A Leap in the Dark
Non-stop Erratic Cabaret
A lifetime ago, on 29th February, 2020, I organised a ‘A Leap in the Dark’, a Dada cabaret staged in a dilapidated former Conservative Club in Paddington, the third in a series of fund-raisers for Extinction Rebellion. The venue was unheated but there was plenty of whisky and cocoa and the performers all blazed with a hard gemlike flame (see above).
Such gatherings were about to become a thing of the future, but the same loose-knit group of writers and poets and musicians and performers all wanted to share their work with an audience and with each other, to spread some light and possibly even joy in those dark and difficult times. Because that was something we could do, and something we all needed to do, then and now in the future, until the current crisis passes, and after that.
So I began to organise an open-ended series of online gatherings which aimed to reproduce the atmosphere of the original gigs, but online.
There would be no constraints on the contributors (apart from time) and no telling what will happen when we go live at 8pm each evening.
On Friday 3rd April we kicked off with a short programme (I had the basic Zoom package which limited us to 40 minutes or so online togetrher) featuring live music followed by a conversation between Neil Griffiths (novelist and founder of the Republic of Consciousness Prize), Sam Mills (Dodo ink publisher, author and one of that year’s prize judges) and Frank Wynne (translator of Jean-Baptiste Del Amo’s novel Animalia, announced earlier that day as winner of the 2020 Prize).
The following evening featured more live music followed by the world premiere of the first canto of Spring Journal by the author and poet Jonathan Gibbs. Prompted by Autumn Journal (1939) Louis Macneice’s great poem about the early days of the Second World War, Jonathan’s poem was a work-in-progress thoughtfully navigating and responding to the social and political changes of the current crisis with sharp wit and a keen, humane eye. He shared the latest canto every Friday after that, read superbly by the actor and novelist Michael Hughes. The whole poem would later be published by CB editions, and you can get it here: https://cbeditions.com/gibbshtml.html
After that would be two live gatherings every week at 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and the programme began to attract a regular audience. I invested in the full Zoom package so we could gather together for longer than 40 minutes and other useful features became available, none of which I have ever been able to manage competently.
A Leap in the Dark ran for fifty programmes without interruption and featured a wonderful cohort of writers, poets, translators, performers, musicians, indie publishers and other creative practitioners from all over the world. Discoveries were made, friendships developed; new work was shared, collaborations happened. Funds were raised for The Trussell trust, which organises food banks all over the country (and continues to do so).
Was this what we needed back then. Is it what we need right now? I don’t know. I really don’t know.
I’m reminded of my favourite moment in a favourite film — John Ford’s Rio Bravo (1959) in which (according to the IMDB synopsis) ‘a small-town sheriff in the American West enlists the help of a cripple and a drunken ex-gunslinger in his efforts to hold a murderer in jail until the state marshal can arrive.’
For latecomers and those slow to catch on we get a summary of the set-up half way through the film when an old army buddy of the embattled sheriff (played superbly by John Wayne) rides into town and asks him what’s going on.
Wayne explains the situation. His buddy says:
‘A drunk man and a cripple? That’s all you got?’
To which Wayne laconically replies:
‘That’s what I got.’
A Leap in the Dark. That’s what I got.
And here, with heartfelt thanks and admiration and affection, is a list of contributors to the first fifty programmes.
I have deliberately avoided updating the contributor notes. Many of the good people listed below would take part in Carthorse Orchestra, and their updated profiles are listed there - or will be, when the series ends in October 2021.
All the people I've ever leapt with.
Astrid Alben is a poet, editor and translator (Dutch/English). Astrid is the author of Ai! Ai! Pianissimo (Arc Publications, 2011) and Plainspeak (Prototype Publishing, 2019). She is the editor of Findings on Ice, Findings on Elasticity and Findings on Light, all published by Lars Müller Publishers. She is a trustee of Poetry London and the Poetry Translation Centre.
Claire Allen grew up in Liverpool and lives in London. She teaches English literature and creative writing at City Lit. Her first two novels, The Mountain of Light (2004) and Protection (2006), were published by Headline Review. Her books have been translated into French and Greek.
Chiara Ambrosio is a visual artist working with video and animation. Her work is an exploration into ideas of memory, loss and illusion through the use of animation, photography and video installation. Her website http://www.acuriousroom.com
Alba Arikha has written five books, in fiction and non fiction. Her narrative poem, Soon, was published by CB Editions. She has also recently written a narrative poem about the pandemic which was published in Tortoise Media. Her memoir Major/Minor, published by Quartet Books in 2011, was shortlisted for the 2012 Spear’s Awards and selected among the Best Books of 2012 in the New Yorker. It will be performed as an opera, with music by her husband, composer Tom Smail, at the Playground Theatre in 2020. Her most recent novel, Where to find me, was published by Alma Books in 2018 and long listed for the 2020 Wingate Prize. Alba is also a singer/songwriter and has performed in Paris and London. She has recorded two CD’s of songs, Si j’ai aimé and Dans les rues de Paris.
Kate Armstrong was born in Crewe and grew up in Yorkshire. Her first novel The Storyteller was published by Holland House Books in 2016 and was long listed for the Republic of Consciousness Prize. She is currently working on a memoir about mental collapse, recovery, and Himalayan climbing, tentatively called Beyond The Mountain.
Caroline Bergvall is a writer, artist and performer who works across art forms, media and languages. The recipient of many international commissions, she is a noted exponent of writing and performance methods adapted to contemporary audiovisual and contextual situations, as well as multilingual identities and translocal exchange. Voice composition ‘TOGETHER (part 1)’ was commissioned by MAMCO, Geneva & Espace 2 Swiss National Radio in 2014.
Katharina Bielenberg is Associate Publisher at MacLehose Press, an Imprint of Quercus (Hachette). Together with her husband, translator Jamie Bulloch, she translated Daniel Glattauer's hit novel, Love Virtually, and its sequel, Every Seventh Wave.
Nina Bogin, originally from New York, has lived for over forty years in France. Her most recent poetry collection is Thousandfold (Carcanet, 2019) and her translation of Agota Kristof’s The Illiterate was published by CBe in 2014.
Kevin Boniface is an artist, writer and postman based in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. Over the years his work has taken the form of zines, exhibitions, artists’ books, short films and live performances. He is the author of Round About Town, published by Uniformbooks. kevinboniface.co.uk
Charles Boyle runs CB editions, an independent press publishing short fiction and poetry, including work in translation. Writing as Jack Robinson, his most recent book is Good Morning, Mr Crusoe (CBe, 2019), a polemical piece marking the 300th anniversary of Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe. He collaborated with the artist Natalia Zagorska-Thomas on the monograph Blush (2018).
Beverley Bie Brahic is a poet and translator based in California and France. Her most recent poetry collection is The Hotel Eden (Carcanet), CBe publishes her White Sheets and Hunting the Boar, and her translations of Francis Ponge (Unfinished Ode to Mud) and Apollinaire (The Little Auto), for which she won the Scott Moncrieff Translation Prize. www.beverleybiebrahic.com
Marie-Elsa Bragg is an author, priest, therapist and Duty Chaplain of Westminster Abbey. Her first novel, Towards Mellbreak, was about four generations of a quiet hill farming family on the North Western fells of Cumbria. Her second book, Sleeping Letters (2019) is the description of the the ritual of the Eucharist alongside a compilation of poetry, memoir and fragments of un-sent letters. Marie-Elsa has contributed articles and interviews for papers such as the Telegraph and the Church Times; Radio pieces for BBC Radio 4 and interviews for literary festivals and Story Vault Films.
Season Butler is a writer, artist, dramaturg and lecturer in Performance Studies and Creative Writing. Her writing, research and art practice centre around intersectionality and narratives of otherness, isolation and negotiations with hope. Her debut novel, Cygnet, was published in spring 2019 and won the Writer’s Guild 2020 Award for Best First Novel.
James Clammer is based in Sussex, where he writes in a shed at the foot of the South Downs. His children's novel, Why I Went Back, was longlisted for the Branford Boase Award and nominated for the Carnegie Medal. His debut adult novel, Insignificance, is published by Galley Beggar Press.
Susanna Crossman is an award-winning Anglo-French fiction writer and essayist. She has recent/upcoming work in Trauma (Dodo Ink, 2020), Neue Rundschau, (2019) S. Fischer (translated into German), We’ll Never Have Paris (Repeater Books, 2019), The Creative Review, 3:AM Journal, The Lonely Crowd, Berfrois and more… Co-author of the French book L'Hôpital Le Dessous des Cartes (LEH 2015), she regularly collaborates on international hybrid arts projects. Her debut novel Dark Island will be published in French as L'isle sombre in 2021. For more: @crossmansusanna http://susanna-crossman.squarespace.com
Paula Cunningham’s Heimlich's Manoeuvre, from smith doorstop, was shortlisted for the Fenton-Aldeburgh, Seamus Heaney Centre, & Strong Shine 1st Collection Prizes. Poems have appeared in ‘Best British Poetry’ 2016, & have won national & international prizes. She has also written short fiction and placed 2nd in the 2014 Costa short story award. She is very slowly working on her second collection and attempting the odd essay.
Susan Curtis is the Founding Director of Istros Books, an independent publisher of contemporary literature from South East Europe, based in Bloomsbury, London. Istros Books was set up in 2011 to showcase the very best fiction and non-fiction from the Balkan region to a new audience of English speakers. Its authors include European prize winners, polemic journalists-turned-crime writers and social philosophers-turned-poets. Susan is also a sometime writer and translator from BCMS.
Kevin Davey is the author of the novels Playing Possum and Radio Joan, both published by Aaargh! Press. His non-fiction work includes English Imaginaries (1999).
Emma Devlin is a graduate of Queen’s University Belfast. Her work has featured in Blackbird and The Bangor Literary Journal. She can be found on Twitter: @theactualemma. Her short story 'Home, Sisters' won the 2019 Benedict Kiely prize.
Roberta Dewa published three historical novels with Robert Hale when in her twenties. There followed a short story collection, Holding Stones (Pewter Rose Press, 2009), and, in 2013, a memoir, The Memory of Bridges, and a contemporary novel, The Esplanade (Weathervane Press, 2014). Since retiring from university teaching, she has been writing poetry and short stories again, and in 2017 won the Willesden Herald prize. Her latest story, ‘Hide’, has just appeared from Nightjar.
Declan O'Driscoll regularly reviews fiction (mostly in translation) for The Irish Times and The Dublin Review of Books, and recently made his debut in the TLS. In the past, he wrote about jazz and improvised music for a number of publications, most of which no longer exist (but that's not his fault).
Kevin Duffy runs Bluemoose Books is an independent publisher based in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. Kevin and Hetha Duffy re-mortgaged their house to start Bluemoose in 2006 and are today among the leading indie publishers in Britain.
Will Eaves is a novelist and intermittent poet. Published by CBe: The Absent Therapist, The Inevitable Gift Shop, Murmur (winner of the 2019 Wellcome Prize, co-winner of the 2019 Republic of Consciousness Prize and (forthcoming, September 2020) Broken Consort. With Sophie Scott, he co-presents The Neuromantics – ‘a monthly podcast for writers, psychologists, neuroscientists, poets, philosophers, comedians, musicians, and anyone interested in the exchange of ideas’.
Maja Elliott was born in Arabia and is of Swedish/Irish/English descent. She began playing piano by ear at the age of five. She trained to be a concert pianist in London, where she also studied singing and composition. http://majaelliott.com
Wendy Erskine works full-time as a secondary school teacher in Belfast. Her debut short story collection, Sweet Home, was published in 2018 by Stinging Fly and in 2019 by Picador. Her work has been published in The Stinging Fly, Stinging Fly Stories and Female Lines: New Writing by Women from Northern Ireland. She also features in Being Various: New Irish Short Stories (Faber and Faber), Winter Papers and on BBC Radio 4. Buy Sweet Home here: https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/wendy-erskine/sweet-home/9781529017069
Tim Etchells is an artist, writer and performance maker, author of Endland (published by And Other Stories) and a founder member and artistic director of the performance ensemble Forced Entertainment.
Paul Ewen is a New Zealand writer based in south London. His work has appeared in the British Council's New Writing anthology, the Guardian, the TES, Tank, and Five Dials. Paul's first novel, Francis Plug: How To Be A Public Author, was published by Galley Beggar Press in 2014. It went on to appear on numerous Books Of The Year lists, won a Society of Authors McKitterick Prize, and was described as "inspired" by The Sunday Times, whose reviewer also called it "a brilliant, deranged new comic creation... the funniest book I've read in years."
Gerry Feehily is a London-born, Ireland-raised author and journalist based in Paris. An arts critic on national French radio station France Culture, he is also the English site editor at presseurop.eu and looks after the Ireland desk at Paris weekly Courier International. He frequently appears on French television and radio to talk of Irish and European issues. His first novel, Fever, was published in 2007.
Gary Fisher is a sound artist and experimental composer whose work explores sound through processes of inquiry and experimentation with objects, actions, words, places and technologies. He records, composes, performs and creates installations with various sound materials and approaches including found objects, found sounds from collected tapes and records, and invented instruments.
Hugh Fulham-McQuillan is an Irish writer from Dublin. His short story collection Notes on Jackson and His Dead is published by Dalkey Archive Press in the US. His writing has appeared in The Stinging Fly, Ambit, 3:AM, Dalkey Archive's Best European Fiction anthology, gorse, and Minor Literature[s] among other places. He is currently working on a novel.
Rachel Genn works at Manchester Writing School/School of Digital Arts. Formerly a neuroscientist, she has written two novels: The Cure (Constable, 2011) and What You Could Have Won (And Other Stories, 2020). As Leverhulme Artist- in-Residence (2016) she created The National Facility for the Regulation of Regret, spanning installation art, VR and film (ASFF, 2016; SXSW, 2017). She is currently working on Hurtling, a collection of investigations into immersion and the creative act; a binaural experience exploring paranoia with Human Studio; an ACE-funded collection about fighting and addiction to regret; and Blessed, an oral history of her family’s injuries. @RachelGenn
Susanna Gendall is a New Zealand writer and translator currently based in Paris. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in Sport, JAAM, Takahē, The Spinoff, Matchbook, Geometry and Ambit. Her debut collection is due to be published in 2021.
Jonathan Gibbs is a writer and critic. His first novel, Randall, was published in 2014 by Galley Beggar, and his second, The Large Door, by Boiler House Press last year. He has written on books for various places including the TLS, Brixton Review of Books and The Guardian. He curates the online short story project A Personal Anthology, in which writers, critics and others are invited to 'dream-edit' an anthology of their favourite short fiction. Spring Journal is a response to the current coronavirus pandemic taking its cue very directly from Louis MacNeice's Autumn Journal.
David Greenberger Born in 1954 in Chicago, Illinois, David Greenberger was raised in Erie, Pennsylvania. In 1974 he moved to Boston to attend the Massachusetts College of Art. In the early eighties Greenberger set aside painting to explore other media. Starting as a periodical in 1979, based on his conversations with nursing home residents, The Duplex Planet, evolved into audio works, both as recordings and performances with music. A musician as well, Greenberger was the bass player in the band Men & Volts through the ’80s, co-writing many of their songs.
Greenberger has been the subject of four documentaries, and his work been adapted into comic books, short films, and one act plays. His essays and performances have frequently been broadcast on National Public Radio. He continues to be a keynote speaker at universities, museums and conferences on aging. He lives and works in upstate NY.
Neil Griffiths is an author, publisher and founder of the Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses.
Paul Griffiths lives in Wales, where he was born in 1947. His novels include let me tell you (Reality Street Editions, 2008), which uses only the words Ophelia speaks in Hamlet – as does his Nightjar story, ‘so this is it’ (2019). He has also written extensively on music. His new novel, Mr. Beethoven, is published by Henningham Family Press. For further information see www.disgwylfa.com.
Daniel Hahne is a writer, editor and translator, with some seventy books to his name. His work has won him the International Dublin Literary Award, the Blue Peter Book Award, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and has been shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize, among others. He is a past chair of the Society of Authors, and the trustee of a number of organisations that work with literature and free expression.
Philip Hancock’s collection City Works Dept. appeared from CB editions in 2018. His debut pamphlet Hearing Ourselves Think (Smiths Knoll, 2009) was a Guardian Book of the Year. A second pamphlet Just Help Yourself (Smiths Knoll) appeared in 2016. Jelly Baby, a film-poem, screened at various short film festivals and was published by Areté.
Nicky Harman lives in the UK and translates full-time from Chinese, focussing on fiction, literary non-fiction, and occasionally poetry. When not translating, she works on Paper-Republic.org, a non-profit website promoting Chinese literature in translation, where she is also a Trustee. She organizes translation-focused events, mentors new translators, gives regular talks and workshops on translation, and judges translation competitions. She was co-Chair of the Translators Association (Society of Authors, UK) from 2014 to 2017. She blogs on Asian Books Blog, and tweets, with Helen Wang, as China Fiction Book Club @cfbcuk.
M. John Harrison tweets @mjohnharrison, blogs at ambientehotel.wordpress.com & lives in the West Midlands. Two new books are due in July 2020: a novel, The Sunken Land Begins To Rise Again, from Gollancz; and from Comma Press, Settling the World, selected short stories introduced by Jennifer Hodgson.
Celia Hawkesworth worked for many years as Senior Lecturer in Serbian and Croatian at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College, London. She has published numerous articles and several books on Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian literature, including the studies Ivo Andric: Bridge between East and West (Athlone Press, 1984); Voices in the Shadows: Women and Verbal Art in Serbia and Bosnia (CEU Press, 2000); and Zagreb: A Cultural History (Oxford University Press, 2007). Her translation of Belladonna by Daša Drndić was the 2018 winner of the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation and in 2019 she was awarded the Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize for Literary Translation for her translation of Omer Pasha Latas by the Nobel laureate Ivo Andrić (published by New York Review Books).
David Hayden was born in Ireland and lives in England. His writing has appeared in The Stinging Fly, Granta online, Zoetrope All-Story, The Dublin Review, AGNI and PN Review, in the Faber New Irish Writing anthology Being Various, edited by Lucy Caldwell, and on BBC and RTÉ radio. His first book was Darker With the Lights On.
David and Ping Henningham are co-founders of Henningham Family Press, a microbrewery for books since 2006. They publish fiction and poetry. Their handmade editions can be found in the V&A, Tate, National Galleries Scotland and Stanford University. Their Performance Publishing shows compress the creation of printed matter into hectic live events.
Rónán Hession is a writer musician and civil servant from Dublin. His debut novel Leonard and Hungry Paul (published by Bluemoose Books) has been nominated for the Irish Book Awards, British Book Awards, the BAMB awards, and long listed for the Republic of Consciousness prize. His third album Dictionary Crimes was nominated for the Choice Music Prize for Irish Album of the Year. He is currently completing work on his second novel Panenka, which will be published by Bluemoose in 2021.A third novel, Ghost Mountain, will appear in 2023.
David Holzer is a dedicated yogi, author, blogger and journalist. He founded YogaWriters and has taught workshops in yoga for writers in Mallorca, where he lives. Hundreds of people have taken his Yoga for Writers course on the DailyOm platform. His writing appears regularly in Om yoga and lifestyle magazine.
Vlatka Horvat is an artist working across a range of forms, including sculpture, installation, drawing, performance, photography and writing. She teaches in the Fine Art department at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London.
Michael Hughes is the author of two acclaimed novels: Countenance Divine (2016) and Country (2018) both published by John Murray, the latter winning the 2018 Hellenic Prize. Under his stage name Michael Colgan he recently appeared in the acclaimed HBO television drama Chernobyl.
Heidi James is the author of So the Doves, Wounding and The Mesmerist's Daughter. Her novel forthcoming novel, The Sound Mirror, will be published by Bluemoose Books in August 2020.
Sam Jordison co-founded Galley Beggar Press. He writes for the Guardian, has written several works of non-fiction the best-selling Crap Towns series and Enemies Of The People, a book that was tragically right about everything and the awful people who have been wrecking our lives since 2016.
Paulette Jonguitud lives in Mexico City. She is the author of Mildew (CB editions) and Algunas margaritas y sus fantasmas. https://paulettejonguitud.com
Anna Kenyon leads a nebulous middle-class existence (she says) as a classical music PR, caterer and singer. She is a keen Nemoist.
Vijay Khurana’s fiction has been shortlisted for the Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize, the Bath Short Story Award, the Short Fiction/University of Essex Prize, and the I'll Show You Mine sex-writing prize. His creative-critical project "A Little Death", which uses parody as a means of exploring James Joyce’s story "The Dead", is available at beyondcriticism.net. He grew up in the UK and in Australia, where he spent several years as a presenter on triple j radio. He has an MFA from the University of East Anglia and is also the author of a book for children, Regal Beagle (Random House, 2014).
Mikey Kirkpatrick (aka Bird Radio) is a composer, improviser, and performer creating solo albums and stage shows as well as collaborating with filmmakers, poets and sound artists. His first two solo albums were released on cult label Cherry Red Records, including his Walter de la Mare song-cycle Oh, Happy England, composed on Benjamin Britten's piano while on a residency at Snape Maltings. His most recent album CROW with sound artists Pig7 is based on the book by Ted Hughes, and premiered at the Port Eliot Festival and Edinburgh Fringe in 2018. During the lockdown, Mikey is broadcasting live daily flute improvisations via digital radio, collaborating with musicians and poets around the world and developing an online version of his music-lab and mentoring project 'Alchemy' for at risk 14-18 year olds, which usually runs every weekend at Goldsmiths University.
Olja Knežević was born and raised in Montenegro, went to school in California and received her degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Belgrade. She also has an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck College, London. Originally published in Croatian as Katarina, Velika i Mala, Catherine the Great and the Small is Olja’s fourth book, and the first to be published in English language. Olja lives and works in Zagreb, Croatia.
Toby Litt grew up in Ampthill, Bedfordshire. He has worked as a teacher, bookseller and subtitler. A graduate of Malcolm Bradbury’s Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia, Toby is best known for writing his books – from Adventures in Capitalism to Lilian's Spell Book – in alphabetical order; he is currently working on ‘P’. He is a Granta Best of Young British Novelist and a regular on Radio 3’s The Verb. His story ‘John and John’ won the Manchester Fiction Prize, and his most recent short story collection, Life-like, was shortlisted for the Edgehill Prize and longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize. Toby teaches creative writing at Birkbeck College. His memoir, Wrestliana, was published by Galley Beggar Press in May 2018.
Richard Lowdon is a member of Forced Entertainment, the experimental theatre company based in Sheffield, England, founded by Tim Etchells in 1984. He designed and performed in the stage adaptation of The Notebook.
Christadoulos Makris described by the RTÉ Poetry Programme as “one of Ireland’s leading contemporary explorers of experimental poetics”, has published three books of poetry, most recently this is no longer entertainment (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2019), as well as several pamphlets, artists’ books and other poetry objects. Recent commissions and residencies include the Irish Museum of Modern Art and Maynooth University. He is the poetry editor at gorse journal.
Oscar Mardell is a teacher and writer - originally from South Wales, but currently living in Auckland, New Zealand. He is a frequent contributor to 3:AM Magazine, and poet of the month at The Inquisitive Eater. He is the author of Rex Tremendae - a ghost story set in the rubble of the Blitz, and Housing Haunted Housing - a collection of poems about Brutalist architecture, published June 2020 by the Manchester indie press deathsofworkerswhilstbuildingskscrapers
Andrea Mason has published short stories in a number of art and literary journals including The Happy Hypocrite and New Writing: The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing. Her debut novel, The Cremation Project, is forthcoming with Inside the Castle, USA, in 2021.
Amy McCauley is a poet and freelance writer. She is the author of OEDIPA (Guillemot Press, 2018), 24/7 Brexitland (No Matter Press, 2020) and Propositions (Monitor Press, 2020)
Todd McEwen was born in California and now lives in Edinburgh. His The Five Simple Machines was published by CBe in 2013. Who Sleeps with Katz (‘One of the great American novels’- Salon), first published by Granta in 2002, is reissued by CBe in June.
Margarita Meklina was born in Leningrad and now divides her life between Ireland, the UK and the San Francisco Bay Area. An author of ten books and a recipient of literary prizes in Russia, she has published widely in English. She is widely recognized as a ground breaking writer from her cutting prose, which helped redefine Russian literature in the 1990s as it emerged from decades under the Soviet shadow. Her stories at that time, often built around themes of marginalized sexuality, combined with postmodernist and New Sincerity-like elements, created a new Russian lexicon in that genre.
Wyl Menmuir was born in 1979 in Stockport. He lives on the north coast of Cornwall with his wife and two children and works as a freelance editor and literacy consultant. His first novel, The Many (Salt), was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016. His second novel, Fox Fires, is forthcoming, also from Salt. His Nightjar story, ‘Rounds’, was published in 2016.
Eloise Millar's first novel Wednesday's Child was published in 2004 and was shortlisted for the Youngminds Award. She co-founded and co-directs Galley Beggar Press.
Leigh Miller is Professor of English Literature at the University of Westminster. Her work focuses on the novel from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present. She is particularly interested in how the nature of the fictional has been understood at different moments through this period. Her published work includes Modernism and Magic: Experiments with Spiritualism, Theosophy and the Occult (2013).
Sam Mills is the author of The Fragments of my Father, a memoir about being a carer that was recently published by Fourth Estate. She has also written various novels, including The Quiddity of Will Self. She is the co-founder of indie press Dodo Ink and was a judge for the 2020 Republic of Consciousness Prize. Sam lives in London with her father and cat.
Alison Moore’s first novel, The Lighthouse, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Awards, winning the McKitterick Prize. Three further novels and a collection, The Pre-War House and Other Stories, have been published by Salt as well as a series of books for children. Born in Manchester in 1971, she lives near Nottingham with her husband Dan and son Arthur. She has had four stories published by Nightjar, most recently ‘Broad Moor’ in 2019.
Dan O’Brien is an award-winning playwright and poet based in Los Angeles. CBe publishes his War Reporter, New Life and Scarsdale; essays forthcoming in 2021. www.danobrien.org
Simon Okotie is the author of three novels together making up an acclaimed trilogy: Whatever Happened to Harold Absalon? (2012), In the Absence of Absalon (2017) and After Absalon (2020). They are all published by Salt and available here: https://www.saltpublishing.com/collections/author-okotie-simon
Aisha Orazbayeva is a violinist from Kazakhstan. She also writes and has had plays broadcast on the radio. She gained notice for her performance of Salvatore Sciarrino’s caprices. Her website: aishaorazbayeva.com
Helen Ottaway is a composer and sound artist. She is lead artist with Artmusic, creating and producing collaborative, site-specific art work. She has written for many forces from string quartet to choir and orchestra and recently has started to include found sound in her work. Her writing for hand-punched and hand-wound musical box began during an artist’s residency in Sri Lanka in 2017. Back in the UK she continues to compose for and perform on the instrument.
Melanie Pappenheim and Esme Herbert are mother and daughter singers and musicians
The pale Usher is David Collard, who organises these gatherings.
The pale Usher—threadbare in coat, heart, body, and brain; I see him now. He was ever dusting his old lexicons and grammars, with a queer handkerchief, mockingly embellished with all the gay flags of all the known nations of the world. He loved to dust his old grammars; it somehow mildly reminded him of his mortality.
Ian Patterson is a writer and poet, retired academic, translator, former second-hand bookseller, and the editor of Nemo's Almanac. He translated Proust's Finding Time Again (Le temps retrouvé) for Penguin. Guernica and Total War was published by Profile in 2007. His most recent book of poetry is Bound to Be (Equipage, 2017). Marsh Air is forthcoming. His elegy for Jenny Diski, 'The Plenty of Nothing', won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem, 2017. At the moment he's writing a book about books.
Lara Pawson lives in London. She is the author of a fragmentary memoir, This Is the Place to Be (CB editions, 2016), and an indignant historical investigation, In the Name of the People: Angola’s Forgotten Massacre (IB Tauris, 2014). ‘Because Everything in This Damned World’ is an extract from a book in progress.
Giles Perring is a musician, record producer and artist who has been working professionally in diverse areas of music and the Arts since 1980. He lives and works on the Scottish island of Jura. http://www.soundofjura.com/about.html
Alex Pheby was born in Essex and moved to Worcester in his early childhood. He currently lives with his wife and children in London, where he teaches at the University of Greenwich. Alex's second novel, Playthings, published by Galley Beggar Press in 2015, was shortlisted for the 2016 Wellcome Book Prize. His third novel Lucia was joint winner (with Murmur by Will Eaves) of the 2019 Republic of Consciousness Prize. His latest novel Mordew is also published by GBP.
Leone Ross is the author of two novels, All the Blood is Red (Angela Royal Publishing) and Orange Laughter (Anchor), and a short story collection, Come Let Us Sing Anyway (Peepal Tree Press). She works as a senior lecturer at Roehampton University. Her third novel, This One Sky Day, is forthcoming from Faber & Faber. Her website is at www.leoneross.com. Nightjar published her story, ‘The Woman Who Lived in a Restaurant’, in 2015.
Nicholas Royle is the author of three short story collections – Mortality, Ornithology, The Dummy and Other Uncanny Stories – and seven novels, from Counterparts to First Novel. He is series editor of Best British Short Stories (Salt) and a Reader in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. He founded Nightjar Press in 2019, to publish signed, limited-edition short stories in chapbook format. A new short story collection, London Gothic, is published by Confingo Publishing, and a memoir, White Spines, by Salt Publishing.
Anakana Schofield is an Irish-Canadian author. Born in England to an Irish mother, she lived in London and Dublin until moving to Vancouver in 1999. She won the 2012 Amazon.ca First Novel Award and the Debut-Litzer Prize for Fiction in 2013 for her debut novel Malarky. Her second novel Martin John was published in 2015 and was shortlisted for the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize, the 2016 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, the 2016 Goldsmiths Prize, and the 2017 ReLit Award for fiction. She has also been a literary critic, essayist and broadcaster, contributing to the London Review of Books Blog, The Globe and Mail, CBC Radio, The Guardian, The Irish Times and the Vancouver Sun.
Fernando Sdrigotti is a London-based Argentine writer and cultural critic. He is the founding editor of the journal Minor Literature[s]. His latest book is Jolts, a collection of short stories published by Influx Press.
minorliteratures.com and influxpress.com/jolts
Tom Smail is a composer of orchestral, chamber, choral and vocal music. In 2014 Tom was commissioned to write the music for the Royal Court production of a trilogy of Samuel Beckett plays starring acclaimed actress Lisa Dwan. Two weeks at the Royal Court in January 2014 was followed by two weeks in the West End. In August it was at the Southbank Centre. September saw a national tour and October the start of an international tour, beginning at BAM in New York and culminating in June 2015 at the Barbican. https://www.tomsmail.net
Paul Stanbridge grew up in Essex. He has worked as a pensions administrator, bookseller, receptionist, waiter, archival catalogue editor, chef, barman, ministerial drafter, learning mentor and builder. He has also written a doctoral thesis examining creative method in literary modernism and divides his working time between music and writing. Forbidden Line, his first novel (published by Galley Beggar Press in 2016), was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott First Novel Prize and won the first novel category in the inaugural Republic of Consciousness Prize, 2017. His online ‘immaterial text’ The Encyclopedia of St Arbuc can be found online. His next novel My Mind to Me a Kingdom is will be published by Galley Beggar Press.
Julian Stannard lived and taught for many years in Genoa. His most recent poetry book – with artwork by Roma Tearne – is Average is the New Fantastico (Green Bottle Press). CBe publishes his What Were You Thinking? He co-edited a CBe book about Michael Hofmann, The Palm Beach Effect. A film of his poem ‘Sottoripa’ (about a district of Genoa) is on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/81617966
Preti Taneja was born and grew up in the UK, and now teaches writing in prisons and in universities. We that are young (2017) was a book of the year in The Sunday Times, Spectator and the Guardian; it has been translated into multiple languages and is published in North America by AA Knopf. It is currently in development as a TV series with the makers of Narcos. We that are young has been nominated for several international awards including the Rathbones FOLIO Prize, the Republic of Consciousness Prize, India's Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize and the Prix Jan Michalski. It won the Desmond Elliot Prize for best debut 2018.
Matt Thomas was born in Wales and lives in South London. He has worked as a journalist and in museums. His short stories can be found in Foci, Ghostland and the Ink Anthology. His Nightjar story, ‘Living Together’, was published in 2018.
Marvin Thompson was born in London to Jamaican parents and now lives in south Wales. His debut collection, Road Trip (Peepal Tree Press), is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. In 2019 he was shortlisted for the Manchester Poetry Prize. Reviewers have described his work as ‘moving’ and ‘a virtuoso performance.’
Chris Thorpe is a writer and performer from Manchester. He works as a playwright, most recently with the Royal Exchange, Unicorn and Royal Court, for whom he’s currently writing the Methuen Climate Commission. Collaborations include ongoing work with Rachel Chavkin, mala voadora, Third Angel, Yusra Warsama, Hannah Jane Walker, Rachel Bagshaw and Javaad Alipoor.
Susan Tomaselli is the founder and editor of the Irish literary journal gorse.
Rhys Trimble was born in Zambia in 1977. He is a bilingual poet, text artist, performer, drummer, editor, critic, collaborator, shaman, staff-wielder and shoutyman based in Wales. He is interested in avant-garde poetry and Welsh metrics. He has authored more than 15 books of poetry in Wales, England, India and the US since 2010, including Swansea Automatic, Anatomy Mnemonics for Caged Waves (US) and Hexerisk. Since 2008 he has edited the experimental poetry e-zine ctrl+alt-del.
Aea Varfis-van Warmelo is a trilingual actor and writer.
Anna Vaught is a novelist, poet, essayist, short fiction writer, reviewer and editor; she is also a secondary English teacher, tutor and mentor to young people, mental health advocate, volunteer and mum to a large brood. Anna's third novel Saving Lucia, about Violet Gibson, the Irish aristocrat who shot Mussolini, is published by Bluemoose in April 2020 and available here: https://bluemoosebooks.com/books/saving-lucia-by-anna-vaught Her first short story collection, Famished, will be published by Influx in September 2020. www.annavaughtwrites.com
Joanna Walsh is an internationally-published writer of fiction and creative nonfiction. She is also a critic (The Guardian, The New Statesman, Los Angeles Review of Books), and an editor at 3:AM Magazine and gorse editions. She was a judge on the 2016 Goldsmiths Prize and won the Arts Foundation Award for Creative Non-fiction in 2017. She founded @read_women. She is the author of Vertigo, Hotel, Fractals, Grow A Pair, Worlds From The Word’s End and the digital work Seed-story.com. Her ‘novel in essays’ Break.up was published in the UK by Tuskar Rock Press and in the US by Semiotext(e) in Spring 2018.
Emma Warnock is the editor at No Alibis Press, a small and relatively new independent publisher of fiction based in Belfast and founded by David Torrans, owner of No Alibis Bookstore. 2020 publications are Seed by Joanna Walsh and a new collection from Ian Sansom. Information about publications, episodes of podcasts and videos, and contact details are available at: www.noalibispress.com
CDN Warren is a typographic/typewriter artist and writer based in the UK. His work has been exhibited several times, in Beijing (China), Hyrynsalmi (Finland) and the UK. His work is interested in various aspects of typographic experimentation, from painstakingly rendered graphic works on a range of manual typewriters, to computer-designed and hand-drawn visual works and concrete poetry. His website is at https://cdnwarren.co.uk.
Matthew Welton was born in Nottingham, lives in Nottingham, and teaches creative writing at the University of Nottingham. His publications include The Book of Matthew (2003), 'We needed coffee but...' (2009), The Number Poems (2013) and Squid Squad: A Novel (2020), all published by Carcanet.
Tony White’s latest novel The Fountain in the Forest is published by Faber and Faber. White is the author of five previous novels including Foxy-T and Shackleton’s Man Goes South, the non-fiction title Another Fool in the Balkans and numerous short stories. He is editor and publisher of the artists’ book series Piece of Paper Press, founded in 1994. Tony White would like to acknowledge the support of Arts Council England through the Arts Council Emergency Response Fund: for individuals.
Conrad Williams is the author of ten novels. His short fiction is collected in Use Once Then Destroy, Born With Teeth and I Will Surround You. He has won the British Fantasy award, the International Guild award and the Littlewood Arc prize. His new novel, One Who Was With Me, will be out in October 2020. His story for Nightjar was ‘The Jungle’ (2013).
Eley Williams is a poet and author of the prize-winning short story collection Attrib. (Influx Press). Her first novel A Liar’s Dictionary was published by William Heinemann. She lectures at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Leigh Wilson is Professor of English Literature at the University of Westminster. Her work focuses on the novel from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present. She is particularly interested in how the nature of the fictional has been understood at different moments through this period. Her published work includes Modernism and Magic: Experiments with Spiritualism, Theosophy and the Occult (2013).
Jacob Wren makes literature, collaborative performances and exhibitions. His books include: Polyamorous Love Song, Rich and Poor and Authenticity Is a Feeling. With the interdisciplinary group PME-ART he’s co-created performances such as: Individualism Was A Mistake, The DJ Who Gave Too Much Information and Every Song I’ve Ever Written.
Frank Wynne is a literary translator. Born in Ireland, he moved to France in 1984 where he discovered a passion for language. He worked as a bookseller in Paris and again when he moved to London in 1987. He translated and published comics and graphic novels and from 1996-2001 he worked in online media. He began translating literature in the late 1990s, and in 2001 decided to devote himself to this full time. He has translated works by, among others, Michel Houellebecq, Frédéric Beigbeder, Ahmadou Kourouma, Boualem Sansal, Claude Lanzmann, Tómas Eloy Martínez and Almudena Grandes. His work has earned him a number of awards, including the Scott Moncrieff Prize and the Premio Valle Inclán. His translation of Vernon Subutex was shortlisted for the Man Booker International 2018 and his translation of Animalia by Jean-Baptiste de Amo won the 2020 Republic of Consciousness prize. His website is www.terribleman.com
Natalia Zagorska-Thomas is a visual artist, art conservator and curator. She runs the studio and exhibition space Studio Expurgamento in Camden town. Co-originator of Blush (CBe, 2018). www.studioexpurgamento.com