Circle of Missé

I’ve recently returned from a week in a writing retreat, the Circle of Missé in France. Having a full time job means I only get to write in the evenings, or on days off, but spending a week in Missé meant I got to live as a fulltime writer, if only for a short time.

Misse House Landscape

The owners, Wayne and Aaron take wonderful care of their guests, arranging fantastic meals and ensuring we’re all well fed and watered and have as relaxing an atmosphere imaginable to concentrate on our work, it’s a truly magical place.

It’s wonderful to spend time with other writers too; on my time there we had myself, two from the UK (one bringing along her husband who assisted enthusiastically in the kitchen), one from Canada and one from Luxembourg. Each of us working on different projects at different stages of development, but it was great to all share ideas and hear each other read at the end of the week.

Far from isolating ourselves in our rooms, slaving over our keyboards, we would spend each evening together chatting over the delicious dinners, we had a book club night on the first Monday (none of us liked the book, which was a relief), and a movie night. I’d only ever seen Some Like It Hot in pieces before, never all the way through in one go, so another reason to celebrate my week in Missé. We also visited a local château, the Château d’Oirion, which was donated to the state and is now an art gallery (and without realising it at the time my visit there has given me the kernel of an idea for a novel, so something to keep working on).

Colm at Oirion

Needless to say I shall return. Before going my friend, the writer June Caldwell had told me that when I went there once I would never want to go to any other retreat, and I know what she means. At this point I’m just waiting to book a week there again next year.

 

https://www.circleofmisse.com/

 

Beckett Speaks!

Like the famous headline “Garbo Speaks” this feels almost as exciting, and as special, to me anyway.

Those who know me know how much the works of Samuel Beckett mean to me. His work is a constant inspiration. Granted, it’s like a molehill being inspired by a mountain, but I’m not sure there’s ever been a writer whose work has me in such a consistent state of awe.

Anyone who follows me on Twitter will see a regular stream of Beckett related material tweeted and retweeted, so naturally when I saw a radio documentary on BBC about his work and archive in the University of Reading I liked and retweeted early in the day with the aim of listening to it later that day.

Enjoyable as the documentary is, narrated by Robert McCrum, with contributions from such luminaries as James Knowlson, Billie Whitelaw, Edna O’Brien, Tom Stoppard and Lisa Dwan, among others, the real peak for me was getting to hear a recording of Beckett, not only speaking, but reciting a part of his work Lessness.

As is well known Samuel Beckett was not a writer enamouured with any form of celebrity, and interviews and recordings of him are rare, so hearing him speak was more than a pleasant surprise.

I will confess that hearing him read from his own work, tapping a table with the end of a pencil as he spoke to ensure the listener would find the rhythm in the piece, left me quite emotional. I’ve listened to that part of the documentary again and again since, and it doesn’t lose its power.

I’ve no idea how long such radio documentaries stay up on the BBC website, so all I can do is implore you to listen. The documentary as a whole is fascinating, not only to hear about the Beckett archive, and from those who worked with him and knew him, but to get the rare opportunity to hear him speak (from approximately the 42 minute mark) adds so much more.

 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0007k9b

 

 

Fallow Media

I’m absolutely delighted to have a short story To Here Knows When published on the Fallow Media website.

To Here Knows When Cover pic 27-05-19

https://fallowmedia.com/2019/may/to-here-knows-when/

 

If anyone hasn’t seen this site before they really do an amazing job putting the pieces together, editing, and adding images to show them off at their best, and I’m so happy my own piece was selected.

 

swallows-5

 

The site itself is run bun by the hugely talented Ian Maleney who, in addition to all of the work he puts into the site, has recently published his first collection of essays with Tramp Press to huge acclaim, available, as they always say, in any good bookstore, or order directly from;

Minor Monuments

I do hope you’ll read, and enjoy, my story, and take some time to look at some of the other delights on Fallow Media (as a final request I would also ask those who can to become patrons of the site, ensuring not only that it can continue, but that the writers and creators can be rewarded in some small way for all of the efforts they put in).

 

Thank you,

 

Colm.

This – an update

I’m actually a little surprised how long it’s been since last updating this blog. I suppose I’ve been using the blog to provide updates on what I’ve been doing, pieces accepted and published, readings and events, the usual currency of an evolving writer, and as the last twelve months haven’t been particularly successful in any of these spheres there seemed to be little need to provide an update, unless in a Beckettian way of nothing happening, again.

If I was of a mind I might use this space to complain, yet again, about the journals and publishers who don’t respond to submissions, as there surely has to be a special circle of hell reserved for them, but I’ll leave that for another day when I’m feeling less generous and really feel like sticking the fucking knife in.

It’s not that I haven’t been busy, in the gap between this and my last post. Looking at the short stories I’ve amassed I initially started to put them together into a collection which I could submit. I remember speaking to a poet friend who told me about the great level of thought she gives in putting different pieces together, considering where they fit in the grand scheme of the collection, and in relation to the pieces that come before, and after.

Assembling the collection I became aware that many of the pieces were so closely connected that they really had to be considered together, but just putting them together as a traditional short story collection wouldn’t necessarily work. I could see not only thematic similarities, but even a sense that the pieces were telling the same story, but from different angles.

Unhappy with the idea of a short story collection, with these pieces, I decided to, essentially, take them each apart, shuffle them together, and put them all back together into one longer piece. What I’m now left with is what I’m calling an experimental auto fiction novel, called “This”.

I’ve taken my cues from writers who inspire me, such as Beckett, Marguerite Duras and Joanna Walsh, and the structure of ‘The Unfortunates’, by BS Johnson (with a nod towards the structure of the musical composition ‘In C’ by Terry Riley). Essentially, I picture the book as an attempt by the protagonist(s) to escape time, that is, lives and events that are limited by external factors, specifically time. So in essence the pieces that make up the book occur one on top of the other. They, hopefully, blend into a whole that will say more by the experience of reading it than any traditional form of narrative or novel writing could.

I know I’ve moved away now from my idea of becoming a crime writer. While I still love the world of noir (the true world of noir, not the use of that term to smear over anything vaguely shadowy or stylised), my writing has become more experimental, but I’m happier with it as it is. I know I may be moving away from forms that may have been more popular, or of interest to a wider audience, but I have to be true to myself, and what I’ve put together as “This” is as true a book as could ever hope for.

Of course now I take my new little book, still raw and mewling, and hop aboard the Beckettian funfair ride that is the world of submissions.

Ah well.

Art & Writing

My friend, the hugely talented artist Anja Von Kalinowski, recently asked me to write some text to accompany some of her work which is now included in the Baby Forest online gallery. The work has now gone up online and can be found here;

https://babyforest.co/pages/3040

I was delighted to write something for her, and I’m equally delighted that my words should be included along with such stunning work.

The work itself is based around a photograph of a patient in a psychiatric hospital in the nineteenth century, but if you get a chance you should have a look at the rest of her work, and indeed all the other members of the Baby Forest colony.

 

 

On a muggy night in Soho

 

On Monday gorse launched the first of their gorse editions, a poetry collection, Subcritical Tests, by Ailbhe Darcy and Stephen J Fowler,  in the basement of The Sun and Thirteen Cantons, in Soho, London.

As a precursor to the launch there was a short showcase of gorse with readings from three writers who have been published in the journal, myself, Niven Govinden and Susana Medina.

Colm gorse London reading

It was a really enjoyable evening, and it was great to see so many people come out for a literary event on a Monday night, especially an event organised by a journal who had never held an event in London before.

I’m always delighted to be a small part of anything gorse does, and especially at the launch of their first book, and a very beautiful book it is too.

My reading was recorded, and can be watched here.

I hope you like it.

Reading in London with gorse

This coming Monday, 10th July, gorse will be launching Subcritical Tests their first poetry collection, by Ailbhe Darcy and SJ Fowler.

As part of the launch there will be a short showcase of writers who have appeared in gorse and I’m really proud to have been asked to read.

If any of you are in London on Monday do please drop by, listen to the readings, have a good time, and maybe buy a book.

A Monday night in a bar in Soho, what could possibly go wrong!!

gorse London launch

(and as a quick note, the notice for the event is a great opportunity to see all of the gorse covers in one place, all designed by the brilliant Niall McCormack, aren’t they superb!!)