In the noughties people from Nottingham were so poor that they used to eat each other. Sometimes they did this for fun. There was at least one hundred shooting per day, everyone was permanently hammered, and the average IQ was 11 (pushed up thanks to folk from West Bridgford). Of course none of this is true but it felt like it was due to negative headlines in the media. At one point we were ‘Shottingham’, on account of some sporadic shootings, as well as binge capital of Britain (labels we addressed in our first issue)
Sex and violence.
It all happened here.
Three men from Nottingham were irritated by these negative stereotypes and so set up LeftLion, an arts and culture listing magazine that is somewhere between Time Out and Viz. For nearly ten years now I’ve sweated my guts out for this bi-monthly rag and never been paid a penny. I’ve done it because you have to shape the kind of city you want to live in. If other publications aren’t doing their job, do it for them. Get meh?
I mention this because LeftLion is now threatening to go monthly if successful with a Kickstarter campaign started on 16 August. If we raise our goal of £10,000 then that means I will have to give up even more of my free time. The money raised will pay for the extra editions and to help widen our distribution. LeftLion is completely funded through advertising and has never received any form of grant or funding. So it’s about time we asked you lot to dip your hands into your pockets.
As the Literature Editor I have organised spoken word events such as Scribal Gathering, bringing the likes of Chester P to Nottingham, literature podcasts, mini festivals such as The Canning Circus Festival , taken the piss out of Damien Hirst at the British Art Show at the ‘Tempreh, as well as created and developed the WriteLion brand, which at present dedicates two pages to poetry and literature. We have our own literary cartoon in Readers’ Wives (see above) and after discovering that Katie Price outsold the Booker Shortlist created Katie Half-Price reviews. But our primary aim is to support and promote local events at every opportunity. For example, we feature reviews of the entire shortlist for the East Midlands Book Award as well as interviews with the featured authors. Who else does this locally? With a readership of around 40,000 we easily offer more exposure to books and poetry than specialist publications.
Three of our featured artists in Dawn of the Unread have illustrated articles in LeftLion in the past: Judit Ferencz who helped create our current comic Psychos; Rikki Marr, who is working with former LeftLion editor Al Needham on our Bendigo chapter; and Steve Larder, who will be working with Alan Gibbons on our Geoffrey Trease comic.
All of our commissioned writers (except Kevin Jackson) have either written for LeftLion or had their work reviewed in it at some stage. I met our script editor Adrian Reynolds after interviewing him in the mag, and Aly Stoneman, who writes about Ms. Hood, is the LeftLion Poetry Editor. LeftLion are also a partner with Dawn of the Unread, and have lobbed over a bit of cash as well as offering discounted advertising, support through social media and just stuff. So you can see why I’ve decided to dedicate this week’s blog to their (our) Kickstarter campaign.
Dawn of the Unread is a celebration of local literary history. It strives to support libraries and independent bookshops and any other organisation which helps promote reading. LeftLion is integral to this process and one of the few magazines actively dedicated to reviewing at least one self-published book, pamphlet or DIY zine per issue. They are integral to Nottingham’s current bid to become a UNESCO City of Literature as they demonstrate our thriving grassroots literary scene. It was LeftLion that started the ‘there is a lighthouse and it never goes out’ campaign, asking people to post pictures of themselves reading Alison Moore’s The Lighthouse to help support her Booker nomination.
But be under no illusion that the Kickstarter needs to be successful because it sends out the message that Nottingham demands quality, irreverent publications. If you like culture and chelp support it now. If you don’t know what chelp is, read LeftLion. And if you want the rest of the planet to think we eat our babies and have an IQ of 11, do nothing at all. VISIT THE KICKSTARTER PAGE HERE
Dawn of the Unread would like to thank two of commissioned authors, Nicola Monaghan and Alison Moore, who have kindly donated lots of signed copies of their books to be given away as prizes in the Kickstarter campaign. I’d like to thank their publishers Salt and Vintage too. Nicola also appears in our Kickstarter promotional video.
A SELECTION OF INTERVIEWS IN LEFTLION WHICH FEATURE SOME OF OUR COMMISSIONED AUTHORS
- Alison Moore on short stories
- Nicola Monaghan interview
- Alan Gibbons on National Libraries’ Day
- John ‘Brick Clark on To End All Wars
- Michael Eaton on Robin Hood and subverting McCarthyism
- Andrew Graves with poem illustrated by Steve Larder
- Adrian Reynolds on writing for Mobile Phones