#Arachne5 thank-you’s: Musicians

With the 5th Anniversary celebrations heading into view I was thinking about the thank you speech, and like the Oscars it is in danger of going on, and on. And on. So I thought I’d blog it instead, a section at a time.

What does a publisher need with musicians? Well, our regular events Solstice Shorts Festival (always), and The Story Sessions (usually), some of our launches and some of our writing workshops have included music – always acoustic, often folk, sometimes original, mostly but not exclusively songs, because we love the narrative power of a song.

Our most frequent collaborators are Ian Kennedy and Sarah Lloyd who have performed in just about every capacity we offer them.


Next most regular must be Annalie Wilson, who also reads for us and was our artist in residence for the last four Story Sessions..

Annalie Wilson


After that it’s our choir friends, in various guises, (there’s a lot of cross-over in choirs!) most frequently as Summer All Year Long, but also Vocal Chords and Raise the Roof

Will Evererett singing with Summer all Year Long

Summer All Year Long

© Ben Mueller-Brown benhasphotos.wordpress.com

Vocal Chords at WGL

more vocal chords (by Katy Darby)

Vocal Chords (by Katy Darby)

Vocal Chords Wassailing

For Solstice Shorts we really push the boat out, with (sometimes) music written for the occasion AND multiple musicians: Shadrack Tye, Pepper & Shepherd, Rosemary Lippard, Melanie Harrold, Juliet Desailly, Peter Thomas & Piotr Jordan (playing original music by Zac Gvirtzman), plus everyone already mentioned!

And finally… Lester Simpson, who runs singing workshops for us once or twice a year and teaches us amazing songs that find their way into our events, and the repetoire of choirs all over London; and has become a friend along the way.

Will there be music at the Anniversary celebrations on the 8th September? Of course there will! Book your free ticket now!

This Place & Sonata for Two Violins

many of the poems and stories we chose for Solstice Shorts this year were responding to the music of Zachary Gvirtzman, including This Place, by Tim Cremin.

Here is Ray Newe reading This Place, followed by Zac’s Sonata for Two Violins, played live for us by Peter Thomas and Piotr Jordan

Solshorts Shortest Day video – Blind Elephants

Two versions of Blind Elephants – a poem by Karen Bovenmyer, The Blind Elephants of Io read by Patsy Prince and the music that inspired it, written and performed by Zac Gvirtzman. BSL interpretation by Martin Fox-Roberts

A perfect example of the spirit of this year’s Solstice Shorts Festival, of sharing and inspiration between writers and musicians.

The Blind Elephants of Io
Karen Bovenmyer

The silence is complete until
the rover’s thrum breaks it–
this is no place to catch
sight of the elephants of Io – so
Rev takes us down one dune almost


and up another, fine silt waterfalling.
Io is the same size as Earth’s moon
but pockmarked and yellow-red,
smoke-grey eruptions caused by huge
tidal forces from Jupiter’s mass

like the ones pulling my heart
into the dust storm that would result
from telling Rev how I really feel
about that night we spent together
skin to skin – for survival – wanting


so close, but professional, me
wanting him, skin to skin, again
regulations be damned
and both of us as well
but wanting is not acting, not–

Rev kills the rover and my heartbeat
thuds loud in my suit. The windshield steams
with mingled breath. I see footprints in sulfur-dioxide
frost where the elephants walked last solstice.
They only come one day, the shortest day

a singular chance, a slow procession
one alien moving before the other
almost touching, the way magma flows
in a low gravity environment, like
a lineup of lava lamps in a sex den


Rev grips my shoulder as the herd appears
over the next dune, all around us
tails flicking, trunks swinging just above the
clouds of moon sand, moving like nothing
else, the rolling gait of their namesake–

like but not the pachyderms of Earth. Eyeless
heads swing ivory tusks back and forth
while the plasma torus of Io’s volcanic ejecta
glows behind them. Like a nimbus, their shapes
seem outlined in fire. The shortest day is ending.

I’m going to kiss him. I’m going to kiss
him before the elephants no one mentions
are no longer in the room. I’m going to
while he watches, his mouth relaxed,
eyes wide in wonder

Io is the driest known object
in the solar system, but right now
it is nothing compared to
my mouth