Love Audio Week: This Poem Here

To conclude our #LoveAudio blog series, here is an extract from the remarkable poetry collection, This Poem Here by Rob Walton.

Arachne Press Director, Cherry Potts, recently said of This Poem Here: “At the start of lockdown, Rob Walton was responding to the anxieties and absurdities of the Corona Virus crisis by writing poetry. He published a lot of these poems on social media, as real-time responses to the latest news. Watching and enjoying them from afar, I approached Rob to publish them as a book. We were in conversation about this project when Rob’s dad sadly died from Covid. The poems in the collection then took a radical turn, delving into rage, sorrow and grief. I can’t imagine a more appropriate collection to have published in this ‘you-couldn’t-make-it-up’ era.”

Full of tears, laughter, biting political satire and Geordie grammar, these are poems that are meant to be read aloud. Here is ‘And in Lockdown’:

You can also watch Rob Walton reading some of the collection in the video from the online launch of This Poem Here: https://youtu.be/sNijjLH4zB0  (be warned, he made many of us cry!).

#LoveAudio is the Publisher’s Association annual week-long digital celebration of audiobooks is designed to showcase the accessibility, innovation, and creativity of the format. Follow the hashtag on twitter.

Cover reveal for May17th

17th May is International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, and to celebrate, we are revealing the cover of upcoming poetry collection, A Voice Coming from Then by Jeremy Dixon, which is published at the end of August.

cover design by Rachel Marsh Semple Press

This is Jeremy’s first full collection, after his pamphlet In Retail a couple of year’s back.

A Voice Coming from Then deals honestly and straightforwardly with homophobic bullying and a youthful suicide attempt, through the presence of Spring-Heeled Jack, a demon of Victorian urban myth. It is illustrated with Jeremy’s collages of family photographs, and also contains statistics and much needed resources.

I don’t mind admitting I cried over the manuscript.

A Voice Coming from Then will also be available as an Audiobook!

 

Here’s one of the poems as a taster.

 

Upcoming Events – Summer 2021

Launch of Incorcisms by David Hartley, and 100neHundred by Laura Besley – May 27th 2021 

You can get tickets here, free; or for £8.99 to include a copy of ONE of the books; or for £17.98 to include a copy of BOTH books.  Books will be sent post free.

The evening will include readings by, and chats with, Laura and David, and they will also be joined by the narrators of their respective audiobooks.  Also, THERE WILL BE CAKE (BYO): we’d like you to join us in celebrating the launch by baking (or buying) cake to eat during the event, and drinking lemonade (the reason behind lemonade drinking will be made clear on the night!).   

There will be Q&A opportunities throughout the event, and even a chance to write your own 100 word story.  So put your thinking caps on, and start making a note of all those burning questions about flash/short story/micro fiction or anything else you may wish to know about these writers and their work.  And dust off those notebooks and pens.

You can also (pre-)order the books now from our Webshop.

Arachne at Brockley Max Online – May 30th, 31st and June 1st, 2nd and 3rd 2021

This year we are running THREE events at this brilliant community arts festival, as well as hosting an evening of readings by Writers of our Age (WooA).  All events can be booked through Eventbrite (see individual links below).

May 30th, 16:00 BST – Keeping Up With Paper and Pencil

Catch Clare Owen, author of our recent YA novel, Zed and the Cormorants, in conversation with Sally Atkins, who did the beautiful illustrations for Clare’s book.  Entitled Keeping Up With Paper and Pencil, Clare and Sally will discuss creating vivid characters through words and images – so one for both writers and artists.  They’ll share their notebooks, sketches, extracts from the novel and new ways to get characters up on their feet and ready to sprint off the page. 

You can get tickets here, free; or for £10 to include a copy of the book.

May 31st, 19:00 BST – Short, Flash, Poem? 

Join Arachne authors Laura Besley (100neHundred), David Hartley (Incorcisms) and poet Rob Walton (This Poem Here) for an evening of readings and discussions dealing with issues around their chosen literary forms and touching on questions such as, do authors know what a piece will be when they start writing it?  When is flash a prose poem?  Do poems sometimes change into stories? How dark does fantasy have to be to qualify as horror, and is it allowed to be funny?

You can get tickets here, free; or for £8.99 to include a copy of ONE of the books.

June 2nd, 19:00 BST – Imagined Spaces – A Writer’s Approach to Place

Join authors and ex-Brockley residents, Lily Peters and Jackie Taylor for readings and discussion around the use of ‘place’ in their forthcoming titles with Arachne, Accidental Flowers (Lily) and Strange Waters (Jackie).

You can get tickets here, free; or for £9.99 to include a copy of ONE of the books.

June 3rd, 19:30 – WooA – Back in the Water

Join Writers of our Age (WOOA), a well established, published mix of local writers, for readings of specially written stories under the heading ‘Back in the Water’.

You can get tickets here, free.

New titles and open calls

We’ve just started looking at the submissions for our anthologies and have decided on titles, for books which were just anthology shaped holes in the schedule – which somehow makes them feel so much more real!

You can now look forward to:

What Meets the Eye? The Deaf Perspective (September 2021) edited by Lisa Kelly and Sophie Stone
and
Where We Find Ourselves (October 2021) edited by Laila Sumpton and Sandra A Agard
and (without looking at submissions, as the call is still open)
Words From the Brink: Stories and Poems from Solstice Shorts Festival 2021 (December 2021)

Now we can think about cover design.

I’ve just noticed how many of our titles start with W!

Online Launch and readings for This Poem Here

This Poem Here cover image Paul Summers

On Wednesday 24th March at 7.30pm we have the launch for Rob Walton’s debut collection This Poem Here. Rob will be joined by Will Teller.

Tickets are available free, or for £9 to include the book, plus a £1.30 transaction fee, but to make up for that, we will post the book to you for free.

The following day, Thursday 25th March at 7.30pm, (which is the official publication day) Rob is reading at One Year On, an online poetry event marking the anniversary of lockdown, alongside Rosie Johnston, Alex Josephy, Colin Pink and Jacqueline Saphra. This is a free event and the link can be got from the organiser Irena Hill.

The Audio book will be out a month after the physical and e-books. More news as we have it.

Submission call for UK Deaf Short Story Writers and Poets for ‘Movement’ anthology

BSL version of this page signed for us by Marcel Hirshman of WealdBSL

DEADLINE EXTENDED TO FRIDAY 23RD APRIL 23:59

Arachne Press is planning an anthology of fiction and poetry by Deaf and hard-of-hearing writers, which will be produced as a printed book, an eBook and a series of videos. The eBook will contain links to the videos, which will also be on the Arachne Website, and probably YouTube.

Our editors are Lisa Kelly (co-editor of Magma 69, The Deaf Issue; co-Chair of Magma Poetry, first collection A Map Towards Fluency published by Carcanet) and Sophie Stone (RADA trained Actor, Writer: Paine’s Plough, The Bunker, BBC Radio 3 and Co-founder of DH Ensemble theatre Co)

We have chosen the theme of movement, to fit with our overarching theme for this year and next, of ‘maps and mapping.’

You can interpret this however you want,  and we’ve been thinking about movement as communication and connection, mobility, and stillness, being moved emotionally, movement within and after Lockdown, freedom of movement, and being part of a political movement – so we are open to all your ideas… Except! NO Erotica, horror, gratuitous violence, sexism, racism, or homophobia.

We actively encourage submissions from underrepresented voices, including ethnically diverse writers, LGBTQ writers, writers with experience of multiple socio-economic deprivation and women writers.

You can apply in written English, or by video in BSL, SSE or whatever UK based form of sign you wish; or in writing and sign. We will pay royalties, and there will also be paid work translating/performing the BSL output from this project.

We will be translating everything that arrives signed into English, and we will also be translating everything that arrives written, into BSL. We will discuss with you in detail so that we get these translations right.

If your work is chosen and you want to do the signed version yourself, it will depend on the state of lockdown, and on your own technical skills with a camera; we will do our best, but we don’t want to put anyone at risk. If you don’t want to sign your own work, or it isn’t possible due to lockdown etc,  we will use a signing Deaf actor/translator.

For the submission just use a phone to video yourself and send us a file no bigger than 400mb. If your file is larger, let us know and we will arrange an alternative method.

You can send us one story of up to 2000 words/15 minutes of signing, and up to 3 poems around 650 words/5 minutes each which total up to 2000 words/15 minutes of signing, or 1 poem and 1 story.

We would prefer that the work be unpublished, but if you have published something that is a perfect fit, we will consider it, provided you hold the copyright.

Publication planned for November 2021

All submissions via https://arachnepress.submittable.com/submit, where you can also find submission calls for Global Majority writers,  should that apply to you.

Welsh writers A470 Bilingual Welsh-English Poetry Anthology Submission Call

We are looking for poems linked to The A470

Mae gwasg Arachne Press yn eich gwahodd i gynnig cerddi gwreiddiol sy’n gysylltiedig efo’r A470 ar gyfer blodeugerdd.

draft cover. Image by Sarah Hopkins

Arguably the most famous road in Wales, the A470 is 186 miles from shore to shore through the backbone of Wales, linking north to south. Peaceful and picturesque or slow and never-ending, what does the A470 mean to you? The road out of here, the road home, the beginnings of devolution? Glorious national parks, bypasses, being stuck behind a certain lorry firm or worse, a caravan, the road to the Royal Welsh? From the seashore to slates, from nuclear power stations and fighter plane flypasts to forests and mountains: Bwlch yr Oerddrws, Pen Y Fan. On the road or on a journey, there’s no need to take the A470 too literally.

Be ydi’r A470 i chi – siwrne dawel trwy harddwch Cymru neu daith araf a diddiwedd? Ai hon yw’r ffordd i adael, neu’r ffordd adref, neu ddechrau datganoli? Parciau Cenedlaethol, ffyrdd osgoi, llusgo mynd tu ôl i lori neu waeth fyth garafán, y ffordd i’r Sioe Frenhinol? Traethau, chwareli, pwerdai niwclear, awyrennau rhyfel, coedwigoedd, mynyddoedd, Bwlch yr Oerddrws, Pen y Fan? Taith ddiriaethol ar y tarmac neu daith o fath gwahanol? Does dim rhaid dehongli’r A470 yn llythrennol.

Arachne Press’ first foray into Welsh language poetry came from the publication of Ness Owen’s Mamiaith (Mother Tongue). We enjoyed the translation process both Welsh to English and English to Welsh and we’re back for more, with Ness and fellow editor Sian Northey, who helped with those translations, at the helm. (Sian takes credit for the brilliant A470 idea.) This is part of our plan for the next three years and we anticipate publication in March 2022. You may also be interested in our anthologies for BME writers and deaf writers.

Mentrodd Arachne Press, gwasg fechan yn Llundain, i fyd cyhoeddi barddoniaeth Gymraeg am y tro cyntaf trwy gyhoeddi Mamiaith gan Ness Owen. Fe wnaethom fwynhau’r broses o gyfieithu’r cerddi o Gymraeg i Saesneg ac o Saesneg i Gymraeg, felly dyma ni’n ôl yn awyddus i wneud mwy dan ofal Ness a’i chyd-olygydd Sian Northey (awgrym Sian oedd y teitl A470). Mae hyn yn rhan o’n cynllun ar gyfer y tair blynedd nesaf ac rydym yn rhagweld y byddwn yn cyhoeddi’r gyfrol yn Mawrth 2022. Byddwn hefyd yn cyhoeddi blodeugerddi eraill – cerddi Albanaidd, cerddi gan feirdd BAME a cherddi gan feirdd b/Byddar – gyda ‘Mapio’ yn thema gyffredinol i’r cyfan.

Sian Northey & Ness Owen

We want unpublished poems from Welsh poets wherever you are, and all other poets living in Wales. We are looking for the unanticipated: sensitive poems, or poems that challenge, in traditional forms and new forms. NO Erotica, horror, gratuitous violence, sexism, racism, or homophobia. We actively encourage submissions from underrepresented voices, including ethnically diverse poets, LGBTQ poets, poets with disabilities, poets with experience of multiple socio-economic deprivation and women poets.

Rydym yn edrych am gerddi sydd heb eu cyhoeddi eisoes, gan feirdd Cymraeg a Chymreig lle bynnag maent yn byw, a beirdd sydd yn byw yng Nghymru. Rydym yn edrych am wreiddioldeb: cerddi teimladwy, neu gerddi sy’n herio, cerddi caeth neu gerddi rhydd. NI fyddwn yn derbyn erotica, arswyd, trais dianghenraid, rhywiaeth, hiliaeth, na homoffobia. Rydym yn annog cyfraniadau gan leisiau sydd yn cael eu tangynrychioli, gan gynnwys beirdd o gefndiroedd ethnig amrywiol, beirdd LGBTQ, beirdd â phrofiad o amddifadedd economaidd-gymdeithasol, a menywod.

This will be a fully bilingual anthology, celebrating the magnificence of both languages, and the artistry of both poets and translators. Poems may be submitted in Welsh, English or in both languages. Poems that are submitted in one language only will be translated – either by the poet themselves or experienced translators, including our editor, Sian Northey.

Bydd hon yn flodeugerdd gyfan gwbl ddwyieithog, yn dathlu gwychder y ddwy iaith, ac yn dathlu doniau beirdd a chyfieithwyr. Gallwch gynnig cerddi yn Gymraeg, yn Saesneg, neu yn y ddwy iaith. Bydd cerddi sy’n cael eu derbyn mewn un iaith yn unig yn cael eu cyfieithu – gan y bardd ei hun neu gan gyfieithwyr profiadol gan gynnwys Sian Northey, un o’r golygyddion.

We aim to give Welsh and English equal weight and the translations will be laid out side by side. This does mean each poem, regardless of language, can only be 27 lines including title and spaces between stanzas. We have room for a maximum of 50 poems plus their translation.

Y nod yw trin y ddwy iaith yn gyfartal ac fe fydd y cyfieithiadau yn cael eu gosod ochr yn ochr â’r gwreiddiol. Golyga hyn na all yr un gerdd, na’i chyfieithiad, fod yn fwy na 27 llinell, gan gynnwys y teitl a’r bylchau rhwng penillion. Bydd lle yn y gyfrol ar gyfer uchafswm o 50 o gerddi a’u cyfieithiadau.

We will pay royalties. Tell us you are interested in either language or both.

Telir breindal i’r beirdd, ond mae’n annhebygol y bydd tâl o flaen llaw am y cerddi – bydd hynny’n dibynnu ar y nawdd a dderbynnir. Gadewch i ni wybod a oes genych ddiddordeb cyfrannu cerdd/cerddi trwy’r ddolen Gallwch gysylltu â ni yn Gymraeg neu Saesneg.

We much prefer work that is unpublished but if you have a published piece that is a perfect fit, we will consider it. Please submit 1-3 poems.Rydym yn ffafrio gwaith sydd heb ei gyhoeddi, ond os oes ganddoch gerdd wedi’i chyhoeddi sy’n ffitio’n berffaith rydym yn fodlon ei hystyried. Gallwch gynnig 1-3 cerdd.

Submit here deadline 6th April 2021

Call for submissions for UK resident writers of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic heritage on the theme of ‘maps and mapping

Arachne Press is planning an anthology of fiction and poetry from UK resident writers of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic heritage. Publication will be October 2021. We will pay royalties. Once published in an Arachne anthology you may be invited to submit a collection or novel.

Our Editors:

Laila Sumpton and Sandra Agard

Laila Sumpton [recently the Keats House poet in residence who has edited poetry anthologies for the University of London, the Royal Free Hospital and Ministry of Stories] will be our poetry editor, and Sandra A. Agard [Professional storyteller, poet, short story writer, playwright, cultural historian, literary consultant, resident writer/reader and creative writing facilitator for over forty years] will be our fiction editor.We look forward to receiving new work from across the country and are excited to discover voices new and familiar.

  • Poets can enter two poems maximum of under 50 lines.
  • Short story writers can enter one story of up to 2000 words.
  • All work in English and unpublished
  • We will accept translation if it is of your own work.
  • All entries will be read by the editors.
  • No entry fee.

We have an overarching theme for all our anthologies for the next 12-18 months of ‘maps and mapping’. You do not need to take this in any way literally – ‘the map is not the territory.’

Consider new lands, homelands, boundaries – real or imaginary; journeys, ideas of territory and ‘your place’. Landmarks and directions, roots and routes, (dis)location and getting lost – the possibilities are (almost!) endless.

Deadline for submissions 14th April 2021

final decisions will be made by 14th May 2021

submit here

Review of No Spider Harmed by Rachael Smart

This has been hiding in a corner of our web, with the intention of finding a magazine to take it, but the world doesn’t quite work like that, so here it is, front and centre. Thanks Rachael!

Spiders frequently get bad press but according to folklore, the spider represents strong feminine energy, creativity and strength. Perceived to be portents of good luck I have long cherished the spider who lives in my car’s right-hand wing mirror, a miniscule and fine-legged specimen who shivers on her web whilst withstanding the most turbulent of journeys.  On cool autumn mornings there is nothing more beautiful to my camera than the belly of the sun bringing hundreds of dew-laden spider webs into plain view.

To celebrate eight years of publishing, Arachne Press are quite aptly celebrating their success with an anthology of spider literature. This volume of poetry and short fiction explores all things spider at close range, a reading experience which lends itself to being mutually magnifying and yet strangely distorting in its small world exploration of darkly haired creatures who straddle the borders of good and evil, of myth and folklore, of past and present. Crucially, nature meets with human in these narratives full of imagination. Skewered perspectives turn myth and stereotypes on their heads to bring readers the type of spiders that literature needs.

Stella Wulf’s Femmes Fatales is a five-stanza poem which personifies the spider via the timescale of human life from childhood through to adolescence, then adulthood followed by two climax stanzas in which we view the spider’s attack. It is akin to watching a nature documentary in which the spider’s life plays out before viewer’s eyes as we watch the courtship, the struggle. The female as both human and spider is located firmly in the male gaze and potent in the possession of her aesthetic power. The protagonist’s mother warns: it takes more than long legs / and fine bones, to get on in life. Here, we find a girl in adolescence who learns to climb proficiently and challenge social expectations yet discovers her ability to manipulate men reigns supreme. Assonance is shot through this poem, a soft assured chain of stealthy words that sound out the spider’s attack: ‘slip of silk’ ‘see them squirm’ ‘subdued’ ‘watch them sleep’ ‘spin my dreams’’ ‘skitter light’. This is a stunning poem dense with sibilance and sound which echoes that of the spider’s slow seduction of the fly and concludes fittingly: with the female triumphant.

Natalie Rowe’s If You Kill a Spider, the Rain Will Come is a touching poem about the significance a spider takes on following the loss of a father. The weight of grief is beautifully threaded through the close daily observations of a house spider. Longing for conversation, the protagonist:  ‘…began to talk to her / wishing her a good hunt’  As winter approaches, so comes dependence:  ‘I could not stand to lose/ one more  living thing.’ Grief is projected onto the spider’s survival as substitution for the loss of a father and fuelled by a desire to nurture her pet with cockroaches and flies to prevent further loss. Rowe captures that colossal fear post-death of having no control over external factors and exhibits quite painfully, in this tender piece, how we attempt to cling to hope and how futile our caring tendencies can be.

Phoebe Demeger’s Clearing Out the Shed is a flash fiction which features a narrator sorting out her parent’s shed before the house is occupied by a new family. Emotional restraint in the voice ensures that not all of history is given up, allowing the reader to fill the white space with their own interpretation of the parent’s last decade in the building. Setting is conveyed as stagnant and freeze-framed, the protagonist reluctant to ‘disturb the tomb-like atmosphere’ as though the undisturbed spiders in the shed are guarding her parent’s ghosts. A transitional story threaded through with nostalgia and loss, and yet, also, silvery beginnings, and the spiders who seem to represent guardians.

Elizabeth Hopkinson’s piece, Web of Life, draws on the myth of Arachne the weaver who challenged Athena to a tapestry duel and was subsequently turned into a spider. This is such an acoustic story which draws on crochet instructions to convey the process of web making: Chain four. Double crochet. Slip one. Repeat.  The repetitive labour of humans crocheting is closely associated with the spider’s spooling, a sound which can be heard and soothes the ears. A web big enough for the world is created, a handiwork way beyond any spider’s web. This is no lair but a safe house for all of nature’s winged creatures: Silver-Spotted Skipper, Adonis Blue. Hazel Pot Beetle. Language is used so economically, here, but the authentic species names and the specifics of the weaving process gives this small but global story an energy of its own.

This is an inspired and diverse collection of poetry and fiction which sharpens the focus of the lens on the life of the spider. Small-world is magnified for readers who get to see nature in action and often from slant perspectives. Sacred value is given to arthropods who inject their venom and snare with silk, who protect and guide, who attack and seduce, and in seeking out such a range of literary imaginations, the spider really is given new legs.

And now for some GOOD News

We could all do with some cheer in the bleak days of January, especially this year, so courtesy of Arts Council England, we are here to do just that.

We are the proud and happy recipients of a £45,000 grant from Arts Council England

This will pay for our next ten books, and (drum roll) audio books! Which means we can smack Covid on the nose by providing another way to enjoy our books without leaving home, and provide some work to actors who aren’t allowed into a theatre just now. I’m anticipating it will also be huge fun. Putting the plans together now with our audiobook partner Listening Books

Thanks to everyone who gave us their thoughts on whether this was the right way to go. It’s one of the fastest growing sectors in literature, but it’s tough to get right, and harder still to market, so the funding will also pay for …

A part-time marketing person, and a (separate) part-time admin person for a few months, so that I can concentrate on finding and supporting new writers and guest editors. We will be advertising these posts very soon. They will be remote working, so if you think that could be you, start polishing your CV, but don’t send anything until you see the advertisment please!

The Books

The books that are being supported by the ACE grant are:

This Poem Here – Poetry collection by Rob Walton (Just the audio book, as we’ve already done the rest)

Zed and the Cormorants -YA Novel by Clare Owen, illustrated by Sally Atkins. We are talking to Sophie Aldred about reading the audio book)

100neHundred -100 x 100 word stories by Laura Besley

Incorcisms -short, strange tales by David Hartley

Accidental Flowers -Novel in short stories by Lily Peters

Strange Waters -Short Story Collection by Jackie Taylor

Jackie

A Voice Coming from Then – Poetry collection (illustrated with collages) by Jeremy Dixon

An Anthology of poems and short fiction from UK based Deaf writers (no title yet) edited by Lisa Kelly and A N Other

Lisa

An Anthology of poems and short stories from UK based Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Writers (no title yet) edited by Laila Sumpton and Sandra A. Agard

Solstice Shorts 2021 Anthology (provisional theme: time is running out but we’ll come up with a better title!)