Maz Hedgehog’s long-awaited debut poetry collection, Vivat Regina, gets a proper showcase as she headlines monthly Manchester favourite Bad Language at the end of March. We’ve already caught snippets of the Superbia Books pamphlet at both Verbose and Poetry Pop Jukebox Co-op (also dropping in at Gullivers on 27 March, featuring That’s What She Said’s Jane Claire, The Writing Squad’s Liz Gibson, Tolu Live, Cheryl Martin and Danny Moran), this solo flight is worth checking out. Quite the spoken word expert, Maz’s performances are powerful and mesmerising, and it’s no surprise she’s been invited to read at the likes of the Manchester Histories Festival launch in the Art Gallery, as well as popping up at other high-profile shindigs such as the Edinburgh Fringe.
With magical beasts and beings, impressive language and imagery, this collection has already been called ‘shimmering’
Describing herself as a ‘fantasy poet’, Maz’s new book is inspired variously by Romantic John Keats and spec fictioneer Neil Gaiman, and she says it also evokes the English epic poem The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser – ‘My poetry is fantastical, lyrical and occasionally a little surreal.’ As well as freedom, flowers and fairies, the original, folklore-y poems of Vivat Regina take on conquest and duty while also asserting the place of black queer perspectives and viewpoints within British cultural identity. With magical beasts and beings, impressive language and imagery, this collection has already been called ‘shimmering’.
If that’s not enough, Bad Language’s master-organisers and hosts Fat Roland and Joe Daly (who are also currently busily brewing up a special Short Short Story Slam chalked up for 18 June – watch this space for more on that!) have a 10-strong set of performers to join Maz on the night as part of the open mic. Head upstairs for Bad Language fun, and to the ground-floor back room for Poetry Pop Jukebox Co-op – something tells us it’s going to be busy at the bar in Gullivers.
Maz also shares an official launch event the week before, on Tuesday 19 March, 7pm, at the 12-month pop-up Old Bank Residency in NOMA. You can hear from Maz, along with fellow Superbia Chapbook Competition winner James Hodgson, who’ll be reading from his book of four stories, A Creature Of Transformation. His ‘weird short stories’ explode the gay male body and reconfigure it in a variety of new ways – the blurb explains ‘sexiness is monstrous and monstrosity is sexy here’. Both Maz and James were mentored by Adam Lowe, poet, editor and founder of Young Enigma, which supports emerging artists who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or queer. The Superbia Chapbook Competition was managed by Young Enigma and supported by a grant from Manchester Pride’s Superbia, with additional writer development funded by Commonword, and two further books are imminent – Strain by Kenya Sterling and Caleb Everett’s The Moston Diaries are due out in October 2019.