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!

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 16th September 2021

All submissions via https://arachnepress.submittable.com/submit, where you can also find submission calls for Black Asian and Minority Ethnic writers,  should that apply to you.

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!)

Neil Lawrence: Return

Author Neil Lawrence introduces his story Return written especially for Solstice Shorts Festival, Tymes goe by Turnes. The festival is online this year, 21st December 2020 8pm BST Tickets are on sale now (donation: suggestion £5) on eventbrite

you can pre-order the book direct from our webshop and get a free ticket, or ticket holders paying at least £5, get the book half price if ordered by 8am the morning after the festival.

Jackie Taylor: Rewilding

Author Jackie Taylor introduces her story Rewilding written especially for Solstice Shorts Festival, Tymes goe by Turnes.The festival is online this year, 21st December 2020 8pm BST Tickets are on sale now (donation: suggestion £5) on eventbrite

you can pre-order the book direct from our webshop and get a free ticket, or ticket holders paying at least £5, get the book half price if ordered by 8am the morning after the festival.

Jane McLaughlin: Sketchbook

Author Jane McLaughlin introduces her story, Sketchbook, written especially for Solstice Shorts Festival, Tymes goe by Turnes.The festival is online this year, 21st December 2020 8pm BST. Tickets are on sale now (donation: suggestion £5) on eventbrite

you can preorder the book direct from our webshop and get a free ticket, or ticket holders who donate at least £5 get the book half price if ordered by 8am the morning after the festival.

Patience Mackarness: Roots

Author Patience Mackarness introduces her story, Roots, written especially for Solstice Shorts Festival, Tymes goe by Turnes.The festival is online this year, 21st December 2020 8pm BST. Tickets are on sale now (donation: suggestion £5) on eventbrite

you can preorder the book direct from our webshop and get a free ticket, or ticket holders who donate at least £5 get the book half price if ordered by 8am the morning after the festival.

Buy a book for hallowe’en

You should all know by now that we don’t publish horror, but we do get quite close to the bone at times. So here are my recommendations for those of you who like your spine tingled, or to get daft with too many sweets and pumpkin carving.

Happy Ending NOT Guaranteed by Liam Hogan, Fantasy with a dark flavour, leavened with humour. Particularly dark: Bring Rope, particularly joyous Miscellaneous, Spooky, Weird … and every variation in between. Even the cover is pumpkin coloured!

No Spider Harmed in the Making of this Book our eighth anniversary anthology, spiders are emphatically not the enemy, but the humans on the other hand are quite a challenge: You might particularly enjoy Maria Kyle‘s The Aspectsof Arax, C L Wearne‘s Suspended, Carolyn Robertson‘s Sicarius, or for a more lighthearted take, Guy Russell’s Interspecies Peace and Love Song or A Katherine Black‘s Even People who’ve been Accidentally turned into Giant Mutant Spiders.

Dusk, our Solstice Shorts 2017 anthology. If you like you poetry bleak and your stories bloody then try At Sky’s Edge, Helen Slavin, Here by Samuel Wright, Wolf’s Head by Penny Pepper, Yes, Twilight by Math Jones