020 Travis Alabanza: Beyond the Gender Binary
In this episode, we chat to the award-winning writer, performer and theatre-maker Travis Alabanza about their non-fiction book on trans and non-binary identity, None of the Above. We discuss what it means to write anti-memoir, in relation to making work from a working-class, gender non-conforming perspective. We chat about what it means to claim your own narrative and how to write a theoretical text that is accessible outside of academia, as well as the necessity of artists' engagement with the communites around them. We talk about the process of moving from stage to page and the radical power of performance to create a temporary space where rules are suspended, giving us a glimmer of freedom. References Burgerz by Travis Alabanza None of the Above by Travis Alabanza The Transgender Issue by Shon Faye As always, visit Storysmith for 10% discount on Travis' work.
September 26, 2022
019 Jessica Andrews: Milk Teeth Live Special @ Storysmith Books
In this special episode of Tender Buttons — the last of Season 2 — we share a live conversation between Jessica Andrews and Samantha Walton, recorded at the launch of Jessica's new novel Milk Teeth at Storysmith Books in Bristol. Milk Teeth follows the story of a girl grows up in the north-east of England amid scarcity, precarity and a toxic culture of bodily shame, certain that she must make herself ever smaller to be loved. Years later, living in tiny rented rooms and working in noisy bars across London and Paris, she fights to create her own life. She meets someone who cracks her open and offers her a new way to experience the world. But when he invites her to join him in Barcelona, the promise of pleasure and care makes her uneasy. In the shimmering heat of the Mediterranean, she faces the possibility of a different existence, and must choose what to hold on to from her past. How do we learn to take up space? Why might we deny ourselves good things? Milk Teeth is a story of desire and the body, shame and joy. 'Milk Teeth spills over with care, truth and desire. Andrews makes the case for a life lived abundantly and ardently, full of sensation and pleasure, risk and safety' Yara Rodrigues Fowler' References Milk Teeth by Jessica Andrews (Sceptre: 2022) Saltwater by Jessica Andrews (Sceptre 2019) Melissa Febos, Body Work (Manchester University Press: 2022)- and you can listen to our recent episode with Melissa here Samantha Walton Everybody Needs Beauty (Bloomsbury: 2021)- check out our previous episode with Samantha here Helene Cixous, The Laugh of the Medusa Eimear McBride, The Lesser Bohemians (Faber: 2016) Andrea Ashworth, Once in a House on Fire (Picador: 2014) Kim Ji-young, Born 1982 (Scribner: 2020)
July 26, 2022
018 Melissa Febos: Writing the Body
In this episode, we discuss what it means to write through the body with memoirist Melissa Febos. We speak about the power of articulation as a radical tool for feminist and queer liberation and the need to break away from the narratives we are handed by patriarchal society in an attempt to forge our own maps. We talk about the practicalities of writing memoir as a public archive of the self and the existence of multiple truths and perspectives within a narrative. We address the process of writing trauma and the political and personal implications of writing from lived experience. References Whip Smart by Melissa Febos Abandon Me by Melissa Febos Girlhood by Melissa Febos Body Work by Melissa Febos Uses of the Erotic by Audre Lorde Listen for a 10% discount code on Melissa's work at Storysmith books.
June 27, 2022
017 Moses McKenzie: On Morality, Religion and Finding Space
In this episode, we discuss morality, religion and how to find space between conflicting social codes. We discuss the relationship between possibility, choice and criminality and the intersection of class and race in contemporary Bristol. We chat about what it means to write about a place that is not widely represented in fiction and developing a literary voice through hip-hop, grime and the Bible. We explore the potential of the novel to spark political change and the role of artistic responsibility. References An Olive Grove in Ends by Moses McKenzie Bristol Cable interview with Moses McKenzie
May 30, 2022
016 Yara Rodrigues Fowler: The Revolutionary Novel
In this episode, we chat to Yara Rodrigues Fowler about the possibilites of the revolutionary novel. We speak about the potential of art as a driving force for change in the world, providing a space to desire beyond the borders of neoliberalism, imperialism and patriarchy. We talk about the ways in which novels can hold multiple dimensions of time and space and the role of formal experimentation and translation. We also discuss queer families and sisterhood and the ways in which these relationships might act as a 'little communism' of love, hinting at the possibilities of a world which is more free. We talk about the experience of writing and releasing a second novel and how to move through the publishing world while staying true to your own ideals. Yara's new novel, There Are More Things is published on 28th April. References There Are More Things by Yara Rodrigues Fowler Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler Anne Boyer Saidiya Hartman Emma Goldman Lola Olufemi Listen for a 10% discount code on Yara's books at Storysmith books.
April 25, 2022
015 Lola Olufemi: The Radical Power of Imagination
In this episode, we chat to Lola Olufemi about the radical potential of imagination. We speak about the relationship between theory and lived experience and how to deconstruct linear narratives of history and time. We talk about the possibilites language and art can bring to political movements and revolutionary ideas, as well as their limitations. We discuss how to move beyond the trappings of crisis and the importance of re-discovering play, both in writing and in our communities. We explore the role of collaboration within art and the reconfiguration of history as a kind of process which is constantly being re-made, through ancestral connection and the reanimation of archives. References: A FLY Girls' Guide to University by Lola Olufemi, Odelia Younge, Waithera Sebatindira, Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan Feminism Interrupted by Lola Olufemi Experiments in Imagining Otherwise by Lola Olufemi Poetics of Relation by Edouard Glissant Dialogic Imagination by Mikhail Bakhtin June Jordan bell hooks Olive Morris As a Tender Buttons listener you can get 10% discount on Lola's work at Storysmith Books. Listen to the episode for more details and then head to our page on the Storysmith website: storysmithbooks.com/tenderbuttons
March 28, 2022
014 Max Porter: Hybrid Forms
In our first episode of Season Two, we chat to the inimitable Max Porter about pushing the limits of language, the role of art in ritual and collective experience and a search for joy within the mundane. We discuss the relationship between novel and stage, as well as the dichotomies of guilt and shame, care and kindness and humour as a form of resilience in a changing world. We talk about Max's desire to 'capture the pulse of feeling' in his book The Death of Francis Bacon and explore how to reinstate ritual in the ways we relate to landscape and the nonhuman world. We talk about writing as a mode of time travel and mourning as a kind of love. As a Tender Buttons listener you can get 10% discount on Max's work at Storysmith Books. Listen to the episode for more details and then head to our page on the Storysmith website: storysmithbooks.com/tenderbuttons REFERENCES: Time Lived Without its Flow by Denise Riley Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter Lanny by Max Porter The Death of Francis Bacon by Max Porter
February 28, 2022
013 Samantha Walton: On Land Justice, Collective Wellbeing and Nature for Everyone
In this final episode of 2021 and our first season we chat to poet and academic Samantha Walton about democratising nature and landscape writing; green deprivation and the policing of green spaces and the dangers of individualised neoliberal 'nature cures', as discussed in her recent book Everybody Needs Beauty: In Search of the Nature Cure (Bloomsbury: 2021). We speak about the need to carve out space for grief amongst the climate crisis, how to emasculate mountain literature via Nan Shepherd and the space that poetry allows for articulating ambiguity and discomfort, as found in Samantha's hallucinatory poetic sequence Bad Moon (SPAM Press: 2020). As a Tender Buttons listener you can get 10% discount on Samantha's book at Storysmith Books, listen in for more details and then head to our page on the Storysmith website: storysmithbooks.com/tenderbuttons References: Everybody Needs Beauty: In Search of the Nature Cure (Bloomsbury:2021) Bad Moon (SPAM Press: 2020) Self-Heal (Boiler-House Press: 2018) The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd (Canongate) Samantha is also co-editor of Bristol-based small press SAD Press, whose work you can check out here.
December 27, 2021
012 Jo Hamya: Myths of Meritocracy
In this episode, we chat to author Jo Hamya about her brilliant novel, Three Rooms. We discuss her subversion of the bildungsroman narrative in order to interrogate the myth of linear progress and what it means to grow up in the wake of Blairism and the 2007-8 financial crash. We speak about the ways in which people might live in proximity to the upper echelons of society and yet never truly enter privileged spaces as a consequence of class, gender, race and politics. Through the lens of Brexit, Trump, Grenfell and the housing crisis, amidst soaring wealth inequality, Jo addresses the myth of meritocracy in contemporary Britain and interrogates the effects of social media upon our psyches. We chat about the notion of patriotism, the commodification of protest, the struggle to take up space in the modern metropolis and what it really means to inhabit a room of one's own in contemporary Britain. References: Three Rooms by Jo Hamya Outline trilogy by Rachel Cusk As a Tender Buttons listener you can get 10% discount on Jo's book at Storysmith Books, listen in for more details and then head to our page on the Storysmith website: storysmithbooks.com/tenderbuttons Our theme music is a sample from Flotation by Ben Vince from his album The Purge.
November 29, 2021
011 Caleb Parkin: On Queer Ecologies
In this episode, we talk to Bristol City Poet Caleb Parkin about taxonomies, ecophrastic poems and the historical exclusion of LGBTQIA+ people from environmental movements and access to nature. We chat about the way our sense of 'nature' is always mediated through culture and the need for irreverence and irony to offset the self-righteousness that can be associated with climate activism. We discuss how queer perspectives can alter the conversation around climate justice and the need for us to sit with uncertainty and unknowingness. Caleb's dazzling, slippery poetry collection - This Fruiting Body - is out now from Nine Arches Press. As a Tender Buttons listener you can get 10% discount on Caleb's book at Storysmith Books, listen in for more details and then head to our page on the Storysmith website: storysmithbooks.com/tenderbuttons References This Fruiting Body by Caleb Parkin Wasted Rainbow by Caleb Parkin Nicole Seymour Timothy Morton Strangers by Rebecca Tamás Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown Hiddenness, Uncertainty, Surprise by Jane Hirshfield Our theme music is a sample from Flotation by Ben Vince from his album The Purge.
October 24, 2021
010 Nikesh Shukla: Joy as an Act of Resistance
In today's episode we chat to the brilliant Nikesh Shukla about his recent fatherhood memoir Brown Baby. We talk about how to navigate racism and sexism while raising children, the ways in which grief distorts time, subverting the traditional memoir form, representation within publishing, the radical history of Bristol, finding joy and hope in a difficult world and how to contribute to political change in our everyday lives. REFERENCES Brown Baby by Nikesh Shukla Run, Riot by Nikesh Shukla Coconut Unlimited by Nikesh Shukla The One Who Wrote Destiny by Nikesh Shukla The Boxer by Nikesh Shukla The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla Rife: Twenty-One Stories from Britain's Youth edited by Nikesh Shukla What is Race? Who Are Racists? And Why Does Skin Colour Matter? by Nikesh Shukla and Clare Heuchan Brown Baby Podcast Nikesh's Writing Tips Newsletter The Good Literary Agency As a Tender Buttons listener you can get 10% discount on Nikesh's books at Storysmith Books, listen in for more details and then head to our page on the Storysmith website: storysmithbooks.com/tenderbuttons
August 31, 2021
009 Jenn Ashworth: Presence, Absence and Finding the Right Form
In this episode, we chat to novelist, memoirist and academic Jenn Ashworth, about her new novel Ghosted (Sceptre: 2021), a brilliant, unconventional blend of crime fiction and horror to find a form that can hold grief, loss and the myriad of ways in which people can go missing. We speak about the complexity and multi-layered dimensions of working class identities, from work to family to notions of belonging, as well as the challenges of writing trauma in both fiction and non-fiction. As a Tender Buttons listener you can get 10% discount on Jenn's books at Storysmith Books, listen in for more details and then head to our page on the Storysmith website: storysmithbooks.com/tenderbuttons References Ghosted by Jenn Ashworth (Sceptre: 2021) Notes Made While Falling by Jenn Ashworth (Goldsmiths: 2019)
July 26, 2021
008 Zakiya Mckenzie: Collective Memory, Decolonising the Archives and Wandering the Woods
In this episode we chat to Bristol-based writer and researcher Zakiya Mckenzie about decolonising the archives, collective memory and the histories of plants and their relationship to the histories of people. We discuss the inextricable links between land in England and Jamaica and the need for more radical and decolonial ways of mapping stories, land and time than the models left to us by the horrors of empire, as explored in Zakiya's recent pamphlet Testimonies on the History of Jamaica, Vol. 1 (out now with Rough Trade Books). You can buy a selection of Zakiya’s work from Storysmith with a 10% discount, tune in to the episode to find out more. References: Testimonies on the History of Jamaica, Vol 1 by Zakiya Mckenzie (Rough Trade Pamphlets: 2021) A collection of Zakiya's writing as Writer-in-Residence with the Forestry Commission can be found here. A Chapter in Women on Nature, ed. Katharine Norbury (Unbound: 2021) A Chapter in The Wild Isles Anthology, ed. Patrick Barkham (Head of Zeus: 2021) Her BBC4 Production on the Forest of Dean, can be found here. Other References: Dennis Potter: The Art of the Invective, Selected Non-Fiction 1953-1994 (Bloomsbury: 2015) & his classic TV Series 'Singing Detective' and 'Pennies from Heaven'
June 28, 2021
007 Rebecca Tamás: Poetry as Magic, Witches and the Non-Human
In this episode, we chat to poet and essayist Rebecca Tamás about the figure of the witch, the power of language to manifest change in the world and poetry as a way to speak with not for voices that have been silenced throughout history. We talk about the role of awe and emotion in forging a deeper relationship with the non-human world, climate grief, the loss of language and the impact of late capitalism on our psyches, bodies and planet. You can buy Rebecca's books from Storysmith with a 10% discount, check out the episode to find out more. References Witch by Rebecca Tamás (Penned in the Margins: 2019) Strangers by Rebecca Tamás (Makina Books: 2020) Spells: 21st Century Occult Poetry Ed. Rebecca Tamás, So Mayer and Sarah Shin (Ignota Books: 2018) The Songs of Hecate: Poetry and the Language of the Occult by Rebecca Tamás (White Review Essay, 2019) Other References Timothy Morton: Being Ecological (MIT Press: 2019) Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer (Milkweed Editions: 2013) CA Conrad on Somatic Poetry Illuminations by Walter Benjamin The Passion According to GH by Clarice Lispector The Uses of the Erotic by Audre Lorde
May 24, 2021
006 Ren Aldridge of Petrol Girls: Cut, Stitch, Make, Do
In this episode we talk to Ren Aldridge, artist, writer and singer in feminist post-hardcore band Petrol Girls about the intersection of her art and politics. We chat about the DIY punk practice of passing the mic, learning by doing, zine culture, the power and limitations of anger & more. If you would like to donate to the Solidarity not Silence campaign, to help raise funds for women facing a defamation claim from a man in the music industry for statements they made concerning his treatment of women, you can do so here or buy the Petrol Girls track, I Believe Them, here. Solidarity not Silence are also dropping a new single on 4th May via Alcopop Records - This Is Sisterhood. For updates on this follow the Solidarity not Silence Twitter here. References Petrol Girls bandcamp Solidarity not Silence Ren's Website Cut and Stitch by Ren Aldridge MWMW#2 by Ren Aldridge Nasty Women Anthology Rebecca Solnit Sara Ahmed When Species Meet by Donna Haraway Poly Styrene: I am a Cliche documentary So, Which Band is Your Boyfriend In? documentary by Suzy Harrison Riot Grrrl: The Punk Singer documentary by Sini Anderson Writers, Protect Your Inner Life by Lan Samantha Chang Songs featured in episode: Sister. Future is Dark EP Big Mouth. Cut & Stitch Strike. Future is Dark EP Touch Me Again. Live recording, L'Olympic Café, Paris, 2018.
April 30, 2021
005 Kerri ní Dochartaigh: Thin Places
In this episode we chat to writer Kerri ní Dochartaigh about her new book Thin Places (Canongate) and its powerful weaving of memoir, history, Irish folklore, language and nature writing. We discuss her childhood growing up in Derry amidst the Troubles, the necessity of expanding our kinship with the non-human world and the ways in which a new generation of writers of landscape are blazing open the field. You can find Kerri's book at storysmithbooks.com/tenderbuttons. As a Tender Buttons listener you can also get 10% discount, listen in for more details on this... Episode References Manchán Mangan, Thirty-Two Worlds for Field: Lost Words of the Irish Landscape (Gill:2020) The Willowherb Review, edited by Jessica J. Lee (whose most recent book, 'Two Trees Make a Forest' is here) Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass (Penguin, 2020) Kerri's Pocket Guide to Nature Writing with Spread the Word Lauret Savoy, Trace: History, Race and the American Landscape (Catapult: 2015) Nina Mingya Powles, Small Bodies of Water is forthcoming August 2021 (Canongate) Rebecca Tamás, Strangers: Essays on the Human and Non-Human (Makina Books: 2020) BBC documentary ‘Tidal Sense’ with Signe Lidén
March 29, 2021
004 Joff Winterhart: The Poetry of the Mundane
004 In the first of our Bristol-based episodes, we speak to graphic novelist, musician, educator and all-round local legend Joff Winterhart about the poetry of the mundane, the hinterlands of suburbs and industrial estates, crises in contemporary masculinity and Joff's use of the graphic form. Joff's graphic novels are Days of the Bagnold Summer (2012) and Driving Short Distances ( 2017). You can find both of Joff's books at storysmithbooks.com/tenderbuttons. As a Tender Buttons listener you can purchase Joff's books with 10% discount, have a listen for more details on this... Joff's band Bucky can be found here: https://buckytheband.bandcamp.com/ Other References: Lynda Barry's comics are One! Hundred! Demons! (2002), What It Is (2008) and Cruddy (1999) (amongst many others)
February 22, 2021
003 Huw Lemmey: Flesh, Meat and Fighting the Guerrilla Culture War
We chat to writer Huw Lemmey about queer desire, shame, a politics of bodily love and ways to fight the British culture war. References: You can subscribe to Huw’s weekly essays on his ‘Utopian Drivel’ substack here: huw.substack.com His two novels are Chubz: The Demonization of My Working Arse (Montrez Press: 2014) and Red Tory: My Corbyn Chemsex Hell (Montrez: 2019) His Bad Gays Podcast, with co-host Ben Miller: badgayspod.podbean.com Other References: Richard Scott Soho (Faber: 2018) Jean Genet Thief’s Journal (1949)
March 01, 2020
002 Catherine Madden: Slippery Desires
Tender Buttons 002 We chat to Catherine Madden about form, sexuality and childhood. You can follow Catherine on twitter @CatherineEMIMad and her website:catherinemadden.org/
November 16, 2019
001 Jessica Andrews: It Begins With Our Bodies
Tender Buttons 001 We speak to co-host Jessica Andrews about her debut novel, Saltwater. References: Saltwater by Jessica Andrews (Sceptre: 2019)
October 16, 2019