On Sunday months of unease and a moment of revelation culminated in a rather long and introspective post about the way I’ve been using my time, and the changes I need to introduce to keep my sanity and my energy and passion for promoting the love of words. I have been truly moved by the response but I’m aware that I left things rather vague, which isn’t really very helpful of me. So I wanted this post to be the concrete cousin of Sunday’s, outlining tersely and attentively what I do want to spend my time promoting. What I discovered when I sat down to think about it was that actually nothing has changed since I drew up all those early manifestos – the only thing that’s changed is that I’ve allowed myself to get sidetracked and spread too thin, so this is little more than a reiteration and reaffirmation of those ideals that matter most to me
- The New Libertines show. This has evolved into a wonderful live show, and remained true to the original creative manifesto:
“The New Libertine movement, if it can be labelled a movement, stands for human experience in its glorious, messy, complex entirity, and stands against everything that is blank, bleak, and brutal, one dimensional or slick in contemporary culture, especially current literary culture. With roots that spread to burlesque, Beat, fin de siecle France and ecstatic mystics before slapping its influences around the face with a knuckle-dusting of postmodern wit and Modernist anger, New Libertinism is a celebration of light in dark corners, desire in the face of boredom, despair hidden beneath the underskirts of affluence – of everything it means to be human.
Writing that serves up the whole of life, in the smallest microcosms maybe, single truths told in single voices, but told in the full – the ugly and the beautiful; the hopeful and the despairing; the angry and the aspiring; that wrings art, words, life itself until they offer up every last secret, every hidden pain, every unexpected and delightful pleasure; that gives life in the full. Free from judgement. Free from taboo. Free from pretence”
I want to take the show on the road and do 5 or 6 shows a year, maybe include some festivals or a proper mini tour, but develop the brand and its USP that combines the above artistic statement with the format of lots of short sharp sets that have no headline and no support. In order to keep building the audience this means I’m going to have to keep the focus of the acts I can include very distilled. I hope people will understand. The result will be fewer spaces available but, I hope, a much bigger gulp of air for those who work in that area – and of course I will happily tweet out about everyone else I love working in different areas.
- Overgrounding the underground. This has always been the central priority at eight cuts gallery, as voiced in our manifesto:
“there is writing out there that will blow your mind. and you have no idea it’s there at all.
eight cuts exists to champion extraordinary literature from people you may never have been given the chance to encounter, be it a single poem, a performance or a body of novels
eight cuts is a doorway to a world you heard is there.
a world intimated at in blog comments and tweets
a world alluded to in magazines
a world a shadow of a shadow of which is hinted at in newspaper and magazine articles
a world you’ve probably been told is meaningless, scary, junked-up, trashy, bloated, angry, wannabe
we are rats
we live in our own space, build our own communities, societies, foundation myths and bodies of work.
we share some of your doorways, and sometimes you will see the traces we leave behind. traces like this. often they are strange, unfamiliar, and consequently seem frightening, but they are doorways onto a whole world that exists, fully formed, in parallel with yours.
for too long we have been expected to push at these doors, and gaze around them in wonder and admiration, dreaming, cap in hand, of one day entering the world beyond them. we think maybe it’s time for us to offer an invitation the other way.
go on. push, and see what exists on the other side of the door. those traces you see on blogs and underpasses, left behind in railway carriages and in strange marks on walls and pavements and facebook updates. they are tips, and traces, but of what? of something remarkable and fantastic.”
I want to keep bringing the very best of this world to people’s attention.
- Making a pain in the ass of myself in calling the media to account when it whitewashes over whole swathes of literature like it doesn’t exist. That means championing self-publishing to papers, competitions, and festivals. It means championing genuinely daring and original self-publishing within that discussion. It means championing poetry, and spoken word within the discussion of poetry. It means championing the possibilities of technology not for selling stuff or distributing stuff but for doing startling and original things.
- Campaigning for the true democratisation of art and removal of the hidden boundaries – in particular, not letting up when it comes to reminding people of the digital divide; pointing out the implicit exclusions in the traditional publishing model and campaigning for wider access to more material by a wider body of writers from more groups within society; campaigning on mental health issues in the arts.
- Flying the flag artistically against the myth of the death of the author and for the confessional in art – be that theoretically, by championing confessional work I love, or through my own work.