Sunday 11 September 2022

Newsletter 49

        In times when nothing stood

        but worsened, or grew strange,

        there was one constant good:

               she did not change.

  - Philip Larkin

The regular weekly newsletter follows below, but first here's notice that, to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II, there will be an extra online gathering (months in the planning) next Saturday (17th September). Details follow below.


Newsletter contents

1.   Aid for Ukraine

2.   This week’s online gathering 

3.   Indie press news

        Bluemoose Books

        Galley Beggar Press

        Henningham Family Press

        Sagging Meniscus Press

4.   Arts Emergency - mentors needed

5.   Deceit by Yuri Felsen - Pushkin House event

6.   Sophie Scott klaxon

7.   Alan Garner's advice for writers

8.   Isobel Waidner and M. John Harrison - free event!

9.   Collaborators shot

10.  FILET

11.  Tyler C. Gore book launch in Brooklyn

12.  Next week's online gathering

13.  Nudge



1.  Aid for Ukraine

200 days. Two hundred. If reports are to be believed Ukraine has launched the greatest counteroffensive since World War II and regained or liberated over 1,000 km of land and cities. Ukraine, then, is winning. and Putin is facing defeat. But this may not even be the beginning of the end and the suffering continues.

Please give what you can, when you can: the most far-reaching programme has been and remains the British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal. 

You can donate quickly and easily here.


2. This week's online gathering  

We're going ahead with this Sunday's planned online gathering. Publisher Jon Stone curates a Sidekick Books showcase with special guests, featuring poem-games (with audience participation*) and the art of the misquotation.

Sidekick is a London-based publisher of collaborative/hybrid poetry books with emphasis on play, alchemical mixing, the unexpected.Award-winning publisher of hybrid and experimental multi-author treasuries and pamphlets. We believe the most interesting place to start is at the edges, on the borders between things.

*Have a pen and paper ready for the second half of the event!


With readings by


    Tiffany Anne Tondut – ‘Cluster’

    Claire Orchard – ‘All Stations’ / ‘The Builder’s Prayer’

    Maija Haavisto – ‘No Play’

    Adam Crothers – ‘Washing Plates with Edwin Morgan’

    Edwin Evans-Thirlwell – ‘Games to play with a black hole’

  Linda Black – ‘DRAW!’

  Rob Walton – ‘Mitball’

There will also be an extra gathering on Saturday 17th September to mark the passing of HM Queen Elizabeth II. This has been in preparation for some months and features contributions from

     Kevin Boniface     

     Susanna Crossman 

     Kevin Davey        

     Laura Hopkins      

     Amy McCauley     

An alternative to the relentless commemoration that currently overwhelms us, we'll be looking at Clydebank shipbuilding, performative speech acts, 19th century mourning conventions, Melanesian cargo cults, Royal Variety shows, Ghana, the boy Jones, reaction on the streets of Huddersfield and much else.  



3. Indie press news

Bluemoose Books

Mighty Yorkshire indie powerhouse Bluemoose published Stu Henningan's Ghost Signs earlier this year (and I reviewed it for the Times Lit. Supp. here.

It's a harrowing account of the pandemic lockdown in the author's home town of Leeds, and the terrible impact of 12 years of Tory austerity on the most vulnerable members of the community - a shocking, essential account of the way things are now.

There's a London launch next Friday at The Social (nearest tube Oxford Circus). Stu will be in conversation with Heidi James. It's free and you don't need to book. If the Good Lord's willin' and the creek don't rise I'll be there. 

Full details here.

Galley Beggar Press

Alex Pheby’s Malarkoi was published on Thursday last week, the second volume in a trilogy that has already been widely acclaimed, not least by Marlon James, who said of Mordew that 'The future of fantasy starts here.'  

It's a hefty hardbound volume - here's an image of Galley Beggar Press publishers Sam and Ellie buried under a delivery to their front room:

Here's Sam, who has somehow managed to dig himself out 

And here's the author, who spent the entire summer signing copies in a remote fenland warehouse:

Signed copies are available direct from the publishers at their

online shop. 

Henningham Family Press

Pascal O'Loughlin's beguiling second novel has arrived. Like his debut Now, Legwarmers it's published by Henningham Family Press (run by David and Ping Henningham)

Authors Cherry Smyth and Chris McCabe have both read it, and here's what they had to say:

"This is the great Irish novel the 21st Century has been waiting for: a visionary slice through the times that have lived us. A racing, drug-fuelled vision of underground London as it was, is and will always be."
                                                  - Chris McCabe, author of Dedalus

"The Goddess Lens shares its protagonist between Pascal, a fat, Irish, gay novelist and Christine, a lesbian private investigator, both seeking succour from feminine energies—creative, sexual, maternal—pick one, or them all. The novelist, fidgety with doubt and a ‘horror of toil’ consults his ex, Nigel, for editing advice on Christine’s tale, which shifts dizzyingly from her childhood in an orphanage to a lesbian squat, via alien craft harbouring “a green slime of countless genders.” Then comes Lockdown to thicken the dystopia. O’Loughlin’s imagination is agile, nay aerobic, ensorcelling the reader into a maniacal universe."
                                                - Cherry Smyth, author of Famished

Buy Now : £12.99

HFP and the author will be launching The Goddess Lens on the Glue Factory on Sunday 18th September

Also from HFP this month:

The Lost Spell by Yismake Worku (translated by. Bethlehem Attfield), which launches in person with The Anglo-Ethiopian Society


           2pm on Sunday 25th September 2022

           Ethiopian Community in Britain

           2a Lithos Road

           London NW3 6EF

Nearest tube Finchley Road (Jubilee and Metropolitan lines)

Register for this launch HERE


4. Arts Emergency!

Register now to mentor with Arts Emergency in 2023! Want to change the future of the cultural and creative industries for the better? Sign up now to help a young person without connections take their first steps towards a dream career!

Arts Emergency is an award-winning mentoring charity and support network, working long term with young people in London, Brighton, Greater Manchester and Merseyside to help them flourish in higher education and the cultural industries.

Each year they match hundreds of volunteer mentors with young people keen to break into the arts. For one year, pairs meet monthly to set and achieve goals, build the mentee’s network and confidence, and exchange ideas and experiences.

Registration will be open until October 31 and training spots will be allocated on a first come first serve basis by region, so if you’re really keen don’t delay!

Details and registration here:


5. Deceit event

It was a pleasure to bump into translator Bryan Karetnyk at last week's TLS summer party, where we actually managed to have a conversation before things got too noisy. 

He told me about this re-scheduled event to mark the publication in English of Deceitthe lost debut novel by Russian émigré author Yuri Felsen. A panel of very special guests will gather to explore Felsen’s ground-breaking debut novel and the life of this exceptional modernist author which was tragically cut short.

Joining Bryan will be translator and specialist in Russian literature Josephine von Zitzewitz and journalist, broadcaster and the Fiction and Politics Editor of the Times Literary Supplement Toby Lichtig, who will chair the discussion. Together they will explore the themes behind Felsen’s writing — the search for love and meaning in a world dominated by totalitarianism, and what it means to be in exile — while exploring the wider context of the émigré movement, and its literary world.

More details and tickets here:


6. Sophie Scott klaxon!

The Michael Faraday Prize Lecture 2021 will be given by Professor Sophie Scott (a brilliant Glue Factory guest earlier in the year).

In this prize lecture, she will further explore the science of laughter - how laughter has evolved, its functions in mammals, and the ways that humans use laughter. She will show how laughter is used to communicate much more than humour, and the importance of laughter in our social interactions. And she will also explore the neural basis of laughter, and the possible ways that we vary in the ways that we process laugher.

The Royal Society Michael Faraday Prize and Lecture is awarded annually to the scientist or engineer whose expertise in communicating scientific ideas in lay terms is exemplary. The award is named after Michael Faraday FRS, the influential inventor and electrical pioneer who was prominent in the public communication of science and founded the Christmas lectures at the Royal Institution. 

In 2021, the prize was awarded to Professor Sophie Scott CBE FBA FMedSci, for her work in engaging the public with neuroscience through events, talks, TV and radio, and exemplifying how science communication can enhance scientific excellence.

Attending the event

  • The event is free to join and there is no registration required
  • Live subtitles will be available in-person and virtually.

Attending in person

Attending live online

  • The lecture will also be livestreamed on the Royal Society YouTube channel
  • You can take part in the live Q&A
  • This event will be recorded (including the live Q&A) and the recording will be available on YouTube soon after the event.

Full details and booking here.


7. Alan Garner's advice for writers

"Take a blank sheet of paper and cover it in words, then take another sheet and cover it in more words. And don't take any advice from other writers."

I'm absolutely delighted to see Alan Garner shortlisted for this year's Man Booker Prize for his novel Treacle Walker.


8. Isabel Waidner and M. John Harrison - free event!

The Goldsmiths Writers' Centre in association with the New Statesman presents the winner of the Goldsmiths Prize 2021, Isabel Waidner in conversation with M. John Harrison. The evening will end with the announcement of the GP 2022 shortlist.

Date: Wednesday 5th October 2022

Time: 19:00 – 21:00 BST

Location:     Ian Gulland Lecture Theatre


                New Cross


                SE14 6NW

Free tickets here.


9. Collaborators shot

A rare real-life encounter at last week's TLS summer party involving (from left) Michael Hughes, Jonathan Gibbs and myself. They're working with a magnificent cohort of contemporary writers (all anonymous) on a collaborative novel to be published by Bluemoose Books in 2023.

And under his stage name Michael Colgan, Michael appears with Kenneth Branagh in This England, the forthcoming six-part Sky telly series about Boris Johnson, directed by Michael Winterbottom. Here's a trailer

Rumours that I'm starring in the Steve Bannon biopic are both malicious and unfounded.



FILET is a space for experimental cultural production directed by Rut Blees Luxemburg and Uta Kögelsberger.

Based in London in close proximity to the digital roundabout at Old Street, FILET is a physical research organ that provides a space for the production, dissemination and discourse of contemporary culture. 

Here's news of the latest project:

GRIBAUDIPLYTAS, Trolley: living and wasting, 11-17th September

Healthy materials are funnelled into capitalism’s avid mouth and spat back out, poisonous, directly into the soil. Yet so much of what was held in those plastic containers, aluminium cans, glass jars, steel bars was beautiful. It was life: its plants, its animals, its walks in the park, its coffee breaks, its dinners, its funerals, its parties…

From the 11-15 September we will walk the neighbourhood of Filet, with our handmade trolley and metal spikes, finding and collecting materials discarded into the landscape. We will add these items to our trolley, sew them to the spikes and inside Filet we will map, archive and rework the items from waste to living. Offering a window into the accumulation occurring within our environment and consumerist society and a re-evaluation of our relationship to waste.

Join us while we reinvent unwanted material at Filet. 

If you would like to take part in a walk, call or text +44 7463 477 784. 

The space will be open to visit throughout the week and we will be having drinks on Thursday 15 September, 6-9pm to show what we have found and experienced. 

The exhibition will remain open until Saturday 17 September.

Curated with Brenna Horrox

103 Murray Grove, London, N1 7QP


11. Tyler C. Gore book launch

Tyler's latest book of essays and entertainments, My Life of Crime (published by Sagging Meniscus Press) will be launched on Friday, September 16 at 6:00pm at Barrow’s Intense Tasting Room (Industry City, Courtyard 5/6). That's in Brooklyn, New York, so I can't be there, alas. But if any subscribers are in the vicinity that Friday thisn is the place to be. 


12. Next Sunday's online gathering

On 18th September poet John Clegg will be reading from his marvellous new collection  Aliquot; Linda Mannheim will undertake a close reading of Wendy Erskine’s short story ‘Nostalgie’ (with Wendy joining in, and I'll send out a copy of the story ahead of the gathering); author/publisher Charles Boyle on his new book 99 interruptions; poet Caroline Clark on Own Sweet Time and (if there's time) myself on British values 1936-2022.

And another reminder that there will be a special Glue Factory gathering to mark the passing of Queen Elizabeth II on Saturday 17th September, with contributions from Kevin Boniface, Susanna Crossman, Kevin Davey, Laura Hopkins, Amy McCauley and others.

We'll be looking at performative speech acts, soft power, cargo cults, Ghana, ocean liners, the Royal Variety Performance, reaction on the streets of Huddersfield and other off-trail aspects of monarchy. This will, we hope, offer some beneficial distraction and consolation at this very strange time.


13. Nudge

In January 2022, the average UK household energy bill was £1,277.

Liz Truss is now promising to freeze it at £2,500. That's way too much for most people in this country, who will need to find an additional £1,300 because of corporate profiteering. The choice between heating and eating is starkly grotesque.

21m adults in the United Kingdom have annual income of less than £12,570.

More. Under cover of the Queen's death and ten days of national mourning, the Department of Work and Pensions quietly released a report saying they will not adjust benefits to cover inflation, and Truss has quietly released details of the £420k in personal donations that went into her leadership campaign, including £100k from the wife of an ex BP executive. So there's all that.

Please, if you can, support the Trussell Trust. They do a lot of good in these dark days.

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