Join us to celebrate the launch of Small Press, the new poetry and experimental writing press that champions print poetry in Bristol!Arnolfini Bookshop6.30pmThursday 24th MayWine & poetryWe'll be celebrating the launch of Small Press and its first poetry chapbook, Thumping the Table of Mist by Ray Webber - a beautifully printed small collection that combines traditional letterpress techniques with modern digital printing.We'll also be paying tribute to Ray Webber, who passed away in November last year.Copies of Thumping the Table of Mist will be available on the night for £6 - and will be available from 25th May in Arnolfini Bookshop and directly from Tangent Books.Follow along on Instagram @smallpressbooksand on Twitter @smallpressbooks
Tony Bolger continues his journey around Bristol's pubbiest pubs…
Episode 3: The Seven Stars, St Thomas Lane
The Seven Stars doesn’t quite fit with the motif of my previous outings into Bristol’s ‘pubbiest publand’. Both the Mardyke and The Long Bar are the sort of places that could be kindly described as ‘basic’ and more accurately as ‘rough’.
Certainly, neither of them can claim to be ‘The Pub That Changed The World’. But that’s the title that Bristol historian Mark Steeds has bestowed on The Seven Stars, a seemingly traditional boozer tucked away next to The Fleece & Firkin in St Thomas.
“The Seven Stars was the base for Thomas Clarkson when he visited Bristol to begin his investigations into the slave trade,” explains Mark. “It's the site of the world’s first major civil rights movement. You name me any other pub that can claim that.”
In 1787, Thomas Clarkson arrived in Bristol and began his abolitionist crusade against slavery. At the time, slavery was the backbone of Bristol’s economy so obviously Clarkson faced opposition, hostility and threats of violence at every turn.
That is, until he was introduced to the landlord of The Seven Stars, a man named Thompson. The two joined forces and using the pub as their headquarters, they conducted their research into the vile industry. Upon investigating the conditions on the slave ships, they learned that the free sailors often received very similar treatment to that of the slaves. Many free seamen were dying on board the slave ships or taking part in mutinies to escape the atrocious conditions on board.
In fact, these sailors were often conned into signing up to serve aboard these ships while drunk or simply kidnapped like the slaves themselves. Clarkson and Thompson were able to expose the reality of slavery. This was a huge blow to the slave industry and proved pivotal in changing attitudes worldwide because before the slave trade was publicised as a great boon for working seamen.
“Clarkson found that of the roughly 1000 Bristol sailors engaged in the trade in 1786, almost half never made it home,” Says Mark “He then used the technique in all of Britain’s port cities and the results became a major factor in changing public opinion.”
There is an ongoing petition to turn the pub into a World Heritage Site and I have no doubt that The Seven Stars, Thompson and Clarkson will eventually receive the recognition they deserve for the huge part they played in changing the world. There’s already a large plaque on the pub’s outside wall explaining its historical importance.
History coming alive aside, it’s a good, warm pub and won the CAMRA Bristol Pub of The Year in 2010 for its excellent selection of ales. The bar is tucked away down a cobbled lane but the leaping pig sign hanging on the corner serves as a good landmark for finding it. There are five picnic tables outside the pub. Inside, there’s a very chilled, friendly atmosphere with exposed wooden rafters on the ceiling and wooden floor boards.
This may not be as bar-brawling or riotous as the first two pubs on this list but that’s not to say that this place isn’t a proper down-to-earth boozer. Brit pop is the music of choice, there’s old ads on the walls as well as water colours of ye olde Bristol and a picture of Mona Lisa holding a lager. When you go into the men’s, the smell tells tales of pisses taken in the 1770s and at the back of the pub, perilously close to the toilets is a pool table and dart board. Both couldn't physically be used at once without causing serious injuries, but that doesn’t mean that people aren’t always keen to try.
Mark Steeds is the author of Cry Freedom, Cry Seven Stars (Bristol Radical History Group) available from www.tangentbooks.co.uk.
Last week we got to have a play around with print at The Letterpress Collective, learning to set lead type, wood lettering and learn about the printing process (or experiment for those of us who have over 25 year's worth of experience of working in print, ahem Richard). We had a brilliant time playing on the little hobby presses as well as the bigger roller presses: also seeing a working Heidlberg is a sight to behold!
All this was part of an exploration for a new print project at Tangent, so keep your eyes peeled for more collaborations with The Letterpress Collective: we're looking forward to working with them more in the future!
Thanks so much to the wonderful Nick and Ellen for a brilliant workshop!
Tangent Books is delighted to announce that we're publishing the second book by award-winning author Ira Rainey!
Ira's previous book Fat Man to Green Man: From Unfit to Ultramarathon told the tale of his transformation from unfit forty-something to super fit ultrarunner.
"Far from being an elite athlete with superhuman running abilities like the ones he read about in books, Ira Rainey was an overweight and unfit slacker who felt a bit sorry for himself because he had sore feet. That was until a friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given months to live. It was to be an event that would push Ira to tackle his apathy towards life and take on the challenge of becoming an ultramarathon runner, pushing himself to go further than he had ever gone before."
His latest book Still Not Bionic: Adventures in Unremarkable Ultrarunning, focuses on the mental aspect of ultrarunning. It is an honest and moving look at how important mental state, support, and friendship are, not just to running long distances, but to life and happiness as a whole.
Still Not Bionic has been nominated for The 2017 Running Award, if you like what you read vote for Still Not Bionic here!
You can pre-order your copy now, and it'll arrive before Christmas!
When Bristol West MP Thangham Debbonaire recently made an impassioned speech during the second reading of the Homelessness Reduction Bill, she reminded the House of Commons that homelessness is about real people, not just numbers.
‘Underneath the numbers, every one is an individual in an impossible situation, a person, cold and frightened, who has been let down or got into a mess and does not know how to get out,’ said Debbonaire during her attack on government policy which she claims has led to a sharp rise in homelessness.
The speech reminded us of Graham Walker’s book Unsettled which Tangent published almost 10 years ago. It’s one of the most revealing insights into homelessness that most readers will ever experience.
Graham has been homeless most of his adult life. His story is a journey from the very bottom to self-accomplished heights. Unsettled is a powerful book that will have the reader laughing and crying in equal measure and ultimately begs the questions; what is a home and what does it mean to be homeless? Does living in temporary housing indicate that that person is homeless? Does being in danger of losing your home classify as being pre-homeless? Or do the bailiffs need to have already visited?
As is often said; you’re only ever three payslips away from being homeless in today’s climate. So with everyone on the precipice of homelessness, it’s important to remember that it could happen to any of us.
Most people who are concerned about the homeless (including Thangham Debbonaire) would consider themselves to be sympathetic to rough sleepers. But Graham makes the point that we all stereotype homeless people, particularly when we see a figure huddled in a sleeping bag in a shop doorway.
We probably see a drug user or someone with addiction and mental health problems, we don’t see a mother, a father, a son or daughter or someone with a sharp sense of humour or a particular talent for drawing, writing, or perhaps cooking.
Unsettled is an entertaining and educational book and it’s also a very moving story. Graham’s experiences as a homeless person and Big Issue seller make a real impact on the way in which people think about homelessness, particularly young people.
Here’s what one Primary School pupil from Newton Abbot said about Unsettled after Graham visited his school to give a talk: “Thank you for showing us not to take the piss out of homeless people and we now realise that homeless people are there for a reason and not just there because they want to lounge around, be lazy and claim on benefits…”
David is currently a full-time student at UWE studying English with Writing. He's using his time here to help create blog posts of interest to discerning punters, as well as honing his writing skills. Not sure what the future holds, so long as it involves words.
We are delighted to announce the launch of Ray Webber's debut poetry collection, proudly published by Tangent Books this September!Join us for a glass of wine to celebrate the launch of this astonishing collection:
Thurs 15th September
Ray Webber is a 93 year old poet, born and bred in Bristol, who first started writing poetry in 1946, in his final year in the army. Heavily influenced by T. S. Eliot, Frank O'Hara, John Ashbery and other New York School poets, Webber's poetry defies conventional lyric expectations to take on a voice and form that is entirely his own.
Over the years, Webber’s work has been recognised by many academics and fellow poets as being of the highest quality, but he has always shunned publicity. The poems in this volume have never before been published.
'What a fierce sense of energy, vitriol and devilish laughter. Webber’s verse crackles with acerbic energy and political rage.'
--Andrew F Giles
'Webber's poetry has a richness of time, place and experience. It feels highly relevant to our politicised times.'
--Dr Edson Burton
Thanks for all your shares and comments about the Banksy Bristol Trail app. I’m Richard Jones, the publisher at Tangent Books and I wrote, rewrote and edited most of the text for the app. I’d like to tell you a little bit more about the app and also to focus on the comments here and on the Bristol 24/7 page commenting that the app should be free.
About 10 years ago, I commissioned Steve Wright (who was then Venue magazine’s art editor) to write a book about Banksy. Mark Simmons and Pete Maginnis provided a lot of the pictures and we were also sent shots by Banksy fans and people who worked with him and given permission to use them.
Steve did a brilliant job and Banksy’s Bristol: Home Sweet Home was an immediate success. A lot of the money from sales went into funding other projects such as Children of the Can, Bristol Black and White, Art & Sound of the Bristol Underground, Wild Dayz and others which wouldn’t have been commercially viable without the revenue from Banksy’s Bristol.
Banksy’s Bristol is now in its fourth edition and continues to sell well, though nowhere near as well as in that first year or so.
It was in this climate that we decided to explore transforming the book into an app. I’ve worked with Jon Rolfe at Cactus for many years – we co-published my first book in 1992, Court in the Act: A History of the Ashton Court Free Festival 1974-1992 – and over the last few years Jon has developed an app engine based on map locations.
We’ve got three apps on the go, Banksy, Bristol Cider Trail and the Treasure Island Trail. Cider and Treasure Island are being upgraded and Banksy is being converted to Android.
The plan is that Cactus provides the technical expertise and Tangent provides the content. That content is original and has been written by professional authors who are paid for their work. We are confident that a combination of the technical expertise provided by Cactus and the writing excellence from Tangent will make the apps great purchases. Several people have commented that they expect the apps to be free. I’m sure that these people don’t expect their food or clothes to be free and they certainly don’t work for nothing.
The payment goes a small way to covering the production and writing costs. Yet still people expect digital content for free. This raises an interesting point and highlights a dilemma that became apparent in the mid 90s when magazines and newspapers began to move their articles and pictures onto the internet and those finely crafted bon mots and expertly constructed photographs became known as ‘content’.
I was working for Future Publishing at the time as the editor of Total Football magazine and Managing Editor of The Official Manchester United Magazine, Glory Glory Man United and The Official Chelsea Magazine, so I observed the birth of internet publishing at very close quarters and quickly became aware of the threats, opportunities and the internal power struggles between on and offline publishers and advertising executives. There was an absolute lack of any coherent philosophy about the direction of online publishing and the consequences for traditional magazine and newspaper publishing.
At Future we were always told that a magazine is just two things.
Virtually overnight editors were expected to give their content to the online teams so that they could use it free-of-charge on the internet. We had given away 50 per cent of our unique selling point.
TotalFootball.com had its own sales and marketing teams and it’s own editorial team. The problem was that the print magazine had developed a very strong brand as an intelligent fans’ mag. We weren’t too laddish but were certainly heavily influenced by the brilliant magazine editor James Brown and the Loaded phenomenon.
Over a number of years we had clearly established our brand as being for the football fan who enjoyed the culture of football (the pies, the folklore, the rivalry, the stats) as much as they enjoyed the game itself. Total Football identified with this sort of fan regardless of their sex, colour creed, age or race.
Incidentally, at the time Future was owned by Pearson whose chief executive Marjorie Scardino said in a major interview that her favourite magazines were Total Football and The Economist – Marge is a Nottingham Forest Fan, as is former Justice Minister Ken Clarke and James Dean Bradfield from the Manic Street Preachers.
The editorial team at TotalFootball.com were perfectly pleasant people, some of them were football fans but they were mainly there because of their expertise in building and maintaining websites. They didn’t understand why Total Football magazine ran surveys to find the best pie in UK football, or why we ran features on football superstitions, animals on the pitch or the worst ever away strips (Coventry City’s chocolate brown monstrosity of 1978/79 season since you ask). In short they didn’t understand our brand. Also because the website was delivering content on a daily, even hourly basis whereas we published the magazine every month, the two products were bound to be different, yet the website used the Total Football name and logo – which looked terrible online, but fine in print.
After years of being told how vital they were, at a stroke Total Football had given away its content and its brand. Of course we weren’t alone, virtually all traditional media organisations got it horribly wrong in the rush to online publishing in the 90s and it’s taken a long time for the wounds to start to heal.
One of the consequences of all this is that many people expect digital content to be delivered free of charge. I firmly believe that well-researched and well-written articles, great photography and expert coding comes at a price.
There's just 40 days and 40 nights remaining to get your entries in to the Bristol Short Story Prize. For those who have been thinking about entering... Here are the details of how to get your entries in:
If you're feeling inspired, or want to read some of the previous winning stories, you can get hold of copies of the anthologies from our website, each volume of which features a beautiful illustration from a student on the UWE Illustration course...
We had great fun last week installing an exhibition of photographer Beezer's work in Trinity as part of the 6 Music Festival that took over Bristol this weekend. Below are some of the images of the exhibition, which features The Wild Bunch (before they became Massive Attack) and images of St Pauls Carnival from the 1980s:
Also, our glorious leader, Richard Jones Esq. was allowed on the radio. Not once, but TWICE.
Here he is chatting to Stuart Maconie (tune in at 1hr 38, if you're short of time).
And have a listen to him talking with the lovely Cerys Matthews on Sunday afternoon (1hr 23).
Johnna Darque, Assistant Publisher
Bristol's incredible music scene is getting some well-deserved attention what with the BBC 6Music Festival gracing our shores in a couple of weeks. The full lineup is looking good, especially with all the Fringe events taking place all over the city.
Gilles Peterson of 6Music has made a brilliant documentary, tracing the history of Bristol's underground music scene over the years. Have a listen here.
We've got the perfect book to go alongside Gilles' documentary, which explores and examines the history of the underground music scene in Bristol:
Art & Sound of the Bristol Underground.
This influential book looks at the art and music of the 80s underground scene in Bristol. Influenced by the New York hip hop scene -its DIY ethos, sharp fashion and gang culture- and which seemed a natural successor to the anarcho punk, weird funk and dub reggae mash that had prevailed on Bristol's alternative scene.
Featuring flyers advertising the secret parties of the Bristol circuit, as well as in-depth interviews with the people behind the leading hip hop crews of the day.
Our very own Richard Jones is installing an exhibition of Beezer's photography at Trinity Centre, especially for the 6Music Festival. Details here.
...And for those visiting our wonderful city for the first time, we've got the ideal companion for your adventures round Bristol:
The Naked Guide to Bristol
The Naked Guide to Bristol is a witty and informative guide to the sights and sounds of Bristol. Whether you're after a big sight-seeing weekend or out to uncover the secret spots in the city, this guide will have you there in no time.
Remember, not all guide books are the same...