Sunday 28 August 2022

Newsletter 47


Sunday 28th August 2022

Hello. Again.

'Everything changes, nothing improves.' 

Is that a Beckett line, or have I just made it up?  

But it's not all bad and I notice that my diary for September is rapidly filling up with book launches and literary gatherings and all that sort of thing. Perhaps our paths will cross at one of these - there are London gigs next month marking the publication of Stu Hennigan's Ghost Signs, Patrick McCabe's Poguemahone, Kit de Waal's Without Warning & Only Sometimes and... 

Well, next month's highlight is the publication of My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is, the second novel by Paul Stanbridge, published by the ever-reliable and entirely admirable Galley Beggar Press (who last week celebrated their tenth birthday - see below).

I'm a great fan of Paul's writing. His first novel is (as I tweeted on social media last week) THE Great Essex Novel. Between that book and this Paul also created the most astonishing literary monument I'm ever likely to see - the magnificent, glorious, mad, Borges-turned-uo-to-eleven masterpiece known as the Encyclopedia of St Arbuc.

Late adopters should start here with an essay I wrote for Exacting Clam about Paul's two main works to date, the first novel and the encyclopedia (which is also a novel, but a novel as big as the world):

He has a launch event at Foyles when he'll be in conversation with Sam Mills. Details here.


Newsletter contents

1.   Aid for Ukraine

2.   This week’s online gathering 

3.   Indie press news

        And Other Stories

        Bluemoose Books

        Cōnfingō Publishing

        Fitzcarraldo Editions

        Galley Beggar Press

4.   Key(e)s of House

5.   Flash Fiction workshops

6.   Toby Litt: a writer's diary

7.   Edge Hill Short Story Prize: shortlist announced

8.   Sit. Vac.

9.   Irish Writers festival in London

10.  London Consequences 2

11.  Galley Beggar Press (again)

12.  Exacting Clam issue 6 (Autumn 2022)

12.  Next week's online gathering

13.  Nudge



1.  Aid for Ukraine

It doesn't go away. It's the 186th day since the invasion by Russia and here's a bleak summary of how things are in Ukraine.

Please give what you can, when you can: the most far-reaching programme is the British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal. You can donate quickly and easily here.


2. This week's online gathering

We welcome poet Jay Gao who will be reading from his debut collection Imperium (published by Carcanet)

We also welcome back Melissa McCarthy, roving reporter, and we'll have expert graphologist Emma Bache looking at MPs' handwriting. If time allows we'll mark the 70th anniversary of the premiere of John Cage's '4m 33sec', first performed in Woodstock on 29th August 1952 and, finally, the Swiss author Laura Vogt will be talking about her novel What Concerns Us, with translator Caroline Waight and publisher Aina Marti-Balcells.

Also the official launch of London Consequences 2, a collaborative novel with chapters written anonymously by 18 leading contemporary writers. Who are they? You'll find out at the end of the show.


3. Indie press news

And Other Stories

And Other Stories is offering this irresistible bundle of Ann Quin's short stories The Unmapped Country and her four novels Berg, Three, Passages and Tripticks (republished this month) for just £40 (a ten quid discount).

Why on earth they don't promote these books as a QUINCUNX is beyond me...

Order direct from the publisher here.

Bluemoose Books  

On Friday 16th September there's a London launch for Ghost Signs by Stu Hennigan. It's at the Social (near Oxford Circus) and it's free.

Ghost Signs is an eyewitness account of the author’s experiences delivering essential food and medicine to some of Leeds’ most vulnerable communities in the early stages of the pandemic during the first lockdown in 2020. It’s a timely reminder of how difficult life was for most of us during those unprecedented times, and paints a blistering portrait of the almost unimaginable poverty being endured by countless people nationwide, even before the current cost of living crisis hit. Listed as one of Blackwells Best Books of 2022, and serialised in Prospect Magazine, it’s a visceral, unflinching piece of reportage that has been widely compared to George Orwell’s classic The Road To Wigan Pier.

Stu will be in conversation with Heidi James so this will be one hell of a night out and something to brag about to your friends.

Cōnfingō Publishing

As featured on The Glue Factory, each of the short stories in
Waiting For The Gift takes a song from David Bowie’s 1977 album Low as title and inspiration. Written by some of the best contemporary writers, and edited by Richard V Hirst it's available from the publishers online shop:

Fitzcarraldo Editions

To celebrate eight years since the publication of their first book, Fitzcarraldo  Editions are running a 40 per cent discount on all purchases made on their site, including subscriptions of 4 books for £40, 8 books for £80 and 12 books for £120, audiobooks, eBooks and collections, until midnight on Sunday 28 August (that's tonight, so get cracking)!

Use the code ‘FITZCARRALDO2022’ at checkout to redeem the discount. Thank you for your continued support.

As it happens the first book published by Fitzcarraldo was ZONE by Mathias Enard, which I reviewed for the Times Lit. Supp. (but it doesn't appear to be archived on their website, so you'll have to take my word for it).

Galley Beggar Press

On Wednesday this week the Norwich-based indie Galley Beggar Press (newsletters, passim) celebrated their tenth birthday. Since 2012 they have published some of the most original and exciting books to appear in my lifetime - and in doing so have re-invigorated British fiction.  

If you want to wish the Beggars a happy birthday and have some loose change, there's no better way than taking out a subscription or buying one of their forthcoming 2023 titles. ... It's also going to be a hard winter for many - and they're sure the Trussell Trust could do with that spare change. Links below!)

Galley Beggar subscriptions:

Selby Wynn Schwartz's After Sappho: Paul Stanbridge's My Mind To Me A Kingdom Is: Alex Pheby's Malarkoi: The Trussell Trust:


4. Key(e)s of House

   Sold at auction at Sotheby's in 2018, a covetable literary relic (with         thanks to Alan Crilly for the heads up). 


5. Flash Fiction workshops

Last Sunday's live gathering featured Flash Fiction expert Michael Loveday and four guests: Jude Higgins, Karen Jones, Dave Swanna and Sudha Balagopal 

Jude Higgins has organised a series of online flash fiction days in October, November and January. These will feature several workshops, a contest, readings and chat. It's £30 per day and Karen will leading a workshop on Writing Funny Flash 

in January Sudha Balagopal, also a yoga teacher, is offering fifteen minutes on yoga for writers.

Contact Jude on for details

From Michael Loveday : If anyone wants to find out more about the novella-in-flash, 

you can follow blogposts at:


6. Toby Litt alertt

Also taking part in last Sunday's gathering was Toby Litt, who made us all cry. You can read the passage that had such an impact by registering on his sustack here:

It's free to Glue Factory subscribers.


7. Edge Hill Short Story Prize 

The Edge Hill Short Story Prize - now in its 16th year - is the only national literary award to recognise excellence in a published, single-authored short story collection.

This year’s shortlist includes two previously shortlisted writers and two debut collections, with the winner set to scoop a £10,000 prize.

The five shortlisted books are: 

  • Man Hating Psycho by Iphgenia Baal (Influx Press)
  • Intimacies by Lucy Caldwell (Faber)
  • Dance Move by Wendy Erskine (Stinging Fly/Picador)
  • Dark Neighbourhood by Vanessa Onwuemezi (Fitzcarraldo Editions)
  • Send Nudes by Saba Sams (Bloomsbury)

A £1,000 Readers’ Choice Award will also be presented to one of the shortlisted authors, as well as a £500 prize for the best short story submitted by an Edge Hill MA Creative Writing student. 

 The winners of this year’s awards will be announced in November. 

The judges of the 2022 prize are 2021 winner Kevin Barry, literary development agent Arzu Tahsin and Sarah Schofield, writer and lecturer in Creative Writing at Edge Hill University.

Note: on 18th September Wendy Erskine will join The Glue Factory for a close reading of her short story 'Nostalgie' by Linda Mannheim. All invitees will get a copy of the story to read in advance. These close readings have been a regular highlight of The Glue Factory and this is not to be missed!


8. Irish Writers Weekend at the British library

Announced this week, a two-day festival of words and ideas featuring some of Ireland’s most exciting and accomplished writers takes place in November at the British Library in London. 

Details and advanced booking here.

It will be simultaneously live streamed on the British Library platform. Tickets may be booked either to attend in person (physical), or to watch on our platform (online) either live or within 48 hours on catch up.  Viewing links will be sent out shortly before the event.

A collaboration between the British Library and Galway’s renowned Cúirt International Festival of Literature, the Irish Writers Weekend London is a chance to hear from novelists, poets, essayists and comedy writers at the top of their game.

Confirmed participants so far include Emma Dabiri, Kit de Waal, Wendy Erskine, Sinéad Gleeson, Louise Kennedy, Megan Nolan, Patrick Freyne (Saturday) Anne Enright, Nuala O’Connor, Donal Ryan, Victoria Kennefick (Sunday).

The full programme will be announced soon.

The programme begins at 11.00 each day, with registration open from 10.00.

Weekend and single Day in-person Passes allow access to any of the sessions on relevant days. Entry to specific sessions may be subject to room capacity.

Full Price: £40.00

Student: £20.00

Registered Unemployed: £20.00

Disabled: £20.00

Senior (60+): £34.00

Young Person (18-25): £20.00

Online Full Price: £15.00


9. Sit. Vac.

The Poetry Society is currently seeking an experienced and imaginative Editor for their influential quarterly magazine The Poetry Review, one of the most widely read publications for new poetry in the world.

The successful applicant will demonstrate a sustained involvement in poetry and its development within the arts. Knowledge of current debates in contemporary writing culture will also support their expertise in gathering relevant content for publication in The Poetry Review. With excellent editorial skills and the capacity to assess submissions and develop emerging poets, candidates must demonstrate an understanding of working with a membership organisation and share the organisation’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

To apply, please download the TPR_Editor Job Pack and Equal Opportunities Monitoring form.

Please email your application to Tiffany Charrington, Administrator,

Closing date for applications is 12th September, so get a wriggle on.


10. London Consequences 2

Today saw the first online gathering of the writers who will together collaborate on this novel, each (anonymously) writing a chapter.

We'll reveal their identities to the world this evening on The Glue Factory Live.


11. Galley Beggar Press (again)

A reminder that entries are now open for the Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize. Just click here

How to enter

Entry to the prize is £10. And easy - all you have to do is head here.

That money helps cover costs for the Prize and keep Galley Beggar Press going. It also helps subsidise 200 free places every year - and thanks to an extremely generous (anonymous) donation, they're now able to up that number to 225 entries. These are no questions asked about these places. So if you need a free place, drop a line to and if there’s still one available, they'll allot it to you.

On top of that, the writer Kit De Waal has generously donated another 10 places for carers. Four of those places have been snapped up on Twitter already, but the organisers are very keen for the others to be filled. So if you are a carer, just drop the Beggars a line, mention Kit’s name, but please don't feel obliged to tell them anything more. It’s enough that you’re writing and you’ve got a story you want to enter.

Once again, full details about the competition and how to enter are available here.


12.  Exacting Clam issue 6 (Autumn 2022)

The latest issue of this transatlantic literary quarterly has just been published (though items from this issue haven't yet appeared on the website.

Featured writers include Glue Factory regular Julian Stannard (writing for once in prose) and . . . er . . . myself, writing about forgotten poets of the 1930s. Also, and serendipitously, the first appearance in print of P J Blumenthal's long poem 'Program Music From a Coming War', which will be performed by the poet himself and others on the Glue Factory next Sunday (see above).

'Already the drought has struck Europe...'


13. Next week's online gathering

Join us on 4th September for a world premiere reading of P J Blumenthal's remarkable poem 'Program Music for a Coming War' performed by the poet himself with Dan O’Brien, Michael Hughes, Aea Varfis-van Warmelo, Rufo Quintavalle, Sam Skoog, David Collard, Melissa McCarthy, Stephanie Ellyne and David Henningham;  

Caroline Clark will read from her latest book Own Sweet Time published this month by CB editions;

We'll have selected highlights from issue 6 of the quarterly journal of Exacting Clam with guests Jacob Smullyan, Guillermo Stitch, Julian Stannard and others;

Linda Mannheim will make a close reading of Wendy Erskine’s short story ‘Nostalgie’(with Wendy on hand to respond).

All this and more. Get stuck in!


14. Nudge

The imminent energy price hike in Britain is a social catastrophe. Millions of households will be driven into intolerable hardship, millions of families will face real poverty and many will face homelessness. Small businesses already clobbered by Brexit and the pandemic will face financial collapse. The fabric of British society will not survive the strains we face.

A country misled by the disgraceful and hypocritical Liz Truss, supported a corrupt and callous party of brutal mediocrities will compound the misery. The imminent death of the Queen will throw the nation into a period of official mourning but also profound existential doubt and whatever emerges after that is anyone's guess. But it will be awful. Crisis, austerity, and the collapse of the social contract. Twelve years of Tory government.

So what can we do? For now at least a donation to the Trussell Trust will make a difference.

In my home town of Southend-on-Sea (recently declared a city following the murder of the local MP who had lobbied tirelessly for this pointless distinction) the main Food Bank (and likely others) are looking at ‘cold’ food parcels that use little or no energy, because those relying on their support can't afford to heat the food they're given.

How about that?

Support the Trussell Trust. Please.



My Mind To Me A Kingdom Is, the title of Paul Stanbridge's second novel (published next month) comes from a poem first published in 1588 and usually attributed to Edward Dyer. Here’s the first verse:

My mind to me a kingdom is;
Such present joys therein I find,
That it excels all other bliss
That earth affords or grows by kind:
Though much I want that most would have,
Yet still my mind forbids to crave.

The mind as a source of consolation and happiness. Now there’s a theme.

Sunday 21 August 2022

Newsletter 46

Hello once more.

Here's a thought to start the day from A. C. Grayling:

One of the worst of many ironies of Brexit is that it makes you

want to move to another country but stops you from doing it.

Perhaps like me you've been mesmerised by images of raw sewage being pumped into the English channel this week, closing practically the entire south coast to visitors. And perhaps like me you've been thinking about the privatised water companies, and their shareholders, and their CEOs, and about the Tory MPS who voted to make such anoption legal, and the fact that nobody will face prosecution for this disgusting episode. And perhaps like me you're exhausted because if it's not raw sewage pumped into the Channel it's something else. It's everything else.

The Glue Factory isn't much, but it's what I've got, and I hope it comes as a welcome distraction, if not consolation, so thank you for your continuing interest aqnd support, and for supporting The Trussell Trust.

Please let me know if you'd rather not receive this weekly link and I'll happily stop badgering you.

If, on the other hand, you like the badgering please join our live gathering at 7:30pm UK time, and consider making a donation to The Trussell Trust (link at the end of this newsletter).

Let's stick together!


Newsletter contents

1.   Aid for Ukraine

2.   This week’s online gathering 

3.   Indie press news

        Hoxton Mini Press

        Two plugs

4.   Situation vacant

5.   London Consequences 2

6.   C D Rose interviews Paul Stanbridge

7.   Ghost Signs launch

8.   There She Is at the Omnibus Theatre - exclusive discount!


9.   Next week's online gathering

10.  Nudge



1.  Aid for Ukraine

After more than 170 days this horrible war drags on and on. We all have many calls on our generosity and disposable income (if any), but few are as pressing as this.

Please give what you can, when you can: the most far-reaching programme is the British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal. You can donate quickly and easily here.


2. This week's online gathering

Live online this Sunday (August 21st) we'll be celebrating the best in contemporary flash fiction with Michael Loveday and his guests Jude Higgins, Dave Swann, Karen Jones & Sudha Balagopal. Also featuring authors Susanna Crossman and Toby Litt! 


3. Indie press news

Hoxton Mini Press

They have a summer sale which ends at midnight tonight and features up to 50% discount on selected titles:

And that's pretty much it for indie news this week. Everyone is either away on holiday, or having fun at a festival, or prepping for the Frankfurt Book Fair. I suppose I could mention my recently-published Multiple Joyce Multiple Joyce: 100 short essays about James Joyce's cultural legacy (which was described as 'scintillating' by Stuart Kelly in The Scotsman this week, but that was merely a passing remark in his review of Kit de Waal's superb memoir Without Warning and Only Sometimes (published by Tinder Press). Warmly recommended.


4. Situation vacant

The best job in the world! 

Application deadline is 2nd September, so get cracking.


5. London Consequences 2

Next Sunday (28th August) sees the launch of this exciting four-month collaboration between 18 contemporary authors, each of them contributing, anonymously, a chapter to a novel that will be published in 2023 by Bluemoose Books. It will be co-edited by Jonathan Gibbs and myself

It's a circadian novel, covering around 24 hours. The first chapter (written by Jonathan and another writer) will be sent to the second writer on Monday 29th August, and they will then have just six days to complete and submit their chapter. And so on, until the end of the year.

Only the editors know which writers have been allocated each chapter. It's going to be a real challenge but we know that all these writers will all do something wonderful.

At next week's online gathering we'll announce the list of the collaborators and share more detail about the project's background. 


6. C D Rose interviews Paul Stanbridge

'Wanting to write books at all is stupid.’

Here's the link to a 3:AM Magazine interview with Paul Stanbridge, author of the forthcoming novel My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is published next month by Galley Beggar Press.

According to C D Rose it's 'a book about the North Sea, maps of the North Sea, maps in general, East Anglia, the topography of the ocean bed, a number of obscure poets, mathematicians and scientists, a horse called Clever Hans, chalk hill carvings, medieval graffiti, trees; an account of an attempt to write a book that is not this book; a homage to W.G. Sebald and David Jones; a book about the impossibility of knowing; a pitiless, unsparing gaze on the writer’s brother’s suicide.'

It's a profoundly moving and wholly original book about loss and grief and consolation, and warmly recommended. Paul says his influences are Sebald, David Jones, Olga Tokarczuk and Alice Oswald - that's a classy roster.


7. Ghost Signs London launch

Ghost Signs by Stu Hennigan is an eyewitness account of the author’s experiences delivering essential food and medicine to some of Leeds’ most vulnerable communities in the early stages of the pandemic during the first lockdown in 2020. It’s a timely reminder of how difficult life was for most of us during those unprecedented times, and paints a blistering portrait of the almost unimaginable poverty being endured by countless people nationwide, even before the current cost of living crisis hit. Listed as one of Blackwells Best Books of 2022, and serialised in Prospect Magazine, it’s a visceral, unflinching piece of reportage that has been widely compared to George Orwell’s classic The Road To Wigan Pier.

I reviewed Ghost Signs for the Times Lit. Supp. here.

There's a London launch featuring Stu in conversation with Heidi James at the Social (near Oxford Circus) on Friday 16th September from 6 to 8pm. Details and tickets here. 

Buy a copy from the publishers Bluemoose Books here.


8. There She Is at the Omnibus Theatre

                                                                 Gabriela Flarys in There She Is

There She Is opens on Tuesday 30th August and runs until Saturday 3rd September (7:30pm nightly).

The Brazilian performance artist Gabriela Flarys takes us on a surreal journey through the eyes of a recently arrived migrant to London. There She Is is a comical, poetical and political one-woman performance about language, displacement, and recreation of oneself. The show combines impressive physical theatre, contemporary dance, uncanny impressions and an original script based on interviews with people who live in London with English as a second language.

The venue is the Omnibus Theatre in Clapham:

1 Clapham Common North Side, 

*** Glue Factory subscribers can get a generous discount by entering the code: 

                        WHALE for £9 tickets or 

                        SHEIS for 5 tickets for £40.

There She Is had its critically acclaimed UK premier in 2019, and is now having its first London revival. 

Written and performed by Gabriela Flarys
Directed by Andrea Maciel & Gabriela Flarys
Produced in association with Animal Head


9. Next week's online gathering

We'll be joined on 28th August by the poet Jay Gao who will talk about and read from his impressive first collection Imperium.

Professional graphologist Emma Bache will be looking at MPs' handwriting and we welcome back our roving reporter Melissa McCarthy. The Canterbury-based indie publisher Aina Marti-Balcells will introduce 'What Concerns Us' with Swiss author Laura Vogt and translator Caroline Waight.


10. Nudge

On Wednesday 17th August UK inflation officially rose above 10% for the first time in 40 years. But there are other inflations.

Food inflation (which is not the same thing as inflation) is now at 12.7%; inflation for electricity at 53.5% and rising; inflation for gas at 95.5% and rising. 

Wages have been stagnant for 15 years. Not even 1% of this inflation is driven by wages.

We are all facing a national emergency, which is already hitting people who are struggling the hardest.

The Trussell Trust is one among many charitable organisations that aims to help those most savagely disadvantaged by the state of this economy and the result of 12 years Tory austerity.