Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Round up

 End of year round-up.

I started 2021 with an essay about colonialism and hedgehogs, published in The Clearing:

'Everywhere is Now', my graphic poem about war, was picked up by Word City Monthly after I posted it on my blog.

I reviewed Nigel Pantling's It's Not Personal (Smith | Doorstop, 2020) over on Everybody's Reviewing.

My poem ‘Dregs' was published in Neologism Poetry (technically their December issue but I didn’t see it until January):

My story ‘We Are Not Victorians’ was shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Competition and included in their anthology.

My poem ‘Miscarriage’ was published in Writing in a Woman’s Voice.

A selection of my poems made the shortlist out of over a thousand entries in the Disquiet Literary Contest:

My review of Becky Manawatu’s novel Auē was published in The Guardian:

Between the Flags, my first foray in YA novel writing (and the sequel to Some Things the English which was longlisted in the inaugural Michael Gifkins Prize and went on to be shortlisted for the Cinnamon Press Debut Novel Prize and placed second in the Dundee International Book Prize) made it to the longlist of 12 out of over a hundred entries in the Michael Gifkins Unpublished Novel Competition

My debut poetry collection Beerstorming with Charlotte Bronte in New York was published by The Ethel Press:

Nuala O’ Connor – author of acclaimed novel NORA – interviewed me about my debut poetry collection Beerstorming with Charlotte Bronte in New York.

Playwright and lesbian feminist activist Carolyn Gage interviewed me about Beerstorming with Charlotte Bronte in New York:

And novelist and publisher Sylvia Petter penned this creative response to Beerstorming with Charlotte Bronte in New York:

Beerstorming also got a mention on the University of Leicester blog:

I was invited to give a talk bout Mary Taylor, at the Hampden Community Library, and was scheduled to talk at the Oamaru Public Library, and the Victorian Literature Festival, but these talks were unfortunately cancelled due to Covid restrictions. 

I was interviewed three times, by the Oamaru Mail and Otago Daily Times.

And in July I was in the shortlist of seven out of hundreds of entries into the Text Publishing Prize for my debut YA novel Between the Flags.

I reviewed Denise O’ Hagan’s poetry collection The Beating Heart:

Beerstorming was given a brilliant review by Emma Lee:

And my graphic memoir ‘Dance the Night Away’ was published in Overground Underground:

I also did the cover illustration for Robert Sullivan’s poetry collection Tūnui/Comet.

In October I took over as Curator at Janet Frame House:

I taught zine-making workshops at the Forrester Gallery in Oamaru and judged the subsequent competition.

I gave the Subhi Tresa Sebastian Memorial Lecture at Sacred Heart College, Kochi, India.

And here we are in December and I’m mentoring a third year undergrad student for the Hallam Collective at Sheffield Hallam University – more on this soon!

I had a few other things published here and there and I’ve also been working on a novel and a collection of poetry, and I’m pleased to announce that my graphic biography of Mary Taylor, Betweenity, is forthcoming from Mary Egan Publishing.

It’s been a busy year and it’s also been a personally very challenging year. As ever, my work has given me something to focus on and pulled me through, as has reading the work of others. I wish you all much creativity and a happy New Year. Onward and upwards.













Thursday, November 25, 2021

Thursday, October 14, 2021


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

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


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 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



"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!