Katherine Vik rounds up our January MIRLive


On a frozen Monday in January you might be tempted to stay in and crank up the heating. But all who braved the weather to fill the velvet curtained basement of the Harrison were treated to a cosy room full of readers, writers, and lovers of literature with a selection of stories to tell that were both funny and original and touching at times.

First under the glow of the spotlights was Sharon Eckman, with her story “God’s Brother”. This expressively told tale observed religious events from the point of view of a disdainful brother of God, disgusted at God’s lack of compassion.  A funny and satirical fable with feminist overtones, Sharon also mentioned that she is looking to develop the story idea into a novel.

Laura Miller, a student on the Birkbeck Creative Writing MA and veteran of MIR 13 swiftly followed, reading a selection of three poems. “Carried Away” was a haunting poem inspired by the story of a woman in France who’d abandoned her baby on a beach.  This was followed by “Jen lives in South Ken” deftly describing the character of a landlady, and “Beloved Disciple” about a father.

Next, with her story extract “The One With The Blue Mailbox” Roxanne Forbes gradually built up a sinister atmosphere pervading the home of her characters. Partly futuristic, with a conspiratorial overtone, this was a story for those that dread the regular morning battle with the toaster and the kettle. She left immersed in the story, with the tension building to a boiling point, and technology about to take over.

To round off the first section of the evening, MC Melanie Jones introduced Alison Hitchcock and Brian Greenley, to talk about their fantastic letter writing project “From Me To You”.  Alison and Brian told the story of their growing friendship, which developed out of over 100 letters that Alison, sent to Brian over the period of his treatment for cancer.  Frank and funny, this trail of letter writing traced the development of their deepening friendship, from the initial ‘Oh no what am I going to write’ moment to the jubilation of Brian’s all clear, and then the cancer’s return. The pair read extracts from the letters, often jokey and upbeat, interspersed with Brian’s own often more sombre thoughts from his diary. It was an inspiring and original idea. As was Melanie’s January Quiz, the questions to which were also cleverly themed around the art of letter writing.

With the audience thoroughly refreshed after the break, Jo Holloway treated us to a quirky dystopian vision of the future. In “The Last Days” an elderly couple carry on trying to live life in as close to normal circumstances as they can manage, as the world around them crumbles into chaos. With engaging and vivid imagery, Jo’s story calmly depicted a world slipping away.

The penultimate reader to bound up onto the stage was Stella Klein, whose story “Flesh and Bones” brought us inside a father and daughter relationship that was dotted with the little conversational barbs that layered one upon the other can begin to drive someone crazy. A clever and funny tale of family relationships, boyfriends, and growing up.

Tonight’s guest writer Leila Segal talked about her time living in Cuba between 2000 and 2006, and read four captivating extracts from “Breathe”, her debut collection of short stories based on her time there. Leila is interested in the relationships that she saw in Havana between foreigners and Cubans, and the dynamic within romantic attachments. The stories focused on Cuba as viewed through the eyes of her characters, Western visitors to the country. In “I Never See Them Cry” a girlfriend is to meet family for the first time and in “Luca’s trip to Havana” the central character Luca lusts after a hotel employee. In her last extract, “The Party”, Leila captured the atmosphere of Cuba particularly well. The stories were poetic and evocative and the affection which she has for the country came across strongly in her reading.

To close the evening, Melanie announced the winners of the earlier quiz with the winner coming up with very creative meanings for the postal letter writing acronyms for EGYPT and CHINA. Don’t know the answer? Google it and have a giggle.  Once again MIRLive was an excellent evening of literary fun, showcasing some outstanding writing and sparked up some interesting conversations that continued into the following week. The next event on March 6th to celebrate International Women’s Day promises to be just as exciting.


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
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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.
January 13, 2017

Leila Segal Interview

Leila Segal’s debut collection of short stories, Breathe: Stories from Cuba is out now from Flipped Eye Publishing. Leila talks to Melanie Jones about Cuba, her writing, and its connection to her advocacy work. Leila also shares her short story Luca’s Trip to Havana. You can buy a copy of Breathe here. Leila will be reading at MIRLive on […]
January 12, 2017

January Reads

The MIROnline team have chosen the books they are enjoying this month.
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 11, 2016
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Julia Bell interviews Kit De Waal

“Value your experience, value your voice, value where you come from. So that you can look at your work and say this is good, this is important.” – Kit De Waal discusses setting up the Birkbeck scholarship and the importance of inclusivity in writing and publishing.
December 10, 2016

Books for your Christmas List

The MIROnline team have chosen the books they are most enjoying this month, just in time to for you to add them to your Christmas List.
December 9, 2016

MIRLive: An Evening of Festive Fun

Alison Hitchcock rounds up our MIRLive Christmas Special
December 1, 2016

MIR14 Call For Submissions

November 2, 2016
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Stephen Morrison-Burke Feature

Stephen Morrison-Burke shares High Dust and Donkeys, an extract from his novel in progress. He also talks to Alison Hitchock about winning the Kit De Waal Scholarship and his plans for the future
November 1, 2016
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Recommended Reads November

The first of our monthly book recommendations. The MIROnline team have chosen the books they are most enjoying this month.
October 25, 2016
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MIRLive December 5th

Our next MIRLive takes place on December 5th at the Harrison, 28 Harrison Street, King’s Cross, WC1H 8JF. This will be a Christmas Special and we are looking for work inspired by folk tales, fairy tales and magic. The deadline for Submissions is November 18th.
October 24, 2016

Writers Wanted

Nomads writing group recruiting for new members.
October 20, 2016

Stefanie Seddon wins the 2016 Bristol Short Story Prize

The 2016 Bristol Short Story Prize has been won by Stefanie Seddon, who has just completed an M.A. in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London. The Prize is a prestigious international writing competition open to writers worldwide which is now in its 9th year, and received 2,160 entries this year. […]
October 3, 2016

Pretty in Pink: MIR13 Launch Party

On Tuesday we celebrated the launch of our thirteenth anthology in the Keynes Library at Birkbeck.
September 29, 2016
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Elizabeth Fremantle to read at MIRLive

MIRLive returns  on October 24th 2016 for an anthology special. We are joined by Elizabeth Freemantle, Melanie Jones, Aliyah Keshani, Melody Razak, Chris Lilly, John Forde and Claire Montell.
May 21, 2016
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Being Dad Interviews

Melanie Jones speaks to authors Dan Powell, Toby Litt, Nikesh Shukla, and Courttia Newland  about Being Dad and the effects fatherhood has had on their writing
May 3, 2016
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Birkbeck Arts Week

Birkbeck Arts Week, 2016 runs from Monday 16 to Saturday 21 May and the Creative Writing department will be hosting two events during Arts Week. These events will be complimented by MIRLive on May 13th and Birkbeck Poets on May 22nd.
May 2, 2016
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MIRLive May 13th

Our first MIRLive will take place on May 13th 2016 and we are joined by Benjamin Wood, Nadim Safdar, Courttia Newland, Gilli Fryzer and Anne Rabbit.