What does it mean to shuffle? For the more poetic of us it might describe the soft scrape of a deck of well-loved cards across the palm of your hand. Or the slow sway of an old couple across their living room floor, dancing to a forgotten song on the radio. Maybe it’s just the way you get out of bed on a Monday morning. This April, Shuffle is the anthology of sound-themed micro-fiction from the 2019 joanne burns micro-lit award we will be launching at the Newcastle Writers’ Festival (April 5-7). In this post, Matilda Gould gives a rundown on the additional #storybombingnwf19 activities we’ll be running.

Shuffle is a showcase of how the micro-lit form is able to capture fragments of that most evocative of senses. The texts are haunting and lyrical, irreverent and whimsical. We love an old-fashioned paperback as much as the next bookworm, but we also figured what better way to introduce our Shuffle texts to the world than through the very sense they celebrate? So, we have teamed up with experimental sound-art collective Sonant Bodies & Friends, as well as a variety of talented local actors, to produce ten narrations and experimental musical compositions based on a selection of 2019 joanne burns finalist pieces. These compositions will be free to hear at the Newcastle Writers Festival where they will be embedded in little green pillows in the shape of our trademark Spineless Wonders slug, so that you can slip on a pair of headphones in between festival sessions and treat yourself to a medley of sound-designed micro-fiction. Because what is Shuffle if not, of course, an homage to that wonderful feeling of waiting to see what the next track will be on your old-fashioned iPod? So, keep your eyes peeled for our little green Shuffle-slugs making their way across the festival, and be sure to steal a listen when you can!

But we’ve had such a wealth of fabulous micro-fiction to draw on for #storybombingnwf19 thanks to our 2019 joanne burns finalists that we couldn’t stop at just one installation. There will also be eight different story postcards to collect at mystery locations around the festival, pavement pages to read as you stroll between events, and busker Richard Holt and his ‘guitarpwriter’ to entertain you as you wander around the venue. Wherever you go, pause. Look closer. There could be a story waiting for you to uncover it!

And if all this has you racing for your laptop to book your weekend in Newcastle, make sure you keep an eye out for the Continu/um installation from our friends and collaborators at Sonant Bodies that will also be featured at the festival. Sonant Bodies describes Continu/um as an interactive sound installation, which ‘through the guise of a quasi-confessional, ritual atmosphere, consists of an accumulation of massed voice contributions from the public… inviting participants to collaborate with the disembodied voices and sounds of the past.’

It’s shaping up to be a cracker of a festival, so start clearing your diary for April 5-7. We hope to see (and hear) you there!

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