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Wrecking Ball Press

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.

Book Launch!

Book Launch!

Mike Watts’  NEW poetry collection

Spit & Hiss

launched on 

FRIDAY 17th AUGUST
8pm

KARDOMAH94
94 Alfred Gelder St, Hull. HU1 2AN

with music, readings, and words from the author

FREE ENTRY

Spit & Hiss is available for pre-order from our shop, here.

From the Editor



Drue Heinz, March 8th 1915 – March 30th 2018.

It was with great sadness that I heard about the death of Drue Heinz. Drue was a great philanthropist and supporter of the creative arts – Literature in particular.

In the winter of 1999 I had the honour of spending a month at her writers’ retreat at Hawthornden Castle in Scotland. As I remember, I came out of the experience with only one finished poem and lots of notes for others; but the freedom and space it gave me to think was invaluable.

Drue understood that the greatest gift you could give a writer was the time to write.

Shane Rhodes.

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.

A Day in the Life of Ted Lewis

A Day in the Life of Ted Lewis

As part of the 2017 Humber Mouth commissions programmes, Hull City Arts commissioned Ted Lewis Group to present A Day in the Life of Ted Lewis’ to showcase his remarkable and far-reaching talents. 

Monty Martin put pen to paper to give us an insight into Ted’s life and loves, and how the commission came together. 

A Day in the Life of Ted Lewis

Ted Lewis, local novelist, artist and musician, died from lifestyle illnesses in 1982 aged 42. Despite significant achievements and influence, his name is sparely recognised, although a mere mention of the film and novel, Get Carter, evokes an immediate knowledgeable reaction. Hull City Arts decided to commission Ted Lewis Group to present ‘A Day in the Life of Ted Lewis’ which would showcase his remarkable talents at the Humber Mouth Literature Festival (2 – 8 October 2017).

Ted lived life to the full, unconsciously illustrating this by entitling his first novel, All the Day Long and All the Night Through (1965) but to do justice to his character, escapades, and talents required examination of more than event, appropriately in places early influences.

At Wilderspin National Heritage School in Lewis’ home town of Barton upon Humber, former friend, Nick Turner, (now nominated for North Lincs Council’s 2017 Volunteer of the Year) graphically illustrated their early life as neighbours and friends. Describing their youthful activities ranging over the South Humber Bank estuary with its deserted industrial landscape later described in Get Carter, he was supported by a comprehensive static exhibition and novel readings from Group members. These were followed a popular conducted Ted Lewis Trail with the alternative option to view The Beatles’ film, Yellow Submarine, for which Lewis was responsible as Animation Clean-up Supervisor.

The story moved on to The Minerva near Hull’s newly refurbished Fruit Market area. With a changed clientele, this popular respectable gastropub once boasted a colourful past in which Lewis revelled, a haunt of trawlerman, prostitutes and such Humber Ferry travellers as Ted who travelled across the Humber to study at Hull College of Art and Design, graduating in 1960. Visitors, including contemporaries, re-lived those heady days with Monty Martin (Chair of Ted Lewis Group) who presented heritage graphics, tales of the revolutionary freedom, jazz and Ted’s artistic and renowned prodigious romantic activities (“You only had to open a stationary cupboard door and out fell Ted with his latest girl”).

Hull School of Art and Design hosted a discrete and rare screening of Eric Barbier’s 2006 film interpretation of the Ted Lewis 1971 novel Plender, a dark tale of blackmail and corruption set in Hull and Barton. The story was explained by Nick Turner supported by novel readings from Group members and Hull University’s Matthew Crofts who later treated the select audience to a comprehensive explanation of noir writing and influences.

Finally, The Lairgate Hotel in Beverley hosted a packed audience, again including some of Lewis’s contemporaries (one of whom featured in his first book and was now visiting from Australia), who enjoyed excellent dining to traditional music from the resident New Orleans Climax Jazz Band. Ted Lewis had played piano in Hull’s’ renowned 1950s Unity Jazz Band and his friend and Unity trombonist, Ron Burnett, not only guested with Climax but reminded the audience of Lewis’s Unity’s life, entertaining throughout East Yorkshire. The icing on the cake was a donation by one visitor of an original signed Unity Jazz Band card, a remarkable artefact to end a success.

Ted Lewis Group can be reached at frankiesatthirtyfive@gmail.com and thanks Hull City Council for its sponsorship of a successful event. The Treasure House in Beverley will hold a Ted Lewis Exhibition from January 2018 in conjunction with the Group.

Dean and The Hull ’17

If you haven’t heard, Contains Strong Language will be running from National Poetry Day (28 September) to 1 October, with a diverse programme to please purveyors of all forms of the humble spoken word. 

Celebrating both new and existing work, it’s packed with world premieres, concerts, outreach activity and television commissions, and is produced by BBC Radio in partnership with ourselves, Hull UK City of Culture, Hull City Council, Humber Mouth, British Council, BBC Learning and a number of poetry organisations.

At the very heart of the festival is The Hull 17 – an ensemble of the country’s most interesting and diverse artists commissioned to create new work in the city throughout the duration of the festival. We’re delighted that our very own Dean Wilson forms part of this collective, alongside Kate Tempest, Jacob Polley, Imtiaz Dharker, Helen Mort and 12 more incredible artists. 

Dean is currently poet in residence at BBC Radio Humberside until September 2017, and has joined forces with poet Vicky Foster to inspire the local community to send in poems about where they live. Called Landlines, the poems, written on postcards, will be hung from washing lines in Hull Central Library on Thursday 28 September to celebrate the start of the Festival. 

We published Dean’s first full-length collection, Sometimes I’m So Happy I’m Not Safe On The Streets, last year – buy your copy here.

 
 

Gordon Burn Prize Shortlist!

You must have been somewhere far away, warm and oblivious to not know that the wonderful Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile by Adelle Stripe has been announced as a shortlisted titled for the 2017 Gordon Burn Prize yesterday. 

Showcasing some of the most interesting contemporary writing in its wide-ranging selection of titles, The Gordon Burn Prize celebrates work that is far-reaching, eclectic and provocative. The other brilliant titles on the shortlist include: 

  • Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe by Kapka Kassabova (Granta Books)
  • First Love by Gwendoline Riley (Granta Books)
  • The Long Drop by Denise Mina (Harvill Secker)
  • This Is Memorial Device by David Keenan (Faber & Faber)
  • This Is the Place to Be by Lara Pawson (CB Editions)

If you’re not familiar with Adelle’s latest work, get up close and personal with it here. Telling Andrea Dunbar’s story in print for the very first time, it’s a tale of the North/South divide and of how a shy teenage girl defied the circumstances she was born into to become one of West Yorkshire’s greatest dramatists.

Dunbar, of course, wrote Rita, Sue and Bob Too!, scandalous at the time not just for its notorious tagline ‘Thatcher’s Britain with Her Knickers Down.’ It was a box-office smash, but fame brought anxiety and Dunbar found herself struggling with the media attention, pressures of family life and writer’s block. Succumbing to the pitfalls of drink, she spent her last days in her local pub The Beacon where she completed her final script based on a gang of unscrupulous debt collectors. In 1990, aged 29, she collapsed from a fatal brain haemorrhage.

A bittersweet literary depiction, Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile explores a world whose themes are more relevant today than ever. It also 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.

The winner will be announced at Durham Book Festival on Thursday 12 October 2017, tickets available from the Durham Book Festival website now – wish us all luck!

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

 

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