Friday, 29 June 2012

The Hungry Ghost Festival

...You pick my arms up and spread them out
so we are matching. Our woollen scarves
touch our noses - catch our breath 
like cloth balloons. We dig our feet into the soil
and stamp down into the very deep. 
"This is an arresting collection from a writer fully in command of an unusual and significant voice.” Anna Woodford

“These are poems full of wonder and surprise.. Jen Campbell tells us stories about growing up...; reimagining love, childhood and home in strange and magical ways.” Liz Berry

“Jen Campbell opens the doors wide and takes you through to her own fierce world where nothing goes unquestioned. A mixture of strong filmic images and rich language mean that the poems always keep their sense of wonder and strength.” Sarah Salway

"The writing is luminous, immediate, and (yes) magical. I imagine she fell in love with words early, spinning them into shining nets to save herself from a kind of drowning. She’s a real poet, in other words." - Marcia Menter

The Hungry Ghost Festival is published by The Rialto. Cover illustration is by Laura Barnard.
(You can read some of my poems at the links over here:

You can buy copies via The Rialto or, if you would like to buy a signed copy, then you can do so below (£5.50 plus postage). If you're outside the UK, click the drop down menu to select another postage option.

please select postage option

[if you'd like to order more than one copy, or pay using a different method [such as cheque or bank transfer], then drop me a line].


Here's a blog post with a little about me, and what The Hungry Ghost Festival is about. 

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

“I love walking into a bookstore. It's like all my friends are sitting on shelves, waving their pages at me.”

Independent Booksellers' Week begins on Saturday: a celebration and show of support for our wonderful independent booksellers, and bookshops, and all that they are doing for the book trade. Please, if you can, take some time out to visit your local bookshop and support them. If in my area [North London], I particularly recommend England's Lane Books, who hosted the 'Weird Things...' book launch and who have a fantastic collection of books. Very sadly, they are closing, but they'll be around until the end of July, so you should definitely check them out.

So. For Independent Booksellers' Week, I'm teaming up with bookshops to chat to people about 'Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops,' talk about the book trade and also read from my poetry collection 'The Hungry Ghost Festival' [which will be out in a couple of weeks!].

I really hope that some of you can make one of these. It would be great to see you there. I'm really looking forward to it. All hail independent bookshops!

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops Events

Saturday 30th June 2012
Simply Books, Burnby Hall Gardens, Yorkshire. 1pm.

Recently, Simply Books in Pocklington moved to Burnby Hall Gardens. It's a beautiful location in Yorkshire. I'll be at Simply Books at 1pm on Saturday 30th. If you pre-order a copy of 'Weird Things...' from them, then you get free entry to the gardens on the day.


Wednesday 4th July 2012. 
Jardine Cafe & Bistro / Wivenhoe Books, Wivenhoe: Bookmatch 7pm. 

Think speed-dating, but with books. Instead of pitching yourself to other people, you are pitching your favourite book in a bookswap with a difference. 

I'll be talking about 'Weird Things...' at the event and signing books. 

Tickets are £12.95 and include food and a glass of wine. Details here


Thursday 5th July 2012

The Forest Bookshop, Coleford. [Coleford Festival of Words]: Gloucestershire. 2:30pm. 

Free event: talk and signing.


Friday 6th July 2012

Kenilworth Books [near Warwick], 6:45pm. 

Free event [with nibbles and wine]: talk and signing.


Saturday 7th July 2012

Blackwell's, Oxford: Alice's day.

I'll be helping out at Alice's day. All day at Blackwell's, authors are taking it in turns to read out Alice in Wonderland so that it's constantly being read in the bookshop. I'll be reading at 2pm and 4:30pm, when I'll also be around to sign copies of 'Weird Things...'. Make sure you check out the rest of the events for Alice Day: it's going to be lots of fun!

[Later on in the year I'll be doing events in Norwich, Wigtown, Fulham and Highgate, plus more to come. Keep checking back for updates. As usual, if you're far away and would like a signed copy of 'Weird Things...' then just drop me an email. x]

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

poems are falling from the sky

Today was the beginning of Poetry Parnassus: the poetry Olympics, held at the Southbank Centre all this week, and tonight was the event of Raining Poems. [I'm giving poems away in this post, details further down.]

It was an incredibly moving event. The premise: bomb London with poetry, in memory of air raids that the city has suffered in in the past and the damage those bombs caused. The organiser calls it a movement of 'peace and healing.'

A poem by a poet from each of the 204 Olympic nations was included in the bombardment, along with 50 additional poems by Chilean poets and 50 by UK poets. A total of 100, 000 poems were printed on bookmarks, to be thrown into the sky. We gathered next to the London Eye in the Jubliee Gardens on the Southbank, waiting for a helicopter to drop them down.

The poems were released. There was a bit of a breeze, so the event turned into a poetry hunt across all of the Southbank, and all across Waterloo Bridge... and even beyond!

'...the covers of time alone
are green like the last word in the world
when the wind blows
day and night at the gates of chaos...'

[Tanella Boni - Cote D'Ivoire]

The poems rained and rained, falling on the road, in the trees, on roundabouts, on the tops of cars, on buildings... Hundreds of people ran around catching them, and rescuing them from hidden places.

People who were further afield came up to us and asked us what was going on. When we explained, they got excited and started collecting poems, too.

Miles: poem catching.

'My love is an aviary of small birds
and I must learn to leave the door ajar...'

[Karen McCarthy Woolf - UK]


'...All corners are naked. 
All words are naked...'

[Arjen Duinker - Netherlands]

It was so much fun. In the end we managed to find lots: poems from 25 countries! 

We counted them, sorted them and read through them on the tube journey home. They are beautiful.

What a wonderful way to embrace poetry and peace. 

Out of the poems we collected, Miles and I had eight duplicates. So, everyone who replies to this post will have their name put into a hat, and eight names will be picked after 10th July. Those eight people will win a poem that fell from the sky. Please make sure that I am able to contact you via your post [ie, leave a twitter name, your email address or make sure your post links to your blog where I could leave a comment to get in touch.]

Raining Poetry is also happening in other cities that have been bombed. I leave you footage of poetry falling from the sky in Berlin.

I have a lot of love for the world tonight. 

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Merkw├╝rdige Dinge die Kunden in Buchhandlungen sagen

So, I'm back in London from the Lake District. It was a lovely time, and we managed to avoid the floods too, which was a plus!

I've returned home to a contract, too, which I've signed and can therefore now tell you about:

'Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops' is going to ... Germany! Hurray! It'll be translated and published by Luebbe in 2013, and will have Greg's original illustrations.

I'm most excited by this. *happy German dance*

Hope you're all well. x

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

we're not going on a bear hunt. It's probably a sheep hunt, instead.

Greetings from The Lake District, folks. I've had to seek out some interwebs to get some editorial work done for 'Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores' (the US/Canada version, which is out in two months!). Apparently there is no rest for the wicked.

A massive thank you to everyone who came along to my event at The Belfast Book Festival. It was a lot of fun!

Now M and I are in the Lake District. There's a peacock who wanders into our drive every morning and sings to us [very out of tune]. We have named him Percy.

Mostly we have been hiking. I'm going to have very large leg muscles by the time we leave.

Whilst hiking, we stumbled across an idea for a new play. We call it Ramlet. 

That is all. 

Hope you're all well! x

Currently reading: A Wild Sheep Chase: Haruki Murakami / Lung Soup: Andrew Elliott

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Willy Wonka: "Goodbye, Mrs. Gloop. Adieu. Auf wiedersehen. Gesundheit."

Folks! I bid you farewell for a little while. Tomorrow I'm heading up to Liverpool, and from there catching a ferry over to Belfast for the Belfast Book Festival. I'll be doing an event at Waterstones on Fountain Street on Saturday 3:30pm. It's a free event, so if you're around Belfast it would be lovely to see you there. I'll be chatting about 'Weird Things...' reading some poetry from my collection that's coming out next month, and signing books.

From there, Miles and I are hopping on a ferry to the west coast of Scotland and driving down to the Lake District. There we shall go on long hikes, and I also plan to write & read, perhaps in front of a log fire [and hopefully avoid most of the rain, though I think that will be a little impossible]. I feel like I'm rather in need of a break.

On my return, it'll be Independent Booksellers' Week, and I've got five events lined up that week in Yorkshire, Wivenhoe, Coleford, Warwick and Oxford [details on the left of the blog]. So, yes. Phewf. Au revoir, chaps, I'll see you anon. x

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

ideas on a postcard

Thank you for your very enthusiastic response to yesterday's rainy day postcard shout out! Hurrah! In eight hours, I had sixty five requests for postcards, and decided to close entries at that point [out of fear for both my hand and my bank balance].

So, sixty five postcards later... They have been posted and are whizzing their way out to you all [in ten different countries!].

At some point in the future, when my hand has recovered, I'll do this again. It was fun! x

Monday, 11 June 2012

wish you were here [and it was sunny]

The weather is miserable. Snail mail is not.

So, if you send me your address, I'll send you a postcard. It might have a quote on it, a 'Weird Thing...' or a few lines from a poem.

Screw you, rain. We have postcards, and postcards are nice. You can email me here.

[International addresses are fine. I'll edit this post when the postcards run out/I'm broke ;)]

ETA: Eight hours and 65 postcards later [to 10 different countries], I'm going to have to call this one a day. Thanks folks! Postcards will be going out to you soon. 

For those who find this late: I will probably do this again in the future. x

Friday, 8 June 2012

living by the book

A few weeks ago I talked to you about The Book Barge. Well, now I'd like The Book Barge to talk to you.  They are in danger of closing. Sarah's going to write a book to try and save it. You can all get involved, and it will be fabulous. 

Have a read. Follow the tale. 

Living by the Book

We're going to write a book! Yes, you and me both…

It was sort of this time last year when I wrote a blog of bookshop despair, admitting that things weren't going very well, that the boat might have to close. Before that, however, I wanted to know I'd tried everything to prevent this and floated (awful pun) the idea of a six-month Book Barge at Large tour during which I'd shelve financial worries for a while and try instead to live off books more literally - by swapping them for the food, accommodation and odd pair of Bristol Old Vic Treasure Island tickets I needed en route.

It turned out to be transformative in a more wonderful way than I'd imagined. There's a line in Emma Smith's canalling memoir Maidens' Trip where she admits she found her 1940s experience on the waterways the first time that life had met her expectations of it, and that's what happened here too. More than that: I felt complete confidence and satisfaction in what I was doing. It made me indescribably happy... [READ MORE]

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

"Mummy! I've found Harry Potter!"

This past week [as well as work] I've had a lovely time doing events at the Yellow-Lighted Book Festival and signing books at Waterstones in Wimbledon. There were children climbing bookshelves and everything in Wimbledon yesterday. Most excellent. I particularly liked a child called Henry who, after climbing a bookshelf to get to a copy of The Avengers, pointed at a film edition of The Woman in Black & yelled: 'MUMMY! I've found Harry Potter! He wears contacts now!' Fantastic.

Saturday 9th June 11am I'll be chatting about 'Weird Things....' at Waterstones in King's Lynn, so come along if you're in the area.

The Belfast Book Festival have released their timetable [over here]. I'll be doing an event for 'Weird Things...' at 3:30pm on Saturday 16th June hosted by Waterstones on Fountain Street. I'll be chatting about 'Weird Things...' and also reading poetry from my forthcoming collection. It's a free event, so come along :)

[If you can't make the events and would like a signed copy of the book then head over here]

Bar that, here are some things I've stumbled across recently which I thought you might like.

1. This excellent comic strip of part of a Neil Gaiman speech. 

2. 'We're fools whether we dance or not, so we may as well dance.'

3. A look at fifteen writers' bedrooms.

4. Imogen Heap's 'Love the Earth.' I saw her perform this at the Royal Albert Hall. She wrote the score, conducted the orchestra and sang along. She's a genius.

5. If you like short story writing, then check out this course run by Tom Vowler and Zoe Lambert. 

6. Finally, I'd like to stuff my face with some of these. That is all.