‘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.

 

Help us get A Voice Coming from Then on the Road

We are crowdfunding! We want to take Jeremy Dixon​’s fabulous award winning poetry book A Voice Coming From Then on the road – we have dates booked, and need some money to pay for travel and accommodation. Sales will never cover this, but it’s an important book and winning the Wales Book of the Year Poetry category means that bookshops are taking some notice. If you’d like to help, you’ll be even more our friends for ever than you are now. If you share the link and persuade people we don’t already know to help, you will be elevated to ‘absolute star’ (or possibly, as Jeremy describes it in his pamphlet, In Retail, ‘Unicorn’ status.)

Rewards include signed books, original artwork, handmade badges, T shirts… It’s a quick fire effort this, we have 20 days to raise £1000 all-or-nothing.

Expect to be inundated with nudges to contribute or share. (Not really, we’ll try to keep it below ‘annoying’ level.)

We completely understand that many, many people are having to draw their horns in financially (we are too) but if you can contribute anything, it all adds up, and if you can bring the crowdfund to the attention of friends, family or neighbours feeling less pressured, that also helps!

Many thanks…

Preventing Suicide one poem at a time

Today is Suicide Prevention Day. You might think, What’s that got to do with Poetry?

Quite a bit it turns out, for poet Jeremy Dixon, who recently won the Wales Book of the Year Poetry award.

We have a flash sale today only 50% off with the code PREVENT50 on print book from our webshop and audio or ebook from our e-store

Jeremy’s collection A Voice Coming from Then charts the homophobic bullying he experienced as a teenager and his subsequent suicide attempt, and recovery forging an identity for himself that rejected the negative image he had forced on him by the bullies. Along the way it is heartbreaking and hilarious and joyful.

Reading the poems in manuscript when Jeremy first submitted the collection I was sobbing uncontrollably within pages.

This is the precise response I sent to Jeremy whilst still mopping my tears.

Content warning notwithstanding, you may have to wait a while for a coherent answer, I’m already in tears and I’ve only got to Anne Sexton. Not feeling strong enough for this right now, but if they are all like this, it’s going to be an emphatic YES.

and not much later the same day

And then I had to go back and finish, and of COURSE it’s YES.

I don’t often weep over a MS, but as I know Jeremy a bit from publishing him before and meeting at events, it was probably tougher than reading these from a stranger. Which brings me to the vexed question of Content Warnings.

Jeremy has this to say on the subject in the introduction:

// a note on content warnings
For me content warnings really work. If I am not prepared then sometimes just seeing the word ‘suicide’ has an emotional effect.

And I get it, I really do, I have had a complete melt down from authors sending me (sometimes unsolicited, grrr) graphic distressing material without warning. Some of that is outrage that they think they can do that, at least in a bookshop you’ve chosen to pick the book up, in a MS there’s nothing to indicate what’s there until it’s too late. And I don’t voluntarily read things that are going to upset me, real life is quite sufficient, thanks. BUT it means I probably won’t pick up a book with a content warning on the cover. And other people may think twice too.

When we were recording the audiobook (voiced by the MAGNIFICENT Nigel Pilkington) we cautioned both Nigel and our sound engineer, Jess, that it was potentially an emotional listen, and Jess in particular just shrugged, and said ‘powerful, isn’t it,’ because we had warned her.

The book is peppered with statistics and there are resources at the end.

just one accepting adult
in a LGBTQ+ young person’s life
can reduce the risk
of suicide by 40%

 

 The Trevor Project, 2019

Jeremy says:

I wanted to be make the book as safe as possible. So as part of that I decided on this, the structure of the poems as couplets so that there would be nothing about the structure or the forms of the poems that would throw people, and then tied to that was the use of statistics to give a kind of grounding to give an overview, to give it a different voice, a research voice, but they were still formatted in the same way as poems so that they’re like tiny, tiny little poems themselves.

Homophobia, bullying, cruelty, suicide attempts… hard, hard things to experience, hard to write about, but in Jeremy’s careful, compassionate hands, emotional, but rewarding, cathartic and inspiring.

As Andy Welch one of the judges of the Wales Book of the Year said during the announcement on Radio Wales,

It just took me aback completely. It was so shocking, but something so beautiful to come out of it.

And Jeremy at the launch of the book said this:

I wonder if [writng the book] is another form of  potential protection… in some ways, it’s been a very healing process… once the poem’s written, and especially when it’s in a book,  there’s  another distancing. I think for me this relates to the book as an object. It’s like everything is contained in that book now, so I don’t need to carry it around with me anymore.

So if, like me, you shy away from a content warning, be encouraged, this is a generous kindly book that doesn’t want to steep you in trauma, it wants to share recovery and particular joy of looking back at a tough time and realising it really is the past, and that by writing about that past we can change our future.

Resources:

http://www.thecalmzone.net
The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) aims to prevent male suicide in the UK.

http://www.tcf.org.uk
The Compassionate Friends offers many different kinds of support for bereaved families.

http://www.cruse.org.uk
CRUSE Bereavement Care provides support
and counselling to those suffering from grief.

http://www.ditchthelabel.org
An international anti-bullying charity.

http://www.hafal.org
Welsh charity for people with serious mental illness and their carers.

http://www.listeningplace.org.uk
Help for those who feel life is not worth living.

http://www.maytree.org.uk
Offers suicidal adults free short-term stays in a safe and caring environment.

http://www.papyrus-uk.org
Offers support and advice to young people at risk of suicide.

http://www.samaritans.org
Dedicated to reducing feelings of isolation and disconnection that can
lead to suicide.

http://www.uk-sobs.org.uk
The Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) supports all those bereaved or affected by suicide.

http://www.TheTrevorProject.org
The world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organisation for LGBTQ+ youth.

A Voice Coming from Then On Tour

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.

 

Wales Book of the Year Poetry WINNER

Beyond thrilled that our lovely Jeremy Dixon has WON the English @BangorUniversity Poetry Award for Wales Book of the Year 2022  (administered by Literature Wales) for his glorious
So very happy! Congratulations, Jeremy, this book really deserves this recognition.
(You can buy a copy from us, and we have a special offer on – buy a print copy, and get a voucher for 50% off either the audiobook or the ebook.)

A Voice Coming from… Tomorrow

Just a reminder that we find out tomorrow whether Jeremy Dixon has won something in the Wales Book of the Year for A Voice Coming from Then.

Listen in to the results live this Friday 29 July on BBC Radio Wales’ The Arts Show at 6pm.

in the meantime you can buy a copy from us!

print

ebook

audio

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.

invitation and preview for the launch of A Voice Coming From Then

Thursday 26th August 7pm

Register for free on eventbrite

JeremyDixon is joined by Nigel Pilkington, our narrator for the audiobook, to launch the print, eBook and audio versions of this poetry collection.

Here is a sample of Nigel reading from A Voice Coming From Then

[content warning: poems deal with bullying homophobia and suicide]

 

 

 

Behind the Scenes at Arachne Towers: Lockdown Audiobook Production


The Corona Virus crisis meant a moment for reflection, strategising and funding applications at Arachne Press. When we got Arts Council England funding for nine audiobooks, we had to approach the challenge of creating them remotely, while we couldn’t get into the studio due to lockdown. Continuing our #LoveAudio celebrations, here’s a behind the scenes look at how we approached this. Cherry Potts talks to poet Jeremy Dixon, audiobook narrator Nigel Pilkington and Jessica Stone, audiobook producer at Listening Books.

Cherry Potts, Director

Having worked with Listening Books in the studio, I thought I had a rough idea how difficult it would be to record remotely – I knew what was possible, and what wasn’t, I knew that the pickups that were dealt with in seconds in the studio would be more complicated to deal with. I knew background noise would be a problem, and that with our anthologies, we needed the actors to be recording to the same standards. So I thought I knew what we were getting in to.

Having to be a director at one remove, though, not being on the ‘set’ as it were, was a real challenge; every problem was magnified by the repetitions that were necessary – and all those actors with neighbours who decide now is the perfect time to drill into the party wall! Jessica and I really bonded over the problems, admitting to occasionally shrieking as some slip happened again and again. But also, I found myself laughing out loud listening to actors apologising for burps or shrieking in their own frustration at some word that would.not.come.out.right; or sighing happily at the perfect rendition of a particular phrase.

I have to be honest; I wouldn’t choose to do it like this. I now know not to rely on an audition recording, and to audition over Zoom. Compared to being in the studio, remote recording is time consuming and frustrating, but needs must in lockdown, and when it goes well, it is a joy.

The absolute best experience has been recording A Voice Coming From Then by Jeremy Dixon. Because of the sensitive material, I asked Jeremy who he wanted to read. We agreed that the reader must be a queer man, and of roughly the same age as Jeremy. Shared understanding of what it was like growing up ‘then’ was really important. I put a call out to actors I knew and to the narrators we were already working with as the people most likely to know someone; and Sophie Aldred, who has narrated two novels for us, immediately suggested Nigel Pilkington. Initially I had in my mind that we were trying to replicate Jeremy’s approach, if not actual voice, as a 15 year old and as an adult, but in the course of auditioning, with Jeremy listening in, we discovered that what was needed was a voice that was, in essence, the reader, reading for the first time – which gave a very necessary steer for what the listening experience would be – this is a book wreathed in content warnings, the tone had to be exactly right.

Nigel read some of the poems  for us on the spot, and it was an emphatic yes, and the resulting files sent off to Jessica for technical approval. Short delay while Jeremy reformatted his carefully laid out and largely unpunctuated poems, so that they could be read aloud without faltering.

Nigel asked if we wanted to listen in via zoom while he recorded. I hadn’t expected that, and it was brilliant, almost like being in the studio, immediate feedback, live performance, and very moving. We just had to remember to mute when we’d finished saying how wonderful every take was! We had, of course, chosen the hottest day of the year, and Nigel was expiring in his recording cupboard, but five hours later we had a complete book.

Jeremy Dixon, Author

My first full poetry collection A VOICE COMING FROM THEN (published by Arachne Press) starts with my teenage suicide attempt and expands to encompass themes of bullying, queerphobia, acceptance and support. In one of those unplanned cosmic coincidences that you just couldn’t make up, we actually recorded the audiobook on the 42nd anniversary of that suicide attempt. So, for me, lockdown recording was very emotional before we even started and then the beautiful and varied ways in which Nige was able to read my work only added to making this one of the most memorable events of my writing career.

Usually the author would not be present in the studio during recording but one of unexpected benefits of lockdown was that it enabled me to be involved via the wonders of Zoom. My editor Cherry was also there, and we could both give small directions in pacing, emphasis, and pronunciation although Nige didn’t really need very much of this, his readings were so fantastic that I kept thinking, ‘I would love this poem if somebody else had written it’. We recorded the audiobook on what was the hottest day of the year so far and so had many breaks for water and food etc, but I was still surprised that it took nearly five hours to record everything from introduction to poems to acknowledgements.

For a writer and poet, it was an invaluable insight into the processes involved in creating an audiobook and I feel very grateful that lockdown enabled me to be a part of it.

Nigel Pilkington, Actor

Being a voice actor during lockdown?  The myth of the Hydra springs to mind! – we’ve needed to grow many more heads for the many more hats that have rained down on us.  When you record a book in an external studio, your entire focus can be on your performance.  But when recording from home, you’re also tasked with the jobs of engineer, sound editor, and sometimes director, and it’s easy to let the performance be pushed to the back of the queue.

Not so when recording A Voice Coming From Then by Jeremy Dixon, published by Arachne Press, as we took our time, allowing Jeremy’s poignant and careful words to be intoned with sensitivity.  After each poem, I’d break to label the files, and this actually afforded me a natural gear change between pieces, so that each one could be approached on its merits, rather than rattling through the entire script in one pass.

So, as much as recording in lockdown has been vexing, it did actually work to our advantage in this case… and I managed NOT to lose my head…!

Jessica Stone, Producer

I have both sympathy and admiration for voice actors who’ve been forced to transition from professional studio to recording at home. Not everyone has access to quiet, non-reverberant spaces, and it can be a steep learning curve to work well with the technical equipment and recording software. This means that the raw recordings I receive from actors can vary significantly in how much interference they need from me! In this case, however, Nigel made my job as easy as it gets, with the happy result that I was free to enjoy Jeremy’s text and Nigel’s performance as I worked. I am especially fond of ‘I’m learning to shout “Oi!”’ 

#LoveAudio is the Publisher’s Association annual week-long digital celebration of audiobooks is designed to showcase the accessibility, innovation, and creativity of the format. Follow the hashtag on twitter.

A Voice Coming from Then will be published by Arachne Press in August 2021. It is available for pre-order now, from our webshop.

Cover reveal for May17th

17th May is International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, and to celebrate, we are revealing the cover of upcoming poetry collection, A Voice Coming from Then by Jeremy Dixon, which is published at the end of August.

cover design by Rachel Marsh Semple Press

This is Jeremy’s first full collection, after his pamphlet In Retail a couple of year’s back.

A Voice Coming from Then deals honestly and straightforwardly with homophobic bullying and a youthful suicide attempt, through the presence of Spring-Heeled Jack, a demon of Victorian urban myth. It is illustrated with Jeremy’s collages of family photographs, and also contains statistics and much needed resources.

I don’t mind admitting I cried over the manuscript.

A Voice Coming from Then will also be available as an Audiobook!

 

Here’s one of the poems as a taster.