As part of the Poised Pen group’s annual Secret Santa I was surprised to be challenged this year to write a piece about Angles. What the fup, I thought, do angles have to do with Christmas? So I spent a happy couple of hours crafting a nice little ditty about a solitary, retired geometry teacher on Christmas Eve. The nicest touch in the whole thing was that the man was called Clarence, after the angel in It’s a Wonderful Life. Frankly, the finished article was on the -ish side of ok. Only on checking the challenge did it dawn that the challenge was Angels, not Angles.
So back to writing board, in pretty quick order, as time was tighter than a tight analogy I can’t think of immediately. Then came the pome Christmas Without Angels, which I’ve now posted elsewhere on this site. Unusual for me in that it doesn’t rhyme and the opening owes something to Brian Patten’s Hair Today, No Her Tomorrow. That’s about as far as I’ll go in comparing myself to Brian Patten – it’s like comparing myself to Steve Gerrard because I go to the match, and he’s on the pitch.
In the end, the Queen of Flash Fiction, aka Catherine Connolly, seemed quite pleased by the finished article and the few people who’ve seen it prior to publication quite like it, so potentially in the next volume I’ll be hoping to bring out next year.
Well, the famous old Fly in the Loaf pub in Liverpool had never seen anything quite like it. Or maybe it hat, but the launch night for Buddha in a Hat was, all things considered, a bit of a success. I’d say. On balance. I’m always the same before things like this, frantic preparations and then a strange kind of calm when you realize there’s no more prep you can do and you just have to get on with it. So, with a big build up from David Parrish (creative businesses marketing guru) it was into Meanest Roman…The audience, largely composed of family, friends and members of other writers’ groups
seemed to enjoy it all and the point of it all – flogging Buddhas – was achieved. In Praise of WLJ was going particularly well until it was pointed out that despite the rant in the poem I was wearing trousers with buttons. If that’s lost on you, you’ll have to buy the book.
Cries for an encore caught me by surprise, but I suspect these had been orchestrated by that nice Mr Parrish. Still, the sound of warm applause is always welcome, no matter how it’s come about. Great also to see some old pals, who’d travelled all the way up from Nailsworth in Gloucestershire. For this first time, I tried a couple of the more personal, reflective poems which broke up some of the funnier stuff – laughs in all the right places, I’m pleased to report.
So, booking some more gigs around Liverpool, and maybe beyond. Keep an eye out for appearances. Finally, big thanks to all who contributed on the night, including the gallant team from the Poised Pen, as the evening segued into the launch of our latest group anthology. Thanks also to Eekiboo Photography, for a portfolio of brilliant photographs.
Much of last night’s meeting of the Poised Pen writers’ group was taken up with what can loosely be described as “planning” for our Buddha/spooky event above the Fly in the Loaf pub on 24 October. In the knowledge that, actually, it’s not always alright on the night we had a few things to sort. But the key thing is that entries for the Poised Pen’s spooky flash fiction competition are now all in and judging is taking place over the next day or two. £100 first prize, not to be sniffed at; which leads me to the disappointing realisation that we didn’t get a single scratch ‘n’ sniff entry this year.
Being one of the judges I’ll be looking for something that’s genuinely scary with a bit of a twist in the tale. Plus, being a pedant, I’ll grimace at poor grammar and spelling; I do try not to go over the top on this, but the sight of a misplaced apostrophe is like the sound of a witch’s nails sliding down a blackboard in my narrow little world.
So tonight will be settling down with a cup of cocoa and a mound of manuscripts, red pen in hand. Even the weather’s turning a bit sinister and I’m sure that old tree at the bottom of the garden has moved a few yards closer to the house since this morning….
You can’t help but notice that the shops are full of Hallowe’en tat at the moment, after which they’ll be full of Christmas tat after which they’ll be full of Valentine tat, then Mother’s Day, then Easter…
An escape from tattiness comes in the form of a bit of creativity, in the shape of a brilliant competition being run by Liverpool’s Poised Pen writers’ group. They’ve come up with a wizard, or warlock, wheeze to offer £100 for the best spooky story sent to them, in fewer than 666 words. Diabolical, what? The bad news is that the competition closes at the end of this week, midnight on Friday 10th to be precise; the good news is that it’s only 666 words – or fewer – so how hard can it be?
Best news of all is that the presentation of the prizes (there are runner-up ££££ on offer) will take place in the Fly in the Loaf pub on Hardman street, on Friday 24 October, and evening which will combine readings from Buddha in a Hat and an open mic session. Last year’s Poised Pen bash, in the Ship & Mitre, was a tremendous success and this year’s should be no different.
So, go to the website, get writing, and we’ll see you on 24 October!
Poised Pen Spooky Flash Fiction Competition.
Very pleased this week to have got back on track with some performance stuff, notably to do some poems from Buddha in a Hat at Granty’s Inferno, itself a part of the Liverpool Comedy Festival. Peter Grant and his partner Cath Roberts jointly run one of Merseyside’s finest bookshops, Literally, in New Brighton. What makes it so special is that they’re not just running a bookshop, but a cultural hub. Regular evening performances from local celebs such as Ken Dodd, Pauline Daniels and Eithne Browne have been a feature of recent years.
So it was something of a coup this week to be asked to perform alongside Carl Chase (always the baddie in films such as Batman and Alien, and Dean Sullivan, or Jimmy Corkhill as he’s still known around these parts.
A strange venue – the dining room of Dunsandles guest house in New Brighton – turned out to be perfect for a relaxed evening of poetry, song and performance. Happily, the Buddha selection went down well and many a copy was sold & signed on the night, then very relieved to see a warm review of the night on Ian Hall’s Liverpool Sound & Vision blog Granty’s Inferno
Having got that one under my belt – with some friendly faces from the Poised Pen group in the audience – now looking forward to a night of merriment in the Fly in the Loaf on 24 October. See you then.
Check out the whole of Liverpool Festival of Comedy 2014, some great stuff, but check out particularly Granty’s Inferno charity night at New Brighton’s Literally…A Bookshop. Great night in store, including a set from myself – entrance £5 or a donation to charity; great food, drinks and some fine poetry from me and others.
Work in progress, Buddha in a Hat, coming soon from Candescent Press, with illustrations by Lyn Duffy, author of Mighty Matilda and the Missing Crown Jewels.
Hello, and welcome to the beginnings of a website, a mini-Big Bang. Over the coming months, in theory, I’ll be adding poems, blogs and other snippets to the site in order to build it up with the sole intention of directing people to Amazon (other on-line booktraders are possibly available) to buy Buddha in a Hat.
Until that time, however, why not browse said on-line booktrader until you come across the wonderful Mighty Matilda and the Missing Crown Jewels by author and illustrator Lyn Duffy.
Or better still, preview some of my work and that of chums from Liverpool’s Poised Pen Writers’ Group, in our latest anthology Half-Baked.