Carcanet online book launch: In The Quaker Hotel by Helen Tookey

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Poet Helen Tookey
Poet Helen Tookey.

25 May 2022 Tickets from £2.00 — Book now

Poet, writer and editor Helen Tookey will be reading from her new Carcanet Press collection, In The Quaker Hotel, and chatting about it with writer and critic Seán Hewitt.

Liverpool-based Helen Tookey experiments with form and theme, as shown by her two previous full-length poetry collections with Carcanet Press: Seamus Heaney First Collection Prize-shortlisted Missel-Child (2014) and City Of Departures (2019), which was shortlisted for the 2019 Forward Prize for Best Collection. Alongside poems, the book includes a creative non-fiction essay exploring themes of travel, European identity, and responses to visual art. In between, in 2016, she published a pamphlet In The Glasshouse with HappenStance Press.

Seán Hewitt recently performed new work co-commissioned by Manchester Literature Festival and Manchester Art Gallery to an intimate audience alongside the Derek Jarman PROTEST! exhibition.

Carcanet say of In The Quaker Hotel: “In the title poem, the speaker sits at the window of a small hotel room. The room is a holding zone, a temporary stopping-place between memory and possibility. In The Quaker Hotel is full of questions about the world. Rooted in nature, the poems are fearful for it. They move out through identifiable landscapes (Merseyside, north Wales, Nova Scotia, southern France) to off-kilter, tilted places beyond our immediate reality. We are temporary guests in these places and in our own lives. Who will come after us, how will they see things: ‘who will tend the bees / in the communal garden’?”

Now a lecturer in creative writing at Liverpool John Moores University, Helen Tookey previously worked in editorial and production roles for publishing companies including Liverpool University Press and Carcanet Press themselves. She has published critical work on twentieth-century writers including Anaïs Nin, and she collaborates regularly, including with musician Sharron Kraus and guitarist Nick Jonah Davis in 2016, and with writer, musician and sound artist Martin Heslop on text and sound work developed from a residency in 2019 at the Elizabeth Bishop House in Great Village, Nova Scotia.

Since 2009, Helen has been part of a Merseyside-based project and events programme (including a major international conference in July 2017) focused on Malcolm Lowry, and she has co-edited with Bryan Biggs two books on the Wirral-born novelist: Malcolm Lowry: From the Mersey to the World (Liverpool UP, 2009) and Remaking the Voyage: New Essays on Malcolm Lowry and In Ballast to the White Sea (Liverpool UP, 2019). Helen is currently working on a creative non-fiction book exploring her relationship to the work of Malcolm Lowry and Elizabeth Bishop and, through that, with issues of place, landscape and belonging.

Seán Hewitt’s debut collection, Tongues Of Fire, was published by Jonathan Cape in 2020 and won The Laurel Prize. It was also shortlisted for the John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize, a Dalkey Literary Award and The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, and, in 2020, he was chosen by The Sunday Times as one of their “30 under 30” artists in Ireland. He is also the winner of a Northern Writers’ Award, the Resurgence Prize and an Eric Gregory Award. His book JM Synge: Nature, Politics, Modernism is published with Oxford University Press (2021) and his memoir, All Down Darkness Wide, is forthcoming from Jonathan Cape in the UK and Penguin Press in the US. He is a book critic for The Irish Times and teaches Modern British & Irish Literature at Trinity College Dublin.

Seán Hewitt recently performed new work co-commissioned by Manchester Literature Festival and Manchester Art Gallery to an intimate audience alongside the Derek Jarman PROTEST! exhibition: ‘Portal’ and ‘The Slur of the Heart’ were written in response to the show.

As always with Carcanet Press events, extracts of the text will be shown during the reading so that you can read along, and audience members will have the opportunity to ask their own questions. Registration for this online event is £2, redeemable against the cost of the book – attendees will receive a discount code and details of how to get hold of the new book during and after the event.

Please note that there is a limited number of places for the reading, so do book early to avoid disappointment.

In The Quaker Hotel by Helen Tookey
In The Quaker Hotel by Helen Tookey

25 May 2022 Tickets from £2.00 Book now

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