Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Goodbye Zina Dreams

Dear Reader,

My blog Zina Dreams has been a comfy resting and writing place since 2009. However, I have recently decided to make a move and from now on you will find me just down the road on Wordpress. There I will be rummaging periodically in Baba Yaga's Handbag. I hope you'll come and visit!


Sunday, 10 July 2016

The Alchemist's Daughter

Dancing at Sunset by Alexi Francis
I'm delighted to have a fairy tale published in the 'The Wild Hunt', an online magazine that 'celebrates the weird, surreal, the other, and imaginary worlds'. You can read the story here and also appreciate its serendipitous partnership with a beautiful painting by the Brighton-based artist Alexi Francis.

“Past river, past wolf, past beast in its lair…”

My story is about fathers and daughters and features a wise raven, a helpful marmalade cat, an underground journey, and a magical forest. All the usual fairy tale elements, in other words.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Siberian Stories at the Manchester Museum

If you happen to live in or around Manchester then please consider yourself invited to my reading at the Manchester Museum at the end of the month. I'll be talking and reading poems about disgraced Victorian explorers, leprosy, Russian fairy tales, and Siberia. There is even a poem that connects all of those themes! And you'll still be home in time for tea (unless you stay on for 'Common Objects: Sonorous Matter', a music-in-the-museum event right after my reading and which I definitely recommend). Full details from the Museum website below...
An evening presentation by Rebecca Hurst, Manchester Museum's Researcher in Residence. Inspired by the Museum's 2014-2015 Siberia: at the Edge of the World exhibition, her work has focused on creating and uncovering stories from the Russian Far East. She will read poems and discuss her research on Kate Marsden – a Victorian nurse and explorer, who made a remarkable and controversial trip to Vilyusk in 1897 – and on the fabulous world of the Russian wonder tale. 
Free. To book: mcrmuseum.eventbrite.com or ring 0161 275 2648.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Unravelling the Year: 2015

So 2015 is almost stitched up, and I am midway through my traditional looking back on the old year and plotting and planning for the new. I've been helped since 2010 in this annual endeavour by the fabulous Susannah Conway, who generously creates and makes available 'Unravelling the Year Ahead'. As a very inept crochet-addict, and one who spends a lot of time unravelling my misadventures in yarn-work (currently a foray into leg warmers), I truly appreciate the idea behind the workbook. To make things you have to be willing and able to unmake things, or at least be prepared to start over again and again, puzzling out as you go exactly how a Spike Stitch (for example) works. I've discovered this to be true of pretty much everything, including writing poetry :  be as willing to retrace your steps as you are to bound joyfully forward.

In other news: I am grateful to have two poems in the current issue of The Next Review, where I am in the company of some other fine and interesting writers. This publication neatly bookends my writing year.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Isabella (and the Pot of Basil)

Through the generous auspices of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama I have recently had the opportunity to write the libretto for a chamber opera. Anyone who has heard me sing will be relieved to know that the composer Oliver Christophe Leith is entirely responsible for the music, and we have been working together over the past year as part of the Guildhall's new MA in Opera Making and Writing.

Our opera, Isabella, will be performed (along with two other new works) in London between 8 and 13 July.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Things That Float

My short story, 'The Ring', was published at the very end of last year in The Golden Keya bi-annual journal of speculative and literary writing. You can find my own tale along with several other excellent short stories or poems, all beautifully illustrated and edited, in Issue 5: Things That Float.

Happy reading and happy New Year!

(Illustration by the fabulous Priscilla Boatwright. Priscilla received her BFA in illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design. See more of her artwork at http://cargocollective.com/boatart.)

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Writer in residence: the Manchester Museum

Malachite clock (detail), Manchester Museum
At the very beginning of this year I decided that throughout 2014 I would appoint myself the unofficial writer-in-residence of a variety of establishments. Over the year I have written about five different residencies, placing myself and my notebook inside a dance studio, an office, Sicily, the spotlight, and the North. I have also (and unexpectedly) found myself an official residency, working within the very splendid Manchester Museum. My title there is Researcher in Residence, and early next year I will be leading a series of creative writing and storytelling workshops around the Museum's Siberia: at the Edge of the World exhibition.

Since becoming a student again in September and embarking on a PhD in creative writing, there is a lot in my life that has much more of an official heft to it. Reading about fairy tales and writing and thinking about poetry is now my real workaday-work, and I am still settling into that idea. I'm also thinking about how to keep the official heft out of my creative writing (where it becomes unnecessary ballast), and suspect the fairy tale form has a lot to teach me on that front. Fairy tales are inherently irregular and surprising; they both unnerve and delight, and are prone to shooting off into the realm of the astonishing, the ridiculous, and the surreal. In 2015, that is the land I will travel through with my pen and my notebook, hopefully leaving all scholarly pretensions far behind.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Storytelling in Sverdlovsk

A Urals story teller, citing Bazhov tale 'The Sun-stone' in Sverdlovsk pioneers club in Sverdlovsk, Russia. (Photo by Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images).

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Writer in residence: the North

September was the month I started my residency in the North.  I have followed the path of needles and the path of pins and it has led me to a place far from home.

I arrived by train at Manchester Piccadilly and took a taxi from the station to leafy suburbia, and a street of almost-identical 1930s semi-detached houses. For the first few weeks the letting agent's sign was how I recognised my own home. Now I see the tat in the front window (my worthless ephemera and tragically scrawny pelargonium and pots of pens and paint brushes) and know I have found my way back to a house that finally smells like we belong together. Out back is a field of allotments and then the River Mersey, which I enjoy visiting -- though I hope sincerely that it will never return my calls. We have a garden robin, and a conventicle of magpies, and the gentle susurration of traffic from the M60.

The North is where people go when they seek adventure or to create a little mayhem in their lives. The mayhem I hope to create is with words and pictures. I'm in Manchester to do a PhD in creative writing: to make things on paper and with my voice and my imagination. The path of needles and the path of pins have led me to poetry and Russian fairy tales and landscape and memory. My adventures will mostly be urban and literary ones, although I've also replaced my Weald-worn walking boots in anticipation of some moorland rambling.

So far, we've made two literary pilgrimages: Haworth and Alderly Edge. It feels like I've left Bloomsbury-in-Sussex far behind.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Entitled to have a voice

Fear of ambition, she believes, is something that creates personal glass ceilings for women. “We are taught that good girls are pious and tidy and fit in” — when actually to be an artist you need to be noisy and driven, to have an ego — “at a certain level, though, people who directly make work have to find at the very core of themselves what it is they wish to speak about. That means you have to feel entitled to have a voice.”
~ Jude Kelly interviewed by Liz Hoggard in the London Evening Standard, 5 March 2014.