Monday 30 March 2020

A Leap in the Dark

The last thing you need in these dark and uncertain times is an invitation to a live online broadcast in which musicians, poets, authors and performers gather for thirty minutes to share their latest work.

But that's what this is.

As a loose-knit group of writers and musicians and performers we want to share our work with you and with each other, to spread some light and possibly even joy. Because that's something we can do, and something we all need to do, now and in the future, until the current crisis passes, and after that.

There are no constraints on the contributors (apart from time) and no telling what will happen when we go live. The first three gatherings:

Friday 3rd April live music followed by a conversation between Neil Griffiths (novelist and founder of the Republic of Consciousness Prize), Sam Mills (Dodoink publisher, author and one of this year's prize judges) and Frank Wynne (translator of Jean-Baptiste Del Amo’s novel Animalia, announced today as winner of the 2020 Prize). It's an absolutely stunning novel, brilliantly translated from the French (and the first time a work in translation has won the Conchy). Audience members will have a chance to win a pristine copy of Del Amo's novel, courtesy of the publisher and RoC organisers.

Saturday 4th April live music followed by the world premiere of Spring Journal by the author and poet Jonathan Gibbs. Prompted by Autumn Journal (1939) Louis Macneice’s great poem about the early days of the Second World War, Jonathan’s poem is a work-in-progress thoughtfully navigating and responding to the social and political changes of the current crisis with sharp wit and a keen, humane eye.

An extract from Macneice's original and the first section of Spring Journal will be read by Michael Hughes.

Friday 10th April a live transatlantic exchange with the Vancouver-based Irish writer Anakana Schofield (author of Malarky and Martin John) with readings from her latest novel Bina, reviewed in The Guardian here.

After that we intend to broadcast two live thirty-minute programmes on Fridays and Saturdays for the duration, although that may change. Everything may change. Possibly for the better. You never know.

For practical reasons access will be limited to 75 registrations and, to avoid prankster hacks, by invitation only.

How to join the audience:

You'll need to contact me as the organiser, so either

a) leave your email details in the comment section at the end of this blog or

b) DM me your email details on Twitter @davidcollard1

You'll then be added to a group of invitees on a first-come, first-served basis. Your details will not be shared.

To see and hear what's going on you'll need the Zoom app (it's free to download: and I'll be sending all invitees a password on the day. 

There's no charge, but we suggest a donation to your local food bank or equivalent.

Future confirmed contributors:

June Caldwell - Irish author (Room Little Darker)

Susanna Crossman - Anglo-French writer of fiction and non-fiction

Tim Etchells - author (Endland) and founder/creative director of Forced Entertainment

David Hayden - publisher and author of Darker with the Lights On

Amy McCauley - poet and performer, author of OEDIPA and 24/7 Brexitland 

Dan O'Brien - American poet (War Reporter) and playwright (The Body of an American)

Simon Okotie - author of the Harold Absalon trilogy

Alex Pheby  - author (PlaythingsLucia and the forthcoming Mordew)

Paul Stanbridge - musician and author (Forbidden Line, The Encyclopaedia of St Arbuc)

Isabel Waidner - author (Gaudy Bauble and We Are Made of Diamond Stuff)

                                            Other names to be announced!

We aim to create an online equivalent to 'A Leap in the Dark', a Dadaist gathering held a lifetime ago on 29th February. It took place in a dilapidated former Conservative Club in Paddington. It was unheated but there was plenty of whisky and cocoa to warm the cockles, and proper sandwiches. And the performers all blazed with a hard gemlike flame.  Here are some pictures:

Get involved. Stay well!

The Pale Usher


  1. Hi. Any chance I can get an invite. Big supporter of RofC - third year in a row I’ve read all the shortlist. Am a RofC patreon supporter

  2. This looks brilliant. Well done for getting it sorted. Would love to join in:

  3. Hello, would love to attend if you still have space, if not, please put me on the waiting list for future events. Thanks!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Hello David, I'd love to join if there are still spaces --

  6. Hiya David, I'd like to join this Saturday but am unable to dm you. Have spaces ran out? Thanks @Lmillerwrite

  7. Giving it a try here as well:

  8. would love an invitation to see Tim and Vlatka this friday if pos... graemestonehouse at