Poetry Road Trip – Join us on the A470

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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…).

  • Saturday, 28th May: Cardiff Central Library Hub, 3 – 4.30pm
    Join us at the library for 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. The readings will be followed by a Q and A session.
    Book your free ticket now.

  • Monday, 30th May: Storyville Books, Pontypridd, 6pm
    Nicholas McGaughey, Jeremy Dixon, Stephen Payne and Sîon Aled will read from A470 in an evening of poetry, with music and nibbles too! Book your free ticket now.

  • Tuesday, 31st May: Siop Lyfrau’r Hen Bost, Blaenau Ffestiniog, 7pm
    Simon Chandler, Sara Louise Wheeler, Haf Llewelyn, Lowri Williams and Sian Northey will read from A470 – join us for poetry and conversation in Blaenau Ffestiniog. Free to attend – find the shop here.

  • Wednesday, 1st June: Pen’rallt Gallery Bookshop, Machynlleth, 6.30pm
    Pulling up outside Senedd-Dy to stretch their legs and catch their breath, editors Sian Northey and Ness Owen will talk 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. Poet Sara Louise Wheeler and translator Sandra Evans will also join the conversation. Find out more and book your advance ticket.

  • Thursday, 30 June: The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, 7pm
    Join us at The National Library of Wales for an evening of bilingual poetry readings and conversation with several of the poets included in A470. Book your free ticket now.

  • Sunday, 24th July: The Poetry Pharmacy, Bishop’s Castle, 2pm (tbc)
    Meet some A470 poets at the world’s first walk-in Poetry Pharmacy. More details to come.

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

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

 

 

Popup Event: Plotting for the Future

Plotting for the Future: Survival Renewal and Optimism

Bottleworks Bookshop, 8 Riverside Walk, Byker, Newcastle, NE6 1LX

24th May 2022 19:00-21:00

Free

Join local authors, short fiction writer Lily Peters, and poet Rob Walton, as they read from their recent Arachne Press Publications, Accidental Flowers and This Poem Here.   They will talk about how their very different writing (Science Fiction and poetry) connect in their themes of navigating the personal and political through an imagined, but horribly likely, ecological disaster and an all too real pandemic, to make room for optimism for the future… and an accidental connection through allotments.

Join in with Q&A and an opportunity to write your own 100 word story including at least one of the words Survival, Renewal & Optimism – or a variant of them.

Books will be available to buy at the event – if you can’t make it, head to our shop

Thanks to our sales partners Inpress for setting up this popup bookshop and inviting us to come along.

Arachne Press at Lambeth Readers and Writers Festival

We’re pleased to announce that we will be at Lambeth Readers and Writers Festival on Tuesday 17 May with a panel event based on Where We Find Ourselves: Poems and Stories of Maps and Mapping from UK Writers of the Global Majority.

Join us at Clapham Library for readings and a Q & A discussion with:

Ngoma Bishop

Marina Sánchez

Nikita Chadha

Farhana Khalique

Rick Dove

Emily Abdeni-Holman

L Kiew

The event is free, but ticketed.  Book your tickets here.

You will be able to buy a copy of Where We Find Ourselves at the event, or you can buy one from our webshop now.

Photos from A470 event Merthyr

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Our first live event since October!

Thanks to the poets who turned out to celebrate A470 Poems for the Road/ Cerddi’r Ffordd last Saturday at Caffi Soar in Merthyr, especially Mike Jenkins for organising.

Thanks also to Llyfrau’r Enfys for handling the booksales, Caffi Soar for hosting and the other poets and musicians who came along for the open mic.

Our next event is at Cardiff Library, supported by Cant a Mil bookshop, on Saturday 28th May at 3pm.

Here are a few photos from Caffi Soar to tide you over until then. (Jealous of the T-shirt, Des)

buy a copy of the book! print copy or ebook

Des Mannay (photo Sian Northey)

Gerhard Kress & Mike Morton (photo Sian Northey)

Mike Jenkins (photo Sian Northey)

Sion Aled (photo Sian Northey)

Sian Northey (photo Gerhard Kress)

 

 

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

International Mermaid Day

We all need a bit of cheering up. I should be doing cash flows, so instead I’m posting about mermaids.

Just a short post, mind.

If you are in to Mermaid-kind you might like The Real McCoy

Cherry Potts’ story in We/She

I’ll tell you what though; you weren’t really expecting me, a genuine mermaid, were you? You thought I’d be some girlie in a clamshell bikini and yardage of slinky blue skirt with
unconvincing fins. So why are you disappointed that you got the real thing? That makes no sense at all! You should be in awe, really…
Very few of us survive without the sea. Take us away from it and we pine, dead in a fortnight mostly. Fortunately I’m tough, and I can see the positive side of a career.

And if you’ll stretch to a Selkie, then Jackie Taylor’s Pelt in Strange Waters might be just the thing.

Her scalp itched; her thick, grey-black hair fought against the tyranny of the new perm. She was uncomfortably hot and clammy in her new outer skin of trench coat (belted, beige), silk scarf, beret, tan leather gloves. Samuel had said when he met her at the station, ‘You scrub up well!’ And she’d winced at the thought of the skinning knives used to clean down pelts.
She wanted to take the trench coat off and carry it, but there was drizzle, and it was the wetting kind, and if her skin got wet, she would smell of the sea. She was never sure if anyone else could smell it, but the thought of it made her burn with shame.

Strange Waters is also available as an audiobook read by Sophie Aldred

Happy Mermaid Day!

70 poems for a 70th birthday

It is Arachne poet Jane Aldous’ birthday today. She is seventy, and to celebrate she has spent the last year writing 70 poems. We will be publishing these next year, on International Women’s Day, 8th March.

Jane Aldous

To get you in the mood here is Jane’s ‘birth announcement’ poem from her debut collection, Let Out the Djinn.

Telegram from Doris Court Nursing Home

Greetings!
Here she is your chick, your slick of blood, skin, bone.
Here they are, your ma and pa, they’re terrified,
she’s sore, he thinks he’s going to drop you.
Congratulations.
Love, Min and Avis.
Stop.

Happy Birthday, Jane!

International Women’s Day Submission Call

Thinking about International Women’s Day, sometimes you wonder how any of us manage to live to grow up, the world can be so hard on women; and sometimes you want to celebrate everything we can be. Being of a cheerful disposition, we’ve gone for celebration.

We thought today was an excellent time to launch our submission call for an anthology of women’s writing. We are giving you a spectacularly long run in on this one, because we want it to be truly amazing, and because we are planning some writing workshops which will be run by editors Cherry Potts and Catherine Pestano (as soon as the funding is in place, we’ll let you know!). These will definitely be available online, for maximum reach, and may also be in person, depending on where we can find suitable writer-friendly venues and what the position is with Covid.

Our October 2023 Anthology is aimed firmly at older women, lesbians and women from the global majority. Our theme is menopause, and the book will be published on Menopuase day 2023 (October the 1st), we want your stories, flash and poems that go waaay beyond the empty nest and feelings of sexual redundancy. Tell us something we don’t know, go wild and magnificent…tell us about surgically induced menopause, unexpected benefits, the freedom of not bleeding… whatever genre you want (within our guidelines), but surprise us.

Submissions via Submittable ONLY

If you need a steer, Helen Morris’ magnificent The Change in Departures is our favourite Menopause story (so far!)

Helen Morris reads from The Change

A470 launches

Eat your heart out Route 66, we’ve got the A470, and the poems to prove it!

We are holding a bilingual ONLINE launch for A470 on 3rd March (World Book Day) at 7pm.

Line up: Adele Evershed, Cas Stockford, Ness Owen, Sian Northey, Angela Graham, KS Moore, Rae Howells, Becky Lowe  Siôn Aled, David Mathews, Seth Crook, Simon Chandler, and Sammy Weaver.

free tickets, and copies of the book

2pm Saturday 23rd April 2022/ 2pm Dydd Sadwrn, 23ain Ebrill, 2022
Our first in person event/ Ein digwyddiad cyntaf â phawb mewn ystafell
Bilingual readings by poets/ Darlleniadau dwyieithog gan feirdd
plus open mic

Caffi Soar
Canolfan Soar, Pontmorlais,
Merthyr Tudful, CF47 8UB
Line up: Nicholas McGaughey, Des Mannay, Gareth Writer-Davies, Sian Northey, Matthew MC Smith, Mike Jenkins, David Mathews, and provisionally, Sara Louise Wheeler and Becky Lowe.
free, just turn up