Saturday 20 June 2020

A Leap in the Dark Saturday 20th June

A Leap in the Dark 24   8pm  Saturday 20th June 2020

       A Midsummer Might's Leap


The longest day, the shortest night. The summer solstice marks the point at which the year turns and the nights begin to draw in. Darkness gathers. ‘Earth turns over, our side feels the cold’, as Auden put it.

But not yet.

Join us for a night in the light. 

We’ll have news of The Perito Prize with its founder James Wheeler; the launch of Mordew, a dazzling new novel by Alex Pheby published by Galley Beggar Press; an illuminating discussion about faith and fiction with authors Neil Griffiths, the Rev. Marie-Elsa Bragg and Leigh Wilson and Toby Litt reading ‘The Retreat’, the short story that this week won the 2020 Short Fiction/University of Essex Prize. Also a short film of a solstice ritual that will make your blood run cold. Cold, I say.

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 The Perito Prize - a conversation with founder James Wheeler

  Now in its second year, the competition invites international short 
  story entries of between 1,000 and 2,000 words, on the themes of 
  inclusive environments, inclusion and accessibility – concepts which 
  touch upon the lives of every single person whether due to disability, 
  discrimination, inaccessibility, social exclusion and more

  Read the stories on the blog here:

  More on the 2019 anthology here:

MORDEW: a new novel by Alex Pheby published by Galley Beggar Press 


4 Toby Litt reads the first part of ‘The Retreat’, announced this week as 
  winner of the 2020 Short Fiction/University of Essex Prize

5 The Settee Salon: Neil Griffiths in conversation with Marie-Elsa Bragg 
  and Leigh Wilson

6 Toby Litt concludes ‘The Retreat’

7 A solstice ritual performed by Oscar Mardell and others

8 The Pale Usher signs off

The Company

Marie-Elsa Bragg is an author, priest, therapist and Duty Chaplain of Westminster Abbey. Her first novel, Towards Mellbreak, was about four generations of a quiet hill farming family on the North Western fells of Cumbria. Her second book, Sleeping Letters (2019) is the description of the the ritual of the Eucharist alongside a compilation of poetry, memoir and fragments of un-sent letters. Marie-Elsa has contributed articles and interviews for papers such as the Telegraph and the Church Times; Radio pieces for BBC Radio 4 and interviews for literary festivals and Story Vault Films.

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

Toby Litt grew up in Ampthill, Bedfordshire. He has worked as a teacher, bookseller and subtitler. A graduate of Malcolm Bradbury’s Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia, Toby is best known for writing his books – from Adventures in Capitalism to Lilian's Spell Book – in alphabetical order; he is currently working on ‘P’. He is a Granta Best of Young British Novelist and a regular on Radio 3’s The Verb. His story ‘John and John’ won the Manchester Fiction Prize, and his most recent short story collection, Life-like, was shortlisted for the Edgehill Prize and longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize. Toby teaches creative writing at Birkbeck College. His memoir, Wrestliana, was published by Galley Beggar Press in May 2018. His most recent novel is Patience (2019) from the same publishers. 

His short story ‘The Retreat’ won the 2020 Short Fiction/University of Essex Prize

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.

Alex Pheby was born in Essex and moved to Worcester in his early childhood. He currently lives with his wife and children in London, where he teaches at the University of Greenwich. Alex's second novel, Playthings, published by Galley Beggar Press in 2015, was shortlisted for the 2016 Wellcome Book Prize. Lucia (date) was joint winner (with Murmur by Will Eaves) of the 2019 Republic of Consciousness Prize. His next novel Mordew will be published by GBP next month.

James Wheeler is the founder of The Perito Prize.

Leigh Wilson is Professor of English Literature at the University of Westminster. Her work focuses on the novel from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present. She is particularly interested in how the nature of the fictional has been understood at different moments through this period. Her published work includes Modernism and Magic: Experiments with Spiritualism, Theosophy and the Occult (2013).

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 will be on Friday 26th June and features:

- Canto XV of Spring Journal by Jonathan Gibbs read by Michael Hughes

- Another yoga session with chaotic mystic David ‘Guru Dave’ Holzer

- Letter from Auckland by Oscar Mardell

- Ágota Kristóf’s novels, with translator Nina Bogin and publisher Charles Boyle

Stay well!

The Pale Usher

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