Happy Halloween! I hope that everyone is having a spook-tacular, fang-tastic (okay, I’ll stop) holiday today. Personally, I’ve been celebrating all throughout the month by reading creepy stories (the Ghost anthology edited by Louise Welsh is a personal favorite to dip in and out of), watching old episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark? on YouTube, lighting lots of candles and even going on ghost tour here in Edinburgh which took us underground into the Blair Street vaults. On late afternoons, I’ve also been strolling through The Meadows, trying to snap photos of the autumn foliage before it disappears.
As I mentioned in my last blog post, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays (second only to Christmas) and October is certainly my favorite month. It also contains my birthday, which I celebrated this year with a chill pub night with friends and with a trip down to Cumbria to read at a poetry event (more on that below!).
These seasonal and birthday celebrations provided welcomed and much needed breaks from PhD work, which has, honestly, been tough this month. I’m in my final year of my Doctorate of Fine Arts and while I’m at a good place with my work, some days it’s really a struggle to stay motivated with this project which I began two years ago. Anyone doing a PhD (or who has ever done any long project probably!) can almost certainly relate to this feeling of CAN’T I JUST BE DONE ALREADY. Or worse: WHAT POSSESSED ME TO DO THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE? INSPIRATION, WHERE HAVE YOU LED ME?!? I might write a longer post about this in the future, but finding the motivation when you’re in the middle of something, of anything, can be super challenging with all the new, shiny ideas buzzing around out there. But I’m staying the course, slowly but surely. Fellow PhD candidates at any stage of the process, you have my admiration and respect!
But enough of my grad student woes. I wanted to share with you some of the exciting literary happenings that took place this month…
This month I had a short story, Climbing Boys, published in the historical fiction magazine The Copperfield Review. It’s a macabre tale of Victorian chimney sweeps and perfect seasonal reading (if I do say so myself!). You can read it here.
I also had an extract of my performance poem, Texas, I Can’t Bring you to Parties Anymore, published in the Write to be Counted anthology for human rights, profits go to PEN International. You can get a copy of the anthology here.
I only did one poetry performance this month, but it was a fantastic one. I went down to Cumbria for the launch of the Write to Be Counted anthology and had the pleasure of staying with a friend of mine, writer and Cumbria native Katie Hale.
She showed my partner and I around this beautiful part of England and I was blown away by the landscapes.
Is it any wonder that so many poets are from this area?
I would definitely go back to Cumbria any time and it was a delight to perform at the launch, which took place in an old Fire Station and had a potluck buffet.
The performance I did at the Transatlantic Literary Women Symposium last summer was featured on their amazing podcast here. (Doesn’t the podcast host have the most soothing voice?) I was also interviewed on their previous podcast about creativity, the role of workshops and my favorite Transatlantic Literary Woman (hint: she’s also an American poet who lived in the U.K…).
I was also interviewed by the lovely Haley Jenkins over at Selcouth Station. We talk all about performance poetry, poetry slams, tips for overcoming stage fright and more. Check out the interview here.
That’s all folks! I hope that you have lovely and suitably spooky day. If you’re in the mood for a scary film, might I recommend Under the Shadow? It’s set in 1980’s Tehran and I was lucky enough to see it last year at the Glasgow Film Theatre with both the director and star there for a Q and A! You can read it as a traditional haunted house story, or as more of a psychological thriller, or as something in between. Either way, it continues to haunt me.
Have a wonderful Halloween night! And remember, in the immortal words of Tim Curry in The Worst Witch, ‘Anything can happen on Halloween…’