Thursday, October 14, 2021

Curator

I'm honoured to be stepping into the shoes of Lynley Caldwell as I take over as Curator of Janet Frame House in Oamaru, hometown of New Zealand's most successful writer. 

Janet Frame House is open to the public from November to April - I look forward to meeting people who are as enthusiastic about Frame's fiction as I am. 


Zine workshops


I've spent all this week teaching zine-making workshops at the Forrester Gallery, Oamaru, with some amazing attendees to inspire me, not to mention the fantastic artworks on display all around the building. 

Although I won't be teaching next week, members of the public of all ages are still welcome to use the zine-making station to create an entry for the competition (I'll be judging) before the October 25 deadline.

Alternatively, stop by and collect an instruction form and make a zine at home in your own time and drop it back at the gallery before the 25th for a chance to win a $50 book voucher. 

Many thanks to Elizabeth King and Forrester Gallery for facilitating the event.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

On the page

I didn't stop to think how my friend would feel to be the subject of a book of poetry about friendship. I got so caught up in wanting to show her how much I appreciate and love her. I trusted she'd be OK with me being me. But I should have asked. In her own words, Lori wrote about how it feels to be put on the
page.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Beerstorming review

"Rachel Fenton’s Charlotte Brontë is the best friend anyone could want: someone who is there, who doesn’t judge and understands the drive to write [...] someone you can run seemingly-daft ideas past and get useful replies. Someone to share a beer with."

Many thanks to writer Emma Lee for taking the time and care to read Beerstorming with Charlotte Bronte in New York, and for writing this smashing review here


Sunday, September 26, 2021

Overground underground

Big thanks to Overground Underground for making my graphic memoir 'Dance the Night Away' free to read along with some wonderful works from other writers in their inaugural issue, which you can read here (scroll to p58 on the site bar, p52 on the magazine itself for my Comic).

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The beating heart


One of the downsides of lockdown for me has been a reduced appetite for reading for pleasure. An inability to concentrate for long. My way around this has been to read things I can dip in and out of, which means that besides reading a page or two of a novel at bedtime, I've been mostly reading poetry and short stories, and even then only things that manage to really snare my heart have lasted the course.  This brings me to the book I want to tell you about today.

The Beating Heart, by Denise O' Hagan (Ginninderra Press)

I stayed in bed in the morning to finish reading the poems in The Beating Heart before my household dragged me into the loud day. There is a gentleness to the poetry in this collection that rewards the reader for a few moments of silence in which to savour them, such as in 'What was' - the simple ritual of coffee opening the memory’s shutters; the way O' Hagan evokes past times rich and fluidly and with the ease of pouring a cup, and now I am tied to this poem of hers – her memories – through the shared act of sipping coffee; such a wonderful way to bring readers into the heart of her poems, a heart that filled me with wonder and at times aching sadness, such as in ‘Recalling Sarah’, ‘A stain the shape of Italy’, and ‘Mary, Mary, quite contrary’ that with its similarly deceptively simple nursery rhyme chime tapped into the child’s vulnerability in all of us, so that when I read “your too eager embrace of people/who used you and bruised you and left you alone?”, I felt urged to reach into the past to help then at loss because of course the past is the past and what’s in it can be no more retrieved than the suitcases left “fully intending to retrieve them”. The way O' Hagan's poems intersect like the Italian streets from her childhood, containing a lifetime’s worth of things to puzzle and discover, is a marvel to me. I loved, too, her exploration of the gaze in ‘Old man’s eyes’, and that, perhaps, is my favourite. 

I highly recommend this collection.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Nuala O'Connor interview


I've loved Nuala O' Connor's writing since first encountering her through blogging way back in 2009. She helped me get my first flash published and has been a steadfast supporter of my work since. I was thrilled to stupidity to meet her in real life in 2018, and her star has risen and risen, so I'm absolutely chuffed she's interviewed me about Beerstorming with Charlotte Brontë in New York as part of her 'Writers at Work' series on her website at a time when her acclaimed biographical novel NORA is taking critics by storm.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Petter pending


Perhaps the best compliment a writer can receive is that their work inspires that of another. The author of the fictionalised memoir All the Beautiful Liars, Sylvia Petter, has written this creative non-fiction response to Beerstorming with Charlotte Brontë in New York, and she's got another response pending publication.

Gage interview

Picture 

The Berg Collection Reading Room at New York Public Library. 

 

June is Pride Month! So happy that radical lesbian playwright, actor and activist Carolyn Gage interviewed me about my debut poetry pamphlet Beerstorming with Charlotte Brontë in New York, and we also talked about Betweenity, my graphic biography of Mary Taylor, and so much more.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Beerstorming

 

beerstorming cover.jpg 

It's publication day - my debut poetry chapbook is here! 

My grandest thanks go to my brilliant publisher Sara Lefsyk of The Ethel Zine and Micro Press for making this dream of mine come true! Sitting up all night on the settee with a two month old on my breast when I submitted my poems, publication seemed as elusive as sleep. I'm forever grateful to Sara for bringing my chapbook into the world.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

YA listing

Could not be more stoked to have the news that the YA novel I wrote over lockdown last year made the long-list of 12 out of over a hundred entries for the Michael Gifkins Unpublished Novel Competition. It's my second time in this position, having also had Some Things the English, the novel that placed second in the Dundee International Book Prize, in the long-list in the inaugural comp.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Disquiet

 

"Thank you for submitting to the 2021 Disquiet Literary Contest. We received over a thousand entries for this year's contest, many of them of exceptional quality. While we're sorry to say that your entry was not selected to be one of this year's winners, you should know that out of an impressive pool of work, yours made it all the way to the final judges on the shortlist.
In fact, our readers thought your entry skillfully wields the simplicity of its images to make for a vivid, enveloping reading experience. Rather than stretching language through syntactical feats, you trust the humble sentence to relay meaning in a way that is effective and clear. The world exists in your poems from the first line. The pacing [...] is emblematic of what these poems manage to do: make us feel, in transit, that we’ve found some stillness. We hope to see much more of your work in the future."
Fairly stoked to receive this feedback on top of my shortlisting! 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Bath bonus

I'm stoked to have a story included in the longlist of the Bath Flash Fiction Award, a bonus of which being that it will also be included in the anthology. My thanks to the judges.

Miscarriage

Many thanks to Beate Sigriddaughter, for including my poem 'Miscarriage' in Writing in a Woman's Voice.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Everywhere is

Stoked that my graphic non-fiction 'Everywhere is Now' has been picked up by WordCity Monthly. My thanks to the Editors.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

On entering

 I'm absolutely thrilled that an essay I wrote back in April, during NZ's lockdown, is published on The Clearing today. Ostensibly about hedgehogs' colonial history, it also includes a mention of my darling rabbit Thunderstorm, who was tragically killed by stray dogs in October, so it brought back some bittersweet memories. I've long admired The Clearing and enjoyed the essays in particular. My sincere thanks, therefore, to Jon Woolcott and Little Toller Books for helping me realise a little writing dream of mine. You can read 'On Entering the Wrong Carriage' here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Everywhere is now


 
In 2018, I was commissioned to write a Comic about war. The editor ended up being replaced and my piece didn't see the light of day, so I'm publishing it here because it seems pertinent to the current period. It was after all written in response to Trump. I had been in America for the first weeks of Trump's inauguration in 2017, researching my Mary Taylor biography, and saw first hand the women's marches protesting against his presidency and the clap-back of MAGA advertisements on TV. 

 

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

It's not agatha christie

Thanks to Dr Jonathan Taylor for including my review of Nigel Pantling's It's Not Personal (Smith | Doorstop, 2020) over on Everybody's Reviewing, not least because I got to indulge my love of mystery writing. If you want to know what Miss Marple has to do with Hannah Gadsby, you may only find it in this review!

Friday, January 1, 2021

Dregs

 



My thanks to Editor Christopher Fields for including my 'Dregs' at the end of this thoughtfully curated issue of Neologism Poetry, technically the last of 2020 spilling into the new year.