Thursday, 16 February 2012

Literary Loos by Dan Holloway

This post is the result of a confluence of Karen's wonderful post about where we read and a photographic series I'm doing over on tumblr. And a lifelong crush on Lucinda Lambton.

It's where many of us do much of our reading. And it's the only room in the house to have spawned a whole genre designed to be read in it (Schott's Miscellany, 21st Century Dodos etc). Yet we rarely celebrate the place itself. So here's to the literary loo.

The three specimens on this page are from three of the shows I've performed at lately. And in each case it's a fabulous indicator of the show itself.

93 Feet East in Brick Lane is home to FULLFAT, a fabulous spoken word night run by Orange Prize judge, former Oxford University Poetry Society President, and stunning poet Clarissa Pabi. It's edgy, loud, full of fire and passion and one of those atmospheres that feels like it could explode at any moment into something spontaneous and remarkable. The night I was on the bill, one of the audience members was there interviewing Dean Atta, whose incredible poem about Stephen Lawrence went viral after the sentencing of two of his killers. The resulting piece is on the Guardian website here (with a little more about the night).

Oxford's Albion Beatnik Bookstore is where I put on most of my shows. In particular it's been the venue for Not the Oxford Literary Festival for 3 years now. Our third staging runs from March 27-30 this year (I will say more about it next month). It's a celebration of everything that's not celebrated at the Oxford Literary Festival - notably: amazing local writers, underground literature, and the cuttingest edge of digital publishing (he doesn't know it yet, though he will when he reads this, but I'm hoping our own Dennis Hamley will be part of our alternative publishing slot on the Friday night). It's a warm, inclusive, super-chatty and thoroughly beatniky kind of an event - perfect summed up in that quotation-filled orange room!

Three Minute Theatre is housed on the ground floor of manchester's legendary Afflecks Palace. Last month it played host to the touring spoken word night I run, The New Libertines. It was truly the most incredible literary night I can remember with a smorgasbord of characters that ranged from award-winning novelists Michael Stewart and Elizabeth Baines to Anna Percy, host of the feminist poetry night Stirred and Sian S Rathore, whose reading of her poem I'm So Jacked was declared by everyone there to be the most incredible piece of art they had ever seen. The New Libertines is a glorious loose-haired cabaret of a night.

I have no idea what the loos will be like, but here's a little snippet of what I'll be up to before my next post:


A Man Eating Chicken on March 4th at The New Inn, Gloucester is the latest in a series of events from ARTournament, a super arts organisation based around Gloucestershire.
Poetry in the Parlour on March 7th at Blackwell's is part of Oxford International Women's Festival

21 comments:

dirtywhitecandy said...

Has such a thing ever been done before on a writing blog? Congratulations, Dan, for taking blogging where no one has gone before!

Dan Holloway said...

ha ha!! "where no one has gone before!" - there may be a reason for that :)

Dennis Hamley said...

Well Dan, it's nice to be told what my programme is. I know my Alternative hat is hanging up somewhere so I'll find it, put it on and be there. My recklessly exciting social calendar is blank for that night so we're OK.

Yes, great. Three minute Theatre sounds fascinating. Dan, I really donlt think I've met anyone as endlessly inventive as you are.

Dan Holloway said...

I was being very cheeky, but if you would be willing to come and give a short reading and tell people why you have decided to self-publish, about AE, and also about you various other ventures (about 5 minutes reading and the same talking) it would be wonderful to have you :)

Linda Newbery said...

Excellent, Dan! Reminds me that when I was a child I always wondered why no one ever needed a loo in the stories I read.

CallyPhillips said...

As someone who spends half their life on the loo (not reading I hasten to add, though I've thought of taking the kobo in there lately) because I have chronic bowel disease http://www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk (and we are RAISING AWARENESS) I could not fully enjoy your post. The only benefit to my condition that I know of is that I hold a PASSKEY to any public toilet in the UK.. oh yes, I can get into any of them (if only I'm brave enough to leave home for long enough to get to one) Maybe if peforming in literary loos takes off I might have a whole new lease of life. Maybe not.... anyway, thanks for a look at a loo other than my own. I shall start remodelling immediately.

Jan Needle said...

deep commiserations, cally. a folk singing friend of mine has crohns disease, but still very bravely does public gigs. when she needs to disappear, she explains it with a pained smile. on a lighter note, as a connoisseur of lavatories since a youth, can i put in a word for the gents in the philharmonic pub in liverpool? it's so wonderful that women are allowed in under escort. just to have a peep, you understand...

Dan Holloway said...

Cally, I have a friend with Crohn's who has suffered from some remarkable levels of ignorance in the workplace in the past so any awareness raising is excellent.

madwippitt said...

A bog blog?
Like it.

And is that man eating chicken as in a man who is eating a chicken, or a chicken that eats men?

madwippitt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan Holloway said...

I shall take my toughest suit of armour just in case!

Catherine Czerkawska said...

Shetland sponsored a Bards in the Bog project a few years ago. Poets were asked to submit suitable poems for displaying in the public loos there - my friend poet Sheila Templeton had one of hers on display, I remember. Seemed like an excellent idea to me!

Dan Holloway said...

that sounds like a fabulous idea!!

Here's a link to it I found on Google that has a link to Sheila's poem

http://www.shetland-library.gov.uk/Bards.asp

julia jones said...

The Royal Norfolk and Suffolk yacht club also has a loo where women are only allowed in to gawp. Makes you wonder how many more lavatorial works of art are hidden from us. If I were to put in an FOI (Freedom of Information) request, perhaps? The Garrick Club? The MCC?

Jessica Bell said...

Ha. Wow. This is brilliant! Man, I wish I lived in an English speaking country ... :-/ Great to meet you, Dan!

Debbie said...

@Jan. Liverpool loos - is that the Queen Victoria marble urinal? Or is it in the pub near Lime Street? Can't remember, but I know there's a tourist-spot loo up around there somewhere. @Dan - you are awesome! Where do you come up with these ideas for blogs?

Dan Holloway said...

Julia - that's a fabulous use for an FOI request!

Jessica - super to meet you! I just loved your undercover soundtrack - Polly Harvey and Patti Smith are just wonderful! I wish you were over here - one of the writers I publish, Stuart Estell (http://eightcuts.com/coming-in-2010/stuart-estell/), is also a musician who wrote the soundtrack to his book and as part of next month's festival I'm staging a complete performance of the music and reading - it would be fabulous to do the same with your book!

Debbie - I think I first noticed literary loos when Dennis was redecorating the Albion Beatnik and asked if he could put a quotation from one of my books on the wall - from then on I started noticing that literary venues had interesting loos!

Jessica Bell said...

Oh wouldn't it just!!! Maybe we can talk about doing it in the future? I'd absolutely love to. I don't see why I couldn't make a trip over. I'm not that far away :)

Jan Needle said...

Debbie, the phil i know is marble urinals you'd give your grandmother's legacy to have a wee on. the room they're in is enormous and the atmosphere hushed. it's like putting lots of salt in crisps. you drink a few pints extra just so you have to go more often. as to its exact location, i have these excuses. one, i failed geography twice at o level. two, i have no sense of direction, and that's a fact. three, i doubt if i've ever been there sober. four, i've certainly never been there in daylight. BUT - it's not close to Lime Street. i hope this helps. but anyway, you're a GURL, so hard luck!

Debbie said...

@Jan. Hah - already seen them! Just couldn't remember where. I was a student in Liverpool in the early 1980s... :-)

Dennis Hamley said...

All this talk about loos in Liverpool reminds me of the old, old story of the man taken short on Liverpool docks, going up to a docker and saying, 'Excuse me, can you tell where the urinal is?', to which the docker answered, 'How many funnels has she got?'