Autumn Equinox Announcement: Winners of Haitus Solstice Shorts Competition

As a result of the limit on entries this year, our Hiatus competition finished early, allowing us to announce the results today, on the Autumn Equinox. [For time obsessives like me that was at precisely 3:04 BST this morning.]

Congratulations to our Shortlist:

Adrienne Silcock
Cath Humphris
Gabriel Noel
Jane McLaughlin
Juliet Humphreys
Karen Pierce
Michael Colonnese
River Fannin
Tiffany Troy

Thank you for surprising us, and/or making us laugh.

The winning spots were very close fought indeed, so unusually, we’re announcing the Runners-up:

Cath Humphris
Juliet Humphreys
Michael Colonnese

and our winners are:

Gabriel Noel with Ode Against Daylight Saving
Karen Pierce with Pause

Congratulations to Gabriel and Karen, both of whom are new to Arachne Press. Their work will be published in eBook form, in time for the Solstice, alongside…

Remember! we have a public vote for the BEST story/poem from each of the previous Solstice Shorts anthologies, which will join Karen and Gabriel’s work in the ‘Best of’ eBook, to mark this year’s Solstice, while we wait for the next time the Solstice falls at a weekend, and the next festival.
You can vote here (deadline 30 Sept 2022)

Time and Tide- Clydebank- audio

In the tidying up of the website, it has come to our attention that some of the Time and Tide material from Solstice Shorts 2019 performances never got uploaded – I blame lockdown! Starting to edit the video from this year reminded me to search it out. Result!

Here are the Clydebank performances, in audio. Still looking for where I hid the Maryport recordings.

You can still buy the book (please do, it spent lock down in closed bookshops, and we sold almost none.)


Beth Frieden
Stefana Margarint
Seonaid Stevenson
Carla Woodburn
Jane Aldous

Arrival by Valerie Bence

Casting A Daughter Adrift by Emma Lee

Church Mary Sounds the Sea by Jenny Mitchell

Clearance by Christine Ritchie

Crossing the Black Water by Reshma Ruia

False Light by John Richardson

Fisherman’s Daughter by Claire Booker

Half A Dozen Oranges by Mandy Macdonald

How Women Came to Tristan Da Cunha by Claire Booker

Points of Interest by Olivia Dawson

Sea Lessons by Ness Owen

The Arctic Diaries Bird Wife by Melissa Davies

The Arctic Diaries Halibut by Melissa Davies

The Watchers by Elizabeth Parker

We dig the pig by Angel Warwick


The Fisherman’s Wife by Linda McMullen

Listen, Noah’s Wife by Roppotucha Greenberg

Favourite memories of Solstice Shorts

Solstice Shorts – our annual celebration of original poetry, stories and music for the shortest day – is rapidly approaching. We asked Solstice regular, poet and writer Rob Walton to share some memories of the festival, and accompanying anthologies, from years gone by. This year’s theme is Words from the Brink – writing and music in response to the climate crisis.

Rob Walton: I count myself lucky to have been included in more than one of the Solstice Shorts books, and fortunate indeed to have had my work performed/read by others. It was a great thrill to hear ‘Words on Paper’, a story of which I’m very fond, read aloud in Carlisle. It’s a story that’s close to my heart, and I’m chuffed it was recorded for posterity and also appeared in print.

Ben Brinicombe reads Words on Paper by Rob Walton, BSL translation by Karen Edmondson

I’ve definitely enjoyed seeing some of my more, er interesting pieces reach a range of audiences – I wonder what the crowds (I’m guessing) in Lisbon and Maryport made of ‘The Dowager Duchess of Berwick-upon-Tweed May or May Be Bottling It’? I’ve written micro-fictions shorter than that title!

This year’s offering, ‘Mr King Has Decided to Pursue Other Avenues’, is inspired by a long-standing commitment to environmental change and, possibly, that time I had to leave my primary school class behind on the beach trip when I was stung by a weaver fish. These things stay lodged somewhere and appear, transformed, years later…

Read an extract from ‘Mr King Has Decided to Pursue Other Avenues’:

It was a liberal and progressive school – some would say slack and lackadaisical – and when Mr King said he wanted to stay at the beach at the end of the trip, they wished him well and happily set off without him. It was almost time for the long holiday, and when he wasn’t there to take registration the following morning they arranged temporary cover, and later replaced him with somebody younger with a similar name and the same tattooist. (Mr Prince would be pleased to get the job because Hokusai’s expertly inked The Great Wave off Kanagawa, which covered all of his back, had been very expensive. And quite painful. Also, he knew it would be a star turn on a staff night out.

Words from the Brink is available to pre-order from our online shop.

Buy your tickets for Solstice Shorts 2021 on Eventbrite.


Solstice Shorts Festival 2020: Tymes Goe By Turnes

In case you missed the live announcement yesterday, here are the successful submissions for this year’s Solstice Shorts Festival, which will be held on 21st (or possibly 22nd) of December. It’s a leap year. We have to decide how pedantic we will be.

A Corona virus influenced theme of TYMES GOE BY TURNES,  the stories, poems and songs are in response to the poem by sixteenth century poet, Robert Southwell.

Frustrated by working under lockdown and worried that the 2020 festival might not happen, Arachne Press decided to continue as though everything would be alright, and asked writers to something that responded or reacted to or was inspired by a sixteenth century poem that editor Cherry Potts has always found comforting in a crisis: Robert Southwell’s Tymes Goe by Turnes; or that responded or reacted to or was inspired by some concept in it.
The poem observes the ebb and flow of fortune, nothing stays bad for ever, nor anything good – so get on with it while you can. And they have. Oh, they have. This isn’t exactly a response to Covid-19, but there’s an echo there – in Katie Margaret Hall’s epic train journey, New Orleans To Vancouver, and Jackie Taylor’s Rewilding; but there is also concern for the environment, and relationships and lives in need of nourishment they are finding hard to find.
As with Southwell’s poem there is a fine balance between dread and hope.

Solstice Shorts Logo copy

C L Hearnden, 179cm
Claire Booker, Piano Lessons, and Bringing in the Fruit
Elinor Brooks, Sir Thomas Wyatt’s Cat
Jane Aldous, Sirius
Julian Bishop, Slow Burn
Karen Ankers, In Dark
Katie Margaret Hall, New Orleans To Vancouver
Kelly Davis, The Saddest Birdes a Season Find to Sing
Laila Sumpton, Cronos
Lynn White, In the Rocks
Ness Owen, Beach Clean
S.B. Merrow, For Ellen
Sean Carney, A Memory Forgotten

Brooke Stanicki, A Felled Tree
Jackie Taylor, Rewilding
Jane Mclaughlin, Sketchbook
Keely O’Shaughnessy, When Naked Plants Renew
Linda McMullen, Deep Blue Sea
Margaret Crompton, Turner’s World of Twirls
Neil Lawrence, Return
Patience Mackarness, Roots
Pippa Gladhill, Twelve Point Plan


Kevan Taplin, Dancing with The Green Man (In 4:4 Time)
Rebecca Askew, Times Go by Turns
Sharon Lazibyrd Martin, Sea of Fortune

We don’t yet know quite what form the festival will take, we have to assume for now that it will be on  line, but possibly live and from multiple sites. We are still investigating venues etc. against it being possible to have a physical performance and audience, or at the very least making the videos as exciting as possible.

Dusk Launch video Calling Them In

Poet Kelly Davis reads her poem, Calling Them In at the launch 2017 Solstice Shorts Festival anthology DUSK at Stephen Lawrence Gallery, Greenwich.

DUSK: the Complete 12 site programme


The Complete Programme

All events BSL interpreted

Get tickets

Ellon, Aberdeenshire 17:07-17:54
Better Read Books, 18 Ythan Terrace Ellon, Aberdeenshire, AB41 9LJ

Hosts: Euan Kelly and Bill Kelly
Performers: Haworth Hodgkinson and Catriona Yule
BSL Interpreter: Bruce Cameron

Alex Reece Abbott, MacFarquhar’s Bed
Patrick Gale, Sleep Tight

Intuitive Music Aberdeen: Intuitive music based upon the Winter Solstice mode from Haworth Hodgkinson’s Dundee Ambient

Mandy Macdonald, Gloaming
Joy Howard, Factory
Jane Aldous, After the Sun, Before the Stars
Eileen Carney Hulme, Blue Hour
Alice Tarbuck, Decoration of a Fermented Season
Alison Lock, Crow Haibun
Sue Johnson, The Shortest Day
Michelle Penn, End of Ramadan

Inverness 17:15-18:02
Eden Court, Bishops Road, Inverness, IV3 5SA

Hosts: Phil Baarda and Sherry Morris
Performers: Amy Hasson and Alexander Donaldson

Jane Aldous, After the Sun, Before the Stars
Eileen Carney Hulme, Blue Hour
Alice Tarbuck, Decoration Of A Fermented Season

Pippa Gladhill, In-Between Dog
Sherry Morris, Granda’s Plan
Alex Reece Abbott, MacFarquhar’s Bed
Lucy Grace, Breadcrumbs

James Bryce, Dusk Song
Ed Bentley, Dusk In The Gers

Greenwich 17:16-17:57
West Greenwich Library, Greenwich High Road, SE10 8NN

Host : Silas Hawkins
Performers: Math Jones, Grace Cookey-Gam
BSL interpreter: Rob Chalk

Kirsty Fox, They Said there were Pirates
Math Jones, Yes, Twilight

K Wise, Tempus Erat
John Richardson, all this
Laila Sumpton, Starling Time
Lisa Kelly, Match Girl
Martyn Crucefix, Summers Ended in Sweetness

3 Bucket Jones, Light Another Candle for You
Caroline Watsham, Sundown

Nottingham 17:17-17:59
Nottingham Writers’ Studio, 25 Hockley, Nottingham, NG1 1FH

Performers: Susie Hennessy, Jay Bradley
BSL Interpreter: Elvire Roberts

Sue Birchenough, Roost
Kelly Davis, Calling Them In
Katy Lee, Red Coat, Wolf, etc
Stevie Krayer, Sleeping Out

David Mathews, Flick’ring Shadows
Penny Pepper, Wolf’s Head
Lucy Grace, Breadcrumbs
Kirsty Fox, They Said there were Pirates

Carlisle 17:18-18:02
Foxes Cafe Lounge, 18 Abbey Street, Carlisle Cumbria, CA3 8TX

Host: Nell Dunn
Performers: Ben Brinicombe, Kelly Davis
BSL Interpreter: Karen Edmondson

Rob Walton, Words On Paper
Samuel Wright, Here

Lindsay Reid, Summer Evening
Kelly Davis, Calling Them In
Katie Evans, 16:30
Joy Howard, Factory

Nicola Reid, Witching Hour
John Chambers, Balcony

Rossendale, Lancashire 17:19-18:02
The Whitaker Museum & Arts Centre, Haslingden Road, Rossendale, Lancashire, BB4 6RE

Host:  Carl Bell
Performers: Tony Curry, Carl Bell, Neil Bell
BSL Interpreter: Amanda Owen

Aziz Dixon, Calligraphy of Starlings
Alison Lock, Crow Haibun

Kirsty Fox, They Said there were Pirates
Lucy Grace, Breadcrumbs
Rosalind Stopps, One Two Three, One Two Three
Samuel Wright, Here

Sarah Grundy, Night & Day

Lancaster 17:20-18:03
The Print Room Café, The Storey, Meeting House Lane, Lancaster, LA1 1TH

Host: Yvonne Felton-Battle
Performers: Mary Hooton, Leo Atkin, Marian Cox
BSL Interpreter: Carol Kyle

Joy Howard, Factory
John Bevan, Afterglow

David Hartley, Daylight Savings
Rob Schofield, Four Beaches
Rosalind Stopps, One Two Three, One Two Three

Birmingham 17:21-18:03
The Goose, 561 Bristol Rd, Birmingham, B29 6AF

Host: Adam Elmi
Performers: Sam Arrowsmith and James Bryhan
BSL Interpreter: Emma Dunleavey-Dale

Nigel Hutchinson, Some Times a Black Cloud
Sue Johnson, The Shortest Day

Sherry Morris, Granda’s Plan
Fiona Salter, On The Evening Train

Brandon Sheils, Dusk


Bristol 17:27-18:07
The Old Barn, Kelston Roundhill, near Bath, BA1 9AF

Performers: Paul Deaton, Elizabeth Parker, Corinne Harragin
BSL Interpreter Paul Mancini

Paul Deaton, Brunel’s Bridge
Elizabeth Parker, Dhusarah

Helen Slavin, At Sky’s Edge
Sherry Morris, Granda’s Plan

Ichi, Magic Hour
Anna Kissell, Oh, The Dark!

Holyhead, 17:30-18:12
Ucheldre Centre, Holyhead, Ynys Mon, LL65 1TE

Host: Ness Owen
Performers: Nicholas McGaughey, Karen Ankers, Trefor Stockwell
BSL Interpreter: ffranses Wharton-Faraut

Katerina Watson, Threshold
Cath Bore, The Dusk Runner

Jill Sharp, The Dogs of Delhi
Ness Owen, Female Blackbird Sings (in Welsh and English)
Jeremy Dixon, Driving to Blackpool to Visit My Sister
Nicholas McGaughey, Magic Hour
Stevie Krayer, Sleeping Out
Carl Griffin, Sea’s Wedding

Fiona & Gorwel Owen, Releasing Birds and Y Gwydd

Warkleigh 17:33-18:14
Courage Copse Creatives, Warkleigh, Umberleigh, North Devon, EX37 9DD

Performers: Katy Lee and Lisa Schneidau
BSL Interpreter: David Wolfenden

Nigel Hutchinson, Some Times a Black Cloud
Kelly Davis, Calling Them In
Gabrielle Choo, Sundown Breath
Katy Lee, Red Coat, Wolf etc

Pippa Gladhill, In-Between Dog
Cath Bore, Dusk Runner
Katerina Watson, Threshold
Jackie Taylor, Cape Cornwall

Tom Norden Crepuscule
Sharon Lazibyrd After Dark There’s Sun and Time Has Its Own Song

Redruth 17:40-18:20
The Writers’ Block, The Merlin Building, Cornwall College,
Trevenson Road, Pool, Redruth, TR15 3RD

Performers: The Story Republicans
BSL Interpreter: Debbie Harvey

Alannah Egan, I Am Dusk
Roselle Angwin, The Standstill
Bridie Toft, Arrival

David Hartley, Daylight Savings
Patrick Gale, Sleep Tight

The Farewell Shanty, collected by Merv Vincent
Dusk is Dark, poem by Andrew Lanyon, set to music by Katie Kirk

Inverness Playwrights

Intuitive Music Aberdeen

Bare Bones Collective

Dusk: A Wave of Words Across the UK: North Devon

Our North Devon Partners are Courage Copse Creatives, a woodland enterprise based in Warkleigh, near Barnstaple. The enterprise operates completely off-grid using solar power and rain water harvesting. They manage the woodland and make their living from the products they produce. They also run community educational and arts events as well as hosting training courses.

Both owners, Katy Lee and Vince Large come from a creative background. Before setting up CCC Katy devised and delivered site specific performance for both professional and community artists receiving funding from ACE.


DUSK a wave of words across the UK: Lancaster


silhouette of starlings landing in tree tops against dark blue sky

starling image Shutterstock/Erni. design Cherry Potts

Plans for our next Solstice Shorts Festival are talking shape. This little video we made for the crowd fund explains the concept pretty well. (We could really use some help with the crowd fund folks!)

As information comes in from our partners and collaborators, I will be doing showcases of them and their work. So excited to be working with such innovative and dynamic people!

Let me introduce you to the Lancaster organisers, brimming with energy and enthusiasm!

Yvonne Battle-Felton and Naomi Krüger who between the (co)organise a whole heap of regular literary events in Lancaster: Stories at the Storey, North West Literary Salon, and Off the Page, and now run North West Literary Arts

Yvonne has also been creative producer of Lancaster University’s literature festival and  created an award-winning radio show, The Writing Life, where she interviewed writers about how they made a living with their words and provided a platform to share information and literature.

Naomi is a writer, a lecturer in creative writing at University of Central Lancaster, and she has a novel soon-to-be published.

Yvonne has already confirmed us a venue for the event, at The Print Room Cafe at The Storey.

WRITERS and MUSICIANS the call out will open soon. Start getting your minds round the theme of Dusk.


Feedback from the tour

I’m just getting to grips with the report for the Arts Council who kindly assisted us with the costs of the last few books and associated book tour, plus Solstice Shorts Festival 2016: Shortest Day, and The Story Sessions, so I’ve been looking back through the feedback – 136 people went to the trouble of giving us written feedback, for which we are VERY grateful! We invited people to describe themselves in 3 words (some used more, but really it doesn’t matter) and tell us what they thought of the event.

Here’s what some of them had to say – these are just my out-and-out favourite comments, there were many more. Eclectic was the favourite adjective!

Foraging/ WITH PAPER FOR FEET launch 2 excellent poets, 2 different styles, and evening of magical words. Long live poems and their publishers! Fairly succinct really
Foraging/ WITH PAPER FOR FEET launch Narrative weave of Jennifer McGowan’s poems, succinct beauty in the smallness of Joy Howard’s Life-swept poet therapist
Foraging/ WITH PAPER FOR FEET launch I delighted in Jennifer’s spirited and evocative readings of her work. She brings new life to words. I’d never heard Chinese spoken while reading the phonetic version before. Middle-aged stressed editor
Foraging/ WITH PAPER FOR FEET launch Stories as poetry, poetry as stories, in a spiritual home of poets (Keats House Library) Necessarily evil author
Happy Ending NOT Guaranteed burley F The informality was initially relaxing, followed by a well-rehearsed & performed reading. Very personal and enjoyable way to spend the evening – like being in a living room full of engaging and inspirational minds Under-worked London writer
Happy Ending NOT Guaranteed burley F Beautifully dark and comedic frivolity Undervalued London actor
HAPPY ENDING NOT GUARANTEED Greenwich Very interesting evening writer/actor great and well-spoken you should continue your good work of bringing up and coming authors together and giving them a voice Maybe upcoming writer
HAPPY ENDING NOT GUARANTEED Greenwich Good variety of style in the stories, actor interpretation was excellent, dynamic energetic author reading Fascinated fiction fan
HAPPY ENDING NOT GUARANTEED Greenwich Makes me think when passing statues in the streets … what if …? Energetic, creative, idealistic
HAPPY ENDING NOT GUARANTEED launch Very well organised enjoyable program with diversified activities. I really appreciated all the marketing material New horizon explorer
Happy Ending NOT Guaranteed launch It’s events like these that make me think that maybe there IS a point to North London Hairy bee enthusiast
Happy Ending NOT Guaranteed launch Nothing’s sacred, great venue, great writer, great narrative Travelled, gypsy, overheated
Happy Ending NOT Guaranteed Lewisham Enjoyably hanging darkly in a cloud of suspense Overthinking underpaid scientist
Happy Ending NOT Guaranteed Lewisham Made me tingly, a bit like the Dr Who theme did when I was a kid. Hide behind my hands, but can’t wait for more Dreaming London lady
Happy Ending NOT Guaranteed Lewisham Not heard of Arachne Press before, but will look out for them from now on. A fascinating assortment of short stories brimming with otherworldliness and simmering spasms of evil blessed with reliving streaks of humour. Full of weird and wonderful reverberations as it should be. Bebop jazz poet
Happy Ending NOT Guaranteed Oxford Intimate, salon-like. As if I’d stumbled into an invitation only séance peopled by the spirits of Victorian huckster and exotic beasts earnest, quotidian, boring


Liberty Greenstead The ay the storytellers involved us, brought us into the atmosphere of their narration Quietly persistent
Liberty Greenstead A joyous evening to delight

the listeners on this Burns’ night

with ne’er a haggis no’ dram in sight

a joyous evening to enthrall all right.

pernickety political poet
Liberty Greenstead Exciting expedition into previously uncharted area of poetry and short story reading ‘poetry to the ears!’ retired bored housefrau
Liberty Housmans 1st time experiencing, so didn’t know what to expect, but enjoyed the live experience of an author reading their own work Lover of Ares
night write such a new and beautiful experience, who would have thought that writing in darkness revealed such gifts Restless London photographer
SHORTEST DAY, LONGEST NIGHT Bath Live, loud & varied, an eclectic mix of poems & prose that veered from tragic to whimsical. Bath writer in need of sleep
SHORTEST DAY, LONGEST NIGHT Bath Bookish whirlwind of tales & poems that provide thought-provoking insight into the writers minds Intensely formidable critic
SHORTEST DAY, LONGEST NIGHT Bath Entertaining varied & imaginative programme ranged from contemporary issues to timeless stories and poems vividly performed, Evoked a warm response from the audience M&M
SHORTEST DAY, LONGEST NIGHT Bath Completely gripping, never thought such a mix could be entertaining. The very high quality of the writing made it so Barmy Bath Bivalve
SHORTEST DAY, LONGEST NIGHT Bath An excellent evening with an inspiring mix of poems & Stories. Poignant, witty, intelligent work supported by the incomparable Cherry Potts who does such crucial work in supporting and developing opportunities for writers. A big shout out for Arachne Press!! Enthusiastic Bathite
SHORTEST DAY, LONGEST NIGHT Lewisham beautiful eclectic mixture of styles completely inspiring if slightly unsettling at times, in a good way Londoner by choice
SHORTEST DAY, LONGEST NIGHT Lewisham A thrilling eclectic mix of humour dark reality and myth Arbitrator/writer
Solstice Shorts Festival Excellent evening of song & Storytelling. Intriguing short stories that made you wonder laugh & Cry Definitely an experience to savour and repeat. Next Summer Maybe? Hopeful mother of twins
Solstice Shorts Festival Huge variety of work, great introduction to an international set of writers. Loved the music and actors great work. Wassailing was such a wonderful touch! Poetry loving librarian
Solstice Shorts Festival Wonderful variety of writing and composition suitably short to match the daylight today. Always a joy to hear new writing performed Broken armed poet
With Paper for Feet Lewisham Quality and humour of stories and poems, engaging performance, erudite, clever, lighthearted, accessible fun, quirky. Thank you! Frantically busy fan
With Paper for Feet Lewisham Witchy, feisty, a brilliant way to celebrate International Women’s Day Inspired every time!
WITH PAPER FOR FEET Oxford Compelling narratives from a poet who gives her work and her audience the respect and pleasure of a lively direct performance. Poetry reading regular
WITH PAPER FOR FEET Oxford Fine writing well-read and artistically presented Reader engineer listener
WITH PAPER FOR FEET Oxford The poet is not only a fantastic poet, but a first class performer of her work. Very worth going out on a rainy night P.S.
WITH PAPER FOR FEET Oxford Visual, curious, mythical, resonant Poetical psychologist
Story Sessions A place to hear good fiction and more, practice with other writers, It’s always good to perform your work to an audience I encourage you to go along and listen, or perform Ever learning writer
Story Sessions Relaxing entertaining and intense in the best way Fox loving optimist

Hunt and Pray

Here’s a Goddess you really want on your side…

Katy Darby reads Hunt & Pray at Solstice Shorts 2016, interpreted by Paul Michaels