writing workshops in Lewisham

We’ve teamed up with Lewisham Libraries to run a couple of In Person workshops for writers as part of our 10th Anniversary celebrations. Both are linked to upcoming anthologies, and we are hoping that participants will be inspired to submit (deadline 31st December 2022).

Saturday 12 Nov 3-4.3pm Catford Library 23-24 Winslade Way, Catford Centre, SE6 4JU
Off the beaten track with Cherry Potts
In preparation for an anthology of poems and short fiction Byways – which will be published in Spring 2024, Arachne Press editor Cherry Potts is running a writing workshop for anyone who is interested in the ideas behind the book.
A byway is a right of way that you can’t take a vehicle on – so think alleys, snickets, ginnels, bridlepaths, greenways, the highwater line on a beach, mountain passes, desire paths, tow paths… shortcuts or the scenic route, the path to somewhere else, the familiar and the uncertain.
Are there local paths you always take, or avoid? Come and write with us, and perhaps start something that could end up published! We’ll bring examples and writing prompts, you bring pen/paper or laptop, and… maybe a map? free tickets

Wed 16 Nov 6.45-9.15pm

LIBRARY, DEPTFORD LOUNGE,
9 GIFFIN STREET, LONDON, SE8 4RJ

 

Menopause
In preparation for an anthology of poems and short fiction inspired by the menopause, which will be published in October 2023, Arachne Press owner Cherry Potts and co-editor Catherine Pestano are running a writing workshop for anyone who would like to get involved. Our anthology call out is aimed firmly at older women, lesbians and women from the global majority. Our theme is the menopause, and we are looking for stories, flash and poems that go waaay beyond the empty nest and feelings of sexual redundancy, so come along and explore. We will provide playful writing prompts, examples and discussion including some useful facts about the menopause, you provide the imagination. Bring pen/paper or laptop. Free Tickets

Catherine Pestano is a menopause activist, social worker and community musician based in Croydon, South London and offers services through her community interest company Creative Croydon.  Key areas of interest include and the use of music and arts for wellbeing & social justice, Mental health and LGBTQ support. She is lead adviser for the national Song Therapy training and is a long-term member of the natural voice network.

Cherry Potts is a writer and creative writing tutor who runs and edits for Arachne Press.

The Book I Wrote Instead of Dying

For Hallowe’en, a guest blog from poet Jennifer A McGowan, whose latest collection How to be a Tarot Card (or a Teenager) we published last week. The London launch (shared with Anna Fodorova and In the Blood) is at Keats House 18:30 tomorrow, 1st November. free tickets

How to Be a Tarot Card design by Tom Charlesworth

In the 1980s, faced with a rebellious body, I stole my mother’s tarot deck and asked it about my health prognosis. Three times in a row, the outcome card was the tower, which is the second-worst card in the deck. Throughout my 20s and from then on I struggled with disability. On 16 March 2020 I contracted Covid, and I’ve had daily symptoms since then.

Twice I nearly died. I couldn’t breathe. Just standing up left me doubled over, gasping for air. I’m an expert patient and there are 6 doctors in my family, and I am no medical layperson, and I thought, at best, I had a 50/50 chance of getting through April 2020 and 2021.

I chose to write, obsessively. That and bloody-mindedness got me through. Somehow. The result is this book. I don’t really remember last April, except that I wrote over 55 poems. If I were a pop psychoanalyst I’d say that hovering on the threshold of death rendered me liminal, and made mythic themes easier to access. But I’m not.

These poems are based on the 22 major arcana in the tarot deck, an extra or trump suit, which starts with the fool:  number zero, generally portrayed as carefree, their possessions in a small bag, stepping off a cliff. They journey through the themes of the other 21 arcana. The magician, trump 1, is the occult guide, wielding four elements. In French the magician is called the juggler, Le Bateleur—I took that word and wrote about a bateleur eagle, a bird of prey that constantly adjusts its wings in flight, like a juggler.

Arcanum 2 is the high priestess. She’s on the cover of the book, twinned on a playing card with the teenager. The high priestess symbolises, among other things, maidenhood. She progresses to the empress, full womanhood or motherhood. Some decks change the hermit to the crone, the third moon phase, post-menopausal, of women. The crone shows up in this book as the lamplighter, and also as a really quite delightful, feminist snake. The high priestess has long been the card used to stand in for me in tarot readings, too. (As a teen, readers used the empress. I grew into the priestess. Yes, this is the wrong way around.)

Other poems are taken more literally from tarot pictures. Strength is often portrayed as a woman besting a lion—and I used lion as metaphor in “There May Have Been Lions” and “Life in Captivity”. “The Girl in the Raven Mask”, a Petrarchan sonnet which was published in Acumen, is ekphrasis on the temperance trump in the Hush tarot. “Broken Tower” was also inspired by that deck.

Still other poems riff on the meaning of the cards. There are three poems about hope, which is what the star connotes. Two of the hope poems were written for Turtle Mountain Animal Rescue, the only animal shelter in a 2000 square mile area so far north in North Dakota it’s nearly Canada. There is a semi-feral dog at the shelter named Hope, who runs wild in the summer, but always returns when faced with bitter northern winters. She simultaneously herself and a metaphor in “Hope”.

I’m at my best as a poet when I’m storytelling, as in “Why Snakes are Always Female” and “A Little Space” or, more mischievously, in “Devilskin”. Modern tarot decks, whether they’re standard Rider-Waite-Smith decks; something themed, like the dragon tarot; or based on pop culture, like the Disney villains tarot, are tools to tell stories, whether personal or universal.  Many of these poems, like “Hagged”, which is about my Long Covid, and “Dr. Wick”, about the struggle to get a diagnosis for my disability, are very personal for me. Of course, a deck of 78 playing cards isn’t responsible for anything in my life, apart from this book and a few medieval card games I play, but, still, the odds of the same card in the same spot three times in a row is pretty slender…

 

Happy Hallowe’en.

Jennifer A. McGowan
Oxford, October 2022

Happy Publication day Anna and Jennifer!

We’ve got a bit ahead of ourselves with launches this month, launching Jennifer A McGowan’s How to be a Tarot Card (or a Teenager) at Oxford Poetry Library last week,

and Anna Fodorova’s In the Blood at the Czech Embassy on Tuesday, with Jude Cook chairing and Lisa Rose reading the excerpts, but it is actual publication day TODAY – Congratulations both!

Thanks to Phoebe and team at the Oxford Poetry Library.

Thanks to Jude and Lisa, and the Janas at BCSA, the Czech Centre and Czech Embassy for hosting, and Lutyens and Rubinstein bookshop for handling the sales, and to Erik Weisenpacher for video and photo and audio recordings; it was a novel experience to just turn up, introduce and sit in the audience!

If you missed either or both, do not despair, as there is a joint launch 6.30 next Tuesday, 1st November, at Keats house, with readings by Carrie Cohen. You can get your free tickets from Eventbrite – there will be cake and soft drinks

 

Oxford Poetry Library with Tarot Cards

Thanks to everyone who turned out to launch How to be a Tarot Card (or a Teenager) at the Oxford Poetry Library, and thanks to Phoebe and team for hosting.

Here’s a couple of photos and recordings to give a flavour of the evening.

Introduction

How to be a Tarot Card (or a Teenager)

Jennifer is launching again in London on 1st November at Keats House with Anna Fodorova, our other October author, with her novel, In the Blood. Free, cake, soft drink etc as usual! Get your tickets

And will be taking part in an online event with our friends In Words on 29th November. To register for this one you need to contact irena(at)in-words(dot)co(dot)uk and she will send you the link in good time.

 

Announcement! 2023 Festival, Exhibition and Poetry Titles

We are delighted to let you know that we have a grant confirmed from Arts Council England, which will allow us to hold our 10th Anniversary online festival, of workshops and readings, and an exhibition of cover art at Stephen Lawrence Gallery in Greenwich, both in January 2023, and to publish the following poetry titles:

February: Saved to Cloud by Kate Foley
March: More Patina than Gleam by Jane Aldous
April: The Arctic Diaries by Melissa Davies
May: Unmothered by A.J. Akoto

We are thrilled, not to say relieved, to be able to continue publishing and to celebrate our 10th anniversary in style.

More information as details firm up!

‘Oi’ on Tour

All kinds of loveliness and laughter experienced so far on the A Voice Coming From Then Tour. Here’s a quick snapshot from Brecon Carmarthen and Cardiff

Join Jeremy next Thursday 5.45 at Cardiff Library for more…

[There’s an annoying flicker on the Brecon video, I’ve cleaned it up as best I can, and set that part to B&W as it’s less trying, but it’s the sound that’s the joy in this so… you could always shut your eyes…]

Thanks to our lovely audiences, and our hosts, The Hours, Brecon; Waterstones, Carmarthen; and Waterstones, Cardiff.

 

October/November New Books: Launches and events

We have a little flurry of books arriving in October and November, and some events to launch them, mostly in person! We’d love you to join us.

20/10/2022 7pm Launching How to be a Tarot Card (or a Teenager) by Jennifer A McGowan at The Oxford Poetry Library on 20th October 7pm.[eventbrite for free tickets]

25/10/2022  7pm Launch of In the Blood  in discussion with writer and literary critic Jude Cook, with readings by actor Lisa Rose at the Embassy of the Czech Republic. Hosted by British Czech and Slovak Association, the Czech Embassy, the Czech Centre London and Lutyens & Rubinstein bookshop. [tickets £10]
01/11/2022 6.30pm a joint event at Keats House for How to be a Tarot Card (or a Teenager) and In the Blood with readings from actor Carrie Cohen free tickets
24/11/2022 6.30pm at Keats House Launch for Routes by Rhiya Pau.
29/11/2022 7.30pm In Words are helping us celebrate our 10th Anniversary and the launch of Routes by Rhiya Pau, with an online showcase of 4 of our recent poetry books: Routes, How to be a Tarot Card (or a Teenager), A Pocketful of Chalk and Paper Crusade. This will be on Zoom. To access, contact In Words.

A Voice Coming from Then On Tour

Featured

This Autumn we’re taking A Voice Coming from Then on tour in Wales, to celebrate the collection winning the English Language Poetry Category in the 2022 Wales Book of the Year Awards. Join us at one of the events below for readings and conversation with poet Jeremy Dixon (and occasional guests).

Links to tickets for all the events will be updated as they become available.

COMING UP

29/11/2022 Typewronger, Edinburgh details
30/11/2022 Lighthouse Books, Edinburgh details

If you would like any more information about any of these events, please contact outreach@arachnepress.com.

CATCH VIDEOS HERE SOON FOR EVENTS THAT HAVE ALREADY HAPPENED

IN THE MEANTIME HERE’S A TASTER

05/10/2022 The Hours, Brecon
06/10/2022 (National Poetry Day)  Waterstones, Carmarthen
06/10/2022 (National Poetry Day)Waterstones, Cardiff
13/10/2022 Cardiff Central Library Hub, joint event with George Sandifer-Smith

All the events above are free.

 

A Pocketful of Chalk Online Launch

We went the for the whole gamut of launches for A Pocketful of Chalk, outdoors, in a barn, in a museum and on line! Here’s the online version, a triumph of technology that took a lot of setting up – those downs are beautiful, but they interfere with Claire’s internet signal. A lot of testing and rearranging of kit was involved, and turning off of interfering phones etc, but it worked!

First Set

Second Set

Q&A

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A Pocketful of Chalk at Keats House

Claire Booker reading at the launch of A Pocketful of Chalk, in the beautiful Chester Room at Keats House

Hey Diddle Diddle

 

Dinosaur Boy

 

Drone Boys

 

Green Ray

 

Grey Heron

 

Long Man Dreaming

 

Mirabelles

 

Morning After

 

Fisherman’s Daughter

 

Remembering Chocolate

 

The Wrasse

 

Looking Towards Smock Mill

 

 

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