Flashing around: June 2014 round-up

Mildred passed Ernie the small silver jug of cream and he attempted to balance the blue cup and saucer on the thick ridges of his corduroy trousers.

extract from ‘Things We Do Not Talk About’

June has been a flash-fiction month for me, perhaps appropriately as it has the shortest night of the year. National Flash Fiction day ran for the third year on June 21st, with FlashFlood journal publishing a cascade of 144 flash fictions (selected by the six editors) throughout the day, at a rate of one every 10 minutes for 24 hours, including my piece, ‘Thing We Do Not Talk About’ (which was published in print last year in Issue 31/32 of Brittle Star). All the pieces are available to read on the website, and there are some

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When I arrive there are crowds of early risers waiting out the countdown to cancellations of service in mute pockets of steam from polymer cups.

extract from ‘Storms  Ahead’

The brooch for my story, paired with King's Cross Station (image from TubeFlash website)
The brooch for my story, paired with King’s Cross Station (image from TubeFlash website)

Then this morning my flash-piece ‘Storms Ahead’ went live on Tube-Flash. It’s a fascinating project, marrying selected pieces from Joanna Sterling’s collection of brooches with London Underground stations, and the interactive story-map of the underground is particularly fun to play around with. Thanks to everyone on Twitter who has been RT’ing the link.

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This past weekend I presented at the 15th International Great Writing Conference at Imperial College, on a collaboration-themed panel with colleagues from the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts, covering three projects I’ve been involved with – Write Around The Toon, Bespoke(n), and my collaboration with the photographer Samantha Silver as two.5. My paper focused on co-creation of original work.  It was a fruitful and inspiring weekend of talking to other creative writing researchers from across the globe, and I’m already looking forward to next year.

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IMG_7838
Celebrating Sarah’s book with a tower of cakes

June has also seen the publication of Sarah Salway’s latest book, Digging up Paradise: Potatoes, People and Poetry in the Garden of England. I was lucky enough to read an early version of the manuscript, and my recommendation made it onto the back-cover. Rather than attempt to explain how much I enjoyed it in other words, I’ll lazily reproduce it here:

In Digging up Paradise, Sarah Salway has drawn thoughtful and imaginative pathways for the reader through the horticultural persons, places and histories of Kent. Through an arboretum of writing these spaces come alive on the page, providing a moment of instant verdant escape for the committed armchair traveller.

Part-travelogue, part-poetry collection, part-guide-book, Digging up Paradise moves from landscaped castle grounds to shell grottoes, from desolate public parks to topiaried views, gathering creative seeds and espaliering the stories so that a sense of each place can be quickly understood and enjoyed. Reading this book has inspired me to take my own notebook out into my local green patches, and left me with hopeful plans to visit the Garden of England that these ‘cuttings’ make sound so enticing.

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And, to round-off the month, I’m chuffed to announce that I’ve been successful in my  Grants for the Arts application and will be going to China later in the year to produce a digital commonplace book with a rural farming community (as two.5), then exhibiting the final piece in New York and the UK. More on that another time, but suffice to say I’m very grateful to the Arts Council England for this opportunity.

Arts Council England

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