Friday 5 June 2020

A Leap in the Dark Friday 5th June

A Leap in the Dark 19    8pm Friday 5th June 2020

Tonight's Leap is a veritable smörgåsbord (and all smörgåsbords must by law be veritable): the latest canto of Spring Journal, Susanna Crossman’s third ‘Letter from Dinan’, yoga with Guru Dave, Amy McCauley’s Tutti-Frutti, the debut of art historian Alex Marraccini and the first of two conversations with American artist/writer/musician David Greenberger, exploring the work of the remarkable poet Ernest Noyes Brookings. 

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 XII by Jonathan Gibbs read by Michael Hughes

3 Susanna Crossman’s Letter from Dinan 

4 Yoga with Guru Dave

5 Amy McCauley’s Tutti-Frutti


6 A hybrid essay by Alex Marraccini

7 Ernest Noyes Brookings, American poet: a conversation with David 

9 The Pale Usher signs off

The Company

Ernest Noyes Brookings was born in 1898 in Newbury, Massachusetts. He served in the Navy, attended MIT, and settled in Springfield, Vermont, where he worked as a designer of machine parts. When not designing, Mr. Brookings avidly pursued astronomy, the game of tennis and ham radio
In 1979, while residing at the Duplex Nursing Home in Boston, he met David Greenberger who was employed there as activities director. Seeing his interest in the poetry of others, David suggested he write some of his own, which he immediately began doing provided he was supplied with a theme to write about. In the last seven years of his life Ernest Brookings took to writing poetry with the vigor of youth or of a man with little time to spare. He wrote nearly four hundred poems on a wide variety of subjects - from Frankenstein to Harry Truman, from broken hearts to kissing, from chairs to rockets - all receiving equal attention and all arranged with his gentle mixture of faith and logic.

Emerging with a style of his own from the outset, his poems began appearing regularly in The Duplex Planet as well as numerous other publications. His book, We Did Not Plummet Into Space, was published in 1983.

Ernie died in 1987. The Golden Rule: Collected Poems of Ernest Noyes Brookings is published in the UK by Boatwhistle Books.

Susanna Crossman is an award-winning Anglo-French fiction writer and essayist. She has recent/upcoming work in Trauma, Dodo Ink (2020), Neue Rundschau, (2019) S. Fischer (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

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 Greenberger Born in 1954 in Chicago, Illinois, David Greenberger was raised in Erie, Pennsylvania. In 1974 he moved to Boston to attend the Massachusetts College of Art. In the early eighties Greenberger set aside painting to explore other media. Starting as a periodical in 1979, based on his conversations with nursing home residents, The Duplex Planet, evolved into audio works, both as recordings and performances with music. A musician as well, Greenberger was the bass player in the band Men & Volts through the ’80s, co-writing many of their songs.

Greenberger has consistently drawn on fractured narratives where emotional memory derives from the mood of the moment. Encompassing recordings, performance, drawing, and books, his work holds up a mirror to reveal that aging is not a broken version at the end of a life lived; it’s a continuum, a vital and up-to-date version of the self. In his return to drawing over the last decade, he delves into accidental poetics and limitations and rules, using circular causal approaches.

Greenberger has been the subject of four documentaries, and his work been adapted into comic books, short films, and one act plays. His essays and performances have frequently been broadcast on National Public Radio. He continues to be a keynote speaker at universities, museums and conferences on aging. He lives and works in upstate NY. 

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. 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. 


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.

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.

Hamish Ironside runs the indie press Boatwhistle Books, publishers of The Golden Rule: Collected Poems of Ernest Noyes Brookings

Alexandra (Alex) Marraccini is an essayist, critic, and art historian based in London. She is currently working on a book about antiquarianisms, parasitism as metaphor, and the form of criticism as queer desire. Tonight’s piece is a hybrid essay built around found .gif images, mostly from 80's/90's Japanese animation. It is the latest in a series of these pieces for Kyle Chayka and Kevin Nyugen's blog, Indoor Voices, originally founded by a group of art/design adjacent writers during New York's lockdown. 
Alex’s original piece and others are online here: .

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

Our next Leap in the Dark tomorrow night will be presented by Sam Jordison and Eloise Millar of the Norwich-based indie publisher Galley Beggar Press. They’ll be introducing a spectacular cohort of their writers (and it’s a pleasure simply to type out their names): 

James Clammer, Paul Ewen, Gerry Feehily, Susanna Gendall, Isha Karki, Vijay Khuruna, Toby Litt, Alex Pheby, Paul Stanbridge and Preti Taneja

How about that?
Please remember to make a donation to The Trussell Trust (or your local equivalent)

Stay well!

The Pale Usher

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