Saturday 16 September 2023

One-to-one with Dan O'Brien

Tuesday December 5th at 7pm UK time

Join American poet and playwright Dan O'Brien live online at his home in California for an evening (or morning) of poetry, prose and performance. This is the first time in over 150 gatherings that we've devoted an entire programme to one living author and that should come as no surprise - Dan is a swell bunch of guys. 

The programme will be in three parts, opening with prose poems from Survivor's Notebook, then the memoir From Scarsdale followed by a performance of extracts from Dan's forthcoming play Newtown, which will be published in March 2024 by CB editions. There will be time for questions from the audience.

If you're not already on the mailing list and would like to join the audience for this free event, please leave your email address in the comments section below and I'll be in touch.

This is the final programme in a year-long series of monthly gatherings called The Butcher's Dozen, which has featured some of the most original and exciting contemporary writers including Ariel Anderssen, Wes Brown, Kevin Boniface, Paul Griffiths, Lars Iyer, Todd McEwen and Faruk Séhič. (We'll be back for one more event on Thursday 28th December - so please keep that date in your diary.)


Dan is an internationally produced and published playwright, poet, librettist, and nonfiction writer whose recognition in playwriting includes a Guggenheim Fellowship and two PEN America Awards. The Body of an American, O’Brien’s play about the Battle of Mogadishu and the haunting of war reporter Paul Watson, was co-produced off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre by Primary Stages and Hartford Stage (New York Times Critic’s Pick), at the Gate Theatre in London, and at various theaters around the UK and the US. The Body of an American received the Edward M. Kennedy Prize, the Horton Foote Prize, the Weissberger Award, and was shortlisted for an Evening Standard Award. 

O’Brien’s poetry collections are War Reporter (winner of the UK’s Fenton Aldeburgh Prize & shortlisted for the Forward Foundation’s Felix Dennis Prize), Scarsdale, New Life, Our Cancers, and his latest, Survivor’s Notebook. His memoir, From Scarsdale, and a trilogy of his docudramas, True Story, were published in 2023 by Dalkey Archive Press. 

In early 2024, Poetry London will publish a pamphlet of his poems, and CB Editions will publish his play-in-verse Newtown. O’Brien lives in Los Angeles with his wife, actor and writer Jessica St. Clair, and their daughter Isobel.

Recent and forthcoming publication

Survivor’s Notebook (poems) from Acre Books 

From Scarsdale: A Childhood (memoir) from Dalkey Archive Press 

True Story: A Trilogy (plays) from Dalkey Archive Press 

Newtown forthcoming from from CB Editions (London) in March 2024

Flying on Easter, a new pamphlet  from Poetry London (2024)

You can buy three of Dan's earlier poetry collections from his UK publisher CB editions here:

War Reporter


New Life


Sunday 26th November at 6pm UK time

Istros Books present FARUK ŠEHIĆ

Istros Books was set up in 2011 in order to publish and promote literature in translation from Central and SE Europe. In its short history, it has managed to prove itself at the forefront of discovering and promoting exciting new works, ranging from essays and flash fiction to historical novels.

They are proud to continue their commitment to publishing fresh and exciting works in English translation.

SUSAN CURTIS founder of Istros Books, presents an event showcasing one of her authors, the celebrated Bosnian poet Faruk Šehić, who will be joined by his translator/publisher and David Howard, a poet in his own right who helped to edit this collection. 


1. Welcome and Introduction 

2. Susan Curtis on Istros Books and the geneSIS of this new collection

3. David Collard reads Ungaretti's poem 'River' which inspired the title and collection

4. Susan and Faruk discuss the process of translation, with readings

5. Susan introduces the poet David Howard, one of the editors of thIS collection, who will discuss his connection with the region, and his words of endorsement for the book: 

        'My Rivers is fed from the headwater of the Bosnian war by memories that mix and dissolve in the estuary of our 
        present.  Sometimes Faruk Šehić's swirling words are expansive and deep; at other times his language narrows, 
        silted by mourning, but such wetlands are generative. This poetry is fresh water that carries vital salts and 
        nutrients to us.'

6. A discussion of David's 'Tarara' poems, which link Dalmatia and New Zealand. A reading of selected parts of his 'Mate'  

7. General discussion and Q & A


FARUK ŠEHIĆ was born in 1970 in Bihać, in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Until the outbreak of war in 1992, he studied veterinary medicine in Zagreb. However, the then 22-year-old voluntarily joined the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in which he led a unit of 130 men. 

After the war he studied literature and has gone on to create his own literary works. Literary critics have hailed Šehić as the leader of the ‘mangled generation’ of writers born in 1970s Yugoslavia, and his books have achieved cult status with readers across the whole region. His collection of short stories Under Pressure (Pod pritiskom, 2004) was awarded the Zoro Verlag Prize. His debut novel Quiet Flows the Una (Knjiga o Uni, 2011) received the Meša Selimović prize for the best novel published in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Croatia in 2011 and the EU Prize for Literature in 2013. 

He lives in Sarajevo and works as a columnist and journalist. His most recent  poetry collection is entitled My Rivers (Moje rijeke, Buybook, 2014) for which he received Risto Ratković Award for the best poetry book in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Croatia in 2014, and Annual award from Association of Writers of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

His books have been translated into 15 languages and published in 19 countries.

Thursday 14 September 2023

        Sunday 8th October 6-7pm UK time  

If you can't get along to the live London launch in Brixton on Friday 6th October DO NOT DESPAIR - we're going to do it all over again live online on Sunday night 

                                       Sports and Social 

                                                                   by Kevin Boniface

Sports and Social is a collection of short stories about the remarkable everyday things that happen when remarkable everyday people get together.


                        It's not what you think, it rarely is, so flick the remains of your rubbish cigarette 

                        down the drain and don't pay too much attention to the rumours. Things have 

                        been going missing from the bedroom of the woman with the purple eye shadow. 

                        Stewart tries to pull in the punters at the ailing nightclub by installing a car 

                        park diorama of gorillas and meerkats. Meanwhile, Yvonne gets a new job 

                        and nobody knows what's happened to Daz. At Jonnie Rabbett's shooting 

                        club, Barbara 'Bunny' Rabbett dispenses pork pies and sage advice, "It'll 

                        be right, love." Vincent smokes cigarettes, smells of paint and finally gets 

                        to the bottom of what exactly happened to Dame Judy. He must ring Kirsten 

                        and let her know!

Programme (starts at 6pm and runs for an hour)

1. Introduction 

2. Kevin reads from Sports and Social 

3. What’s the Story? The world premiere of a new short film by Kevin Boniface

4.  Joanne Lee in conversation with the author

5. Home James, featuring Huddersfield's second most famous son

6. Another reading if there's time 

7. No end of skylarking

Order your copy of Sports and Social direct from the publisher here:

If you're not already on the mailing list for one-off online and live gatherings, and feel left out, contact me via my website:

Wednesday 13 September 2023

                        Friday 22nd September 6-7:15pm UK time  

                                                          LIVE ONLINE

                               Join us to celebrate the publication of


              My Weil by Lars Iyer 

A scathingly funny look at a group of quirky graduate students majoring in Disaster Studies who are forced to reconsider their cynicism when they confront a new student who, remarkably, has the same name as the 20th Century Catholic mystic philosopher Simone Weil

My Weil follows a group of twenty-something PhD students of the new-fangled subject Disaster Studies at an i
nferior university in Manchester, England, the post-industrial city of so much great music and culture. They’re working class, by turns underconfident and grandiose (especially when they drink) and are reconciled to never finishing their dissertations or finding academic jobs.

Into their midst arrives Simone Weil, a PhD student, a version of the twentieth century philosopher, who becomes the unlikely star of their film. Simone is devout, ascetic, intensely serious, and busy with risky charity work with the homeless. Valentine, hustler-philosopher, recognises Simone as a fellow would-be saint. But Gita, Indian posh-girl, is what’s with Simone’s nun-shoes? And Marcie (AKA Den Mom), the leader of the pack, is too busy with her current infatuation, nicknamed Ultimate Destruction Girl, to notice.

The narrator, Johnny, who was brought up in care and is psychologically fragile, and deeply disturbed by the poverty of his adopted city, gradually falls in love in Simone. But will his love be requited? Will Simone be able to save the souls of her new friends and Manchester itself from apocalypse?


1. Introduction by Tom Clayton of Melville House

2.  Lars Iyer’s first reading

3.  Lars and Tom in conversation

4.  Joy Division 'Isolation': 

5.  Vik Shirley reads poems inspired by Ian Curtis / in conversation with Tom Jenks of zimZalla

6.   Joy Division 'Ceremony': 

7.   Lars and C.D. Rose in conversation

8.   Lars gives a second reading

9.   Q&A

7:15  End

Contributors notes (in order of appearance)

Tom Clayton

Tom Clayton is Publishing Manager at Melville House UK. He is the author of When Quiet Was the New Loud: Celebrating the Acoustic Airwaves 1998-2003 (Route Publishing, 2021) and was the lead researcher and writer for Messing Up the Paintwork: The Wit and Wisdom of Mark E. Smith (Ebury, 2018). He lives in St. Leonards-on-Sea.

Lars Iyer

Lars Iyer is a Reader in Creative Writing at Newcastle University, where he was formerly a longtime lecturer in philosophy. He is the author of the novels in the Spurious trilogy (Melville House, 2011-13) and more recently, the widely acclaimed Wittgenstein Jr. (Melville House, 2014) and Nietzsche and the Burbs (Melville House2019). He lives in Newcastle.

Vik Shirley

Vik Shirley is a poet, writer and editor from Bristol now living in Edinburgh. Her publications include The Continued Closure of the Blue Door (HVTN) and Corpses (Sublunary Editions). Strangers Wave: Joy Division Photo Poems (zimZalla) and Notes from the Underworld (Sublunary Editions) are forthcoming this Autumn. She has a PhD in Dark Humour and the Surreal from the University of Birmingham.

C. D. Rose

C. D. Rose is author of The Biographical Dictionary of Literary Failure (Melville House, 2014), Who’s Who When Everyone Is Someone Else (Melville House, 2018), The Blind Accordionist (Melville House, 2021), and the forthcoming story collection Walter Benjamin Stares at the Sea (Melville House, 2024). He lives in Hebden Bridge.