Elinor Johns rounds up MIRLive.

Images © Melanie Jones


Our Arts week, MIRLive special was held on the 14th May at the Harrison. We were lucky enough to have readings from Jonathan Kemp and Ailsa Cox, our two headliners for the occasion.

Caroline McCaulay was first up to the mic with “The start of Gracie.” This story was written from the perspective of a pregnant teenage girl. Both brash and naive, as she goes through the brutal trauma of birth, she becomes disillusioned with pre-conceived ideas of love. Caroline’s energetic, vivacious delivery created a strong sense of character.

This fast paced piece contrasted with Stephen Jackson’s soft, slow delivery of his beautiful poem, “A man who is Good with his hands.” Stephen’s poem was rich in metaphor and sensitively presented, ending all too soon.

Tabitha Potts took to the stage to read another piece about teenagers. Her story “The Edge” was deceptively simple in style, but we were to discover that the edge in the story was both literal and metaphorical. The underlying tension between the adolescent friends was convincing and conveyed successfully.

The first half of the evening was concluded by Jonathan Kemp. We were treated to an extract from his latest work-in –progress called “Neither, Nor”( in a nod to Kierkegaard’s “Either/Or”) The story revolves around a queer academic’s discovery of a Polish philosopher’s manuscript, supposedly written in the twenties and thirties in Berlin before the rise of Fascism, but which had disappeared in 1941. The extract Jonathan read was the beginning of the philosopher’s memoir. As a Polish Jew born at the “wrong time” the manuscript has a despairing tone. It is a confessional piece, its author bent on suicide. Yet, as Jonathan read of “atavistic screams” from birth, and a face, so ugly it is described as “a blemish between two ears,” the story of a child, trapped by her designated gender, promises to be tragi-comic. The extract also suggested that the novel is patch worked with satisfying literary allusions, although the intriguing Jaromir Hladik philosophy is entirely imaginary. Jonathan’s entertaining reading led us nicely into the break, giving us lots to discuss at the bar!

Back in our seats, refreshments in our hands, we were eager for the second half to begin with Sean Preston’s tale of unlikely love found and then lost, between Pig and Turtle. This comic story was called “Reptilian Repose.” Evoking gentle irony and written with a lightness of touch, this was an enjoyable, well delivered piece.

Sharon Eckman’s expert reading took on a darker tone. “The scent of Macaroons” was rich with descriptive detail and created a vivid picture of a young woman’s singing lessons with a predatory teacher. The teacher’s insidious exploitation of the girl was made more shocking by his casual, dismissive comment about macaroons at the end of the piece.

This was followed by Valentine Carter’s surreal story, “A thing of Beauty,” about a visit to an Art Gallery. As Alex stands before a Rothko mural, “Black on Maroon 1958,” the painting seems to talk to her, and wills her to destroy a pretentious male philistine who thinks he can impress her with his wealth. As the paintings slide off the walls the story takes on the intensity of a bad acid trip. It was hugely entertaining.

To top it all, Ailsa Cox ended the evening with two evocative readings from stories set in Manchester. The first was from her collection of short stories, “The Real Louise” and was an extract from the story, “Making it Happen.” The narrator is at her brother David’s thirtieth birthday party, and there are hints that while her own incipient love affair must be kept a secret, David’s marriage is about to unravel. The story moves deftly through recollection and changes in time and place that give increasing depth to the story and was both moving and funny to listen to. Ailsa’s extract from a work-in-progress, called “Blackbird” was also concerned with the nuances of family relationships, this time set at a funeral, where Rosie, the daughter is missing, “dominating the funeral by her absence.” Both stories led us expertly into an awareness of the gaps in communication that can fracture family relationships. We were left wishing we could hear more.

Our next MIRLive event will be held on July 9th in the Harrison. Look out for the deadline for submission and do join us there, either on stage as a performer, or in the audience for a really great night out.

May 28, 2018

MIRLive Arts Week Special 2018

Elinor Johns rounds up MIRLive.
April 10, 2018

MIRLive with Jonathan Kemp and Ailsa Cox

Join Jonathan Kemp and Ailsa Cox at The Harrison for our Arts Week Special
February 22, 2018

MIRLive Readers Warm Up a Cold February Evening

Elinor Johns rounds up MIRLive.
January 9, 2018
MIRlive 480

MIRLive with Lara Pawson

Join Lara Pawson at The Harrison.
January 1, 2018

MIRLive Winter Tales

Elinor Johns rounds up MIRLive.
November 26, 2017

MIRLive: Winter Tales with Neil Griffiths

Join Neil Griffiths at The Harrison for a Winter Tales Special. 
October 23, 2017

MIRLive: MIR14 Special

Sue Tyley rounds up our October event
July 13, 2017

MIRLive Life Stories Special

Elinor Johns rounds up MIRLive.
June 20, 2017

MIRLive Life Stories

Katherine Angel and Emma Henderson Join us for MIRLive
May 22, 2017
MIRlive 480

MIRLive Call for Submissions: Life Stories

Join us at The Harrison for our last event of the summer term. We’re looking for stories inspired by real life.
May 19, 2017
live performance poetry given by Birkbeck postgraduate students and staff

Poetry Live Arts Week Special

Elinor Johns rounds up Poetry Live.
March 30, 2017
MIRlive 480

Poetry Live!

An amazing line up of poets for our Arts Week Special
March 15, 2017
MIRlive 480

MIRLive Celebrates International Women’s Day

Sue Tyley and Stella Klein round up our MIRLive International Women’s Day Special
February 28, 2017
MIRlive 480

K J Orr Headlines MIRLive

BBC National Short Story Award Winner KJ Orr headlines our International Women’s Day event. 
February 15, 2017

Leila Segal brings Cuban Warmth To A Frozen January

Katherine Vik rounds up our January MIRLive
February 4, 2017

K J Orr To Headline Women’s Day Event

Our next MIRLive takes place on March 6th at the Harrison, 28 Harrison Street, King’s Cross, WC1H 8JF. This event will be headlined by BBC Short Story Award Winner, K J Orr, and will be an International Women’s Day Special. We will be accepting submissions from all genders but work should be […]
January 23, 2017
MIRlive 480

Leila Segal Headlines MIRLive

Leila Segal reads from her debut collection, Breathe. MIRLive’s Alison Hitchock shares work from her letter writing project, From Me To You. Leila and Alison are joined by five more wonderful women reading poetry and short stories.
December 11, 2016

Leila Segal to Headline MIRLive

Our next MIRLive takes place on January 30th at the Harrison, 28 Harrison Street, King’s Cross, WC1H 8JF. This event will be headlined by Leila Segal. The deadline for Submissions is January 15th.
December 9, 2016

MIRLive: An Evening of Festive Fun

Alison Hitchcock rounds up our MIRLive Christmas Special
November 2, 2016
Liz Fremantle 480

MIR13 MIRLive special

Sue Tyley rounds up our October event.