As a writer and a publisher, it seems self-evident that I should be on social media. Yet recently, I've been questioning this.
Ahead of the official launch of The Cinnamon Review of Short Fiction in Paris at the end of the month, here's an extract from Tamsin Hopkins' fascinating and revealing article in the Review investigating her approach to writing short fiction…
Guest blog by Jay Whittaker.
At Cinnamon Press we love books. We adore poetry and fiction, literature that defies genre and books that take risks. We find writers with distinctive voices who have something real to say exciting to work with. So what would make an independent press in love with words and story declare we don't want good books?
The twice-yearly writing courses at Ty'n y Coed, near Conwy, has become a firm fixture in the Cinnamon calendar. This November's autumn course was fantastic example of why the courses are so important to our ethos: eight writers coming together to find support and inspiration, each of them making a breakthrough with the work and leaving with a stronger commitment to writing than they had are the start of the week. But don't take my word for it. Here's Diane Woodrow's take on her time at Ty'n y Coed this November.
The notion that you are here for some purpose; that all you have to do is discover the one thing hidden deep in the recesses of your soul or psyche in order to fulfil your life's goal or nature or some other externally determined objective, is a pervasive one. An Internet search will bring up many and various ways to discover your purpose with the assumption that there is an esoteric 'very reason why you exist', more colloquially 'what you were put on earth for'. Yet not only are these supposedly deeply-embedded purposes hard to find, most of them seem to be described in sweeping statements so general as to become meaningless. Things like being here 'to bring peace' or 'radiate light'.
An irresistible sleeping sickness had Perl in its grip.
Hard to imagine two more different people than Alfred Kubin and Eric Basso. Kubin: print maker, illustrator of the works of Poe and E.T.A. Hoffmann, sometime associate of the Blaue Reiter. Basso a novelist, poet, playwright and critic, a modernist in the best sense of the term, a man located far off the mainstream. Yet, they've both offered visions of societies collapsing under the grip of plagues of sleeping sickness. In Kubin's 1908 novel, The Other Side (quoted above), the sickness gradually overruns the city of Perl, a strange, failing utopia located outside customary space and time. In Basso's 1977 cult classic, The Beak Doctor, the sickness has already consumed an unnamed town whose deserted streets are choked by swirling fog and which teeters on the verge of collapse:
I've attended 4 book events in 4 countries in the last ten days and although each one has been completely different from the next, they've all been excellent experiences. From the launch of Landeg White's Ultimatum in iconic Lisbon bookshop, Ler Devagar, to an upstairs room in a pub in the Welsh border town of Presteigne, where myself and Susan Richardson read from several of our poetry collections; from an art-space café/bar in Edinburgh for the launch of Jay Whittaker's debut collection, Wristwatch, to the cosy and well-stocked Drake's bookshop for the launch of the second in Tracey Iceton's Celtic Colours Trilogy, Herself Alone in Orange Rain, there were key ingredients that meant the audiences were delighted, moved and engaged. And books were sold. So what is the magic list that makes a book event work?
Lisbon is sleepy and quiet at 8.30 in the morning when I set out in search of breakfast after a good night's sleep in a tiny apartment on Rua Amadeu de Sousa Cardoso. Back at the LS Factory, a complex of restaurants, boutique shops and Livraria ler Devagar, where we launched Landeg White's novel, Ultimatum, last night, the cobbled street between former industrial warehouses and factories is totally deserted. There's a light on in the one café offering breakfast, but they don't open till 9.30 and I've got a plane to catch this morning, so I wander a little further down the hill.
In this fascinating article, Maria Jastrzębska talks about the genesis and background of her eagerly awaited new book.
It came as quite a surprise to find my collection, High City Walk, shortlisted for Best Short Story Collection in this year's Saboteur Awards — a very pleasant one, I might add. Voting in currently underway to decide the winner and we'll find out the results on 13 May.
Exactly 100 years ago this month, Welsh Fusilier, 21-year-old Glyn Roberts fell at La Boiselle in the opening incursions of the Battle of the Somme. His battalion, the 9th Royal Welsh Fusiliers, engaged in an attack 'regardless of loss'. Glyn was killed on 3rd July 1916, days before the ensuing battle of Mametz Wood. A collection of moving letters home to his mother and sisters are the inspiration behind Jane Austin's debut novel, News from Nowhere. To honour the memory of her great uncle, Jane journeyed with the South Wales Western Front Association to the Somme battlefields for a memorial ceremony on the centenary of one of the bloodiest battles in British military history. The emotional trip resulted in Jane receiving, for the first time, a message that never reached her family at the time. This is her account of the extraordinary pilgrimage …
As the memory of two world wars and Hiroshima — great crimes against humanity on any, on every scale — slips into chapters of just more unbelievable history, it seems my generation, which has only known the voluntary expeditionary wars of our times, has decided to forge alone.
My book launch-party was a truly happy celebration, which meant I could 'launch' my book almost like pushing a boat out to sea, at last, after years of hard preparation and literal crafting. It went with a good crash of the bubbly! Creating this collection has been about not just editing so carefully every word and comma — with the invaluable help of Jan, as my editor — but also making the poems work together, in a sequence that hopefully flows into each other.