A Voice Coming from Then On Tour

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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.

05/10/2022  6.30pm The Hours, Brecon details and tickets

06/10/2022 (National Poetry Day) 1-2 pm Waterstones, Carmarthen details and tickets

06/10/2022 (National Poetry Day) 7pm Waterstones, Cardiff details and tickets

12/10/2022 5pm National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth details and tickets to follow

13/10/2022 5.45pm Cardiff Central Library Hub, a joint event with George Sandifer-Smith details and tickets

09/11/2022 7pm Storyville, Pontypridd details and tickets

10/11/2022 7.30pm Aberystwyth Library click for details and tickets, or call the library to book your free place: 01970 633717

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

We are crowdfunding to support this tour! We have the dates booked, but we need some money to pay for travel and accommodation and at the moment, we are not receiving any grant support.

All the events above are free, and the book sales we make won’t cover our costs, but it’s really important to make the most of the award, and to get this book out into bookshops and libraries and talk about it.

If you can help, either by donating or sharing the Kickstarter page, we would be very grateful: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1477491501/a-voice-coming-from-then-tour

Exclusive first chapter extract of In the Blood

As the end of summer approaches we’re looking forward to the autumn publication of In the Blood – an unforgettable twentieth century family saga that explores the impact of historical events on the lives of three generations – a mother, a daughter and a grandmother.


In the Blood
 is set in 1980s London, Prague and Munich, against the backdrop of the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe, and the novel opens on this day, 21st August, 1988; twenty years after the Warsaw Pact invasion of then Czechoslovakia.

Exactly to this day, twenty years ago Russian tanks rolled under our Prague balcony, Mama reminded Agata only this morning. Imagine! Military invasion in central Europe! ‘Now we’ll never see our daughter again, she’ll stay in England,’ your father said – no, he sobbed. Soft. That’s what Pavel was, but here – here they are not interested in what happened to us in 1968, here the radio is interested in some actress from some Corporation Street and her stupid breasts!

Author Anna Fodorova opens the book on this day to emphasise the intertwining nature of personal and political histories:

“In the Blood begins on the 21st August 1988, twenty years after the Russian tanks rolled into Prague, the brutal invasion that shocked the world and altered the fate of my main character, Agata.

When I wrote the story, I couldn’t know that history would repeat itself this year with another catastrophic Russian invasion – I was interested in how the past shapes our private lives.

Agata’s story culminates a year later with the fall of the Berlin Wall, another world-changing event which is paralleled by Agata’s crumbling relationship with her family, particularly her mother, who has built her life from half-truths and secrets.” 

Read the first chapter of In the Blood now.

Pre-order your copy of In the Blood.

When is an anniversary not an anniversary?

That’s not a trick question, by the way.
A business is a bit like a relationship, especially when its basically just you and everything you create.

When is the start?
The moment you stop researching and decide to go for it? (Eyes meeting across a crowded room?)
Registering the business with Companies House (First date)
or first actual product – in this case a book, obviously– (moving in together?)
It’s been our tenth anniversary year for a while now, as the first flicker of a plan was January 2012, but last Thursday was the anniversary of registering with Companies House and paying the first insurance premium. (I was WAY too busy then to post this…)
Our first book (London Lies) came out in September 2012 and we had planned a month long online festival this September to celebrate this unequivocal, ‘yes, we’ve existed TEN years’ – but plans have gone awry with a failed funding bid.

We are committed to three wonderful books between now and Christmas, and we will now hold the festival in January, always a quiet month. (Funding permitting etc)
We will also be having a year long ‘backlist’ sale with money off books as they hit their anniversary – so every book published in September regardless of the year, is on sale for the month of September and so on, take the opportunity to fill the gaps in your collection!
There won’t be a Solstice Shorts Festival this year. What we are doing instead is having a competition. Vote for your favourite Solstice Shorts story or poem (you aren’t allowed to vote for your own!)  AND submit a flash or poem (max 500 words) on the theme of Hiatus – ‘Solstice’ refers to the pause, when the sun seems to hang unmoving in the sky on the 21st December, so it’s quite an appropriate time theme. we are limiting submissions to 50 and the closing date is end of September. There will be only 2 winners: one poem and one story. They, with the voted for poems and stories will go into a ‘Best of Solstice Shorts’ eBook, which will be available from 21st December. Free entry. All the stories and poems included will earn royalties of 25% of net receipts. Depending on funding, this may be a printed book for 2023. We are thinking about a Celtic Fringe Solstice Shorts festival for 2024 ( the next time its a weekend), which would include the Scottish Western Islands, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and maybe Brittany, and maybe multilingual if we can find translators and editors who are right for the job. Anyone who is interested in helping plan this, shout now.

We need to focus where we are being successful (thank you Wales, for embracing our ideas), and crowdfund to try to bridge the gap. If anyone has any dazzling crowdfunding ideas glad to hear them! We have 10 copies of A470 signed by about half the poets, so that’s a start.

This means that we are thinking even further ahead than usual for everything, so that we can tell funders what we have up our sleeves, but at the same time, give ourselves time to find alternative funding if need be, its a bit of a juggling act.

We’ve had a call out for our Menopause anthology for a  while, and we are now planning a Byways anthology – rights of way that you can’t (or shouldn’t) take a vehicle on – so think alleys, snickets, ginnels, bridlepaths, greenways, the high water line on a beach, mountain passes, desire paths, tow paths, shortcuts or circuitous routes… the path to somewhere else: the familiar and the uncertain. Fiction and poetry – our ‘1st date’ anniversary seemed a good time to announce this one! Deadline for both of these is 31st December 2022.

Submit to one of the current open anthologies

We are also thinking about our next Welsh/English bilingual anthology, but it’s tough to come up with something as iconic as the A470 – we are thinking about the Welsh Coastal Path, the Welsh Marches/Offa’s Dyke, Heart of Wales Railway, Rivers… We’ll be canvassing our Welsh writers for their opinions, but if anyone else has a ‘great idea’ happy to listen.

Reviewers! Bookshops! Advance Reader Copies coming your way

Reviewers and Bookshops… we will be in touch shortly to offer you one or more of the following Advance reader copies. If you know you are not on our list and are interested, give us a shout. These are like gold dust, so first come first served!

How to be a Tarot Card, (or a Teenager) by Jennifer A McGowan, cover by Tom Charlesworth. (Poetry inspired by tarot and personal history)

In the Blood by Anna Fodorova, cover by Phil Barnett. (Novel: families, secrets, Holocaust survivors, Czech revolution)

Routes by Rhiya Pau, cover by Suman Gujral (Poetry: Families, Partition, Ugandan Asians)

 

 

 

Zed and the Cormorants wins YA category in Holyer An Gof award

An exciting weekend for Clare Owen, author of Zed and the Cormorants, who describes herself as ‘beyond chuffed’ that not only did Zed win the YA Holyer An Gof award for 2022,  but Clare herself  won the Ann Trevenen Jenkin cup for authorship of a book for children or Young Adults.

We’ve agree the cup can stay with Clare for the year – it’s all hers! We get a certificate.

There will be an interview between Tiffany Truscott, who chaired the ceremony and Clare and winners in other categories on Radio Cornwall in the near future, when we find it we’ll let you know!

The Holyer An Gof awards are administered by Gorsedh Kernow

A Voice Coming From Then shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year!

We couldn’t be more excited to share the news that A Voice Coming From Then by Jeremy Dixon is on the shortlist (of three!) for the 2022 English-language Wales Book of the Year, in the Poetry category.

We are celebrating by holding an online event with the other shortlisted poets, Angela Gardner and Abeer Ameer, on 20th July at 7pm. Get your free ticket here.

A Voice Coming From Then, which we published in August 2021, starts with poet Jeremy Dixon’s teenage suicide attempt and expands to encompass themes of bullying, queerphobia, acceptance and support.

As well as exploring identity, the tragic effects of bullying and the impact of suicide, this collection also includes unexpected typography, collage, humour, magic, discotheques and frequent appearances from the Victorian demon, Spring-heeled Jack.

 

Jeremy Dixon said: “I am beyond delighted that my collection of poems dealing with bullying, queerphobia and attempted suicide has made the shortlist of Wales Book of the Year 2022. My greatest hope throughout the difficult writing process was that the book would be understood and resonate with an audience beyond myself. For the book to have been selected by the judges is the most unexpected and welcome compliment!”

‘beyond delighted…’

The Wales Book of the Year Award is an annual prize celebrating outstanding literary talent from Wales across many genres and in both English and Welsh. Today, Friday 1 July, Literature Wales announced which books have reached the English-language Wales Book of the Year Short List 2022.

YOU can VOTE for the people’s choice from the shortlist via Wales Art Review

The winners will be announced on BBC Radio Wales on 29 July.

Congratulations Jeremy!  We are so pleased A Voice Coming From Then is getting the attention it deserves.

You can order a copy of A Voice Coming From Then from our webshop. To celebrate Jeremy’s place on the shortlist, we’ll send you a code for 50% off either the ebook or audiobook, when you order a print copy.

Any press enquiries, please email Saira Aspinall on outreach@arachnepress.com.

Independent Bookshop Week 2022

It’s Independent Bookshop Week! The annual Bookseller’s Association celebration of indy bookshops and all they do to keep the UK book trade diverse, eclectic and engaged with local communities.

One of our favourite bookshops – The Edge of the World in Cornwall

As an Independent Publisher we LOVE indy bookshops and spend a lot of our time getting to know booksellers and planning events, but because most of our titles are ordered through a central distributor, we often don’t know exactly which books end up in which bookshops.

So, this Independent Bookshop week, we’d love to see your pictures of Arachne Press titles on the shelves of independent bookshops!

Tweet them to us at @ArachnePress and we’ll share them, giving the books, authors and bookshops all a moment in the spotlight.

Photos are very welcome from booksellers too and bonus points for anyone who tweets us with a new Arachne purchase, supporting a local, independent bookshop.

We’ve got lots to celebrate in the next seven days; as well as Independent Bookshop week, it’s also publication week for Paper Crusade – Michelle Penn’s startling re-imagining of The Tempest, which is something quite special.

If you’re an independent bookseller who has just received stock of this title (or would like to!) then please let us know.

Independent Bookshop Week is a celebration of independent bookshops in the UK highlighting the vital role independent bookshops play in their communities. Find out more.

Poetry Road Trip – Join us on the A470

This spring and summer we’re taking A470: Poems for the Road / Cerddi’r Ffordd on the road! Join us at one of the bilingual events below, as we visit libraries and bookshops up and down the A470 (and surrounding areas…).

Past

  •  28th May: Cardiff Central Library Hub
    Readings from Kevin Mills, Tracey Rhys, Mike Jenkins, Nicholas McGaughey, Morgan Owen, Christina Thatcher, Jeremy Dixon, Sian Northey, Sîon Aled, Lowri Williams and Des Mannay. watch the video


  •  30th May: Storyville Books, Pontypridd
    Nicholas McGaughey, Jeremy Dixon, Stephen Payne and Sîon Aled read from A470 in an evening of poetry, with music and nibbles too! watch the videos

  • 31st May: Siop Lyfrau’r Hen Bost, Blaenau Ffestiniog
    Simon Chandler, Sara Louise Wheeler, Haf Llewelyn, Lowri Williams and Sian Northey read from A470  in Blaenau Ffestiniog. watch the videos

  • 1st June: Owain Glyndŵr’s Parliament House, Heol Maengwyn, Machynlleth, SY20 8EE
    Pulling up outside Senedd-Dy to stretch their legs and catch their breath, editors Sian Northey and Ness Owen talked with Poet Sara Louise Wheeler about how A470 came about, the process of creating a bilingual book and the translation decisions they had to make, reading some of their favourite poems from the book on the way. Watch the video
  • 30 June: The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth
    An evening of bilingual poetry readings and conversation with Ness Owen, Sian Northey, Pat Edwards, Diana Powell, Sara Louise Wheeler, Siôn Aled, Jeremy Dixon, Rhys Owain Williams, Rae Howells, Lowri Haf Williams, Sandra Evans, Gareth Writer-Davies.
  • 10th July  Gŵyl Arall Festival, Caernafon
  • Editor  Sian Northey was joined by Sion Aled, Sara Louise Wheeler, and Lowri Williams to read and talk about the book.
  • Thursday 21st July: The Hours Cafe & Bookshop, Brecon, VIDEO
    Readings and conversation with Gareth Writer-Davies, Clare E Potter, Diana Powell, Sian Northey and Stephen Payne.
  • 24th July: The Poetry Pharmacy, Bishop’s Castle,
    Nipping over the border into Shropshire for Readings from Sian Northey, Gareth Writer-Davies, Jeremy Dixon, Ness Owen, Pat Edwards and Stephen Payne at the world’s first walk-in Poetry Pharmacy.

You can track all our events on our interactive A470 map too.

If you’d like more information about any of these events, please email outreach@arachnepress.com

 

 

This Isle is Full of Voices – Reimagining Shakespeare for the 21st Century

It’s Shakespeare’s birthday! To celebrate we spoke to poet Michelle Penn about her upcoming collection, Paper Crusade and how it felt to rewrite the Bard.

Over the years, I’ve had numerous ambitions and goals, but rewriting Shakespeare was never one of them. Ever.

Yet there I was, at Sadler’s Wells in 2014, brimming over with ideas after seeing The Tempest Replica, a contemporary dance piece choreographed by Crystal Pite. I was inspired by the movements, the psychology, the white masks and costumes, the folded paper boats. The production stirred something in me that I had to express in words. Which sent me back to the original source, The Tempest — and the problem of rewriting Shakespeare.

I knew I wanted to make something that was different from both the dance piece and the original play — and it had to feel relevant to the twenty-first century. Of course, there’s plenty in The Tempest that continues to be relevant (themes of power, forgiveness, language, love, etc.), but it seemed to me that a refugee magician coming to an island, colonising it, altering its environment and terrorising those around him suggested more of a tragic approach than a comedic one.

I decided to concentrate only on a handful of characters and to add The Sea: a character contemptuous of humans and both participant and commentator. And I deliberately left most of the characters unnamed in order to really separate them from Shakespeare’s characters. I didn’t want to think about Prospero but about The Father, a man desperate for revenge, a man who has suffered losses and can’t control his anger, a man who wants to feel powerful and respected, even feared. Similarly, I wanted to create more of an interior life for The Daughter, so she couldn’t be the sweet, obedient Miranda. And I wanted C’s struggles and rebellion to be full of not just resentment but pain. The characters in Paper Crusade needed independent ‘lives’, apart from Shakespeare.

Easier said than done. While I found myself quickly and deeply inside the world of my characters, I was sometimes needled by doubt. What was I doing? Who on earth was I to rewrite Shakespeare? The idea seemed hilarious, arrogant, a recipe for failure. Shakespeare didn’t need my help or my reimagining.  

But sometimes, there’s comfort in a crowd, and when I had a stab of despair, I reminded myself of others who have reimagined The Tempest: Peter Greenway’s film, Prospero’s Books or Derek Jarman’s The Tempest or Julie Taymore’s, in which Helen Mirren plays Prospera. Numerous ballets and dance pieces have been made on The Tempest, including one choreographed by Rudolf Nureyev. And of course, other writers have used Shakespeare’s play as source material: Aimé Césaire rewrote it to focus on its colonial themes. Auden riffed on it in his long poem, ‘The Sea and the Mirror’, which he considered his ars poetica. Browning wrote about Caliban, Shelley about Ariel.

Of course, there were still moments when I could almost imagine Shakespeare laughing at me from the grave. But the Bard himself was a great borrower and reinterpreter of earlier stories, so I assumed he’d understand — and maybe even appreciate the effort. After all, the play is a springboard, not a mirror, not something to imitate.

Overall, rewriting Shakespeare turned out to be great fun. I loved being inside the island world and with the characters, seeing them in my mind, hearing them speak and watching where they took the story. I didn’t know how Paper Crusade would end until I reached the final pages, and that process was exciting. The characters led me to expand my poetry and try things I’d never tried before. And although I’m a fan of several of Shakespeare’s plays, I now have a special bond with The Tempest.

Listen to Michelle Penn reading ‘The Sea, Offended’ from Paper Crusade:

 

Paper Crusade will be published on 21 June 2022. You can pre-order a copy from our webshop now. Details of online and in-person launch events (in-person at Keats House  in London) are coming soon.

Vote for Arachne Press in the Saboteur Awards!

We are really pleased to be nominated for Most Innovative Publisher in the 2022 Saboteur Awards and to have Laura Besley’s brilliant 100neHundred nominated for Best Short Story Collection.

Thank you so much to everyone who voted to get us this far. The second round of voting is now open until the 7th May and we need you to help us win!

Please vote for Arachne Press and 100neHundred in their respective categories. We highly recommend a vote for Arachne author, Emma Lee who is nominated for Best Reviewer of Literature too.

The form for the second round of voting is available here.

This nomination means a lot because we have had to innovate and adapt a lot over the past few years, and we have taken some bold steps in our publishing activity. From branching into audiobooks for the very first time, with a commitment to inclusive, quality, contemporary publishing for everyone – no matter how they read; to producing our first fully bilingual book; creating BSL videos to accompany What Meets the Eye: The Deaf Perspective and making our books about more than just the words within them – by continuing important conversations in events such as our recent symposium on Writing the Diaspora.

We intend to keep innovating too! This year we have plans for a menopause anthology that will particularly represent LGBT+ and global majority women (submissions are open now!), and lots of writing workshops that will help us continue to give opportunities to writers from under-represented communities, or who are living in geographically isolated locations.

That’s enough about us… if you need a reminder of how excellent 100neHundred is you can listen to an audiobook extract here, read some of the Laura Besley’s favourite reviews here or buy a copy here.

Thank you for your votes – we’ll have our fingers crossed.

The Saboteur Awards have been running since 2011, we were last nominated (and won!) in 2014 with the anthology Weird Lies.

Follow this years awards on Twitter: #SaboteurAwards and #sabawards22