Love Audio Week: This Poem Here

To conclude our #LoveAudio blog series, here is an extract from the remarkable poetry collection, This Poem Here by Rob Walton.

Arachne Press Director, Cherry Potts, recently said of This Poem Here: “At the start of lockdown, Rob Walton was responding to the anxieties and absurdities of the Corona Virus crisis by writing poetry. He published a lot of these poems on social media, as real-time responses to the latest news. Watching and enjoying them from afar, I approached Rob to publish them as a book. We were in conversation about this project when Rob’s dad sadly died from Covid. The poems in the collection then took a radical turn, delving into rage, sorrow and grief. I can’t imagine a more appropriate collection to have published in this ‘you-couldn’t-make-it-up’ era.”

Full of tears, laughter, biting political satire and Geordie grammar, these are poems that are meant to be read aloud. Here is ‘And in Lockdown’:

You can also watch Rob Walton reading some of the collection in the video from the online launch of This Poem Here: https://youtu.be/sNijjLH4zB0  (be warned, he made many of us cry!).

#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.

Love Audio Week: Inclusive Publishing

What are you reading this weekend? Or should we say, listening to?

For our Saturday #LoveAudio post, here’s a recent article by Arachne Press Director, Cherry Potts: ‘Published, accessible, authentic: how audiobooks can be inclusive’, as well as a bonus excerpt from our very first audiobook – The Don’t Touch Garden by Kate Foley. Kate read the audiobook herself (beautifully) when we first experimented with audio production.

Read more about this process, and Arachne’s approach to audiobooks and inclusive publishing, in Cherry’s article:

https://www.bookbrunch.co.uk/page/free-article/inclusive-publishing-and-audiobooks/

#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.

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.

 

Upcoming Events – Summer 2021

Launch of Incorcisms by David Hartley, and 100neHundred by Laura Besley – May 27th 2021 

You can get tickets here, free; or for £8.99 to include a copy of ONE of the books; or for £17.98 to include a copy of BOTH books.  Books will be sent post free.

The evening will include readings by, and chats with, Laura and David, and they will also be joined by the narrators of their respective audiobooks.  Also, THERE WILL BE CAKE (BYO): we’d like you to join us in celebrating the launch by baking (or buying) cake to eat during the event, and drinking lemonade (the reason behind lemonade drinking will be made clear on the night!).   

There will be Q&A opportunities throughout the event, and even a chance to write your own 100 word story.  So put your thinking caps on, and start making a note of all those burning questions about flash/short story/micro fiction or anything else you may wish to know about these writers and their work.  And dust off those notebooks and pens.

You can also (pre-)order the books now from our Webshop.

Arachne at Brockley Max Online – May 30th, 31st and June 1st, 2nd and 3rd 2021

This year we are running THREE events at this brilliant community arts festival, as well as hosting an evening of readings by Writers of our Age (WooA).  All events can be booked through Eventbrite (see individual links below).

May 30th, 16:00 BST – Keeping Up With Paper and Pencil

Catch Clare Owen, author of our recent YA novel, Zed and the Cormorants, in conversation with Sally Atkins, who did the beautiful illustrations for Clare’s book.  Entitled Keeping Up With Paper and Pencil, Clare and Sally will discuss creating vivid characters through words and images – so one for both writers and artists.  They’ll share their notebooks, sketches, extracts from the novel and new ways to get characters up on their feet and ready to sprint off the page. 

You can get tickets here, free; or for £10 to include a copy of the book.

May 31st, 19:00 BST – Short, Flash, Poem? 

Join Arachne authors Laura Besley (100neHundred), David Hartley (Incorcisms) and poet Rob Walton (This Poem Here) for an evening of readings and discussions dealing with issues around their chosen literary forms and touching on questions such as, do authors know what a piece will be when they start writing it?  When is flash a prose poem?  Do poems sometimes change into stories? How dark does fantasy have to be to qualify as horror, and is it allowed to be funny?

You can get tickets here, free; or for £8.99 to include a copy of ONE of the books.

June 2nd, 19:00 BST – Imagined Spaces – A Writer’s Approach to Place

Join authors and ex-Brockley residents, Lily Peters and Jackie Taylor for readings and discussion around the use of ‘place’ in their forthcoming titles with Arachne, Accidental Flowers (Lily) and Strange Waters (Jackie).

You can get tickets here, free; or for £9.99 to include a copy of ONE of the books.

June 3rd, 19:30 – WooA – Back in the Water

Join Writers of our Age (WOOA), a well established, published mix of local writers, for readings of specially written stories under the heading ‘Back in the Water’.

You can get tickets here, free.

Online Launch and readings for This Poem Here

This Poem Here cover image Paul Summers

On Wednesday 24th March at 7.30pm we have the launch for Rob Walton’s debut collection This Poem Here. Rob will be joined by Will Teller.

Tickets are available free, or for £9 to include the book, plus a £1.30 transaction fee, but to make up for that, we will post the book to you for free.

The following day, Thursday 25th March at 7.30pm, (which is the official publication day) Rob is reading at One Year On, an online poetry event marking the anniversary of lockdown, alongside Rosie Johnston, Alex Josephy, Colin Pink and Jacqueline Saphra. This is a free event and the link can be got from the organiser Irena Hill.

The Audio book will be out a month after the physical and e-books. More news as we have it.

Submission call for UK Deaf Short Story Writers and Poets for ‘Movement’ anthology

BSL version of this page signed for us by Marcel Hirshman of WealdBSL

DEADLINE EXTENDED TO FRIDAY 23RD APRIL 23:59

Arachne Press is planning an anthology of fiction and poetry by Deaf and hard-of-hearing writers, which will be produced as a printed book, an eBook and a series of videos. The eBook will contain links to the videos, which will also be on the Arachne Website, and probably YouTube.

Our editors are Lisa Kelly (co-editor of Magma 69, The Deaf Issue; co-Chair of Magma Poetry, first collection A Map Towards Fluency published by Carcanet) and Sophie Stone (RADA trained Actor, Writer: Paine’s Plough, The Bunker, BBC Radio 3 and Co-founder of DH Ensemble theatre Co)

We have chosen the theme of movement, to fit with our overarching theme for this year and next, of ‘maps and mapping.’

You can interpret this however you want,  and we’ve been thinking about movement as communication and connection, mobility, and stillness, being moved emotionally, movement within and after Lockdown, freedom of movement, and being part of a political movement – so we are open to all your ideas… Except! NO Erotica, horror, gratuitous violence, sexism, racism, or homophobia.

We actively encourage submissions from underrepresented voices, including ethnically diverse writers, LGBTQ writers, writers with experience of multiple socio-economic deprivation and women writers.

You can apply in written English, or by video in BSL, SSE or whatever UK based form of sign you wish; or in writing and sign. We will pay royalties, and there will also be paid work translating/performing the BSL output from this project.

We will be translating everything that arrives signed into English, and we will also be translating everything that arrives written, into BSL. We will discuss with you in detail so that we get these translations right.

If your work is chosen and you want to do the signed version yourself, it will depend on the state of lockdown, and on your own technical skills with a camera; we will do our best, but we don’t want to put anyone at risk. If you don’t want to sign your own work, or it isn’t possible due to lockdown etc,  we will use a signing Deaf actor/translator.

For the submission just use a phone to video yourself and send us a file no bigger than 400mb. If your file is larger, let us know and we will arrange an alternative method.

You can send us one story of up to 2000 words/15 minutes of signing, and up to 3 poems around 650 words/5 minutes each which total up to 2000 words/15 minutes of signing, or 1 poem and 1 story.

We would prefer that the work be unpublished, but if you have published something that is a perfect fit, we will consider it, provided you hold the copyright.

Publication planned for November 2021

All submissions via https://arachnepress.submittable.com/submit, where you can also find submission calls for Global Majority writers,  should that apply to you.

Welsh writers A470 Bilingual Welsh-English Poetry Anthology Submission Call

We are looking for poems linked to The A470

Mae gwasg Arachne Press yn eich gwahodd i gynnig cerddi gwreiddiol sy’n gysylltiedig efo’r A470 ar gyfer blodeugerdd.

draft cover. Image by Sarah Hopkins

Arguably the most famous road in Wales, the A470 is 186 miles from shore to shore through the backbone of Wales, linking north to south. Peaceful and picturesque or slow and never-ending, what does the A470 mean to you? The road out of here, the road home, the beginnings of devolution? Glorious national parks, bypasses, being stuck behind a certain lorry firm or worse, a caravan, the road to the Royal Welsh? From the seashore to slates, from nuclear power stations and fighter plane flypasts to forests and mountains: Bwlch yr Oerddrws, Pen Y Fan. On the road or on a journey, there’s no need to take the A470 too literally.

Be ydi’r A470 i chi – siwrne dawel trwy harddwch Cymru neu daith araf a diddiwedd? Ai hon yw’r ffordd i adael, neu’r ffordd adref, neu ddechrau datganoli? Parciau Cenedlaethol, ffyrdd osgoi, llusgo mynd tu ôl i lori neu waeth fyth garafán, y ffordd i’r Sioe Frenhinol? Traethau, chwareli, pwerdai niwclear, awyrennau rhyfel, coedwigoedd, mynyddoedd, Bwlch yr Oerddrws, Pen y Fan? Taith ddiriaethol ar y tarmac neu daith o fath gwahanol? Does dim rhaid dehongli’r A470 yn llythrennol.

Arachne Press’ first foray into Welsh language poetry came from the publication of Ness Owen’s Mamiaith (Mother Tongue). We enjoyed the translation process both Welsh to English and English to Welsh and we’re back for more, with Ness and fellow editor Sian Northey, who helped with those translations, at the helm. (Sian takes credit for the brilliant A470 idea.) This is part of our plan for the next three years and we anticipate publication in March 2022. You may also be interested in our anthologies for BME writers and deaf writers.

Mentrodd Arachne Press, gwasg fechan yn Llundain, i fyd cyhoeddi barddoniaeth Gymraeg am y tro cyntaf trwy gyhoeddi Mamiaith gan Ness Owen. Fe wnaethom fwynhau’r broses o gyfieithu’r cerddi o Gymraeg i Saesneg ac o Saesneg i Gymraeg, felly dyma ni’n ôl yn awyddus i wneud mwy dan ofal Ness a’i chyd-olygydd Sian Northey (awgrym Sian oedd y teitl A470). Mae hyn yn rhan o’n cynllun ar gyfer y tair blynedd nesaf ac rydym yn rhagweld y byddwn yn cyhoeddi’r gyfrol yn Mawrth 2022. Byddwn hefyd yn cyhoeddi blodeugerddi eraill – cerddi Albanaidd, cerddi gan feirdd BAME a cherddi gan feirdd b/Byddar – gyda ‘Mapio’ yn thema gyffredinol i’r cyfan.

Sian Northey & Ness Owen

We want unpublished poems from Welsh poets wherever you are, and all other poets living in Wales. We are looking for the unanticipated: sensitive poems, or poems that challenge, in traditional forms and new forms. NO Erotica, horror, gratuitous violence, sexism, racism, or homophobia. We actively encourage submissions from underrepresented voices, including ethnically diverse poets, LGBTQ poets, poets with disabilities, poets with experience of multiple socio-economic deprivation and women poets.

Rydym yn edrych am gerddi sydd heb eu cyhoeddi eisoes, gan feirdd Cymraeg a Chymreig lle bynnag maent yn byw, a beirdd sydd yn byw yng Nghymru. Rydym yn edrych am wreiddioldeb: cerddi teimladwy, neu gerddi sy’n herio, cerddi caeth neu gerddi rhydd. NI fyddwn yn derbyn erotica, arswyd, trais dianghenraid, rhywiaeth, hiliaeth, na homoffobia. Rydym yn annog cyfraniadau gan leisiau sydd yn cael eu tangynrychioli, gan gynnwys beirdd o gefndiroedd ethnig amrywiol, beirdd LGBTQ, beirdd â phrofiad o amddifadedd economaidd-gymdeithasol, a menywod.

This will be a fully bilingual anthology, celebrating the magnificence of both languages, and the artistry of both poets and translators. Poems may be submitted in Welsh, English or in both languages. Poems that are submitted in one language only will be translated – either by the poet themselves or experienced translators, including our editor, Sian Northey.

Bydd hon yn flodeugerdd gyfan gwbl ddwyieithog, yn dathlu gwychder y ddwy iaith, ac yn dathlu doniau beirdd a chyfieithwyr. Gallwch gynnig cerddi yn Gymraeg, yn Saesneg, neu yn y ddwy iaith. Bydd cerddi sy’n cael eu derbyn mewn un iaith yn unig yn cael eu cyfieithu – gan y bardd ei hun neu gan gyfieithwyr profiadol gan gynnwys Sian Northey, un o’r golygyddion.

We aim to give Welsh and English equal weight and the translations will be laid out side by side. This does mean each poem, regardless of language, can only be 27 lines including title and spaces between stanzas. We have room for a maximum of 50 poems plus their translation.

Y nod yw trin y ddwy iaith yn gyfartal ac fe fydd y cyfieithiadau yn cael eu gosod ochr yn ochr â’r gwreiddiol. Golyga hyn na all yr un gerdd, na’i chyfieithiad, fod yn fwy na 27 llinell, gan gynnwys y teitl a’r bylchau rhwng penillion. Bydd lle yn y gyfrol ar gyfer uchafswm o 50 o gerddi a’u cyfieithiadau.

We will pay royalties. Tell us you are interested in either language or both.

Telir breindal i’r beirdd, ond mae’n annhebygol y bydd tâl o flaen llaw am y cerddi – bydd hynny’n dibynnu ar y nawdd a dderbynnir. Gadewch i ni wybod a oes genych ddiddordeb cyfrannu cerdd/cerddi trwy’r ddolen Gallwch gysylltu â ni yn Gymraeg neu Saesneg.

We much prefer work that is unpublished but if you have a published piece that is a perfect fit, we will consider it. Please submit 1-3 poems.Rydym yn ffafrio gwaith sydd heb ei gyhoeddi, ond os oes ganddoch gerdd wedi’i chyhoeddi sy’n ffitio’n berffaith rydym yn fodlon ei hystyried. Gallwch gynnig 1-3 cerdd.

Submit here deadline 6th April 2021

Call for submissions for UK resident writers of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic heritage on the theme of ‘maps and mapping

Arachne Press is planning an anthology of fiction and poetry from UK resident writers of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic heritage. Publication will be October 2021. We will pay royalties. Once published in an Arachne anthology you may be invited to submit a collection or novel.

Our Editors:

Laila Sumpton and Sandra Agard

Laila Sumpton [recently the Keats House poet in residence who has edited poetry anthologies for the University of London, the Royal Free Hospital and Ministry of Stories] will be our poetry editor, and Sandra A. Agard [Professional storyteller, poet, short story writer, playwright, cultural historian, literary consultant, resident writer/reader and creative writing facilitator for over forty years] will be our fiction editor.We look forward to receiving new work from across the country and are excited to discover voices new and familiar.

  • Poets can enter two poems maximum of under 50 lines.
  • Short story writers can enter one story of up to 2000 words.
  • All work in English and unpublished
  • We will accept translation if it is of your own work.
  • All entries will be read by the editors.
  • No entry fee.

We have an overarching theme for all our anthologies for the next 12-18 months of ‘maps and mapping’. You do not need to take this in any way literally – ‘the map is not the territory.’

Consider new lands, homelands, boundaries – real or imaginary; journeys, ideas of territory and ‘your place’. Landmarks and directions, roots and routes, (dis)location and getting lost – the possibilities are (almost!) endless.

Deadline for submissions 14th April 2021

final decisions will be made by 14th May 2021

submit here

This Poem Here is …Here

traditional box of books shot. Cover image Covid Blooms by Paul Summers

One of my favourite moments in the publishing process, arrival of the first batch of books.

These will be going out to the author, Rob Walton, reviewers, and people who place pre-orders with us. You can do that in our webshop. If you want to buy it elsewhere you’ll have to wait until the end of March.

We first spotted Rob’s lockdown poems on his social media, because we follow him as we publishing several of his stories, and a couple of poems, in earlier anthologies.

After reading the first few aloud to my wife, I thought, this has to be dealt with, and enquired over the number of extant poems and how the creative splurge was going, and made an offer. A doesn’t remember all our author’s names, so when I told her we were going to do the book and she said who? my response was ‘What did you do on your first day back , darling? /Lick Yusuf. (1st June) and she knew immediately.

Then Rob went quiet on me, and on social media, and a tentative email revealed a covid related bereavement, shielding and a blaze of more poetry.

The light-hearted, funny and furiously angry observations of how life is lived in the Covid world remain, alongside the personal grief at how lives are also lost.

This book is dedicated to Rob’s dad, Frank Walton, 1933-2020

Frank Walton