2012: the (rest of the) year in review

It’s been quite a while since I used my ‘official’ writerly blog – but what with the new year and all, now seems like a good time to catch the world up on what I’ve been doing.

At the point of my last update, I was overcome with joy about my two magazine publications in Stone Telling and False Moustache. My poetry is now also in three books! All of which are actual, physical books that you can buy and hold and flip through and put bookmarks in and take with you on the train. I’m very excited. Pictures forthcoming – because yes, I am just that proud. ‘She Was’ was published in the anthology The Moment of Change (Aqueduct Press, May), ‘Hair’ in Here, We Cross (Stone Bird Press) and ‘Old Rhymes: A Hypothetical Interview’ was written specifically for and published in Catechism: Poems for Pussy Riot (English PEN, October). This last one was also translated into Russian here, which is awesome – as well as being a fundraiser for Pussy Riot’s legal defence (and PEN’s Writers At Risk programme), the anthology is being translated into Russian with the aim of sending it to the imprisoned women as a gesture of solidarity.

I’ve performed my work at three gigs since the last update – Transpose (May) in London, Moulin Rage (June) in Cambridge, and Revolt (October) in Coventry. I’ve read at Transpose events before, but this one was a first for me: rather than doing a 20-minute poetry set, I read the full text of my deconstructive fairytale, ‘The Prince Who Loved A Monster’. I always love hearing from audience members who have been struck by my poetry, but this spoken tale seemed to strike a chord – or touch a nerve – with so many people that I couldn’t quite believe it. While it’s not a queer fairytale in the most obvious sense – there’s no same-sex couple, or even happy romantic ending – it seems to have resonated with many people’s experiences of social pressure towards ‘normal’ relationships, and the intense relief (and pain!) of breaking free of those strictures. There’s a lovely review of it here. Moulin Rage and Revolt were also very rewarding gigs – as an organiser of Moulin Rage I launched into a completely unplanned set which seemed to go down very well, and Revolt was similarly joyful and chaotic.

One thing that made me squeal with happiness this year was Brit Mandelo’s review of Here, We Cross on the official Tor website which identified my contribution as “a poem that struck me intimately on first reading, and on the second time around… still a powerful piece” – and goes on to dedicate a paragraph to discussing it. Mandelo edited the anthology Beyond Binary, which has been on my to-buy list for some time, so this review was an amazing moment for me.

Poetry aside, I’ve been working on a fantasy/horror novel set in my adopted hometown of Brighton – it was my NaNoWriMo project, aimed at encouraging me to write creative prose regularly, but I’m hoping that with enough hammering it will become something worth publishing. It’s already developed from a vehicle for creepy thrills into both a fantasy world with an ever-more-detailed mythos, and a serious meditation on the nature of grief and trauma. (Also, if you’ve ever wondered just how awkward it might be if your only allies against looming supernatural forces are your recent ex-girlfriend and a complete stranger, this book has the answer! Or an answer, anyway.)

I’ve also been continuing to run Cutlery Drawer fundraisers – one in Cambridge, one in Brighton – and (as I discuss in this recent blog entry) am gearing up to begin work in earnest on a sibling project, which aims to create a trustworthy database of accessibility information for venues across the UK. Semi-relatedly, I have been working more with the amazing queer-feminist collective Lashings of Ginger Beer Time! Because Lashings members primarily write and perform under psuedonyms, I’ll keep the mystery intact regarding my Lashings adventures – but do go and follow the Lashings blog, if you don’t already!

On the academic side of things (which has been one of two main reasons for my silence on here), I’ve finished my MA at Sussex now, and will soon be graduating with a Distinction. While writing my dissertation I was struck down with unfortunate illness (the second reason for the radio silence!) and am still recovering from what has ended up being a unpleasantly long period of poor health. I’ve managed to do some academia since finishing, though – presenting a paper on queer interventions in menstrual narratives at the the Warwick Centre for the Studies of Women and Gender seminar series, and a paper on Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing-World at the Mapping the Self symposium. Despite this, I’ve decided (after a lot of soul-searching) not to apply for a PhD – or at least, not this year.

That about wraps things up, in terms of what I’ve been doing. I’m hoping to blog a lot more frequently now my health is returning, so watch this space!


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