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Wrecking Ball Press: Literature Lockdown

Wrecking Ball Press: Literature Lockdown

At Wrecking Ball Press we are, like other arts organisations, independent publishers and everyone across the UK, coming to terms with the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on our work, day-to-day life, health and wellbeing. In the meantime, we’re giving away some free content to help you get through these difficult times and that we hope you will like.

Since 1997 Wrecking Ball Press has published high quality, cutting edge literature, building a national reputation that far exceeds its size. This is based on a commitment to connecting the most innovative and accessible novels and poetry with a readership not traditionally associated with literature. Wrecking Ball Press has a strong record of discovering exciting first time writers, many of whom have gone on to have further commercial and critical success with larger publishers.

We have a wealth of digital and analogue archives that we’re currently exploring and will be posting links to here for you to enjoy and engage with.

Dean Wilson

Dean Wilson has recorded a number of poems for us from his collection Sometimes I’m So Happy I’m Not Safe On the Streets, many of which he does not perform in public. Massive thanks to Dean for taking the time to record these poems, which we’ll be posting here in the coming days.

Dean Wilson – Bad Penny

Dean Wilson – Snug

Explicit Content

 

 

Dean Wilson – Pyrex

Dean Wilson – Please Come To Hornsea

Dean Wilson – The Long Arm of the Law

Dean Wilson – Up

Dean Wilson – Holiday

The Reater – Issue 4

In 2000 we published a special Millennium issue of The Reater. The Reater – Issue 4 contains a 40-track CD, featuring live readings by various poets. Contributors include Brendan Cleary, Ian Parks, Dean Wilson, Daithidh Maceochaidh, Labi Siffre and Fred Voss. We’ll be posting a selection of those recordings for you here. Let us know what you think.

Lisa Glatt – Hungry

Ian Parks – Navigation Road

Labi Siffre – Six of the Best

Devreaux Baker – Nights in the North Sea

Joan Jobe Smith – Ah Memories Memories

Daithidh MacEochaidh – The Kipper’s Shanty 

Explicit Content

 

 

Brendan Cleary – The Economy

Peter Knaggs – The Radio

Shane Rhodes – The City Speaks

The City Speaks, by poet Shane Rhodes, reflects on Hull’s history and its people and is engraved in Hull’s newly paved Queen Victoria Square. Local author Russ Litten says, “The words will now last another lifetime, but their sentiment will chime in the hearts and minds of our citizens for generations to come.” The poem was published in 2017 as a beautifully bound limited edition (3,000) book.

The City Speaks – Book Design

The limited edition book for The City Speaks was created by Human Design. Here, they talk about the process of creating a beautiful artefact, something that is both authentic and engaging, and a book which is of the city itself. http://humandesign.co.uk/portfolio/the-city-speaks-book-design/

The City Speaks – Hull 2017 launch film

Created for the opening ceremony of Hull 2017 UK City of Culture, this film by Dave Lee takes Shane Rhodes’ poem The City Speaks, which is about the history of Hull and its people, and attempts to reflect the words by showing the city and citizens as they are in the present day.

National Writing Day – Dean Wilson’s Pining

Dean WilsonDean Wilson, the fourth best poet in Hull, has written a new poem – Pining – to celebrate National Writing Day.

Dean, whose collections Sometimes I’m So Happy I’m Not Safe On The Streets and WITH are published by Wrecking Ball Press, has been described as “Every bit as brilliant as Larkin, but a million times funnier” (Dave Lee, The Guardian).

“Whether it’s window shopping in Doncaster; addressing the lack of tourists in Hornsea or warning of the dangers of deck chairs – brilliantly rhyming ‘chair’ with ‘fing-er’ – Dean’s way with words, eccentricity and glass half-full disposition, is a winning combination” (Michelle Dee).

Dean, who lives on the east coast of England, worked for twenty years a postman. Follow Dean on twitter at @PoetDeanWilson6

 

Pining

I was on my way to Whitby

In a vicar’s car

Like I didn’t have

A care in the world

 

But then doubts took over

And he called me

From a pig to a dog

And kicked me out at Brid

 

I made my way

To the harbour

And confided in a seagull

I was pining for With

 

Next thing I knew

I was in The Fat Badger

Telling the landlord

I was pining for With

 

As it got dark I nipped into Tesco’s

For a scratch card and a lucky dip

Then broke down at the checkout

And confessed I was pining for With

 

Then I lingered in the lorry park

Until a hunky trucker

Took pity and drove me back

To my beloved With

 

– Dean Wilson

Poetry in motion

Dean Wilson (of Sometimes I’m So Happy I’m Not Safe On The Streets and WITH fame) and Dave Lee (of An Insider’s Guide to Hull: ‘It’s better than you think, honest…’ fame) went to the seaside a little while ago. Withernsea, being on the North Sea, does winter with real conviction, but they went up to the cliffs all the same and battled the wind and rain, and Dean read some of his poetry whilst Dave filmed him.

This is almost, almost as good as going to see Dean perform live.

Almost.

Dean’s books are available in our shop, at Wrecking Ball Music & Books (Princes Quay, Hull), and sometimes even from the man himself.

The short films can be seen here or here for ‘Tablets’, and here or here for ‘Glass’.

Hull’s Fourth Best Poet PLUS Hull’s Foremost Black Elvis Impersonator

WITH launch posterA new collection of 11 poems by Dean Wilson will be launched on Tuesday 11th December.

WITH, a large format magazine, is published by Wrecking Ball Press. The poems within were all written in the East Yorkshire coastal town of Withernsea, where Dean has a cliff-top chalet. The collection is subtitled You’re Sad And Lonely And You’re Coming With Me and comes in a goodie bag packed with surprise seaside-related gifts. Design of WITH is by Human Design, with photographs by Graham Scott.

The launch takes place at Hull’s Pave, at 8pm (free entry), where Dean will be joined by Elvis impersonator Bobby Diamond for an evening of fun that also includes a raffle.

Copies of WITH will be available on the night or can be pre-ordered here.

New Work From With-loving Wilson

WITH cover and bagThere’s been anticipation for new work from the fourth best poet in Hull – Dean Wilson – since 2017 thrust him in front of bigger audiences. The secret’s out, now, and Dean’s increasing number of fans want more.
 
Dean has been living in Withernsea, East Yorkshire, for the last few months, and the poems have been coming thick and fast. 
 
“Why With? Why not? When people read the poems from WITH I want them to feel the urge to jump in the air and then jump in a car and go to Withernsea.
 
“I’ve been going to With on my holidays since the 1970s and I love the place. It’s friendly, and I never get bored there. It helps me. I tasted my first alcohol in the Spread Eagle and used to stay in a caravan on the park. It’s a place of pure joy and happiness and it always brings back happy memories.”
 
Withernsea has brought Dean’s muse back, in a creative period that has generated in excess of 150 new pieces of work, and has also seen him commence work on his first novel. WITH is a small selection of these poems, published here in a large format magazine by Wrecking Ball Press.
 
WITH page 3The creative outpouring followed an invitation from fellow poets Mel Hewitt and Vicky Foster to join them for an evening in a Withernsea chalet that Mel was holidaying in. 
 
“It was the opposite of debauched. It was in July. We chatted, went for walks, watched the sunset, and there was a strange and beautiful energy in the air, as there always is in With. Without that trip this poetry wouldn’t exist. I liked it so much there that I decided to get a place there of my own. I’ve got a chalet on the edge of a cliff.
 
“That place saved my life. I’ve been there recuperating and I’ve been writing like a silly bastard. All of the poems in WITH were written in With: the town runs through them and the place inspired the work.”
 
WITH isn’t a follow-up to Sometimes I’m So Happy I’m Not Safe On The Streets, because Dean would feel unfaithful bringing out another collection just yet, even though he’s written so much about the town that there’s probably enough for a full-length Withernsea collection in the future. Instead, WITH is a collection of eleven poems, with stunning photographs by Graham Scott of Human Design that capture the town’s spirit and magic. 
 
Dean bumped into Graham and Wrecking Ball editor Shane Rhodes in a pub a few weeks ago.
 
“I told them I was thinking of putting my With poems together as a pamphlet, because I have a stapler and I know how to use it. But they said no, let’s do it properly, and help increase the house prices in With.
 
WITH page 4Human Design designed my last book. Once you’ve had that level of perfection you keep on wanting it. The photographs and the design bring the town to life on the pages.”
 
A short title for a short collection, but not to be outdone by Dean’s first book WITH is subtitled You’re Sad And Lonely And You’re Coming With Me.
 
“It was a very personal moment. Someone was very insistent about it and that’s what they said.”
 
The mystery and intrigue doesn’t end there. WITH comes in a goodie bag packed with surprise seaside-related gifts.
 
“The contents are a secret. Well. One of them is a sixpence, because I remember playing in the arcades and amusements with sixpences. And there’s a bingo card, too, which has been ‘Dobbed by Dean’.”
 
Dean has written four pages of his novel so far. He’s given himself two years to finish it. Until then, WITH will provide its readers with quite enough to consider.
 
WITH will be launched in Hull on Tuesday 11th December at Pave (8pm, free entry), where Dean will be joined by Elvis impersonator Bobby Diamond (“I think he’s wonderful, he’s mesmerising on stage”). There’ll be a raffle, too, where prizes might include a signed copy of Sometimes I’m So Happy I’m Not Safe On The Street or might be more compelling secrets from the mystical Withernsea.
 
A Withernsea launch of WITH is planned for early 2019.
 
WITH can be pre-ordered here.

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.

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.

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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