This year's Debut Poetry Collection competition was one of the toughest we've had to adjudicate.
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.
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).
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.