A while ago I was lucky enough to have the chance to sit down with Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ and talk to her about her award-winning debut novel Stay With Me, particularly looking at how she uses character to allow her to explore bigger themes of women’s lives, chronic illness, and family life in turbulent times. Our conversation is now available on the NCW The Writing Life podcast, and you can listen here.
The second of my Adventures in Reading is available now. This one takes in the possibility of different library cataloguing systems from the Dewey Decimal Classification to S. R. Ranganathan’s Laws of Library Science, through to “The Library of Aimless Yes Meaningful Pursuits”, a speculative essay by the OOMK Collective in their book The Library Was. There’s also a fair bit about why I just love libraries so much. Read it here.
In the autumn I had the pleasure of talking to poet and novelist Ashley Hickson-Lovence for the National Centre for Writing’s The Writing Life podcast. We talked about writing around the day job, committing to one’s writing practice through further study, and the joys of indie publishing. Listen to the end for Ashley’s top tips for fellow writers; his method of having a few stated aims for each project really resonated with me because you’re then writing by design, and it informs the writing on a technical level, too – it all comes back to the effect you want to create in the reader. Listen here.
I really enjoyed the chance to interview Cat Woodward for NCW’s The Writing Life podcast a few months ago, and the episode has gone live today. Cat was in Norwich to read at UEA Live just before the launch of her latest collection Blood. Flower. Joy! (Knives Forks & Spoons, 2019) so we caught up about treating your writing as a defined project, the editing process, and how Cat articulates her concerns and interests as a writer in everything she does. Listen now.
The first of my new Tinyletter newsletter essays about all things books, libraries and reading has gone out today.
If you haven’t yet subscribed, you can view the archive and sign up here to receive a monthly essay from me. I hope you’ll join me on my adventures in reading.
I’m delighted to have two poems in the first Modern Queer Poets anthology by Pilot Press, edited by Richard Porter. The poems are “the reading” (a take on my recurrent themes in my manuscript, holon) and “I’m a riddle and you’re working me out”, which is older. I’m so glad it has finally found a home, and alongside some of my favourite poets writing today (Eileen Myles! CA Conrad!) to boot.
The anthology is currently available half price in a flash sale via Richard’s website.
I’ve recently finished the poems for my first collection, holon. And while I edit the collection, and find suitable afterlives for those poems, I’m also starting to think about a new project: for now, until it coalesces, I call it ‘that listening space’.
I will use listening as both theme and methodology, and in a spatial/environmental as much as aural sense. I hold listening as a kind of spatial receptivity, and it’s this that I’ll be exploring in the new project. At the moment I’m reading Pauline Oliveros and Gaston Bachelard, but there are many thinkers, writers and artists whose work I’ll draw on, in addition to field research and lived experience (I am ‘hard of hearing’ – as if hearing were a surface, as if I am somehow calcified).
‘That listening space’ feels like a natural continuation of the themes (of bodies, solidarity, lost childhood/ancestral languages and materialisms) that I explored in holon, as well as the chance to push myself with new techniques, new forms, and new ways to research. I’m excited to start deciding the aims and scope of the project, the resources and ways of working I need to make it happen, and just what form it might take.