It came as quite a surprise to find my collection, High City Walk, shortlisted for Best Short Story Collection in this year's Saboteur Awards — a very pleasant one, I might add. Voting in currently underway to decide the winner and we'll find out the results on 13 May.
Anjana Chowdhury launched her novel, Under the Pipal Tree at an event organised by the wonderful Irene Hill of in-words. West Greenwich Library was filled to capacity by a very enthusiastic audience who were thoroughly enjoyed what was a warm and captivating launch.
As part of this year's York Literature Festival, three of our novelists took part in a panel discussion about historical novels set during the First World War. Jane Austin (News from Nowhere), Rebecca Gethin (What the Horses Heard) and Marg Roberts (A Time for Peace) joined Jan Fortune to talk about their novels, the process of creating historical fiction and to read extracts from their work before a large and rapt audience.
Jane Austin's gipping World War I novel, News from Nowhere received a warm welcome at its London launch on 15 March. Rowan Fortune introduced the reading — a novel he knows very well as he mentored it as a part of the Cinnamon mentoring programme — talking about the family letters that inspired the book and about the central character, Bronwyn's, development as a result of the upheavals caused by the war.
It was a delight to travel down to Brecon last Friday (10 March), to be with Ruth Bidgood as she read at The Hours bookshop, as part the Brecon Women's Festival, coinciding with International Women's Day. Ruth was once again joined by Mary MacGregor and our own Jan Fortune, to read selections from her wonderful Land-music/Black Mountains collection. The audience hung on her every word — a wonderful reading and a great afternoon.
It's always nice to be able to do a launch at our local bookshop, Hen Bost in Blaeneau Ffestiniog, and last Friday's (24 February) was particularly enjoyable event, with excellent readings by Jane Austin, from her remarkable First World War novel, News from Nowhere, and Jan Fortune, reading extracts from her exquisite new novel, This is the End of the Story.
Last stop on our mini-tour last week was The Albion Beatnik (Saturday, 11 February), Oxford's best bookshop and most charming landmark, where Jan Fortune gave another great reading from her new novel, This is the End of the Story to a packed audience, and Sarah Watkinson read from her wonderful debut pamphlet, Dung Beetles Navigate by Starlight. Many thanks to The Albion's head beatnik, Dennis Harrison, and to everyone who came a long to this very special evening.
Last Friday (10th February) was pretty chilly in London, but we had a warm welcome at The Big Green Bookshop, Wood Green, where we launched both Edward Ragg's second collection, Holding Unfailing, and Omar Sabbagh's latest, To the Middle of Love. Our thanks to the staff of the bookshop and to everyone wo came along to listen to these two remarkable poets.
Jan Fortune launched her gorgeous new novel, This is the End of the Story (described by one reviewer as: "incredible … one of the finest examples of experimental contemporary fiction I have read") at an event organised by the ever-firendly, ever-wonderful Irene Hill of in-words. West Greenwich Library formed the backdrop for this spellbinding reading, which kept a small but very appreciative audience thoroughly gripped.
This year's Debut Poetry Collection competition was one of the toughest we've had to adjudicate.
Ruth Bidgood appeared at the Institute, Llangammarch, on Saturday, 19th November, to give another reading from her new collection, Land-music/Black Mountains. An attentive and appreciative audience thoroughly enjoyed this joint reading from Ruth, her friend Mary MacGregor, and Jan Fortune. It really was a very special event.
After launching John Barnie's new book, we headed across country to Hay-on-Wye and The Poetry Bookshop, to launch Ruth Bidgood's new collection Land-music/Black Mountains on a chilly 5th November evening. A packed audience thoroughly enjoyed readings from ends of this back-to-back double collection, hearing not only Ruth, but her friend Mary MacGregor, and Jan Fortune.
Seems like a long time ago — perhaps it is! — but we thoroughly enjoyed the launch at Aberystwyth Arts Centre's Studio room of John Barnie's new collection, Wind Playing with a Man's Hat, on 3rd November. John was joined by fellow members of Hollow Log (Dilwyn Roberts-Young on harmonica and Richard Marggraf Turley, guitar) for a great evening of poetry and country blues.
On Saturday, 20 October, Jacci Bulman, author of A Whole Day Through From Waking, organised a great poetry festival in her local town, Penrith, Cumbria. A grand total of 17 poets came along on one evening to read their works, share a delicious buffet and mix and meet each other. The event also raised funds for "Forward UK", a charity supporting women in Africa and the UK opposing female genital mutilation, and a local group "Support Uganda", who provide sanitary care for Ugandan schoolgirls, so they can stay in school all month long. The event raised £147, plus great fun and awareness. Jacci said she was inspired to set up the event after reading herself at the "Poetry Swindon" festival, where the friendliness and great atmosphere between poets was something she wanted to bring "up north"! She will be reading next at Keswick WBTW Festival on 7 March, 2017, where she is inviting 8 other great local poets to read with her.