Members’ news: February 2024

My debut chapbook was published! “Songs For Wo(Men)” is My debut chapbook, published as the first in award-winning Canadian publisher Gordon Hill Press‘ The Sheffield Chapbooks series, printed on Mohawk Via Felt. It serves as the prequel to my award-nominated, label bestselling mixtape “Songs For Wo(Men) 2” and continues the story that began with my award-nominated, Ugandan bestselling novel-memoir “Dear Philomena,”  The cover is illustrated by the sensational Stephanie Medeiros, who I went to University with and have been wanting to collaborate with ever since! Hit them up for any branding/illustration/graphic design and all the other wonderful services they offer on their website!.

“Songs For Wo(Men)” incorporates drama, prose and poetry. The chapbook begins with an epigraph, written by the brilliant Somali-Canadian: spoken word poet, multidisciplinary artist and community educator; Timiro Mohamed. Its overarching narrative is based on true events, when I was stuck in an unwanted conversation. 

Thematically, the chapbook discusses: toxic masculinity; gender identity; life in the diaspora; self-love; code switching; grief; addiction; belonging; neurodivergence; exoticism; being disabled in an able-bodied world; sexuality; catcalling culture; consent; black women femicide; sexual assault and physical abuse. Content warning for everything listed prior.

Anyone interested can purchase the chapbook here. Please share and spread the word widely!

– Mugabi Byenkya


UNLOCK is not a writers’ retreat, although writers are welcome.

It’s not a writing retreat, either, although writing will be involved.

John O’Donohue says it best: 

“When we devote some calm time to the heart and come off the treadmill of stress and distraction, we can enter into the beauty within.”

That’s UNLOCK. A creative retreat devoted to calm time spent with your heart: intuitive writing and meditation, gentle bodywork, time in nature and in communal circle – all to help you discover a little more of the creative magic within and around you.

Taking place in North Wales on 7-9 May, 2024. £475 includes accommodation, food, facilitation and the whispers of wind and waves.

Find out more here.

– Rowena Roberts


I was pulled into being a speaker at the UK Ghost Story Festival rather last-minute last weekend (that’s me at the right of the photo). As I was getting on the train to Derby for three fabulous days of all things spooky, organiser Alex Davis (who I work with for my Writing the Occult events) asked if I could join a panel on “The Grand Reveal” following a drop-out. Of course, I said yes, and had a great time chatting with Alex, Sarah Jackson, and Simon Fairbanks about when to reveal your monster (if ever), the meanings and metaphors behind hauntings, and why the play 2:22 is potentially my favourite reveal ever. (It’s currently on a national tour – go see it if you can!)

Speaking of Writing the Occult, the next edition will be on 6 April, and we’ll be talking all things Fae. Yep, we’re headed to Fairyland for the Spring. Speaker details are still being finalised, but expect announcements this week. Here’s a sneak peek, just for 26: we’ll be doing a mini world tour of fairy lore in various cultures across the world. These little creatures might be synonymous with Britain and Ireland, but we don’t have a monopoly! Keep an eye on writingtheoccult.carrd.co or follow @societyofinkslingers on Instagram for details of this one. Also coming up this year: 

  • 15 June: Connection to the land
  • 21 September: The Uncanny
  • 30 November: Hauntology

If you are a writer, folklorist, academic or specialist in any of these topics and are interested in pitching a talk or workshop that can be done online, please get in touch with me at ljmcmenemy@gmail.com.

– Lauren McMenemy


I was hoping to have some more definite news since I was told a month ago that my poem ‘Berliners’ has been shortlisted for the Live Canon Poetry Pamphlet competition. They apologised at the time for being slow because ‘absolutely inundated’ with submissions. So I guess that’s the reason why I’ve not heard anything further yet – but shortlisting in such a crowded field seems a cause for some celebration anyway.

To go into the book I’ve commissioned Andrzej Krauze to provide illustrations. Here’s a sneak preview, above. 

– John Simmons


I have comedy shows, so many comedy shows!

My mixed-bill comedy night Good News / Bad News is on 22nd Feb and 13th March at Aces & Eights in Tufnell Park, plus a special one-off edition at A Pinch of Vault Festival in Waterloo, on 3rd March! Upcoming acts include winner of Dave’s Joke Of The Fringe 2023, Lorna Rose Treen; Radio 4 writer and performer Athena Kugblenu; plus star of Edinburgh Fringe and Soho Theatre sell-out hit Clementine, Rosalie Minnitt.

You can also catch my solo show Doomscrolling at Aces and Eights on 20th March, in a double bill with my friend, queer Portuguese comedian and performance artist Mariana Feijó.

– Suchandrika Chakrabarti

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