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Isaiah Hull: A Voice Far Older Than His Young Years

NosebleedsNosebleeds, the first collection of poetry from Isaiah Hull, has been published by Wrecking Ball Press.

“Nosebleed is the first time you feel alien to yourself, even as a child, so imagine how I felt, when this came out.”

Visceral and raw, this collection explores family, life, and the real world. Hard-hitting poetry written to be spoken aloud, but making the transition to the page with remarkable ease and clarity.

Coming from a voice far older than the poet’s young years, Hull’s writing is soul-searching and down to earth. Nosebleeds is an exploration of expression, traversing emotion and form.

“Isaiah’s writing holds a weight and maturity unparalleled by anyone his age. He is the voice we all need to hear.” – John Berkavitch, poet and creative director of Shame.

Nosebleeds is available here.

Shirley May Tells of Diaspora and Home

She Wrote Her Own EulogyShirley May’s first poetry collection has been published by Wrecking Ball Press. She Wrote Her Own Eulogy, slipping in and out of distinct patois, tells of diaspora and home.

The landscape of Kent and Manchester are brought to vibrancy via Jamaica: the twisting road taken by people displaced and making new communities on strange soil. There are stories, kept and told and shared.

There is wisdom, there is memory, there is future, and there is hope.

“Blazing with emotion, challenging all the senses, this life-affirming collection demands to be read. Charting a journey from Jamaica, these beautifully crafted poems offer a fresh, detailed insight into the experience of migration.” — Sue Roberts, BBC Producer.

She Wrote Her Own Eulogy is available here.

Helen Mort’s First Foray Into A World Beyond Poetry

ExireA new collection of work by Helen Mort has been published by Wrecking Ball Press. Exire is not a novel. It is not a collection of short stories. It is, instead, both of these things: stories that may stand alone whilst inextricably tied together. It is Helen Mort’s first foray into the world of fiction beyond poetry.
 
Dystopian Britain, the year unspecified. A new website, Exire, offers those who feel disconnected from their lives one last act of choice, packaged as a bespoke service. In this unsettling collection, voices fade in and out, people connected by Exire’s troubling appeal. At the heart of it all is Lorna, a young musician who has made a painful decision. We hear her story in reverse.
 
“Addictively sinister.” — Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.
 
Exire is available here.

Contains Strong Language Returns in 2019

CSL 2018Contains Strong Language, the UK’s biggest poetry and performance festival of new writing, will return to Hull in 2019.

The third festival of its kind to be held in Hull in three years follows a successful return in September this year, which saw more than 30 events taking place in the city over three days, with leading poets and world-class spoken word artists taking to the stage alongside new voices.

Contains Strong Language 2018 was a partnership between the BBC, Wrecking Ball Press, Arts Council England, Absolutely Cultured, 14-18 NOW and the British Council. 

18 of the most interesting and diverse poets formed the Contains Strong Language company of artists. The Hull 18 brought new and existing poetry to the festival. The Hull 18 were Amanda Dalton, Jackie Kay, Simon Armitage, Louise Wallwein, Jacob Polley, Isaiah Hull, Vicky Foster, Joe Hakim, Shirley May, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Jay Bernard, Malika Booker, Kat François, Ishion Hutchinson, Jay T John, Charnell Lucien, Vladimir Lucien and Tanya Shirley.

In 2017 the festival took place for the first time in Hull as part of Hull’s UK City of Culture celebrations.

Programme details for 2019 will be revealed in the coming months but Contains Strong Language 2019 looks set to be the biggest event of its kind to date.

Wrecking Ball In Store

Wrecking Ball Music and BooksWrecking Ball Music and Books opened its doors at the end of September in the East Arcade of Hull’s Princes’ Quay.

The new shop sells the entire Wrecking Ball Press catalogue, as well as a range of books from independent publishers, new and used vinyl, merchandise, gifts and gig tickets.

The independent retail outlet is a joint venture between Wrecking Ball editor Shane Rhodes and Gary Marks.

Three weeks in and the shop is proving to be a success and has quickly established itself as a relaxed place to browse, chat and buy music and books.

Seven times snooker World Champion and green baize legend Stephen Hendry will be dropping by the shop on Wednesday October 25 when he will be signing copies of his autobiography Me and the Table at 12.30-1.30pm.

Face-to-face With Norwegian Literature

Shakar ZeshanWrecking Ball Press visited Norway in September 2018 to explore the country’s literary scene, which, in 2017, saw 538 Norwegian books translated into 44 different languages around the globe.

The successful trip to the country steeped in literary history going back to the pagan Eddaic poems and skaldic verse of the ninth and tenth centuries has resulted in Wrecking Ball securing the UK rights to publish Zeshan Shakar’s Our Street (represented by the Gyldendal Agency) and ongoing negotiations, now at an advanced stage, to publish Lotta Elstad’s I Refuse To Think (published in Norway by Flamme Forlag).

Wrecking Ball editor Shane Rhodes said: “In the modern day when a lot of business is done via email or over the phone I felt that it was important to go and meet Norwegian publishers face-to-face, to have conversations in person and to really get a flavour of the nation, its writers and the exciting work that is being created there. It was a successful trip given that we ended up securing the rights to Our Street and also look set to publish I Refuse To Think.”

Shakar’s book is the Winner of the Tarjei Vesaas’ Debutant Prize 2018 and is set in Norway in the 2000s. Two boys grow up on the street Tante Ulrikkes street in Stovner, the north-east part of Oslo. Their parents had hope. They themselves are in the middle of the transition between suburb and wider society, between car wash and student canteen, exam grades and keef.

Heralded as one of the best books to come out of Norway in 2017, “Our Street isn’t important because it represents something or someone, but because it’s a really great novel.” (Morgenbladet)

Shakar is a profoundly literary and authentic voice, describing second generation immigrants’ position as both insider and outsider in Norwegian society.

Elstad’s I Refuse to Think is a dark, feministic contemporary comedy about politics, love – and an abyss that is getting dangerously closer. The book was nominated for The Oslo Prize in 2017 for Best Novel.

I Refuse to Think has been called “A Feministic Bulls-eye” and “…one of this year’s most enjoyable reads” by critics. Elstad, who is garnering attention around the world and destined to become the next Norwegian literary star, writes with sharp and smart humour and original style.

Indonesian Rights Secured

Mikael JohaniA literature visit by Wrecking Ball Press to Indonesia has resulted in securing the rights to publish Mikael Johani’s We Are Nowhere And It’s Wow and Nirwan Dewanto’s Museum of Pure Desire.

The trip was part of the Literature Visit programme supported by the British Council that aimed to build networks in literature ahead of the Indonesian market focus at London Book Fair in 2019.

Editor Shane Rhodes headed out to the Jakarta and Makassar International Writers Festival in May in order to identify publishing opportunities, find out more about Indonesian culture and literature and meet with writers and Indonesian publishers.

Both books will be published in 2019 in readiness for London Book Fair at Earl Court in March next year.

We Are Nowhere And It’s Wow is Johani’s first poetry collection and is divided into three sections, home, home part deux, away, and we are nowhere and it’s wow. because he likes being coy. home is away, away is home, part deux is part un, nowhere is somewhere etc. includes such orientalist pesudo-political poems as away with wiji thukul I-VIII as well as apathetic occidentalist ones like esthétique du mall.

Museum of Pure Desire contains choice examples of contemporary Indonesian poetry whose richness derives from their destruction of the constraints that surround poetry. Dewanto’s poems challenge the reader to stop and reconsider what first comes to mind upon their reading and to consider an entirely different interpretation altogether; they pull the reader into a state of tension between extreme juxtaposition and hidden logic, between childlike playfulness and calculated detachment.

Other publishers in attendance at the Literature Visit were MacLehose Press, Portobello Books, Tilted Axis Press, Oneworld Publications and Harvill Secker.

30 Indonesian publishers and copyright agencies are expected to head to London Book Fair in 2019.

Wrecking Ball Spring News

Toria Garbutt’s collection of poetry The Universe and Me is published by Wrecking Ball Press today. We are proud to be working with such a talented and innovative Northern voice. Available now through the website shop.

We are really excited that our next publication will be Drunken Baker by Viz’s own Barney Farmer. It will be available in hardback later in the Spring.

Good news ! The Arts Council have granted us a further year’s funding. Look out for these upcoming titles from Wrecking Ball Press in 2018…

Exire – short story collection by Helen Mort       
Spit and Hiss – poetry collection from Mike Watts
Doom 94 – Wrecking Ball’s first book in translation by Latvian author Yanis Jonevs                 

We have other publications planned from acclaimed novelist Martin Goodman, young poet Isaiah Hull, Dave McGowan, Fiona Curran, and subculture journalist Kirsty Allison.

Following on from Will Self’s appearance at the 2017 Humber Mouth Literature Festival, Wrecking Ball Press has published his pamphlet How Was Your Day? Available now through the website shop.

The Weird And Wonderful World of Peter Knaggs

A great review of Peter Knaggs’ “You’re so vain (you probably think this book is about you)” by Dick Ockleton in Dream Catcher Magazine. 

Cover_Dream_Catcher_34

It’s not every day you come across a poem with the title “Scunthorpe Police Swoop on Lunatic Bean Fetish Man”, but by the time you reach page 72 of Peter Knaggs’ “You’re so vain” collection, it doesn’t seem anything out of the ordinary. “Normal for Knaggs”, you might say.

You know you are in for something different from the off. The arresting cover – a face formed from a pair of scissors, a comb and a button, should seem harmless enough, but there is something unnervingly fierce about it and the significance of those bloody (literally) scissors comes back to haunt you.
Page by page, Knaggs has the ability to surprise, intrigue, amuse, sadden and shock in equal measure and it makes for an oddly addictive collection. You really do want to know what happens next. The accessible style of these pithy, cleverly crafted pieces keeps you turning the pages.
Knaggs’ gritty, witty poems take you on a journey through a world populated by meticulously observed and totally believable ordinary people, just trying to get by on a day to day basis. You are introduced to their shortcomings, their labours, their hopes, their dreams and their frequent disappointments. They just keep at it, ever more inventive in their efforts to keep their heads above water by whatever means, be it working in unrewarding jobs, lawbreaking, fighting, practical-joking, conning. And, now and again, the odd murder is dropped into the mix – quite literally in the case of an adulterous trapeze artist. Those scissors also make a couple of appearances, broken and sinister.
They are a motley bunch, Bobby, Billy, Ox, Banana Dave, Arnie, Stiggy and the rest. You join their lunch breaks and eavesdrop on their conversations. The author’s acutely-observed scenarios and quirky fine detail (“White bread impressed with grey fingertips like dabs down the nick”) put you right there with the characters. You could perhaps warm to some of these lads, but you definitely wouldn’t want to meet Gasher on a dark night.
But the hapless, ever-optimistic Crusoe is the star of the show. He appears as a steady thread running through the book. There is more to Crusoe than meets the eye. Stuck in an unhappy marriage, too scared of his wife’s brothers to get out, he “sometimes wants God to give him his receipt so he can take his whole life back and get a refund”. Even his own mouse traps attack him. Crusoe has firm opinions on what does not constitute modern art, and is meticulous about cleaning his van. He is on a relentless (so far unsuccessful) quest for self-improvement, but has also been known to “moon” in Macdonald’s. His frequent appearances and obviously sympathetic treatment might lead you to the conclusion that he is the narrator’s best mate.
Recurring themes of poverty, law-breaking and tediously stupid, incompetent bosses, are lightened by moments of joy and release. There is a character who goes up on the roof in all weathers to escape – “it’s the quietness, the otherness, the being above”. There are “boisterous shirts” which apparently make the wearers irresistible to the opposite sex – or is that just the beer talking? Even the relentless bashing of inept managers is punctuated by a couple of moments of (almost) sympathy for their situation. The ongoing fight between the “Devil” and “God”, or the pitying parallel drawn between a boss and an old library book that nobody wants to borrow.
But now and again you are brought down to earth with a bump. The gnawing poignancy of a woman who dies, alone, with “two losing lottery tickets in her purse”, or the helplessness and horror of a football stadium tragedy.
And then there are moments of pure whimsy – a relationship with a mermaid, or a “Clockwork Orange” style over-luxurious use of language to describe the gluttonous “Badger the Cadger”. You can almost hear the slobbering.
This collection is a pick and mix of real lives. It takes you through the highs and lows and it makes you stop and think. Never boring, it crackles with originality. The wry wit keeps going right through to the end, with the final poem’s take on being hard up – directions given to an imaginary bargain hunter on how to navigate by a succession of “Pound shops” to reach the ultimate goal – a shop that sells everything for 10p – Paradise!
All in all, a refreshing read.

Dick Ockleton

 

Subscribe to Dream Catcher here: http://www.dreamcatchermagazine.co.uk

THERE, ON THE HORIZON, SWINGING TOWARDS US …

So what (un)earthly delights are we offering in 2017? 

Here’s the line-up so far :

JULY 

Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile

by Adelle Stripe 

adelle author pic

 

“You write what’s said, you don’t lie. Or say it didn’t happen when it did all the time…”

Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile is the keenly anticipated debut novel by Adelle Stripe and is inspired by the life and work of the Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar.

 This slice of kitchen sink noir tells Dunbar’s story in print for the very first time. Featuring a cast of real and imagined characters, it is the result of four years’ painstaking research that has unearthed the hidden story of one of the North’s most enigmatic figures. It is a tale of the North / South divide and reveals how a shy teenage girl defied the circumstances she was born into to become one of West Yorkshire’s greatest dramatists.

Set in the Thatcher era, it maps the extraordinary rise of a young woman from the Buttershaw estate, who is discovered via a Women’s Aid refuge. She is propelled into the London theatre establishment and an adapted screenplay of two of her early plays brings her wealth, accolades and notoriety, while raising three young children.

Rita, Sue and Bob Too! is a national scandal upon its release, and its tagline ‘Thatcher’s Britain with Her Knickers Down’ ensures it is a box office sensation. Fame brings anxiety however, and Dunbar is unable to cope with the media attention, pressures of family life and writer’s block. She slowly succumbs to the pitfalls of drink and spends her last days in her local pub The Beacon, where she completes her final script based on a gang of unscrupulous debt collectors. In 1990, aged 29, she collapses from a fatal brain haemorrhage.

One of the most important writers of her generation, this remarkably stubborn ‘genius straight from the slums’ recorded the everyday realities of working-class life. Dunbar’s unflinching autobiographical plays included themes of domestic violence, underage sex, poverty, racism, alcoholism and the declining status of men. By using frank and expletive-ridden dialogue she created a no-holds-barred account of the underclass composed in the tradition of social realism.

A bittersweet literary depiction, Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile explores a world whose themes are more relevant today than ever. It marks the arrival of one of the UK literary underground’s best kept secrets.

Adelle Stripe was born in 1976 and grew up in Tadcaster. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester University and is the recipient of the 2016 K Blundell Award for Fiction. She teaches at MMU.

Adelle is the author of three chapbook collections of poetry, the most recent, Dark Corners of the Land, was 3:AM Magazine’s Poetry Book of the Year. Her writing has appeared in publications in the US and UK including The Guardian, Stool Pigeon, Caught by the River, Penny Dreadful and Chiron Review.

Her prose-poem The Humber Star will feature at Hull City of Culture 2017 as part of John Grant’s North Atlantic Flux programme. She has recently recorded vocals and lyrics for production duo Smagghe & Cross. Their experimental ambient track Cock of the North will be released in spring on Offen Music.

Find out more at: 

www.adellestripe.com

 

AUGUST 

Spit and Hiss 

by Mike Watts 

 

m w

photo by Jerome Whittington

Spit and Hiss is the fourth collection by Hull born poet Mike Watts. As well as carrying Mike’s trademark brutal honesty and hardboiled insight, these poems betray a deeper and more lyrical maturity to Mike’s current way of looking at the world. From corrupt local councillors and lost weekend lovers to memories of youthful exuberance and present-tense mid-life panic, all life is here, in all it’s marvellous bare- arsed glory.

Here’s a little taster, a poem called Let The Good Times Roll, which has been selected for publication in The Morning Star:

 

Let The Good Times Roll

 

His tearful mug crumbling from the front page of the local rag,

the political candidate swore-blind he’d been punched

simply for posting his party’s propaganda.

 

Turns out he was being economical with the facts,

 

the alleged ‘man-mountain’ of an assailant insisting he

didn’t take a swing at all,

 

he merely objected to having unwanted junk posted

through his letterbox and attempted to return it

by pushing it back into the posters pocket.

 

The candidate assumed it would be good publicity if he

reported it,

so the local press sent out a team to capture HIS version

of events.

 

The paper has an on-line comments section.

It stirred-up quite a debate.

 

Some said the guy was probably an unemployed thug

whilst others defended him.

 

Personally, I think the political candidate is a weasel

(I think most of them are)

and in this town I think he got off pretty lightly,

considering his politics.

 

This crappy bull-shit no-news story made front page,

so obviously all is well;

 

diminishing crime rate, zero unemployment and

the local economy booming.

 

Quick, pour the cognac, light the fire-works,

pass the cigars;

at last, we’ve cracked it!

 

In other news, Mike has just had a poem “Yorkshire Princess” selected in this year’s “Anthology Of Yorkshire Poetry”. 

 

 

SEPTEMBER 

 

International Poetry Collection … TBC (!) 

 

 

OCTOBER 

We Know What We Are

Short stories by Russ Litten 

 

RUSSPHOTOPAINTING

painting by Mark Hebblewhite

 

The debut short story collection from the author of “Scream If You Want To Go Faster”, Swear Down” and “Kingdom”. This latest batch of tales are all centred in and around Hull in the year 2017 and feature a cast of citizens whose lives play out in the furthest edges of the penumbra of the City of Culture spotlight. 

 

Here’s a short excerpt from “The Light That Lights The Dark”, which previously appeared in “Pearl” in the USA and “Verbal” in the UK. 

He gets up before you, goes downstairs and lays the table; a plate of toast with the margarine at two o’clock, the jam at three o’clock, a mug of tea on the right hand side and the knife on the left. You sit and eat together and talk about the day ahead. He tells you that it looks like it’s going to be a nice day outside and you should both go for a walk, blow away the cobwebs. When you’ve finished breakfast he runs you a bath and holds your hand as you step in. He washes and conditions and rinses your hair and then goes through to the bedroom and lays your clothes out on the bed from left to right; knickers, bra, fishnets, the long multi layered black and mauve skirt, the black satin bustier, your favourite mesh top. Then he gets himself dressed and flicks through the TV channels until you call for him to help you out of the water.

   And when you’re dressed he blow-dries your hair, your head between your knees as the heat roars around your scalp. Then the backcombing, the gentle tugging and teasing of his fingertips and then the throat catching blasts of hairspray, the mist settling on your spikes like a sticky net. He sits you down in front of the mirror and does your make up. The cold lick of foundation and the tickle of the brush on your cheeks and forehead. He describes the colours he’s using around your eyes, the purples and the greys and the greens and then falls silent as he leans in closer and concentrates on drawing in the lines around your eyes, the arch of the brows and the cat lick at each corner, his warm breath at the side of your face.

   I’m getting good at this, he says, and you say that you’ll be the judge of that.

 

NOVEMBER 

 

Debut Poetry Collection from exciting northern punk poet … TBC! 

 

We’ve also got amazing short story and poetry collections coming up from some very exciting new and established names. But that’s not until next year. In the meantime, if you want to get on the Wrecking Ball Press Book Club and take advantage of our ludicrously generous nature, please follow this link here:

 

http://wreckingballpress.com/product/wrecking-ball-press-book-club/

 

In the meantime, steer by the light of the whalebone and look after each other. 

WBP

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