Thursday, 24 August 2017

LIT FIEND INTERVIEW [#17]


Lit Fiend Interview number seventeen is here! Featuring a writer whose work has previously appeared in Paper and Ink Literary Zine Issue #10, and now also in Issue #11 - The Punk Issue.


First things first, what's your name, where do you come from, and what do you do?

My name is Hannah Joy Graves. I don't really feel like I come from anywhere. I've been living in Berlin for the last five years but was born in the UK. Southampton is the last place I lived before I came here. I'm also not sure what I do! Until the end of last year, I ran a tattoo studio and gallery here. I'm now working in an office and a bar whilst co-editing a tattoo book. I also freelance as a social media manager/content creator. Could I have made that any more complicated?

Berlin is one of my favourite cities, what prompted you to move there?

It's the perfect backdrop for anyone who thinks they're different I guess. I've always valued a sense of freedom, longed for it and Berlin seemed to offer that. I first came here in 2010, and I was hooked. I was also sick to the back teeth of the UK and looking for an escape route from the life I'd boxed myself into there. I landed a job here in 2012 and moved with one suitcase full of inappropriate clothing and 300€.


I am going back there in September, can you recommend anything I should check out whilst there? Any poetry/literary nights? Any good bars or gig venues?


Honestly, there is just so much going on it's always so hard to make recommendations. It usually depends on when exactly you'll be here, venues and bars vary a lot here depending on what's going on on any specific night so the best I can say is let's get coffee when you're here and I can point you in the right directions! I have to give a shout-out to Franken on Oranienstrasse. It's the first bar I ever went to in Berlin and is somewhat of a spiritual home for me, it's also directly opposite legendary music venue S036, in the neighbourhood I call home. Schwarze Café, once a haunt of Nick Cave and cohorts, is also worth checking out. It's one of my favourite places to drink coffee and read or write.

Your piece in Paper and Ink #11, 'Loving Yourself Is A Riot', deals with a lot of issues stemming from your time fronting a punk band. Do you miss playing in a band?

I do. I absolutely do, but I also feel like it's something that belongs in my past. I never feel done. I always go to shows and think, shit, I should front a band again but as with most things in my life I want all of the gratification without actually doing the work. I want to play shows but I can't be bothered to practice. I recently passed up the opportunity to try out for a band here, the more I thought about it the more I just couldn't see it. I think it's the writing lyrics aspect of being in a band that was a big part of the appeal for me, feeling like you're speaking to and relating to people, so I'm focusing on that at the moment. Or moving into a headspace where I can at least think about it.



The piece makes reference to what your life may have been like had you not discovered punk. What do you think non-punk Hannah would be up to now?

I'd like to say, she'd be better educated, she'd probably be married, she'd probably have more stability but as I say that I can say one thing with absolute certainty. If she was still alive, she'd be completely miserable. I have been a weird kid my whole life. I tried hard to fit in. I never felt as if I had anyone fooled and non-punk Hannah would have been crushed by the effort. Punk Hannah very nearly didn't make it, so she would have had no chance.



Sticking with punk for a moment, what are your current favourite artists/albums?

I'm a massive Alkaline Trio fan. That band. I've only recently got into Against Me! I can remember everyone being like HOLY SHIT THIS BAND but I sort of missed them, so I'm really enjoying them at the moment. I get a lot of life from seeing friends of mine be creative and succeed so Southampton heroes Creeper, who just got home from Warped tour are my current favourites. I also like to keep a loving eye on Itch from The King Blues, he's putting out a poetry book soon. There's so much stuff on regular rotation with me, Jimmy Eat World, AFI, Danzig, Ghost, Dolly Parton. I'm learning to be open to new/different stuff too. I really like Sia for example, and Kesha's new stuff is incredible. Minus twenty scene points.

If you were stranded on a desert island which three albums would you want with you?

I have always wanted someone to ask me this question and now I can't answer it. The temptation is to pick three obscure, very "cool" albums but I'm going to have to take the route of radical honesty and say-

1. Alkaline Trio/Hot Water Music Split Ep

2. The Get Up Kids - On A Wire

3. Heavens - Patent Pending



What books are you reading at the moment?

I'm reading Tranny by Laura Jane Grace and learning tarot with Michelle Tea's amazing new book, "Modern Tarot". I also have a well-loved copy of Tea's "How To Grow Up" on the go at all times.

Which writers/artists/people/whatever have been the biggest influence on your own writing?

Well, speaking of Michelle Tea, I don't think any writer has been more helpful to me in so many ways. I'd like to make How To Grow Up, compulsory reading for everyone. Nick Cave is such a wonderful writer. Sick Bag Song is a masterpiece. Again, it's in my nature to try and think of cool stuff to list off here now so people will think I'm cultured and interesting but honestly, the thing having the biggest influence on my writing right now is my recovery from alcoholism and the community that has connected me to. I get to spend my time in rooms full of incredible, moving, stories and I am learning more about the art of storytelling by figuring out who I am in recovery more than I have anywhere else. Hemingway said, "in order to write about life, first you must live it" and I just adore that quote because it reassures me that I've been doing research all these "wasted" years.

I have really enjoyed both the pieces you've had in Paper and Ink so far and would love to see more... What are your plans going forward, writing wise?

Thank you. I'd love to write more. I'm in this intensely transformative time in my life but I feel I've had a calling since I was a tiny kid. I used to write pages and pages of stories in a handwriting that no one could read, but I could read them to you, and at some point, a long the way, I lost that. But I feel like I'm starting to uncover it now. I'd like to work with other women on a project I'm calling "Dear John ", which I can't really tell you too much about yet as it's just an idea. All I know is that it's driven by a desire to empower female voices. I'm hoping to host some reading nights, maybe make a zine. I don't know. I know that at some point I'm going to have to sit down and open this door I know I've kept closed for a long time because I know it will overwhelm me when it opens. I can also tell you that I'm fucking angry. I'm disgusted that I live in a world where our governments are actively poisoning us, killing us and making a profit from that whilst running anti-drug campaigns. I'm tired of seeing my friends die from alcoholism. Raising some awareness of addiction as a disease and trying to shine some light on the quality of life that is possible in recovery, and how much more effective we can be in instigating change with the clarity it brings is going to be a huge priority for me now and I hope that's something I can do through my writing.


Thank you for answering these questions. Follow Hannah on Twitter and Instagram @hannahjoygraves and buy Issue 11 of Paper and Ink Literary Zine from here or here.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

BOOK REVIEW: THIS IS SARAH BY ALLY MALINENKO



This Is Sarah is the debut novel from writer and poet, Ally Malinenko. A duel protagonist narrative about the titular Sarah. A teenage girl from a small town in Colorado, who goes missing. The duel protagonists are Sarah's next door neighbour, and boyfriend, Colin, and her younger sister, Claire. The story follows the year in their lives after her disappearance, and how they each deal with the pain of their loss, and the frustration of not having any tangible answers about what happened.

I wasn't too sure what to expect when I picked this book up. I partially expected a lighthearted YA mystery, where the heartbroken boyfriend and the plucky younger sister team up to uncover the mystery of Sarah's disappearance, Paper Towns-style. However, this is not that. At all. Sarah is no Pixie McQuirkyname and there is no intricate trail of breadcrumbs that lead to her whereabouts. She is gone. Taken. Probably murdered. She has left a gaping hole in a lot of lives, and nobody really knows how the fuck to deal with that. This is a character study. A study in love, loss and the absolute kick in the bollocks that is ambiguous grief.

There are not many books that truly hook me, and force me to keep reading when I know I should be going to sleep, but this was one of them. I have always hated the term "page turner", because I so rarely come across them, but This Is Sarah is one of them. 100%. A gripping story, about everyday people, attempting to deal with a fucked up situation. Highly recommended. Before this, I had only ever read Ally Malinenko's poetry, but I will now be awaiting her next novel with bated breath.

Follow Ally on Twitter @AllyMalinenko      

WORDS TO LIVE BY [#78]

source: Diane Di Prima via fantasticpixcool

Monday, 7 August 2017

BOOK REVIEWS: ZEN IN THE ART OF DRINKING AND NO FEAR, NO SHAME



NO FEAR, NO SHAME BY ALICE DENNY

Published earlier this year by PCPoetry, this is an incredibly powerful and inspiring collection. The word "powerful" is banded around a lot (too often, perhaps) when describing poetry, but in this case it couldn't be more fitting. These are poems about life, love, longing, existing and surviving all of the shit that this cruel world can throw at you. Beautiful poetry, not just in content, but also in form; lines that are so delicate and delightful that you find yourself wanting to read them aloud from the page as you go. Wonderful stuff. Grab one yourself, directly from Alice.

"This is my epiphany,
My story
The glory of my Spring
Unfolding, blossoming
All I ever longed to be:
Me. Free.
And SHE"

ZEN IN THE ART OF DRINKING BY BRADLEY MASON HAMLIN

Who doesn't love a drinking poem?! If per chance you don't love a drinking poem, then this collection may not be the one for you. The latest in a long line of great chapbooks from Holy&intoxicated Publications, this collection is just my cup of tea. Or pint of cider, as is slightly more fitting. I had not heard the name Bradley Mason Hamlin before this chapbook fell through my letterbox, however I quickly discovered a few favourite poet! Stripped back, minimalist, bare knuckle poetry, from the gut to the page.

FFO: Charles Bukowski, Dan Fante, Doug Draime, John D Robinson, Scott Wozniak  

Buy one now from publisher John D Robinson via johndrobinson@yahoo.co.uk

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

BOOK REVIEWS: THE BEST OF A BAD SITUATION AND PWR VOL



THE BEST OF A BAD SITUATION BY JAMIE THRASIVOUSLOU

It is immediately evident reading The Best of a Bad Situation that Jamie Thrasivoulou is a very passionate individual, and a proud resident of his native Derby. This emotional rollercoaster of a poetry collection is a visceral and hard-hitting showcase Jamie's work; tackling issues ranging from drug and alcohol abuse and racism to living and surviving in austerity Britain. To capture the intensity of his live performances on the page is no easy task, but Jamie has pulled it off with flying colours. This is certainly not a collection for the faint-hearted, but one you'd be foolish to miss out on. Grab one now from Silhouette Press.



PWR VOL BY NICK SCANDY, AARON ZONKA AND MINI AND THE BEAR

PWR VOL is a series of weird and wonderful philosophical vignettes, loosely stitched together by various threads and themes that run throughout. Reading this book, no *experiencing* this book, was like watching Richard Linklater's Waking Life, if it had had a pounding punk rock soundtrack. PWR VOL may not be everybody's cup of tea, and will likely split opinion, but one thing is for sure, you have definitely never read anything like it before! Buy one from B.O.S.S Underground Press.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

BOOK REVIEW: CRUMBLING UTOPIAN PIPEDREAM BY SCOTT WOZNIAK



Scott Wozniak has seen some shit. This new poetry collection from Moran Press offers a sobering snapshot at a life of hardship, pain and regret. Wozniak puts it all on the line and pulls no punches. At times it can be hard to swallow, but it is necessary. This is vital and honest poetry. 

One particular poem that stood out to me and hit me right in the feels was Numb, a poem that highlights the stark reality of heroin addiction - as he watches his friends die one by one from overdoses, he finally realises that he needs to get clean:

"I stood numb,
tearless,
thinking to myself,
"They finally got
what they wanted,"
then wondered,
"What the fuck
made me
stop wanting
to die?"

That, to me,
is more mysterious
than death
could ever be."

This is not poetry that glamourises the struggle, or celebrates reckless behaviour, but poetry of survival and redemption. Of fucking up and learning from it. Of taking every blow that life can throw at you, getting back up and throwing right back.

Littered throughout the confessional big hitters are astute and oftentimes comical observations about modern life, delivered in Wozniak's concise and succinct style. The juxtaposition of these lighthearted interludes make Crumbling Utopian Pipedream a fascinating and enjoyable read. I am incredibly proud to have published Scott's work in past issues of Paper and Ink Literary Zine (#9 and #10) and shout out must be made to the striking cover artwork by Marie Enger (whom illustrated the covers of Paper and Ink Issues #6 and #9). Grab a copy of Crumbling Utopian Pipedream from publisher Moran Press.