By Ruth Hudson
This Monday, Verbose treated Manchester to their monthly spoken word night, showcasing an evening of open-mic literature and readings at Fallow Café, Manchester. Special guests included Nicholas Royle, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing in the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University and Manager of Independent publisher Nightjar Press, MA Creative Writing student and short story writer Kate Woodward, and Booker-Prize nominee Alison Moore.
Nicholas Royle established Nightjar Press to specialize in limited edition chapbooks. He explained, “I love short stories, short stories are so special but they deserve to be published on their own.” Alongside publishing, Nicholas has written seven novels which have awarded him with a British Fantasy award- three times. His love for short stories gives him, “a thrill from publishing.” He said,
“In 2009 I decided I wanted to start again because I’ve had loads of my stuff published but publishing other peoples stuff gives me a different kind of buzz. I think if you can make the economics of that work, and I do that not so much by worrying so much to make a profit but just by trying to break even.”
Asked what he looks for when publishing a short story, Royle told Humanity Hallows,
“I look for a reason to carry on reading. I look for a sense of the uncanny something dark, something strange, something moving; more than anything.”
Alison Moore’s The Lighthouse, which was nominated for a booker-prize in 2009, was also edited by Nightjar Press. She is also former judge for the Manchester Writing School’s Manchester Fiction Prize. Moore revealed,
“It made all the difference in the world because before the shortlisting, or before the long listing, it meant that I could start to write professionally for a living. I had my first piece awarded when I was 8 and it’s more about finding the right avenue and meeting the right people.”
Moore spoke about what she hoped to gain for the event saying,
“I always like doing readings and coming to new places, I also do love Nightjar it’s just nice to support events that have such an atmosphere.”
Moore contributed an extract from her short story collection, Pre-War House, receiving a standing ovation. The evening was accommodated by Sarah-Clare Conlon, writer, award-winning blogger, and a former editor for Elle Magazine. She said, “To have something of that talent – wow – it’s just amazing!” She added, “It’s a nice thing from a writer’s point of view because you get to meet with other writers.”
The open-mic presented the audience with a juxtaposition of crude (and rather explicit) dark-humoured poetry, as well as special guests who went on to contribute their own readings. As for budding writers who contributed to the event, Sarah-Clare Conlon suggested: “If you want to become a writer and get published, start writing and start submitting it to places. Once my foot was in the door I kind of went up and up and up, then I worked in Elle.” Kate Woodward added, “Practice writing what you really want to, sometimes ignoring the rules, and be open to influences.”
Fallow Café, a very atmospheric venue, delighted the audience with an Aladdin’s cave of chapbooks and signed novels. Nicholas Royle even cobbled together a mirage of images that projected behind the stage.
But for Alison Moore, the best part of the evening was, “Hearing a lot of people that have never been heard before. The poets have been superb.”
The event finished with drinks and laughter, from a tribute to a pair of “dead gloves” to an ode to Manchester’s ‘Homeless Campers’, Verbose catered an evening for everyone’s literary taste buds.
Ruth Hudson studies English and American literature at MMU. She also has blog that focuses on addressing mental health issues.