Friday 22 May 2020

A Leap in the Dark: Friday 22nd May

A Leap in the Dark 15    8pm Friday 22nd May 2020

This evening’s Leap features the author Joanna Walsh (Hotel, Vertigo and Worlds from the Word’s End) discussing her forthcoming novel Seed with Emma Warnock of the Belfast-based No Alibis Press. Novelist Kate Armstrong delivers A Letter from London and we’ll have another yoga lesson from David ‘Guru Dave’ Holzer. There’s the latest, keenly-anticipated canto of Spring Journal by Jonathan Gibbs, read as usual by Michael Hughes, who will later join two other writers from Northern Ireland - Wendy Erskine and Emma Devlin - for the Settee Salon. 

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 Welcome from the Pale Usher

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

3 Joanna Walsh in conversation with Emma Warnock

4 Letter from London by Kate Armstrong


5 Yoga with David ‘Guru Dave’ Holzer

6 The Settee Salon with Emma Devlin, Wendy Erskine and Michael Hughes

7 Another yoga session with 'Guru Dave' 

9 The Pale Usher signs off

The Company

Kate Armstrong was born in Crewe and grew up in Yorkshire. Her first novel The Storyteller was published by Holland House Books in 2016 and was longlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize. She is currently working on a memoir about mental collapse, recovery, and Himalayan climbing, tentatively called Beyond The Mountain.  

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

Wendy Erskine is the author of Sweet Home, an acclaimed debut collection of short stories originally published by Stinging Fly in Ireland and later by Picador.

Michael Hughes is the author of two acclaimed 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.

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.

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. His writing appears regularly in Om yoga and lifestyle magazine.

Each Friday David will be taking us through a simple yoga sequence that can be done by anyone of any age in the comfort of a favourite chair.


Please take care when practicing yoga. Should a pose feel that it could be harmful to you, do not attempt it or come gently out of the pose.

Breathing is a key part of yoga. Please breathe comfortably and naturally through your nose at all times. If your breath becomes forced, slow down the speed of your practice.

If you feel any kind of sharp, sudden pain anywhere in your body stop practicing right away. Be especially aware of your joints, particularly your knees.

Joanna Walsh is an internationally-published writer of fiction and creative nonfiction. She is also a critic (The Guardian, The New Statesman, Los Angeles Review of Books), and an editor at 3:AM Magazine and gorse editions. She was a judge on the 2016 Goldsmiths Prize and won the Arts Foundation Award for Creative Non-fiction in 2017. She founded @read_women. She is the author of Vertigo, Hotel, Fractals, Grow A Pair, Worlds From The Word’s End and the digital work Her ‘novel in essays’ Break.up was published in the UK by Tuskar Rock Press and in the US by Semiotext(e) in Spring 2018.

Emma Warnock is the editor at No Alibis Press, a small and relatively new independent publisher of fiction based in Belfast and founded by David Torrans, owner of No Alibis Bookstore. 2020 publications are Seed by Joanna Walsh and a new collection from Ian Sansom. Information about publications, episodes of podcasts and videos, and contact details are available at:

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

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

Tomorrow night we’’ll have some fine music by our regular contributor Helen Ottaway and we’re delighted to welcome back the distinguished translator Frank Wynne (who appeared in our very first Leap). Frank will be in conversation with his fellow translator Daniel Hahne and together they’ll engage in something new to me - a translation slam. They’ll both tackle a passage in French chosen by The Pale Usher’s son, talking us through the process. The audience will vote on which version they prefer. 

We’ll also have Apollinaire’s great modernist poem Zone, performed by Aea Varfis-Van Warmelo in a new translation by David Collard. (Originally delivered in a real-world performance a lifetime ago, on 29th February - Leap Year night.) And after that some thoughts from Aea on the business of translating poetry.

Please remember to make a donation to The Trussell Trust (or your local equivalent)

Stay well!

The Pale Usher 

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