Elinor Johns rounds up our January MIRLive.



An appreciative audience packed the basement bar of The Harrison on Monday 28th January for our first MIRLive of 2019. We were treated to an interesting variety of creative pieces performed in a relaxed atmosphere, created by Peter Coles, our enthusiastic host for the evening.

Sybil Ruth began the evening with a thought- provoking and evocative piece called “Restored.” Written as a result of a workshop on Brexit, this piece was well- crafted, intertwining two journeys; that of the narrator, taking the bus home from the embassy where she has gained a certificate to restore her German identity, and that of her grandmother, as an immigrant, arriving in the country eighty years earlier. It was an ironic piece about identity, conjuring a sense of displacement, sensitively and gently told through carefully selected details.

The mood shifted a gear when Ronan Fitzgerald took to the stage to present his poem, “The Girl in the Orange Dress,” which was derived from newspaper headlines. Ronan performed his poem perfectly, expertly bringing out the tragi- comic effect of his juxtapositions. His skilled use of repetition and rhythm took us through a myriad of events, succinctly evoked and carefully placed. From “I fell in love/ I fell off the escalator,” through to “fatherhood was like growing wild mushrooms in a death camp,” we were surprised and ultimately moved by the poem, which for all its absurdities was a cogent tale of falling in love “at the supermarket checkout” with “The girl in the orange dress.”

The next piece was called “Unpublished Obituary for a Playwright,” which was extremely well performed by its author, Raoul Colvile. Conversational in tone, the story took the form of a confessional monologue. The strangeness of the playwright’s corpse being wrapped in a carpet was an absurd, yet poignant detail and as the monologue developed, pathos was evoked for the narrator, a lonely and bereaved man, considering the futility of his life.

Kayleigh Cassidy’s autobiographical piece, “Home time,” began with a gentle, comic recounting of growing up in the nineties, charting memories of peer group frictions at primary school, but as the piece developed she inter-wove much darker memories within a fast paced style. The vivid dialogue gave immediacy to the child’s eye view and the hints of family breakdown were drip- fed into the piece so that the audience was left wanting more.

This was followed by “Past Lives,” an interesting internal monologue, in which the many reincarnations of the narrator were presented as a struggle for happiness between the narrator and a lover. Sometimes life allowed for requited love but often destiny would leave the narrator unfulfilled. Nevertheless, the ending was positive. It was beautifully read by its author, Rebekah Lin.

This took us to our headline act. Laura Kaye ended the evening with an impressive extract from her next novel, “Parties,” which described a ludicrously lavish party from the waitress’ perspective. Dressed as a mermaid, Mary suffers the indignities of waiting on predatory guests in a surreal environment. Witty and satirical, her piece had us all laughing out loud. It was a highly entertaining way to end a great evening.

Do join us next time on March 11th as a performer alongside comedian Rosie Wilby, or as a member of the audience – no tickets required! Submit your work here.

February 20, 2019

MIRLive: Laura Kaye

Elinor Johns rounds up our January MIRLive.
February 20, 2019

Jane Hayward discusses her debut memoir “The Baby Box”

Wendy Lothian met Jane Hayward to discuss her new memoir about her experiences as a teenager in a mother-and-baby home during the sixties. It is published by Matador, an imprint of Troubadour.
February 13, 2019

Liz Bolton remembers life of Diana Athill OBE

Liz Bolton commemorates Diana Athill OBE and revisits Stet, An Editor’s Life, published by Granta Books in 2000 and 2017, in paperback.
February 8, 2019

A Coffee in This Lovely City with Louise Hare

Elaine Mary Stabler interviews Louise Hare to discuss her debut novel “This Lovely City.”
January 23, 2019

Deirdre Shanahan discusses her debut novel

Deirdre Shanahan’s debut novel The Caravan of the Lost and the Left Behind will be published by Bluemoose Books in May, 2019. Deirdre, who graduated from Birkbeck with an MA in Creative Writing in 2011, talks to Aisha Phoenix about parenting challenges among the Irish travellers in her new novel, […]
January 21, 2019

January Reads

A diverse selection to kick off the new year – there really should be something for everyone. We hope you enjoy them. James  
January 10, 2019

Abi Dare wins 2018 Bath Novel Award

Mari Vindis interviews Abi Dare winner of the Bath Novel Award 2018 and her upcoming novel The Girl With The Louding Voice
December 15, 2018

Jenn Ashworth’s #100daysofwriting

Sian Hughes interviewed Jenn Ashworth to find out more about the slightly mad idea that is #100daysofwriting and what it means for her the second time around.
November 20, 2018

Sandra Brown-Springer talks about her debut play

Sandra Brown-Springer’s debut play Seb’s Soles was shortlisted for the Nick Darke Award for Playwriting, 2018. Sandra, who studies MA Creative Writing at Birkbeck, talks to Aisha Phoenix about the gentrification in Brixton that inspired the play, disruptive poetry and tokenism in the literary world.
November 14, 2018

Rebecca Rouillard on winning Mslexia’s Novel Competition

Katie Baldock spoke to Rebecca Rouillard about writing after winning Mslexia’s 2017 Novel Competition.
November 8, 2018

November Reads

Long winter nights = more reading time (for me, at least). Here are some suggestions from the MIROnline Team on how to spend it. We hope you enjoy them. – James
October 18, 2018

MIRLive: The Mechanics Institute Review special!

Elinor Johns rounds up MIRLive.
September 26, 2018

Cannes Film Festival 2018 reviewed by Mari Vindis

Mari Vindis reports on her summer spent at Cannes Film Festival 2018
September 8, 2018

Louise Lee talks about her new novel A Whole Lotta Love

Silvia Rucchin interviews Louise Lee about her new novel A Whole Lotta Love
August 28, 2018

August Recommended Reads

Still selecting your Summer holiday reading? Here are some suggestions from the MIROnline Team. Enjoy.
August 25, 2018

Martin Nathan talks about his new book A place of safety

A place of Safety, published by Salt, is a novel about family, relationships and all things left unsaid. Martin Nathan discusses his new book with Laura Volpi.
August 8, 2018

London Lit Lab Writer’s Workshops

London Lit Lab post-MA sessions with Zoe Gilbert and Lily Dunn: London & Bristol: turning lightbulbs into books
July 10, 2018

Sian Hughes Reviews Jean McNeil’s novel

Reviewed by Sian Hughes
June 21, 2018

June Recommended Reads

Are short Summer nights depriving you of sleep? Here are some ideas from the MIROnline team on how to fill your waking hours. Enjoy. James
June 12, 2018

Calabash International Literary Festival 2018

Stefanie Seddon visits the Calabash International Literary Festival 2018 in Treasure Beach, Jamaica.