Monday, 23 November 2009

Word Soup #7 'Home'

Our regular Word Soup reviewer, the lovely and talented Mel Webster, had the cheek to go away on her holidays so it's only me this time. Apologies for inaccuracy, misspelling, dearth of good jokes and lack of insightful yet witty comments about shoes in advance...

Our seventh Word Soup took place, as did the previous eight, in the Continental Events Space. A slight change to our usual format meant we missed out on our popular open mike section (sorry guys) and instead hosted Bewilderbliss - a Manchester based creative writing magazine. But more about that later.

Our first performer was Mark Charlesworth - a Preston based blogger and poet who's been featured fairly regularly on the PrestonWN blog by our in-house reviewer Andrew Hurley, as well as at previous Word Soups. We were pleased to welcome him back for a selection of Home themed poems that acted as a preview to his new poetry collection, In Memory of Real Trees. Mark will be launching the collection here at the Continental on the 28th November - the event is free and all are welcome. We'll also be reviewing the collection here very shortly.

Paul Sockett made a much welcome return to our stage all the way from his home in Great Harwood with a collection of poems that examined just what 'home' actually means - emphasising that home is not always a safe sanctuary with a chilling and disturbing poem titled 'One Thousand'. Paul's a confident, charismatic performer and certainly one of Word Soup's best discoveries - an actor by profession, he prefers to be called 'an actor who writes' rather than a writer...

Rounding off the first half, we were especially pleased to welcome West Lancashire novelist Carol Fenlon - who read from her award winning debut novel, Consider the Lilies. Structured as a series of diary entries from an unusual and isolated woman living in rural West Lancs in the 1960s, her writing had the whole room enthralled - one audience member visiting from south Manchester commented that he really got a sense of a Lancashire voice from Carol's work.

After a short break and a wee bit of music from Kevin Wilkinson, we returned to the main stage with a set from Bewilderbliss. Curated by the magazine's editor Jon Davies, we heard from magazine contributors and Manchester students Holly Ringland, Mathew Hull, Valerie O'Riordan and Jonathan Davies himself. The guests went down a storm, with a varied collection of pieces that showcased the best of Manchester writing. You can read Valeries' account of her first ever live performance at her blog - here (clicky clicky).

Bewilderbliss have their own website - do pop over (but please come back) to read interviews and reviews and find out more about their magazine - now open for submissions. They accept poetry and prose and aim to showcase the very best in new writing - it would be great to have a Prestonian featured there... all issues are themed and all submitted pieces should be on the theme 'untruthful' - a theme set by yours truly. So get submitting, and tell them we sent you..

Our final two performers were certainly worth waiting for. Mollie Baxter travelled to us from Morecambe. A very experienced musician, writer and performer with pieces published by Lancaster based publisher, Flax - she treated the audience to a short story first published in Before the Rain with an alternative ending written especially for the evening - and followed up with an account of a flat that had many members of the audience nodding in recognition.

Last up we had Thomas Fletcher - Thomas is an accomplished writer and poet based in Manchester, also published by Flax and with his first novel, The Leaping, forthcoming in 2010 by Quercus Books. His editor Nick Johnston has said Tom's work

'speaks for a generation that's got the highest level of university education in history, but has largely found themselves trapped in mind-numbing temp work. He's perfectly captured the fear and violence that lurk beneath the surface of our society.'

Fear and violence were certainly in the offing for the last story of the night - an uncanny, almost supernatural tale of a woman pursued by a mysterious entity called 'home' - observed by her husband who can watch, but do nothing to help her. This was an unsettling tale - playing with our assumptions about 'hearth and home' and undermining our expectations at every turn. Tom's deadpan, highly controlled delivery perfectly suited the subject matter, and left the audience wanting more. Watch it for yourself here:

And that's all for Word Soup in November. With, as always, our thanks going to Daisy Baldwin who researched and created our performer profiles, and Norman Hadley who filmed the clips you see here, and the addition clips of the night which you can view at your leisure on the Lancashire Writing Hub YouTube Channel.

We'll be back in December with Word Soup #8 - 'Old' with appearances from Zoe Lambert, Rachel McGladdery, Peter Crompton and a showcase spot from sCribble - as well as a return to our much missed open mike section of the night. See you there!

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