Sunday 20 November 2022

Newsletter 59

 For more than ten years Twitter has been part of my daily life and perhaps yours too. It's also supported the fragile eco-system of indie publishing. At the time of writing it seems very likely that the platform will go belly up, and may have already done so by the time you read this newsletter.

In common with many, I've set up a Mastodon account and if you're on the mailing list for this newsletter I hope you'll follow me there:

If you're a Twitter user and want to archive your account it's very straightforward, and takes less than a minute:

    Go to Twitter, tap on More

    Then go to Settings and privacy > Your account > Download an archive of your data.

    Enter your password as needed and click Request archive.

    After you verify your account, the request will be processed within 24 hours.

(Having said which I've been waiting for three days with no response).

I'll carry on using Twitter to promote The Glue Factory until the online gatherings end in December, but may shut down my account before then if the site becomes unendurable. 

Or it may simply disappear. 

Here's the best thing I can find about the likely impact of Twitter disappearing, and the alternatives.

Mastodon is not (yet) as user-friendly, at least not for this newcomer, but -how best to put this? - there's a room in the elephant. See you there.

Now - to business.

Newsletter contents

1.   Aid for Ukraine

2.   This week’s online gathering 

3.   Indie press news


        FdE Press

        Galley Beggar Press

        Paper Visual Art (PVA)


4.   European Poetry Festival:Winter Camarad

5.   Long Poem Magazine

6.   Irish lit mag submission deadlines

7.   Irish Writers' Weekend at the British Library

8.   BBC 100 now live

9.   Plug plug pluggity plug

10.  Jerry 'Wildseed Zen' Simcock's first novel    

11.  Next week's online gathering

12.  Nudge



1. Aid for Ukraine

Same old same old. But please don't skip to the next item. The conflict continues, and horribly. The most far-reaching aid programme has been, and remains, the British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal. You can donate quickly and easily herewhatever you can, whenever you can.

And, as mentioned last week, you might like to buy a copy of a new anthology compiled by Neill McGuirk and Michael Murphy in which nearly 300 artists, writers and musicians discuss the records that influenced them, including our very own Rónán Hession on Billy Bragg. All proceeds go to Red Cross Ukraine.

There's a full list of contributors (very impressive!), and you can order here.

Thank you.


2. This week’s online gathering 

Our very special guest is the poet, author, broadcaster, activist and all-round good egg Michael Rosen on editing St. Pancreas Defendat Me, the kenly-anticipated Johnson/Mogg correspondence.  

We'll also celebrate the centenary of the English publication of Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-philosophicus. Michael Hughes will read the disarming preamble to this great text and the poet/historian Richard Barnett will share thoughts on the impact of the Tractatus and its legacy.

I'll talk about the tragic genius Frank Ramsey (below), who worked very closely with Wittgenstein on the translation from German to English.

We'll visit the Wittgenstein house in Norway, and have the latest essay from Melissa McCarthy, roving reporter


3. Indie press news 


There's a new Selected Poems by Donald Davie, published to mark the centenary of his birth. The selection is made by Davie’s long-term editor and friend Michael Schmidt and introduced by award-winning poet Sinéad Morrissey. 

FdE Press @FumdEstampa

It passed me by at the time, but this indie (a noted publisher of fiction in translation) announced some months ago that they wanted to start publishing original work in English. And they've received only two submissions so far... so spread the word!

PS apparently the word has already spread and they've been inundated with submissions. Which just goes to show that (a) single messages don't make much of an impact and need to be repeated, and (b) Twitter has been central to the indie publishing sector, and will be a great loss.

Galley Beggar Press

The Beggars are launching another season of their popular Critical Reading Zoom classes in February. These are six monthly classes (held on Tuesday evenings UK time) where new and classic novels are torn apart to find out what makes them tick - and what makes them matter. Sam Jordison will fill in some of the background of the books and authors and bring his own theories to the class - but (he says) a big part of the joy comes in the discussion and shared appreciation of what writers can do. Everyone reads a different novel, after all. 

You can find out more details here. The entire six-month course costs just £125 - and GBP will be happy to arrange it as a gift if you want to buy a place for a friend or loved one as a Christmas present.

Here are the books the group will be reading:

The Awakening by Kate Chopin is a neglected (in the UK at least) early feminist classic set in New Orleans at the end of the nineteenth century. It’s pioneering modernism. It’s got a lot to say and it’s fascinating.

Persuasion by Jane Austen  

Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel

White Noise by Don Delillo 

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

Playthings by Alex Pheby 

Sign up here! 

(DC adds, grumpily: I had to study Persuasion at school for A Level, a premature exposure that put me off Jane Austen for the next forty years. So I might sign up for this to see what I've been missing.)

More from Galley Beggar:  they’re about to sign off two books (Meena Kandasamy’s The Book of Desire and Toby Litt’s  A Writer’s Diary: both available for pre-order here). Toby launched the Diary on The Glue Factory at the start of this year and joined us a few months ago for a catch-up midway through this extraordinary long-form project. He'll make a final appearance on the Glue Factory on Sunday 4th December)

Héloïse Press

This week the Times Lit Supp published its annual feature in which various luminaries choose their books of the year. Among them was Anna Katharina Schaffner, professor of cultural history at the University of Kent, who chose Erica Mou's debut novel Thirsty Sea. The author, her translator Clarissa Botsford and publisher Aina Marti-Balcells appeared on The Glue Factory in April.

Here's what she said:

This year I have felt myself drawn to novels that make me laugh, because, with the daily reports on the horror of the war in Ukraine and the climate crisis, little else does right now. Among the books that have helped me through the past months, two in particular stand out: Bonnie Garmus’s sharp feminist fable Lessons in Chemistry (Doubleday) and the Italian singer-songwriter Erica Mou’s moving debut novel Thirsty Sea (Héloïse Press). Although she’s writing on heinous structural sexism and its depressing psychosocial effects, Garmus does so with wit, warmth and bone-dry irony. Mou, too, perfectly masters the art of balancing dark and light. The story of Maria, who wrestles with the psychological repercussions of a tragic accident, displays Mou’s flair for smartly subversive and musical prose, highly original characters and distinctive metaphors. In fact, it is in her imagery where her impish humour resides. At one point, for instance, Maria describes her mother’s face as one that “laughs and cries at the same time”, and that “has no direction, like her name”.

Paper Visual Art 

This week's Wendy Erskine sighting! 

She's the editor of well I just kind of like it, a collection of writing and images about art in the home and the home as art. Through a beautifully arranged series of essays, conversations, photographs, fragments, drawings, and reflections, this publication sheds light on the stuff of the home in a vital and compelling way.

With contributions by Latifa Akay, Mauricio Alejo, Richard Billingham, Jo Broughton, Darran Anderson, Rossa Coyle, Emily Dickinson, Susannah Dickey, Wendy Erskine, Nicole Flattery, David Hayden, David Keenan, Heather Leigh, Philip Mann, Jan McCullough, Gareth McConnell, Lara Pawson, Keith Ridgway, Joseph Scott, Frances Stark, Annelies Štrba, Maurice van Tellingen, Joanna Walsh, and Shaun Whiteside.

Order direct form the publisher PVA Books here.


Published this week and edited by Nicholas Royle (The Glue Factory passim), the nation’s favourite annual guide to the short story, now in its twelfth year. 

Best British Short Stories invites you to judge a book by its cover – or, more accurately, by its title. This critically acclaimed series aims to reprint the best short stories published in the previous calendar year by British writers, whether based in the UK or elsewhere. The editor’s brief is wide ranging, covering anthologies, collections, magazines, newspapers and web sites, looking for the best of the bunch to reprint all in one volume.


4.European Poetry Festival:Winter Camarade

Wednesday 23rd November at 7.30pm - Free Entry. 

Old Paradise Yard, 20 Carlisle Ln, London SE1 7LG

Closing the EPF’s program for 2022, poets in pairs from countries across the continent present brand new collaborations of literary performance, made especially for the night. Held at the remarkable Iklectik Artlab in Waterloo, London with New performances and commissions by 

Xelis de Toro & Blanca Regina
SJ Fowler & Benedict Taylor
Egidija Čiricaitė & Jules Sprake
Milo Thesiger-Meacham & Gianna T.
Daniel Kramb & Julia Rose Lewis
Laura Davis & Shani Cadwallender
Michael O’Mahony & Matt Martin
Aea Varfis-van Warmelo & Prudence Chamberlain-Bussey
Radosław Jurczak, Marta Koronkiewicz & Paweł Kaczmarski


5. Long Poem Magazine

LPM is invaluable in that it offers a unique home to poets who write at greater length but, more importantly, in that it publishes inspiring work of such high quality. What would poets do without it?

– Mimi Khalvati

Founded in 2008 by Anna Robinson, Long Poem Magazine grew out of a long poem workshop run by Mimi Khalvati. The magazine is published bi-annually (although it's unclear to me whether that means it appears once every two years or twice annually, and if it's the latter (which seems more likely) why not say so?)

Visit the submissions page to for details of how to contribute or the shop to buy issues and subscribe.


6. Irish lit mag deadlines:

closes for submissions 15th Nov (fiction & non-fic) opens for submissions 15th-30th Nov closes for submissions 4th Dec closes for submissions 30th Nov (fiction & poetry)

Get weaving!


7. Irish Writers' Weekend at the British Library

   Saturday 26th to Sunday 27th November

A two-day festival of words and ideas featuring some of Ireland’s most exciting and accomplished writers. 

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 writers of all backgrounds at the top of their game. 

Most events take place at the Shaw Theatre, 100–110 Euston Rd, London, immediately next door to the British Library. Occasional sessions are in the main British Library building. 

This will be simultaneously live streamed on the British Library platform apart from sessions marked *. 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.

Book sales and signings take place in the main Library throughout the weekend.

The Saturday programme begins at midday with a session called 'Northern Lights' featuring Jan Carson and Wendy Erskine in conversation with Peggy Hughes.

(That's this week's Wendy Erskine update)

At 4:30  'Ireland Today: A Writers’ View' with Suad Aldarra, Emma Dabiri, Emilie Pine and Wendy Erskine in conversation with Patrick Freyne.

(That's this week's other Wendy Erskine update)

Full programme details here: 

Launched on Monday 14th November (the hundredth anniversary of the day the BBC began daily broadcasting), here's an archive curated by Jeremy Noel-Todd of 100 poets who have appeared on the BBC in the past century. Really good, this.


9. Shocking filler

Stumped for gift ideas? 

Multiple Joyce: 100 short essays about James Joyce's cultural legacy

Published in Dublin on 16th June (Bloomsday) this year, this is the only book about the author's cultural legacy you're likely to need.

Get one here: 


10.  Jerry 'Wildseed Zen' Simcock's first novel

Published by Vagabond Voices (a Scottish indie) this is the debut novel by Jerry Simcock (a regular member of the Glue Factory audience who may be better known to you under his social media pen name of 'Wildseed Zen') Details here (including a wonderful playlist).

(Vagabond are new to me. They were founded in 2008 and are based in Glasgow as 'an independent publisher that is both Scottish and fervently European in its aims.' Sounds like a plan. It strikes me that if there's any future at all worth having, indie publishers will provide cultural conduits or portals or bridges that will enable us to re-unite with mainland Europe culturally, economically and politically. And within my lifetime, please.)

Vagabond publish in six different series: Vagabonds, Changelings, Rants, Poetry, Playwrights and Contemplations.

Full details of these on their excellent website.


11. Next week's online gathering

Cristina Viti on her translation of Pasolini’s La rabbia / Anger

marking the centenary of the great Italian film director's birth.


Elena Addomine, President of OpLePo (the Italian equivalent to the French OuLiPo movement) reads some of her virtuosic ludic 'homographic translations' and 'Chimera' an Anglo-Italian mash-up of Dante and Shakepeare


Paolo Pergola introduces OpLePo author Paolo Albani who will share some of his Esercizi di stile di lettura based on the following two-line poem. 

Italian version Translation

Meriggiare pallido e assorto To rest at noon, pale and thoughtful

presso un rovento muro d'orto near a blazing orchard wall

The various styles Paolo Albani uses tio deliver these lines are (in order):

1.  A standard reading

2.  At a fruit and vegetables market in Naples

3.  During a kidnapping attempt

4.  Forward and backwards 

5.  At a Futurist meeting

6.  At a Gregorian mass

7.  As a verdict at a tribunal

8.  During a revolutionary parade

9.  When giving directions

10. At an aristocratic dinner

11. In a silent movie

In the second part of the show three former members of the evangelical cult Jehovah's Witnesses - Ali Millar, Ariel Andersson and myself - share thoughts about their escape from the clutches of this weird cult, and the consolations of literature. Expect revelations.


12. Nudge

From The Guardian (10th Nov 2022)

Nurses among rising numbers of workers using food banks, research shows

Trussell Trust figures reveal one in five referrals to its centres were from households where someone worked

Patrick Butler 

Social policy editor

Nurses, shop assistants and youth workers are among large numbers of people in low-paid jobs forced for the first time to accept charity food parcels to stay afloat as the cost of living crisis transforms the profile of the typical UK food bank user.

Research by the Trussell Trust, Britain’s largest food bank network, found one in in five people referred to its 1,300 food bank centres in the summer were from households where someone worked. It also reported 145,000 families had used its food banks for the first time in recent months, an increase of 40%.

Examples of people in in-work poverty referred to Trussell Trust food banks in recent months include trainee nurses, teaching assistants, factory workers, retail assistants, delivery drivers and hospitality workers.

The Trussell Trust announced on Thursday 10th November it had given out record numbers of food parcels in the six months since April as shrinking incomes and rising bills drove a “tsunami” of need to its food banks. It gave out 1.3m food parcels over the period, a third more than during the same period in 2021.

“These new statistics show that, even in summer months, people are struggling to afford the essentials and we are expecting that this winter will be the hardest yet for food banks and the people they support. This is not right,” said Emma Revie, the Trussell Trust chief executive.

The increasing numbers of people holding down jobs while relying on the trust’s food parcels has persuaded some food banks in its network to open at 8am to allow people referred to them to pick up a food parcel on their way to work.

“Although we have a large proportion of people referred to us who are on benefits, we are seeing more and more people who are working, but whose wages have not increased in line with the rise in the cost of food, fuel and other items needed for a basic living standard,” said Gill Fourie, the operational manager at Blackburn food bank.

She added: “We are talking about anyone who is in a minimum wage job, or people on zero hours contracts. These people are often really struggling.”

Greenwich food bank head Jamie Ginns told the Guardian “lots of new faces were coming through the doors” of food banks, adding: “Basically, anyone that is on under £25,000 a year is in danger of using a food bank.”

Sharron, a youth worker from London in her 30s, told the Guardian she had had to use a Trussell Trust food bank while working part time. “Your dignity and pride takes a blow. You are working, you have a flat – how can you not afford to feed yourself? It strips you of your self-esteem.”

Ironically, the youth project she now works at is to start offering emergency food packages for the parents of some of the youngsters who attend, many of whom are really struggling. She would prefer those families were helped through higher wages but “sometimes there is no time for pride, it’s about survival”.

Five years ago a Trussell-funded study identified lone parents and single males, often on out of work benefits who experienced extreme poverty and often a disability as most likely to use food banks. While they are still heavily reliant on food banks, the new figures suggest they have been joined by an influx of low paid working families.

The trust, which is spending millions of pounds this winter buying food because food donations are not keeping track of rising demand for parcels, is calling on the chancellor to provide a broad package of support for low income families in next week’s budget, including raising benefits next April in line with inflation of 10.1%.

Sabine Goodwin, coordinator of the Independent Food Aid Network, said its 600 organisations including 550 non-Trussell Trust food banks, faced similarly unrelenting demand pressure from struggling families. “Relying on food charity is neither sustainable nor effective at reducing food insecurity,” she said.

A government spokesperson said: “We are directly supporting households in need following the aftershocks from the pandemic and Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine, including sending another Cost of Living Payment this month worth £324 to over 8 million people, part of a £1,200 package for those on the lowest incomes.”

Please support The Trussell Trust!

Make a one-click donation here.

Thank you.


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