The Aesthetica Creative Writing Award

MShed cr Judy DarleyAesthetica Magazine invites writers and poets to submit work into the Creative Writing Award.

The Aesthetica Creative Writing Award celebrates outstanding short fiction and poetry from around the world. The deadline for entering the award is 31 August 2017.

Prizes include publication within Aesthetica Creative Writing Anthology and £1,000 for each category winner. Winner of the short fiction competition will receive a consultation with literary agency Redhammer Management, while the Poetry winner will have a Full Membership to The Poetry Society.  To whet your appetite for creating more literary works, the winners will also receive, a subscription to Granta and books courtesy of Bloodaxe Books and Vintage Books.

It costs £12 to enter the Poetry category and £18 to enter the Short Fiction category.

Fiction entries should be no more than 2,000 words each and poetry entries should be no more than 40 lines each. Both short fiction and poetry entries should be written in English. Unusually, submissions previously published elsewhere are accepted. You may enter as many times as you wish.

For full details, visit www.aestheticamagazine.com/creativewriting
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Theatre Review – Jungle Book by Metta Theatre

Jungle Book - Photo5 by Richard DavenportWhether you’re a fan of the Rudyard Kipling original, Disney’s animated version or the more recent life-action release, Metta Theatre’s street dance extravaganza adapted and directed by Poppy Burton-Morgan offers something completely new.

Exploding onto the stage at Bristol Old Vic until 29th July, the set is minimal, the cast compact and the story stripped right back, but the energy is overflowing.

Jungle Book - Photo1 by Richard Davenport

Raw, ruthless and stark, the world we enter blurs nature and the urban jungle, with each animal group represented by a different gang. Bagheera (Kloé Dean) is a street artist armed with a spray can, the wolves are skateboarders (Matt Knight and, aptly, Ellen Wolf), and Baloo (Stefano Addae) is an endearingly comical street sweeper. Streetlights double up as trees and crowd control barriers create different areas of conflict and confinement.

Jungle Book - Photo4 by Richard Davenport

Costumes merely hint at the characters we’re witnessing – jackets and hoods with strips of fur, or a slinky shimmer of green in the case of Kaa (Nathalie Alison). More striking are the movements employed by each animal tribe – their postures and rhythms immediately let you know the species being shown.

Shere Khan, played by the disturbingly flexible and double-jointed Kaner Scott, fills the stage with tension every time he limps on. As the lighting by William Reynolds alters hue to hike up the atmosphere or change setting entirely, he picks up pace to chase a mother wheeling a pram off stage, and the sense of something terrible about to happen is palatable.

Jungle Book photo by Richard Davenport

Mowgli, in this instance a girl played by the spirited and charismatic Alfa Marks, brings the opposite mood on stage – bringing humour, light and a great deal of charm. We watch her being tutored by mentors Baloo and Bagheera in the dances that will help her survive jungle life, with each gang having its own particular moves, from sinuous Kaa to the raucous and mischievous monkeys.

The suited humans have their own language, depicted through frenetic, almost robotic steps. Their light is also far colder than that of the more feral parts of the jungle, adding another sinister thread to Mowgli’s survival story.

It’s all enormous family-friendly fun, carrying us through scene after scene on a wave of sizzling vivacity. The scene where Mowgli tries on different formal clothes and samples a series of formal dances shows off the breadth of her talent as well as heightening the contrast between jungle and so-called civilised living, with a healthy dose of comedy. The circus skills, particular those performed by Mowgli and Kaa, are extraordinary to watch, with aerial choreography masterminded by Alfra Marks.

Jungle Book - Photo2 by Richard Davenport

This is a performance that reaches beyond words to attain something far more emotive, animalistic and elevated. My only quibble? Mowgli’s closing speech urging us to use our words to stand up for what we believe in. It’s a confusing conclusion to a play where body language takes precedence so powerfully.

Jungle Book is at Bristol Old Vic Theatre until 29th July 2017.
 
Find out more at www.bristololdvic.org.uk.

All photos by Richard Davenport.

Writing prompt – invasion

Llansteffan barrel jellyfish by Judy DarleyWhen visiting south Wales recently, my mum and I went for a stroll on a beautiful beach where the tide was far, far out. After ambling about for a time, we suddenly spotted a jellied mound in a shallow pool – a gigantic dead barrel jellyfish. Then we saw one on the sand, and another. They were all over the shore, stranded and alien.

Here’s another with Mum’s foot beside it for scale.

Llansteffan barrel jellyfish, Mum's foot by Judy Darley

Imagine encountering an invasion like this. What could have caused it? What might be coming next?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to Judy(at)socket creative.com to let me know. With your permission, I might publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Escape to Port Eliot

Port Eliot Festival cr Michael Bowles

All photographs used in this post are taken by Michael Bowles

Describing itself rather eloquently as “an annual celebration of words, music, imagination, ideas, nature, food, fashion, flowers, laughter, exploration and fun”, Port Eliot Festival brings together some of the best creative talents around and plonks them in the middle of a magical sprawling garden party.

It all kicks off on 27th July, running till 30th July, at St Germans, West Cornwall.

This year’s speakers, performers, mixologists and events include poet Hollie McNish, Geoff Dyer, Three Cane Whale, Salena Godden, Tim Smit, Las Cafeteras, and Martha Tilston, “with a voice like spiderwebbed hollows.” And so many others

There are also exhibitions to be inspired by: In The Round Room, you’ll find Adrift, a combination of art and science, which throws light on the 27,000 individual pieces of debris currently orbiting above us.

Each of the stages have names that seem plucked straight from fairytales: Caught by the River, Walled Garden, Flower and Fodder, The Idler Academy and The Black Cow Saloon being just a few.

Port Eliot woodland cr Michael Bowles

It helps, of course, that the surroundings are some of the finest SW England has to offer, with historical attractions including the oldest church in Cornwall – St Germans Priory Norman church. Natural delights range from the Grade 1 listed park and garden, to the estuary – an irresistible spot for a dusk-glow lantern parade.

Port Eliot estuary cr Michael Bowles

That’s not all though, not by a long short. Look out for the Hush Starry Garden, Philosophy and Psychology Walks, life classes with owls, Survival Wisdom Masterclasses and much more. Once the grounds open, anything can happen – in the word’s of the organisers, “at Port Eliot, as twilight turns to darkness, you may still feel the menacing frisson of the unknown coming night…”

Now, that’s my kind of party.

Night at Port Eliot Festival cr Michael Bowles

RWA Annual Open Exhibition

RWA Open Exhibition 163

RWA © Alice Hendy

The Royal West of England Academy in Bristol is currently preparing one of my favourite cultural events (Ta very much!) – the RWA Annual Open Exhibition.

Submissions are open until Monday 21st August at 5pm, so if you get a wriggle on you still have a chance of being part of it!

The exhibition will be open to the public from Sunday 1 October to Sunday 3 December 2017. Artists of all ages and experience are invited to submit.

Now in its 165th year, the exhibition is open to anyone with something to show, regardless of experience level and discipline choice. Last year 593 works by 387 artists made it into the final exhibition, which was a truly outstanding showcase of talent.

Tempted?

All applicants must apply online, submitting images using the new Online Exhibition Submission System (OESS).

Points to remember:

  • Submissions must be no more than three years old and must be for sale
  • A maximum of 3 works may be submitted per applicant (4 for Academicians)
  • Work cannot have been exhibited before at the RWA
  • All entries are subject to selection and a submission fee per work for entry applies

Find full details here: www.rwa.org.uk/whats-on/165-annual-open-exhibition. Good luck!

Writing prompt – trickery

Colby Walled Garden gazebo ceiling by Judy DarleyI visited Colby Woodland Garden in south west Wales. It features a gorgeous walled garden complete with a trio of slug-eating ducks and a summerhouse decked out in Trompe l’oeil paintings by American artist Lincoln Taber.

Colby Walled Garden key by Judy DarleyPut simply, Trompe l’oeil, or ‘trick of the eye, is the art of illusion – a fake key hung on a real wall above painted shelves and below painted windows that let in portions of painted sky.

A confusion of real and illusory flowers bloom almost side by side, while real statues shelter false glasses of wine.

Imagine a Trompe l’ceil  summerhouse where no one knows what’s real and what’s not. How could this environment alter a person’s understanding of the world? How might a person living in a place where more is an illusion than real respond to the world beyond the garden’s walls?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to Judy(at)socket creative.com to let me know.

With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Colby Walled Garden gazebo by Judy Darley

 

Dragonfly Tea want your short stories

Tea plantation cr Judy DarleySeeking a boost for your short story writing? Dragonfly Tea have launched their 2017 short story competition in partnership with Henley Literary Festival.

invite you a short story on the theme of Journey, and submit it to their short story competition before 11:59pm (GMT) on Monday 31st July 2017. Your tale can’t be more than 3,000 words long; there is no minimum length.

There is also a children’s competition too, with categories for ages 4-7, 8-11 and 12-15. Tales in this section must be on the theme of adventure and must not be more than 500 words long, not including the title.

The the competitions are open to all non-professional fiction writers who are UK residents. In other words, you can only enter is you have never received a fee for your written work, be that fiction or non-fiction. Prize money received as a result of entering work into a competition is not considered a fee.

The competitions are free to enter.

Entries can be submitted via post or online via the online entry page of the Dragonfly Tea website.

Prizes

Main competition

  • 1st – £1500
  • 2nd – £750
  • 3rd – £250

Children’s Competition, in each category

  • £50 voucher for each winner plus £100 voucher for their school.

Finalists from all categories will be invited to the Henley Literary Festival on Sunday 8th October 2017 for a special awards ceremony and prize giving.

Find full details of these creative writing competitions.

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw my attention to? Send me an email at Judy(at)socket creative(dot)com.

Wordy riches

Wordy riches by Judy DarleyI got back from holiday to discover three exciting parcels waiting for me. What a brilliant welcome home! Each package contained a wealth of wordy riches.

The first I opened contained a review copy of The Dragonfly by Kate Dunn, which I can’t wait to start reading.

Sleep is a Beautiful ColourThe second was this year’s National Flash Fiction Day anthology, Sleep is a Beautiful Colour, containing my story Fascinate.

The book offers up a selection of fabulously quirky and inventive flashes compiled and edited by Santino Prinzi and Meg Pokrass. I’m so pleased to have my tale included!

The third package contained my prize for winning third place in the National Flash Fiction Day NZ competition – my favourite kinds of prizes, words.

In The Wild Wood by Frances Gapper already has me enthralled, and, yes, those are teeny tiny books in the little box in the centre. So enticing!

National Flash Fiction Day NZ 3rd prize

I feel well and truly topped up with gorgeous fictions. Don’t expect to hear from me for a while :)

Writing prompt – glass heart

Glass heart by Peach Perfect

The most beautiful gift just arrived in the post from Kate at Peach Perfect. A handblown glass heart in a mass of jewel colours, it reminds me of being a small child coveting pirate’s treasure chests.

Imagine finding something like this washed up on a beach. From where could it have swept in? How could you keep it safe?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to Judy(at)socket creative.com to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Edinburgh Book Festival welcomes word-lovers

Edinburgh book festival gardensThis year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival is on from 12th-28th August 2017, bringing writers and thinkers from across the globe together with a lit-loving audience.

Speakers include Carnegie Medal-winner Frank Cottrell Boyce, who wrote the opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics), Diana Hendry, The Girl on the Train author Paula Hawkins, Tariq Ali, Mao Dun Prize-winning author Liu Zheyun, and countless others. There’s a chance to have afternoon tea with Yemisi Aribisala, to find out children’s books can introduce philosophy with Alison Murray, Vivian French and Dr Claire Cassidy, plus the possibility of creating a pop up museum with V&A Dundee.
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