Hatch: Across reviewed and discussed in Incwriters

“A free street party or unique never-to-be-repeated event.”

Great article at Incwriters by Wayne Burrows (of Staple Magazine), looking at how some of the characteristics of Hatch could be applied to publishing and spoken word events (we’re definitely still interested in word-speaking artists ourselves, mind). If you don’t want to read it at the Incwriters site, the full text is beneath the jump. Make sure you read it somewhere though; we think it’s great (but then it is quite complimentary…)

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Hatching New Audiences?

On Tuesday night, between 7pm and midnight, the sixth Hatch programme, Hatch: Across, cranked into gear on Nottingham’s St James’s Street, taking in a range of performers from the relatively well-known likes of Leicester’s Metro-Boulot Dodo and Bristol’s Action Hero to local artists and students just trying things out, taking risks, and coming up with ideas as oddly compelling as Ruth Scott’s three hour tightrope walk in an Australian-themed bar, Adam Goodge’s philosophical snooker sessions, and an attempt by Ollie Smith to describe the lobby of the Park Plaza Hotel in instant text messages to Kathryn Cooper, who then tried to draw it during a live online link up between Nottingham and Barcelona.

Although billed as a performance event, the Hatch nights are the brainchild of two writers – Nathaniel J. Miller and Michael Pinchbeck – who came up with the idea as a way of bringing together a whole community of people to collaborate, experiment and generally catalyse new work in and around their home city. Of the six events staged in the two years since, only a couple have received any significant funding, and the Hatch model demonstrates what a collaborative approach can achieve in terms of bringing artists and appreciative audiences together.

Hatch has the feel of a free street party or unique never-to-be-repeated event, each one based on a new theme and quite unlike the last: in that – and its open door policy to participants and observers alike – lies the secret of its success. Individual pieces you might see along the way can be wonderful, heroically misguided or simply the beginnings of something that will develop further, but whatever the mix of parts, it’s the whole package of Hatch that gives these sessions their buzz, and brings audiences back (with their friends) time and again.

Perhaps it’s a format that would be hard to translate directly to writing and publishing, but it’s worth noting that many Hatch events are essentially text-based, with staged fake powerpoint lectures, one-on-one performances in which someone might whisper their script into your ear under a duvet, and absurdist puppet shows all part of the mix. Perhaps more poets and short story writers should be devising similarly inventive ways of presenting material and taking a greater part than is currently evident in events like Hatch, and others like it elsewhere in the UK.

Some, of course, are already doing exactly this: David Gaffney’s fiction has been presented in many different ways, as has the work of Ken Hollings, while even the mainstream has Iain Sinclair’s activities in psychogeographic walking, film-making and theatrical presentation. Perhaps the running so far has been made more by such inventive but niche publishing enterprises as Mark Pilkington’s Strange Attractor or Phoebe Blatton and Susan Finlay’s wonderfully low-budget Coelacanth Press than the typical poetry and fiction presses, though it’s hugely encouraging to see Popshot Magazine and others like it developing the 60s heritage of magazines like Ambit.

Performance poetry has long been noted for its inventive ways of framing work outside the usual confines of the traditional bookshop and author reading, but examples of this approach in page-based work also seem to be on the rise. If anyone reading knows of interesting approaches to add to the (very partial) list above, please post them, as I’d love to hear more.

I’d go so far as to wonder if the future of writing rests on nurturing this kind of activity alongside our traditional outlets, and just as the galleries, theatres, art cinemas and festival circuits ultimately benefit from the fresh interest generated by the activities of nights like Hatch, similar things in literature probably wouldn’t do our magazine and book sales any harm either.

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