Saturday, 25 October 2008

Small Publishers' Fair

On 24th October 2008, I attended a Small Publishers Fair; an international artists’ book fair now in its seventh year. The event was held at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, Holborn, London and featured over fifty publishers of books by contemporary artists, poets, writers and composers.

I spent two hours browsing and did lots of networking. Admission was free and included wine. Highlights were: inspiring and insightful dialogue with two students on the Poetic Practice MA programme – which explores contemporary experimental practices in poetry in relation to contemporary theory and new media. To view their blogs:

The Small Publishers Fair is on 24th and 25th October from 11am to 7pm and organised by the Research Group for Artists Publications (RGAP),

Other links made:

Above image Shepard's dilemma Collage, mixed media courtesy of Bernd Reichert of Brussels.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Shangwe Poetry Event - Feedback

I received this email yesterday, and thought it needed sharing:

Dear Nicole Moore,

I am writing to thank you for organising the poetry night Shangwe. I attended on the last Thursday of August and I am pleased to say I got my money's worth. I was doing an extended project at college on poems based on the views of young black people living in Britain and whether they viewed themselves as British.

The poetry night helped a lot as although I had the views I did not have the poems. The event showcased to me what poetry is, a way of expression, and that is why I wanted to write poetry. The poetry night also exposed me to poems about identity, which is what I was looking for, in particular Akuba's The Awakening of Elmina and the first poem performed by Devon "the Split" Jones.

I am pleased to say that I have completed my own poems and project as a whole. Also I wanted to add that I noticed you in my local paper discussing our hair and black history month. If time permits I may be contributing my own story as well.


Caroline Sabiiti.

Caroline also sent me a couple of poems, which I will be posting in the future.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Exploring Black Sexuality

Today I received a copy of Trespass Magazine, NOIR edition, October/November 2008, which published a five page feature I wrote called, ‘Exploring Black Sexuality’. This is the sixth issue of Trespass and final one for this year. In this NOIR issue, the magazine includes features, poetry, art, short stories and an interview.

My feature discusses Black British women’s sexuality using personal perspectives and drawing reference to those contributions within my anthology Sexual Attraction Revealed: a selection of creative expressions by black and mixed-race women (2007). I was particularly pleased to see my feature published with images from Adelaide Damoah, best known for her 2006 exhibition Black Brits.

It always feels good to see your work in print and I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience, from sounding out my ideas with the magazine’s editor, Sara-Mae Tuson, whose editing expertise was extremely helpful and enlightening, to discussing my ideas with my writing colleagues.

For more information about Trespass Magazine visit:

Trespass magazine is launching its 6 and final issue of the year at the marvellous Cross Kings. With poets, performance artists and a bit of musical madness as well - you'll not want to miss it.

Date: Wednesday 5th November

Time: 7.30pm
Venue: The Cross Kings, 126 York Way
London, N1 OAX
Entry fee: £3
Contact: Sara-Mae

Saturday, 27 September 2008


On 25th September 2008, I hosted the final Shangwe Poetry Night at The Poetry Café, Covent Garden, London. The theme for the show was ‘Journeys’. This special event featured two poets: Christine Bell and Ursula Troche with five open mic performers: J C Abraham, Jennifer, Christopher, Julie and Mark.

Whilst we were being entertained with superb, quality spoken word performances, we dipped into a box of home made cakes, courtesy of Christine Bell who got these gems whipped up at 5am that morning!

I felt a mixture of pleasure and pensiveness as it was such a goose pimply evening for me made even more emotional by Christine Bell’s finale poem highlighted below:

Farewell to Shangwe

Sweet celebration mixed with sadness
Saying farewell to Shangwe
So many connections forged
Friendships fostered
A kinship of those who care for creativity

The speciality of Shangwe will endure
Open atmosphere allowing
a freedom of expression without fear
Rich diversity forming a fabric
of shape and sound
Magical power of personal stories
Unfolding in rhythm and rhyme
Enriching the gathering

Heartfelt thanks to our Nicole
Creator of Shangwe, keeping things going
Encouraging others to blossom
No ending really but sweet certainty
of the birth of something even more beautiful

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Short Stories

In this month’s Talking Point, my focus is on the short story genre. One of the ‘issues’ that arose at LitCamp’s unconference was how short stories are not perceived as worthy of mainstream publishing since they generally don’t sell well, or sell in enough volume as say novels.

Even if this is the case, I have found reading short stories as satisfying, and in some cases more satisfying than novels. For example, I vividly remember reading Olive Senior’s second story collection Arrival of the Snake-Woman (1989), an enchanting book of seven short stories, which were particularly well written and a pleasure to read.

In my view, short doesn’t equal less good and ‘less is more’ comes to my mind, since a lot of writing skill is required to be economic with words and yet ensure the depth of a story is there so that nothing is wasted.

According to Dianne Doubtfire in Creative Writing, (2003), ‘Short stories can be any length from 500 to 2500 words, depending on the market, or up to 5000 words for writing competitions. An average 850-1000 is a good ‘canvas’ for a story as it is a popular length with magazines.’

If you are new to writing, the thought of writing a novel of say 60,000 – 80,000 words can be quite daunting, which is why attempting to write a short story can be a great way to test your skills and learn the trade – the craft – of writing.

Suggested Reading:

Arrival of the Snake-Woman by Olive Senior. Publ 1989.

Turf: Short Stories by new black writers. Edited by Jacob Ross and Andrea Enisuoh. Publ 2004 by Black Inc

The Monkey’s Typewriter with Contributions from Willesden Green Writers’ Workshop. Publ 2005 Winner of Raymond Williams Award.

*Centerprise Literature Short Story Competition 2008. Welcomes short stories from new and established writers on any theme. Stories should be 4000 words max and will be judged by the Centerprise in-house creative writing team: Jacob Ross, Martina Evans and Andrea Enisuoh.

Competition Deadline: 15th October 2008 - for entry form and competition rules please email: All winning entries plus shortlist will be considered for publication in a future anthology of work to be published by Centerprise. The top three selected entries will be read by a Literary Agency with a view to future developments.

*Centerprise Literature is an arts development agency for the promotion of access to and enjoyment of literature in all its forms. Through local and community based initiatives we offer courses, workshops and one to one support to new and aspiring writers.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Make a Living While You Write

Bridget Whelan, (pictured above) who I met at LitCamp, provided a useful list of relevant websites to contact if you want to make a living while you write:

General: – trade union for writers


Writer in Residence:

Arts Council guide to being a writer in residence:

National Union of Journalists:
NUJ Freelance Branch guide to freelance rates – constantly being updated:
Free job email alert and news service:

Schools, Universities & the Community:
Life Long Learning:
National Institute of Adult Continuing Education:
Creative Partnerships:
National Association of Writers in Education:
Creative Writing Section of the Higher Education Academy:

Monday, 15 September 2008


A writers’ unconference

On 12th September 2008, I went to LitCamp – a writers’ unconference, held at London Metropolitan University. LitCamp was a space for writers to meet, talk, and share ideas and experiences. The day’s schedule included a range of events – panel discussions with publishers, editors, agents and other writers.

The unconference kicked off with an introduction by Dr. Sarah Law, poet and tutor at London Metropolitan University, followed by a prologue: DIY Book Publishing presentation by

I signed up for ‘Getting inside the editor’s head’, a discussion, which aimed to lift the lid on publishing, which it did, although one and a half hours felt too long. On the panel was Rosalind Porter, senior editor of Granta Magazine, Laura Barber editor of Portobello Books, Tom Chalmers Editor of Legend Press and agent Hannah Westland of Rogers Coleridge & White.

The afternoon sessions faired better time wise, starting with an hour panel discussion of 'Publishing in a digital age', but lacked structure and could have done with a chairperson’s input to direct the panels’ waffling.

One of the most practical and enjoyable sessions was ‘How to make a living while you write’. Led by Bridget Whelan, this 45 minute session was particularly insightful, comprehensive and inspiring. Look out for my forthcoming blog, where I list all the relevant websites that Bridget provided on how to make money while you write. NB: Bridget teaches at City Lit and Goldsmiths College, London. Her first novella A Good Confession is soon to be published by Severn House and she is also the author of a short book Make Money from Your Writing.

By now, I was getting full of the day’s unconference and a bit tired but attending a 30 minute session on Willesden Green Writers’ Group, brought me back on track. The Group was established in 1994 and won the Arts Council administered Raymond Williams Publishing Award in 2005 for their members' anthology, ‘The Monkey’s Typewriter’.

Although I have led a few writers’ groups in the past, I am considering starting one again and picked up practical tips for running a successful writer-led group. The group provide a 2 hourly weekly space for writers of all backgrounds and abilities to share/read their work and receive constructive criticism.

The final 30 minute session was led by author Courttia Newland, co-founder and editor of Talk Tales who inspired me with his perspective and encouraging views on the short story genre. Of particular interest was how he and Nii Ayikwei Parkes merged a short story Talk Tales’ live tour delivered using unique ‘sound-scapes’, which Courttia wasn’t sure was a good idea at first, but was pleasantly surprised at how successful this new venture was – the audience really liked it too!

By now it was 6pm and the evening session’s tone became more laid back and a drinks reception followed in readiness for short readings from LitCamp participants – a nice way to end the day.

On the whole, it was a good unconference and provided a ‘rare’ opportunity to meet publishers, editors and agents in an atmosphere where they’re away from their desks and telephones and are actually looking for fresh faces. I made the most of it!


London Metropolitan University:
Bridget Whelen:
Willesden Green Writers’ Group:
Tell Tales Short Story Anthology:
Publish Your Book:
Monthly Webzine of fiction, listings and reviews:
Tall Lighthouse – new poetry press:

Friday, 29 August 2008


On 28th August 2008, I hosted a Two Year Anniversary Shangwe Poetry Evening at the Poetry Café. In keeping with the Shangwe name, the theme was Celebration.

So while the 'Celebration' chocolates were being passed around, the audience was being soothed by the entertaining and soulful open mic performers: Paula David, Christine Bell, referred to me by Ranjan Book Publications Ursula Troche, Akuba and Devon "The Split" Jones an international visitor originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, residing in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on vacation and flying home the next morning. Devon was referred to me by Jacob Sam-La Rose as she was looking for venues to "drop some knowledge".

Thank you to those who attended and performed, particularly Akuba, who has consistently supported Shangwe since August 2006 with 8 performances, often writing poems specifically for Shangwe’s themed events, and has been Shangwe’s host on at least 3 occasions, including hosting my 2nd anthology’s book launch.

So it gives me great pleasure to honour Akuba’s support by awarding her with the title of Resident Poet, which means that she will have a permanent performance slot at Shangwe’s poetry events for one year. I will soon be in dialogue with Akuba as to her resident poet role, but I see the role as one that offers the freedom to write poetry and perform but this will not rule out any other forms of writing genre.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Dreams, Miracles and Jazz: New Adventures in African Writing, edited by Helon Habila & Kadija Sesay.

On 31 May 2008, I went to 'WORD FROM AFRICA', part of Africa Beyond - a day-long celebration of African literature and languages held at the British Museum.

My main reason for going was the launch of the anthology Dreams, Miracles and Jazz, which includes work from prize-winning and new African writers from all over Africa, the USA, Europe, Australia and Asia.
Contributors included Tony Mochoma (Kenya), Mamle Kabu (Ghana), Gitta Sumner (Sierre Leone), and Ken Kamoche (Kenya) who read from the book.

In this anthology of 25 writers, I have selected A Pocketful of Dreams by Jackee Budesta Batanda, shortlisted for the Caine Prize, as my favourite so far, as I am still reading the book.

A Pocketful of Dreams tells the story (politics) of the oppressive visa queue. With a blend of humour, tragedy, irony and joy (albeit short-lived), this first person narrative takes the reader right there with Taaka on her mission; her journey, which starts at 4am when the special taxi drives her to the British High Commission in Uganda.

On arrival the visa line has already expanded into hundreds of eagerly and anxiously anticipating individuals, all waiting for 8.30am when the consulate offices open 'and the privileged few for the day are let in.' During this anticipation, the waiting game is vividly and tensely portrayed and I felt like I couldn't stand the suspense (and couldn't put the book down either). During those hours that seem like days, tragedy happens, by way of a commotion among 'the unchosen that have been told to come back next week' and a boy faints and dies.

Eventually, Taaka gets her visa and three days later flies on board Emirates Air with a pocketful of dreams...and multi stops - Entebbe-Nairobi-Dubai-London. Her journey takes her to Terminal 4 in England, followed by a tube ride to Wood Green Station in North London, where her mother's friend Anika meets her.

On route through London's overwhelming underground maze, Taaka has a 'friendly' encounter with a gay man from Paris, an auto cation with a girl who Taaka can't help staring at, and more. If that isn't enough for Taaka's first day in England, there is more than a few challenging tube encounters to deal with as her pocketful of dreams are beginning to fade into the realities of her new life in England as Anika briefs her 'about the rules.'

Taaka finally meets her mother who has covered up Taaka's identity and introduces her to her husband as her sister. Taaka's first day ends with her dreaming 'about the boy who fainted and died in the line at the Consulate.'

I've never been to Uganda, but writer Jackee Budesta Batanda's sense of place made me feel as if I had been there. Not only does the writer make me see the things she sees, she makes me feel the things she feels.

A Pocketful of Dreams is extremely well written and captured my full attention, providing me with a sharp and realistic insight into the realities and traumas faced by individuals seeking an adventure into the unknown, with hope and faith, with great and sometimes mythical expectations. Individuals whose drive and faith won't let them give up as they negotiate their way through the world of rigid officialdom - the chosen few will 'escape', to start a new life and join their relatives.

Judging by this contribution, I look forward to reading the rest of the anthologies' new adventures in African writing.

Jackee Budesta Batanda lives in Kampala, Uganda. She was the Africa Regional Winner of the 2003 Commonwealth Short Story Competition, and was short-listed for the Macmillan Writers Prize for Africa 2004. Her story Remember Atita was highly recommended by the judges of the Caine Prize, 2004. She has been Writer-in-Residence at Lancaster University. Her stories have been broadcast on the BBC and around the Commonwealth. She is a member of the Uganda Women Writers Association (FEMRITE).

Dreams, Miracles and Jazz: New Adventures in African Writing was first published by Picador Africa 2008 an imprint of Pan Macmillan South Africa.