Telltales past (in May) and future (in July and beyond)
Telltales had to compete with a gloriously sunny afternoon once again when we went to The Arts Club, St Ives as part of the town’s literary festival on 16 May. But the iconic view of the harbour from the window and the sounds of seaside life outside ceased to be distractions once the readings began.
Thanks to Marcus Williamson, Hertfordshire sports journalist, John Birch, was able to read his story ‘Roots’ on video. The cleverly plotted story tells of an African family discovering its Cornish roots and is the winner of the myCornwall Magazine and Telltales short story competition 2015. For the remaining seven writers – five new to Telltales - it was an experience not to be missed to perform in the history-laden atmosphere of the upstairs room of the ancient building, on a small, black-draped stage and in a red spotlight intended for the next festival event.
A few days later Telltales was back home again in Dolly’s Bar, Falmouth.
Because her train from Penzance was cancelled we couldn’t hear Katrina Quinn read again. In St Ives we’d listened to Katrina’s memoir extract in which an English schoolgirl with dusty shoes remembered her time in Africa, when she struggled to fit in and concluded that she should have joined the dancing. But the other seven writers performed once more; this time in a packed and brightly lit bar. After we’d heard John Birch’s story, Josie Hughes sang two haunting songs for which she’d written both the lyrics and the music. Pauline Passmore read an account of her visit to the temples of Cambodia throttled by strangler fig trees – and of her neighbour’s house, in apparently benign Cornwall, being invaded by ivy. Telltales veteran Alan Robinson brought a story about an encounter between an irritated busker and a tourist which seemed of little consequence but put the musician back on the path to self-destruction. Prize winning writer Felicity Notley (another familiar face at Telltales) gave us an extract from her novel in which we heard the lyrical thoughts and dreams of Aurelius Schmidt before, during and after surgery – when he felt for what he feared to feel. This was followed by an extract from the memoir of Kelly Stevens about mastectomy; a piece that mixed details of the brutal horror of breast surgery in a time before anaesthesia with imagery of the patient in a modern setting, like Sleeping Beauty in her transparent tent. We weren’t surprised to learn that a publisher has already shown interest in this memoir – so keep writing Kelly. Bringing the evening to a beautiful close, we heard three poems full of emotion and love of her small daughters and life, from emerging poet Sally Wills-Heath.
Submissions are invited now for July events. See the post below.
The July events will be presented by Emma Timpany of Telltales, whose collection of five short stories, ’Over the Dam’ (ISBN-98-1-910437-18-6) is available now from Red Squirrel Press and bookshops. Price £5. Any problems or queries contact firstname.lastname@example.org.