Thursday, 28 January 2016

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.  

Wednesday, 27 January 2016


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:

This 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 Alice
photos by Lisa Gee

Friday, 4 September 2015

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

Made 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. 

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 GMT

To enter email the following information to
No 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:

This summer if:book was at the South Bank Centre for the celebration of the 50th birthday 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.


Chris 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.

The Nearly Pod at the Mix Digital Conference in Bath Spa this summer


If: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!

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.

At our base in London N8 we hold occasional writing workshops and salons on literature, playfulness and collaboration, have a selection of books and merchandise for sale. And the IFSO VAN can come to you. We also rent out a small cottage in Suffolk suitable for writing retreats.
Contact for further details.

WWW.IFSOPRESS .COM is the home of a fantastic collection of collaborative writing. Visit the site to find good things to read by established and emerging writers, and links to much more.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

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.  

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

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.
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.


The Chimney Sweeper

When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could 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 Sweeper

A 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 Thursday

Is this a holy thing to see
In 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.


I wander thro’ each charter’d street
Near 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.