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.
The last launch of October took place at the wonderful A Likely Story bookshop in Tywyn, with both Carole Strachan reading from The Truth in Masquerade and Petina Strohmer launching her novel Entertaining Angels.
The middle of October saw us in Leamington to launch both Marg Robert's impressive First World War novel A Time for Peace. The upstairs of the local Waterstone's was quite packed by the time things began, an attentive and enthusiastic audience enjoying two extracts from the book, the second reading featuring local poet Nigel Hutchinson as a second voice in a very compelling presentation.
It seems like a long time ago but it was only the beginning of October when we were back at the Protico Library, Manchester, to launch both Marton Zarrop's Moving Pictures and Jan Fortune's Turn/Return. It was a great evening, with a fantastic audience who listened closely to both poets and gave them a warm and appreciative welcome.
We launched Black Sheep Cottage, the debut novel by Michelle Angharad Pashley, last night (Friday, 30 September), practically on Cinnamon HQ's doorstep, at the Hen Bost Bookshop in Blaenau Ffestiniog. A sizable and enthusiastic crowd packed the shop to hear Michelle read extracts from the book, share a drink and a chat, and, of course, get their copies of the book signed by the author.
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 …
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.
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.
Our recent course Ty'n y coed had a lot of memorable moments but one that particularly struck us was hearing Tamsin Treverton Jones reading the following article about her own pilgrimage along the Via Francigena. Cinnamon will be publishing more of Tamsin's work in future years but, meanwhile, here's her account in full …
Home again after an extraordinary — and extraordinarily intense — few months out and about, celebrating Cinnamon's Tenth Anniversary. Thursday, last, saw us installed in the Arts Centre Bookshop, Aberystwyth, with a grand line-up of authors (Maria Apichella, John Barnie, Mark Charlton, Matthew Francis, Ian Gregson, Hazel Manuel, Kathy Miles, Elizabeth Porter, Susan Richardson, plus Jan and, er, me!) for a marathon reading to an appreciative and enthusiastic audience — as you can see for yourself by going to the YouTube vid of the evening. It was a great way to round off our celebrations and a tremendous credit to Jan, who has guided, shaped, and nurtured Cinnamon Press into the respected and valued force it is.
We're just back from a stunning week-end at Cinnamon's 10th anniversary bash at the NN Gallery, Northampton. I was lucky enough to lead a workshop on the last day, for a very attentive and enthusiastic group of writers, on the topic of non-linear narratives. During a general discussion of innovative (or "experimental" — you pays your money and takes your choice) writing, I mentioned a couple of books that I'd found helpful and promised to do a short list of titles I've found useful in a future blog. So, without further ado: