Last night saw the launch of Crystal Voices, an anthology of poems and stories celebrating ten years of the arts organisation and publisher based in the East Midlands. You can check out the list of writers in the anthology and order a very reasonably priced copy here.
The launch took place at the Western pub spoken word night, Shindig! and followed readings by Jo Bell and Jonathan Davidson, whose new books, Jo’s ‘Kith’ and Jonathan’s ‘Humfrey Coninngsby’ I can highly recommend.
Shindig! is a regular open mike with guest readers, an event jointly run by Crystal Clear and the wonderful Nine Arches Press, and over the years the list of visiting readers has begun to look like a who’s who of contemporary poetry.
One of the most valuable aspects of these readings is the sense of community that has built up among the attending writers and readers over the years, with familiar and new faces gathering at the bi-monthly events to chat and enjoy and support each other’s work. The event is well run but relaxed, and there is a respectful and democratic atmosphere in which everyone’s voice is given an equal chance to be aired and shared.
The Crystal Voices anthology, edited by poet and co founder (with award winning writer Jonathan Taylor) of the organisation Maria Taylor, contains work by writers who have been involved with the organisation in some way, either via publication in CCC’S magazine Hearing Voices or through attending and reading at events over the years.
True to the spirit of CCC, newer writers are included beside more established poets published by presses like Carcanet, Bloodaxe and Smiths Doorstop, and the anthology gives some idea of the varied range of writing and the numerous writers that have all benefited in some way from their association with this ambitious and well run organisation.
I first encountered Crystal Clear via their pamphlet competition. I was persuaded by my friend Tracy Twell to enter, and my pamphlet ‘Gopagilla’ was published and launched in 2012, alongside other winning writers Ally Stoneman, Jess Mayhew (recently nominated for the Melita Hume Prize), Charles Lauder, Andrew Graves and Hannah Stevens.
Apart from some magazine publications and one or two in competition anthologies, ‘Gopagilla’ was the first time I’d had my work brought together between covers. I was delighted with the artwork and quality of the publication and with the promotion and support I received. I had, and still have, a great relationship with the organisation.
One outcome of the publication of Gopagilla (forgive me if you’ve heard this before) was that John Lucas, esteemed writer and publisher of Shoestring press, wrote to tell me how much he had enjoyed the pamphlet and asked “have you got anymore as I’d like to publish a full collection.”
CCC is a not-for-profit arts organisation devoted to developing, producing, publishing and promoting new writing. Such organisations are the life blood of writing in this country, allowing new writers a platform to share and develop their work, to gain exposure, experience and confidence.
The scope of CCC’s activities and involvement in supporting grass-roots creative writing of all kinds in and around the East Midlands over the past ten years is too great to list here. If you’d like to find out more you could visit their website. Whatever the dynamic partnership behind Crystal Clear decides to do next, you can rest assured that it will be done with care and sensitivity and will be motivated by a selfless desire to support the writers and writing in the region. Here’s to the next ten years!