“What is the purpose of resisting corporate globalization if not to protect the obscure, the ineffable, the unmarketable, the unmanageable, the local, the poetic and the eccentric? So they need to be practiced, celebrated and studied too, right now.” Rebecca Solnit
I'm a UK-based writer, editor, educator and activist with a passionate commitment to arts and social justice. I publish with independent presses Arc, Lark Books, Salt, Shearsman, IB Tauris, and Wallflower. I am a member of queer feminist film curation collective Club des Femmes and feminist film activists Raising Films, a lecturer in film at LCC and Queen Mary University of London, and a film journalist for Sight & Sound and The F-Word, where I focus on independent, experimental, and feminist films and film culture.
In my critical work, I explore the political potential of experimental literature and cinema, with an emphasis on feminist artists like Sally Potter, who is the subject of my first critical book The Cinema of Sally Potter: A Politics of Love. As well as teaching university courses on topics ranging from transgender cinema to Anne Carson, I've facilitated workshops for youth organisations like Leave Out Violence and taught creative writing at Anglia Ruskin University, King's College, London, and Middlesex University. I have worked with non-profit organisation English PEN and was the Poet in Residence at the Archive of the Now.
For workshops, creative consultancies, editorial or writing work, contact me at: sophie [at] sophiemayer [dot] net
After five years of pitching I finally (FINALLY) made it into The (hallowed) Guardian, with a Reader Response column about Andrea Arnold's breathtaking adaptation of Wuthering Heights and why British cinema needs to tackle racism and empire. Woo-hoo! Meanwhile, Kiss Off (my chapbook of poems about kissing) got a small write-up on the PBS Poetry Portal, and I wrote my first ever gig review, of my favourite ever musician (no pressure there, then), Tori Amos, for The F Word. Time to deck the halls and consume much hearty grog, methinks!
A bit behind the curve, but here are my reviews from the London Film Festival, of three diverse and ambitious films by women directors: Pariah, Futures Market and Chicken with Plums. I didn't get to review Milagros Mumenthaler's Back to Stay, but it was my pick of the fest! My feelings about Julia Leigh's Sleeping Beauty (S&S Nov 2011) were rather less positive... and I was in two minds about John David Rhodes' study of Meshes of the Afternoon, in the Book of the Month review in Sight & Sound Dec 2011.
There's no such thing as too often to celebrate the amazing women writers and artists who inspire me, and I've had some lovely opportunities to do so recently...
Starting with Luce Irigaray, Sally Potter, Lucía Puenzo and Joan Roughgarden, whose ideas and images all make an appearance in Kiss Off, a beautiful new chapbook from the Michael Marks award-winning Oystercatcher Press, is now available for a tasty £4. I'll be reading from it at the Judith E. Wilson Drama Studio in Cambridge on Friday October 14th to welcome John Kinsella as the 2011-12 Judith E. Wilson Fellow.
Before that, I'll be at the BFI this Saturday, 8th October, to talk about Maya Deren as part of Maya Deren: New Reflections. I'll be talking about femmes (fatale and otherwise), feminism, hair, oceans, mirrors, magic and more. In fact, I'll be at the BFI most days in October, blogging about the London Film Festival for Sight & Sound: I'll post links as I have them. I talk more about Deren in this post celebrating women and technology for Ada Lovelace Day.
I'm very pleased to be leading the first ever Bishopsgate Institute lunchtime book club, which will be running on alternate Mondays from September 12th, 12-1pm. If you work/stufy/live in the City or East End, this is a perfect way to meet people, get engaged and -- most importantly -- read some excellent books.
As part of the 'Whose Mind is it Anyway?' season at the Institute, the book club is explored the Edge of Mind. We'll read work by poets and novelists who have experienced institutionalisation for mental illness and written about it frankly, observantly and with humour, rage and love.
Here's the reading list:
Introductory week: excerpts from "Jubilate Agno" by Christopher Smart; "Journey Out of Essex" and letters from the asylum by John Clare (to be supplied as photocopies)
Week Two: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper
Week Three: Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Week Four: Janet Frame, An Angel at My Table
Week Five: Comparisons between An Angel at My Table and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Week Six: Allen Ginsberg, Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems
Autumn: season of mists and mellow literary salons, close bosom friend of the maturing poem. Dress in your finest burning leaf drag and come and join me at the following events (here's a Google map with all locations):
September 1st: Political A-Gender, Royal Vauxhall Tavern, 372 Kennington Lane, 7pm-2am. Nearest station: Vauxhall. Fundraiser, featuring Roz Kaveney.
September 8th: POLYply, Centre for Creative Collaboration, Acton St. Nearest station: King's X.
October 8th: Maya Deren: New Reflections, BFI, 10.30 am. Nearest Station: Waterloo.
October 14th: Judith E. Wilson Fellowship Reading for John Kinsella, Cambridge. More details soon.
I'm very excited to be hosting a Salt Publishing table at the upcoming Edinburgh Zine & Small Press Fair on Sunday 7th August: I haven't 'done' a small press fair since I left Toronto in 2006, and this event is being organised by one of my favourite Torontonians, Sandra Alland. They're called fairs because they're home to fairly-priced books across a fairly incredible diversity! As if that weren't enough, the fair will be followed by Faceplant at the Forest Café at 6pm, where I'll be reading alongside performers including Alison Smith, whose video-poems I've loved from afar (thanks to Sandra) via YouTube.
Interview with John McCullough and I by Jen Campbell and collaborative poem can be found here.
The first review of The Private Parts of Girls is out: the excellent For Books' Sake sent intrepid grrrl reporter Jackie Downs to King's College to see me read with John McCullough - her rather lovely thoughts on the poems, the wine (and the opulent chamber) can be found here. I was also itnerviewed by Anna Kirk for The Literateur, a fantastic and eclectic online literary magazine: thoughts on canonisation (erk!), film poetry (mmmm) and being queer here. Coming up, a dual (but not duelling) interview with John on Jen Campbell's awesome bookblog this is not the six word novel. Plus (best for last) I'm reading with Ali Smith (my favourite living novelist) at Clerkenwell Tales on Tuesday 5th July, 6.30pm. See you there?
I'm travelling to Brighton, Edinburgh and distant Exmouth Market the next month to read from The Private Parts of Girls -- and my new chapbook, Incarnadine (free when you buy the book at a gig)!
Friday 24th June, 7.30: Queer Writing South @ Iambic Arts Theatre, Brighton, with John McCullough and Rob Hamberger (£5/4)
Tuesday 5th July, 6.30: Clerkenwell Tales, London, with Ali Smith (free but booking essential)
Sunday 7th August, 6.00: Faceplant @ The Forest Cafe, Edinburgh (free)
Well, tomorrow night. At the Phoenix Artist Club off Charing Cross Road, 8pm. I'm stupendously excited and delighted to be warming up the crowd for the brilliant John McCullough, who is launching his amazing collection The Frost Fairs. We had a pre-launch reading at Interrobang?! two weeks ago where John threw some awesome shadows as he read!