Vocal Chords at Crystal Palace Overground Festival this Sunday


Sunday 18th June 1pm for only half an  hour, so make sure you get there on time! At The Secret Garden, Coxwell Road, 70 Westow Street SE19 3AF.

More songs of protest and change.

Here’s a snippet from the Brockley Max gig to get you in the mood

 

Old Women in Books: on publishing your mother


Today is my mum’s birthday. Ghillian Potts is 84. Like me, she has written all her literate life, and still has a notebook full of poems written between the ages of about 7 and 12, (of variable quality!)
To celebrate, my publishing company, Arachne Press, is publishing two of her books today. I crowd funded to the family, and my sisters and Dad all contributed.

I grew up with my mum’s stories, bedtime and bathtime we would congregate to hear the next installment in some long running saga (one of which featured a family of five girls whose names all started with R discovering that their headmistress is a witch, which went on for weeks), or demand yet again an old favourite; Jackanory had nothing on Mum, and the Singing Ringing Tree (remember that?) was a very poor second.

It turned out that the publishing world agreed, and three of Ghil’s stories for primary school aged children were published in the 1990’s, including Sink or Swim which made it onto Jackanory and we were very pleased that they had finally caught up with us! However relatively speaking, these were contemporary, girl/boy in the street, stories (even the one with a witch), which didn’t showcase Ghil’s magnificent flights of fantasy… Her agent ‘knew’ what would sell and just wasn’t interested in her magnificently funny and silly fairy tales for younger children, nor in her fantasy novels for the Young Adult market.

My all time most-often-demanded tale aged 5 or 6 was The Very Cross King, although when I asked Ghil to write it out for me recently, it wasn’t at all how I remembered. Unlike the glorious The Old Woman from Friuli, which was exactly as I remember it, possibly because it was written much later, when Ghil was learning Italian and heard this outrageous claim:

The people of Friuli are the most stubborn in the whole of Italy, and the women are even more stubborn than the men, but the old women… well!

As a  4 star review from The Book Bag says: … a clarion call to our daughters… Three cheers, I say!

Mum denies any intention to instil feminism in the young, saying that she was just having fun letting the Old Woman be as rude as possible, but it’s there nonetheless.

I commissioned Ed Boxall to do the illustrations, having worked with him before, and there would have been more if we could have afforded them.

 

The other book Arachne Press is publishing is Brat: Book One of The Naming of Brook Storyteller.

I don’t have many shared interests with Ghil, we suffer from being very alike in personality but very different in outlook. Writing is our meeting place and touchstone.

Years ago I wrote an extended critique of the three books that make up The Naming of Brook Storyteller for Ghil, probably just before she offered them to the agent, I can’t recall now. And Mum did likewise for me on my novel The Dowry Blade. If there is one person it is difficult to take literary criticism from, it is your mum! Don’t try this at home! I’m sure she found my comments equally difficult, but we were both right. However, it meant that I know these books pretty well, and love them, although they have inevitable evolved over the interim, in fact I realised that some of the cultural peculiarities I had included in a early attempt at a fantasy novel (never to be published!) were swiped from Mum.

Gorgeous cover by Gordy Wright

The decision to publish now was almost spur of the moment, but once made it felt absolutely right. Ghil’s writing inspired me to write, and these are fantastic stories that deserve a wider audience that they have had so far. Neither of us is getting any younger, and I want Mum to see these books published while she can still enjoy the process.

The trilogy tells the story of Brook Storyteller, orphaned and alone, befriended by outlaws and rulers;  trained to remember, exactly, what happens, and sworn to always tell the truth, in a way that the listener will understand, and with the power to raise or destroy people by the names she gives them. Her own name is precious, and changes over the course of the three novels through the success and failure of her own actions.

This is absolutely a series based on the importance of acting and speaking truthfully and the consequences for those who don’t.

So when I sat Mum down and suggested I might publish some of her work, the choice was pretty much already made as to which books to start with, although I did look at one of her other Young Adult books that I remember her writing when I was about the age to be her target market, but these are the stories I grew up loving.

The second in the trilogy, Spellbinder,  will be published in December, and the final one, Wolftalker, in June next year.

Happy Birthday, Mum!

 

 

 

 

TODAY: Songs of Protest at Brockley Max


Copyright Ben Mueller-Brown

 

Vocal Chords are reprising our Songs of Protest repertoire for Brockley MAX Festival today, Sunday 4th June at 3.30.

St Hilda’s Church, Courtrai Road
SE23 1PL

We are joined by Carrie Cohen & Silas Hawkins who will read poems from Arachne Press’ Liberty Tales anthology.

£7 on the door (proceeds to Wheels for Wellbeing)

Books Sales & refreshments available

Carrie Cohen

Brockley Max – urban myths


Here’s a recording of me reading Algorithms, written specifically for the Urban Myths event at Brockley Max last night, which showcased the work of my fellow WooA writers.

Still recovering from an epic evening of communal writing!

Songs of Protest


Back in the day, when you went on a march through London – something I did a lot of in my youth, starting with the march against the Corrie Bill, and moving on to Section 28, the Police Bill, Anti-Nuclear marches with CND, Reclaim the Night, anti-cuts marches with various unions, Lesbian Strength, Gay Pride (back when it was really a political march not a fun day out) …gosh so many marches – anyway, way back then, we used to SING, and in local protests more recently (library under threat,  arts venue funding being cut, entire hospital threatened with closure) we’ve gone out and sung too.

I’ve been on a few marches recently, the political climate having taking a heave to the right, and feeling the need to do some shouting in public, but no one is singing anymore.

Why NOT?

There is a fantastic tradition of protest songs, and they are (Usually, from necessity) easy to sing and easy to remember.

And they are fun too.

I’ve been suggesting we do a season of protest songs at Vocal Chords, my regular choir for a couple of years and we have finally done it. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about protest songs in perfect harmony in a church – they should really be rough round the edges and raucous, and full of joy and anger and defiance, and most importantly – outside! However, I’ll take what I can get.

Come and have a listen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday 1st April 7pm for 7.30

Holy Trinity Church, 66 Lennard Road SE20 7LX

£7 on the door in aid of Wheels for Wellbeing.

Reprising at Brockley Max festival Sunday June 4th 3.30pm at St Hilda’s Church Courtrai Road SE4.

Shortest Day, Longest Night


978190920829221st December 2016 ORDER NOW from Arachne Press
Edited by Cherry Potts
978-1-909208-28-5 print £9.99
978-1-909208-29-2 epub £5
978-1-909208-30-8 mobi/kindle £5
144 pages

The Solstice Shorts festival celebrates the shortest day of the year, which is also short story day, with stories poems and songs to an appropriate theme. In 2015 that theme was Longest Night, in 2016 it will be Shortest Day, and will be celebrated (appropriately) with flash fiction. These are the combined stories and poems for both events.
Featuring work from

Abigail Beckel, Bob Beagrie, Cherry Potts, David Mathews, David McVey, Frances Gapper, Neil Brosnan, Pauline Walker, Sarah Evans, Sarah James, Wendy Gill, A.J. Akoto, Alison Craig, Frank Rubino, Jill Sharp, Joan Leotta, Juliet Desailly, Karen Bovenmyer, Karina Lutz, Laura Page, Lisa Kelly, Mario Duarte, Marlee Cox, Megan E. Freeman, Moira Quinn, Pat Tompkins, Scott-Patrick Mitchell, Steph Thompson, Tim Cremin, Ness Owen, CB Droege, David Steward, Jamie der Wahls, Katy Darby, Lee Nash, Liam Hogan, Pippa Gladhill, Polly Hall, Roger W. Hecht, Rosalind Stopps, Tom McKay.

with themes as various as friendships betrayed, birth, atheism, searching space, strangers in the night… and genres from fantasy and science fiction to poetry and realism.

Shortest Day, Longest Night on TOUR:

Wednesday 5.30 & 7pm 21/12/2016 Greenwich Launch (Solstice Shorts Festival) West Greenwich Library & Made in Greenwich
All the Shortest Day Stories and Poems, read by actors.

Friday 7.30 06/01/2017 Oxford Albion Beatnik
Poem (and story): Sarah James. Story: Wendy Gill, Pauline Walker, David Mathews, David Steward.

Tuesday 7.30 10/1/2017 St James Wine Vaults 10 St James Street, Bath, BA1 2TW
Combined reading with Liberty Tales. poem: Bernie Howley,  Elinor Brooks, Jeremy Dixon, Jill Sharp;  story: Nick Rawlinson,  Pippa Gladhill,  Cherry Potts

Wednesday 7pm 11/01/2017 Lewisham Library
Poems: Lisa Kelly, A J Akoto. Stories: David Steward, Cherry Potts, Liam Hogan

Sat 3pm 14/01/2017 Essex Wivenhoe Library
Stories: Rosalind Stopps, Cherry Potts, David Steward, Katy Darby, Poem: Lisa Kelly

Wednesday 7pm 18/01/2017 Brockley Deli The Story Sessions: Winter Tales
Rosalind Stopps, plus others including YOU?

Saturday 04/02/2017 2pm North Kensington Library
Poems: Bob Beagrie, Lisa Kelly, A J Akoto. Story: Katy Darby, Liam Hogan, Pauline Walker, Cherry Potts

Liberty Tales


17th November 2016 ORDER NOW from Arachne Press
978-1-909208-31-5 Print
978-1-909208-32-2 ebook
978-1-909208-33-9 mobi/kindle
£9.99
198x129mm
144 pages

Featured Image -- 4820

2015 marked the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta and Arachne Press celebrated with an evening of stories, poetry and song on the subject of Liberty. The call out continued until the end of the year, and here are the collected and eclectic responses.

Liberty, personal, and legal, is the starting point of this wide ranging collection of responses to the Magna Carta, some directly relating to specific clauses of the document signed by King John, others more concerned with how we experience and search after freedom in the 21st Century, particularly with the Human Rights Act constantly under scrutiny.

Featuring work from Alison Lock, Andrew McCallum, Anna Fodorova, Bernie Howley, Brian Johnstone, Carolyn Eden, Cassandra Passarelli, Cherry Potts, David Guy, David Mathews, Elinor Brooks, Helen Morris , Jim Cogan, Jeremy Dixon, Kate Foley, Katy Darby, Liam Hogan, Nick Rawlinson, Owen Townend, Peter de Ville, Richard Smyth, Sarah Evans.

ON TOUR: Coming up…

Tuesday 7pm 10/01/2017 Bath The Gallery, St James Wine Vaults (Combined reading with Shortest Day Longest Night)
Poems from Bernie Howley,  Elinor Brooks, Jeremy Dixon, Jill Sharp: passports, religious freedom, coming out, reading in the dark,
stories from Nick Rawlinson,  Pippa Gladhill, Katy Darby,  Cherry Potts, David Mathews: Fish weirs, old gods, and… we’ll see which stories everyone else decides to read…

Wednesday 25/01/2017 Essex Greenstead Library Colchester time to be 6pm
Carolyn Eden, Helen Morris, Jim Cogan, and Sarah Evans read by Carrie Cohen, and David Guy and Jeremy Dixon read by Cliff Chapman. FREE but please phone Greenstead Library to reserve your place 01206 865758.

Past… with video/sound recordings

16/11/2016 Brockley Deli story sessions
Jim Cogan joins the Freedom tales line up for a prepublication sneak preview.

17/11/2016 Greenwich Launch West Greenwich Library Video
Stories from Katy Darby, Alison Lock, Cherry Potts,  Anna Fodorova (read by Carrie Cohen) David Guy (read by Cliff Chapman), poems from Bernie Howley, Jeremy Dixon, plus extracts… touching on prisoners, the right to roam, emotional freedom, going too far, passports  freedom of sexual expression, and more.

18/11/2016 Oxford Video
Stories from Jim Cogan,  Carolyn Eden, Nick Rawlinson, Katy Darby, Poems from Jeremy Dixon, Elinor Brooks, Bernie Howley. Explore an unusual Gaudy Night, fish weirs, walking out, when it safer to appear witless, finding yourself in San Francisco, religious intolerance, and exactly what the value of a passport really is.

23/11/2016 Lewisham Library Video
Stories from Jim Cogan,  Liam Hogan, David Mathews, Cherry Potts. Day release, love in captivity, crossing borders and escaping the past.

Thursday 6.30pm 01/12/2016 Newcastle Blackwells Video
poems from Brian Johnstone, stories from Alison Lock, Richard Smyth, Cherry Potts. Slave ‘stealing’, the right to roam, escaping the past, and how freedom is punished.

Saturday 5pm 03/12/2016 North London Housmans Bookshop Sound Recordings
Stories from Cassandra Passarelli, Liam Hogan, Carolyn Eden, Katy Darby. Freedom to travel and grow, love in captivity, walking out, and a small prison drama.

Saturday 2pm 10/12/2016 West London North Kensington Library Video
stories from Carolyn Eden, Jim Cogan, Cassandra Passarelli, Cherry Potts. Poems from Jeremy Dixon. Walking out, being let out, finding a way out, breaking out, coming out.