Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Nightjar Press at Verbose

Verbose is a live literature night held on the fourth Monday of every month at Fallow Cafe in Fallowfield, South Manchester. Reappearing in a new incarnation in January with host Sarah-Clare Conlon, it showcases literary collectives and independent publishers along with open mic sessions, and is proving to be a significant literary hang-out event, packed to the gills each time I've been there, with people standing, and even sitting on the stairs up to the room where the event is held. May's event featured Nicholas Royle's Nightjar Press through which he publishes an impressive series of single-story chapbooks, a vibrant evening when the readers were Nick himself, Nightjar contributor and Booker-shortlisted Alison Moore, and poet and short-story writer Kate Woodward. As the editor also of the Best British Short Stories series (Salt) and a university teacher, Nick is concerned with a wide range of short-story writing, but the focus of Nightjar is the uncanny, the unnerving and the surreal, which the evening splendidly provided. Nick read one of his signature bird-themed stories in which a new relationship turns distinctly sinister; Alison Moore read a story from her Salt collection, The Pre-War House and Other Stories, in which a second-person, present-tense narration which seems at first to be the thoughts of a lone woman running turns out to be something much more horrifying; and Kate Woodward read a story which made everyone laugh, but whose narrator, it is gradually revealed, is by no means in a happy situation or indeed of this world. The open mic was pretty good, too.

 The night was also the first outing for Nightjar's two new releases: a new story by Alison, and another by Tom Fletcher, also a previous Nightjar contributor. Tom Fletcher's 'The Home' is a nightmarish dream state in which a man helplessly watches his wife on a TV screen stumbling and lost in a barren moon-like landscape and pursued by a terrifying but unknown being, a story steeped in Fletcher's characteristic atmosphere of unease and longing and dread. Alison Moore's 'The Harvestman' has a contrasting tone. Told in her measured and lucidly imagistic stye, it concerns a lone young lad who has newly left home for a seaside town, and is a story about fear, and the way that fear can pull danger down towards itself - which, in spite of the coolness of the style, imbues the story with impending doom.

Next month's Verbose is on 22nd June, and features the Manchester-based experimental poetry reading series, The Other Room, with James Davies, Tom Jenks and Scott Thurston. 7.30 - but get there early if you want a seat! Visit the Verbose website to sign up for the open mic.

Nightjar chapbooks are published in signed, limited editions. They are available here.

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