Jane McLaughlin launched her excellent debut poetry collection, Lockdown last Saturday, 24 September, at the ever-friendly Made in Greenwich gallery. There was a handsome and very enthusiastic turn-out, the audience enjoying not only two extracts from Jane's book, but a couple of sets from singer-songwriter Bernadette Reed. As ever, our host, Irene Hill, was welcoming and eternally helpful, and we'd like to offer our thanks to her as well as all who came along to this wonderful, special evening.
Exactly 100 years ago this month, Welsh Fusilier, 21-year-old Glyn Roberts fell at La Boiselle in the opening incursions of the Battle of the Somme. His battalion, the 9th Royal Welsh Fusiliers, engaged in an attack 'regardless of loss'. Glyn was killed on 3rd July 1916, days before the ensuing battle of Mametz Wood. A collection of moving letters home to his mother and sisters are the inspiration behind Jane Austin's debut novel, News from Nowhere. To honour the memory of her great uncle, Jane journeyed with the South Wales Western Front Association to the Somme battlefields for a memorial ceremony on the centenary of one of the bloodiest battles in British military history. The emotional trip resulted in Jane receiving, for the first time, a message that never reached her family at the time. This is her account of the extraordinary pilgrimage …
You may have noticed, the Cinnamon web site has been suffering from gremlins the last couple of days … in fact, it was suffering from not being there at all when what should have been routine alterations to the web server turned into a crisis and a search around half the globe for the one man who could help us fix the probelm (I kid you not — and a big thank you to Armin Osmancevic for taking time from a holiday in SE Asia to bale us out).
As the memory of two world wars and Hiroshima — great crimes against humanity on any, on every scale — slips into chapters of just more unbelievable history, it seems my generation, which has only known the voluntary expeditionary wars of our times, has decided to forge alone.
My book launch-party was a truly happy celebration, which meant I could 'launch' my book almost like pushing a boat out to sea, at last, after years of hard preparation and literal crafting. It went with a good crash of the bubbly! Creating this collection has been about not just editing so carefully every word and comma — with the invaluable help of Jan, as my editor — but also making the poems work together, in a sequence that hopefully flows into each other.
We're to announce that the annual short story prize has been adjudicated. The competition attracted a large number of entrants, so deliberations have been long but enjoyable, with many fine stories to consider and weigh up. This year's judge, Cinnamon's own Adam Craig, had a tough struggle deciding the top places, but he's made his decision, and here it is:
Just one more Cinnamon reading before the summer break and it promises to be a particularly good one: Ian Gregson reading from his novel The Crocodile Princess and Omar Sabbagh reading from Via Negativa — both great books and both authors highly entertaining in person. Promises to be a standout evening … so why miss out?
The result of the EU referendum has left many people frightened, bewildered, and deeply confused as to what is going to happen to them, their families and livelihoods, this country, and Europe as a whole. The Artuo Ui-meets-Père Ubu rise of Trump as US presidential candidate only mirrors the Absurdist figures of England's Farage and Johnson and creates an inescapable sense that the world, once again, has gone insane. In the face of these uncertainties and threats, can one, small imprint respond? Can, and should, Liquorice Fish Books, even attempt to continue, or should it bow to the scale of these changes, admit its irrelevance, and disappear?
At Peirene Press, Meike Viervogel has been gathering signatories from literary and cultural organisations in support of Britain staying within the EU. There is a range of arguments on whether to stay in or leave Europe, but at Cinnamon Press we are with Meike and her colleagues in maintaining that any isolationist impulse is culturally destructive.
It was a tremendous pleasure to return to the Made in Greenwich Gallery last Wednesday (16 March), not least to hear Alex Josephy reading from her pamphlet, Other Blackbirds, but also to see Omar Sabbagh as we officially launched his extraordinary novella, Via Negativa. Alex brought a roomful of people to support her and they all stayed on, listened attentively and were utterly won over by Omar's reading – they bought plenty of books, by both authors, too. So, congratulations to Alex, but most especially to Omar. A wonderful evening.
Patricia Debney's powerful and personal narrative sequence, Baby will be with us soon. Described by Jane Monson as mirroring with a precise and unflinching hand the stuff of life at its most human, Baby is an honest and striking examination of relationships and our struggle to both navigate and make sense of them. In this post, Patricia candidly discusses the work's origins and the process of its writing
Omar Sabbagh's extraordinary first prose work, Via Negativa: a parable of exile is launched this month. Subtle, layered, filled with beautiful prose and imagery, the novella is both an evocation of its central location, the city of Beirut, and a remarkable display of literary prowess that, nevertheless, never lets its verbal and thematic dexterity overwhelm the human and humane story at its heart. A truly beguiling and stunning debut novella, here Omar discusses the work's themes and influences.
As some of you probably already know, Cinnamon holds writing weeks in the idylic surroundings of Ty'n y coed, in the Conwy valley, every spring and autumn. To give a flavour of this year's spring sessions, here are the impressions of one of the writers who attended the course, Nick Jones:
The theme 'dark interiors' brought in a diverse and intriguing selection of microfictions and poetry, with a huge contingent that focussed on painful memories and disturbed childhoods. The strongest pieces were the subtlest; those that took an oblique look at the subject and produced something fresh.
In the depths of a cold North Welsh January, replete with storms, fourteen writers and three tutors met at Ty'n y coed in two consecutive groups of seven students to celebrate a year of intensive mentoring and to look at how far the work had come over that year.