iamhyperlexic

Contemporary short fiction, poetry and more

Category Archives: Promotion

Throwing Mother In The Skip: 1 October 2016

The Cluntergate Centre has two performance spaces: a smaller one, called the café, and a larger one, called the main hall. Out of concern for how many people would arrive, it was provisionally suggested that we should use the café. In the event, we used the main hall. The lighting in there is more controllable. We put café-style seating near the stage. I borrowed Jared’s amp (the one I had bought him for his birthday) to play the music.  Many thanks to Darren Bailey and, on the night, to Julie Yarrow.

Valerie was in charge of the bar. She had some help from Jane (Jared’s mother, my previous partner).

All the people I have mentioned so far appear in poems in my debut collection, ‘Throwing Mother In The Skip’. This was the first reading I have ever given at which they have all been present.

Rob Reed and Matt Abbott arrived in a taxi, a fact of which Matt had to try and make light by describing it in a posh accent. Despite his TV celebrity status, Matt still finds the mere act of riding in a taxi uncomfortable.

At 5am on the day the performance was due to start at 7:30pm, I was in my kitchen, drinking gin and sawing wood, in order to rebuild the stand that the mock skip requires to make it usable on stage. I am glad to say that Valerie slept through all this, and I managed to complete the task without injuring myself.

I think I thought of nearly everything, apart from who was going to collect the entrance money from people who were going to pay on the door. This was admirably taken up by Sarah Leah Cobham, in a display of initiative that would have done credit to the young Napoleon.

The audience was 25 people. This was pretty good, considering that only 5 tickets were sold through the ticket website. And they were 25 very good people.

The distance record, as far as I know, was taken by John Darwin, late of A Firm Of Poets, who had come from Manchester. YES, DEAR READER. SOMEBODY CAME FROM WEST OF THE PENNINES TO SEE THIS SHOW IN HORBURY. It was fortunate that I had communicated with him earlier about the best route to take. If you are coming to the Cluntergate Centre from Kirklees, or anywhere to the west, do not go via the centre of Wakefield: go via Dewsbury. The 126 and 127 bus from Dewsbury stops virtually at the door of the centre.

Rose Drew and Alan Gillott, my publishers at Stairwell Books in York, had also travelled a long way, and it was great to see them. They want to publish my debut short story collection, provisionally titled, ‘Something I Need To Tell You’, of which more later.

After a bit of messing about with the voice mic and Jared’s amp, Matt decided he would make a foray behind the curtain, and see if he could get the PA working. This he did, in a very short time. We were in business, with voice on one system, and music on another.

We started on time.

First up was Rob Reed. Rob reads from a medium-sized notebook with a black cover. He marks his running order with Post-It notes, which he tears off as he goes, and aggressively throws on the floor (before assiduously picking them all up after his set has finished). He did the modern, long run-up comedy routine based on multiple sophisticated word-play on the word, “Hello” that I had heard before. Everybody got it. He did serious stuff. He did other humorous stuff. He did stuff that defies classification as either serious or humorous. That was why I asked him to be there. That is why he went on first.

Rob is the only person I have ever heard to utter the phrase, “Jeremy Corbyn riding a dinosaur”.

It had occurred to me, before the show, to try to make up jokes about Matt Abbott’s recent TV celebrity. I needn’t have bothered because, of course, the best person to make fun of Matt Abbott’s TV celebrity is Matt Abbott himself.

Matt was also acute enough (ACUTE, I said) to observe that Rob had had a skip behind him while on stage (albeit a mock skip) and yet had broadcast his Post-It notes all over the place in the most wanton manner imaginable.

Matt’s set showed his accustomed variety. Politics. Pies. L20 1BG, which is about his mother’s cancer diagnosis. It appears in the Wordlife anthology, edited by Joe Kriss (ISBN 978-1-5272-0073-9) and, by something approaching chance, had been read by me on the last edition of Themes for Dreamers on PhoenixFM, broadcast from Halifax.

I started at the kitchen door. Valerie and Jane, who had been managing the bar, were sitting down. I stood in the doorway, off to stage left, and performed the prose piece that I call, ‘Buried Treasure’, which is an impersonation of my late mother. It has only been performed once before, at the now-defunct Sportsman in Halifax. It is quite an experimental piece. I think I just about got away with it.

Next: a piece I call, ‘Unfortunately’. https://www.facebook.com/sarahleahcobham/videos/10208832249377853/

Then a new poem, read from a piece of paper, and then onto reading from a copy of ‘Throwing Mother In The Skip’.

This was the first time the line, “with inadequate French bacon” got a laugh. Rose Drew attributed this to my having fore-shadowed it with the “Buried Treasure” piece about my mother. That seems like a good explanation.

Enough people turned up. The venue was great. The concept I had had in mind for the show worked. I expect to be running similar events at the Cluntergate Centre in the near future. I learnt a lot, and the next one may be even better.

We still need to insure Matt’s hair.

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An interview with William Thirsk-Gaskill, who is trying to do it in the style of David Bowie

Simon Armitage (for it is he)***: I am talking to William Thirsk-Gaskill, the celebrated writer of short fiction, and powerhouse of West Yorkshire performance poetry.

WT-G:             Hello, Simon. We meet at last.

Simon:             Er, yes. I have here a copy of William’s debut collection, which is called ‘Throwing Mother In The Skip’. Why did you give it that title?

WT-G:             My mother died relatively young, and relatively quickly. She was cremated. We didn’t literally throw her in the skip, but I did throw away many of her possessions. It struck me at the time that, in a sense, the possessions were more of a representation of her life than she herself had been, at the point when she died.

Simon:             Are all your poems about bereavement?

WT-G:             No. Some of them are about generational conflict. Some are about bad relationships, or relationship break-up. Some are about self-realisation. Some are about mental illness.

Simon:             Those sound like very dour subjects.

WT-G:             There are two funny ones. I hope people will be content with those, for now. I will write some more funny ones, as soon as funny material comes into my life, that I want to express.

Simon:             Would you say your poetry is mostly confessional?

WT-G:             I would say it is nearly all confessional.

Simon:             You realise that the word “confessional” is often used pejoratively in connection with contemporary poetry.

WT-G:             Yes. That doesn’t worry me. I think you have to write about your own experiences. It is by articulating your own experiences that you connect with other people’s experiences.

Simon:             What do you expect your readers to say, after they have read your work?

WT-G:             What they say is up to them.

Simon:             What do you hope they would say?

WT-G:             I hope they would say, “Anybody could have written that. Therefore, I will write poetry of my own.”  Unless, of course, they already write poetry, in which case, I hope they would just say, “The time I spent reading that was time well spent.”

Simon:             So, how do you …

WT-G:             Do you know that I have carried one of your socks?

Simon:             Er, how do you …

WT-G:             It was brown, and furry. I helped to carry it round the dales. It was a very rich shade of brown. I rather liked it.

Simon:             I am afraid that is all we have time for.

WT-G:             It is available from Stairwell Books.

Simon:             What?

WT-G:             http://www.stairwellbooks.co.uk. The cover price is £7. It is £8.50, including UK postage and packing.

 

*** None of this is true, except the details about how to buy the book.

Review: A Firm Of Poets at Unity Works, Wakefield 26/11/2015

This is the first time I have paid to see A Firm Of Poets. The evening was worth every penny.

The music was provided by a band whose name I didn’t catch. Their line-up was: electric piano, guitar, and violin. The violin playing and backing vocals were provided by Matt Abbott’s girlfriend, Lucy Relins.

The format was the same one that A Firm Of Poets always use. They line up five chairs. They line up five poets. Each poet does a single poem and then it moves on to the next one. Sometimes there is a preamble or banter about the previous piece, but it is always kept to a merciful minimum. They all recite from memory. I don’t know how they do it.

The compere was Geneviève Walsh. Her performance was the best I have seen. A Firm Of Poets are accessible and alternative at the same time. Geneviève is the embodiment of this. I heard her poetic voice more clearly than I have in any previous performance. She is maturing in her presentation, and staying crazy and uncategorisable at the same time. If Geneviève Walsh ever enters the same room as Alan Bennett, there will probably be a thermonuclear explosion.

Matt Abbott is only 26 years old. Like Geneviève, in this performance he spoke with the clearest voice I have ever heard him use. Part of his patter was the comparison and contrast between audiences that expect rhymed pieces (music crowds) and those that expect unrhymed (lit crowds). Matt has mastered both. He also does pieces that leave the listener wondering if they were rhymed or unrhymed. His last three pieces were political. He can do political poetry that has a mixed-aged, mixed-gender audience stamping their feet, clapping, and shouting. I have lost count of the number of failed attempts at political poetry I have heard.

John Darwin’s work has a depth and breadth that defies description. The man himself is quitely-spoken, philosophical, and introspective. His work is inventive and profound. His performances are crafted, to the extent of being like those of an old-time music hall performer. He reminds me faintly of Eric Morecambe. It is impossible to tell whether everything is rehearsed to the nth degree, or if is improvised. I guess that the truth is somewhere in between. He is also a Manc, which helps to diversify what might otherwise have become the contemporary poetry equivalent of Last Of The Summer Wine.

If A Firm Of Poets were a set of spice jars, then Victoria Garbutt would be the chilli powder. Apart from the three years I spent at Liverpool University, I do not get Toria’s drug references, but I do get her anger and the stylishness of her delivery. I heard five poets this evening. I preferred some of them to others. The fact that there was a range of voices is something I would never change. Toria keeps the preamble down to virtually zero, which is greatly to be applauded. She also met most of the evening’s quota of swearing, which is also a thing to be encouraged. This was commendably augmented by the representatives from A Republic Of Poetry, particularly with regard to the word, “wanker” by a gentleman from Featherstone.

Ralph Dartford’s voice also came through more clearly in this performance. He added touches of comedy and pathos, as well as delivering his blockbuster, ‘Safe Home’, with topical variation.

Jacqui Wicks produced the performance. As a production, it could not have been bettered.

If I had to think of one word to describe the whole event, it would be: Shakespearian. We had everything: characters, voices, stories, love, sex, death, substance abuse, childhood, old age, madness, familiarity, strangeness.

The auditorium of Floor 4 at Unity Works was packed. Everybody in that auditorium apart from the performers had paid ten quid to get in. This is A Firm Of Poets. This is the People’s Republic Of Poetry. The next performance is at the Barnsley Civic on Saturday 28 November. I won free tickets.

Review by A Firm Of Poets

I am delighted to have received the following review from my friends at A Firm Of Poets:

http://www.afirmofpoets.com/#!William-ThirskGaskill-Throwing-Mother-in-the-Skip/c183f/55f5b5c90cf23d0ff002cfb0

The Firm is about to embark on a nationwide tour. The dates are here:

http://www.afirmofpoets.com/

I have just bought tickets for their performance at Unity Works in Wakefield. I would be going to others, but some of the local ones clash with performances I am giving.

I think The Firm is really starting to get somewhere. I wish them every success with the tour.

Debut poetry collection: Throwing Mother In The Skip

After an amazingly efficient, professional, and low-stress publication process from Stairwell Books in York, my debut poetry collection is now in print. It costs GBP 7.00, plus postage. You can buy it directly from the publisher:

http://www.stairwellbooks.co.uk/index.html

I thank Alan Gillott and Rose Drew, who are not only independent publishers, but performance poets as well.

I will post details of the launch event as soon as it has been organised.

‘Escape Kit’ free of charge until 25 May 2014

To encourage people to vote for ‘Escape Kit’ in the 2014 Saboteur Awards,  I am giving it away for nothing until voting closes on 25 May.  Fill in the form below, and I will send you the story in Kindle format as an email attachment.   This is a discount of £1.99.

The link to the voting page is here:

http://sabotagereviews.com/saboteur-awards/saboteur-awards-2014/

All the categories are optional: you can vote for as many or as few of them as you like.  There is no registration, or anything complicated about it.  It only takes a few seconds.  Your support is greatly appreciated.

The printed version is of course still available, but I am told there are only about 200 copies left.  The likelihood with the printed version, which is an extremely well-produced and handsome book, is that once it is gone, it is gone. 

http://www.inpressbooks.co.uk/escape-kit/

Once again, I would like to thank the Grist editing team at the University of Huddersfield for enabling the book to get this far.  They are: Michael Stewart, Jayne Edge, Sarah Milne, Kate Pearson, and James Whitely.