As well as running the rather marvellous (if somewhat once-in-a-blue-moon) evening Reading The Other, when writers are paired up to swap their work and read the other’s, Michael Conley is also a busy scribe in his own right. In many cases blurring the boundaries between poetry and prose when he performs (he has been a regular guest at the Carol Ann Duffy and Friends evenings at the Royal Exchange, as well as at various of the spoken word and live lit nights around the place), Michael has so far published two pamphlets of poems – Aquarium with award-winning publishers Flarestack, and More Weight, published by Eyewear as part of their 2016 Aviator Series.
This evening sees the launch of his new prose collection Flare and Falter, which came out last month on Splice Publishing. This is his first book of prose after being shortlisted for the prestigious Manchester Fiction Prize 2017 with his short story The God Quetzalcoatl Has Retired And Now Runs A Pub In South Manchester, which is included in this tome. No stranger to having his work recognised, his stories have taken third place in the Bridport Prize and, in 2015, he was shortlisted for the Melita Hume Prize. His poem These Three Young Ladies Have Come All The Way From Australia was Highly Commended in the Forward Prize for Poetry, and his work has featured in various literary magazines, including Magma, Rialto, New Welsh Review and Cadaverine.
The new collection is described thus: “Welcome to the unforgettable worlds of Michael Conley: horrific, hilarious, and forever on the brink of collapse. Lives are turned upside-down by ducks, the alphabet attacks every country on the planet, and civil unrest breaks out when we realise that only half of us can see the kraken clinging to the Gateshead Millennium Bridge. Sly and silly, chaotic and carnivalesque, often poignant and always unpredictable, Conley’s stories shred the thin veil that protects our familiar reality from an apocalypse of the bizarre.” Signed copies will be available to buy at the event.
Also reading on the night is a selection of writers Michael has drafted in especially for the occasion from around Manchester’s live literature scene: Sarah-Clare Conlon (formerly of Verbose), Kate Feld, co-host of The Real Story, flash fiction leading lady Tania Hershman, Abi Hynes of First Draft fame, and Steve Smythe, who now runs Speakeasy at Streford Sip Club. Should be worth the tram fare!