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.

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.

Routes by Rhiya Pau wins Eric Gregory Award

We are delighted to share the news that Rhiya Pau has been named as a winner of this year’s Eric Gregory Award for her forthcoming poetry collection, Routes.

Routes explores the journeys taken by Rhiya Pau’s parents and grandparents across multiple countries to arrive in the UK. We are publishing the collection in November 2022, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the arrival of Ugandan Asians in the UK.

Rhiya Pau is one of seven winners of this year’s Eric Gregory Award, given annually by the Society of Authors. Judged by Raymond Antrobus, Wayne Holloway-Smith, Sarah Howe, Gwyneth Lewis, Roger Robinson, and Joelle Taylor, the award is presented to a collection or collections of poems by poets under 30.

young asian woman with long hair smiling up at camera

The judges said of Routes‘This is a collection in which routes and roots tug against one another: a family is scattered in the wake of India’s Partition; its children and grandchildren make new homes for themselves within a kaleidoscope of tongues. This is a work of humane intelligence, formal experiment and linguistic verve that promises much.’

Congratulations Rhiya – this is a daring collection that exhibits vast formal range and wrestles with language, narrative and memory. We’re excited to be publishing Routes.

Routes will be published on 24 November 2022. You can pre-order a copy now.

Read the Society of Authors award announcement.

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

Where We Find Ourselves Blog Tour

We are really excited to announce the blog tour for Where We Find Ourselves edited by Laila Sumpton and Sandra A. Agard.

Published on 28 October, Where We Find Ourselves is an anthology of poems and short stories by nearly 40 writers of the Global Majority, from African, Asian, Middle Eastern, Carribean, South American, Chinese and Malay communities, writing about maps and mapping. In this book you will find stories and poems of finding oneself and getting lost, colonialism and diaspora, childhood exploration and adult homecoming.

Where We Find Ourselves is a book that is intended to start conversations and we can’t wait to hear what our reviewers and guest bloggers have to say.

You can find all the content from the blog tour here:

Day 1) “When Laila Sumpton suggested ‘Maps and Mapping’ as the focus for our global majority anthology, Where We Find Ourselves, I said yes almost by reflex.” Arachne Press publishing director, Cherry Potts, explores the Where We Find Ourselves theme of maps and mapping – and how the idea has morphed into an almost-series of linked titles.

Day 2) “This anthology is a great example of literary citizenship… It’s lovely to be part of something that’s actively trying to show the breath of experiences and writing styles across some many communities.” Read an interview with Where We Find Ourselves contributor Anita Goveas on Desi Books.

Day 3) Editor, Laila Sumpton introduces Where We Find Ourselves on the Platforma blog.

Day 4) “I found the stories and poems to be so enlightening and equally heartbreaking at the same time… Its beauty is beyond anything I have read in recent times.” @kristinas_shelves gives Where We Find Ourselves 4.5 stars in her instagram review.

Day 5) “I would definitely recommend this, as I found the texts were powerful, emotional and also provided an opportunity to learn.” @reflections_of_a_reader 

Day 6) “It goes without saying that I’m extremely excited about getting my story published in Where We Find Ourselves! There’s something very special about seeing my story in print, on actual paper, in an actual book, alongside some incredible poetry and short fiction by a very talented group of writers. I’m looking forward to seeing what readers make of the anthology!” Contributing writer Dipika Mummery describes her experience of being included in Where We Find Ourselves. Plus, read an extract from Dipika’s story, ‘A Walk in the Countryside’.

Day 7) Read an exclusive extract from Where We Find Ourselves: ‘Cocoon Lucky’ – a short story by Kavita A. Jindal.

Day 8) “This is a beautifully diverse collection by a host of talented writers” – bookstagrammer @LibraryLooter highlights some of the new authors she discovered in Where We Find Ourselves.

Day 9) Listen to a podcast with Arachne Director Cherry Potts, Where We Find Ourselves writer Marina Sánchez and Jessica Stone from Listening Books – our audiobook partners. 

Day 10) “Where We Find Ourselves is a diverse and innovative collection that showcases the wealth of talent that we have in our desi and wider communities when it comes to telling our own stories.” Desi Reads highly recommends Where We Find Ourselves.

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.

Review of Tymes goe by Turnes on Blue Nib

This is probably the last review we will get from Blue Nib, as it is closing – due to an unsustainable funding gap.

I don’t know whether it’s yet another unforseen outcome of C-19, but a number of poetry and other literary magazines are on hiatus or have folded since I last checked for people to send books to for review.

As well as Blue Nib; Arete, Compass, Iota, and Antiphon have the shutters down on their website or have disappeared completely.

Many magazines, like small publishers, rely on volunteers to survive at all. I’m as at fault as the next person, I can’t afford the subcription (or the time) to read more than a couple of magazines, and yet we rely on them to spread the word about our books, and as discoverors and nursery grounds for writers who aren’t ready to offer a collection.

So maybe now is the time for an extra resolution for this year – to read a literary magazine, and support the work done by its editors, writers and reviewers.

In the meantime, a big thank you to prodigeous reviewer Emma Lee, for her review of Tymes goe by Turnes on Blue Nib.

‘Tymes Goe By Turnes’ is a timely anthology. Some pieces could be interpreted as being about the current pandemic, but all have a sense of timelessness. A sense that they could be picked up in several centuries in the future and, although the language would look archaic, they would still be understood.

Recent Reviews of Mamiaith and No Spider Harmed

Eat the Storms review of Ness Owen’s Mamiaith

A long, thoughtful and very enthusisatic review from Damien B Donnelly

The collection cleverly deceives the reader with its light appearance; delicate forms of short poems with few words but that too is its strength, like a language not used enough so that words are forgotten and we must cut to the truth without the fluff and frills.

Following on from Dawn Dumont’s quote at the beginning of the poem One Name, Cymru- to be born indigenous is to be born an activist- we realise that the fight is happening here, within the considered calls rising up from these carefully chosen lines, each word perfectly formed into a sense of identity often bashed, often silenced but ever resilient.

buy Mamiaith here

Review of No Spider Harmed on Blue Nib

an appreciative review from Chloe Jacques

Pieces in the collection rarely seek to impose an anthropomorphized interior experience onto their spiders, and the anthology is filled with musings and suggestions that speak both to things shared between humans and spiders, and to the ultimate mystery of a spider’s inner-world.

The myriad voices in the collection – and the many ways they have interpreted the call for submissions – make for a stimulating read, at once serious and moving, as well as light-hearted and frivolous.

This collection is a refreshing, detailed and compassionate take on an under-loved and fascinating creature.

buy No Spider Harmed here

Review 2: No Spider Harmed

a second review for No Spider Harmed this one is from Helen Whistberry on her book review site

A definite must for any spider-lovers but also a very rewarding read for fans of good writing.

…Moonlight is Web-Coloured by Emma Lee, a short piece but every word sings. I stopped and reread this one several times, so taken with the rhythm and melody.

read the whole review here

Review: No Spider Harmed

Our first review for No Spider Harmed

from P D Dawson

Beautifully lyrical and powerfully descriptive

endlessly inventive

No Spider Harmed, is a wonderfully diverse anthology, with many different styles coming together to create a tremendously entertaining read, and yes I’ll admit, a new appreciation for our furry neighbours too.

read the whole review here

buy a copy direct from us here!

 

Another review from Norwich Radical, this time for Time and Tide

Carmina Masoliver has been busy reviewing our books on Norwich Radical, and she has some excellent things to say.

such as…

At times it’s amazing how so much can be said in such little space…

wonderful descriptions…

an incredibly well-structured rhyme that lulls us like the lapping waves of the sea…

with thumbs up for Roppotucha Greenberg, Diana Powell, Cindy George, Barbara Renel, Holly Magee, Paul Foy, Claire Booker, Kate Foley, Sarah Tait, Susan Cartwright-Smith and Julie Laing.

 

Read The full review here

buy a copy here

Norwich Radical, Review of The Significance of a Dress

A new review of Emma Lee‘s The Significance of a Dress from Carmina Masoliver on Norwich Radical

Lee’s strength is in the moments of clear imagery and engagement of the senses

read more here:

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF A DRESS BY EMMA LEE – REVIEW