Thursday, June 30, 2011

Kid Doctor Clinics (KDC) encouraged book clubs for readers - not writers groups for authors. For people to have unrealistic aspirations and expectations meant a lot of hard work for the Earth Corporation's social engineers and volunteer armies. KDC encouraged amateur dramatic societies for real-life social networks.
War in Heaven (Home'Baked Books by Michael John Weller, 2010)

Notes on a local literary festival, part seven

(parts one, two, three, four, five, six, eight, nine)

Although not formally invited to read or perform at Beckenham Bubble one - the writer, as part-organiser/curator of evening responded to request "do something" by improvising themes Fics from the Sticks bookwork.

1990's Beckenham writers group The Scribblers killed off through fictionalization as 'Addingcombe Nibs'. Not sure what audience, some former Scribblers, made of this.

Curious reading Yeats' 1893 'The Rose of Peace' opening 'Now Here's A Tale...' (Slow Fiction) to congregated Shortlands Poetry Circle (est 1911). Sometimes voice go beyond estuarine twang. Could be library bubble-space effect.

Bromley Lit Fest
had a fab evening with the Beckenham Bubble at Becfest!

tweet 'n' all

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Notes on a local literary festival, part six

(parts one, two, three, four, five, seven, eight, nine)

Most events in Becfest brochure have pretty image of authors accompanying text. Not this one.

At Bromley Fest Tomfoolery launch two weeks ago organisers concerned not one single booking for Beckenham Bubble one.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Notes on a local literary festival, part five

(parts one, two, three, four, six, seven, eight, nine)

'Richmal Crompton, Enid Blyton, and Edith Nesbit are three giants of children's literature,' said Michelle Jolly.
'And like you, they all live and work near South London, Kent and Surrey perimeters of the M25,' said Lucy.
'No, they don't live there now, silly - they are all dead!' Michelle laughed to her comedienne friend, Lucy Greenwood.
Graphic Novel, (Home'Baked Books by Michael John Weller, 2010)

The Scribblers had become a marketable writers' group set up in the local 1997 UK reality of The Studio building - an experimental arts, media and comedy workshop centre in Beckenham; still under Bromley local authority control in honeymoon months of Blair's government.

In bigger national picture of arts council lottery funding for literature - Apples and Snakes' The Popular Front Of Contemporary Poetry (which included Bob Cobbing) and Iain Sinclair-edited Conductors of Chaos (which didn't) - were the two must-read anthologies for aspiring creative writers of that era.

These volumes were bookended to beginning of Smash Hits reader JK Rowling's Harry Potter books, Time-Warner America Online, Kyoto Climate Change Summit, weird religiosity surrounding the death of the Princess of Wales, and building of a celebratory Millennium Dome in England.

As reward for their success The Scribblers were given performance training by Apples and Snakes with an eye on their touring circuit. When doing character don't be afraid of putting on a different voice. Complete contradiction to what writer was to understand couple years later at Bob Cobbing's Writers Forum workshops.

Use voice to sound text.

A Bromley grouping - not wishing to participate as trained Scribblers in London's The Word Festival 1999, played a local borough library for free instead.

Writing as word. Writing as world. Writing as read. Writing as unlimited.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Notes on a local literary festival, part four

(parts one, two, three, five, six, seven, eight, nine)

But who is this Mike Weller? Where is he exactly? And what is the nature of the realit(ies) he lives in? Why does he feel as if he is a character in somebody else's fiction?

Space Opera developed from this ...

A creative writers' group The Scribblers at Studio Beckenham was attracting interest and funding - and from the beginning of 1997 I was able to test reactions through public reading of Space Opera as work in progress and display its graphics content. The Studio Scribblers experience was rewarding through adopting a performance persona of live storyteller to receptive audience. Arts Council of England Lottery-funding of The Scribblers anthology On the Shelf and Off the Wall vol II meant I was able to extract a section of Space Opera for inclusion.

The Making of Slow Fiction
(Home'Baked Books by Michael John Weller, 2010)

Receiving an invitation to participate in a local literary festival - the writer spent days humming and ha'ing whether to agree to take part, or not. Identical response before cautiously looking in on creative writers' group, short bus ride away, fifteen years before - the Beckenham Scribblers.

In 1996 something was in the air in southeast London. The writer was often able to identify 'things in the air' on his doorstep. A peculiar charge of localized preternatural energy perhaps; a combination of several extraordinary coincidences, maybe. Vitalized synchronicity associated within scribbling process of sudden collective realization, definitely. Like Beckenham Arts Lab formation quarter century before.

1969 different time-space; 1997 different time-space again; 2011 different time-space yet again.

Then afterwards, the shaping movement of scribblers into tangible entity, losing bits deemed unnecessary to working model. A group of writers serious about their business emerges. Poetry is composed and read without comment or criticism. Brand names appear in fragments of text. A suggestion even of Scribbler commodification. Essential if product be sold arts market society.

'Beckenham' as place dropped from name. Too local. 'The Scribblers' formed: band of UK writers and poets gigging at Studio Beckenham, introduced like support band before going into individualized solo reader's performance - warm-up acts on southeast London Studio literary nights featuring Adrian Mitchell, John Cooper Clarke, Labi Siffre, Alex King, and the "irrepressible" Mike Weller

'Island of Dreams' from Space Opera, MJ Weller 1997

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Notes on a local literary festival, part three

(part one, two, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine)

While Acorn's Bromley litfest's brochure is a professionally designed and printed production, Becfest's brochure is a 'home'baked' publication. Desk-top and library table one-staple collation job.

Although Bromley's festival has no big literary names to draw crowds from outside town, it is big on celebrating popular generic forms (crime, thriller, romance, history, travel) and broad attractions necessary for appeal to people of all ages (authors' book talks, literary pub quizzes, improvised comedy, under-18's open mic, Shakespeare in the Park). There is very little Leila and Ali Dewji's Acorn Independent Press don't know about the history of old-fashioned books (they've done their homework), modern electronic publishing, possibilities of self-publishing - especially for the aspiring novelist with an eye on getting that first airport paperback downloaded to thousands of tablet screens.

When Acorn proudly announced 2011 was Bromley's first literary festival it was kinda true. Bromley had participated in London's Festival of Literature The Word, Spread the Word, The Blurb in years gone by - and Bromley 'The Library' have held local summer festival of books and reading as an annual event since. Becfest was planned to have been a 2011 continuation of this modest celebration. Then Acorn's plans for the first Bromley Literature Festival came out of soapy water like a big inspirational bubble.

What is curious about Bromley is that its northern pockets - West Beckenham, Penge, Anerley - have produced writers as much as readers and book consumers. Writers have lived in the area as residents. Children's writers particularly attracted to Beckenham's leafy suburbs and calming River Beck. Enid Blyton began the whole global kidlit squad from a detached house in the borough.

In Bromley's southern semi-rural expanses Richmal Crompton dreamed up the munificent Just William and Edith Nesbitt named south-east London locations in her novels.

The writer's "Openned Letter to Allen Fisher on the question of poetry, place & poetics" (veer off, Veer Books, 2008) continues discourse on naming.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Notes on a local literary festival, part two

(& parts one, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine)

Brochure cover left is 2011 Bromley litest's and cover right is 2011 BecFest's.

During next week or so, EGNEP's blog will go inside the BecFest brochure. This doesn't mean Bromley Literary Festival (BLF) and its brochure isn't worthy of interior investigation, far from it. In fact in this post, a brief deconstruction of Bromley's brochure is attempted by Bromley's writer-in-residence, MJ.

Distinguished arty, theatrical and bookish sponsors - local, national and dotcommy have their logos reproduced and Ladyzone, Orpington's "Ladies Only Gym with a difference" advertise.

Bromley litfest is sooooo girly! Girlier than an emilyfest!! Girlier than Redell Olsen's Sharp Exhalations, Andrea Brady Poetry Lady and & Holly Pester Does It Better rolled into one!!!

Professional industry Bromley litfest organisers Acorn Independent Press, a local brother and sister team, Ali & Leila Dewji, are sooooo young! And they have sooooo many top literary contacts! Global literary agents any aspiring novelist would die for, nay, kill for. How? Why?

Leila and Ali are younger than many creative writing graduates performing at emilyfest bubbles anywhere, everywhere, anytime. Bromley's Tomfoolery pub at Bromley litfest's launch night had as many under thirties as Shoreditch's Foundry in the late 2000's.

What are they all doing in Bromley?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Notes on a local literary festival, part one
(& parts two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine)

New media politics of networked space and new communities of interest, from global and local perspectives, seem likely to lead to more scenes within scenes, bubbles within bubbles - organized in the UK around county and district, town and city suburbs, and within region and locality.
- Mike Weller, 'Home'Baked: literary artzines in the age of the internet' (Openned Zine #1, 2010)

And just over one year later, the writer of this published monograph is invited to curate two evenings for Beckenham Literary Festival - the 2011 BecFest to be held within a bubble-space, in the open public lending section of Beckenham library.

BecFest has been organized both simultaneously, and within, a big borough-wide Bromley Literary Festival (Beckenham is one suburb of London's largest borough and dormitory town).

Both festivals are taking place as major shake-ups of Bromley's Library services occur, as they are in other parts of the UK. This means threatened closures, borough mergers, and library staff redundancies.

Bromley Literary Festival seems, to the writer, to be taking place in one locality and reality. BecFest in another locality and reality. Neither locality or reality has any notion of what the present writer's practise is. But a formal invitation to take part in some way arrived by old-fashioned letter post. The writer thinks the library service may think the writer a local historian because they did buy copies of his Harriet Staunton: A Victorian Murder Ballad (visual associations, 1999) for the reference section of its borough branches.

The invitation was not a specific invitation to read or perform. So the writer will not read or perform.

So does the writer agree to take part or not?

Yes, for the purposes of testing bubble-within-bubble-within-bubble theory in practice. This will be carried out by creating a third reality. Beckenham Bubble number one and two. Linguistically innovative place-bubbles.

Beckenham librarian organizing BecFest, Vanessa Williamson, is encouraging about place-bubbles. There is perhaps a sense of last opportunity for poetry and poetics to be discussed and performed in a public space without pressure of providing profitable returns.

'Until Breton and Trotsky's Manifesto: Towards a Free Revolutionary Art is distributed free to everyone and the workers' democratic government is formed,' whispers ever-optimistic Mick.

On evenings Wednesday, June 29 and Monday, July 4th - there is likely to be numerous poetry events elsewhere - in cafés, pub-function rooms, university faculties, poetry-hegemonized venues - perhaps other libraries and litfests. In these realities nothing clashes when bubbles burst


Thursday, June 09, 2011

Sophisticated Boom Boom

The writer hadn't attended voiceworks (showcase of new music for voice) before. For several years this initiative, coordinated by Birkbeck Contemporary Poetics Research Centre with Guildhall School of Music & Drama, has been performed in association with Wigmore Hall - London's major international venue for song.

"The girls were wearing formals, the boys were wearing ties" in the words of Shadow Morton's song written for The Shangri-Las.

2011's performance in May featured seven songs including texts by poets SJ Fowler and James Wilkes. The writer had only just posted "Nature Boy" to this blog when Mr Wilkes explained all about an Urban Physic Garden plant project he was curating poetry contributions towards.

Delighted with possibility of designing new "nature poem" present writer plumbed for caraway plant - perhaps because this was first spice consumed by writer as small boy tasting his grandmother's caraway-seeded cake.

Songs Our Teachers Learn Us sequence