An evening in pictures: Joan Shelley & Simon Sylvester

On Thursday 5th March, Simon Sylvester and Joan Shelley performed at Penrith Old Fire Station.

From Kendal: Simon Sylvester. From Kentucky: Joan Shelley.

And as always, there was a chance for one quiz team to win a Map of Shap…

Joan Shelley & Simon Sylvester @ Penrith Old Fire Station

joan shelley

7pm – 10pm . Although its still a Pay What You Want night (how generous are we?!) its still best to register for entry through the eventbrite link to make sure you get in

We are delighted (dancing around the office delighted!) that Joan Shelley will be joining us once again from the USA.  We met the utterly amazing Joan a couple of years ago when she played a gig for Eden Arts with Daniel Martin Moore – who in turn we had met as he was half of the Ben Solee/Daniel Martin Moore duo who supported Billy Bragg at the Penrith Leisure Centre. Any of these artists are welcome back any day of the year! Here’s Joan and Daniel – now you know why we love them!

Joan Shelley‘s music is startling. It startles because of its closeness, the near-instant sense of familiarity we feel when we hear it. Her songs fill up the air around us, echoing like a voice lost in the later American and British folk revivals – some Anne Briggs here, a little Hedy West there. But none of them are “trad arr. Shelley.” Joan wrote them all. Listen to her sing and it’s evident. You’ve never heard that voice before, either.

Electric Ursa was recorded in Louisville, Kentucky and marks Joan’s first release for No Quarter. It includes collaborations with new labelmate Nathan Salsburg, as well as several other of Louisville’s fine musicians. In the eight songs that make up this record, we are seeing an artist in her stride, able to move seamlessly between darkness & light, attempting to reconcile the wild expanse of the future with the burdens of memory. And at the center of it all are songs of a nature beautiful, precise, and clear, delivered to us by her singular voice.

Over the past five years, Shelley has recorded several albums, toured with her band, on her own, and as a duo with Daniel Martin Moore, playing concerts for spellbound audiences all over the globe.

She has a similar woebegone beauty to Sharon Van Etten and Torres, and First of August showcases her voice quite sublimely– The Guardian 

Shelley’s beautiful voice sounds like it belongs to a lost talent from the folk revival of the early 60s….she shapes her melodies with precision and clarity. Chicago Reader

VideoElectric Ursa


Simon Sylvester

Simon is a Kendal based writer, teacher and occasional filmmaker.

After years working as a camera assistant and then a magazine journalist, he started writing fiction in 2006. His short stories have been published in journals, anthologies and magazines including Dark Mountain, Gutter, Valve, PANK, Fractured West, Fire Crane, Southpaw and Smoke: a London Peculiar. He won the Flashtag short short story slam in 2014, and he has written more than a thousand very short stories on Twitter. His debut novel The Visitors is published by Quercus Books. It was joint winner of the2014 Book Box prize, winner of the 2014 Guardian Not The Booker prize, and there’s a round-up of reviews right here. He is now working on his second novel, which is called The Hollows.

He lives in Cumbria with the painter Monica Metsers and daughter Isadora.


Valentines Day event at Penrith Old Fire Station: run by New Writing Cumbria and Eden Arts; featuring Lady Layton, Les Melheureux and a quiz!

Valentines Day Massacre / Love-in @ Penrith Old Fire Station

Lady Layton, Les Malheureux and a quiz!

Just a few shots from our Valentines Day Massacre / Love-in @ Penrith Old Fire Station:


Get your manuscript professionally read:

Want to hTLC logoave your manuscript professionally read and critiqued?

As some of you may remember, we’ve offered this before. We’re part of The Literary Consultancy’s ‘Free Reads’ scheme. This means that we can offer a number of these critical reads, from professional readers at The Literary Consultancy, for free.


Here’s what to you need to know:

The Free Read scheme is for low-income, high-quality writers. It is open to writers across all forms and genres: fiction, poetry, short stories, scripts and screenplays and radio plays.

Deadline: postmarked Saturday 28th February 2015

Who can submit?

We’re looking for low-income writers, living in Cumbria.

Proof of low income could consist of (but is not limited to) proof of pension, or student ID, or proof of unemployment. If you have any questions about what constitutes low income, please email.

What should I submit?

This is largely up to you. You can submit complete or partial manuscripts, but bear in mind that we will be looking for pieces that are as close to completion as possible, so that the feedback will be as useful to you as possible.

You can submit: fiction / poetry / short stories / scripts / screenplays / radio plays.

How should I submit it?

Post your manuscript to:

New Writing Cumbria
c/o Eden Arts
Old Fire Station
Bridge Lane
CA11 8HY

Your manuscript needs to reach us by Saturday 28th February. We are sorry, but we are unable to accept email submissions.

Please see below for formatting requirements, as The Literary Consultancy are unable to accept incorrectly formatted work. Also please read the Submission Guidelines before:

Submission Guidelines:

  • All clients must complete the Application form at: and attach two copies to their manuscript, along with two copies of their proof of low income status.
  • One application is filed with New Writing Cumbria and the other application is sent along with the manuscript to the TLC office.
  • Never send an original copy and always keep a copy of what you send. We do not accept responsibility for documents lost in the post.
  • Include a SAE if you want TLC to return your manuscript. We will not return a manuscript if you have not included an SAE. (Make sure that the value of the stamps attached covers the weight / size of the manuscript to be returned.)
  • Formatting for short stories and all fiction and non-fiction submissions – Double spaced and in a 12 point standard font.
  • All extracts should be consecutive and numbered. Starting from page one, and NOT comprised of several extracts. These will not be accepted.
  • For all fiction and non-fiction entries – please include a 1-2 page synopsis or basic outline of your ideas and a description of your intended audience/ market. Please also indicate what genre you are writing in.
  • For short stories – please include the total word count of each short story separately if necessary on the cover letter.
  • For poetry – clients must include a total word count for each poem at the bottom of each poem, and include total word count of all the poems added together on the cover letter. Poems should be formatted in their intended publication format.
  • Once TLC has received and processed your manuscript, you will receive a confirmation email along with a due date for your report. Please do not contact the TLC office about your report before the due date.
  • Please note that the assessment report will be sent within 6-8 weeks although this is not a formal guarantee.
  • Please note that all material, both the information about the writer and the submission, is kept confidential.
  • Please complete the evaluation survey which TLC will send per email when you receive your report after 6-8 weeks. We ask that writers take some time to properly consider the assessment before going ahead with the evaluation.
  • More submission tips from The Literary Consultancy.

Valentines Day Massacre @ Penrith Old Fire Station

featuring Lady Layton and Les Malheureux.


Music, spoken word and fun and games from some fab artistes plus a chance to incinerate some old love letters to old lovers.  Lady Layton is a Performance Artist and Singer, combining a love of 50′s Hollywood Glamour, Rock and Roll and Vintage Pin Up Culture with Gospel, Blues, Jazz, Soul and Big Band Music; Les Malhereux are two Manchester-based writers – David Gaffney and Sarah-Clare Conlon – who combine short-short story-telling with original music and visual presentations for your delight and delectation.  As always the evening features other stuff, including a bit of a quiz, with a special prize…A MAP OF SHAP!

Lady Layton “Great blues singing, you remind me of earlier singers like Big Mama Thornton from the 1950s and the raunchy Victoria Spivey. Your dynamic attack for this style of blues is rare today.” and…“The peoples performer!”, “A total bobby dazzler!”, “The dogs b******”

“The brilliant Les Malheureux, who mix together flash fiction, music and projections with shit-tons of wit”

Event #1 in Pictures

Our first event at Penrith Old Fire Station went down a storm!

The event featured poet Kareem Parkins-Brown, musicians Kev Kendal and Bill Lloyd, writer Stephen Redman, and filmmaker Richie Johnston.

Want to know about the next one when it happens? Sign up to the mailing list using the form and buttons on the right: —->

We want your words (and other things, too)


We’re creating a new online publication, and we’re calling it… The Carrot.

It’s going to be a celebration of the best new writing in Cumbria. It’s also going to be a magazine with a bit of a difference.

Firstly, it is an ONLINE magazine. Digital. Not book shaped. This allows it to show writing in other ways. Like music and film. (After all, even films without dialogue are scripted. Want an example? Oh, go on then.)

Secondly, it won’t just feature writing. This allows it to appeal to people who might not initially think they’re interested in writing. (The more people who stumble on our words, the better, right?)

Issue #1 theme: Cumbria-land 

New writing: prose, poetry, crosswords, reviews, scripts, memoir, journalism. Max words: 1000.

Also: photos, pictures, video, music, animation… The list continues.

Got something on the theme that you’d like to contribute?

Deadline: 10th November

We will accept previously published work, but make sure you let us know if and where it has been published before.

Send your work via email to:

Please include your name and a brief bio (max 60 words).


This publication is part of our Arts Council funded project, Rabbit Rabbit (rabbit).

We’re still looking for people to help us put this publication together, so if you want to be involved, let us know.

Anyone can submit their work to The Carrot, but the editorial committee must be between ages 15-24. More details here.


Don’t forget – our other publication opportunity is still open. You can still tweet your creative thoughts about any of the themes surrounding Penrith Winter Droving, for display during the event. Don’t forget to include #thedroving so your tweet gets noticed.


Unfortunate Event #1


Kareem Parkins-Brown (photo by Mark Allan)

Kareem Parkins-Brown (photo by Mark Allan)

That’s right: poetry, music, fiction, and a little bit of film. Oh, and did we mention the bar?

When? Saturday 4th October, 7:30pm (doors open at 7pm)

Where? Penrith Old Fire Station
Bridge Lane, Penrith, CA11 8HY

Poetry from Kareem Parkins Brown (We paid for him to come up from London!)
Fiction from Stephen Redman (We paid for him to come from Carlisle.)
Film from Richie Johnston (He’s coming on his skateboard from round the corner…)
Live music, open mic and a bar

How much? Pay to get out.
(It’s pay what you like as you leave – so you give us whatever you think the event was worth.)

This is the official launch night of Rabbit Rabbit (rabbit): our new young writer development programme, funded by Arts Council England and managed by Eden Arts. Come along to find out what it’s all about, to read out some of your own writing, or just to sit back with a drink and soak up some great performances.

Open mic:

Got some writing you’d like to share? Prose? Poetry? Anything else? Bring it along.

You’ll be able to sign up to read or perform on the night. Each person will get a maximum of 3 minutes to showcase their stuff.

If you’re a musician and would like to play as part of the open mic, there will be a mic for vocals, but the rest of the music has to be accoustic. Just one song, and we don’t want your set-up to be longer than your performance – so no wheeling in your grand piano, please. (Drop us an email if you’ve got any questions.)

Brief Words at Penrith Winter Droving

The chance to have your work featured as part of Penrith Winter Droving!

Winter Droving

Write us something inspired by any aspect of Penrith’s Winter Droving (agriculture / masks / community / procession – anything that takes your fancy). We’ll pick our favourites to be displayed in Penrith during The Winter Droving on November 30th.

The catch? It has to fit into a single tweet!

That’s 140 characters, including spaces and punctuation. Don’t forget to include the hashtag #thedroving to get our attention (and yes, that does count as part of your 140 characters).

We’d prefer you to enter by tweeting your poem / prose piece / microfiction. (If we like it, we’ll also retweet!) You can find us on twitter as @NWCumbria.

But if you really really don’t want to tweet, you can send your entry by email.

Our favourites will then be displayed around town as part of the Winter Droving on Saturday 15th November.

You can find out more about the event itself here.