Tuesday 30 July 2019

I.M. Dave Reeves

By Jacqui Rowe

Dave Reeves, who has died at the age of 65, played a major part in establishing the vibrant poetry community of the West Midlands. An entertaining and original poet himself, Dave was generous and hardworking in promoting others. From 1995 to 2008, he edited Raw Edge, a free magazine available from libraries; at its height 16,000 copies of each edition were produced. I was one of many poets  who were first published in Raw Edge, thrilled to appear along side well-established names. Dave was an excellent editor, as I saw when we judged the Black Country Living Museum Poetry Competition. He was knowledgeable, meticulous and always looked for the good in a poem. 

After Raw Edge, Dave moved on to Radio Wildfire, where he still promoted writers, this time through recordings. Being  a guest on the monthly live shows was a memorable experience, so enjoyable I’d beg to go on. One of the funniest people I’ve ever known, Dave would entertain us while recordings were playing, the guests sometimes struggling overcome our laughter to resume our serious discussion. 

Over the years, Dave was involved in more projects than should have seemed humanly possible, and I was always delighted to find myself working with him. Last year, we were both involved in Still Lively at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, aimed at older people as participants. The people leading the activities also had to be over a certain age, and Dave even managed to get us all to find that amusing. A lot of laughter has gone out of my life with his passing, but the poetry and poets he inspired are still there.

Dave leaves his partner, Ali, his son, Vaughan, and his granddaughter, Harlow.

Monday 15 July 2019

MA Student Publications 2019

It's been a great year on the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester. Students are now in the middle of their final Dissertations, which are handed in at the end of September. So it seems like a good time to celebrate the publishing successes students have had during their course. Here below is an incomplete list of some of the publications by students on the MA in Creative Writing, 2019. I've linked as many of the pieces as possible, so there's lots of wonderful writing to read and enjoy. 

Rosie Anderson's story 'Just a Cat' is published by Fairlight Books here

Louise Brown's poem 'The Deep Blue' has been published by Acumen Magazine, May 2019. She has also had reviews published on Everybody's Reviewing here, here and here.

Colin Gardiner has a flash story, 'The Stick Man,' published by Ink Pantry here. His reviews for Everybody's Reviewing are published here and here.  

Kathy Hoyle's flash fiction 'Blank Space' is published in Virtual Zine here. Her poem 'Cabin Crew' is published by Ink Pantry here. She's also had great success in a number of competitions: in 'Crossing the Tees' Short Story Competition, her story 'Nancy' was longlisted, and subsequently published in the competition anthology; her story 'Licking the Toad' was shortlisted in the Exeter Short Story Competition; her flash fiction 'Baby Dolls' was longlisted in the TSS Flash Fiction Competition; her flash fiction was also shortlisted in the Ellipsis Zine Flash Fiction Competition; and her memoir piece 'Hometime' was shortlisted in the prestigious Short Memoir Competition run by Fish Publishing. 

Karen Rust's flash fiction 'A Parting Gesture' is published by Ellipsis Zine here, and she has another piece of flash, 'Deliverance,' published by Ink Pantry here

Sally Shaw has had various reviews published on Everybody's Reviewing - for example, here, here and here. Her story 'A School Photograph' was published by New Mag in February. You can read another story by Sally, 'Cherry Scones,' which was published in March on Ink Pantryhere

Lisa Williams has reviews on Everybody's Reviewing here and here.  

Lee Wright's flash fiction 'Father' is published by Flash Flood here. His short story 'We Can Have You There by Noon' is published by Fairlight Books here. You can read his poem 'The Safe Cracker,' published by Burning House Press, here, and 'The People v. Sid Vicious' here. He has written extensively for Everybody's Reviewing, and interviewed many authors for the site. See here for a selection of these. 

.... And there are more publications forthcoming in the next few weeks and months. Congratulations to all!

Wednesday 10 July 2019

Featured Author: Laurie Cusack

Congratulations to Laurie Cusack,who has just successfully completed his PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester. 

Laurie is Leicester-born and his parents hailed from western Ireland. He has recently completed a collection of short stories called The Mad Road about the Irish for his PhD. Cusack’s stories deal with the gritty reality of submerged existence which he portrays in new dark humorous ways. The underbelly of the Irish living in Britain is explored in provocative fashion throughout. His narratives often deal with the politics of the work place and the blood, sweat and tears of the everyday. He has several short stories in print. 'The Bottle and the Trowel' was recently published in the award-winning anthology, High Spirits: A Round of Drinking Stories, edited by Jonathan Taylor and Karen Stevens. Below, you can read an extract taken from that story. The piece deals with a young Irish working man in crisis talking to his hospitalised Irish friend, who is in a coma from an accident that happened through negligence on a construction site in London.

Extract from 'The Bottle and the Trowel'

That smarmy safety officer sidled up to me the other day, Jerry, as I was setting me profiles up. A firm’s man through and through: ‘Look, lad, we all know how you feel. It’s agreed that there was a glitch in McLain’s system, that wasn’t picked-up. Which has now been rectified. New stratagems are being put in to place for the next build. Is that OK, my old son? I don’t think recrimination is the way forward, do you?’

‘Yeah, and my mate’s up shit creek without a paddle. Will ye cop on for feck’s sake!’ I fired back at him.

He stormed off with the huff, ‘You just can’t talk to some people, you’ll never ...’ mutter, mutter, mutter, Jerry. Those yellow fecking jacket boys do your head in, don’t they?

Then a soft union skin came in to the canteen, as I was eating me scran, ‘Look, Lorcan, it’s not worth rocking the boat over this,’ he said, in a hushed sort of a way.

I know they’re shitting their knickers over the Health and Safety Executive’s visit next week, Jerry. They’ve got wind of my bolshie mutterings around site. I should’ve been keeping me head down. Now they’re really pressurising me to sign. What would you do, Jerry?

Hughie Cairns, my old tradesman used to slag our gaffers off to fuck: Mushrooms, that’s all we are to them. They like to keep us in the dark and feed us shit. Mushrooms. Then he’d laugh his head off, Jerry. I learnt stacks from Hughie. Super glue that in to your mind, gosser, he’d say, as we pointed our brickwork up. Hughie would have seen this coming a mile off.

I don’t want them to get away with this, I really don’t, but the way things are ...

Wednesday 3 July 2019

Featured Poet: Helen Ivory

Photo by Dave Gutteridge

Helen Ivory is a poet and visual artist. Her fifth Bloodaxe collection is The Anatomical Venus (May 2019). She edits the webzine Ink Sweat and Tears and is a tutor for the UEA/NCW online  creative writing programme. Fool’s World, a collaborative Tarot with Tom de Freston (Gatehouse Press), won the 2016 Saboteur Best Collaborative Work award. A book of mixed media poems Hear What the Moon Told Me appeared from KFS in 2016, and a chapbook Maps of the Abandoned City was published by SurVision Press (Ireland) earlier this year. She lives in Norwich with her husband, the poet Martin Figura. Her website is http://www.helenivory.co.uk/.

About The Anatomical Venus
An Anatomical Venus is an eighteenth-century anatomical wax sculpture of an idealized woman, a heady mix of eroticism, death and biological verisimilitude. Venus could be opened up and pulled apart by all the men that studied her. She would give up her secrets the first time of asking. The Anatomical Venus examines how women have been portrayed as ‘other’; as witches; as hysterics with wandering wombs and as beautiful corpses cast in wax, or on mortuary slabs in TV box sets. A hanged woman addresses the author of the Malleus Maleficarum, a woman diagnosed with ‘Housewife Psychosis’ recounts her dreams to Freud, and a sex robot has the ear of her keeper. The Anatomical Venus imagines the lives of women sketched in asylum notes and pictures others, shut inside cabinets of curiosity. You can read a poem from the collection below, and see further details about the book here

The Hanged Woman Addresses The Reverend Heinrich Kramer 

To conclude. All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which is in women insatiable.
Malleus Maleficarum  1486, Revs Kramer and Sprenger 

Do you cower in your crib at night
against encroaching evil tongues?
I picture you skittish inside your nightgown
as swollen tempests swoop upon your roof
and rattle the door you bolted thrice
against the dark invisible.

You said my womb knew such hunger
that I might devour a man entire.
Pray tell me in your clearest chapel voice
what tales they told you at the breast? 
A pretty Devil’s pact that would render
your creeping flesh delicious!

A sough of wind stirs papers on your desk.
You say women have weak memories,
then you shall be perplexed
that, despite my ruined body in the noose,
I recall each gnawing passage of your book.
When the sun awakens, they will cut me down.