Monday, 25 October 2010

Bugged Launch

“On a single summer's day, writers from all over the UK took part in a mass eavesdropping experiment. They snooped on unsuspecting people in coffee shops, on trains, in the hairdresser's salon... and turned their over-heard snippets into new writing. Bugged brings together award-winning writers including Stuart Maconie (Pies and Prejudice), Mil Millington (Things My Girlfriend Have Argued About) and Jenn Ashworth (A Kind of Intimacy), with a host of new voices. Pay close attention to their words. After all- they may have been listening to you.”

-Blurb for Bugged

The Bugged book launch took place on the 14th of this month. The launch was the first official event of the festival. I was there, along with Joely Black, who wrote the official writeup. Check her account out here:

On 1st July, a group of Manchester writers were given a secret mission: to eavesdrop on the public... To “bug” them. They went on trains, to weddings, into maternity wards, to places and events all over the UK. The Bugged organisers wanted sharp flash fiction and poetry based on what they heard.

Within four months, Bugged the book was in paperback- a remarkable turnaround. Now at the launch, the contributors are ready to tell us more on the project and read sections of their stories.

“Pay attention to what they say,” says compare Jo Bell, “because they might have been bugging you.”

Contributor Cathy Bryant, who is also launching her own collection of stories soon, read an excerpt of her story. “Usually if I'm in a room this posh,” she said, “it's because one of my friends is being sentenced.”

Other readers included Dorothy Burgess, who “bugged” her sister-in-law to create the story “Let Go”, and Emma Morgan, who Jo assured us “knows how to skin a rabbit”, reading her tale “Honey”. Balancing the gender issue was life writer Ian Marchant, whose story “Rumours” featured a man dealing with Fleetwood Mac records being pumped through the walls on full blast at midnight... by his 23-year-old neighbour. Valerie O'Leary's “Magic Mirror” featured a woman being tricked into using urine as a beauty product. Phil Williams- who sounded just like the lead singer of Goldie Looking Chain, although in his suit looked nothing like them, read out his piece. “You aren't going to fucking do that, are you?”- the name of the poem- ends on a tense note. Phil claimed he's “a casualty of the cuts and will read for pints.”

Here's GLC, for those who don't know:

And here's the Bugged site

I'm planning on trying something of this nature- using real conversations to make new literature- so I gave the organisers my email. And of course, bought the book. Even though some of the contributors are new writers, the overall level of writing talent in the book is high. Check it out.

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