Friday 3 July 2020

A Leap in the Dark 27

A Leap in the Dark 27   8pm  Friday 3rd July 2020


Poet Paula Cunningham and novelist Heidi James join regulars Jonathan Gibbs and Michael Hughes for our Friday Leap. Jonathan will later step away from Spring Journal to share his thoughts on the Maigret novels, and whether whether Georges Simenon really is ‘a master without a masterpiece’. Guru Dave will help us all to breathe more easily, Aea Varfis-van Warmelo will be performing a new piece and the Pale Usher will step briefly outside his comfort zone. 

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 XVI by Jonathan Gibbs, read by Michael Hughes

3 Wholesome Healer or Heartless Fraud? Yoga with David ‘Guru Dave’ Holzer

4 Heidi James on the lock down

5 Paula Cunningham reads her poetry (1)


6 Georges Simenon’s Inspector Maigret novels with Jonathan Gibbs

7 Paula Cunningham (2)

8 ‘Untitled' by Aea Varfis-van Warmelo

9 The Pale Usher signs off

The Company

Paula Cunningham’s Heimlich's Manoeuvre, from smithdoorstop, was shortlisted for the Fenton-Aldeburgh, Seamus Heaney Centre, & Strong Shine 1st Collection Prizes.  Poems have appeared in ‘Best British Poetry’ 2016, & have won national & international prizes. She has also written short fiction and placed 2nd in the 2014 Costa short story award.  She is very slowly working on her second collection and attempting the odd essay.

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. 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.

Heidi James is the author of So the Doves, Wounding and The Mesmerist's Daughter. Her novel forthcoming novel, The Stone Mirror, will be published by Bluemoose Books in August 2020.

Aea Varis-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 is tomorrow night. It’s the 4th of July and our Nuit Américaine will include:

- a performance of “U S”, a poetic commentary for an extraordinary 
  American documentary film written by W H Auden and last heard in 1968 

- Artist/writer/musician David Greenberger in conversation

- film-maker Beth Harrington 

- An extract from Lucy Ellmann’s novel Ducks, Newburyport read by Stephanie 

- Ray Bradbury on ‘Mr. Electrico’ 

- The Pale Usher mixes a dirty martini

Stay well!

The Pale Usher

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