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RLF Fellows’ News: June 2024

June 24 RLF Fellows publications
  • 5 June, 2024


RLF Fellow Lucy Caldwell’s new volume of short stories, Openings, was recently published by Faber.

John Self, who reviewed Openings for The Times, called Caldwell “one of our best short story writers,” praising the collection for its “comic brio, good sex writing, shrewd observations, and an awful lot of dead and dying mothers.”

“That Lucy Caldwell may be on a project to cover the whole of life in her stories is an exciting prospect,” Self says.

An image of the front cover of 'Future Hopes,' a collection of climate-themed short stories. Edited by Wren James (writing as Lauren James).

RLF Fellow Wren James, writing as Lauren James, has edited a new anthology of short stories called Future Hopes: Hopeful stories in a time of climate change.

Published by Walker Books and featuring stories by Eli Brown, L. R. Lam, M. G. Leonard, Rebecca Lim, Oisín McGann, Tolá Okogwu, Neal and Brendan Shusterman, Louie Stowell and Bijal Vachharajani, this anthology covers everything from a rewilding project with unexpected consequences to a rebellion against augmented reality. Collectively, these are stories that will leave the reader feeling a little less powerless in the fight to save planet Earth.

RLF Fellow Nicholas Murray’s new poetry collection, River Run: for the Wye in Hard Times, has been published by Rack Press.

Inspired by the current state of the River Wye, it is the first in a projected series of engaged poetry broadsides from Rack Press.

The cover of Michelene Wandor's book of poetry, Ergo.

RLF Fellow Michelene Wandor’s new collection of poetry, Ergo, has been published by Arc Publications.

Ergo is described as “a book of love poems – and not-love poems. By turns fierce and gentle, passionate and bitter, they push at the boundaries of minimalist language and pack an emotional punch that will remain with the reader long after the book is closed.”

Michelene, who is also a previous RLF grant beneficiary, says:

“I have been, and am, enormously grateful to the RLF, for the years and experiences as a Fellow, and subsequently for continuing support.”

RLF Fellow Steph Morris has a poem in Joy//US, a new anthology of LGBTQ+ poetry from Arachne Press, described by the publisher as a collection of  “joyful poems that celebrate all that is best about our community/ies and lives. This is not an ‘explain it to the straights’ book, this is for us. LGBTQ+ readers can open this book at random and find a moment of poetic queer joy for themselves, however big or small.”

The cover of Monique-Roffey's novel, Passiontide.

RLF Fellow Monique Roffey’s seventh novel, Passiontide, will be published under the Harvill Secker imprint on 27 June:

At the close of St Colibri’s carnival, a young female steel-pan player is found dead beneath a cannonball tree. It is a discovery that will transform the lives of everyone on this small island… Four women spark a revolution on a Caribbean island.

Monique is also a previous RLF grants beneficiary, an experience she has previously described:

“Over a 20 year career the RLF have bailed me out three times with grants, each time as I was going under, in serious debt, with rent arrears. I don’t think my literary career would have survived without this financial aid. Not only did the RLF help patch things up, but the grants also bought me time to write.”

RLF Fellow Miranda France’s most recent article for the Times Literary Supplement (TLS) is an exploration of modern relationships in the digital age, focusing on new books from Argentina, the Netherlands and the US. Authors featured include Tamara Tenenbaum (translated by Carolina Parodi), Roanne van Voorst (translated by Liz Waters), and Molly Roden Winter.

Read ‘The Odd Throuple.’

The cover of author Mark McCrum's book Murder on Tour

RLF Fellow Mark McCrum’s latest novel, Murder on Tour, the fourth in his Francis Meadowes series, has been published by Bloodhound Books.

Francis joins gender fluid pop star Jonni K’s entourage for a European tour. After a crew member apparently overdoses on a tour bus in Scandinavia, Jonni is attacked on stage, and the lead guitarist is electrocuted, Francis realises he is in a dangerous race against time…

Of the origin of the book, Mark says, “In 2001 I went round Europe on tour with the pop star Robbie Willams, to research and write the book Somebody Someday. It was a challenge to write, partly because the main man wasn’t that interested in doing it and rather reluctant to give interviews. And even though his management gave me every support possible, and far more leeway in writing about the details of the tour than I’d imagined would be allowed, there were still plenty of scenes and experiences that were never going to make an authorised book about Robbie…”

RLF Fellow and curator Alicia Foster – whose forthcoming book The Real Bohemians, celebrates early twentieth century radical female artists and has recently been acquired by Virago Books in a three-way-auction – recently wrote about the Tate’s new exhibition, Now you see us: women artists in Britain 1520-1920 for Art UK. You can read Alicia’s article here.

Events and Appearances

A band photo of the Fun Lovin' Crime Writers, including Mark Billingham, Val McDermid, Chris Brookmyre, Luca Veste, Doug Johnstone and Stuart Neville. Photo by Alan Veste.jpg

The Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers. Photo by Alan Veste.jpg

RLF Fellow Doug Johnstone will be in conversation with the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers (pictured), the crime-writing musical super-group he is part of which also includes authors Mark Billingham, Val McDermid, Chris Brookmyre, Luca Veste and Stuart Neville at the Borders Book Festival on 16 June to discuss the books they write, the books they read, the music that inspires them and just how jammy they feel to be getting away with this…

The group will close the festival on the same evening of 16 June. Tickets for the performance can be found here.

RLF Fellow Dr Roopa Farooki will be discussing Dr Roopa’s Body Books, her new series on the human body, at Barnes Children’s Literature Festival on 23 June.

You can buy tickets here.

WritersMosaic is back at the British Library on 25 June, exploring the extraordinary heterogeneity of black music. Writer and cultural critic Jeffrey Boakye will host an evening of words and music with appearances from Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Julian Marley, London-based duo An Alien Called Harmony, and poet Carol Leeming, who will be performing ‘Praise Song for Black Divas.’

Tickets here.

On 26 June RLF Fellow Ella Frears will discuss her forthcoming collection, Goodlord, in conversation with fellow poet Will Burns, as part of an event hosted by Rough Trade at the LRB bookshop.

Find out more and buy tickets.

The RLF is sponsoring Remember Me, a WritersMosaic panel hosted by RLF Fellow and WritersMosaic director Colin Grant at Bradford Literature Festival on 29 June.

The panel event will see Colin join award-winning authors, Ingrid Persaud, Nicholas Rankin and RLF Fellow Chitra Ramaswamy to explore questions of suffering under English rule and mending the rift between colonisers and the colonised.

RLF Fellow John Siddique will also be at Bradford Literature Festival on 29 June, when he is set to join the festival’s annual celebration of lyrical poetry – the ever-popular Lyrical Mehfil.

Mehfils are traditional gatherings of courtly entertainment performed for small audiences in the homes and palaces of South Asian nobility. This year’s Bradford Literature Festival Mehfil features a dazzling line-up of poets, reflecting some of the most innovative international voices and poetic styles.

Other poets appearing include Afra Atiq from Dubai, Palestinian poet Atef Alshaer and Carlos Andrés Gómez from the USA.

John Siddique will also join Stephen Pritchard from The Blake Society for a Bradford Literature Festival event on 30 June that explores the similarities between two hugely influential writers and artists: William Blake and Kahlil Gibran.

Celebrated poet, painter and printmaker, William Blake, was one of the main inspirations behind Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, one of the bestselling books of all time. Both Blake and Gibran were poets and artists who dabbled in prophetic vision. Their readings of the Bible, their rebellion against Church corruption and their sociopolitical visions were very similar. Gibran himself was referred to as the ‘twentieth-century Blake’ and actively emphasised the connection between them.

For more information and to buy tickets, visit the Bradford Literature Festival website.

Cover of The Magic Callaloo by Trish Cooke. Published by Walker Books. Illustrated by Sophie Bass

Also appearing at Bradford Literature Festival on 30 June is RLF Fellow Trish Cooke.

Trish will be presenting Stories Unlocked: The Magic Callaloo, an event for children aged 3+ that explores her latest book, The Magic Callaloo.

Based on the tale of Rapunzel and inspired by stories of enslaved Africans, The Magic Callaloo combines beautiful imagery and storytelling to create a message of hope.


The cover of Michelene Wandor's book Orfeo

In the same month as the release of her book of poetry, Ergo, RLF Fellow and former beneficiary Michelene Wandor has also been shortlisted for the  Society of Authors’ Paul Torday Memorial Prize for the Best Debut Fiction by an author over 60. The winner will be announced on 20 June.

Orfeo’s Last Act: A Novel in Two Parts, published by Greenwich Exchange, is described as ‘a daringly complex historical novel set in seventeenth-century Mantua and contemporary East Anglia. Even in terms of typography Wandor’s debut reflects how history and modernity intertwine with the left-hand pages telling the story of Mantua in the Golden Age and the right hand pages the discovery of a long-lost musical manuscript in an English stately home’.

RLF Fellows Judith Allnatt and Heidi Williamson have been shortlisted for the Fish Poetry Prize 2024. Judith Allnatt, for her poem ‘Bubbles’; Heidi Williamson, for her poems, ‘This poem asks where violence begins’ and ‘Wordle as fugue state’.

Shortlisted poems will also feature in a forthcoming anthology.

RLF Fellow Rebecca Mascull recently won the Support Service of the Year Award at Lincoln University’s Student Union Awards 2024, for her work as part of the RLF Fellowship Scheme.

This award goes to a support service that provides students with the support, resources, and mechanisms they need to make the most of their time at university and reach their full potential.

Plays and productions

RLF Fellow Roy Williams’ trilogy of plays, Death of England, are now booking at Soho Place, following acclaimed seasons at the National Theatre.

Directed by NT Deputy Artistic Director Clint Dyer, this is the first time this extraordinary series of three interconnected state of the nation plays will be performed together.

A promotional photo for Babs Horton’s play In the Lady Garden, showing Babs in a nun's habit holding two iced buns.

Tickets for RLF Fellow Babs Horton’s play In the Lady Garden, which will be showing at The Edinburgh Fringe from 31 July-26 August, are now on sale.

The play, which is supported by Plymouth Theatre Royal and Pleasance, sees 69-year-old Alice reflect on her life, as she wonders what life might have been if she hadn’t been expelled from convent school and had sex with Keith from the sausage rolls section. Will Alice shake off the shackles of the patriarchy and live out her days with outrageous abandon?

RLF Fellows can submit their news to us via the Contact Us page.

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