Tag Archives: Writing

Local Literature: ‘List of Lists’

Allegorical piece by Fandango Hack; a list of the weird, the beautiful and the atrocious things that make up the world

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The bath, the stainless shovel, the mask, the cat, the bastard and the brothel

The sloth, the slowly sinking, the dogman in the doghouse drunk and slowly drinking

The cot, the dripping tap, the cobra and the Bearn with cradle cap

The nag, the reigns of brass, the hands retracting from the chance to clasp

The mole, the focal point, the oil slick and dripped drawn to anoint.

The eldest, dead and dying, the trier God would love giving up trying

The prayer, the prongs of forks, the damsel in distress popping the cork

The window, the tubby fucker, the golden punishment for copper suckers.

The world, and all its raging wrong, the sorrow in the truth of every song.

The tape, the worm escaping, the lacerated shapes, the plates that Greeks be breaking

The sand, the flooded earth, the man, the battle and the bloody birth

The heart, the tumour clock, the startled pecker pecking and the strangled cock

The news, the bloated leader, the reader of bad blues, the filthy minded bleeder

The grass, the meadow strung with deaths own tinsel, the tooth, the biter of the bitten pencil

The fruit, the guardian of all unknown, the beauty bought and battered cloaks a clone

The worms, the worms that guide us to the core, the claws that burrow, the bully come a bore.

The gas, the flame, the poisoned budgies feather, the world that went to war over the weather.

The world and all its rarest rights, the joy found in the truth of every fight.

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read more at:www.fandangohack.tumblr.com

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Who is Keisha Thompson a.k.a. SheBeKeke?

Alex talks to Keisha Thompson about what inspires her writing, what Young Identity hopes to achieve and the Manchester literature scene in general

Have you heard SheBeKeke? With an already more-than-impressive portfolio, Keisha Thompson is a valuable member of Manchester’s poetry circuit. As well as being a key member of Inna Voice, another creative group within Young Identity, she recently released her own EP, Abecedarian, and has been published in numerous anthologies.

I’ve had the privilege of seeing Keisha perform a number of times. At each performance, I’ve been struck by how she manages to bring new character and life to the poems (even the ones I’ve heard before), whilst at the same time retaining something undeniably “Keisha-y”. This combination of constant reinvention and a strong creative signature is something she shares with a lot of her fellow Young Identity talent: they all excel in showing one piece in many different lights whilst still putting a personal stamp on their work.

And this personal touch is present throughout the whole creative process: Keisha’s work, for the most part, is based on her own experiences of the world, her family and responses to the political/social landscape around us. Discussing inspiration, she brought up the powerful connection between her identity and her family heritage. In ‘Fickle’, a piece on her EP, Thompson examines her relationship with her father, and how it in turn facilitates her understanding of her own heritage.

Being British with a Jamaican father and Guyanese mother, the identification process is not simple: she does not feel as though any of these three identities/nationalities is wholly her. When she was younger, she never felt particularly British because her household held a lot of Guyanese traditions – but when she was five and visited Guyana, she was no longer so sure she felt so Guyanese. Describing it as a “weird one”, she concluded that she is always somewhere in the middle of being Guyanese, British and Jamaican – though all three identities certainly inspire her.

“Once I’ve processed it, I can write about it”

And Keisha’s own heritage isn’t the only thing from across the world that gets her writing. In terms of the social and political inspirations for her work, tragedies like those that took place in Ferguson last summer, when unarmed black teenager Mike Brown was murdered by white cop Darren Wilson, are important creative sources. But with heavy issues like racism and violence, getting pen to paper can take longer. “I get angry about these things but it takes me a while to process it; I need to process it. Once I’ve processed it, I can write about it,” explained Keisha. Indeed for many writers, taking a step back from material is necessary in order to walk the difficult ground between raw, blunt emotions and tailoring language to suit a creative purpose.

Relating to the Mike Brown case, as well as countless other crimes against people of colour, we discussed Keisha’s views on the need for – and lack of – white voices in race debates. Thompson argued that white voices are necessary when violence happens, because racism is not just ‘a black issue’ – “all races need to acknowledge that racism exists and move forward with that.” Here referencing social theorist Dr Joy DeGruy,  she highlighted the key differences between American and English politics: Keisha sees it that voices from all corners of American society can contribute to discussions about the rights and experiences of those from minority groups, even with only a basic understanding of the issues at hand. But in England, she argued, there is a hostility towards approaching an issue if you are not a member of the group being discussed. This was something I could definitely relate to: in my experience, England is more focused on drawing the lines round “who can say what about what” than on actually getting problems heard and discussed.

“They aren’t just playing with words, they also want to be the voice behind them”

Talk turned to focus on poetry as a vehicle for political speech in general. Is spoken word/rap/poetry more powerful than conventional speech when it comes to communicating ideas to people? Again, the differences between the US and the UK came up. “In America, it is way more powerful than here. When I go to places in New York they aren’t just playing with words, they also want to be the voice behind them” said the performer, noting that in Britain it is much easier to go to an event and not stumble across any political ideas. For various reasons, she felt that the spoken word scene in America was a lot more lively – but she takes inspiration from the fact that it is beginning to stand on its own as a viable platform for creative expression separate from the written/literary scene.

Young Identity, the group of young writers based out of Contact Theatre, are a group changing the narrative on what spoken word is, and can do, here in the UK. As we’ve seen from their constantly growing body of work, which brilliantly fuses the political, the everyday and the creative, they aim to change the game of Manchester’s poetry scene by trying to get people talking about current topics, focusing on politics and thinking actively about their own lives. As evidences this, Keisha noted that in the last One Mic Stand “everyone was doing politics and everyone was brilliant; the quality was outstanding”. Having gone to a previous One Mic Stand, Young Identity’s regular poetry slam, I can vouch for this. At the night I performed at, thoughts on equal rights, sexism and abuse were interwoven boldly and seamlessly with powerful, emotive language, bringing the room alive with the honesty of the work.

As with many Young Identity members, Keisha also works with Inna Voice. Helpfully, she explained the difference between the two groups: “When it first started, Young Identity was the writing group, and then as we started to slam we had Inna Voice. Not everyone was willing or ready to perform from Young Identity so it was easy to make Inna Voice the focus of performance”. Since then, Inna Voice has progressed and it is now its own company, a selective group that are hoping to put on a show next year.

Finally, who would Keisha recommend checking out? In Manchester, Ben Miller, Elmi Ali and Shirley May (one of the driving forces behind Young Identity’s One Mic Stand) are some of her must-sees, as well as Isaiah Hull, the phenomenal winner of June 2014’s One Mic Stand, and Yusra Warsama. Outside of Manchester, Keisha Thompson said she was reading Malika Booker’s Pepper Seed at the moment and could not recommend her enough, as well as loving the works of Warsan Shire and Tanya Shirley. If you want some great inspirational material definitely check out these artists, especially Booker’s latest release (which I am already delving into and loving!).

Going forward from Abecedarian, what can we expect from this talented artist in the future? “Abecedarian means learning your alphabet and it seemed fitting for the title of my first release because I was just trying it out,” explained Thompson. “But now I am ready to focus in on a theme and be more specific with something I can develop”. Performance-wise, she’s also bringing her live show I Wish I Had A Moustache to Manchester’s Contact Theatre this year and it is not something you want to miss out on! Whatever Thompson does in the future, it is going to be entertaining, fun and most of all, inspiring. I’m looking forward to seeing where her talent can, and will, take her.

 

Follow Keisha Thompson on Twitter and on Facebook

Give her bandcamp a follow and download Abecedarian, her EP (you decide the price!): https://bandcamp.com/shebekeke

Check out Young Identity for more information about One Mic Stand: http://www.youngidentity.org/

Watch a performance here

 

-A.Webb

Comma Press Writing Competition: Redefine The Spy Genre

Edward Snowden, CCTV cameras, the partner that checks your phone… what is modern-day spying? Comma Press seeks short stories redefining the spy genre

Espionage: The practice of spying or of using spies

The next Comma Press New Writers Anthology will present a new kind of challenge to emerging and previously unpublished writers. We want you to write a short story which centres on espionage. This is your chance to breathe new, contemporary life in to a genre which has is increasingly blighted by clichés and stereotypes. Comma Press have spearheaded a new wave of genre writing in the short story form; from updating the grand old tradition of the horror story with The Uncanny to putting the science back in to science fiction by partnering writers with scientists in Beta-LifeLitmus and Bio PunkNow, in partnership with Creative Industries Trafford and ACE, we think it’s time to tackle the spy story with fresh new writers.

Let’s start with what we DON’T want: We have a rough set of guidelines for submissions and general pitfalls here. But for this project in particular, we want writers to avoid the many and well worn clichés of the genre. The era of the Cold War thriller is long gone, of course, but it isn’t just a case of re-pinning the badge of enemy or ‘other’ onto the presumed ‘bogeymen’ of the day (as defined by the media – terrorists, extremists, etc). We want stories that are more intelligent than that, more politically savvy. We are of course living in the age of Google (owning all our data), WikiLeaks (exposing government wrong-doing) and PRISM (allowing one government to spy on another), not to mention bizarre politics-culture crossovers like the North Korea/Sony debacle… the watchers and the watched no long fall into neatly partitioned groups.

What we DO want: Tension, suspense, compelling mysteries, and a redefinition of what modern spying actually is! Espionage can, of course, take many forms and we hope for a broad swathe of spying-types; from the political to the domestic, corporate to state-sponsored, private interest-led to cellular fanaticism. But remember: always avoid the clichés and well-worn tropes; if it’s been done before, ditch it. We want to meet characters we wouldn’t normally meet in a spy story, to find ourselves in settings the genre has barely visited before, and to be compelled from the first word to the last. Comma is also perennially concerned with structure: for this project we want writers to play with the different shapes a spy story can take, and to find new ones. Plot is everything in the thriller genre, so even when nothing seems to be happening, in the background, everything has to be…

Deadline: 1 July 2015

For more info and how to apply

Call for submissions: Black & BLUE

Black & BLUE is a Manchester-born arts and literary collective that shares writing and hosts exhibitions in Manchester and London. Exploring politics, poetics and all that’s inbetween, it publishes beautiful journals, pamphlets and critical writing.

They are currently open for submissions to Black & Blue #4, a new anthology of creative writing around the theme of REVOLUTION to be published 5th November.

“Revolutionary writing takes place at the limits of life, at the distant and compulsive outer edges of reason, at the painful frontier of experience. It is always at the barricades, at the boundary, playing tricks on established orders, crossing borders.”

Writers of revolutionary words of any kind should send their work to revolution@blackbluewriting.com and Tweet it to @revolution51114 

Deadline: 14th September.

For more information about Black & BLUE

For more information about submitting to Revolution

CREATIVE CORNER… Danny Smyth

Silent Fruit

 

Goda is an Egg,

Goda is a Caterpillar,

And Goda is a Butterfly,

(all at the same time).

Goda is as patient as stone,

eroding into sand,

Which, for Goda is an instant.

Goda is the grains of sand in my shoe,

Goda is the water in my glass

(and the glass too).

Goda is the glug-glug,

As it comes from the jug.

He is a she,

She is a he,

He is hard and soft,

And she is soft and hard.

Goda is she,

Goda is me and you,

Goda is we and they, and poo.

 

Goga is an uncontrollable force.

Gofa is dead and growing –

Self-ingesting and recycling,

A bubbling stew of liveliness –

And everyone has their own tastes!

What a wonderful stew! – I say.

 

I recognise Goda;

I see it constantly,

I know it as I know myself – but I just can’t remember…

Cos we’re talking endlessly instead of listening.

I can’t speak his name, or tell you exactly what she looks like,

As much as I’ve tried.

And others have tried too,

In Art, Music, Science, Maths and useless words.

 

Goda is all the colours of infinity,

All the spectrums you can’t see, or haven’t thought of yet.

Gova is a fading dream,

Hidden behind a mirror –

That beautiful mysterious bastard.

 

Goda,

Me,

You,

They,

Us

The eggs, caterpillars and butterflies,

We are a jigsaw puzzle,

but with a piece of us destroyed by words.

So we’ll never see it finished.

 

Goda’s forgotten what it looks like anyhow,

Chuckling throughout the cosmos;

As silent, and as reverent, as sliced fruit,

Like a mother,

watching-over her baby

learning to walk.

 

Poem ‘Silent Fruit’ and artwork ‘I have a healthy obsession with avocadoes’ by Daniel Smyth

Call for submissions: NOUS MAGAZINE

nous magazine is a Manchester based, self-published, collaborative publication that seeks to open up dialogue about issues surrounding mental health. Through short stories, poetry, photographs and other art mediums, nous encourages people to reject the stigma associated with mental health and instead to engage with it creatively.

To be published in collaboration with MUTO collective over the next year, the theme of the fourth issue of the magazine will be MISUNDERSTANDING. Thinking about a variety of social themes, including sexuality, mental health, politics, identity and social background, MUTO and NOUS have put out an open call for submissions of artworks to the issue (interviews, essays, flash fiction, poetry, photography, short stories up to 2500 words etc.):

http://www.doyouspeakmalentendu.com/magazine

To accompany the misunderstanding/malentendu project, an online platform is being developed which will feature, in part, an audio-visual playlist of content relating to or inspired by the theme. Contributions to this creative database – songs, books, films, quotes, video clips etc – are also being accepted.

Read more at:

CREATIVE CORNER… Ashley Rose Scantlebury

Amazing Grace

Tell me Grace, how sweet’s the sound
of crispy notes and spinning pounds?
Insipid mouthfuls, nations blood,
stolen dreams beneath the mud.

Bone china on our mantelpiece
gentle with her, careful please.
Last ditch effort at success,
buried worries, hopes and stress.
Bred for markets, stocks and shares,
climbing ladders, circles, stairs.
Our life goal, to prime her well.
Saving Grace in Hong Kong hell.

I sit upon my cold refection
what’s hidden by dark circumspection.
Can I reach self actualisation,
brainwashed by globalisation?
Burdened by big expectations,
family riches, hope in question?

Can I be myself at least?
Can I fly, forget my feet?
Or will my anchor pull me home,
to skyscrapers, financial woes.
Possibly they’d understand
and cheer instead of reprimand.
Oily money, veiled success,
forgotten morals, intellect.

Humble gestures, not in halves,
not in business, not in cars.
Grace’s mind is filled with dreams,
gleaming from her wants and needs.
But there’s no breaks in mass progression,
no time to follow heart indulgence.
Money doesn’t grow on trees,
so family focus knots her knees.

–Ashley Rose Scantlebury