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BURNING HOUSE PRESS

Not For Profit/For Prophecy

‘Find A Way Of Saying It’ – A Burning House Press Interview With Nottingham’s Henry Normal

Nottingham-born Henry Normal co-wrote the Royle Family, Mrs Merton and many other television comedies, was a co-director with Steve Coogan of Baby Cow Productions and Executive Producer of ‘I Believe in Miracles’, the real life story of Nottingham Forest’s European Cup triumph. As it turns, we share educational, musical tastes and neurology – although Henry has made far better use of his – and it was a pleasure to interview him about his influences, autism, family and future plans, particularly his return to his first love, poetry.  

– Trevor Wright.

 

You’ve recently left Baby Cow and started to re-engage with poetry. What was the thinking behind that?

I worked in television for about thirty years. I’ve always loved comedy, I think there’s something akin with comedy and poetry and it comes down to truth. I think you’re searching for truth in poetry and there are certain things you only laugh at if they’re true. Comedy is a bit like playing a musical instrument, you know when it’s off tune and you know when it’s right. Comedy is exact, whereas poetry requires a little bit more imagination, and a little bit more interpretation. Continue reading “‘Find A Way Of Saying It’ – A Burning House Press Interview With Nottingham’s Henry Normal”

‘Living With Cancer’ – an essay in five parts by Arathi Devandran

Part 5: ‘The Everyday’

I am heading home after a long day at work, and I receive a frantic text from S, a dear friend. She has received upsetting news – the father of a good friend of hers has been diagnosed with cancer.

“I feel so helpless,” S writes. “There’s not much I can do for her, except remain available for her, and provide her support.”

I pause before replying.

I had been in her friend’s position before, of being told things that had made my world come crashing down around me. Of facing the insurmountable task of needing to be strong, even though all I had wanted to do was to crawl into a hole, to hide myself from everyone, from myself.

It had taken me several years to come to terms with my mother’s diagnosis, even after she was given a clean bill of health.

Continue reading “‘Living With Cancer’ – an essay in five parts by Arathi Devandran”

No End In Sight, untitled paintings by Michael McAloran

Acrylic on raw canvas, a series of untitled paintings. Black and white distribution of raw energy. “I had no end in sight. The paintings were executed while listening – obsessively – to Big Black’s ‘The Hammer Party,’ very loud, in a garage…”

Continue reading “No End In Sight, untitled paintings by Michael McAloran”

‘Living With Cancer’ – an essay in five parts by Arathi Devandran

Part 4: ‘On Hope’

I could not go with my mother to the doctor’s that day. Something urgent had cropped up at work, and I could not excuse myself in time for her appointment.

The feeling of guilt was familiar, but I had gotten used to it over the years. I had begun to understand that, as a caretaker, as part of a support system for someone with a long-term illness, I had to determine the limits of my capabilities as well. A caretaker was useless if she needed caretaking herself.

And the years of hospital visits and doctors’ appointments had almost desensitized my mother. Almost, because one can never be completely nonchalant about ill-health. But she had gotten used to it, and she had gotten used to dealing with most of it alone.

She rang me in the middle of the day while I was busy with work.

She was silent on the phone for a long time.

“The oncologist has officially declared that I’m in remission.”

Joy is a strange thing.

It hits you unexpectedly, from all directions, overwhelming, all-encompassing, until it settles so deeply inside you that you feel it radiating, throbbing, filling you.

Continue reading “‘Living With Cancer’ – an essay in five parts by Arathi Devandran”

‘Look Up’ by Adam Steiner

Look Up

 

I

Sovereign fires

Crane their necks thin

Hovering upon faultless feet

 

Weary scythes drop eaves

Overlook brothers of sleep,

Taking age to the face of day

 

Above brilliant margins

Drowsing sentinels

Illuminate the mainstream Continue reading “‘Look Up’ by Adam Steiner”

5 Assemblages by Howie Good

Light Buried Underground

 

1

Weeping woman, look up here.

It seems a beautiful day.

Ovals lay eggs. We have flowers.

Even a simple call can turn into a racket,

self-reflection in bright yellow.

 

2

You are different now.

But not bad different.

Just, you know, not like 1999.

Go die, come back, I’ll love you.

Love will save us, love will save us.

Violet hearts run crimson tides. Continue reading “5 Assemblages by Howie Good”

3 Poems by Cindy Savett

hostage

 

red-tailed hawk, I unfurl

my Refrains,

flexing towards the bend in the shadow

 

crouched,

my beak

 

I grip, taste iron in my talons                  (trap set low)

my four offenses lining up the prey Continue reading “3 Poems by Cindy Savett”

On Chantal Akerman’s South

 

How does the southern silence become so heavy and so menacing so suddenly? How do the trees and the whole natural environment evoke so intensely death, blood, and the weight of history? How does the present call up the past? And how does this past, with a mere gesture or a simple regard, haunt and torment you as you wander along an empty cotton field, or a dusty country road?

Chantal Akerman

In his seminal book, Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes that “In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body–it is heritage.” The 1998 murder of James Byrd Jr. confirms Coates’s words. Byrd was attacked by three white supremacists in Jasper, Texas. They beat him, urinated on him, and then tied his body to the back of their truck and dragged him several miles down an isolated road. Over the course of the drive, Byrd’s body was literally torn apart; pieces of flesh and body parts, including Byrd’s head and arm, were strewn along the road. The three men finally dumped what was left of Byrd’s body at a black church. The murder sparked national outrage and condemnation. All three killers were convicted. Two of the perpetrators remain alive, while one was executed in 2011.

Around the time of the murder, Chantal Akerman planned to make a documentary about the American South. She admired the work of William Faulkner and wanted to explore the region. However, when Byrd was murdered, her attention immediately shifted and she chose to focus on his death. The subsequent documentary she made was called Sud (South).

Continue reading “On Chantal Akerman’s South

‘Until Tomorrow’ by Jordan Lucien Pansky

Until Tomorrow

 

i light a quick cig & have a seat while the rain slowly sets in. a woman begins citing the new words of her god,
the new sunken scripture:

“it’s a new age on planet earth!” before pacing her step & clapping her hands “it’s the eighth day! june tenth, twenty-sixteen. june tenth, twenty-sixteen. i grew up in…”
then she vanishes. Continue reading “‘Until Tomorrow’ by Jordan Lucien Pansky”

4 Poems by Beate Sigriddaughter

 

THE BURN OF YOUTH

 

I stand tall

like the charred silhouette

of a tree that has lasted

through fire, and

I long for the burn of youth. Continue reading “4 Poems by Beate Sigriddaughter”

3 Poems by Jim Gibson

Snakehill

 

We grind keys on sandstone sacraments

(names dates loves and was eres)

Territorially recorded, awaiting time’s erosion

Through nights and days this hide away

For anyone escaping

Something Continue reading “3 Poems by Jim Gibson”

3 Poems by Adam Levon Brown

Funeral Of The Inside

 

My heart died inside

my chest last night

 

I said my goodbyes

while I carved

 

its initials in a tree.

I buried the remnants

in a hole

 

deeper than my regret. Continue reading “3 Poems by Adam Levon Brown”

In By Fire, Tahar Ben Jelloun Tells The Story of the Man Who Sparked the Arab Spring

 

Every fire begins with a spark, a small flame that ignites a conflagration. Where does that spark originate? No one could have known that when Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to his body on December 17, 2010 his act of self-immolation would trigger protests in Tunisia and throughout the Arab region. He was the spark that lit up the world.

In By Fire: Writings on the Arab Spring, Tahar Ben Jelloun writes about Bouazizi in two distinct ways. In the first part of the book are selections from Ben Jelloun’s nonfiction writings about the Arab Spring. In the second part of the book is Ben Jelloun’s short story “By Fire,” which enters the mind of Bouazizi and attempts to capture the nuances of his life. Both parts are necessary and complement each other. Translator Rita S. Nezami’s notes and introductions do an excellent job of contextualizing Bouazizi’s act of protest and providing much-needed information for Western readers to understand the political climate in Tunisia before the Arab Spring.

Continue reading “In By Fire, Tahar Ben Jelloun Tells The Story of the Man Who Sparked the Arab Spring”

‘Five-Fold Symmetries’ by Liz Zumin

Five-Fold Symmetries

 

If I present myself to them

What of their measurement and their avoidance?

It is a survival, a learning to live

A pellicle thin as skin on black tea.

Few poets don’t wear the mask. Continue reading “‘Five-Fold Symmetries’ by Liz Zumin”

3 Poems by Antony Owen

BREXIT

 

“I don’t want peoples’ change mate I want a change for people like me who people like you write poems about that no fucker will read because it makes em feel bad. People want happy endings and I ain’t it”

– Lou, Ring Road, Cov

 

In full view she slept in shrink-wrap popping like a real fire

And she was, she was a real fire petering out in the ghost grey blitz.

In full view she slept presenting a problem in the Al-Fresco wonderland

It’s not good for business bringing your problems from home into our work? Continue reading “3 Poems by Antony Owen”

4 Poems by Ana Prundaru

Stirred Stillness

 

I want to put a blanket on the ocean

and line scarecrows to a red-ribonned

trail of open hearts

Continue reading “4 Poems by Ana Prundaru”

We Disturb The Air – an interview with Cindy Savett

It must have been around Summer 2013. I had just had my first collection of poems published. It was the culmination of many years of continuous writing. A searing, intense, daily practice of generating language. I had begun writing in the first instance as a means to save my life, and now I had no room left to contain the word. I was emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausted.

It was around this period that I discovered the poetry of Cindy Savett. Continue reading “We Disturb The Air – an interview with Cindy Savett”

2 Poems by Jamie Thrasivoulou

Urban Decay

 

This is the dark side of town, there’s no glitz and glamour here

Smack-needles and pimps in BMW’s: windows blacked-out,

The cherry of the Spliff shines through the gap like a star

Prostitutes and crack-addicts fight for the same fag-nubs on the floor outside a bar Continue reading “2 Poems by Jamie Thrasivoulou”

‘overheard, at a Pittsburgh bus stop’ by Patrick Thomson

overheard, at a Pittsburgh bus stop

 

   her voice has the lisp of the tooth-poor or toothless and the soft silver edge of exhaustion, he goin under that bridge there to score with that trick, Rebecca, with the red hair, shes a trick, she doesnt clean her pussy, none ofm do, they all smell like their pussies Continue reading “‘overheard, at a Pittsburgh bus stop’ by Patrick Thomson”

An Interview with Heidi Saman

By chance, I met Heidi Saman on tumblr, where she curates an excellent blog about cinema. Along with working as an associate producer for NPR’s Fresh Air, Saman is also a gifted filmmaker, who just premiered her first feature film, Namour, at the LA Film Festival to rave reviews. Namour explores the existential crisis of an Arab American man working as a valet driver in the aftermath of the 2008 recession. Saman was kind enough to take time out of her hectic schedule of promoting Namour to answer some of my questions. Our conversation touches on various subjects, including racism in Hollywood and Saman’s cinematic inspirations.

Continue reading “An Interview with Heidi Saman”

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