Austerity – not just the economic kind but spare emotion, piety of spirit, absence of affection, measuring out one’s engagement with life as well as opposites or reactions to austerity such as excess, splurges or wringing out minor relief from the grip of austerity.
Submissions are open for our September ‘Austerity’ event which will be held on Tuesday 22 September at Dolly’s, Church St, Falmouth 7pm for a 7.30 start. We’re open to all kinds of writing. The word limit is 1,600 words. Submissions close on Monday 14 September. Submit via the website form on the right. Any questions from the floor? Email us email@example.com
Well, we knew this was coming after July’s excesses. On a perfect summer’s evening, Telltales headed west for our annual visit to the Penzance Litfest. Despite being up against the lovely Patrick Gale, the back bar of The Admiral Benbow was packed with listeners ready to hear writing inspired by the festival theme – Sparks. Local writer Stella Rose Benson (author of the Sparkle Puss children’s books) started the evening with her pyrotechnic poem, Sky Monkeys. New writer Ruth Mason, who read her subtle short story, He Never Knew, about the long influence of music on a father – daughter relationship, was followed by artist and poet, Gareth Edwards whose second poem, Two Doors, contrasted his daughter’s journey into the teenage years via slammed doors and the creative peace and escape found behind the ‘heavy larch wood door’ of his Porthmeor painting studio. Susan Soyinka then read us her incredibly moving piece of non-fiction, The Dream Room, which explored the strange juxtaposition of events she discovered while researching her grandmother and aunt’s capture and deportation to Auschwitz. Art, a common theme of many of our readings, was central to Susan’s piece, specifically the large, colourful writing by Ben Vautier on the walls of The Dream Room, Hotel Windsor, Nice.
After the interval, one of the South West’s best known and loved poets, Rose Cook, read six of her poems to a delighted audience, almost bringing the house down with her final poem, A Situation Arising From A Complete Inability To Master Any Language But Her Own. Maureen Sleeman’s Sparks then took us deep into the distant past where a rebellious young woman’s love of art caused her banishment; not even her accidental discovery of fire could allow her to remain with her tribe, who ignore her warnings about its danger. Poet Katrina Quinn then read an excellent selection of her work, including the wonderful Mariana, inspired by the word’s double meaning of ‘star of the sea’ and ‘sea dew’. Finally, poet and bus driver Gray Lightfoot read us his wonderfully witty Bladerunner tribute, Busrunner: A View From A Cab, bringing the evening to a close with resounding applause.
Just over a week later, Telltales took to the stage again, this time at Source FM’s Parklive in Kimberley Park, Falmouth. Gray Lightfoot kicked off the proceedings with a reprise of Busrunner, The Town Centre Lizard of Helston and a poetic tribute to rough sea crossings on the Scillonian, The Sick Bucket. Our next reader was writer Sarah Perry, who read her story Riddle Me This, about a couple whose superpower is contentment. Third up was Fiona Egglestone, who read her feline-narrated children’s story, Operation Accordion and then Kelly Stevens read from her powerful memoir of breast cancer treatment, Mermaids and Monsters. Gray returned to finish the set with his onomatopoeic hymn to the dusk settling of starlings on Marazion March, Murmurations.
Nine days later, we were back on home ground at Dolly’s, thrilled to attract another large audience for what is usually one of our quieter events. Stella Rose Benson read us some new poems and Sarah Perry dazzled with three pieces of Sparks-inspired flash fiction. Poet Gareth Edwards returned to read his two Penzance Litfest poems, Sparks – about the mellowing of love and romance over time – and Two Doors. Annabel Banks then read an excerpt from her intriguing novel, The Lockpicker’s Guide, about a woman who works along car manufacturing robots by day before breaking into forgotten spaces as an urban explorer by night.
Poet Angela Nicholson began the second half with poetry, including the John Clare-inspired Ploughing. New writer George Lewis then read his story, Iskra, drawing on family history and moving back and forth in time to encompass events in Poland and Plymouth. Telltales regular Sarah Valmai Jones read some of her compact, powerful poems before our last reader of the evening, Marilyn Denbigh. Marilyn, who is currently training as a counsellor and poetry therapist, read a highly evocative and eloquent piece of memoir 21 Dancing Men, about her 21st birthday celebrations and encounters with San bushmen during a safari in Southern Africa.
On the last day of July, Telltales once again performed in the glorious surroundings of Port Eliot Literary Festival. This time, our Round Room set was inspired by Robert Lenkiewicz’s masterpiece, the enigmatic Riddle Mural. Our first reader, Annabel Banks, read a further excerpt from The Lockpicker’s Guide, set in a ghost-haunted disused swimming pool. Emma Timpany’s piece of biographical fiction, Painting Katherine, was based on the visit of Modernist writer Katherine Mansfield to Looe in 1918, and the portrait of her painted there by her friend, Anne Estelle Rice. Telltales favourite Fi Read took time out from singing with her band to read her poems about bad teenage behaviour on the train and a Sylvia Plath inspired poem written for a previous Telltales theme, Unhinged. New writer Paula Winzar gave her first ever reading with Apocalypse, an excerpt from the young adult novel she’s currently writing with Faber Academy. Prize-winning writer and Telltales regular Felicity Notley earned the new title of Moon Defender after reading her poem I Reserve The Right To Write About The Moon along with other poems; Sarah Perry got a terrific response to her first Port Eliot appearance with her story about contentment, Riddle Me This. And finally, Aaron Kent performed Grace and Other Virtues and his show-stopping Learn to Fly, Dare to Swim, rounding the set off to terrific applause as well as revealing, as a last flourish, his claret-coloured vest.
Phew! It’s time for a lie down in a dark room with a cool handkerchief pressed to our foreheads for most of August. But we will return on 30 August at Source FM’s Parklive 2.30pm in The Spoken Word Tent, Kimberley Park, Falmouth. See you there!