Callout for pre publication reviewers


So, experimenting with new stuff, my forthcoming book, The Dowry Blade (February 2016) is on NetGalley, a review site for librarians, bookshop owners, book bloggers and professional reviewers. If that is YOU, you can download a review PDF here. It is UNPROOFED, ok, so no comments about typos!

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What You Are Now Enjoying by Sarah Gerkensmeyer: Review


Here is my Review of Sarah Gerkensmeyer’s Short Story collection What you are Now Enjoying, on The Short Review

The Short Review

What You Are Now Enjoying
by Sarah Gerkensmeyer

Autumn House Press, 2013

Reviewed by Cherry Potts

“The Monster who has been haunting me since I was a kid is depressed. We sit on my kitchen counter in the middle of the night and drink chocolate milk. This is so awkward, he says. Don’t worry about it, I say. But really, he says, I feel kind of bad about this.”

Sarah Gerkensmeyer’s stories inhabit an alternate universe, so close to our own, that for the first few paragraphs of each story you think you know where you are, but quickly the off kilter, not what you thought, creeps in and nudges you.

These are quiet, undramatic stories in which although drastic action is sometimes taken, you never get to dwell on the excitement or the trauma. They sink into your consciousness in such a way that you almost believe that what she’s telling…

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Blackheath Count Ory gets 4 stars from What’s On Stage


That’s a headline a girl like to write.

read the whole thing here, but a little taster –

…proves once again that the words Blackheath Halls and triumph are synonymous.

…easy as it would be to dwell on the delights of the principals, it’s the magnificent chorus that deserves most attention…

Opera up close has come into its own in recent years, but usually without the thrill of having a full chorus just inches from the audience. In terms of breaking barriers, the Blackheath project achieves what many would like to, but rarely can, by putting opera at the heart of the community.

 

And here’s a couple more pictures. (Official photographer Lena Kern has done a much better job, and taken literally thousands of pictures. When I have some of those I’ll post them.

We’re on again tonight. I think there might be a couple of tickets left…

Paul & Susanne, a pair of cads if ever I saw one

Paul & Susanne, a pair of cads if ever I saw one

bullington club types

Lucasz, Andy, Alix and George doing their best to look like drunken toffs. More convincing on stage…

New Review of Mosaic of Air


An absolutely lovely review from Sabotage!

High points

‘Mosaic of Air’ is an interesting parable featuring a proto-post-feminist lead, a computer programmer whose programme becomes sentient which surprisingly encases an abortion debate.

If you read nothing else in this book you must read ‘Arachne’s Daughters’; this takes apart a myth about Arachne (a human) challenging Athene (the goddess): ‘”Now, can you believe anyone would be so stupid?” ‘.  It’s set as a speech given at a women-only meeting with a clever twist on why so many women shouldn’t fear spiders despite the extra legs and pincers ‘ “Forgot something though didn’t they?…[Men]… How many Cancers and Scorpios are in the audience?” ‘.

More Macbeth Reviews and more unsung heroes


The Independent have reviewed Macbeth as have Classical Source they both really liked it, and the chorus get special mention.

I would just like to mention another set of unsung heroes – the stage managers. Managing sixty amateur chorus members thirty children and all the principles, to say nothing of guns, knives, glasses, trays, beer cans, playing cards and cigarette packets, gold watches, lit lanterns and sixteen stakes (that’s sixteen, whoever it is who kept bringing on an extra one!!) is no mean feat. We take them for granted. That is quite an accolade. Thank you Richard, Sarah, Charli and Osnat.

© Cherry Potts 2013

Review, and a reading Today!


My story, Mirror, got a very nice mention in the Sabotage review of Lovers’ Lies.

Co-editor Cherry Potts provides a story with overtones of Tennyson and epic loves played out across a lifetime in the surprisingly small and closed world of neighbouring farming estates. ‘Mirror’ takes place with the First World War in the distance, but able to act only as a sideshow to the real conflicts and dramas playing out in rural England and in the hearts of two men.

You can hear me read something completely different at Brixton Book Jam at the Hootananny 95 Effra Road, Brixton tonight Monday 8th July from 7.30.

Keats Festival 2013 opens


Today is the first full day of the Keats Festival, which is held at Keats House, Keats Grove, Hampstead. I spent yesterday evening at the launch event, listening to the poetry of Jay Bernard (Demon’s in Hell go on strike, in the most visceral meaty bit of poetry I’ve heard in a long time, very striking.) John Hegley (last year’s poet in residence – Keats fencing with sticks of celery, acrostics on the word LEAF from local school children – with audience participation; and a c&w song for Keats’ brother George) and Jo Shapcott (this year’s poet in residence – glorious bees inhabiting a life in extraordinary ways, and an incidental treatise on the use of the word Darkling).

Music of the Camden Young Singers led by Ros Savournin (very young, very together in all senses, brilliantly focused and bright sound. Great songs, particularly the song in praise of earthworms with bassoon accompaniment,  from a poem by Harry Martinson.  The only false note (for me) was Keith Waithe a Guianan flute player, who had a backing track instead of the rest of his band (Macusi). I’m not a fan of backing tracks, although he made some interesting noises when I could hear him.

The nibbles were excellent, the wine good and the company charming. A grand night out, well done all at Keats House.

Until Sunday week, Keats House will be full of writing, poetry, prose and performance, and talks and calligraphy and a bit of silliness here and there. You can join me for a writing workshop on Saturday morning, 10.30-1.30 and Arachne Press authors Bobbie Darbyshire and Tania Hershman, together with actors Will Everett (reading for me) and Kim Scopes (reading for Tom McKay) at 3pm the same day for readings of stories from Lovers’ Lies and our forthcoming anthology Weird Lies.

© Cherry Potts 2013

Blackheath Mini Prom – better late than never


As someone should probably have told me when I was a nipper, don’t promise what you can’t deliver. So here, very late, is my review of the Mini Prom at Blackheath Halls way back on the 5th October.  In my defence I’ve been busy promoting Arachne Press, and I carried the programme around with me for weeks, even on holiday, meaning to get round to it – no idea what I’ve done with it now, so this is very much from memory.

Consider it a compliment to the event and performers that I feel enthusiastic enough to finally blog about it, over a month later.

Now, I don’t much like the jingoism of Last Night of the Proms, but the music can carry you away.  I used to think this was just down to the sheer force of numbers ranged at the Royal Albert Hall, but it turns out you can melt my republican resistance with the combined effort of a string quartet and a Baritone and Tenor combo.

Grant Doyle, a Blackheath Community Opera regular, and recent winner of a Helpmann award for his role in Moby Dick, was master of ceremonies, (or perhaps Ring Master, even) telling tales, rabble rousing and singing with gusto. I don’t think Grant ever does anything other than at full tilt.  Grant was joined by Nicholas Sharratt (also a BCO regular) who although initially more restrained soon warmed up to the atmosphere of the evening.

The petite promenade was a little gem. The audience was sadly a bit small too but heavily seeded with members of the Blackheath Opera Chorus, all of whom love Grant and Nick dearly, and made up for paucity of numbers with enthusiasm: cheering, singing along and foot stamping, as is traditional – a roaring trade was carried out in flags, for the waving of.  I actually rather liked the intimacy of the evening and I can imagine this working very well indeed as a chamber work.  I felt very involved in the to-and-fro between the quartet and the singers.

Grant Doyle (with Louise Winter) in Cendrillion Rehearsal copyright Cherry Potts 2012

A highlight of the second half was Grant and Nick swooping in from the side aisles, trailing union flags like kids playing at super-heroes (a magnificently silly moment), and then demolishing their set to ensure that the more reserved members of the front row had sufficient flags to wave.

Musically, I was entranced by the string quartet (names? Lost programme! someone enlighten me, please, and I will update). Their nifty selection of the traditional sea songs, and the Pachelbel Canon were both charming in its delicacy.

On the vocal front, I was pleasurably reminded of Rule Britannia‘s Baroque antecedents, and Grant and Nick’s voices blended magnificently on the various duets.

However, I think first and foremost it is Grant Doyle’s ability to put a song over, acting his way through any number of different characters over the evening (Barber of Seville a highlight – and this from someone not wild about Rossini.) and thoroughly engaging his audience.

Standing ovation all round.

© Cherry Potts 2012

Interview with Joan Taylor-Rowan author of The Bird Skin Shoes


I’m posting a series of short snatches of interview with Joan Taylor-Rowan, Author of The Birdskin Shoes.  In this first section Joan talks about the inspiration for the title, and the connections between her own Irish roots and Joey’s escapades in Mexico, by way of religious imagery… its a far reaching book!

listen here! joan taylor-rowanclip 1

© Cherry Potts 2012