Sunday 27 August 2023

Stephen Hammond

I was a literary co-executor for a friend, Stephen Hammond. He didn't use e-mail or the web as far as I know. Now, thanks to his brother, he has a posthumous web site - and his "Selected Stories" are on Amazon. His brother John wrote "The stories are humorous and entertaining, sometimes biting social satire taking on fairy tales, children's thrilling adventures, recent alternative history and fantasy."

I think Terry Gilliam (Monty Python) might be another point of reference. I've seen 2 books which reminded me rather of Steve's stuff -

  • Spaghetti Fiction (Phil Doran) - very "small press". Disappeared without trace I think. There are many passages that Steve could have written - e.g. "Sergeant, pull over into The Eagle. I need a pint of beer, not to mention a decent bloody writer with a plot and a purpose in mind other than this bloody awful post-modernist drivel with deliberate withholding of meaning instead of properly thought out structure", etc
  • Mostly hero (Anna Burns). Published by Faber, but only after the author had successfully published something more conventional - "It is a rather curious post-modern subversion of fairytale and comic-book storytelling."

Tuesday 15 August 2023

Flash Fiction trends

Since attending the Flash Fiction Festival I've had a chance to read the books I bought there, and to think about the state of UK Flash. Among those at the conference were people who've helped to promote and popularise Flash. I think they're doing a good job. I feel that Flash is expanding its scope and that influences/sub-genres are being clarified.

Last year at the festival I felt that I could identify some people who had clearly come from the poetry side, and people who had previously written short stories. At this festival there was more explicit recognition of these two directions, with workshops looking at the influence of poetry on Flash, etc. Anecdotes are at one end of a spectrum whose other end might be the prose-poem or formalist prose.

This year I talked to more scientists/programmers than I did last year, and Tania Hershman was one of the speakers. Maybe that's another influence that's making inroads.

The Novella-in-Flash (NiF) has been around for a while. This year it's really taken off. I've not read one yet. Michael Loveday was at the festival. His craft guide "Unlocking the Novella-in-Flash: from Blank Page to Finished Manuscript" came out last year.

The best book I bought was Christopher Allen's "Other household toxins". I wouldn't recommend it to novel readers, or even short story readers.

Sunday 6 August 2023

CB1 is back!

CB1, Cambridge's live poetry gathering, has returned at a new venue - the Town and Gown in the city centre (where the Arts Cinema used to be). Over 30 people were there, and there's room for more. No guest poet this time - it was all open mic, with no shortage of people willing to perform.

Perhaps this is what people really want - a place where once a month they can perform for free, free of criticism, with a chance to have a drink and a chat afterwards with like-minded people.

Maybe guest poets put people off - why pay to listen to someone you don't much like and who uses up valuable open mic time? Open mic evenings are easier to organise too, I should think.

The room is goth/cellar style with a glitter-ball, which is becoming rather standard for poetry venues. I like it. My only worry is that there aren't enough chances to chat (i.e. exchange poetry information) with people. Open mic evenings are all very well, but they don't have the edge (or quality control) that Slam Competitions do.