Tuesday, January 24, 2012
New Libertines at Afflecks
Eight Cuts Gallery impresario Dan Holloway, in association with the dynamic women behind the great book site For Books' Sake, it was held in the Three Minute Theatre in Manchester's Afflecks Arcade. I hadn't been in the venue before - it's been there about seven or eight months, I think: it's cosy and informal and even a bit mad, with not only some raked seating but also stools and tables and cushions for sitting along the sides and some easy chairs, and weird and wonderful decorations on the walls and ceiling, a little bar in the corner as you come in and a toilet at the side of the stage! I wish I'd taken more photos of it than the single one above of the stage. [Edited in: Here are some pics.] The audience who packed the place was a lovely one, and the atmosphere was warm and friendly. Loads to laugh at in the readings, and loads to think about, and a wealth of performance talent - in the open mic as well as in the scheduled spots. Paul Askew got everyone in a hilarious mood, as much with his mordant delivery as with his vivid, off-beat and surreal poems, one of which featured a talking crow; Rachel Genn read a funny but touching section from her novel The Cure in which the male protagonist negotiates a swimming-bath date with ill-fitting swimming shorts; Sarah-Clare Conlon had people in stitches with her extremely smutty flash fictions, and Sian Rathore's poems had us all hooting and delighted by their in-your-face exuberance. Laura Jarratt's extract from her forthcoming YA novel Skin Deep, which starts with a car crash, was vividly harrowing. Claire Robertson, who works across various media including calligraphy gave us some true performance art which featured a beautiful hand-made scroll and referenced her own current advanced pregnancy. Michael Stewart decided not to read from his clever and moving novel, Not-the-Booker-winning King Crow, and instead read some thought-provoking poems from a project on Couples on which he's working. I read from my short story 'Condensed Metaphysics', the first story in Balancing on the Edge of the World. Dan Holloway was a brilliant compere, and his own poems were tough and moving. A great open mic session, too, in which poet, prose writer and Manchester blogger Fat Roland took part.
I really couldn't believe, when the evening finally wound down, that it was already ten-forty-five!