A good laugh, mainly.
I love With. I came to With every year on holiday when I was growing up. Lots of happy memories. I moved here a year ago. It’s a magical and wonderous place. There’s nowhere I’d rather be.
It’s all there, warts ‘n’ all!
I don’t decide what to write about and what to leave out. I’m writing in my head all the time whether I’m walking on the beach, dusting, shopping, swimming or watching Corrie.
Rhymes never leave me alone. I very rarely sit down and write unless I’m sending Wrecking Ball Press poems for my next book.
I’m only on twitter. I joined in June 2016 just before Sometimes… came out. I love twitter. A lot of my poems I put straight on there. Short and fast and fun! I’ve met some ace people through twitter. I love it.
I love performing and making people laugh. It’s the best feeling I know. I don’t like the build up – the rehearsing and the doubts and the nerves, but it’s all worth it.
I’ve got nothing to compare it to. It’s the only way I know!
It’s since I moved to With. I found one with a hole in and it blew my mind. Then a few weeks later I started Pebble of The Day on twitter and the rest is geology…
Gigs Gigs Gigs
Books Books Books
Painting Painting Painting
Men Men Men
Doilies Doilies Doilies
Music Music Music.
I couldn’t begin to imagine how people might respond to it, and consciously try never to think about the readers at all while writing. But I hope they have a good laugh and come away with lots of questions.
I probably thought about those two blokes in the pub for six months before writing anything at all about them. Once I’d decided the book would mostly take place in a pub the second bloke would find violently disagreeable, I spent a few months going for drinks in pubs I didn’t remotely like. Several encounters and details in the book were drawn from this period, and it was around then that I started writing a few passages which later went in the book. So I’d probably say live with the idea a bit first and then, if needed, live a little of it too, see if you have any idea what you’re about to start gobbing off about.
Mostly by writing as little directly about politics as possible. There’s none at all in my first book, but not really possible in Coketown. Two men in their late 40s or early 50s out for a first pint at the moment are going to talk and think about politics, the end. As a writer I’m much less interested in the mechanics and intrigue of politics – the Great Players and their Press Court – than its ripples across culture and society. The average working class Brexit voting bloke is far more interesting to me, the route travelled from where via what, than is Boris Johnson, who is a two-dimensional cartoon villain who can be read like a child’s book, and a shit one at that.
It’s all really very simple. The interpretation of utilitarian thinking which has underpinned British democracy for so long has failed. The ‘greatest possible happiness to the greatest possible number’ has boiled down to a simple matter of wealth allocation. Gradually for decades and fast since the Crash this ‘happiness’ has only been sustained by making the ‘unhappiness’ of those outside that ‘greatest number’ increasingly intolerable. At the same time, older and so more likely Conservative recipients of the ‘greatest possible happiness’ are suddenly finding it all a bit empty and meaningless and casting around for something else, something to believe in as the darkness gathers. They settled on Brexit about ten years ago and then enlisted enough pissed-off members of those – as social mobility died – to all intents and purposes permanently excluded from the gilded greatest number to their cause, with the time-honoured method of stirring up hate and grudge of ‘the other’.
No discipline time-wise, I start when I start and stop when my heart’s not in it. Lots of tea, no smoking at the computer, no music, an ordeal in itself, proper get up and leave the room breaks.
I try not to use much archive material, and in this book that’s part of the point. The main character not only has no clue what he’s talking about, he knows he has no clue but has decided to blag on anyway. I did enough to put dates and such on a firm footing, because so would he, that bit’s easy! The biggest single bit of research was rereading Hard Times, which was no chore if I’m being honest. The inner monologue is totally unplanned, in the hope of catching something near the natural progression of thought to thought. Which is impossible of course, as the thought process is electricity zapping millimetres through conductive custard and I type about 20 words a minute, but is worth a bash.
The strips I write for Viz – drawn by Lee Healey, who also illustrated Coketown – are far harder. They’re usually one full page, always five decks, which at most means around 20 panels, and that’s that. If you want to go on, the idea needs to be good enough to do another 20 panels, but no more than 40. And Graham and Thorpy are tough editors. Having written as many great strips as they have they can spot a clunker at 20 paces, and quite right too. A novel has no end so all the discipline has to come from yourself, as I suppose the temptation is to waffle. Probably the years writing for Viz, where it was obvious from square one that any padding or flab in a strip would only succeed in having it returned stamped ‘shite’ has been a good training ground.
Don’t want to give much away. But the reason I gave him that name was mostly because I was trying to paint a grimmish picture of middle-aged liberalish leftish but mostly confused manhood to play off the other lad. On the first draft he had no name, but reading back I twigged that I was uncomfortably guilty of quite a lot of the things I’d heaped on him, to varying degrees, and also that by not acknowledging this I was putting myself undeservedly upon a fine little pedestal.
More or less the same as for the strips. Framed rough sketches of the components which needed to be in each image, along with descriptive extracts from the book, and left him to it. They all came back just as envisaged, with one or two as if he’d plucked them straight from my mind’s eye. He’s a sublimely gifted artist.
I see what they’re getting at, and am delighted that anyone, let alone academics, should have enjoyed my work enough to subject it to some critical thought, but they were certainly not written with that in mind.
SJ Perelman is for me the greatest out-and-out comic writer of the 20th Century, and virtually every funny American column or essay I read to this day is shot through with a manner of expression lifted direct. And he was one of the team that helped Groucho transfer his persona from stage to screen, so debate over. In every other respect I have the standard set of autodidact stopping points for a man raised in the fag-end of postwar existentialism – Kafka, Ballard, Dickens, Camus. The list is boring.
Very, although in my private life I now have a fairly good grip on its collar and it is a rare pleasure always now enjoyed to the full. Alcohol is the only state approved flight from the drudgery of consciousness and so I think it’s hugely important, culturally, to my generation and those before, which tended to be more widely – although greatly less so from the 70s on – law abiding in that regard. It is interesting to me that younger people are now apparently far less likely to drink, preferring other substances. I think this is less a rejection of drink, by the way, than a good and healthy growing disdain for the State telling you what you can and cannot ingest for laughs.
I thank goodness for them. Not to get too Dave Spart about it, but writers from my background writing books like mine would simply never be published without the indies, not in a way that is any use to them. Wrecking Ball and the like perform a vital role both in their communities, through organising events, bringing attention and activity, and generally in culture, as enablers for writers who might, just might, have an audience and the chance to give writing the hard time and dedication required.
It is yet unwritten, and no spoilers are available.
For the third year in a row, the BBC Contains Strong Language literature festival is running in Hull, co-directed by the BBC and us here at Wrecking Ball Press. It will take place the last weekend of September from 27th to 29th.
This third incarnation of Contains Strong Language promises to be the best yet. Like the past two years, it will combine established poets of global importance with Hull talent, such as the Scottish Makar Jackie Kay reading alongside Peter Knaggs on the Sunday at Hull Truck Theatre 4pm. The incoming Poet Laureate Simon Armitage will be returning to read from his latest collection on Sunday at 4pm Hull College and will also be working with local schools all week to format the performance Zoom!, combining poetry, dance, light and music (composed by John Harle) with an intergalactic theme, shown at Hull College on the Saturday 11am. Adding to the line-up of nationally acclaimed voices, the outgoing Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, will be performing at Hull College alongside two Laureate Choice poets on Sat 28th Sep 4-5pm.
You might remember that Editor Shane Rhodes headed to Indonesia in May 2018 to the Jakarta and Makassar International Writers Festival to form publishing networks. This link will see an exchange of poetry with poets arriving from Indonesia and Northwest Africa to share their work. Adil Latefi from Morroco will be running an interactive workshop with his translator on Saturday 28th at 1pm, with attendees taking part in creating a new translation. On Sunday at 11am there will be readings from the Indonesian poets and further discussion and practical insights into translating poetry, followed by the Indigenous Language Gala at 4pm. Languages closer to home will have their part with Welsh and Shaetlan – the native tongue of the Shetland Islands – featuring in the work of Rufus Mufasa and Roseanne Watt. This festival will be showcasing poetry as the varied and international art form it is, and an art that is increasingly important in a world facing international issues.
19 poets – The Hull 19 – will be resident in the city for three days, presenting special commissions, performances and readings. The entire BBC radio network will be covering the festival. Last year over 6.9 million people tuned in to listen across the weekend.
The festival’s directors are the BBC’s Susan Roberts (Editor Audio Drama and Radio 3’s The Verb) and Editor Shane Rhodes. “Contains Strong Language 2019 follows two extremely successful festivals held in Hull since 2017,” said Susan Roberts. “Once again we will present a packed programme of powerful, eclectic and visionary work that will resonate with audiences both live and via broadcast and online. This really is a celebration of the power of poetry and spoken word.”
Shane Rhodes commented on the continuity of presenting three festivals over three years. He added, “Hull was chosen as the location for the festival due to its vibrant, creative and innovative reputation as the nation’s poetry city. We’re continuing to build on two previous successful festivals that have left people with a hunger for more and we’re taking poetry and spoken word to a wide and growing audience. This year’s programme of work is ambitious and exciting.”
As previously, most events at BBC Contains Strong Language will be free to attend. Three paid evening events are available for booking here and the rest will go live at 10am 23rd Sep at hulltruck.co.uk. Keep a lookout on our social media for details of the festival events or get your hands on our brochure, which is now being distributed across the city.
Dean 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
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
Bathwater, the script of Vicky Foster’s BBC Radio 4 drama, has been published by Wrecking Ball Press. The book contains the full-length script, including material not aired in the radio version, and additional prose.
Bathwater is a gripping, ever-twisting, often moving, somewhat shocking and often agonising piece of work.
Vicky Foster said: “Bathwater is based on my real life experience of domestic abuse and the impact that violent crime has on families.”
Rather than a cathartic over-share, however, Foster goes way beyond writing what she knows in order to craft something that is simultaneously hard-hitting and poetic. She has written a work of literary beauty, despite the harsh and uncomfortable subject matter, combining prose, poetry and dialogue.
This is as bold a line in the sand as a writer can make to announce their arrival.
Poet Helen Mort, five-times winner of the Foyle Young Poets award, says that Bathwater is, “A powerful, extraordinary piece of drama. It has left me changed. Courageous and compelling poetry from a very talented writer.”
Bathwater is available to purchase now and can be ordered from the Wrecking Ball Press website.
A limited number of copies of Bathwater signed by the author will be available. Please indicate if you would like a signed copy when you place your order.
The translator of Jānis Joņevs Doom 94, published by Wrecking Ball Press, has received the 2019 Lillian Fairchild Award for her translation of the Latvian novel.
Kaija Straumanis, editorial director at the University of Rochester’s Open Letter Books, received the award in March.
At the presentation ceremony, Rosemary Kegl, chair of Rochester’s Department of English, said the translation is a “remarkable artistic accomplishment,” adding “Her prose is equal to the immediacy of the voices of our protagonist and his new friends. The subtle shifts in perspective and tone that locate them within larger and longer personal and historical acts of rebelling, faltering, remembering, and forgetting.”
This is the first time in more than 80 years that the Fairchild Award has been presented to a literary translator. Previous winners have included visual artists, writers, choreographers, and composers.
As reported on the University of Rochester website, Kaija Straumanis said: “I wasn’t expecting to win. It’s almost surreal that I saw my advisor, Jennifer Grotz, receive the award several years ago, and now it’s my turn. By making people aware of translation, we’re bringing world voices into English and making world literature accessible.”
She added: “This is a book that spoke to a lot of people. I wanted this to resonate with people who were in the same generation as the author, in the States or around the world.”
Doom 94 was Jonevs’ debut novel, published first as Jelgava 94 in Latvia in 2013, and quickly proved to be a big hit and bestseller. Translated into 11 languages previously, Wrecking Ball Press presented it for the first time in English.
The story is set in the 1990s in the Latvian city of Jelgava and looks at the burgeoning craze during this decade for the alternative culture of heavy metal music. Jonevs takes the reader deep inside the world of music, combining the intimate diary of a youngster trying to find himself by joining a subculture, as well as a skilful, detailed, and almost documentary-like depiction of the beginnings of the second independence of Latvia–where Jonevs is the first writer to stir up memories of this period through a fully-fledged literary depiction.
To buy Doom 94 visit the Wrecking Ball Press website.
Wrecking Ball Press are pleased to announce an open call out to writers to submit short prose pieces (max. 1500 words) and poetry for publication in a special edition anthology in 2019.
Focussing on the life and work of poet, novelist, and singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, we invite you to submit to us your writing inspired by the Ladies’ Man himself: what he meant to you, how he inspired you, how he influenced you. Words born in the emotions invoked by Cohen’s writing and music, from short stories and poems to brief autobiographical experiences. Did you ever meet Leonard Cohen, or see him in concert? Where did he take you with his words and his songs?
We would also like to invite any photographers or artists who have original work or images of Leonard Cohen from any point in his career to send submissions, too, with permissions for credited print within the anthology.
Submissions will be shortlisted and selected by poet and comedian Kate Fox, and Wrecking Ball Press editor Shane Rhodes.
Submissions to be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please title the email with: Leonard Cohen Submissions
Submission deadline: 17th May 2019
On March 6th this year, Martin Goodman’s new novel, J SS Bach, will be published by Wrecking Ball Press (available for pre-order here). Martin Goodman, award-winning author and Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Hull, “writes enchantingly” (The Literary Review), in beautifully crafted and emotive storylines with the greatest sympathy for his subject. J SS Bach is no except. The story of three generations of women from either side of Germany’s 20th Century horror story suffering the consequences of the actions of men, spanning from 1990s California right back to the midst of the Second World War, is intricate and moving.
Without giving away too much, let us say this: J SS Bach is singlehandedly one of the most affective and beautiful books that you will read this year.
Tonight (Tuesday 29th January), Martin will be on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking at 10pm. Listen to him in the company of art historian Monica Bohm-Duchen and cultural historian Daniel Snowman, with host Anne McElvoy, discussing ‘Art and Refugees from Nazi Germany’ here. If you miss it, the wonders of modern technology will keep the programme available as a podcast for 30 days.
There will be two launches of J SS Bach, in London and in Hull, with Martin Goodman reading stories from the novel and – a special treat – live performances of Bach’s cello music.
The first, on February 26th at 6pm in the University of Hull’s Middleton Hall: French cellist Brice Catherin will play Bach’s 6th Suite and a range of other pieces (including his own compositions) to reflect Martin’s readings. Booking is highly recommended and may be done so here.
Second up, the London event. On March 7th at 7pm in the Great Chamber at Sutton House (Hackney) and hosted by the glorious Pages of Hackney: London-based cellist Hannah Monkhouse will play Bach’s 1st Cello Suite, and Martin will read from the book and tell stories of its conception. Tickets may be purchased here.
And, finally, a review of J SS Bach by Paul Simon of The Morning Star can be read here. The final words, “A masterful novel,” have never been more accurate.