Tag Archives: David Hartley

As We Are Away: 20th-30th November

Natalie Proctor previews the nous magazine/As We Are Away festival, taking place around the city 20-30 November

How lucky we are here in Manchester to have so much creativity on our doorstep! No matter what the artistic genre, there is always something going on in this vibrant northern city. This diversity of talent is something that self-established Nous Magazine champions. The magazine is a relatively new enterprise, which has a unique focus on ‘contemporary mind culture’. In collaboration with As We Are Away, the magazine has created a mini-festival for all things arty. AWAA is an art project with a difference, focused on overcoming the cultural stigma around mental health. The festival hopes to inspire us to think differently about mental illness, and learn to become more open and understanding about something that affects thousands of people across the UK.

The event, which goes on until the 30th November, will host a variety of acts throughout the creative sphere. Each night focuses on a different collection of some of Manchester’s finest artists, poets, musicians and directors. Whatever you may have an interest in, the AWAA mini-Festival will surely have something to spark your creative interest.

What makes this event even greater is that it’s free! Although donations are extremely appreciated, and do go on to ensure that these kind of fantastic events may continue. You can even buy an 11- day ticket that gives you access to all the events running for just £5.50. That seems like a bargain to me! We here at M20 would also strongly encourage you to make this donation, as we fully believe it is vital to support the arts to the best of our ability. Without such contributions we would find it hard to maintain the wealth of opportunities on offer for Manchester creatives.

So what’s on? Well, if you’re interested in poetry, there is Tea Hour Poetry on 25th November, which is sure to offer a plethora of new and old talent; including established writers like David Hartley, who we interviewed in October. This will be taking place at the trendy Northern Quarter café The Koffee Pot. Certainly not one to miss!

There is also a lot to offer in terms of music. On Thursday the 27th, the night As We Are Here will host some of Manchester’s most exciting up and coming bands and artists. The live music will continue into the evening at the Eagle Inn, and there will be a variety of sounds from the likes of Second Shepherds, POST and Locean.

If you fancy a little slice of the Cannes Film Festival in Manchester, then why not head over to the concluding night of the festival, curated by Cultivate Film Art. This evening will present some critically acclaimed foreign films, which may perhaps may a nice change from the outlandish Hollywood blockbuster. The documentary film ‘Black Sun’ (2005) by Gary Tarn tells the dramatic story of French artist Hugues de Montalembert who finds himself blinded after a violent attack in New York. It is a moving piece of cinema that is sure to strike a nerve. Also showing is the 1970 film adaptation of the novel ‘Valerie and Her Week of Wonders’. This erotic horror is somewhat otherworldly, and definitely different to what’s out there in the box office!

The festival has plenty more to offer so check out the website for a full list of the events coming up. And remember, the festival ends on the 30th November so don’t miss out. Keep supporting the arts.

Natalie Proctor

Email: hej@nous-magazine.de
Website: www.nous-magazine.de
Facebook: www.facebook.com/nousmagazinemanchester

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An Interview with… David Hartley

Alex Webb sits down with Manchester writer David Hartley to talk about his work, getting published and how to get into spoken word…

In the spoken word scene, good short story performers are hard to find. It’s difficult enough holding an audience’s attention for the duration of a poem, let alone that of an extended narrative. David Hartley seems to be an exception to this. When I saw the Preston-born writer perform at September’s Bad Language I was crying with laughter as he performed a piece about being endlessly stuck in a cinema watching the same film. Hartley’s talent for spoken word is evident in his delivery, bringing his work to life in a hilarious light that left me begging for more. Fortunately, there was more to read! Hartley has four collections out including his most notable one, Threshold. I was fortunate enough to get the chance to ask Hartley a few questions about his writing style, his inspiration and the Manchester literature scene.

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Hartley describes Threshold as a collection of various short pieces that are based in “some kind of unreality, whether that is the future, something monstrous, or something abstract”. This is very clear in my personal favourite, ‘The Haunter’, which sees Hartley turn into a revenge-seeking ghost desperate to torment his partner’s parents. Lines such as ‘I will be satellite interference on the Adult Channel, an unseen mouse fraying router wires, ecto-fluff clogging sinks’ shows Hartley’s ability to twist the mundane everyday into something to laugh about. This is summarised best by the writer himself who notes that he likes to write “things [that are] familiar but unfamiliar at the same time”.

Having moved from Preston to Manchester when he was 18, Hartley says that both these places have played huge roles in his writing. In fact, in Threshold, there is a piece called ‘Guess the Preston’ that takes us back to the writer’s childhood, a time he now recalls with “a kind of aching for happier times along with a gentle frustration at the  ‘small city’ mentality” that I’m sure a lot of us can relate to. If Preston was his childhood Manchester is Hartley’s adulthood, with Manc-inspired pieces “tend[ing] to be abstract, weighed down by history or, more interestingly, apocalyptic”. One such piece (yet to be published) is Hartley’s ‘Lest We Forget’ which he described as a fusion of his “love of the city [with his] distrust of city planners and their wilful disregard for history and art”. From this, it is clear that to say Hartley is happy tackling a huge range of topics is an understatement. It is this apparent fearlessness in his writing that makes him such an interesting artist.

When I asked Hartley what drew him to short stories, he said that it may be down to his father, a drama teacher, and his time in an experimental student theatre at college. “I ‘hear’ poetic prose in my head when I come to put words onto paper” says Hartley, citing Beckett, Berkoff and Greek tragedians as some of his major influences in his style. However, for this writer, it is important to “trust the inner language that spills out” when experimenting and embrace your style, whatever it may be.

“Go out in the city and meet other creatives”

When I asked Hartley to give advice to those who may want to get involved in Manchester’s spoken word scene he said his number one piece of advice is always: “get out there, get away from the keyboard, go out into the city and meet other creatives”. I’ve heard this advice a number of times and nothing could be truer. To really expand your skills you have to embrace the literary world around you and absorb as much as you possibly can. The main reason for doing this, in Hartley’s case, is because “you can hear some brilliant stuff that will inspire you, and you’ll hear some awful stuff that will anger you, and rile you up” leading you back to the keyboard “giddy with enthusiasm and ideas”. When Hartley speaks about his work and spoken word it is clear that he loves what he does. It’s cliché but true: if you love what you’re doing, it will show in your audience’s reaction, so always be enthusiastic about your work.  This is part of what makes a performer great.

Talking about Manchester-based artists to look out for, Hartley named Fat Roland (the man behind ‘Bad Language’), Benjamin Judge, Joy France, Kieran King, David Gaffney and Zach Roddis. It is obvious how much respect Hartley has for these writers and after checking a few of them out I can see why.  On regular spoken word nights that are worth checking out, Hartley suggested Bad Language as the first port of call. This is because it is “always excellent, ever-expanding, very welcoming, friendly and smartly run”. What more could you ask for from a night?

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When asking about Hartley’s journey to being published he said: “Threshold came together because someone saw me perform and liked my stories – three months later I had a book and an ISBN” proving that it really is just about making yourself accessible and finding ways to improve your style whenever possible. Whilst in the past a desire to be published was a “vanity project”, nowadays Hartley believes it is “more of an essential step in the ladder of becoming a ‘proper’ writer”. In the near future, we can expect a re-packaging of Hartley’s two Christmas collections, God Rest Ye and Merry Gentlemen. Alongside this, Hartley is working on a novel that is still far from finished but he is hopeful that it may be done by next year.

If you want to check out Hartley in person pop along to the King’s Arms, Salford on November 6th for an evening of experimental storytelling based on the themes of animals called ‘Fauna’. Whatever Hartley does in the future I wish him the best of luck and I am looking forward to what he has to offer in the coming years.

Alex Webb

Visit David Hartley’s website: http://davidhartleywriter.blogspot.co.uk/

Follow him on Twitter at:  http://twitter.com/DHartleyWriter

Buy Threshold at the Gumbo Press site: http://www.gumbopress.co.uk/threshold.html

A Night Out: Bad Language MCR

Alex Webb heads to the Castle Hotel in NQ for Bad Language MCR…

On September 24th I went to Oldham Street’s Castle Hotel for a brilliant night of spoken word. Bad Language is one of Manchester’s best-known spoken word nights, held on the last Wednesday of every month and promising huge variety from one night to the next. The set up of Bad Language is that ten performers have four minutes to showcase their work to a very attentive, informed and genuinely interested audience. The crowd at Bad Language was the best I have ever seen with a real sense of appreciation for what the performers are doing. The majority of acts this month performed comedic pieces that, at times, left the entire room in tears. Most notable, for me, was David Hartley’s performance of ‘I didn’t want this, I didn’t ask for this’: a short-story about being endlessly stuck in the cinema watching ‘Mrs Brown’s boys – da movie’ (it’s something you have to see for yourself). Other standouts for me were Roger Fizzerton’s ‘The Thin-Skinned at Breakfast’ (an account of a philosophical debate with a sausage) and another’s narrative about a woman’s war against motion-sensor bins. The main event of the night was Carys Bray reading from her new book, A Song For Issy Bradley. The novel focuses on how a Mormon family of five copes with the loss of their daughter/sister, Issy Bradley. To say Bray writes convincingly does not do her justice; when she read a passage from the youngest Bradley, a seven year old determined to bring his sister back to life, it felt like the boy was in the room. I bought Bray’s book as soon as she finished performing and it jumped straight to the top of my reading list. For anyone looking for something new to pick up, you’ve just found the novel for you! What I liked most about Bad Language was the accessibility of the night; whatever your style it has a place here. This is why I would recommend Bad Language to any new performer looking for opportunities to try their stuff out. Slots for Bad Language open on the 5th of every month and all it takes is an email to get a reservation. The night makes a promise that at least half their artists are Bad Language “virgins” meaning that you are always guaranteed to see new Manchester talent. That isn’t a promise many nights can make and this is just one reason why you should make your way down to the Castle Hotel for October’s Bad Language! Bad Language’s website Like Bad Language on Facebook Follow Bad Language on Twitter  If you are interested in taking a spot at next month’s Bad Language send an email to badlanguagemcr@gmail.com any time after the 5th of each month! Alex Webb