The Story Sessions: Childhood tales- recordings

BMAX Childhood

Having had so much background noise the videos were useless from this session for Brockley Max back in June, I thought we wouldn’t be able to share, but it turns out that the sound recordings whilst still a bit buzzy, are bearable to listen to.

So here they are! Whet your appetite for our next Session, on 18th January – Winter Tales

(WRITERS deadline for submission is TOMORROW 4/1/17 at 23.59 GMT)

 

Barbara Renel reads Blowhole

Liam Hogan reads Bulletproof Papoose

Kate Foley reads several poems from The Don’t Touch Garden

Carrie Cohen reads Helen MorrisSimon le Bon will Save Us.

Chukwude Onwere reads an extract from Courttia Newland‘s Sound Boys, published in Saboteur award-winning Being Dad (Tangent Books)

News from the writing desk

Occasionally we ask our writers what they are up to out in the wider world, so here’s an update of excitements and triumphs from Arachne authors and poets around the world.

Andrew Blackman (Stations) is having a short story Boy, Dog, Accordion published in a pocket-sized book by In Short Publishing in Australia early next year.

Brian Johnstone (The Other Side of Sleep, Liberty Tales) has recently had a poem installed on the Corbenic Poetry Path in Highland Perthshire. The poem, ‘How the Mire Thaws’ – from his 2004 pamphlet Homing – was selected by curator Jon Plunkett for a recent extension to the path also featuring poems by Kathleen Jamie, John Glenday and Alec Finlay. The Corbenic Poetry Path is situated on the banks of the River Braan near Dunkeld. It is roughly 3.5 kilometres long and takes in woodland of various sorts, open moorland, field borders and riverbank. Access to it is open to all and is completely free. For more information see: http://www.corbenicpoetrypath.com/

BRIAN IS READING FROM LIBERTY TALES TONIGHT 1/12/16 6.30 AT BLACKWELL’S NEWCASTLE!!

brian-and-poem

brians-poem-on-a-tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Mathews (Solstice Shorts, Liberty Tales, Shortest Day, Longest Night) has, finally, a WEBSITE. www.davidmathewsstories.com  where people can catch up with his literary happenings, read a few of stories and sign up for a brand new monthly story, starting 13 November – on the theme of coffee for the first few months.

j.lewis (The Other Side of Sleep) had a book of poetry/photography published this year http://www.egjpress.org/collections/featured/products/a-clear-day-in-october

Kate Foley (The Other Side of Sleep, Liberty Tales, The Don’t Touch Garden) has had her collected poems Electric Psalms published by Shoestring Press

Lennart Lundh (The Other Side of Sleep) has taken part in three poetry month projects, been part of seventeen open mics, and was a featured reader a baker’s dozen times. One book of short stories, Antique Shopping, was published in October. The poetry collections Poems Against Cancer 2016 (Len’s annual April fundraiser for research into children’s cancers), The Bear Whispers in the Night (August), and Jazz Me (September) also made their appearances.

Liam Hogan (London Lies, Happy Ending NOT Guaranteed) has one three (THREE!) prizes this year, Quantum Shorts 2015 in April and Sci-Fest LA’s Roswell Award 2016 (May), and Worthing WOW YA fiction prize (June) and a 2nd place in On The Premises Darkness contest, (October) for Bring Rope.

Mi L Holliday (Lovers’ Lies) had a poem A Mother’s Concern published by Shooter Literary Magazine Issue #3: Surreal.

p.a.morbid (The Other Side of Sleep) has 2 chapbooks out this year, and a solo exhibition….

Peng Shepherd (Weird Lies) has signed with Curtis Brown agents, and has a book deal with Harper Collins for her debut novel M

Pippa Gladhill (Solstice Shorts, Shortest Day, Longest Night)  had her play CITY performed in Faversham Kent in August this year. It will be produced in Bristol in 2017, date to be confirmed, and there is a possibility of more in Swindon and London.

Sarah Lawson (The Other Side of Sleep) has had a poem Coming Home in the Fog in South Bank Poetry in September, a poem When Does the Beginning Begin? in The Interpreter’s House in October, and six poems imminently forthcoming in Raceme. A later issue of Raceme is to contain two of Sarah’s translations of the Spanish poet, Luis Cernuda (1902-1963).

Wendy Gill (Stations, Shortest Day, Longest Night) had her musical That Man showcased at The London Hippodrome in September, supported by the Arts Council.It was a great success with a brilliant cast, with people from shows like Wicked and Lion King.

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Review of The Don’t Touch Garden in Salzburg Review

A lovely long review of Kate Foley‘s The Don’t Touch Garden from Lindsay MacGregor in Poetry Salzburg Review

Kate Foley’s eighth collection, The Don’t Touch Garden, is firmly rooted in her own life. A short prose introduction explains the circumstances of her adoption then the poems explore particular episodes from the standpoints of Foley as both child and adult, giving voice to her adoptive and birth mothers and the midwife along the way. It is a highly personal story which avoids sentimentality to explore themes of identity, “inheritance” and family relationship. The question Foley grapples with is:
‘Mirror, mirror on the wall’
the old joke says
‘I am my mother after all’
but which? (“Paradox”, 61)
It is hardly surprising that it has taken Foley, born in 1938, so many years to publish these poems. She confronts dif-ficult issues and complex feelings head on. “Lost Property” (8-9), imagining the distress of her birth mother, ends rue-fully: “She’s lost her memory but not / its weight and shape and pain.” (9) At times there is a quiet detachment to Foley’s writing which makes her words all the more stark. In the long poem, “The Don’t Touch Garden” (16-31), she enumerates her adoptive mother’s attempts to bear children: “Seven stains or clots. / The seventh breathed / awhile. The eighth, / a piece of paper.” (18)
Foley is adept at using sound, particularly alliteration and rhythm, to bring observed moments to life. So, in the title poem, we distinctly hear the repeated hacking as: “My father coughs the cough that kills / thirty years later” (16). There is beautiful rhythm as well as image in the description of her “borrowed” father, when, in the same poem: “he takes her in his hands, / hard as a wooden cradle / and rocks the rhythm of woe.” (20)
Foley adopts different voices to tell her story from different per-spectives, recalling her feelings as a child in church:
I’m s’posed to feel Him here. Welcome Jesus,
Sacred Heart, sorry for my sins … what else?
How long before He goes away?
The altar looks like meat, brown with yellow
curls. Don’t think of liver, or you’ll sick Him
up […] (17)
The vocabulary and syntax give voice to the child saying these words to herself. The collection makes for a challenging read, confronting all of us with the vulnerability of childhood and the isolation that comes with inability to articulate feeling.
But there’s humour too. In an observation which may resonate with many British readers, “My mother murdered cabbage. / It died with a yelp in the pot.” (“Sometimes I Feel Another Face”, 48-49; 48). This same capacity for layering images with other sensory impressions is also used to evoke more poignant scenes:
[…] when her breasts ached,
I roared, the landlady tutted,
my borrowed father sighed,
she never smelt of milk. (“Milk”, 32-33; 33)
These are war years when “Nothing must be named” (“The Don’t Touch Garden”, 25) and the war-time atmosphere is evoked beauti-fully and understatedly – “D-Day coming. Even the stars blacked out” (26)
This is a tender and moving collection. Although it is about adop-tion, there is something in this collection for anyone who has been a child or, failing that, who has experienced complicated love:
I learned that love’s
a climbing frame for separation, teaches
gaps and leaps and reaches.
(“On Growing a Face”, 55)
The different perspectives and voices give the collection a satisfactorily fragmentary feel. But as Foley states,
[…] Sometimes
fragments speak the truth
and broken is better than whole. (“The End of a Long Conversation Has Come”, 52-53; 52)

The Story Sessions: Two Poems by Kate Foley for ASYLUM at BrockleyMax

Video

A short video from Saturday’s The Story Sessions for BrockleyMax: Asylum, with Katy Darby reading Kate Foley‘s poems, Roots, and Jail Break.

Kate will be reading her own work TONIGHT Wednesday 1st June at our second The Story Sessions for BrockleyMax: Childhood – At The Brockley Deli, 14A Brockley Cross, SE4.

We hope Jailbreak will be published by us in the near future as part of the Liberty Tales anthology

Story Sessions Childhood line up confirmed

And… we have a show!

Planning a live event, especially if it’s free and you therefore have no budget, is a bit too exciting sometimes. Someone offers you a great story, then the author can’t make it after all, so you try to find an actor who will work for their fare and a book and a drink, at the same time as trying to decide whether it’s fair to promote the amazing story which you might not be able to read…

but everything falls into place eventually.

So we ARE reading Courttia Newland’s Sound Boys from the Saboteur2016 Best Anthology Award Winning Being Dad anthology on Wednesday 1st June at the Childhood The Story Sessions for Brockley Max, at the Brockley Deli.

Big thank you to Chukwudi Onwere for stepping in and to Carrie Cohen for making the introduction.

Also reading: Carrie CohenHelen MorrisSimon le Bon Will Save Us – with special singalong audience opportunities for those of you who remember the 80’s (If you want to practice, get your larynx around Duran Duran’s Rio in particular, and maybe Human League Don’t You Want Me, Baby?)

And reading their own work, Barbara Renel Blow Hole, Liam Hogan (also fresh from an award – The Roswell Award – for SciFi Short Story)  Bullet-proof Papoose and Kate Foley The Don’t Touch Garden

and of course …. YOU… you can join in with 100 words on the theme of Childhood – fiction or poetry, bring it with you or write it in the interval, we’ll bring paper and pens.

Get there early and get some fab food and drink, and to be sure of a seat – we are kicking off at 7.30.

BMAX Childhood

 

BrockleyMax: The Story Sessions – Childhood

Story Sessions logo copyWednesday 1st June 7.30 at The Brockley Deli 14A Brockley Cross London, SE4 1BE FREE EVENT

brockley max 16

Stories and poems on the theme of Childhood.

BMAX Childhood

Kate Foley will be headlining with her adoption poems The Don’t Touch Garden,

and we have stories:

Liam Hogan Bullet-proof Papoose

Helen Morris Simon le Bon Will Save Us (Read by Carrie Cohen)

Courttia Newland Sound Boys (WE HOPE! Courttia has another committment so we are trying to find a suitable actor to read on his behalf, if that could be YOU get in touch)

Barbara Renel Blow Hole

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Liam Hogan reads from RAT

Carrie Cohen Flips thorugh Frog by Emily CleaverBarbara Rennel

and of course …. YOU!

The Story Sessions is run like a folk club – headliners, support acts and floor spots – you can join in with 100 words of fiction or poetry on theme. Come prepared or write something in the interval, pens & paper will be provided!

Brockley MAX Story Sessions: Asylum

brockley max 16The Story Sessions is out of retirement for BrockleyMax. FREE EVENT

refugees welcomeSaturday 28th May 3.30pm in St Hilda’s Church, Courtrai Road Crofton Park SE23 1PL: Asylum – stories and poems and music around the concept of safety/sanctuary or the need for it. This is partly to showcase the Refugees Welcome anthology (not published by us, raising funds for Red Cross Refugee work) and will include stories from the book. Stories will be read by a mixture of authors and actors – where the author’s name is in bold, they are reading.

Refreshments avilable from 3pm. (if you have the stamina there’s a singing workshop with Various Voices on the same theme at 6:45 in the undercroft.)

The line up:

Music & story from Matthew Crampton from his book & show – Human Cargo

Story Mouse by David Mathews, which is featured in last year’s Solstice Shorts and will be in the forthcoming anthology Shortest Day, Longest Night Read by Alix Adams

Story Queues from Cherry Potts, from the Refugees Welcome anthology

Story This England by Oscar Windsor-Smith from the Refugees Welcome anthology Read by Alix Adams

Poems  Roots and Jail Break by Kate Foley* read by Katy Darby

Story Etymology of Happiness by Jane Roberts from the Refugees Welcome anthology read by Katy Darby

and of course …. YOU!

The Story Sessions is run like a folk club – headliners, support acts and floor spots – you can join in with 100 words of fiction or poetry on theme. Come prepared or write something with a cup of tea between 3-3.30, pens & paper will be provided!Story Sessions logo copy

Katy

Katy

Alix

Alix

*Kate Foley WILL be reading her own poetry at the NEXT The Story Sessions on 1st June at The Brockley Deli. Theme Childhood.

Kate Foley & Cherry Potts reading at Gay’s the Word – Video

We had a great evening at Gay’s the Word – thank you to Uli & Jim – and despite Kate’s determination to walk out of shot, we have some video – where it got silly, with just a sleeve on show, there’s audio instead.

Here’s Cherry reading a bit about family from The Dowry Blade, chosen specially to link with Kate’s themes, and not read elsewhere.

and audio of the other section read

Here’s Kate reading a varied selection of poems from The Don’t Touch Garden

Blue Glass, Empty Pram:

Oral History:

My Father Counting Sheep:

The Elephant Aunts:

 

and here, reading an abridged version of the long title poem.

continued off camera…

The Dowry Blade launch tour – Beckenham video

Video

Here’s a slightly out of focus video of Cherry Potts reading from The Dowry Blade at Beckenham Bookshop.

Next stop on the tour: Gay’s the Word on 24th March, with Kate Foley also reading, from The Don’t Touch Garden

Review of The Don’t Touch Garden from ArtemisPoetry Nov2015

a random button / from my mother’s button box / though each one had its story, / a scrap of whole cloth / dangling from its shank. (Sometimes I Feel Another Face)

Foley’s account of her search to make the random particular is absorbing and moving. She writes of the intimate details of family life, warts and all, with painful regret at the stiffness of her relationship with her mother who as she remembers “made the world / seven times over each day … and peopled it, / a touch of iron / for those who strayed / beyond the picket / of your imagination” (Making the Days).

Her father – whose large hands, at once hard and tender, feature throughout as a kind of avatar for his care and protectiveness – provided, you feel, the nurturing of that poet’s sensibility which has helped her to look back at her parents with compassion and understanding, until finally she can write “I have collected all our tears in a small bottle / and put it on the shelf with the household gods” (The End of a Long Conversation Has Come).

Foley is a mistress of the spare but telling detail which gives immediacy to the places inhabited by this unfolding story. The reluctant forcing down of “cold gobs of cod” and the limping home “in my new stilettos / and sugar starched slip, / creaking like ice” for example have an immediacy that vividly evokes either end of the post-war decade (Milk). The awareness of difference built up by small accretions are suggested by snatches of conversation – “thicker / than water hissed at the tea table / wasn’t a cup of weak tea, / but how you described / who I would never be” (Elephant Aunts).

Foley, like all adopted children, has to resolve the matter of belonging. She asks (and it feels as if she is here addressing both her birth and adoptive mother) “Do you see me now / in my skin, in my own skin, / printed with relics / of a child never yours? //1 will wear your echoes / for company” i Adoption). She concludes that perhaps “Ostermilk was thicker than blood” (Thyrotoxicosis), but leaves us with an acute awareness of the “trembling / possibility of nakedness” (Sometimes I Feel Another Face) and the sense of a search that is ongoing until “one day / if only I can find the right bones” she will find reconciliation with both life and death (The Right Bones).

However, for Foley the reclamation of personhood through love is also possible – exploring the lines of “A very wise poet” who “once said lovers / ‘are each other’s parents’ ” she reaches with great tenderness a place of new resolution “let the roof shelter / nouns into verbs” (Mothers and Fathers).

This is a remarkable collection of poems that should be read by everyone. The Don’t Touch Garden is concerned with many of the specifics about adoption and its aftermath, but contains much wisdom that also applies more generally about self-discovery, making sense of our pasts and moving into a future which can, at least in part, be as we make it.

Joy Howard