Cinnamon Press blog

Background info about projects and other aspects of Cinnamon Press.

Don't Find Your Purpose, Create It

Jan walking along a gas-lit back lane
The cover of Jan's novel, This is the End of the Story
The cover of Jan's novel, A Remedy for All Things

The notion that you are here for some purpose; that all you have to do is discover the one thing hidden deep in the recesses of your soul or psyche in order to fulfil your life's goal or nature or some other externally determined objective, is a pervasive one. An Internet search will bring up many and various ways to discover your purpose with the assumption that there is an esoteric 'very reason why you exist', more colloquially 'what you were put on earth for'. Yet not only are these supposedly deeply-embedded purposes hard to find, most of them seem to be described in sweeping statements so general as to become meaningless. Things like being here 'to bring peace' or 'radiate light'.

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Dream or Drudge?

An irresistible sleeping sickness had Perl in its grip.

Hard to imagine two more different people than Alfred Kubin and Eric Basso. Kubin: print maker, illustrator of the works of Poe and E.T.A. Hoffmann, sometime associate of the Blaue Reiter. Basso a novelist, poet, playwright and critic, a modernist in the best sense of the term, a man located far off the mainstream. Yet, they've both offered visions of societies collapsing under the grip of plagues of sleeping sickness. In Kubin's 1908 novel, The Other Side (quoted above), the sickness gradually overruns the city of Perl, a strange, failing utopia located outside customary space and time. In Basso's 1977 cult classic, The Beak Doctor, the sickness has already consumed an unnamed town whose deserted streets are choked by swirling fog and which teeters on the verge of collapse:

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Nine Essential Ingredients for an Awesome Book Launch

Close up of the book's cover, Tracey Iceton in the background
Jan reading as the seated audience listen attentively
John gesturing, eyes closed, as he reads

I've attended 4 book events in 4 countries in the last ten days and although each one has been completely different from the next, they've all been excellent experiences. From the launch of Landeg White's Ultimatum in iconic Lisbon bookshop, Ler Devagar, to an upstairs room in a pub in the Welsh border town of Presteigne, where myself and Susan Richardson read from several of our poetry collections; from an art-space café/bar in Edinburgh for the launch of Jay Whittaker's debut collection, Wristwatch, to the cosy and well-stocked Drake's bookshop for the launch of the second in Tracey Iceton's Celtic Colours Trilogy, Herself Alone in Orange Rain, there were key ingredients that meant the audiences were delighted, moved and engaged. And books were sold. So what is the magic list that makes a book event work?

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From Lisbon to Hay

A view of the bridge in the distance
Landeg White signing books at the launch of his novel, Ultimatum
Interior of the Libson bookshop where Ultimatum was launched

Lisbon is sleepy and quiet at 8.30 in the morning when I set out in search of breakfast after a good night's sleep in a tiny apartment on Rua Amadeu de Sousa Cardoso. Back at the LS Factory, a complex of restaurants, boutique shops and Livraria ler Devagar, where we launched Landeg White's novel, Ultimatum, last night, the cobbled street between former industrial warehouses and factories is totally deserted. There's a light on in the one café offering breakfast, but they don't open till 9.30 and I've got a plane to catch this morning, so I wander a little further down the hill.

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Maria Jastrzebska on The True Story of Cowboy Hat and Ingenue

Front cover of The True Story of Cowboy Hat and Ingenue
Photo of Maria Jastrzebska standing, gesturing as she reads to an audience
Photo of Maria Jastrzebska sitting, talking to an audience

In this fascinating article, Maria Jastrzębska talks about the genesis and background of her eagerly awaited new book.

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What Rain Taught Me

To celebrate the official launch of her new collection, What Rain Taught Us, at the Cinnamon Summer Picnic in Wirksworth on 2 July, Gail Ashton tells us something of the background of this remarkable new work:

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Approaches to Writing

A photo of Nigel Hutchinson
A photo of Nigel Hutchinson

With the official launch of his debut collection, The Humble Family Interviews, at Waterstone's, Birmingham, this week, Nigel Hutchinson offers some thoughts to the hows and whys of writing.

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High City Walk Shortlisted

The cover of High City Walk

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.

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A Citizen of Nowhere Speaks

In another of our occasional series on the place of writing in the contemporary world, Jez Noond offers an impassioned argument for why art in general is more important than ever …

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Recent Comments
Guest — Jasim
Very well written. Thank you Jez and I totally agree with you.
Wednesday, 01 February 2017 12:56
Guest — jez
Thanks for reading, Jasim.
Wednesday, 01 February 2017 18:35
Guest — Gina Challen
Well said must always be about the Arts crossing all boundaries
Wednesday, 01 February 2017 14:16
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Writing 'Mismapping Todmorden Moor'

The new Liquorice Fish Books anthology, What Lies Within, offers a goodly selection of innovative and unusual works but perhaps the most striking is Judy Kendall's "Mismapping Todmorden Moor" …

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Recent comment in this post
Guest — Nigel Hutchinson
This sounds great in an off-the-wall kind of way - although potentially dangerous ? It is interesting how, thinking we are being l... Read More
Tuesday, 17 January 2017 17:06
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Letters from the Somme

Photo of Glyn Roberts
Photo of Jane Austin standing beside Glyn Roberts' grave
Photo of soldiers and civilians paying tribute at the Royal Welsh Fusiliers' memorial at the Somme

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 …

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Forging Alone: Some Thoughts on why Art Matters

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.

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Ian Gregson and Omar Sabbagh at Kyffin

Ian Gregson talking with Omar Sabbagh
Ian Gregson reading from The Crocodile Princess
Omar Sabbagh reading from Via Negativa

We had a great evening with Ian Gregson, reading from his novel The Crocodile Princess, and Omar Sabbagh reading extracts from his novella, Via Negativa, at the Kyffin café, in Bangor, last night (6th July).

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Launching A Whole Day Through from Waking

happy people with Jacci at her launch
Jacci signing books

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.

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New Mini-competition

We're launching a new mini-competition today — on the theme of "utopia"

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Liquorice Fish Books: a future in an uncertain world?

Liquorice Fish Books logo

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?

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We say: Stay in

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.

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Entering Competitions

Sheila Wild's long-awaited debut collection, Equinox will be released shortly. Here, Sheila talks about the process of entering writing competitions.

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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

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Via Negativa

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.

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