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A really, really late Christmas present from NLP

Poetry fans, would you believe me if I told you I’d found a magical land in the back of a wardrobe and for the last few months had been helping free that magical land from the grip of an eternal Winter? Or that I’d faked my death and had been undercover in a Hungarian jail for MI5? No? Oh fine.

Do I at least get points for coming back from my magical-adventures-slash-espionage to tell you about a new NLP poet? How about a nice review? How about a new NLP poet, a nice review AND a poetry book about sex? Sold!

First up, I’d like to remind you you about Nasty Little Press’ Intros. Supported by Arts Council England, NLP has been scouring the country for the best new voices in poetry. Small but perfectly formed, these limited edition poetry pamphlets are sold here on the NLP website but are also sent out to literature and live lit industry figures. NLP will help their authors to get bookings for readings or performances and mentor them through the editing process with a view to publishing a longer collection in the future.

syeAll caught up? Excellent. Let me introduce you, then to Sye Sanders, NLP’s latest Intro author. Having spent much of his twenties living in Ibiza, Sye has a degree in Imaginative Writing from John Moores University and is a popular performer on the Liverpool scene. He collects vinyl, writes letters to the NME and includes Philip Larkin, Emily Dickinson and The Smiths among his extremely wide-ranging influences. You can buy Sye’s Intro #7 here on the NLP website, and I recommend that you keep an eye out for him performing in the near future.

Next up, I have the happy task of showing you a fantastic review for Nic Aubury’s Cold Soup. You can read the whole thing here, but here are the highlights:

Humour comes naturally to most but few can get up on stage and be funny. These poems look like anyone could’ve written them but you try. Getting end rhymes isn’t so hard; it’s varying the rhythm within a tight metre that’s the bugger and this is, for me, where Aubury excels.

They hold their own against the best and best-loved—comic verse by the likes of [Ogden] Nash or Spike Milligan.

 

If you like the sound of that, you may also be interested to know that you’ll also find Mr Aubury’s work in a shortly-to-be published collection from Viking Press. The Poetry of Sex is a raucous, highly enjoyable anthology by acclaimed poet Sophie Hannah, and features poems from a wide range of authors including Shakespeare and Carol Ann Duffy, not to mention NLP poet and managing editor Luke Wright. As you will read on the Penguin website, Hannah’s selection ranges from ancient Rome to modern New York, from gay to straight, but her principle has been to go low on the sugar and high on the excitement. It’s published on 30th January, just in time for Valentine’s Day! Or a really, really late Christmas present.

A new member of our gang

Poetry fans, it’s a new season (accompanied by the slamming door of Summer leaving), a new term (new books, sharp pencils etc etc), and in that vain, I want to introduce you to a new NLP poet and his new NLP-published book. Not that this poet is new to the poetry scene, far from it. Martin Newell has been a rock musician since the 70s and a poet, author and columnist since the 90s. He’s previously published a dozen collections of verse, two social histories, a collection of his columns and a memoir of his glam rock days.

martin2The Wife of ’55 is Newell’s latest book of verse, and we’re thrilled to be publishing it. Leading the reader down the “laden lanes and ledges” of his beloved Essex and into the thrifty kitchen of his Edwardian grandmother, it’s a series of love-letters to England and Newell’s childhood, and it’s full of his wit and lyricism.

You can read all about Martin on his website and on his author page here on NLP, and then buy The Wife of ’55 here in the NLP shop. Don’t just take my word for it, though. Like Lois Lane (I’m thinking Teri Hatcher, by the way – gotta love a shiny bob), pen poised over my pad, I spoke with Luke Wright (poet, co-founder and managing editor of NLP) to gauge his excitement:

I’m delighted to be publishing Martin Newell. He’s been a huge influence on my work and is truly one of the greatest poets of the last 30 years. He shunned the back-slapping literary world in London and instead chose to write his chippy, often satirical poems from his outpost in the Essex marshes, from where he sends them to newspaper editors who publish them. The thing is, people like Martin Newell’s poetry because he writes about the real world in way people can understand. His words are clear so the reader can see into the heart of his poems. He’s everything Nasty Little Press is about and we’re chuffed to have him in our gang.

Craughing with The General

Like a horse-bound postal rider, poetry fans (I’m watching Pride and Prejudice, I’m sorry), I bring you news of one of our NLP poets, Salena Godden!

salena

If you’ve not been introduced to her before, or discovered her NLP-published pamphlet Under the Pier, let me do the honours. Described variously as ‘The doyenne of the spoken word scene’ (Ian McMillan, BBC Radio 3’s The Verb), ‘The Mae West madam of the salon’ (The Sunday Times) and as ‘everything the Daily Mail is terrified of’ (Kerrang! Magazine), Salena writes and and performs poetry, fiction, memoir, radio drama and lyrics. She is known as The General of the Book Club Boutique, a literary salon in Soho, and has appeared on radio programmes including Woman’s Hour and Saturday Live.

Salena’s latest project, a book called Springfield Road, is being funded and produced by Unbound, an organization that puts the power of publishing in the hands of the authors and readers. You can read her pitch here in full, but here are the highlights:

Springfield Road is a journey into childhood. My childhood, maybe your childhood too. I set out to capture a snapshot of the seventies, a world without health and safety, a time of halfpenny sweets, fish and chips in newspaper, cassette tapes of the Sunday night top ten, scrumping apples and foraging for conkers, through the eyes of my child self.

It is the memoir of our family home on Springfield Road in Hastings, but it is also a memoir of the journey I took writing this book … They haven’t told our story like this before, and I believe it’s about time. This book will make you craugh, cry and laugh at once. When you read it I imagine you will say, Hey! I remember, we did that too! You might say I remember being closer to the ground; I remember riding my bike with my feet off the pedals; I remember summers were longer and how oranges were bigger; I remember struggling to comprehend sex and death, heaven and hell, war and God, and perhaps you’ll say, I remember I missed my dad too. This is my story but I think maybe it’s your story too. With your help and with thanks to Unbound Books this story can finally be shared.

If this has whetted your appetite and you’d like to pledge to this project, please go to Springfield Road’s page on Unbound, where you can also read about the goodies you would also get for your pledged amount.

Do go and read about Salena’s book and pledge if you can; we’re very proud of our NLP poets and want the whole world to know how ace they are!

A Story, A Musical, A Comic

islanders

The Islanders is a story in several parts. It’s the story of teenage couple Amy Mason and Eddie Argos who, in the late 1990s, went on holiday to the Isle of Wight. Thirteen years on, this story was turned into a lo-fi musical at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe starring both Eddie and Amy, with prose by Amy (now a writer and performer), lyrics by Eddie (now the lead singer in Art Brut) and music by award-winning folk musician Jim Moray.

Now, having garnered fantastic reviews including this one from The Skinny and this one from BroadwayBaby, we are delighted to announce that The Islanders has been brought to the page by artist Steve Horry and Nasty Little Press and is available to buy now from the NLP shop.

Far from being the simple re-telling of a teenage holiday, The Islanders is about how we experience and then remember the world around us. As innovative as its stage equivalent, it’s told in prose, in song lyrics, in comic panels and in postcards from Eddie and Amy, addressed back in time to their younger selves, and is already getting great reviews. We are incredibly proud of The Islanders and can’t wait for you all to read it; it’s funny, bittersweet, refreshing and moving.

Orbiting A Rhyming Planet

Last night I went to the cinema to see Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, a black and white movie with a tiny budget which Whedon shot in 12 days at his house with a bunch of his actor friends. If you like Shakespeare comedies, if you like spotting old cast members from Buffy and Firefly, or if you simply want to experience some serious envy at Joss Whedon’s house, this is a movie I would heartily recommend to you.

I do have a point though, poetry fans (As fascinated as I’m sure you are by my thoughts on the week’s movie releases. Next week: Man of Steel– not as good as Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman – DISCUSS). No, my poetry-related point comes from one of the lines from Much Ado that stuck with me as I was walking home yesterday evening in the sunshine. Benedick, attempting to write a sonnet for Beatrice, tries out a bunch of dreadful rhymes and then gives it up, complaining “I was not born under a rhyming planet”.

small-talkI’m dreadful at rhyming. My poetry got a whole bunch better when, at the age of ten, I thought I had invented the concept of blank verse. Turns out I hadn’t, of course, but I’ve never been very good at getting my poems to scan and rhyme as I wanted them to. That’s not to say that I don’t love rhyming, though, and it’s with very great pleasure that I’m able to tell you that NLP are shortly to publish a new pamphlet by the fantastic Mr Nic Aubury. If you’ve not come across Nic’s previous pamphlet Small Talk, you really should. Quite apart from the fact that it sold out of four print runs and was named by Sophie Hannah in the Sunday Express as one of her books of the year, it’s just really, really great.

Cold Soup, published by NLP in July, promises more of the same from our favourite part-time pedant and armchair philosopher. In this pamphlet you will witness Adam and Eve contemplating the walk of shame, you will hear about the ire of the 5’8” man, but you will also read something of the simply beauty in every day family life, all delivered to you in verses that rhyme and scan in a way that will make you want to read them out loud to your nearest and dearest.

our-friendsIn other NLP-related news, I’m really excited to tell you about an upcoming show written, performed and co-produced by NLP poet and playwright Alex Gwyther. Our Friends, The Enemy is Alex’s debut solo show combining theatre and spoken word to capture the events surrounding the Christmas truce from the First World War. Using a mixture of diary entries and third person narrative, Alex takes on the persona of James Boyce, a young soldier from Surrey who experiences the truce first-hand and takes the audience on a magical, haunting journey through the events surrounding the first Christmas of World War One.

Alex with be performing Our Friends, The Enemy in Edinburgh from August 2nd – 24th at theSpace UK @ Surgeon’s Hall, before taking it on tour in December. Find out more here.

Cold Soup by Nic Aubury is available for pre-order here, and Alex’s Nasty Little Intro #4 can be found here on the NLP website.

‘Good evening, we are The Fall’

flierHow do you feel about gramophones, poetry fans? Vinyl? The Fall? Kick-ass poeming? Look no further; I have something for you that brings these four things together in a way that reminds me a little of Avengers: Assemble, only with less mythical hammers and flying.

On Saturday 22nd June, I’m delighted to tell you that Nasty Little Press is hosting a short literary cabaret* on the top floor of Norwich’s Keir Hardie Hall, before our friend DJ78 plays all his old Fall records on the original vinyl.

Reading on the night will be Luke Wright (The Vile Ascent of Lucien Gore And What The People Did), John Osborne (Most People Aren’t That Happy Anyway), Martin Figura (Arthur) and Hattie Grünwald (Nasty Little Intro #6).

And if the promise of all that NLP talent and the mad gramophoning skillz of DJ78 weren’t enough to have you camping outside Keir Hardie Hall tomorrow on garden furniture with thermoses of soup and sleeping bags, here’s something else:

It’s FREE.

Yep, don’t say we don’t treat you good, poetry fans. It all kicks off at 8:00pm and promises to be a fantastic night, so make sure it’s firmly in your diary, or on your calendar, or felt penned on your hand, depending how you roll.

*Am I the only person who, on hearing the words ‘literary cabaret’, imagines books wearing jaunty hats and high-kicking? Oh, just me again. OK then.

Reassuring News from NLP

So I don’t want to upset you, but recently, JLS split up*. And Reese Witherspoon got arrested. And People magazine ran with the headline ‘Suri Cruise Gets Bangs!’ (that’s a fringe, UK readers, in case you were wondering).

Other stuff happened too, of course, but in these crazy, mixed up times, it’s reassuring to know that the sun continues to rise (whether or not we get to see it), E4 continues to show The Big Bang Theory over 50% of the time and over at NLP, high quality poetry books continue to hit the (metaphorical and literal) shelves and continue to garner great reviews.

hattieIn New Pamphlet news, I’m delighted to introduce you to Hattie Grünewald, whose excellent work is showcased in NLP’s sixth Nasty Little Intro. Beginning her career at the age of four with the awesomely named Naughty Teddy, Hattie was Foyle Young Poet of the Year in 2009. She has had her work published in The Independent, YM and Myths of the Near Future, and in 2010 one of her poems was published on London Underground trains as part of the Young Poets on the Underground scheme. She is twenty years old and is currently studying English and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, while watching cooking shows, dressing as a giant boob for charity and running the UEA Feminist Society in her spare time. Hattie’s Nasty Little Intro #6 is available to buy now from the NLP website.

In other NLP-related Good News, Martin Figura’s Arthur was reviewed recently by Sphinx as both ‘honed, concentrated poetry that does a lot, convincingly, in a small space’ and ‘sensitive, sad, and in places arresting.’ Head over here to read the review in full!

As always, you can keep up with NLP here on the website and on our facebook page. Lots of our poets are touring or performing at the moment, very possibly at an arts centre or festival near you. Check out the links to their various websites and blogs on their profile pages.

*Though the TV just told me that they’re going to be doing Deal or No Deal soon. You’re welcome.

Jesus Buys Me Cigarettes is here!

jWe’re very excited to announce the launch Tim Clare’s debut album Jesus Buys Me Cigarettes. A mix of bawdy spoken word, surreal wordplay and sweet, Albarn-esque uke songs Jesus Buys Me Cigarettes is like nothing you will have heard before and proof of why Tim Clare is such a popular live act at arts centres and music festivals.

The album is the perfect accompaniment to Tim’s collection Pub Stuntman which we published last year. Why not get yourself a copy of both? We’ll knock a few quid off if you do.

Pub Stuntman + Jesus Buys Me Cigarettes – £15

New Year gifting and Magical Elves

How’s the Christmas shopping going? Everything wrapped and labelled (I don’t understand you people, I really don’t)? Only just beginning to think about it? How about a poetry book? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, our lovely NLP pamphlets and collections make fantastic presents, and I highly recommend that you take a look around the NLP shop and get your orders in soon.

mostSpeaking of orders, we are shortly to welcome a new addition to the NLP family, in the form of John Osborne’s debut collection Most People Aren’t That Happy, Anyway, which is available for pre-order on the NLP website.

John Osborne is one of NLP’s most published authors, having two pamphlets to his name as well as the above collection. He is also the author of three non-fiction books, is a regular at such festivals as Glastonbury, Latitude and Port Eliot, and enjoyed a sell-out run of his debut show John Peel’s Shed at the Edinburgh Festival.

We are unfortunately unable to guarantee that your copies of People Aren’t That Happy, Anyway will reach you by Christmas, but they will make a beautiful New Years gift to someone special. What do you mean you’ve never heard of the tradition of buying people poetry books as a New Year gift? It’s a thing, poetry fans, honest.

In other news, it’s December 9th, and I’ve already listened to every Christmas song as many times as I need to, which is pretty impressive, seeing as most shops and radio stations observe the unwritten rule of the universe that playing Christmas music before the beginning of December is kind of lame. Quota exceeded in nine days, world. Good work. The only song I’ve not heard too many times appears to be this one. I’m going to make some tea now and watch it again while eating some more Magical Elves. 3 for 50p in the Co-op. I’m just saying.

The worst book ever

Once upon a time, everyone wanted to be the best and was obsessed with doing everything really, really well. Cooking. Dancing. Ice Skating. Singing. Cake Decorating. Being ridiculously good looking. They made TV shows about it, performed to sell-out crowds and wrote books imparting their wisdom to eager readers. How To Make It In The Music Industry. How To Bake Like Paul Hollywood. How To Get Rich Without Really Trying. How To Be The Next Steve Jobs. How To Write An Academy Award Winning Screenplay in Three Weeks.

100In the midst of this, one man stood alone, a lone reed if you will. That lone reed was Joel Stickley, Poet Laureate for Lincolnshire and co-author of the excellent Who Writes This Crap?, a man who realised that the world didn’t need any more people telling them how to do something really well. No. What the world needed, Joel decided, was a book that showed them not now to do something well, but how to do something really, really badly. And so he set out to do this, first in a blog, and then in a book, published this month by Nasty Little Press and available here at the NLP shop.

Featuring both highlights from his blog and newly written material, 100 Ways To Write Badly Well takes the reader on what can only really be described as a Grand Tour of terrible, though sometimes awfully familiar writing. You’ll witness tragic back stories, unlikely plot twists involving dwarves, wildly misappropriated punctuation, inanimate objects with feelings, characters with names involving at least three apostrophes and metaphors so elaborate you need a little sit down afterwards. You’ll have to fight the urge to go check everything you’ve ever written to make sure you haven’t fallen prey to the mixed metaphor or the over-used dangling modifier. You’ll finish reading it a better person, or at least having read two or more parts aloud to someone sitting near you, whether you know them or not.

You probably don’t need convincing, but here, because it makes me laugh, is an excerpt:

Signpost your twists

Agent Sam Glowingly waved a hand at the tangled web of notes on the whiteboard.

‘So,’ he said, ‘we still have no idea who the killer is.’

‘No,’ said McSleet. ‘Unless we can find someone in the monastery who’s able to leap thirty feet off the ground, pass through a stained glass window without breaking it and kill his victim through the power of sheer terror.’

‘Not your average monk,’ observed Glowingly. ‘In fact, it sounds more like one of the legendary fighting monks that reputedly inhabited this very monastery hundreds of years ago, but whose secrets have been lost for generations.’

‘Aye,’ agreed McSleet. ‘But we need to find a real solution, not sit here chit-chatting about ancient history that has nothing to do with the case.’

‘You’re right,’ said Glowingly, getting up from his chair and adjusting his pistol holster. ‘We’ve got no time for idle talk about legends that neither of us has any reason to believe are even true, let alone relevant to our current investigation.’ He consulted his notebook. ‘Where next?’ he asked.

‘We need to interview more potential witnesses,’ said McSleet, fishing a battered pack of cigarettes from his coat pocket. ‘How about Brother Laurence, who’s been studying the ancient manuscripts which sat undisturbed in the monastery vault for centuries and who has also, incidentally, been working out quite a lot recently?’

‘Okay,’ said Glowingly with a shrug. ‘But I think we’re wasting our time.’

Mr Stickley, we’re so pleased to welcome you to the NLP family! This book contains some of the worst writing we’ve ever seen. And we love it.