Friday, 30 July 2010
Circalit And Little Episodes Get Writers to Open Up About Depression With Free Short Story Competition.
Little Episodes is a growing phenomenon in London, hosting events where people can display their art, play music, recite poetry and prose, or perform stand up comedy to raise awareness for depression. They are currently producing the second volume of their anthology series, “An Expression of Depression” where the winning short story will be published. Actress Sadie Frost, a contributor to Little Episodes anthology, said of the project, “I just thought, what a great thing to do, to channel that energy into something positive... I was in and out of hospital for a couple of years. The one thing that kept me alive at that time was writing.”
Lucie Barât, Founder of Little Episodes, commented, “We’re really excited about the idea of doing a peer reviewed competition and we love Circalit’s approach. With Circalit, it’s not just about having a single winner, it’s about getting the public involved by reading submissions and voting for their favourites. Circalit and Little Episodes have the same ethos, we want to give talented artists who haven’t had the break that they deserve a platform from which to make themselves heard and get some exposure. We both hope that this will be a good opportunity to raise awareness for mental health issues through art.”
Kasia Boddy, Senior Lecturer in English Literature at University College London, commented “I think this is a very worthwhile project and I’m glad to be a part of it. This collaboration between Circalit and Little Episodes demonstrates the strengths of the internet as a social and cultural resource with real potential to change lives.”
Circalit, which started life as a site where screenwriters could showcase their work to film studios, has already hosted free competitions with companies such as the BBC and Hollywood producer, Julie Richardson. It’s social networking features make it an invaluable resource for writers looking to make industry contacts and it is integrated with Facebook, giving talented writers the means to spread their wings and go viral across the internet.
Raoul Tawadey, CEO and founder of Circalit, said, “We’re very happy to be working with Little Episodes, who do a fantastic job destigmatizing depression and encouraging self-expression through creativity. We’re proud that Circalit can be used as a platform to bring these issues to life, and we hope to discover some bright new literary talent. This is a great opportunity for writers to gain exposure, so I encourage everyone to read the short stories and vote for your favourites.”
If you are interested in interviewing Raoul Tawadey, CEO of Circalit, or Lucie Barât, founder of Little Episodes, please contact:
Wednesday, 21 July 2010
‘Friends used to say to me, “Marilyn, how do you stay so thin?” I realised that what came naturally to me – utter self-hatred, a cruel and punishing inner voice, deeply ingrained shame and guilt – were attributes others had to strive for. That’s when I started to devise my Lifestyle Programme. At first I worried that making a blessing of my curse would encourage me to feel good about myself, but soon I remembered that any small success is easily countered; for no singular success is ever good enough, and however well I did, I knew I would never truly achieve my imagined potential. So - I can stay thin and help you to get there too!’
This 5-step programme is proven to work! Just try it!*
1. Learn to focus your energy
Learn to focus your energy on parts of yourself you truly hate. Try focusing on a physical defect while looking into the mirror. Dr Marilyn says she used to spend time staring at her left nostril, which is fractionally larger than the right, and is upturned at a greater angle, to enter into the mindset she calls VMD – Voluntary Masochistic Disgust. ‘Once you’re in a state of VMD, bring to mind other areas of your body that force you to recognize just how much work you need to do on yourself to become a person worthy of love, goodness or happiness.’
2. Channel your anger
Anger is self-hatred turned outwards! Don’t go about blaming others for your misfortunes: deep down, you know its all your fault. Stop wasting your time feeling angry about the state of the world. Turn your passionate engagement with climate change, slave labour or the credit crunch into zealous self-loathing and see the pounds drop off!
3. Set your goals
Set yourself some unachievable targets. Add one or two more things to your daily to-do lists and watch yourself fail to get where you want to be! Unfulfilled potential is the mainstay of self-hatred. Go for it! You know you can’t do it.
4. Join a group
Dr Marilyn now has weekly groups running in almost every city. Join us for some group work, where we’ll focus on false modesty, shallow interpretations, back-handed compliments and crushing humiliation. Weigh-ins allow each participant to prove just how badly they’re doing.
5. Buy Dr Marilyn’s books
Dr Marilyn has recently brought out two sequels to her international best-seller How to Hate Yourself Truly and Get Thin Quick. In her book The Self-Hatred Diaries, read stunning testimonials of the Hate Yourself journeys, while the Low Self Worth Bible: Esteem, What Is It Good For? provides hints, tips and a schedule for the loser who wants to be a winner at being a loser.
* The Hate Yourself Thin! Lifestyle Programme can lead to compulsive over-eating and associated weight gain, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, EDNOS, suicidal ideation and mental health difficulties. Consult your doctor if concerned.
Then it was the turn of Heather Phillipson, whose poems lie peacefully between philosophy and the mundane. It seemed that her reverie on stripping between Marlborough road and Archway, and 'say nothing of what I know except what my body announces' were shared by many a listener who wished to do just that. The poem on mashed potatoes, however, didn't quite make it past the music coming from the stages, and many drifted away while I got quite hungry.
In the literature arena, in the meantime, Sebastian Faulks was being introduced. We pop round to have a look and find Faulks exclaiming 'God, I'm prolific!' after mentioning a couple of new books coming out soon. He follows with a few excerpts from Pistache, one of said releases, and then proceeds to answer a couple of questions from the audience: Did he always want to be an author? Yes. Does he work on one project at the time? Yes. Does he ever struggle to write? No, he doesn't believe in writers' block - déjà vu? It seems that he and Bret Easton Ellis agree on this one - 'Respect the bad day,' he says, 'it's God's way of telling you you've got nothing to say.' Faulks has his followers, of course, but they're not many and not very dedicated, however much people parade Latitude as a tame family and old people do, everything points to the opposite, it's a festival for people (young, older and, yeah, with children too) interested in poetry and literature as well as music, but they want it edgy and provocative. Ellis might have been too hung-over to speak or answer any questions, but he packed the tent with stalkers and groupies.
But let's go back to the Poetry Tent, here it was the turn of old Nutshell friend Blake Morrison, introduced as 'the best and most influential poet of the past 30 years', who reads a few favourites as well as some new material, and works the crowd well, picking from a very well stocked bag of tricks a poem made entirely of monosyllables, a poem composed by only 7 rhyming words, and an intense, violent poem about serial killer Peter Sutcliffe. Morrison explains all poems prior to reading and reads them out clearly, passionately, and changing voices and accents, he leaves without Q&A but the crowd loves him anyway.
Monday, 19 July 2010
The mood, in the 'Faraway Forest' is suddenly altered, some trees are covered in luminescent, Avatar-like, strings and ribbons; others are wrapped in pieces of paper, each carrying a different message; some are there to protect the faeries' cruising grounds, where a pair of siamese twin zebras abduct you and take you to cruising spirits who want nothing more than giving you a good time. At every corner, surreal happenings take place on makeshift stages and theatres: a wasted teenager turns out to be a hoola prodigy, shooting her shoes into the distance and whizzing her 7 hoops past a bottle of vodka and discarded items of clothing; a two headed mannequin woman dances the struggle of her two identities away while a gang of horror paramedics tend to random passers-by with bandages and electric charges. Two Roving Unicorns roam the forest calmly as puppeteers animate the tragi/romantic story of Panfilo and Perpetua (courtesy of the woodenfingers theatre), and people cheer to the queer DUCKIE vaudeville and variety acts, including brilliant stripping magician Ursula Martinez, in the warmth of the cabaret tent. Quite like a dream, and better than any cinematic reconstruction of follies, the Faraway Forest masked ball set the night alight. After the shows, people kept dancing - and really engaging with each other! - until closure at 3AM, and even then, not ready for sleep, retired to the campsites to dance some more around bonfires.
Belle and Sebastian might not be the most visually stimulating band, they generally just play standing quite still, as Stuart Murdoch hops about the stage alone, but they compensate well, getting 20 kids from the crowd on stage to dance, playing an improvised Stones cover, and generally relying on the kind of audience who were following them when nobody knew they existed, and just can't believe they're seeing them live, playing 'Fox in the snow', again.
Sunday, 18 July 2010
The same rage accompanied the rest of the set. Alice Glass is well known for her stage antics, with her Smiths '84 tour t-shirt and emo'd up to the nines, she proceeded to beat teenagers with her microphone using a viciousness matched only by the joy of those being assaulted, having recently had the opportunity to grapple her flesh as she surfed above them.
Music needs its heroines and villains, both together is a bonus, it keeps teenage pants warm. However, seeing as we're at 'Latte-tude' I'll have to watch Belle and Sebastian to calm my nerves.
We will blog about the night as soon as the press room reopens, until then, sad times @Latitude.
Saturday, 17 July 2010
Nutshell woke up early today and spent ages queuing for various things before hitting the stages. But hit them we did. And here's what we found:
Reclined like a seal on the pink plastic sofa on the Love Poetry stage you can vaguely make out Mr Porky The Poet. The reason the photo is taken from so far away is that, as you can see, the poetry arena is packed. The reason he resembles a seal is that he is recovering from last night and the 25 balloons of laughing gas that came with it. At least we are all a big happy family, each nursing a great, all-embracing hangover, but, again, I digress. Phill Jupitus starts his set with laughing gas and follows with a Christmas poem, 'Father's Christmas' - just as timely as this month's edition of Vogue, which tells us that it is now time to start buying fur coats again. After revealing to the crowd, 20% kids and 30% parents, that Santa doesn't exist but is in fact a lie of 'I've never had sex with that woman' or 'They have weapons of mass destruction' proportions, Phill Jupitus takes a moment to mention fellow poet Tim Wells 'who is not here, but fucking should be' before moving on to two poems about celebrities. The first one, about Paul McCartney, is preceded by a long anecdote that has the crowd in stitches - man meets celebrity, man makes a fool of himself - and then by the poem itself which is sweet and carried the weight of such an extensive introduction well, the crowd is pleased and makes itself heard. The next poem is about Russell Brand, he introduces it by saying that, when he met him, he was charming, bright, fun, smelt like flowers and ladies, but 'prior to that I thought he was a dick' which, somehow, gets waves of approving cheering and ends the set nicely.
Before him, keeping the tent warm was Tim Cockburn who was sweet in his indie references (Belle and Sebastian and The Working Men's club) and topics, a lot about love and relationships ' No Jennifer, we were never beige,' and a grand finale villanelle about a sticker seen on a microwave at a pub he used to work at which read 'Delayed Erupting Boiling'.
At 2PM it was the turn of Hanif Kureishi reading extracts from The Buddha of Suburbia accompanied by Lola Perrin at the piano - which made it really engaging and atmospheric and in contrast, made the funny moments really stand out. Kureishi has recently re-read The Buddha of Suburbia in preparation to this, and admits that although this is not a biographical novel, he found many biographical and personal references to his family life which weaved themselves into the net of fiction and moved him, unexpectedly. As appropriate to this novel, the questions asked by the crowd were mainly political ones. Of growing up in 60s London he says that it's not like it was a different culture, but that there was no culture whatsoever 'If you went around saying the word 'culture' they'd want to kill you,', and that he became a writer because it was impossible to speak to anyone there. When challenged by someone else in the audience that also came from Bromley, asking why he thought such a cultureless area produced so many talented people through the years, he replied that it has good, quick train access to London. Later, he also ventures in the perilous area of multiculturalism saying 'I used to be interested in multiculturalism, but now I am fed up with it. People are now using it to exclude themselves from what they have in common.' Of Islams he says 'Radical Islam doesn't like books and I write them for a living, so we don't have that much in common.'
Somewhere through the Q&A Kureishi manages to mention his sons' band 'Boycott Mondays', who'll be playing later on. I guess now we know the reason behind his appearance today, thank you guys.
Just after Kureishi, guess who come on stage nursing an evil hangover? Yes, Bret Easton Ellis again. I am not sure I should indulge myself and write more about him here, so I think i'll tweet instead. So long.
Friday, 16 July 2010
A haiku titled something like 'looking out of my back window without my glasses on' rings a bell and goes:
What's that amazing new yellow flower?
Another, touches the pressing problem of lack - or scarcity - of adultery in The Archers. We like!
Thursday, 15 July 2010
The thing about Bret Easton Ellis is that his readers appreciate his work at very different, very personal levels. So last night, at The Guardian Book Club dedicated to American Psycho (that’s right, not his latest novel, Imperial Bedrooms) the atmosphere is electric with anticipation; we’re among real fans, real devotees. When he enters the room and takes a seat on the stage the auditorium is suspended in a ‘should I be clapping / is that really him’ bubble, and only when host John Mullan – UCL professor – introduces him, does everyone start breathing again, breaking into a long, relieved applause.
The evening starts slowly with Mullan’s anecdotal introduction serving as amuse-bouche while Ellis, relaxed in hoodie, jacket and jeans, looks around at the audience, bobbing his head every now and then as if to an inner metronome. When he finally engages, he is funny and generous, he explains how only recently he has been able to admit Patrick Bateman came from a very real place within himself, and represents him much more than the Bret Easton Ellis in
He does have ‘a plan’ he admits, from the increasingly surreal meals running parallel to the increasing violence in American Psycho, to the careful mixing and matching of clothes items found in fashion magazines to create outfits which, ‘if you could see them together would look like jesters.’
With the Q&A Ellis is put to the test. The audience is made of real B.E.E. lovers, each engaging with his work at different levels, and asking rather challenging questions. One woman introduces her question on sexuality with an anecdote of her being caught masturbating while reading American Psycho by her grandmother, who then demanded to read it herself. Another, who ‘studied him’ at university, asked a question she had been wanting to ask since graduating, many years ago.
Faced with literary theory questions, searching the machinations behind his work, he refuses to answer but does so most gracefully, ‘these are all very interesting, very intelligent questions, but I just don’t know the answers.’ He writes because he gets the idea and thinks it would be fun to develop, he says, or to let out strong emotions ‘the world doesn’t necessarily want to hear’, not to anticipate his own literary criticism, to gain status or to compete with himself. He apologises for being disappointing but the audience doesn’t feel that way, proof of it is the amount of hands waving in the air to get the microphone and the long relentless queue to get autographs and photos with their hero – who obliges almost mechanically but with religious dedication.
A hero you won’t be disappointed to meet.
Thursday, 1 July 2010
Savvy host Kat "Duckling" Redstone opened the night with a bang by reading out one of Faye "Nutshell editor" Fornasier's confused, rambling e-mails on the theme of why she started the magazine, a curtain-raiser London legend Tim Wells found so moving he immediately left. Kat made her name in double act 'The Ginger Nuts', one half of which was acrimoniously dropped from the evening's proceedings. For admirers who feel strongly about this, we understand there is a fan page for Will "half a Ginger Nut" Rodgers on Facebook, and a support group. Those of us who were eagerly anticipating one of Will's now famous emotional outbursts, which have entered common parlance as a 'Helena moment', were sorely disappointed. He did attend the event, but, perhaps in protest about being dropped from the billing, declined to wear one of his trademark tiny comedy jumpers.
Ever the professional, Kat "Poopsie" Redstone seemed undismayed by the loss of her former partner, who had been replaced by chirpy Sarah Campbell, a comedian who ran at a similar speed setting to Kat, in direct contrast to the Slow/Fast speed setting of The Ginger Nuts. 'Where is Faye?' Sarah called out, seeking to introduce Nutshell's editor to her public. Well-known for her extroversion, Faye was at the opposite end of the room, kneeling behind the reception desk with her hands over her face, quietly moaning 'Oh God'. She then spent the next few hours scrabbling around on the floor looking for loose change.
Readings were initiated by Poetry Society poet, Paul McGrane, who expressed pleasure at the placement of his work in the magazine. Many of us will appreciate his excitement at finding his poetry next to an interview by esteemed Scottish-surnamed writer Ian McLachlan.
During one emotional musical interlude provided by Trent Miller, Faye Fornasier and Kat "Wolfie" Redstone, both semi-professional dancers, spontaneously improvised a beautiful piece of choreography known as the Squirrel Dance (shown here), a perfect counterpoint to the melancholy charm of Miller's music. We hope to be opening the launch of Nutshell 3 with a synchronised performance of the Squirrel Dance.
Many members of our audience were avidly awaiting the arrival of Alex (né Alexander) Eisenthal on stage, who was billed to appear at the Nutshell 1 launch, but, owing to the hectic schedule of his student lifestyle was, we understand, unable to make it out of bed. He was here this time though, now with a top Cambridge First, and carrying a thick wad of papers many at first took to be his doctoral thesis. Eleven pages in, we concluded it might well be. If few audience members understood a word of his poem, I can only say Alex has a beautiful geeky reading voice and my maternal bosom was heaving with pride throughout. He is off to live in France now. Who will prepare his packed lunches for him there?
Rounding the night off was blues master John Drain. Eschewing audience requests for Madonna, perhaps owing to the musical complexity of that artist's work, he settled instead for safe covers of such Robert Johnson strum-along faves as Crossroads. 'Could you play the drums as well?' an audience member called out at one point, referring to John's multi-faceted use of vocals, super-fast hands and foot-stomping.
At this point I feel I should say that, despite appearances to the contrary, John Drain has not been technologically augmented in order to conduct his multi-faceted performance, and that the telescopic, x-ray and infrared facility in his left eye is entirely natural. The interjection made by our audience member was nonetheless a useful reminder to all performers that you can never have too many components in your performance, and, in fact, I aim to be adding new elements to my own guitar routine with the aid of some prosthetic limbs and a jiffy bag.
This time, Faye Fornasier did not take to the stage at the end of the evening to make a speech, something many of the audience had prepared for by bringing ear mufflers. 'Look, I've found some more money for Nutshell,' she did announce to her fellow editors though, rising from nearly three-hours-worth of floor-scrabbling and confidently dropping 7p into the cash box. With rich findings such as these we may even be paying our contributors in Nutshell 3.