Time is running out, like the tide

The deadline for sending us your wonderful sea and history themed short stories and poems (up to 2000 words) and film-poems and songs (up to 5 mins) is only a WEEK away. You have until 23:59 BST (that’s probably high tide somewhere) to deliver your cargo at the quay that is Submittable.Lots more info there.

Ok, that’s not a great metaphor, I’m sure you can do better, but if you don’t send it (weigh anchor, cast off, set sail…) we’ll never know!

Chosen work will be performed by actors/you at one or more of our sites on the shortest day of the year: 21st December. Performances will be live-streamed on Facebook (technology  permitting) and published in the Time & Tide anthology (texts only obvs.) for which we will pay royalties (tiny, probably, with lots of contributors, but it’s the principle)

We need warehouses full of stuff for this, as we have  seven or eight tidal venues so far…

Scotland: Aberdeen and Glasgow

Wales: Holyhead

England: Greenwich, Hastings, Maryport and possibly Brighton.

Portugal: Lisbon

Cast your work upon the waters…

In the meantime, here’s a video from our recent reprise of last year’s Noon extravaganza performed at Brockley Brewery as part of Brockley Max festival. Michelle Penn reads her poem Precarious.

Solstice Shorts Festival – Update

sun half and halfPlans for the Solstice Shorts Festival are continuing apace.

A celebration of National Short Story Day, of the Winter Solstice and of the narrative power of folk music, bringing together story and song on the Greenwich Meridian – on the theme of Time.

The Festival has grown in scope a bit while we’ve been thinking about it and it is now a marvellous mix of live short stories, chosen by our exquisite line-up of judges and read by actors; and folk music from leading local professional and amateur musicians, backed up with writing and singing workshops, all of which will be BSL interpreted throughout, as we’d like to make the event as inclusive as possible. We also plan to live broadcast the performances, and podcasting them for future reference. We even plan to provide breakfast for the sunrise sessions!

We have confirmed venues at the beautiful West Greenwich Library from sunrise (8.04) til 11.30, and at The Royal Observatory Greenwich, in the Astronomy Centre,  from 11.00 til sunset (15.53)
We have confirmed judges for the short story competition: Alison Moore (award-winning short story writer and novelist), Imogen Robertson (writer of the acclaimed Crowther & Westerman historical crime series), Rob Shearman (Doctor Who and multiple short stories) and Anita Sethi (Journalist, reviewer and Broadcaster). Each of the judges is contributing a story to the day, and the book that will be published of the winning stories from the competition.
We have confirmed hosts: Cherry Potts, Imogen Robertson, Rob Shearman and Anita Sethi.
We have confirmed musicians: Pepper & Shepherd, Shadrack Tye, Rosemary Lippard, Summer All Year Long and Ian Kennedy & Sarah Lloyd.

The performances will all be free to attend, but we will charge a modest fee for the writing workshops, hosted by Paul Shearrard and Cherry Potts, one of which will be accompanied by live music from Ian Kennedy and Sarah Lloyd, and of course the competition is £5 to enter.

All we need is the MONEY!

To that end we have put in an application to the Arts Council, and to the Samuel Gardner Memorial Trust, and started a crowd funding campaign, which, if you like the sound of the festival and would like to support it, you can contribute to (PLEASE!). This expires on Thursday 4th September at 23:59, so don’t hang around if you would like some of our lovely rewards – some of the one-off rewards have already gone! Books, signed or otherwise, exclusively designed badges and t shirts, invitations to our next book launch, a hand lettered poem, a digital portrait, and bespoke flash fiction are all available. We will add new rewards as we think of them.

Solstice Shorts expressions of interest

Ever wondered what your expression of interest looks like when it reaches us?

mostly it’s just your name and email, and whether or not you want to be on the mailing list, but occasionally someone takes advantage of the question box, usually to just wish us luck with the funding application, (thank you by the way!); and sometimes some fun is had too.
Here’s my favourite so far – name removed and with their permission to share:

Name:
Email:
I have a question!: Q. Do I have time to write a short story on the theme of time?
A. Yes.
Q. What am I thinking?
A. Only time will tell.
Q. Will I enter? Will I win?
A. Watch this space
please add me to the Arachne Press mailing list: yes

We’ve just passed the 100 expressions mark – thank you everyone, We will let you know as soon as we have news on funding. We will be putting together a crowdfunding pitch so if you feel inclined to support the festival financially, keep an eye out for the information.

NSSW celebration competition Result

Stop voting. Your time is up.

The Winner is Story 5, by Viv Cooper.

Thanks also to Kate Murray, James Holden, Calum Kerr, Ann Macaulay, David Gullen, Audrey Morgan, Ronnie Lloyd and ‘Lizard Yoga’ for your contributions, and to everyone who voted.

Vote for National Short Story Week Flash Competition

We asked for stories of exactly 100 words, and here are the submissions.  We are posting them anonymously, in order of receipt. You can vote for as many stories as you like, but only vote once, please!

Voting closed on Sunday at 5pm the winner was announced as Story 5.

Story 1

How can you not know your season?

Last year you were so bitingly cold that I spent sixty two pounds on warm slippers.

This year you blame October. Oh yes, we know it started cold but it quickly warmed. The wasps buzzed and grew flabbily indolent and seriously argumentative.

Now we rely on you to freeze them, to seal them in their many layered homes.

I had no use for my slippers in the spring, nor in the summer. Now November, you decide. Are you autumn or are you winter? When can I brush the dust from the Harris Tweed?

Story 2

Cervelaf sprawled on his mossy woodland throne. An empty tankard dangled from one finger, his great antlered head lolled.

The doe-woman, Devnet, emerged from the forest edge, bow in hand. Graceful as ever, she crossed the clearing and bowed before Cervelaf. ‘The Marasmus has returned.’

Blood surged through Cervelaf’s heart. At last! He leapt to his feet, seized his hunting horn and gave three blasts.

Echoes of the horn faded among the trees. Cervelaf drove his fist into his palm and paced the clearing.  Finally, the seasons turned. Boar-warriors, fox-people and collared men gathered around.

It was time to hunt.

Story 3

“Penny for the Guy,” I called from the doorway of the laundrette.

10p would get us a Wham bar. 20p would get a Texan. Anything else would get cola bottles or gummy bears in triplicate.

“You going to burn it, then?” asked a man in a leather jacket, pointing with his cigarette at the bundle by my feet.

I nodded, feeling shy.

“Do it now and I’ll give you a tenner,” he said, pulling a half-full can of lighter fluid from his pocket.

I just hoped my little brother would stay still long enough for me to get the money.

Story 4

It was night in the countryside; there was no light, not from moon or house. Reaching out a hand I switched on the lamp. It gave a dull click but nothing happened.

A power cut.

Across the ceiling an unearthly light painted a geometric and random pattern. Its very nature made me afraid. Quietly, as if there were company in the room, I went to the window and peered out. On the hill opposite a light danced.

I huddled awaiting my fate, but nothing happened. All night I sat until the morning revealed the truth; a harvester on the hill.

Story 5

What is the late November doing? Spring was disturbed; the summer was hot; November terrifies.

The shining woods with their gold-brown light have tempted me out, against my better judgement. Perhaps this time it won’t happen.

And then it hoves into view: a ghastly half-rotten face with staring holes for eyes and a jagged, open mouth. It is laughing at me!

Charred twigs form a sinister circle at my feet; footprints in the mud remind me of a teasing, jeering mob.

The remains of a spiked wheel hang forlornly on a fence. It’s the 25th and my name is Catherine.

Story 6

Every month has its own flavour : February – chocolate, July  – raspberry, October – apple; November is treacle. Burnt sugar, molasses, toffee  it doesn’t matter how I come by it, so long as there’s that bitter dark sweetness – toffee apple, parkin, stir-up Sunday; the air is constantly full of that scent, sticky with the feel of winter: dead leaves, fireworks and fires. My earliest memory is of sticking my baby-teeth together with treacle toffee, wielding the little hammer that was meant to break the slab apart. I hit more than the toffee, and ever since, treacle has been the flavour of guilt.

Story 7

For the past three years, Anna had tried to imagine that November wasn’t going to happen. The kitchen wall calendar remained stuck on October until the 1st of December, when she would turn two pages at once. Guy Fawkes and St Andrews Day were passed over, and she pretended that the birthdays and anniversaries that she would have previously penned in didn’t exist. But every time she dated a document, or picked up a newspaper, or checked an email she couldn’t avoid the countdown to the only important date in November – the anniversary to her husband’s death on 30 November.

Story 8

That Friday was our first taste, although not the expected exotic Spaghetti Bolognese.  We’d giggled, anticipating our big sister’s bubbling pot, the whole sixty mile bumpy bus journey, but were met by Bobby unsmiling at the bus stop, “Quick, into the van.”

Margaret tensely smiled as we whirled to Foresterhill.  Bobby paced outside, “Your dinner? Here.” We raced into the dark but, no chipper, only an offlicence offering us the new flavour, roast chicken crisps, with liquorice Toffos for dessert. Sated, we returned to Bobby’s mixed delight and denial at “It’s ANOTHER girl”, much too young to be our dad.

Story 9

My father was a cross in a field, with a red flower in the centre, like his heart was pinned there.  It was cold and damp so I wrapped him in my jumper; but my mother told me off and I put it on again.  We left my father standing there, one cross among hundreds; a tree in a forest of stumps.

My father had fallen, they said: I wondered how far he’d fallen and how he had turned into this tiny wooden fork with a heart pinned to it.

My father was a cross in a field.

National Short Story Week competition only hours left

We’ve only had a very few 100 word stories proffered so far, so you have an excellent chance of being read and possibly winning, you have until 5pm GMT today. So those of you who need a deadline, you’ve got it. It’s just a bit of fun, so we aren’t expecting vast numbers, but have a go! Stand up for the short story!

The theme is November, and the length must be EXACTLY 100 words (be warned: MSWord word count counts things like hyphens as a word, we don’t.) You can have a title as extra provided it isn’t one of those that lasts a paragraph!

Voting will start as soon after 5pm as I can get the stories up on the site, and last til GMT on Sunday 17th November. Stories will be anonymous until the voting closes, when I will add writers names.

Pen, laptop or tablet at the ready? Go!

National Short Story Week Competition

It’s NatiNSSWlogoonal Short Story Week!

Story Sessions logo copyThat’s good news for us, as that’s what we publish (so far, anyway). To celebrate we are hosting an edition of The Story Sessions at The Ivy House this Wednesday. Lots more information here

.

And we thought we’d give you a chance to join in. At the Story Sessions we give the audience the chance to write 100 words on theme and read it out, so now you can do the same: 100 words (excluding title), not a word more, not a word less – strictly fiction! You have until 5pm on Friday, when we will post the entries and then we will have online voting until 5pm on Sunday when the winner will be announced. Prize is the warm glow of being appreciated, and maybe a badge.

Theme: November. Whatever that conjurers up for you.

THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED

Valentine’s Love Poetry Competition – results

Aside

Ok, I give in, you don’t like poetry. Seven poems and seven votes. Useful feedback I guess.

The winner is Peter Cooper, with his poem Ode on Your Sixtieth Birthday. Congratulations Peter, your book will be in the post tomorrow.

Zelda Rhiando is our runner-up with Will You, Won’t You, Well?  Zelda, congratulations, and your badge will be on its way as soon as I have contacted you for a postal address. Thanks to the other contributors – if you would like your names appended to your work now, please let me know!

poetry votes

Aside

Hmm. 7 poems, 6 votes. This is the wrong way round folks. And we currently have a tie. Voting is extended until Sunday evening.

Read a poem,

have an opinion,

press a button – I’ve added an ‘I don’t like any of them’ button for the grumpy and fastidious.

go on, you know you want to really.

Poems for voting

winged heart clearHere are the poems to vote on, anonymous and in no particular order.
You have until 9am on Valentine’s Day at which point I will have finished ripping open multiple cards, obviously, and have time to consider which poem has the most cards from the voting public.
The contact form has played fast and loose with the formating in some cases so I’ve had to guess: If I have guessed wrong, authors, please alert me quickly and I will correct.
Scroll to the bottom for the voting form.

winged heart clear

Poem 1

(No Title)

I want to be your shadow, to be with you night and day,
You stole my heart, but you can’t take my longing away.
I loved you will all my heart, not thinking we would every part,
but you were untrue, so I wait in vain,
but your shadow upon me will always remain.

winged heart clear

Poem 2

A Whirlwind Romance

She came up to me in a bar
Dark-hair, sunglasses, a tight silk dress
Every inch of her screaming danger.
Bare arms, a tattooed ace – of spades –
On her shoulder, almost discreet,
Cleavage created under a knife,
White teeth, eyes that might have seen
Jesus walking out of the desert.
It was her shoes that convinced
Her scuffed heel a stiletto in my heart
And after two Martinis we took a cab
To the airport. First plane: Cuba.
Now, under the palms she sits
Knowing everything and nothing,
Sipping a banana Daiquiri, as I scan
Sports pages and three-minute eggs.
Replete. My shirt like downy plumage.
It is hot. A man plunges into the pool.
We have no conversation, nothing to say.
The shoes have been cleaned.
Her dress is out of place.
She gazes off into the distance
Across the blue where death and chaos embrace.
Feeling the pull of the smoky haze,
Abandoned cars, the machines given to rust
The thump of bass notes behind smoked glass
Gods skewered on billiard cues.
Neon.
The underworld.
Obols on her eyes.

 winged heart clear

Poem 3
When You Walk Away

The room is hollow
Like my soul
When you walk away.
Is there nothing to make you stay
Beyond a while?
Is there nothing in me
You desire?
Keeper of my misspent fire.
Jester of charm and eloquence.

My heart is in your
Clumsy fist
When you walk away.
Knowing not that it is there,
Carry on without a care,
Cherub’s back with flaxen hair:
When you walk away.

winged heart clear

Poem 4

Will you, Won’t you, Well?

Darling will you still love me when
my hair is lank and stringy,
insecurity has made me clingy,
my flesh drips wrinkled from my bones
and gasps of passion become arthritic moans?

Will you, won’t you, well?

Well can you picture it, surfacing for air
when wheezy lungs and mouldy flesh make sex too much to bear:
will you want me then? Will you?
Will whatever else we have fulfil you?
When years have passed, everything’s been said
and the friends we’ve shared are dead?

Will you, won’t you, well?

Well, will we be enough for each other,
friend and enemy, father and mother,
life entire, self complete, one within another?
Will you still love me then, when
my eyes are dull and you have to shout
before I understand what you are talking about?

And when I’m dead, flesh crumbled, all forgotten,
will you dig me up and love me rotten?

Will you, won’t you, well?

winged heart clear

Poem 5

Weather House

Beginning to think we’ve made a mistake.
After all,
what are we doing here?
Tense and over emphatic;
one too hot intense dramatic
one so cool reserved phlegmatic.
At first sight the symmetry of difference
was appealing
yin and yang’s
Dark and light
loud and quiet a dissonance
Tall and short too, but
we won’t go into that.
But balance is an illusion
each quick to anger it takes
us different ways
one explodes, screams and is done
one festers and smoothes,
indignation buttoned in.
One cries when angry
one shouts when sad
so what are we doing here?
Never eye to eye
sizzling, and cool
stroppy, and contained.
But then, side by side
observing the world
one will make a sardonic quip
the other will burst out laughing
And we are back in true
Together.

winged heart clear

Poem 6

Un-love poem

I tell you, I’m not in love!
I can tell you that straight to your face.
Because your face is everywhere…
In the coffee cup
In the mirror stains as I brush my teeth in the morning,
In the wrinkled bed sheets as I crawl out of bed at night for a glass of water
Not able to sleep.
In my dreams…
You’re following me around like a private detective.

I know I’m being followed, all right.
But I let you be
Hoping you’ll get bored one day and stop playing this silly game.

Sometimes I like having you around.
Like when my heart starts throbbing really fast out of the blue
And when my palms are sweating
And my legs grow weak
And my stomach crunches
And my forehead is covered in droplets of sweat
And a bitter sweet pain engulfs me,
Your face is there, reassuringly…

But most of the times I hate you.
Go away!
I’m not in love, I tell you…

winged heart clear
Poem 7
An Ode For Your Sixtieth Birthday

It can’t be true that you too are sixty
For I see a young woman by my side!
But it is true, for it’s more than forty
Years since on York’s Derwent Bridge I saw glide
A vision, and by beauty was smitten.
You wore an Indian dress, Paris bought,
And stunned me into aching in that hour,
As if by some bird of love I’d been bitten
And in her sweet enchantment I was caught –
So that I am still stunned and aching now.

Looking through pictures of you as a child
I swoon at images of loveliness
And, in photographs of a lifetime filed,
Feel, as if in my flesh, love’s soft caress
In your beauty fully-ripe: there as wife,
And there again, in your mothering phase,
With our children that in your image flower.
So blessed have I been through my life
Since that day when you turned to meet my gaze –
And still your beauty glows now and still now.

But flowers can’t be gathered all the time.
It’s true we’ve shared in ice as well as fire,
And in vinegar – though much more of wine –
And we’ve been low in love as well as high.
But still how brief they seem, those bitter hours
That come and finger like a passing frost,
Turning white all that once was green and grew,
But blighting not the blooming of the flowers
When the dark memory of frost is lost
And summer days return to make things new.

So, yes, now you’re sixty, but still on fire,
Flaming still higher as lover and friend –
For age is not the measure of desire
And nor does beauty on our age depend.
Our journey, it seems, is barely begun,
And Love the map to space and times unknown.
May we freely go where the warm winds tend,
May we sail together into the sun,
May we find in our Love eternal home,
And may our time together never end.

winged heart clear