Interviews

Just south of the village, Nabi Saleh, there is a spring. It is called Ein al Qoos or the Bow Spring. Palestinian farmers have used it for their crops for as long as anyone can remember. However, in 2008, Nabi Saleh’s access to the spring was cut off. Israeli settlers dug a pool that collected water from it; they populated the pool with fish and built a swing, a bench, and a shade. They gave the spring a Hebrew name –Ma’ayan Meier, or the Meier Spring – and occupied it. Since, the residents of Nabi Saleh have protested weekly....

In 2015, Deborah Smith – translator of Han Kang’s The Vegetarian – set up Tilted Axis Press, a publishing house dedicated to translated fiction. Tilted Axis is unique; unlike most other publishing houses, it gives and encourages equal recognition to and of its authors and translators. Yewon Jung is translator of their second release, One Hundred Shadows by South Korean author, Jungeun Hwang. This is a strange and quiet novel. Straddling the border between fantasy and realism, it details a phenomenon in a slum in central Seoul – people’s shadows ‘rise’ (literally peeling off the ground) and coax the...

There’s something about the unpredictability of a storm that arouses excitement and chaos in a reader, writer, or just your average passerby on an open road. We can look towards none other than Shakespeare for attributing such emphasis on the storm as a device crucial to narrative and character development in both theatre and literature. Globe Education has recently announced Gwilym Jones as the winner of the 2016 Shakespeare’s Globe Book Award for Shakespeare’s Storms. Jones accepted the honour after giving a talk at The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse on Thursday. 6th October Shakespeare’s Storms is the first study of the use of...

Caleb Femi, a 26 year old teacher and poet from Peckham, has been chosen to be the new Young People's Laureate for London. Femi will work with Spread the Word, London’s writer development agency, for a year on youth-focused residencies across the capital, and will receive a range of poetry-development opportunities to assist his career progression. Ruth Harrison, director of Spread the Word, hopes Femi will help young people in London engage with the arts: “London is one of most exciting cities in the world for arts and culture, yet engagement among young people with what is on 'offer' remains...

Attention all entrants! With only a month until our Short Story Competition 2016 closes, we spoke to our editor, Steven O'Brien, for some tips on how to write a good short story and advice on how to make your entries stand out! What are you currently reading? The Old Ways by Robert MacFarlane and The Beast by Paul Kingsnorth. Both deeply English narratives. What is your favourite short story and why? The Dead by James Joyce, for its' sweep, symbolism and epiphany. Which writer's work can you always rely on to inspire your creative process? Robert Holdstock. If you were stuck on a desert island and...

With just over a month until our Short Story Competition 2016 closes, we spoke to one of the judges, Erica Wagner, and found out that Emily Dickinson inspires her creative process. She also told us what three elements she believes are key to a good short story.    What are you currently reading? If it’s not fiction, what fiction have you recently read and enjoyed? And what specifically did you like about it? I’ve just read Yaa Gyasi’s wonderful novel, Homegoing (coming in the UK from Penguin in January) and I’m trying not to get to the end of Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed, her take on The...

With just over a month until our Short Story Competition 2016 closes, we spoke to judge Max Porter and found out about which writer never fails to inspire him, which three books he'd take if he were stranded on a desert island, and what advice he'd give to this year's competition entrants.   What are you currently reading? If it’s not fiction, what fiction have you recently read and enjoyed? I’m reading Lian Hearn’s Japanese adventure series Shikanoko, Eileen Myles’ I Must Be Living Twice, and some Peter Stamm short stories. And what specifically did you like about it? I like the very controlled and worthwhile magic realism...

With just over a month until our Short Story Competition 2016 closes, we caught up with judge Angus Cargill and found out about his favourite short story, what he's currently reading and what he sees as they key elements of a short story (take note, competition entrants!).   What are you currently reading? And what specifically did you like about it? The three last novels I read, away from work, were My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout, Transit by Rachel Cusk and Willnot by James Sallis – three short novels that would be said to be from different genres (the first two...

This October, Southbank Centre will host its 10th Literature Festival, ‘Living in Future Times’. Beginning with a reading of H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine, the Festival will trace paths of thought from the worlds of sci-fi, scientific research, philosophy, music, poetry and contemporary fiction in a series of workshops, talks, and shows exploring questions about time and the future of humanity. “I guess it’s natural that when you’re reaching a milestone like 10 years, you’re both looking back and looking forwards” says Ted Hodgkinson, Senior Programmer for Literature and Spoken Word at Southbank Centre. As Hodgkinson and the Festival’s diverse programme suggest, “looking...

Hurst Street Press publisher Shoshana Kessler speaks to poet Camille Ralphs about her recent poetry publication Malkin. SK: I recently read Leo Mercer’s essay on free spelling (‘Free Spelling and the Textual Vernacular: On Poetry After The Internet’, The Missing Slate 2014). Do you think that the ‘visual’ aspects of poetry on the page are more important now than for past poets? CR: Yes. I think new technology has that effect, a creative shift in terms of how we view words on a page. Yes, I suppose technology and language have always intertwined. Every new era of technology brings with it a...

Bernard O’Donoghue was born in 1945 in Cullen, Co Cork. His latest collection, The Seasons of Cullen Church, returns with a compelling and simple diction to that place and time. He has published six collections of poetry, including Gunpowder, which won the 1995 Whitbread Prize for Poetry, and Farmers Cross (2011). He lives in Oxford, where he is an Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College, and is currently translating Piers Plowman for Faber. AT-D: I was struck by a line in the collection’s opening poem, describing the difficulty of recollection: ‘like a green caravan in a field-corner’. Was that an impetus...

In this interview with Ian McMillan, The London Magazine’s Editor, Steven O’Brien, and Production Manager, Rachel Chanter, discuss Ian McMillan’s most recent collection of selected poems, To Fold the Evening Star. SO’B: I was just reading an old, friendly poem in To Fold the Evening Star, one I haven’t read for ages – ‘It’s Only a Novelty Coronation Street Alarm Clock’. How did you decide which poems to select? IM: Well there were some newer ones that hadn’t been published anywhere, and then there were the three Smith|Doorstop pamphlets which I put in as they were. After writing lots of other kinds...

Ahead of our Poetry Prize, which closes 30th June, we spoke to judge Rebecca Perry about prizes, publication and what she'll be looking for from this year's entries. Rebecca, It’s lovely to have you as a judge, particularly as your 2012 pamphlet little armoured was published by Seren after winning the Poetry Wales Purple Moose Poetry Prize. What was your reaction to winning the Prize and how did it help you in your development as a poet? It feels like a lifetime ago! If I’m completely honest I don’t think I fully appreciated at the time what having a pamphlet published meant, how it opens doors...

Ahead of our Poetry Prize, which opens 1st May, we caught up with one of our two esteemed judges to get his perspective on prizes, publication and what he'll be looking for from this year's entries.   You’re a very active figure in the contemporary poetry world, as well as a lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University. How do you juggle your writing with your other commitments? Do you have a strict routine which incorporates writing? I've never been one of those writers (how I envy them!) who can just sit down and write at a certain point of the day, every day....

Faber New Poets . Photograph © Thea Hawlin The Faber New Poets scheme, now in its fourth incarnation, provides a platform for new voices and has launched the careers of poets such as Jack Underwood, Rachael Allen, Sam Riviere and Will Burns. This year’s poets are Rachel Curzon, Elaine Beckett, Sam Buchan-Watts and Crispin Best, all of whom will have pamphlets published this spring. We visited the Faber offices to speak to the Faber New Poets before their official debut at the Faber Social. Here’s what they had to say . . .  So since you’ve found out what has the...

Emily Berry's 2013 debut Dear Boy established her as a poet of 'sinful inventiveness' and 'startling gifts'. As the editor of Salt Publishing's Best British Poetry 2015 she brought her poetic skill to bear on the challenge of curating a selection of the most engaging, challenging and diverse poetry that has appeared in the last year. Ralf Webb spoke to her about the pleasures and pitfalls of this process. The anthology gathers poems from 38 different sources, many of which are magazines and journals that publish multiple times a year. That’s a lot of literature to go through! Can you talk about your...

We asked The Stinging Fly editor and short story writer Thomas Morris about the things he's reading, watching and listening to right now. Reading Dorthe Nors’s Karate Chop (some of the best stories I’ve read in years). Ottessa Mossfegh’s short stories. They’re so good, and you can read lot of them on the Paris Review website. Sam Coll’s The Abode of Fancy (it’s being published next spring by Lilliput Press in Dublin and it is just brilliant, something else entirely). Watching Dogtooth – It’s just so well-crafted and relentlessly intense. Listening  Joanna Newsom’s Divers. She’s just exceptional. Read our full interview with Morris about his debut short story collection here.

Editor of The Stinging Fly, one of Ireland's top literary magazines, Thomas Morris is no stranger to reading and writing short fiction. In the final countdown to the deadline for our short story competition we spoke to the writer and editor about his debut collection We Don't Know What We're Doing, heritage, habits and the art of disguise. Many interviewers have made much of your identity as a Welsh writer living in Ireland – do you think this is problematic? How do you identify yourself? How should we identify ourselves? If we should at all… There aren’t many Welsh people living in Ireland – and a lot...

With just a couple weeks left till the end of our annual Short Story Competition we spoke to the Judges to find out exactly what the short story means to them.  Today we spoke to award-winning novelist Susan Hill about writers, short stories and what to read to be inspired.  What do you look for in a short story? ‘A little world, made cunningly.’ Which short story writers do you admire?  In no order – Chekhov, Elizabeth Bowen, James Lasdun, Helen Simpson, Henry James, Katherine Mansfield… and many many more. What possibilities does the form of short fiction present to a writer that the novel doesn’t offer?  It doesn’t –...

With just a few weeks left till the end of our annual Short Story Competition we spoke to the Judges to find out exactly what the short story means to them.  Today we spoke to Alessandro Gallenzi, writer, publisher and founder of Alma Books about writers, short stories and what to read to be inspired.  What do you look for in a short story?  Economy of language, humour, a well-devised structure and, above all, a satisfying ending that makes you laugh, cry or think long after turning the last page. Which short story writers do you admire?  My favourite short-story writers from the Western canon are Boccaccio, Chekhov, Fitzgerald,...

With just a few weeks left till the end of our annual Short Story Competition we spoke to the Judges to find out exactly what the short story means to them. First we spoke to writer and publisher Kevan Manwaring about writers, short stories and what to read to be inspired.   a What do you look for in a short story?    An arresting premise. A life in freefall. A moment in time, dramatising life on Earth, in all its quotidian particularity.    Which short story writers do you admire?    Carver, Carter, MR James, Ray Bradbury, Le Guin, Neil Gaiman.   What possibilities does the form of short fiction present to a writer...

Writer, illustrator and current Children's Laureate Chris Riddell is becoming an increasingly familiar name to stumble upon in the literary world. He has collaborated on projects with Neil Gaiman, Russell Brand and is an award-winning author in his own right. From his often jaw-droppingly beautiful illustrated books to his lively social media posts of train journey doodles and illustrated documentation of his laureate's role (the 'Laureate's Log') his pen is gradually making the world of books a more visually inspiring one. We chatted with Chris about Mervyn Peake, poetry and Instagram. As myself and my colleague Thea prepare to call Chris from...

Yesterday, Selina Nwulu was chosen from 6 young poets to be the new Young Poet Laureate for London. Supported by Foundation for FutureLondon and London's Writer Development Agency Spread the Word, this year-long role offers the London Laureate the opportunity to work with young people across the city's diverse communities to encourage the development of new poetic talents and to provide a platform for untold stories and unheard voices. A bright, passionate young poet, Selina has already established herself as a socially engaged writer, having previously worked with groups such as The Battersea Arts Centre and the community lead-up to the Women of...

In recent months Ferrante Fever has been catching. If you haven’t already heard of the anonymous Italian female author who’s achieved international acclaim, the entire finished series of her famed Neapolitan novels awaits you: go, read and remain awed. With the release of the final installment just days ago, the success of the Italian series has sparked a renewed interest in how and why translations come to the English market when they do. Why did it take so long for Ferrante to reach us? How was it that no one had translated her earlier? Are there other Ferrantes out there...