squibs and pamphlets proving that Partridge was dead and Bickerstaff's prediction accurate. (This anticipates by more than three centuries the current phenomenon of 'trolling' on the internet). The Company of Stationers struck Partridge's name from their rolls so he could no longer publish his popular and profitable almanac Merlinus Liberatus. He took legal proceedings to prove he was alive but the Lord Chamberlain ruled against him. Swift continued the campaign, writing both as Bickerstaff and Partridge (and Swift's version of Partridge's hectic 'afterlife' following his death in March is hilarious, as he is palgued by what he calls 'a Pack of Dismals':

In short , what with Under-takers, Embalmers, Joyners, Sextons and your damn'd Elegy-hawkers, upon a late Practitioner in Physick and Astrology, I got not one Wink of sleep that Night, nor scarce a Moments Rest ever since.

Partridge was a  wealthy fool with access to power and considerable influence. We need Swift and his fellow Wits more than ever.

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Auden as Nostradamus

A recycled blog from 2016, which stands up, I think.

King Herod complains



The speaker is King Herod, justifying his command to slaughter the firstborn of Judea and predicting the dire cultural consequences of any failure to carry out the order. Herod is (as John Fuller observed) 'rational, liberal and humane: he cannot bring himself to believe something without proof and so unhappily is forced to order the Massacre of the Innocents that his reasoning demands.' Herod, in other words, embodies precisely those liberal values - the values Auden shared - which are incapable of opposing a Hitlerian tyranny:

Reason will be replaced by Revelation. Instead of Rational Law, objective truths perceptible to any who will undergo the necessary intellectual discipline, Knowledge will degenerate into a riot of subjective visions - feelings in the solar plexus induced by under-nourishment, angelic images generated by fevers or drug, dream warnings inspired by the sound of falling water. Whole cosmogonies will be created out of some forgotten personal resentment, complete epics written in private languages, the daubs of schoolchildren ranked above the greatest masterpieces. 
Idealism will be replaced by Materialism. Priapus will only have to move to  a good address and call himself Eros to become the darling of middle-aged women. Life after death will be an eternal dinner party where all the guests are 20 years old. Diverted from its normal and wholesome outlet in patriotism and civic or family pride, the need of the materialistic Masses for some visible Idol to worship will be driven into totally unsocial channels where no education can reach it. Divine honours will be paid to silver teapots, shallow depressions in the earth, names on maps, domestic pets, ruined windmills, even in extreme cases, which will become increasingly common, to headaches, and malignant tumours, or four o'clock in the afternoon.

Justice will be replaced by Pity as the cardinal human virtue, and all fear of retribution will vanish. Every corner-boy will congratulate himself: 'I'm such a sinner that God had to come down in person to save me. I must be a devil of a fellow.' Every crook will argue: 'I like committing crimes. God likes forgiving them. Really the world is admirably arranged.' And the ambition of every young cop will be to secure a deathbed repentance. The New Aristocracy will consist exclusively of hermits, bums and permanent invalids. The Rough Diamond, the Consumptive  Whore, the bandit who is good to his mother, the epileptic girl who has a way with animals will be the heroes and heroines of the New Tragedy when the general, the statesman, and the philosopher have become the butt of every farce and satire.

What a marvellously unsettling piece of prose - wildly funny, deadly serious and weirdly prescient. The petulant, childlike Herod anticipates the comprehensive collapse of humane values that throws up in its wake 'a riot of subjective visions'. From Herod's perspective any rumour of an Incarnation is a threat to his secular, ordered, rational world, and his dilemma is one with which we can all identify. The monologue concludes in a desperate serio-comic flurry of regrets:

I've tried to be good. I brush my teeth every night. I haven't had sex for a month. I object. I'm a liberal. I want everyone to be happy. I wish I had never been born.


For the Time Being © The Estate of W. H. Auden

Monday, 10 August 2020

David Holzer's Letter from Magaluf

On Saturday night's Leap in the Dark, our beloved yoga master Guru Dave sent a Letter from Magaluf, the part of Mallorca popular with British tourists since the 1960s. Hs has kindly agreed to share to here.




A Letter from Magaluf by David Holzer





The sign for Arfur’s Chippy includes a snarling, sneering bulldog rampant against a Union Jack and the slogan ‘British owned’. It’s closed. 

Lineker’s. Finnegan’s Bar. Eastenders. The Prince William. The Prince Harry. The Dream Pub. All the bars on the Punta Ballena, the street Louie the Lip calls Hamburger Hill, are closed.

It’s 11 in the morning, a time when the sunburned lads would be revving up for another day’s boozing and, as a friend of mine who was meant to be working as a DJ in one of the bars on Hamburger Hill told me, it’s ‘well eerie’.

I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a flock of sheep come clattering down the hill. 

A week or so ago, the Punta Ballena was shut by order of the Mallorcan government after, as the Daily Mail put it, ‘yobs jumped on cars’. 

Brits on the piss. The nightmare, it seemed, had returned. 

My DJ friend, who was working on Hamburger Hill that night, said the police did nothing to prevent the beered-up rampage. 

While this sounds like the standard British denial -  ‘All we did was serve them pints of whisky, guv. We’ve got to make a living too. Pay the Duke.’ - I can believe that the Mallorcan police might well stand aside and let the Brits seal their own fate.

Because of its beach and infrastructure, Magaluf is mouthwatering real estate and the hotel chains that run the island, and probably the police, want to drive the Brits out of Magaluf and go upmarket, family friendly and all-inclusive so they can hoover up all the available money. 

I walk down to the beach through Momentum Plaza, a shopping mall and food court so bone-white the glare hurts my eyes even through sunglasses. Balearic house music drifts across the deserted square like dead leaves.

Momentum Plaza’s design feature is a glass-bottomed swimming pool that forms a bridge between two white buildings six storeys above the square. At first it looks great – sunlight shining through azure – but then I see the fat, brown legs swinging in the water above me. And I see the children splashing around. And I imagine the accidents that could happen.

I pass one of those pedicure places where Garra Rufa fish eat the dead skin off your feet. It’s empty. The fish must be starving.

With its graceful curve and white sands, the beach at Magaluf is one of the most beautiful you’ll see anywhere. 

For Claude the Fraud, a Frenchman who started La Baraka Beach Bar here in 1971 when the only Brit on the piss was Georgie Best who used to hide out at La Baraka and get hammered, it was the best beach in the Mediterranean.

Claude came to Magaluf from Saint-Tropez, where he’d also had a bar. He was a Tunisian middleweight champion boxer who’d knocked about with the Paris jet-set in the 1950s. One of his pals was Dominican diplomat and playboy Porfirio Rubirosa who managed to marry Doris Duke and Barbara Hutton, two of the richest women in the world.

Rubirosa was legendarily well-endowed. In certain circles, the giant black pepper grinders that waiters wave over pizza were called Rubirosas.

As you might expect from the name, Claude was splendidly dodgy. A friend of Louie the Lip’s said there should have been a chandelier on top of the till at La Baraka Claude played it so well.

Claude certainly associated with villains and a couple of impressive crimes were allegedly planned at La Baraka.
One of these was the kidnapping of a French business tycoon called Baron Édouard-Jean Empain for a ransom of 17 million Swiss Francs by a not exactly professional gang that included a pimp named Joe The Marseilles. When the police discovered that the gang, who all claimed not to know each other, had spent a week on Mallorca planning the kidnap, the game was up.

Another equally spectacular crime allegedly planned at La Baraka in the early 80s was the heist of a van loaded with used francs, marks and pounds worth 780 million pesetas being sent back from bureau de changes all over the island to Mallorca airport. 

The Mallorcan police thought Claude had something to do with this. One morning, he opened the shutters to his apartment above the beach to find 40 police sharpshooters lying on the glaring white sand, rifles pointed at him.

Claude denied all knowledge of the currency heist and was never convicted.

In contrast to the eclat of the villains Claude associated with, British crime in Magaluf has always been grubby. 

Gangs deal drugs. A man named John Hirst masterminded a Ponzi Scheme that targeted elderly expats. One scam defrauded hotels by claiming mass food poisoning. Now the hotels are getting their revenge on Magaluf.

A woman I know, an agent for a multilevel marketing business, knew Howard Marks and his wife, who were arrested in Mallorca. She claimed to have no knowledge of the business Mr Nice was involved in. ‘They were lovely people,’ she said. ‘We had no idea.’ 

The same woman would fix me with blue eyes that managed to be pebble hard and heartbroken at the same time and say, ‘I’m living the dream, David.’

Marks is the only British villain with a connection to Magaluf I can think of who can be said to have any degree of class.

Mr Nice also had a Deià connection. But that’s another story. 

La Baraka is, I think, now a beach bar called S’Esponja Beach Club at the top end of Magaluf bay. It’s a pretty, low stone building painted white with the obligatory turquoise paintwork and house music wafting down the beach.

From then on, it’s white, turquoise and empty house music all the way, one beach club after the other. And it’s horrible.

It almost makes me nostalgic for the Brits on the piss. But I don’t believe they’re ever coming back. 

The Mallorcans, who’ve always dealt with invaders by giving them what they want, retreating deeper into the island, waiting for them to go and taking over what they’ve left behind, are winning again. 


Sunday, 9 August 2020

On Malady Nelson

I first read the poet Amy McCauley's 24/7 Brexitland in manuscript, before it was published as a broadside by Manchester's No Matter Press.

I'd been aware of her work since seeing her at the London Poetry Book Fair in 2018 when she performed, in its entirety, her debut OEDIPA (Guillemot Books). I chose it as my book of the year for Review 31, writing:

Oedipa by Amy McCauley is a book-length poem presented as a stage play set in a mental asylum in an English seaside town, with an all-female cast. It's a feminist take on Sophocles' Oedipus – ferociously good, brilliantly original. 

Citing Nietzsche, Wittgenstein and Freud alongside a vast range of other cultural references, the poem expresses (in McCauley's words) 'the buggering muchness of the world that will not fit inside my head'. I saw her read Oedipa in London earlier this year, doing all the voices in an absolutely blazing performance – courageous, honest and visceral. Oedipa is very intelligent, confidently experimental but not at all daunting. Much of the incantatory verse is hauntingly clear and simple, such as this chorus, voiced by the Fates towards the end of Act III:

Toc toc

Have you ever seen a blind girl swim?
She looks like she's drowning
She looks like a thing with nowhere to go

Toc toc

Have you ever seen a blind girl drown
She looks like she's swimming
She looks like she's having the time of her life

This is poetry with range, depth, drive and ambition. 

On February 29th this year, a few weeks before the lockdown, I organised the very first Leap in the Dark, a Dada literary cabaret held in a dilapidated former Conservative Club in Paddington. I had by this time exchanged many emails with Amy and invited her to contribute something, or anything. She agreed and the first of her two performances turned out to be 24/7 Brexitland, which had now been published.

Dressed as a clown, Amy harangued the audience with a bullhorn as they read parts of her poem aloud from a Powerpoint display. Some walked out, others heckled, most recognised her performance for what it was - fearless, uncompromising, original and wonderfully strange. Later that evening she performed a work in progress called Propositions with actors Aea Varfis-van Warmelo and Alexis Coward. A powerful monologue for three voices, or one voice shared between three performers, it was prompted by Wittgenstein's Tractatus and by turns cerebral, combative, hard-edged and intimate. It will be published in September by Monitor Books, another Manchester indie.

But to come back to 24/7 Brexitland. Amy has over the past few weeks contributed to A Leap in the Dark (now a twice-weekly online gathering) pre-recorded  extracts from this long diagnostic poem which explores the state of things in Britain in the months following the  decision to leave the European Union. (The title refers to the structure of 24 x 7-line stanzas.)

Her first two readings were in persona as Malady Nelson, Amy's alter-ego - the disturbing clown make-up again, ash-white with a slash of red lipstick, smeared kohl-rimmed eyes and a blue nylon wig, askew, surrounded by Union Jack bunting as a ramshackle Britannia - and they were relatively straightforward.

On Friday night, aided by half a bottle of tequila, a pack of cigarettes and nerves of steel Amy as Malady turned up the dial and did something startlingly new. She fizzed and crooned and snarled and bantered; she howled and whispered and swigged Tequila and slurred and became glacially precise - an utterly vivid, protean, loveable and difficult presence. The invited audience reacted unanimously to her blazing six minute performance, starting with our composer-in-residence Helen Ottaway:

From Helen Ottaway to Everyone: (8:42 pm)

Oooooooooh he he he yeah yeah long notes and everything else. Utterly brilliant Amy


From Emma Devlin to Everyone: (8:43 pm)

AAAAAGH loved it


From Aea Varfis-van Warmelo to Everyone: (8:43 pm)

Malady was on TOP FORM tonight!


From Michael Hughes to Everyone: (8:43 pm)

Brava! Sensational!


From Jonathan Gibbs to Everyone: (8:43 pm)

BRAVA!


From Michael Hughes to Everyone: (8:43 pm)

When I grow up I want to be Malady


From Alan Crilly to Everyone: (8:43 pm)

Ah, that was superb!


From Paulette Jonguitud to Everyone: (8:43 pm)

Wow. Wow. Wow. Loved it.


From Alan Fielden to Everyone: (8:43 pm)

lush


From Ronan hession to Everyone: (8:43 pm)

Fandabbydozey


From Ping Henningham to Everyone: (8:43 pm)

FANTASTIC Amy! sizzle sizzle


I'd add my voice to theirs - Amy discovered and uncovered something about herself and the world in this extraordinary performance. We were there. Watch it here and marvel.

Friday, 7 August 2020

Leap in the Dark 38

A Leap in the Dark 38   8pm  Saturday 8th August 2020

       Two Kevins and a funferal


The ‘funferal’ comes from Finnegans Wake, and the two Kevins are both Kevin Boniface, who marks the tenth anniversary of his fine blog www.themostdifficultthingever.com with two readings, one of new material written especially for this Leap, another of selected highlights from the past decade. We’ll have letters from Magaluf and Auckland thanks respectively to David Holzer and Oscar Mardell, and the welcome return (after last week’s triumph) of the mighty Wendy Erskine, who will subject David Hayden’s short story ‘Egress’ to a close reading, with the author on hand to respond.


There's no charge for taking part in A Leap in the Dark, but please make a donation, no matter how large, to The Trussell Trust.


The Programme


1 The Pale Usher welcomes you

2 Kevin Boniface’s tenth anniversary post 

3 Letter from Magaluf by David Holzer

4 Wendy Erskine’s close reading of David Hayden’s short story ‘Egress’


Interval 


5 David Hayden responds to Wendy’s close reading

6 Kevin Boniface - a second reading

7 Letter from Auckland by Oscar Mardell

8 The Pale Usher signs off



The Company


Kevin Boniface is an artist, writer and postman based in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. Over the years his work has taken the form of zines, exhibitions, artists’ books, short films and live performances. He is the author of Round About Town, published by Uniformbooks. kevinboniface.co.uk Ten years ago, on 3rd August 2010, he started a blog www.themostdifficultthingever.com and his appearance on this week’s Leap marks the anniversary.

Kevin Davey is the author of Playing Possum and the forthcoming Radio Joan, both published by Aaargh! Press. His non-fiction work includes the essay collection English Imaginaries (1999).

Wendy Erskine works full-time as a secondary school teacher in Belfast. Her debut short story collection, Sweet Home, was published in 2018 by Stinging Fly and in 2019 by Picador. Her work has been published in The Stinging Fly, Stinging Fly Stories and Female Lines: New Writing by Women from Northern Ireland. She also features in Being Various: New Irish Short Stories (Faber and Faber), Winter Papers and on BBC Radio 4 Buy Sweet Home here: https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/wendy-erskine/sweet-home/9781529017069

David Hayden was born in Ireland and lives in England. His writing has appeared in The Stinging Fly, Granta online, Zoetrope All-Story, The Dublin Review, AGNI and PN Review, in the Faber New Irish Writing anthology Being Various, edited by Lucy Caldwell, and on BBC and RTÉ radio. His first book was Darker With the Lights On.

David Holzer is a dedicated yogi, author, blogger and journalist. He founded YogaWriters and has taught workshops in yoga for writers in Mallorca, where he lives. Hundreds of people have taken his Yoga for Writers course on the DailyOm platform (www.yogawriters.org). His writing appears regularly in Om yoga and lifestyle magazine. David will be explaining why yoga is so beneficial for writers and taking us through a simple yoga sequence that can be done by anyone of any age in the comfort of a favourite chair.

Oscar Mardell is a teacher and writer - originally from South Wales, but currently living in Auckland, New Zealand. He is a frequent contributor to 3:AM Magazine, and poet of the month at The Inquisitive Eater. He is the author of Rex Tremendae - a ghost story set in the rubble of the Blitz, and Housing Haunted Housing - a collection of poems about Brutalist architecture, published June 2020 by the Manchester indie press deathsofworkerswhilstbuildingskscrapers

Aea Varfis-van Warmelo is a trilingual actor and writer. 

The Pale Usher is David Collard, who organises these gatherings.

The pale Usher—threadbare in coat, heart, body, and brain; I see him now. He was ever dusting his old lexicons and grammars, with a queer handkerchief, mockingly embellished with all the gay flags of all the known nations of the world. He loved to dust his old grammars; it somehow mildly reminded him of his mortality.
  Moby-Dick by Herman Melville



The next Leap in the Dark on Friday 14th August will become, for one night only, a Lark in the Deep, a plunge into all things aquatic which will feature, alongside our Friday regulars, the writers Emma Devlin, Melissa McCarthy and Isabel Waidner.


Stay well!


The Pale Usher

Thursday, 6 August 2020

A Leap in the Dark 37

A Leap in the Dark 37   8pm  Friday 7th August 2020

  Acts of writing,
       Rites of acting


The home stretch for Spring Journal by Jonathan Gibbs, read by Michael Hughes; Neil Griffiths on the new indie press Weatherglass Books; the next section of Amy McCauley’s 24/7 Brexitland performed by Malady Nelson; the actor Michael Colgan in conversation with The Pale Usher; the poet/theatre maker/artist Alan Fielden and the Settee Salon looks at the rituals of theatre.


There's no charge for taking part in A Leap in the Dark, but please make a donation, no matter how large, to The Trussell Trust.


The Programme


1 The Pale Usher welcomes you

2 Spring Journal canto XXI by Jonathan Gibbs, read by Michael Hughes

3 Neil Griffiths introduces Weatherglass Books

4 Amy McCauley (as Malady Nelson) performs 24/7 Brexitland (part 3)

5 Michael Hughes & Michael Colgan in conversation with The Pale Usher



Interval 



6 Alan Fielden: poet / theatre maker / artist

7 The Settee Salon: Michael, Michael and Alan on theatre ritual 

8 The Pale Usher signs off



The Company


Michael Colgan is an actor based in London. He recently appeared in the BAFTA award-winning television drama Chernobyl

Alan Fielden is a poet, theatre maker, artist, and lecturer at the University of Worcester and Central School of Speech and Drama.

As a performance maker he tends to work collaboratively from text, developing material through prolonged improvisation and experimentation, approaching performance through musical and poetic dynamics like resonance, dissonance, composition, repetition, and tone, rather than more traditional dramatic elements like character and plot. Some of his preoccupations are tenderness, hysteria, and narrative form. He is a founding member of JAMS, ROOM, and National Art Service (RIP).

Jonathan Gibbs is a writer and critic. His first novel, Randall, was published in 2014 by Galley Beggar Press and his second, The Large Door, by Boiler House Press in 2019. He has written on books for various publications including the TLS, Brixton Review of Books and The Guardian. He curates the online short story project A Personal Anthology, in which writers, critics and others are invited to 'dream-edit' an anthology of their favourite short fiction. Spring Journal is a response to the current coronavirus pandemic taking its cue very directly from Louis MacNeice's Autumn Journal.

Neil Griffiths is an author, publisher and founder of the Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses.

Michael Hughes is the author of two novels: Countenance Divine (2016) and Country (2018) both published by John Murray, the latter winning the 2018 Hellenic Prize. 

Amy McCauley is a poet and freelance writer. She is the author of OEDIPA (Guillemot Press, 2018) and 24/7 Brexitland (No Matter Press, 2020). Amy’s first full-length collection of poetry will be published by Henningham Family Press in 2021.

The Pale Usher is David Collard, who organises these gatherings.

The pale Usher—threadbare in coat, heart, body, and brain; I see him now. He was ever dusting his old lexicons and grammars, with a queer handkerchief, mockingly embellished with all the gay flags of all the known nations of the world. He loved to dust his old grammars; it somehow mildly reminded him of his mortality.
  Moby-Dick by Herman Melville


The next Leap in the Dark tomorrow (Saturday August 8th) will feature:


- Two readings by Kevin Boniface

- Wendy Erskine undertakes a close reading of “Egress’, a short story by 
  David Hayden (and all invitees will receive a copy in advance)

- David Hayden responds to Wendy’s close reading of ‘Egress’

- A Letter from Auckland by Oscar Mardell

- A Letter from Magaluf by David Holzer



Stay well!


The Pale Usher