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.
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.