Category Archives: Print

Review of ‘A City Burning’ by Prof Diana Wallace

Prof Diana Wallace researches women’s writing, with special interests in historical fiction; Welsh writing in English and Modernism and the Gothic.  She is co-director of the Centre for Gender Studies in Wales and Leader of the English Research Unit at the University of South Wales. Her review appears on the website of the Centre for the Study of Media and Culutre in Small Nations at the University of South Wales.

Centre for the Study of Media and Culture in Small Naitons

How can writers respond to sudden, even exponential, change? It can take a decade, as it did after the first world war or 9/11, for novels and memoirs to catch up as writers process traumatic events. And readers, time-pressed and battered by 24-hour news, may turn to genre fiction for the comfort of familiar plot lines and predictable endings.  The short story, on the other hand, can turn on a sixpence to give us a snapshot of our crises in real time. Compressed, intense, often challenging, some of the most powerful examples of the form have come from writers on the so-called margins: women, immigrants, people from ‘small nations’ such as Wales and Ireland.

Angela Graham’s assured and compelling debut collection, A City Burning, ranges across Wales, Northern Ireland and Italy. It offers 26 brief stories, most no more than a few pages (one a mere page and a quarter), which turn their forensic flashlight on a moment of change when a character has to make a choice. Continue reading Review of ‘A City Burning’ by Prof Diana Wallace

On ‘Your Place And Mine’, BBC Radio Ulster

It was lovely to have this [click here to listen Interview with Anne Marie McAleese ] on Your Place And Mine BBC Radio Ulster 7th November. This long-running and much-lauded series focuses on place. We talked about the role of place in my short story collection A City Burning.

I read an extract from the story Coasteering in which a middle-aged woman and her Ulster Scots-speaking coasteering instructor venture far out along the coast at twilight:

‘Dinnae ower-think it!’ Alec urged, and then repeated himself….

I loosened the cuffs of the waterproof jacket that added a layer to the battered old wetsuit he’d provided. Seawater gushed out past my wrists. I poised myself, leapt − an un-timeable gap − and was smothered in crashing bubbles and noise and resistance, then broke upwards into air and the push and pull of the sea. This was what I’d wanted, to be out beyond the little beaches and rock-strewn shores; to be out of my depth but safe; to be gripped by the sea’s power but not at its mercy. I respect the sea. I fear it…. Continue reading On ‘Your Place And Mine’, BBC Radio Ulster

Interview with Seren Books on ‘A City Burning’

As her debut short story collection A City Burning, is published, we interview Angela Graham to find out more about the book and what inspires her.

In the twenty-six stories in A City Burning, set in Wales, Northern Ireland and Italy, children and adults face, in the flames of personal tragedy, moments of potential transformation. On the threshold of their futures each must make a choice: how to live in this new ‘now’. With a virtuoso control of tone, by turns elegiac, comic, lyrical, philosophical, A City Burning examines power of all types. The result is a deeply human book full of hauntingly memorable characters and narratives.

What is the meaning behind the title A City Burning?

In the opening story, ‘The Road’a young girl witnesses her city blazing. She understands that this is a sign of the collapse of the status quo, of all the usual certainties. She is confronted with the need to react to this new situation. What values should guide her in this choice? I realised that this story encapsulates the theme of many stories in the collection – witnessing major change and having to work out a response. It seemed a fitting title for the book.

Belfast on a November evening

Continue reading Interview with Seren Books on ‘A City Burning’

A City Burning: Angela Graham talks about that title

video shot and edited by John Geraint

A City Burning from Seren Books

26 short stories set in Wales, Northern Ireland and Italy, from the end of the econd World War to the Covid pandemic.

With a virtuoso control of tone, by turns elegiac, comic, lyrical, philosophical, A City Burning examines power of all types, exploring conflicts between political allegiances; between autonomy and intimacy; emotional display and concealment; resistance versus acceptance. The result is a deeply human book full of hauntingly memorable characters and narratives.

These stories are not comfortable… but they are honest, searing, insightful and very, very good.” – Inez Lynn Continue reading A City Burning: Angela Graham talks about that title

2 Poems in Deep Time Volume 2

Matthew M.C. Smith is an adventurous, and apparently indefatigable, poet and poetry impresario. It may be his gift for collaboration which enables him to be so productive.

It’s so lovely to see my poem ‘Thaw’ here:  Deep Time Volume 2

This beautiful-to-handle, easy-on-the-eye, large-format book from Black Bough Poetry has been produced by a team and assembling a coherent team is a skill in itself. The members are:

” Welsh writer, Laura Wainwright, Louisiana’s former Laureate, Jack Bedell, and Aotearoa’s, Ankh Spice. The amazing illustrations are by Rebecca Wainwright, a Newport-born artist from Newport in Wales, now living in London. Music for this project is composed and curated by Brisbane-based Stuart Rawlinson.”

Artwork by Rebecca Wainwright

Deep Time volume 2, is Black Bough poetry’s second print anthology. It is dedicated to the writer Robert Macfarlane, who wrote award-winning non-fiction work, Underland (2019).

Continue reading 2 Poems in Deep Time Volume 2

A City Burning – reactions

A city burns in a crisis − because the status quo has collapsed and change must come. Every value, relationship and belief is shaken and the future is uncertain.

A CITY BURNING  Order here

“Angela Graham is a brilliant new voice. This is literature that deserves to last.” – Kate Hamer

“In this powerful collection, Angela Graham shows herself master of the angle of vision: her tales capture the mercurial moment when a person’s world is changed forever, in a road or room, against a landscape, seascape or starscape, at the graveside or (as in the towering story, ‘Life-Task’) at a forsaken railway station in the aftermath of war.” – Stevie Davies

“These stories show us what the genre does best: the ‘snapshot’ of a moment which reveals a life or a culture in a moment of transition or realisation, what James Joyce called an ‘epiphany’. … This vivid, humane and beautifully-controlled collection suggests Angela Graham is another name to watch.”  – Prof Diana Wallace

“Good writing is compelling. Each of these twenty-six stories takes you out of your own skin and into the lived experience of another… The writing is sparse. Every word is telling… But there’s also lyricism, a feel for the rhythm of speech and an ability to capture natural beauty… These stories are not comfortable… but they are honest, searing, insightful and very, very good.” – Inez Lynn 

“The Road is, appropriately, the opening story in this collection and by following that road we enter the world of Angela Graham… The characters are well drawn and their stories entice and intrigue. as a collection it is to be highly recommended.” – Graham Reid

A City Burning is an impressive kaleidoscope of landscape and language. Angela Graham’s short stories move rhythmically between Wales, Ireland and Italy, provoking conversation through their poetic score. ‘Acting Abby’, a play within a play, is a particular triumph and one sentence in this story serves as a metaphor for the book: ‘an invisible finger glides across the curtain like a harpist’s, releasing a ripple of movement.’ The movement is a little thought, a shift in perception as each story draws to an end.” – Angeline King

Continue reading A City Burning – reactions

Video taster of A City Burning

Hear an extract from the opening story ‘The Road’ from my collection of 26 short stories, ‘A City Burning’ (Seren Books ). Launch on Tuesday 27th October 7pm.

At the launch I’ll be reading and I will be joined by 3 wonderful readers who will give a voice to extracts from 3 stories.

Geraint Lewis from Tregaron, Ceredigion, west Wales, actor, playwright, novelist and short story writer.

Viviana Fiorentino from Italy, poet, novelist, translator and activist on migration policy.

Liam Logan from Dunloy, County Antrim, media presenter, film maker and writer on Ulster Scots in prose and poetry. Continue reading Video taster of A City Burning

A City Burning – Cyfrol newydd o Straeon Byrion gan Angela Graham

Mewn argyfwng y mae dinas yn llosgi – am fod yr hen drefn wedi methu ac mae’n rhaid i newid ddod. Mae pob gwerth, perthynas a chred yn cael ei siglo ac mae’r dyfodol yn anelwig.

 Yn y chwe stori ar hugain yn A City Burning, mae plant ac oedolion yn llygadu eiliadau o drawsnewid posib yn fflamau trasiedi bersonol. Ar drothwy eu dyfodol, rhaid i bob un ddewis: sut i fyw yn y ‘nawr’ newydd hwn.

Wedi’u lleoli yng Nghymru, Gogledd Iwerddon a’r Eidal, mae’r straeon cwmpasu cyfnod yr Ail Ryfel Byd ac oes Covid-19.

Lansiad llyfyr llyfyr: 27.10.20 Continue reading A City Burning – Cyfrol newydd o Straeon Byrion gan Angela Graham

Welsh, Italian, Ulster Scots – 3 wonderful readers at ‘A City Burning’ Launch

I’m so delighted to have 3 wonderful readers to deliver extracts from my short story collection A City Burning at its launch on 27th October at 7pm: 26 stories set in Wales, Italy and Northern Ireland:

Geraint Lewis from Tregaron, west Wales, actor, playwright, novelist and short story writer.

Viviana Fiorentino from Italy, poet, novelist, translator and activist on migration policy.

Liam Logan from Dunloy, County Antrim, media presenter, film maker and writer on Ulster Scots in prose and poetry. Continue reading Welsh, Italian, Ulster Scots – 3 wonderful readers at ‘A City Burning’ Launch

Best of the Books 2019 The Lonely Crowd

I’ve recommended three poets in Part Two of this fascinating list of reading tips from Welsh journal The Lonely Crowd: Glyn Edwards, Glen Wilson and Jean Bleakney.

Books of the Year 2019 / Part Two

Damian Smyth of Arts Council of Northern Ireland notes writers from Ireland who feature in Parts One and Two of this exceptionally-useful series of bestofs … much here to pursue, purchase & read . These include Caitlin Newby and Scott McKendry.

Notice taken here of Eilís Ní Dhuibhne’s gripping memoir Twelve Thousand Days: A Memoir of Love & Loss;  Ciaran Carson’s final collection Still Life and & Frank Ormsby’s The Rain Barrel.

Books of the Year 2019 / Part One