LeftLion Kickstarter Campaign

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For the past ten years I’ve worked my nuts off for LeftLion for nowt because it is such an important publication in helping to change perceptions about Nottingham. The magazine was created for many reasons but mostly to offer an alternative to negative perceptions of Nottingham as ‘Shottingham’ after a spate of random shootings in the early noughties. My proudest moment was when we had the balls to run with the front cover ‘Another Shooting in Nottingham’ – referring, instead, to our thriving film industry.

As the Literature Editor I have hosted spoken word events such as Scribal Gathering (see the above video with Chester P at Gunpowder, Treason and Pot) at the Nottingham Contemporary, literature podcasts and created and developed the WriteLion brand which at present dedicates two pages to literature in its many myriad forms. With a readership of around 40,000 we easily offer more exposure to poetry than say specialist publications. We really do play a vital role in promoting your work.

Each issue I try to get a balance of reviews so that we feature a mix of genre fiction, self-published work, non-fiction as well as zines and emerging presses. We are the only publication that reviews the entire shortlist of the East Midlands Book Award as well as running interviews with all of the shortlisted authors. We also run illustrations of featured poems, have our own literary cartoon strip Readers’ Wives, and so that we don’t take ourselves too seriously, occasionally unleash Katie Half-Price, Nottingham’s orangest reviewer, onto the world.

We have been particularly keen to promote and support self-published authors, ensuring a minimum of one review every issue. Online we have run interviews as well as extracts from books. Knowing that certain bookshops refuse to even stock self-published novels and most magazines won’t even entertain reviews, we have become a vital platform for a new generation of writer prepared to go it alone.

Now we need your support. To celebrate our tenth anniversary we are running a Kickstarter campaign to help raise £10,000 so that we can go monthly. This will mean even more reviews and even more of my time given up for free. Not one penny of this campaign will go into my pocket or that of other writers. It is all for the additional cost of printing and distribution, as we aim to broaden our circulation by delivering to towns on the outskirts of the city.

This now all boils down to a very simple equation. If you support us we can support you. So put your money where your mouth is. I’d also like to thank Nicola Monaghan and Alison Moore for helping support our campaign by donating signed copies of their books.

More info on the Kickstarter campaign at LeftLion

Visit our Kickstarter page 

LeftLion 59: Scab City

cover59Nottingham’s had a fair few labels over the years and where possible we’ve tried to confront these head on. When we were described as ‘Shottingham’ we went with a cover in Issue 23 that read ‘another shooting in Nottingham’, referring to our thriving film culture and the emergence of the likes of Shane Meadows et al. Our current issue addresses a label we’ve been given at more than one point in history: Scab City.
Within seconds of the mag going out the mithering started on Facebook with some ‘readers’ refusing to even pick it up. I can only presume this is because it is a weighty issue in more ways than one – it’s a 64 pager, our largest ever. We went for 64 pages because we got 23 adverts in (we usually aim for 20) and so the extra content was needed to stop it turning into an advert wank mag.

You cannot ignore nor rewrite your history and Scab City is part of our heritage whether we like it or not. If you want a glossy reality full of pretty pictures pick up a copy of City Life. If you want a bloodied nose and a toothless grin, pick up LeftLion.

198459The Miners’ Strike was a complex mess that divided communities as well as the nation. That’s why I commissioned Harry Patterson, author of Look Back in Anger: The Miners’ Strike in Nottinghamshire 30 Years on to write a 2,000 word feature addressing these issues. He’s an incredible writer and the reason I didn’t bother with the usual Q&A as every word was gold. I think it’s one of the best articles we’ve ever ran.

The cover is a mock-up of Sin City and something I’ve wanted to do for ages so I was delighted with Video Matt’s artwork. The only editorial quibble I had was with the strapline ‘Why we crossed the line’. Although this is relevant to the strike I wanted ‘Ger over yersens’, because I was anticipating the mithering.

An incredible turnout for Chris Richardson's Chartist walk in Nottingham on 1 June.

An incredible turnout for Chris Richardson’s Chartist walk in Nottingham on 1 June.

This issue was a real historical beast, offering an alternative to jingoistic WWI celebrations through our interview with Brick and his WWI anthology To End All Wars and an interview with Chris Richardson, author of City of Light, who has researched Chartist movements in Nottingham from the 1830s as well as the development of Operative Libraries. Nottingham had 13 Operative Libraries at one point which I think may have been the largest amount in the country. These were open on the Sabbath in pubs, enabling working class people to read supposedly salacious literature and determine culture on their own terms.

On WriteLion we ran reviews of the seven nominees for the East Midlands Book Award which was won by Alison McQueen. We’ll be following this up with interviews over the next few weeks. Katie Half-Price has had a slight make-over, though she’s still Nottingham’s orangest reviewer. She now has ‘Katie’s Tales of the Ales’ which explores literary history of Nottingham’s boozers. Although I love writing book reviews from her unique perspective I haven’t had time recently due to the volume of reading for Dawn of the Unread. Elsewhere, Readers Wives got a new illustrator, and if the first offering is anything to go by, I’m a very happy bunny.

Finally, you may have noticed that the magazine now has more full length features instead of Q&As. This is based on a reader survey where we found a large majority of readers take the magazine home to read. We had previously presumed it was just read in pubs and so had to keep it simple. Now we can really get our teeth into issues. The addition of Mark Patterson to the editorial team, a great writer I previously commissioned for the Sillitoe Trail, means we have the staff to do this.

Ali Emm and me

Ali Emm and me

And well done to our new editor Ali Emm who has started to stamp her identity on the magazine. The future is bright. The future is orange…