Submissions for Edgewords Renewal Anthology

The deadline for Edgewords Renewal Anthology draws closer, next week in fact, so please do get your finger out and send us your wonderful SHORT fictions and poems. There is a word limit of 300 words or 30 lines – details are on the Edge Cafe website – here.

The new anthology is edited by Munizha Ahmad-Cooke, Lisa Evans and Jean Dark. We have had several very wonderful submissions already, and the 19th September deadline is now looming. We are still waiting for you to send us YOUR contribution.

We recently recorded Munizha’s beautiful piece -Ripe – which appeared in the first Edgewords Anthology, you can listen to our reading of it here.  It was recorded a few week ago at Lisa’s, in the home studio she shares with her partner Colin. So many thanks to Colin for making the recording, we had such a lovely afternoon!

Follow this link to send your submissions to us – Edgewords Renewal Anthology

The Edgeworders. by Victor Manuel-Ibanez for Oblique Arts. 2017.

The Edgeworders. by Victor Manuel-Ibanez for Oblique Arts. 2017.

The first Edgewords Anthology was published last year, and came about through a series of Creative Writing workshops during September and October 2017. We were lucky to have the support of Oblique Arts, The Edge Cafe and Cambridge City Council who made the project possible.

Here is a photograph of the writing group by Victor. I think we look like a rock band! In fact, we are pausing during a workshop, at The Mayan Pyramid near Snakey Path on a writing expedition to Cherry Hinton Hall.

 

Edgewords Renewal Anthology Submission Form

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New to The Skull Collection

Jonny’s Skull.

This beauty used to sit on Jonny Marvel’s mantlepiece, in the Upstairs Lounge at Chalmers Gardens (Top Manor).

Jonny's Skull

Jonny’s Skull. Lifesized soapstone skulll with glass marble eye socket. Sculpture by Jonny Marvel, collected by Dan Cooper. Donated July 2018.

I knew of Jonny from the chaotic cavortings of Theatre Ov Thee Absurd days, and often went down to the old Boatrace to gawp at the shenanigans. I got to know and love Jonny better years later (2004) when we worked together at Libra Aries Alternative Bookshop on Mill Road, lots of cups of tea and hilarious conversations later, the council offered me a flat a few doors away from Top Manor. That’s when we began working together on the sadly-unfinished Sex Toy Library spoken word and soundscape Project.

I must have stared into the skull’s beady glass eye for over a decade of hanging out at Jonny’s. It was just one of many wonders and splendours Jonny kept around his flat.

But the skull always caught my eye. It eyed me, and I eyed it. But we never really saw each other clearly until very recently when  Dan Cooper brought it over to me during the clearance of Jonny’s flat. I had always thought it was grey-ish, Jonny’s lighting style was always atmospheric. But when I saw it in broad daylight I was astonished to see it was almost white. It was to be donated to my Skull Collection, and hopefully exhibited at The Edge Cafe in December, when they are hosting a retrospective of Jonny’s artwork for a month.

I was sad to see it had lost it’s beady eye, but ADie HiDef donated some marbles, so with the help of Toby Ilsley and some blu-tac, Jonny’s Skull may soon be entire again.

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Jonny Trilogy Part Three

A Last Poem For Jonny

Jonny Marvel's Head by Toby Ilsley 2018

Jonny Marvel’s Head by Toby Ilsley 2018

This is a room hung with grief
Swags of bombazine and
Weeping weeds wilting
Sick with perfume
There are no selfies
Nothing of us close friends sitting
Talking laughing weeping
Talking furiously to keep the madness
On the other side of the door
This is the place of the end
Doors curtained off
With dust-pleated damask
No social media here
Just straight talking
And jags of silence
So there’s nothing to show
for those times of grace
nothing to offer
to the land of Instagram
nothing to show
but I don’t want to leave here now
don’t want it to be
time to go now

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On Turning 55

Here’s my birthday poem, which I performed at the Edgewords Open Mic on saturday.
ENJOY!

Cat Woman by Toby Ilsley 2016

Cat Woman
by Toby Ilsley 2016

I am that old lady
Your parents warned you
Not to become
I am Cat Lady
Old Lady
Spinster
Childless
Bookish
No filter
Not silent
Not schtumm
Ha Ha Ha!

I am that old lady
Alone and cat-ridden
Silently scribbling in the night

I am that old lady
Your parents warned you
Not to become
I am Cat Lady
Old Lady
Spinster
Childless
Bookish
No filter
Not silent
Not schtumm
Ha Ha Ha!

Dream Damaged

I have just posted up my first attempt at a Youtube video.
Dream Damaged

Derelict Elm 14

 

 

The text is one that I’ve had knocking around for sometime. It’s one that I used extensively when working with Jonny Marvel on Thee Sex Toy Library Experiments during 2015 to 2017. I have reused the text here with sounds, samples and support from Eli Saxman and Shakey Navel-Bones. The images are of a supposed derelict Elm in Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge. June 2018.

 

 

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The Jonny Trilogy. Part Two

Last Night

The King of Mill Road - by Souffle Washboard

The King of Mill Road – by Souffle Washboard

We didn’t go to the big tribute party in the pub,
We stayed behind
I didn’t feel like consoling those who’d just found out
Who were realising for the first time
That they’d never watch him drunk-boogie again
Who noticed his absence
Because Jonny wasn’t there anymore, to buy them another pint.

Like my gran-dad on hearing of the death
Of his friend in Finchley – Old Bootsy.
Finchley was country in them days
and Bootsy had a small orchard in his back yard.
Gran-dad sat down in his chair
Rolled himself an Old Holborn
And puffing away said
“Well! Bang goes me cooking apples”

We stayed behind
And went down to the Charmers Garden
We built a fire and sat in starlight
Nobody wept, uncontrollably, theatrically
We laughed, and groaned and rolled our eyes
And fell silent one by one.
In the silence Jonny gently sang Sea Song in my head.
But Jonny wasn’t there anymore, to see the wink of shooting stars.

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Jonny Marvel 1968 – 2018

Today I wrote this for Jonny.

Meerkat with Binoculars - 2018

Meerkat with Binoculars – 2018

Dammit Jonny…
Sitting in unbearable still, lamental and heartbroken,
I recall the sound of Jonny laughing,
The black sheep love child of Sid James…
And Mutley – QiQiQi!
Then I remember the broken legged meerkat
with binoculars left anonymously by my gate.

Dammit Jonny…

Searching for old photographs,
I come across a carrier bag
Of Jonny’s books, borrowed the other christmas
And I can’t bear to look at them for grief.
I turn away and drink more coffee.
Then I remember his jibe
about the coincidence of my menopause
and the break up of my marriage.

Dammit Jonny…

The only two photos of Jonny I can find
Were taken at my wedding picnic
Taken at the same time, consecutively even.
KT, Jonny, Marc Vaubert de Chantilly, Pat, Kat and Jesus.
Jonny’s looking overheated, chill in the July heat
A scarf, or sarong, or pashmina-thing,
He’d know what to call it,
Slung nonchalantly around his shoulders.
In the sunset gleam his skin shines like porcelain,
He looks fragile.

I wish I had a photo of him, ten years later,
Rotund and hale with ill-health, serenading
A whole drunken Strawberry Fair Benefit in The Dev,
With That Robert Wyatt song, acapella.
And I weep into the washing up.
Dammit Jonny…
I love you.

 

Liminal Phases at CB1 Cafe. Temporary Temple Promotions 2015

Up til now I have been lost for words at Jonny’s sudden death. Finally I have managed to write this poem. Jonny and I were not always on good terms in recent months. I felt wounded and raw when I heard of his death, and confused. I have been looking at Jonny’s Diary of a Foolish Man site, which Jill Eastland had set up in 2013. Jonny and I worked together on content for the website during 2015 and 2016. All we managed was to upload  photographs, and set up links to recordings, of his Awkward Instant performance with Justyna Latoch and Vapour at ReWorks Outer Music festival in 2012.

Check out the links below

Jonny’s website

Ady Panic’s poem

Liminal Phases

That Robert Wyatt song

Bella Basura at Scarecrow Corner

 

This Saturday is Strawberry Fair, the longest running free festival in Britain.
Many years ago Scarecrow Corner used to be called The Green Area, but had to change it’s name in 2012 when the whole fair went green. it’s still over in the far left corner by the river and aside from some hippy trappings – The Peace Labyrinth, Body-Art Mike’s tipi and The Tree Circle – it’s now a writhing mass of Cambridge’s finest Punk offerings. I am on at 2pm, just a short 15 minute set of classic Basura-isms.

Hope to see you there!

Up The Punx!

 

 

Ten Films – Citizen Kane

(Directed by Orson Welles 1941)
I have watched this film many times and there are many reasons why this film makes me weep.
I first came across it as a student while studying for an MA in Film Theory at the then Polytechnic of Central London  based in Soho. Citizen Kane formed the backbone of a module on Auteur Theory, this is where the weeping starts, and doesn’t stop for two years until I abandon the course.
This protracted film drags us through the tropes and clichés that came to define the Orson Welles oeuvre. Still weeping with boredom, I note that Welles adaptation of Kafka’s The Trial also carries the same ubiquitous extended pans/zooms, dolly-shots and Atlantean sets but isn’t nearly so yawn inducing. The narrative drive of Citizen Kane is a posthumous retrospective of Kane’s life through the anecdotes of those who knew him, it circles around a central enigma: the meaning of Kane’s apocryphal last word, uttered in death-bed solitude, as he wistfully gazes into a snow globe – “Rosebud”. What is the significance of Rosebud? the narrator of the film asks, a question that has tortured film critics and film students  alike for over 75 years.
My interest in the film revived briefly a few years ago when I discovered that Rosebud, along with Standing Rock and Pine Ridge, were amongst the first Reservations set aside in 1889 for the containment of and destruction of Native American peoples in Dakota. The more I read about the “Indian Wars” and the aftermath; the reservations, the forcible removal of Native American children, re-education to white ideals, and the persistent denial of Tribal land-rights (which are still going on at Standing Rock), lead me to dream that Citizen Kane was a condemnation of American policy towards the First Nations. Of course, I found no evidence of this theory in the writings of film critics and theorists, and the last time I re-watched the film I really had to work hard, and turn a blind eye to huge tracts, to shoehorn the film to fit my thesis. Still, researching Native American history was rewarding, if heartbreaking work, and it has given me more to weep and despair about than the MA in film theory ever did.
More recently I have decided that Citizen Kane was a future-shadow, a premonition of the 45th American president, and I draw solace from that image at opening of the film, imagining Donald Trump, an implausible life ending in bleak loneliness, wallowing sick in his unseemly wealth, with only a snow globe for company.

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The Short Answer  and Clutches of Love chapbooks on sale here

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Rite of Passage

In my day jumping the trains to London was a teenage rite of passage. As outlandish and mythical as it may now sound, there once really was a magical spiral staircase at Finsbury Park, and it fed directly down into the London Underground. Truth to say everybody knew about it, everybody used it and everybody took it for granted. Like a down-snake, or a disused helter skelter, it was a ride, a trick, a trick of transformation. All you  needed was a bit of vim and nerve and you could transform an invalid overground rail ticket into a newly-minted 3-zone London travelcard.  In one quick downward dive you could fall from Finsbury overland, spiralling right down into the tube network, and so into the throbbing veins of central London itself, and all for th price of a 3-zone travelcard. Jumping the trains into London was a veritable teenage craze, in my day.

Having said all that, the charm only seemed to work going into London. We overstretched ourselves mortally when we tried to dodge out, away from London. Notable was the time we tried to jump the trains as far North as we could get, and were apprehended in Birmingham, after Leicester Central had telegraphed ahead, with our descriptions and modus operandi. So when we did our handbag-drop-bum-rush routine on them for the night train out of New Street, they were already wise, and held us in a holding cell while they waited for the Transport Police. We had to phone my friend’s big sister. We were only set free after she finally showed up, gave some uniform some money, smiled winningly and flirtatiously at the right people and was heard berating us as she stomped us to her car.

“Next time” Big sister snarled “Phone someone else instead”.