Saturday 29 August 2020

Tonight's Leap in the Dark

For the August Bank Holiday weekend we've organised a works outing to Essex, the Pale Usher's home county. 

We'll have music, poetry, prose, film, polemic and plenty of reem. A brilliant cohort of Essex talents will join us - Sarah Perry, Elsa James, Syd Moore, Paul Stanbridge and David Henningham, with music from Canvey island's finest Dr Feelgood. And The Pale Usher will reveal the unlikely connection between Billericay and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

A Leap in the Dark 44   8pm  Saturday 29th August 2020

       Works outing

For the Bank Holiday weekend we've organised a celebration of all things Essex (the Pale Usher’s home county). 

J O Morgan will read an extract from his epic poem ‘At Maldon’ and we’ll have music from Canvey Island’s finest, Dr. Feelgood. We’ll be joined by featured author Sarah Perry who will talk about her forthcoming book Essex Girls, a brilliant and provocative navigation of a misunderstood cultural stereotype.

Then we’ll hear from some three creatives who share an Essex connection: - the artist Elsa James and writers Syd Moore and Paul Stanbridge. Plus a short feature on Grey Walls Press, the maverick Billericay publisher of the 1940s. Paul Stanbridge and David Henningham, two writers who share an Essex connection, will read from their respective debut novels. 

Smart casual dress please. All drinks half price before 9pm.

There's no charge for taking part so please make a donation, no matter how large, to The Trussell Trust.

The Programme

1 The Pale Usher welcomes you

2 J O Morgan reads from ‘At Maldon’

3 Sarah Perry on Essex Girls (and Essex girls)

In this exhilarating feminist defence of the Essex girl, Sarah Perry re-examines her relationship with her much maligned home county. She summons its most unquiet spirits, from Protestant martyr Rose Allin to the indomitable Abolitionist Anne Knight, sitting them alongside Audre Lorde, Kim Kardashian and Harriet Martineau, and showing us that the Essex girl is not bound by geography. She is a type, representing a very particular kind of female agency, and a very particular kind of disdain: she contains a multitude of women, and it is time to celebrate them.

Essex Girls: For Profane and Opinionated Women Everywhere is published by Serpent’s Tail on 1st October

4 Elsa James, Essex artist

5 Syd Moore, Essex author

6 Dr Feelgood: live at the Kursaal, Southend-on-Sea


7   The Pale Usher on Billericay’s Grey Walls Press

8   Paul Stanbridge reads from his debut novel Forbidden Line (Galley
    Beggar Press)

9   The Settee Salon: Sarah, Elsa and Syd  

10  David Henningham reads from his forthcoming novel Foulness (Weatherglass Press)

11  The Pale Usher signs off 

The Company

David Henningham is co-founder with Ping Henningham of Henningham Family Press, a microbrewery for books since 2006. They publish fiction and poetry. Their handmade editions can be found in the V&A, Tate, National Galleries Scotland and Stanford University. Their Performance Publishing shows compress the creation of printed matter into hectic live events. David’s debut novel Foulness will be published by Weatherglass Books in Spring 2021. 

Elsa James is an artist and activist living in Essex since 1999. Her work intervenes in the overlapping discourses of race, gender, diaspora and belonging. Her black British identity ignites her interdisciplinary and research-based practice, located within the fields of contemporary performance, text and language-based art, socio-political and socially engaged art. Her recent projects Forgotten Black Essex (2018) and Black Girl Essex: Here We Come, Look We Here (2019) explore the historical, temporal and spatial dimensions of what it means to be black in Essex; what she believes is England's most misunderstood and homogeneously white county.

Elsa has exhibited, screened and presented projects nationally and internationally including Autograph (ABP), London; Big Screen at Focal Point Gallery, Southend; Firstsite Gallery, Colchester; Furtherfield, London; RadicalxChange, New York;  Metal Culture, Southend; Site Gallery, Sheffield and Tate Exchange at Tate Modern, London. She is a member of the Essex Girls Liberation Front with Syd Moore.

Syd Moore is best known for her ‘Essex Witch Museum’ Mysteries. She has also written short stories - The Twelve Strange Days of Christmas (2019) and has twice been shortlisted for a prestigious ‘dagger award’  by the Crime Writers Association. Her debut screenplay Witch West has been optioned by Hidden Door Productions and is due to start production imminently.   

For nine years she was a lecturer, and worked extensively in the publishing industry and presented Channel 4’s book programme, Pulp. She was the Assistant Curator of ‘ABBA: Super Troupers The Exhibition’ at the O2 and co-curated the ‘This is What an Essex Girl Looks Like’ exhibition at Southend’s Beecroft Gallery, with the Essex Girls Liberation Front.  In 2019 she became a Royal Literary Fund Fellow and works with students in Cambridge helping them with all aspects of writing. In her free time she speaks regularly with Kirsty Brimelow QC, a legal Consultant to Unicef and former legal lead for the United Nations Bar, about witch hunts today.  She is a UK ambassador for DINNødhjælp, the Danish charity which helps Nigerian ‘witch’ children. 

Twitter  @SydMoore1 
Facebook @SydMooreWriter

J O Morgan lives and works on a farm in the Scottish Borders . He is the author of six poetry volumes, each of which is a single book-length work, with subjects ranging from ancient and modern British warfare to northern folkloric cultures and quantum physical theory. Natural Mechanical (CB editions 2009) Long Cuts (CB editions, 2011) At Maldon (CB editions, 2013), In Casting Off (HappenStance Press, 2015) Interference Pattern (Jonathan Cape, 2016) Assurances (Jonathan Cape, 2018). His most recent work, The Martian's Regress (Jonathan Cape, 2020), is set in the far future. It considers "what humans become when they lose their humanity," and explores "what a fragile environment eventually makes of those who persist in tampering with it."

Sarah Perry was born in the Essex county town of Chelmsford. She is the author of After Me Comes The Flood, (2014) The Essex Serpent (2016) and Melmoth (2018) all published by Serpent's Tail. She has been the UNESCO City of Literature writer-in-residence in Prague and a Gladstone's Library writer-in-residence. Her work has been translated into twenty two languages. Essex girls is published by Serpent's Tail on 1st October 2020.

Paul Stanbridge grew up in Essex. He has worked as a pensions administrator, bookseller, receptionist, waiter, archival catalogue editor, chef, barman, ministerial drafter, learning mentor and builder. He has also written a doctoral thesis examining creative method in literary modernism and divides his working time between music and writing. Forbidden Line, his first novel (published by Galley Beggar Press in 2016), was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott First Novel Prize and won the first novel category in the inaugural Republic of Consciousness Prize, 2017. His online ‘immaterial text’ The Encyclopedia of St Arbuc can be found here. His next novel is My Mind to Me a Kingdom is, and will be published by Galley Beggar Press. .

The Pale Usher is David Collard, who organises these gatherings. He was born in Rockford and grew up in Prittlewell.

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 on Friday 4th September and will be devoted in part to the writer David Rudkin

Jonathan Gibbs discusses the poetic legacy of Louis MacNeice, with 
  readings by Michael Hughes

Julian Stannard reads poems from his forthcoming collection Heat Wave

in the Settee Salon some leading indie publishers ponder the future 

Ross McFarlane and Chiara Ambrosio on David Rudkin’s Penda’s Fen

Kevin Davey on Rudkin’s theatre

The Pale Usher on Rudkin’s Artemis 81

Stay well!

The Pale Usher

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