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:












David Mathews (Solstice Shorts, Liberty Tales, Shortest Day, Longest Night) has, finally, a WEBSITE.  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

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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Reviews of The Other Side of Sleep

Review from SOUTH 51 by D A Prince

This is not, despite the title, a book of poems about dreams but an anthol­ogy – twenty-five poets, twenty-five poems – of narrative poems. Some tell their stories in sequences, others let the story run unbroken, but all are al­lowed a generous length – not always to the poem’s advantage. Tighter edit­ing and attention to structure would have benefited several. I gave up with two, when neither language nor nar­rative could hold my interest. Perhaps the best way to read this anthology is as an exercise in what makes longer poems effective – control of detail, variety in language, shifts in tone. Even in long poems less is more. Jennifer A. McGowan’s ‘Troy: Seven Voices’ varies tone and form for its first-person angles on the effects of war. An­drew McCallum’s Hamnavoe’ (a hom­age to George Mackay Brown) has the most effective opening – ‘listen/ I want to tell you something ordinary’. In ‘Lir’ Angela France succeeds with the son­net corona, fourteen sonnets where the last line of each sonnet is reinvented as the first of the succeeding sonnet, returning finally to the opening line. Brian Johnstone’s sequence ‘Robinson’ is outstanding in every way, running to eighteen pages and never a word too long. Taking the life and poems of Weldon Kees (the American poet who vanished from the Golden Gate Bridge in 1955) as a starting point, Johnstone imagines Robinson surviving a leap from ‘a bridge some miles from the city/ known to all’ and slipping on a series of new identities in his subse­quent travels – Mexico, the Atlantic, the Aegean – writing, smoking, a mys­tery to others, always a solitary who is searching for himself. Whatever name he adopts he remains ‘Robinson’. This poem makes the whole anthology worth searching out.

And from Anne Stewart in Artemis:

The Other Side of Sleep is titled for the Long Poem category winner in Second Light’s 2014 competition. The poet is Kate Foley, whose more recent collections are narratives. The poem tells the story of “Certified Dream Walker: / Death Coach”, Tracy, who is “shrewd as a cat in a bush / full of birds” and her client Basil, who is sceptical but has, nevertheless, sought her out. “Truculence” says Foley, was “a word coined for him.” Basil is within months of dying. Tracy is to mentor him through the process. The characters are well-drawn and their interaction lively. Dream sequences are packed with imagery and walk that (familiar to edgy dreamers) line between strangeness and sense. Most of the poems in the selection are utterly engaging and well-wrought. Jill Sharp’s On the Hunt with Mr Actaeon has us shadowing Actaeon and his dog, Percy (“I can’t have Percy bothering the corgis / so I tie him up outside”) in a very modern update to the myth – and very nicely done “She’s responding to my gaze of wild desire / with such Olympian disdain and cruelty / I gasp and flee”. Bernie Howley – one of several new names to me in the selection – handles her ‘statement and response’ poem I Have No Feet expertly, keeping the two distinct voices (aloof, teacherly, for statements and galvanised, personal for responses) and styles (line break stanzas for the statements and unbroken stanzas for responses) consistent and convincing: “One really should stand poised. // But I grip the cliff wall wishing with fervour that my fingers ended in suction pads”. Brian Johnstone’s Robinson, with 6 titled poems and numbered sections within each, is a joy. p a morbid’s The Black Light Engineer has us lost with the speaker in the vast and empty darkness of (whether literally or metaphorically) space. In a longer review I’d quote from several other poems which impressed me and I will certainly revisit and enjoy again. There were 2 pieces which I felt let the side down badly. Other than that I found it an interesting, entertaining selection and was glad to see an anthology focussing on this much-neglected genre.

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November Readings for The Other Side of Sleep

We are continuing to launch The Other Side of Sleep with more events through November.

Saturday 8th November MiddlesboroughWestgarth Social Club, 99 Southfield Rd, Middlesbrough, TS1 3EZ. Doors open 7pm. £3 entry. Readings from Adrienne Silcock, p.a. morbid (accompanied by Kev Howard), Judi Sutherland. Also performing are Kirsten Luckins and Emma Whitehall.

Saturday 15th November Amsterdam: The English Bookshop, Lauriergracht 71  Amsterdam 4pm. Readings from Kate Foley, Robin Winckel-Mellish, Simon Brod, Sam Small, plus music from Daniel Brouns.

SHORT STORY WEEK: Wednesday 19th November 7.30pm South London:
The Story Sessions, Cafe of Good Hope, 216 Hither Green Lane, SE13 6RT £3
Readings from  Anne Macaulay, Inua Ellams Jennifer A McGowan, Bernie Howley.
Also reading but not in the book,  Anny Knight and Gloria Sanders and hopefully a couple more poets,including you? Join in with flash from the floor.