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The Blog of Chris Meade

Updated: 2018-02-22T14:39:06.132+00:00


Nearly Feedback


I've been gathering together some of the feedback which I've been sent privately re. various Nearly workshops and events I've organised over the past few years as part of the process of composing my transmedia novel, What Didn't Quite and the PhD in Practice-based Digital Writing at Bath Spa.There's information on lots of these activities at but this blog seems a more suitable place to put these comments.NIGHT OF NEARLY AT THE EARLY HAIG  2014I performed with Carol Laidler and the Ifso Band at the Earl Haig pub in Crouch End. In the audience was artist Bee Peak. Here are her comments in an email 11/07/2014: Dear ChrisI have been nearly going to email you on a couple of occasionsWe enjoyed the Night of Nearly. I was intrigued by the characters &  by the end of the evening was left  interested in the characters &  looking forward to following their story. Yes I suppose the show did feel like work in progress but I’m all for that. I really liked your ukulele songs they had an immediate quality –good & amusing lyrics & thought the style of them melded well with the readings.I suppose what would intrigue me would be to see how it develops and leading to some kind of conclusion.Possibility of a parallel story when all the nearly events happened (like woman looking out of 1st floor window & seing old friend & him coming in to their lives again & how this might change the course of events) Don’t know how you could do this.I loved a Carol Shields novel (sorry can’t remember which one) where to read the alternative version you turned the book upside down and it was printed on every other page. I suppose you could have two different typefaces & RHs the Novel & LHs back of page the NearlyReally version.Interesting about people vocalizing their Nearlies during a show. The fact of having a small stage  necessarily makes the division between performers & audience. Even as an ex-thesp I find I am mostly resistant to audience participation.You has a very gentle, relaxed approach with no pressure to participate but because of the stage it gave the audience a more formal showcase for their words. I liked it being on the small platform. However it might be interesting to see if different participation would be forthcoming if you arranged chairs round in a circle with the three of you distributed among the first row of the circle.It might be an idea to put in the publicity for another evening the question –what nearly happened to you & that it would contribute to your ongoing work  –maybe you did do that in your email about the event. Can’t quite remember. Thing is it does need a bit of ruminating on – I found a) first off I couldn’t think of a single thing b) then dredging around found the incident of nearly meeting Paul at the squat party as my only example which I actually thought might be pushing the Nearlinessc) then only on the way home did I remember how I nearly stole a policemens helmet..over forty years ago ! I will write it up or tell you but not now.FridayYou may well have read Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit. Recommended to me by Jack. I was reading it this morning & in a chapter dealing with mazes & labyrinths was struck by a passage which you might like:‘ To write is to carve a new path through the terrain of the imagination with the author as guide –a guide one may not always agree with or trust but at least be counted on to take one somewhere. ‘Look forward to the continuing journey.All the bestBee**Extraordinarily I had already used exactly this quote from Solnit in an essay for the PhD. PHILIP JONES, EDITOR OF THE BOOKSELLER. 2016I asked  Philip Jones, the editor of The Bookseller, for his opinion on the current state of digital publishing. Here's his email of 4/11/2016 in full: Publishers look to print and paper first, last, and always, particularly as many of their experiments in transmedia, enhanced e-books or interactive fiction have largely failed – a[...]

New Media Writing Prize


Date 19.01.17  Prize winners announced for the New Media Writing Prize awards ceremony at Bournemouth UniversityWriters from across the world, including those from BU, were among prize winners whose work was celebrated at the New Media Writing Prize at Bournemouth University.  The event, now in its seventh year, saw entries across a variety of different styles and narratives including non-fiction, novels and transmedia pieces. The event was also televised live by BU Television Production students. Judges assessed interactive stories that could be viewed over PC, tablet or phone, using words, images, film or animation. Five key areas formed the judging criteria: innovative use of new media, accessibility, effective use of interactive elements, examples of things that new media can do that traditional cannot, and the potential to reach a wider audience. The first of five prizes, £1,000, donated by if:book UK Director, transmedia writer Chris Meade, saw JR Carpenter invited to the stage to collect the award for The Gathering Cloud, a hybrid print and web-based work converging on the work of 19th century manufacturing chemist, Luke Howard, who first penned the names for cloud formations in 1803. Canadian artist and writer, JR Carpenter, also gave a talk on the history of her work, “Things rarely turn out the way I intend them to”, which looked at how the progression of the internet from her first work on Netscape 1.1 in 1995 had shaped her work and enabled her to realise new creative ideas. An audience Q&A session saw questions asked by the audience on the transitions of her work between physical text and traditional media to digital stories, hybrid texts, and convergent media, as well as some advice for those looking to start or innovate their own new media texts. Peter Phillips, CEO of Unicorn Training awarded the Student Prize, a three month paid internship, to Jamie Paddock, whose work The Dying Mind explores themes of loneliness and mental illness within a first person exploratory narrative. Jamie, a final-year BA Communications & Media student at BU, said: ““Like any other student, the time after finishing university is an uncertain one so it’s a huge relief to be able to take up this fantastic opportunity with a three month paid internship at E-Learning company Unicorn Training in the summer.”Other awards included the Dot Award, also sponsored by if:book, which was awarded to Theodoros Chiotis, for his idea for a multimedia autographical performance, and two awards sponsored by Gorkana, the top UK media database and agency: the Gorkana Award for UK Digital Journalism, won by Carla Pedret for The Exodus Data Project, and the Gorkana Award for International Digital Journalism, won by Berta Tilmantaite and her team for Will to Win, a mixed-media piece about the Lithuanian Paralympic Team. In summing up this year’s awards, host and organiser, BU’s Dr Jim Pope said: “2016 has seen yet another brilliant set of shortlisted pieces and worthy winners. We have had entries from all around the world, and the winners come from Canada, Spain, the UK, Lithuania, and Greece - so truly an international event.  With £5,500 in prize money this year, the event is clearly expanding in reach and status and we look forward to the 2017 round”. Those interested in the awards should visit:[...]



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I've just finished my stint as part of Academy Inegales and it's been an absolute delight to work with such a talented and warm group of people. I'll be writing more about it soon I'm sure.

A Field Guide To Getting Lost


This blogpost was written for the Club Inegales website, January 2016A Field Guide To Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit is one of those books which for me works a bit like the I Ching; wherever and whenever I open it, there’s an extract that speaks to me. I’m a writer not a musician and when  trying to think of a text that could work as the equivalent of my instrument for improvisation with the other members of Academy Inegales, Solnit's book seemed a perfect choice. I opened it at random and soon found a line to chant: “Nor can I recall what the wine opened up for me.” Singer Nouria Bah echoed the words while I found other passages which felt right to speak with the sounds I was hearing. Until that point I’d known I wanted to be part of Academy Inegales but hadn't known how I might participate with this talented and diverse group of musicians. Suddenly it was happening.Afterwards I was asked by Peter and Martin to find a short quote from the book that mightinspire each of the members of the Academy to compose three minute pieces working inpairs for our first performance together at the Club. Extracts sprang out from the pageswhich seemed right for each player. When I emailed quotes to fellow member, violinist Layale Chaker emailed straight back to say: ”This is the story of my life in one phrase!” Her quote was: “The mystic Simone Weil wrote to a friend on another continent, “Let us love this distance, which is thoroughly woven with friendship, since those who do not loveeach other are not separated.” This is the same section of the book that leapt out at me when I came back feeling sad from seeing my son and his family living happily but far away in Stockholm. It inspired a beautiful, plaintiff duet with George Sleightholme on clarinet.Other pairings included Martin Humphrey's tuba and Andy Leung's electronics recreating lost games of childhood, violinist Joanna Lawrence and tabla player Rishiraj Kulkarni making the sounds of our fear of accident or desertion when visitors don't turn up on time; George Sleightholme dismantling his clarinet and playing on each section of it. His quotefrom the book was: "Now it is as decayed as a real book might be after being buried or abandoned, and when I think of the scraps that remain, I wonder what weather in the mind so erodes such things."  The whole evening was a rich mix of sounds and ideas.I applied to be part of the Academy because I’m always interested in collaboration and this seemed an amazing opportunity to work with some fantastic musicians. I’m a transmedia writer, have recently taken to writing songs but have no musical training, am fascinated by the potential for collaborative writing in the digital age and how writers and translators could improvise live in the way that (some) musicians do, making work for specific times and places. Club Inegales in Euston is an atmospheric basement venue, and to be performing a piece of my novel in progress, creating a soundscape of looped words amidst such pleasurable music was a thrill. Transmedia fiction involves thinking of a book not as text locked up between covers, but as story orbiting its reader, a landscape that we’re led through by the author who takes us along its sentences and paragraphs, points out good views, sings to us as we walk, hands us keepsakes and clues along the way, leads us to clearings where we can sit and converse about what we’ve experienced and what it’s meant for us. A real life venue likeClub Inegales is a pe[...]

J R Carpenter on A Picture of Wind


In my submission for the Dot Award I proposed to create a new web-based (tablet compatible) piece called This is A Picture of Wind. This work will expand upon a short text written in response to the storms which battered South West England in early 2014, resulting in catastrophic flooding in Somerset and the destruction of the seawall and rail line at Dawlish. Following the news in the months after these storms, I was struck by the paradox presented by attempts to evoke through the materiality of language a force such as wind which we can only see indirectly through its effect. I began to explore weather, and wind in particular, in all its written forms. I have been collecting language pertaining to wind from current news items as well from as older almanacs, private weather diaries, and past forecasts held at the Met Office Library and Archive in Exeter. I am also studying classical ideas of weather. For example, Lucretius writes: “The wind burst open the cloud, and out falls that fiery whirlwind which is what we in our traditional language term a thunderbolt.” This award would help me develop a simple yet stable web interface to combine these diverse archival and classical materials with my own quotidian narrative of the storm events of early 2014, live weather data and maps, and text scraped from Twitter. I do not know yet exactly what form the final work will take, only that it will attempt to address climate change by picturing through language and data the absences left by wind.  




I'm just back from Athens where I was a speaker at the Hack the Book weekend at the Onassis Institute, part of this:

The Europeana Space project is exploring different ways of reusing digital cultural heritage by running pilots in six thematic areas (TV, Photography, Dance, Games, Open and Hybrid Publishing and Museums).  From 22-24 January 2016, the Open and Hybrid Publishing Pilot is organising the Hack the Book Festival in Athens, Greece, inviting designers, artists, publishers, programmers, authors, poets, hackers and entrepreneurs to redefine the book as an evolving, visual and open medium. - See more at:

Thanks to Theodoris, Theodora and the team for inviting me to speak at such an inspiring and positive weekend. Three of the teams get to come to London to develop their ideas further. I'm not sure if I'm at liberty to disclose more about the winning ideas, but watch this space. 



The New Media Writing Prize has been running for five years now, and if:book has been involved since the start - when the prize was an iPad, a magical new invention then.This year the award event, held at Bournemouth University and hosted by James Pope who set up the prize, was a special treat with a panel of Kate Pullinger and her two collaborators on the amazing Animated Alice, Chris Joseph and Andy Campbell. Chris is a big remixer and music maker, Andy runs Dreaming Methods and The One to One Development Trust, makers of stunning 3-D story worlds.The winner of the New Media Writing Prize 2015 is High Muck A Muck, a Canadian site, and a visual and aural delight, an interactive poem documenting the lives of the Chinese community members.The High Muck A Muck Collective are: Nicola Harwood, Fred Wah, Jin Zhang, Bessie Wapp and Thomas Loh  The People’s Prize was won by two.5 for Recollections: 12 Vignettes of Lashihai two.5 are Viccy Adams and Samantha Silver The Student Prize went to Shaun Hickman for Kindred - See more at: year we launched the DOT AWARD FOR DIGITAL LITERATURE, in memory of my mum, writer, designer and struggler with new technology Dorothy Meade. A prize of £500 plus any advice and support we can offer goes to the writer of a proposal for work to be completed within the year and showcased at the next award ceremony.  And the winner is.. J.R. Carpenter J.R makes stunning digital literature. City Fish is a favourite of mine, and all can be seen on her site The proposal was for a new piece about the wind and the weather.. I don't want to say too much about what is work in progress, but we're confident it will be brilliant.  For more information go to the New Media Writing Prize site. Chris, Andy, Chris and Kate talk about Inanimate Alicephotos by Lisa Geebookfutures[...]

THE DOT AWARD and other if:book NEWS - Autumn 2015


IT’S A PICNICMade by if:book with the highly talented Jerwood Arvon mentored writers over one week this summer, read our tasty literary picnic at WWW.APICNICHAMPER.BLOGSPOT.COM  If:book has been working with the Arvon Foundation since this wonderful scheme was set up, making new kinds of work with the novelists, poets and playwrights chosen each year.  IF:BOOK LAUNCHES NEW ‘DOT AWARD’ FOR DIGITAL WRITERS We’re delighted to announce  the launch of The Dot Award, a new annual prize sponsored by if:book UK for a writer of fiction, creative non-fiction or poetry using the web in imaginative and collaborative ways.  It will be awarded alongside the £1,000 NEWMEDIA WRITING PRIZE which is run by Bournemouth University and supported by if:book UK. The prize is £500, support from if:book uk in developing your idea, and an invitation to speak at the 2017 New Media Writing Prize ceremony (via Skype if overseas) about how your work has developed since receiving the prize.The prize will be awarded for a project idea which in the judges’ opinion shows promise and practicability – it should be a project that we can see being developed, completed and functional by the end of 2016. We are looking for projects which don’t need to be technically complex but do create original and exciting literary work inspired by the affordances of the web, blogs, apps, social media etc. if:book UK will liaise with the winner to support the project.The Dot Award is in memory of writer, designer and silver surfer Dorothy Meade. The judges are Chris Meade, writer and founder of if:book, artist and play designer Hattie Coppard, teacher Jo Klaces and George Palmer, Head of Communications at the Arvon Foundation.The deadline is the same as the New Media Writing Prize, i.e. Friday November 27th 12 noon GMTTo enter email the following information to more than 300 words on yourself and the digital projects you’ve done:No more than 300 words on the project/area of work you plan to develop in the coming year, and who you think the Award will help you:1 or 2 links to your work online:IFSO POETSThis summer if:book was at the South Bank Centre for the celebration of the 50thbirthday of Modern Poetry In Translation, throwing poetry darts and handing out poetry cigars and canapés. Thanks to Mekella Broomburg for joining Chris to dish out the verse. Here’s one we threw earlier.NEARLYDOCTORChris has been concentrating on his PhD in Digital Writing at Bath Spa University. He’s writing a transmedia novel about how we embody the things we've nearly done, and that’s involved writing songs, holding workshops with a dancer, a theatre director and writers, training in Flash Animation and working with puppet maker Bee Peak. He now has a first draft, an app developer involved. He’s looking for places to run Nearly Workshops, gather stories and present the work in progress. Nearly Days have happened in cafes, pop up shops, conferences and festivals.MORE DETAILS AT WWW.NEARLYOLOGY.NETThe Nearly Pod at the Mix Digital Conference in Bath Spa this summerARRIVALS DEPARTURESIf:book’s first Collaborative Writer in Residence Luke Roberts has recently become a father and has moved with his wife Sally to Bath where we’re hoping to make more literary things happen in the future. Luke convened the IFSO Writers group and devised a role play game based on 1984 during his residency. Congratulations to Luke and Sally, and welcome to Leo!THE HORNSEY LIBRARY COFFEE HOUSE has closed. Run by artist Robin Stevenson and set up with support from if:book, the café was a hub for local writers and led to the forming of a Philosophy Learning Circle and the Hornsey Songwriters Collective which both still thrive. Robin’s moved to Brighton to work at a new venue there. We wish him well.THE IFSO STUDIOAt our bas[...]

back in action


We have the url working again at last! To celebrate - and while I think how to use this blog in future - here is a photo from an exhibition of poetry machines made by Ken Cox in the 1960s and recently on view at the Chelsea Art Space opposite Tate Britain.  



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reader by ifbook
This link leads (we hope) to Toni Le Busque's beautiful rendering of Jacob Polley's wonderful poem commissioned for our HOTBOOK project, and also a clip of Kate Pullinger introducing this and other poems from 'Fictional Stimulus', our online new media writing happening from 2009. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="270" src="//" width="480">
Clip 4 Poems and the Reader by ifbook

from the archives


We're in the process of sorting and redesigning our website(s) which involves trawling through the archives, so I'll post here some best bits - like Toby Jones reading William Blake.FILMED ON NATIONAL POETRY DAY 2008 BY SASHA HOAREThe Chimney SweeperWhen my mother died I was very young,And my father sold me while yet my tongueCould scarcely cry ‘weep, weep, weep, weep,’So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep.There’s little Tom Dacre who cried when his head,
That curl’d like a lamb’s back, was shav’d: so I said,
‘Hush, Tom, never mind it, for when your head’s bare,You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair.’And so he was quiet, & that very night,
As Tom was a sleeping, he had such a sight,
That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned & Jack,
Were all of them lock’d up in coffins of black.And by came an Angel who had a bright key,
And he open’d the coffins & set them all free;
Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing, they run,
And wash in a river, and shine in the Sun.Then naked & white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind;And the Angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy,
He’d have God for his father & never want joy.And so Tom awoke, and we rose in the dark,
And got with our bags & our brushes to work.
Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy & warm;
So if all do their duty they need not fear harm.The Chimney SweeperA little black thing among the snow,Crying ‘weep, weep,’ in notes of woe!‘Where are thy father & mother,  say?’‘They are both gone up to the church to pray.‘Because I was happy upon the heath,
And smil’d among the winter’s snow,
They clothed me in the clothes of death,
And taught me to sing the notes of woe.‘And because I am happy, & dance & sing,
They think they have done me no injury,
And are gone to praise God & His Priest & King,
Who make up a heaven of our misery.’                   Holy ThursdayIs this a holy thing to seeIn a rich and fruitful land,Babes reduc’d to misery,Fed with cold and usurous hand?Is that trembling cry a song?
Can it be a song of joy?
And so many children poor?
It is a land of poverty!And their sun does never shine,
And their fields are bleak & bare,
And their ways are fill’d with thorns:It is eternal winter there.For where’er the sun does shine,
And where’er the rain does fall,
Babe can never hunger there,
Nor poverty the mind appall.LondonI wander thro’ each charter’d streetNear where the charter’d Thames does flow,A mark in every face I meet,Marks of weakness, marks of woe.In every cry of every Man,
In every Infant’s cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forg’d manacles I hear.How the Chimney-sweeper’s cry
Every black’ning Church appalls,
And the hapless Soldier’s sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls.But most thro’ midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlot’s curse
Blasts the new born Infant’s tear,
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.bookfutures[...]

samantha gorman on PRY- winner of the New Media Writing Prize


src="//" width="500" height="667" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen> PRY App Preview from Tender Claws on Vimeo.PRY is an artistic intervention into the potential and form of the eBook. It argues for a consideration of native media in publishing beyond the simple emulation of print on screen. Composed for the affordances of the iPad, PRY invokes touch along with cinema, game design and literary arts in service of its story world. Within this convergence, form and function are deeply intertwined and poetics of gesture inform reading practices; in PRY, the reader touches the thoughts of the main protagonist. Here, to read is to pry into a world of unreliable narration and shifted memory where content is not simply juxtaposed, but layered along a 3D reading axis. PRY trailer - iPad/iPhone App Novella from Tender Claws on Vimeo.How did you find the experience of writing for this medium? To what extent does it require a different approach to writing? I began considering what it meant to write in/through/media 10 years ago as an undergraduate at Brown University. This is relevant because Brown had one of the early programs of study for what was called "Electronic Writing". The writing culture there instilled me with a focus on form and concept, as well as an enthusiasm for genre collision. Any approach to writing is a practice that sits at the nexus of the writer, contemporary context and available tools. Formal and conceptual experiments with writing have been happening for quite sometime. Now, we simply have a wider arsenal of tools to execute them. Yes, the approach is changed because of new formal considerations that must be taken into account for how text is rendered and experienced, but it is also not changed. I think for many writers, the impetus to write and the "WHY" write sustains. This motivation is key to the approach: make it work. The more we can look beyond anxiety and hype, the more we can master our digital tools and make them accessible to find ways of writing that "work" for us. Beyond this, yes, I recognize there are shades of difference in my approach. It feels natural to me, at this point, to consider every aspect a user might experience as a cohesive whole (as “the writing”). But, this is an extension of the composition process. Part of writing for media is considering the poetics of not just the language, but of how the users will approach your total media. What are the poetics of the interface? What is the metaphor of its use, how do they PRY? What does it feel like to read? All of these components relate to the text itself and its impact. I really enjoy projects by others that critically approach form, where interaction isn’t just tagged on to the text in service of making it “digital”. Interaction can be a truly meaningful way to engage with a story, to embed oneself inside a character’s consciousness. My perception/experience of writing is also influenced by how I play and enjoy video games. It’s actually this medium (I'm including Experimental & Indie Games) that I think has made the most visible advances in how we tell and consume writing. In terms of writing for print: I guess, if I was to write a book of poetry for the page, I would begin with automatic writing. Go with the gut, less critical revision at first. BUT, if I’m writing with media, from the start, I have to simultaneously consider/compose for the experience of the total artwork: consider the interplay of all elements (text, image, interaction). Then again, if I was writing for the page. . . I would probably also be concerned with the form of the page and the book as a type of technology:)bookfutures[...]

on the new media writing prize


THIS ARTICLE was written for the European Literature House blog www.literaturehouse.euJason Nelson, winner of the People's Prize, live on Skype from Australia in his pyjamasIt’s been a pleasure being one of the judges The New Media Writing Prize, now in it’s fifth year, run by Bournemouth University who are leaders in the field of animation in the UK, and awarded annually to a piece of literature that’s best experienced on a screen. No agents involved, no intermediaries, just a link to a writer or maker’s website will do. You can see examples of all the shortlisted works on the It's judged in English, but a past winner was French. Of course, with an app or website, updates are always possible and translations can be added as the audience grows.  This year’s overall winner is PRY, a truly astounding app featuring film and some extraordinary tricks. In Chapter One a man lies on his bed looking up at the ceiling. With your fingers on the iPad screen you can open the protagonist’s eyes to see what he’s seeing and pinch them closed to watch the flashing text of his interior thoughts. In the middle is the text of the story. A later chapter is told in braille which is translated into audio as you run your finger across it. The story is incomplete but fascinating so far. Download it to your tablet now and further episodes will appear as if by magic over time. PRY is more compelling than many clever looking digital tales which soon get boring as one clicks deeper into a narrative lacking the power to immerse. Without the heft of a book to help you decide how long it’s going to take  and how far you’ve got, apps and websites need to clear how much time is needed to complete the story.   The People’s Prize was won by Australian digital poet Jason Nelson for Nothing You Have Done Deserves Such Praise, a hilarious satire on platform games in which the player is showered in appreciation and gorgeous sunbursts everytime their avatar does anything.The first year of the prize I remember the iPad was new on the market, and the audience for our debate on digital publishing and the future of the book included both the old guard of paper lovers and hard core digital people who had little interest in attracting fans of conventional literature to their sites. Digital writing has been far more of a subject of academic study than something enjoyed by ‘book lovers’. What hasn’t changed since then? Kindles and tablets abound, bookshops have closed, hundreds of enhanced book apps  have been made, for adults and children and, despite evidence of an increase in trad bookshop sales this Christmas, I reckon these days a lot more people curl up in the evening to play on their iPads than sit reading fiction.  Still most people think of digital books as flat, grey texts download to their Kindles. Meanwhile there are some staggering examples of digitally illuminated texts appearing. It would be great to hear from others about what’s happening across Europe in this field. You can read about past winners of the New Media Writing Prize in an essay by Lisa Gee HEREand see the work on the prize’s site: bookfutures[...]

from Novel Writing - A Writers' & Artists' Companion by Romesh Gunasekera and A.L. Kennedy


An Alphabetical List of Questions for the Digital Age.Romesh Gunasekera interviews Chris Meade, Director of if:book UK, a think and do tank exploring the future of the book and a champion of digital media. From 2000 to 2007 he was Director of Booktrust, the UK reading promotion charity, and previously the Director of the Poetry Society where he set up the Poetry Café in Covent Garden. He’s currently a PhD student at Bath Spa University making a digital fiction: ———————————— Chris, I thought I’d try to fox any computer-aided answering programmes you might have by using the alphabet as the only logic for my questions. So we will start with what ‘A’ might prompt.Advice: For an aspiring novelist today, getting their toolkit together, what is your advice?We’re all amplified authors now, sharing our words naturally, with friends and then a widening circle of readers via social media, blogging, self publishing and possibly via a traditional publisher, but we don’t need a publisher in the way we once did.  What’s vital is to seek out a community of trusted advisors to help us decide when work is ‘cooked’ enough to share and how best to package up and sell what we’ve written. I'd like to see libraries as the natural hub for such a community, but they're not that now. Book: The physical book has been around since Moses found that tablet, but for most of us the book has meant a bunch of papers with writing on it stuck together as it has been for a few hundred years. So will it continue in that form? Paper stuck together at the edges with glue will survive I’m sure, but for some time already it's the content stored digitally that is the core version of the work, whether it’s then printed and bound or downloaded or simply read on a website. My book loving friends once swore blind they’d never read on screen and now enthuse about their kindles and iPads, so I think more will be read that way, but those that do get printed will be beautiful, tactile, making full use of print technology.  Cafe: Give us some clues to the equivalent of the Poetry Cafe in cyberspace.We set up the Poetry Café when I was Director of the Poetry Society and I always imagined it as a virtual space too. the centre of a poetry community and the youngpoetsnetwork on facebook is another hangout for young writers. Despite the dangers of wasting time online, it’s a place where writers can meet and share ideas, as well as research. Device: What’s your favourite device? Why? Would our readers recognize it by the time this book comes out?The iPad or tablet is what we’ve been waiting for as a pleasurable means to curl up with literary works that can include text, sound, images, video and opportunities to write to the book too. That’s where literature can spread its wings and fly up above the confines of the printed page. I like paperbacks still, and reading on the go on my mobile too, though. Maybe next we’ll be able to download novels direct to our memories so we suddenly find we ‘know’ War & Peace without needing to read it at all – but I hope not.E-book: In America it is big, in the UK it is growing, in Japan it is phenomenal, in the rest of the world it is negligible. Like a lot of innovations in technology there is a problem that e-books lock you into a system: you have to shop in the same place. The beauty of the original design of the book was that it opened doors. So how will that be dealt with?Did it really open so many doors? The doors of libraries and bookshops can be intimidating to many, and these used to be the only places books could be found. I worked for many years in bookshops a[...]

It's the if:book AGM tomorrow so here's the...


if:book UK annual report 1st April 2013 to 31stMarch 2014if:book’s founder Chris Meade is now working on a PhD in Digital Writing at Bath Spa University, writing a transmedia novel mixing text, song, digital animation and live events. Meanwhile if:book’s other activities have been focused on three areas:The If So Press is a group of writers working together. Luke Roberts was appointed if:book’s Collaborative Writer in Residence and has worked with Chris to set up the group, organize collaborative workshops and retreats, to commission new work and develop a range of events and small publications, on paper and online. The New Media Writing Prize, administered by Bournemouth University, now in its fifth year, is supported by if:book UK and Chris is a judge next year. If:book commissioned associate Lisa Gee, a past judge, to write an essay on the prize for the If So PressThe Nearly Project, using the evolution of Chris Meade’s transmedia fiction What Didn't Quite as the inspiration for collaborations, performances, workshops, animations and artworks on its theme of how we live with the things that nearly happen to us.Many thanks to departing trustees Sue Horner, Bill Mayblin and Fiona O’Brien who have done so much to keep if:book on track for the past few years. And welcome to three new trustees: Hattie Coppard, artist and designer of amazing play spaces; Jo Klaces, an inspired teacher of English who has been a collaborator on past if:book projects in schools, and George Palmer, Communications Officer at the Arvon Foundation and a digital writer in his own right. Since April 2013 if:book UK has:run workshops for children on digital literature at the Sharjah Bookfair with performance artist Joachim Stampe; developed the Nearly Project with collaborations with poet Saradha Soobrayen on a writers workshop, dancer Jia-Yu Corti on a performance at the Chisenhale Dance Space and Jewish Book Week’s Live Literary Lounge, a nearlywriting/nearlydancing workshop at the Crouch End Festival where Chris was Poet in The Phone Box once again; worked on a collaborative writing project with mentored writers on the Arvon Jerwood scheme; launched the IFSOPRESS.COM site featuring texts from a range of past porjects; spoken at the Solothurn Literature Days Festival in Switzerland and been invited to attend this Autumn’s  Austrian Literature Days at Spitz Am Donau; run Nearly workshops and live events at Corsham Court and the Earl Haig Centre, London; written articles for the Writing Platform website and a special booklet on the future of the book for the Solothurn Festival, translated into French and German.Spitz am Donau With new trustees and creative collaborators, strong connections with Bath Spa University and Bournemouth University, our funded projects completed with some funds remaining to support new activities, we are now putting into practice ideas that if:book UK been promoting so effectively over the past few years of radical transformation in the worlds of books, arts and digital culture.bookfutures[...]

writing platform bursary 2015


 in association with Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. 

This is opportunity for writers and technologists to collaborate, experiment and learn together, and to make work they might not be able to make on their own.

There are two bursaries of £4000 available for writers and technologists to embark on a writing - or writing-related - collaboration over a period of three months.
Writers and technologists may apply individually or in pairs. The programme is open to UK residents aged 18 and over. The deadline to apply is Thursday 4th December.

Looking to the future of the book

New Media Writing Prize 2014


Bournemouth University’s Media School announces the fourth annual New Media Writing Prize, now open for entriesThe competition encourages writers working with new media to showcase their skills. It also aims to provoke discussion and raise awareness of new-media writing, the future of the 'written' word and storytelling. The prize has three categories: Overall Winner, Best Student and the People’s Choice. THE PRIZES ARE:·       £1000, donated by if:book UK for the Overall Winner·       a 3-month paid work-placement at top e-learning company, Unicorn Training, in Dorset, UK, for the Best Student·       £250 for the People’s Choice, voted for by the reading publicThe judging panel are looking for great storytelling (fiction or non-fiction) written specifically for delivery and reading/viewing on a PC or Mac, or a hand-held device such as an iPad or mobile phone. It could be a short story, novel, documentary or poem using words, images, film or animation with audience interactivity.Whether you’re a student, a professional, or simply an enthusiast, anyone can apply. It's an international competition, open to all outside the UK. The deadline is Friday November 28th at 12 noon GMT. Closing date for students is Friday December 12th at 12 noon GMT. Each entry should be submitted by email to entrants will be invited to the awards ceremony on the 21st January 2015 where the winner will be announced. There will be substantial media coverage for the Awards, and winners will be given full acknowledgement in all press releases and related material.An esteemed panel of judges will select winning entries which will be published on high profile new media web-hub, The Literary Platform, the Bournemouth University website and will be showcased at the Awards Ceremony. For full details on what we are looking for, and how to enter, please visit the New Media Writing Prize website.bookfutures[...]



I wrote this in February for the Solothurn Festival in Switzerland. My beautiful grandsons, Vidar and Atlas, were born in Stockholm on March 18th! I’m writing this as my son and his partner prepare for the birth of identical twins. What will those two be reading and writing in twenty years time?  I believe that by 2034 readers will have forgotten all the strange arguments about what real books were supposed to be made of. Who cares for long about the debates over scrolls versus codex, vinyl versus CD, VHS versus Betamax? What matters in hindsight is always the quality of the words, music and pictures, what they were trying to say, who made and watched them, how they were financed and critiqued. The twins will grow up expecting stories on tablets, mobiles and paper books too; stories to touch with moving illustrations, images triggered by the eye passing over them; transmedia adventures mingling fantasy lands with the real world; stories you talk to and which shape themselves differently each time you look at them; stories for whatever i-gadgets come along – hologrammatical? Multisensory? 3D printer compatible? Most importantly they’ll need to be critical readers, able to spot quality and avoid rubbish on whatever new platform it’s delivered.As a judge for the Bologna Ragazzi Digital Prize for the past three years, I’ve already seen some beautiful children’s book apps, inventive and beautifully rendered, and many awful ones too. Innovation doesn’t guarantee artistic quality. Will the twins be using the latest technology to consume another clapped out update of Superman? Probably. Will great works of literature and other media be preserved and revisited? Certainly, though it's always hard to predict which will survive the test of time to be seen as classics – Anna Karenina? Faust? Harry Potter? The Wire…? The twins will also be enjoying the work of new artists and storytellers whose genius springs from the affordances of the media they learn to think and dream with.    Our concept of literature has been shaped around the book and defined by the limitations of print technology. How many pages can be glued together, stored and displayed at what unit cost? Now the text can take whatever shape it likes online, illuminated by digital means. When my son was a baby I was writing on a typewriter and posting articles to a newspaper which typeset and printed them on paper to sell in shops. That once essential production process will be long gone.  The big change is that we’re all amplified authors now, sharing our words naturally and digitally, with friends and then a widening circle of readers via social media, blogging, self publishing and possibly involving professional intermediaries, for instance publishing companies, but writers won’t need publishers in the way we once did. Publishers certainly won’t be able to define what is or isn’t worthy of being considered ‘real literature’; online everyone has the right and the ability to share their words for free, but also responsible for our own quality control. We are nearlywriters, deciding for ourselves when work is cooked enough to share. The fear readers have of being submerged in a mass of bad writing is a hangover from the age of print. The web doesn't involve stacks of paper on groaning shelves. In cyberspace, armed with a good search engine, the reader can seek out what they want without worrying about the rest.   2014 is the 25th birthday of the World Wide Web and a time to recognise how revolutionary an invention it was and is: a virtual place where[...]



This poem was commissioned for performance at the Crouch End Festival's Mathamusical night at the Earl Haig, and inspired by the arrival of my grandsons, Vidar and Atlas xxx____________________________________Oh one one one one oh oh oh oh one one two boy islands in the ocean of the binary Two new lives begunEggs divide cells proliferate elaborate People couple travel settle separate dieWe multiply the continents we live upon, These 2 open up 4 tiny lungs and cryAnd dad had he lived would now be 98Me 57, 31 my son makes.., does it? 186One simple father sumMade up of many complex bits The number of times we've eaten peaches divided byThe grains of sand between the toes on various beachescigarettes smoked and hours wastedhow many kisses, coffees, cornflakes, chocolates tastedSubtract the days we’ve felt a waste of space and timeSubtract the Disappointments times deceipts timesdistances in a) inches  b) silences, c)drives, d)featSubtract the day I'll die theMultiple family divisionsThe visions and revisions The numbers of votes cast, tears shed,The 26 letters of all the words we've saidTimes arrowsTimes squaredTimes Lost Times Found Times Spent Time SharedAdd10 to ten to tenty ten 9 dreams8 a horse7 deadly sins6 of best5 french hens 4 mop tops (yeah yeah yeah) and 3 degrees2 too too too too timesOne love one day one one one one one 0 0 0 0  None rhymesDivided by a number on a shirt, a ticket stub, on human skinA number walking into a bar and something funny happeningLike a squaw on a hippopotamus,The square of you and me and them and usToday You plus me minus those two equals sorrowLet xxx equal the sum of all delights wherever we all are tomorrowOur flight back home may be delayed -  A dust of countless nearlyness begins to blowOh 1101101111000000001 One 0h bookfutures[...]

predictions from the supermarket




Audience members at the NMWPrizeGuest post by Esmerelda Kosmatopoulos, winner of the New Media Writing Prize 2014"SIRI&me is a new genre of storytelling extracted and conveyed solely across-social-media platform.  A combination of reality TV and sitcom, SIRI&me proposed a new form of entertainment in the form of a  Tumblr  ,  Facebook  and  Twitter  account.SIRI&me "aired"  every weekday at noon EST on Tumblr, rerun on Facebook at 5PM EST and was advertised daily via Twitter. From September to November 2013, the project gathered organically more that 1,500 followers across social media platforms. Each episode consisted of a screenshot of a real conversation between iPhone’s Siri and the phone’s owner, Esmeralda.  Organized in three seasons of ten episodes each, the virtual sitcom investigated the complex relationship humans have developed with technology and the increasing presence of the Internet of Things in the physical world  through the evolving friendship of its two characters – Siri and Esmeralda. Together Siri and Esmeralda ponder the important matters of life: love, death, their dreams and fears.  SIRI&me breaks the norms of social media and TV by introducing a new form of entertainment.  More than a simple transposition of TV content onto the web, it aims at translating its codes and practices into a virtual space, the social media world. Watch all 3 seasons here.bookfutures[...]

and the next winner is...


Judges of the Bologna Ragazzi Digital Award 2014. Winners to be announced soon. 

and the winner is...


I was a judge of this year's New Media Writing Prize and if:book funded the main prize.
You can see the shortlisted pieces at and read about the winners here:

Nearly Essay 1: On Shopping and Shamans


This is the first of a series of essays I'll be publishing here as I work on my digital fiction Nearlyology, and on the PhD in Digital Writing I'm doing at Bath Spa University. Please leave comments and tips on further reading. Thanks!“To write is to carve a new path through the terrain of the imagination…To read is to travel through that terrain with the author as guide.”- Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust.This simple statement, quoted by anthropologist Tim Ingold in his essay, Ways of Mind-Walking catches the spirit in which I want to approach making this digital fiction.It applies to experimental narratives and transmedia adventures just as much as to conventional texts and oral storytelling.What means of navigation can be developed by today’s transmedia and collaborative writers and readers to help them find such clarity and direction as they learn to make, amplify and receive work across new terrains?To search for clues it seems appropriate to look both at recent transmedia narrative theory and also at critical works about experimental fiction of the past. My starting point is Flann O’Brien’s darkly hilarious The Third Policeman, published posthumously in 1967, described by Keith Hopper in Portrait of the Artist As A Young Post-Modernist, as the first post-modern novel, in a tradition which includes Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, another great example of anti-novel or metafiction.In The Third Policeman the narrator is drawn into committing a murder then finds himself lost in a dark and surreal wood where he meets strange policemen investigating disappearing bicycles. The narrative is interspersed with footnotes relating to the theories of De Selby, imaginary scientist and philosopher whose studies include how the intermingling of molecules between bicycles and their riders lead to humans propping themselves up bike-like against walls, and experiments in time travel involving many mirrors and postcards of Brighton.The narrator of the book argues with his conscience who becomes a character in his/its own right, forgets his own name and eventually (spoiler) turns out to be already dead (or maybe not). It’s funny, disturbing and bursting with inventive ways to mess with readers’ minds.“If art traditionally held a mirror up to society, then metafiction holds a mirror up to the mirror.” writes Hopper (page 6) who sees novels such as O’Brien’s as  ‘shamanistic’ because instead of trying to emulate reality they push further in stories which “deliberately and quite playfully question the ideology of ritual convention…In any tribe a shaman is a medicine man; a healer of the relationship between mind and body, between matter and spirit, between people and their environment, between culture and nature.”  (Hopper, p4)The outstanding quality of the shaman, regardless of culture, is the inclination towards engagement, or creative activity. Knowledge and understanding are not enough, nor does passive acceptance hold any appeal. The shaman plunges into life with mind and senses, playing the role of co-creator.-       Serge Kahili King, Urban Shaman  (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990) p 14.At the centre of my story is a strange shaman, Gregory Carraday, the Nearlyologist who believes that his tinnitus is the sound of the Nearlyverse, a mysterious force field[...]