Super Grunge Under House Zine Book

Ah, the Word Salad, our favourite kind of salad.

So, the other day I was putting together a CV, as one does every now and then, and because this particular CV is focused on design and creativity, I put in that I make chapbooks once a month as part of Stanzas. And there’s nothing wrong with saying that. Until someone asks, What’s a chapbook?

For us, this question has been four years in the making, and we’re still figuring it out month to month. But mostly: it’s printed, it’s low-volume, it’s one-of-a-kind, and it features art, writing, or some combination thereof.

When we first started, these were A6, home-printed, badly spliced together off-cut barely-books that we made and sold at the third ever event because we wanted to make a bit of dosh. That first event, back in September 2014, was a great one, and people loved the books. Inside, we four stanzas grandaddies, each wrote a few pieces, and I think we made a tenner each on the proceeds. A night of heavy drinking ensued, bellied by the tenners.

But then we opened it up, we asked you guys for your words, and we put that money back in to getting bigger and better guests, to putting on festivals, to making more books, and CDs, and posters, and badges & & & …

For us, the monthly chapbooks are a way to see what’s out there: and there is so much out there! It’s also how we stay afloat while we wait for some rich uncle to come along and make our dreams come true. But most importantly, it’s a way for you guys to see your work in print – even sometimes in poorly home-printed off-cut barely-books.

There’s something succinct about ink and paper. Something definite and concrete. The chapbooks aren’t just a bit of fun, they’re an opportunity. And, if nothing else, they very occasionally help to buy pints. And that’s gotta be worth fighting for.

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This blog post was written by Shane ‘McThirsty’ Vaughan. If you have something to say and nowhere to say it, why not get in touch at stanzas.limerick@gmail.com

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Super Grunge Under House Zine Book

Moon Talk

From the moment I woke it was all wrong, like someone had put my brain in backwards. I was tense, frenetic, nervous, anxious, peeved, miffed, muddled, and, in so many words, wild.

Later, of course, I looked up into the sky and saw the moon: full and bright and glowing like a saucer of insanity.

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It’s not so much the moon’s ‘fault’, but I can’t help offload some of the blame to La Luna. After all, if she didn’t tug and pull at the ocean, maybe she wouldn’t tug and pull at my neurons – but then, yes, a world without waves would be rather dull…

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It was  Aristotle and Pliny the Elder who first subsumed the moon into human ailments. They argued the brightness induced epilepsy and bipolarity, and while I have no experience with epilepsy I can certainly attest to feeling unlike myself when the moon is most full.

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So last night we had SLAMZAS. And it was fun, maybe not as full as the moon, but it happened, it went ahead, we had competitors, an audience, judges, a musician, a venue: all the ingredients for a good night.

We just needed an MC…

Technically, of course, I was the MC. Except you wouldn’t have known I’ve been speaking in front of crowds for years by the look of me. I stuttered, stumbled, misplaced whole sentences and withered on the vine. A part of me, the part still me, was shouting at the back of the upsidedown backtofront brain saying SPEAK! SPEAK DAMN YOU! but the part of me, the moon part, was doing the speaking, and it was moon-talk, not human talk.

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The Greeks knew a thing or two about the moon, and ok it doesn’t have anything to do with epilepsy, but it does affect us. Maybe not all of us, just some, and maybe only some of us some of the time: but it does affect us.

The Greeks also knew a thing or two about poetry. Ever hear of a certain nobody called Homer? No, not that one… Homer was the kind of guy who’d get up to do a poem and still be speaking two books later. The way the Greeks saw it, poetry was meant to be spoken – no paper, certainly no phones, just pure wordage and a captive audience.

It was primitive and tribal and beautiful enough to still be influencing Millenians three millennia later.

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Someone asked me last night why it had to be a competition, why can’t we just share the words? And that’s valid. But we already have a place to do that, it’s called Stanzas. Stanzas is a safe cushion of warmth and love and openness where anyone can join in without fear of repercussion or oppression or hate or even embarrassment.

SLAMZAS on the other hand, that’s where we pull the rug out, take away the safety net and make you work for the words. Stanzas is the kind of place those who listened to Homer would have gone. SLAMZAS…. I’d like to think that’s somewhere Homer himself would have enjoyed.

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Not every moon is equal, not every poem a slam. We have to listen more. Listen to our bodies when they say Not Today… listen to our words when they want to be whispered… listen to each other, even when we say things we don’t want to hear.

Maybe that’s what Lunatics are: the ones who hear; the ones who talk to the moon.

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This blog post was written by Shane ‘What’s My Name?’ Vaughan. If you have something to say and nowhere to say it, why not drop us a line at stanzas.limerick@gmail.com

Moon Talk

Remembering to Play

So this week has been a big one for us – we put in a ma-hoo-sive application for the Weekend of Words festival 2018 and, as some of you may know, Grant Writing literally sucks the life and soul out of the writer.

Ok not literally, but actually kinda, yeah.

Maybe some people get a kick out of writing grant apps and filling out forms, but for us, and for a whole bunch of creative people that we know, we may as well bang out heads bloody while screaming GIVE ME THE MONEY I MAKE THE ART.

But in the middle of all this head-banging and void-screaming, we found a fun little writing game on our newsfeed. All we had to do was share it, and all you had to do was comment, and then we’d come up with a little sentence or two about you as if you were a character in a book!

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Well, from there things got a little out of hand…

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Eh… what?

Over two thousand people saw that post (however briefly) and at the time of writing we have over fifty comments – by far our best post ever (including some of the ones we bleeding well paid for!)

So we started writing some introductions… some of them were silly:

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And some of them were fun:

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Some of them we wrote because we knew the person would understand the context, like this one which we wrote to mimic Kerouac:

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And some of them we wrote only knowing a very small amount about the person in question:

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Eventually, after a few hours (days) of writing replies, we’ve hit a wall, and can’t write any more! (for now…)

But the really beautiful thing about all this is just how much fun it was to write a little snippet of a larger world.

Sometimes, when we’re bogged down in the nitty-gritty of event management, we can forget what we’re here for. And of course the answer has to have an element of fun in it. If we’re not having fun then how can you have fun? and if you’re not having fun, then why the hell do you keep coming back to us?

Games like this, like the 5 word challenge, like writing prompts, they get the mind active, and they reduce the stress of having to come up with something ma-hoo-sive, because it’s just this little sliver, just now, just here.

So the next time you think you’ve hit a block, or you’re up the walls with essays and applications, maybe share a witty post on facebook… who knows where it will lead…

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This blog post was written by Shane ‘Crazy Boy’ Vaughan. If you have something to say and nowhere to say it, email us at stanzas.limerick@gmail.com

 

Remembering to Play

Behind the Scenes

This month’s blog comes in the form of a video, and is a behind the scenes look at how we make our books using InDesign!

Have a watch below, and maybe get inspired and make something of your own!

 

 

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This blog was done by Shane ‘Check Check One-Two-One-Two’ Vaughan. If you would like to write something for us, send your work to stanzas.limerick@gmail.com

Behind the Scenes

Why Do We Create?

As artists who surround themselves with other artists, we often find ourselves having really intense conversations about art and being an artist. One of the things that comes up most is ‘Why Do It To Yourself?’

There’s something here that really needs to be addressed. For those outside of the scene, the life of an artist has been mythologised into obscurity. People think all we do is wake up at noon and have mental breakdowns. And let’s be honest, the whole waking up at noon bit is an outright lie.

But seriously, there’s this idea that the life of an artist is one of luxury. We don’t work normie office jobs, we must be super happy (read: lazy) all the time!

But here’s the thing: a whole bunch of artists do have to work those normie jobs. The difference is they spend their paychecks making art. They sacrifice so they can create something most people will never see – and when they do see it they won’t even be that impressed. And for those with the ‘luxury’ of not working, they sacrifice food so they can feast on creativity and spend their days writing grant apps instead of making art. We’re salivating at the thought of a doubling of the arts budget in 2024: a doubling which would still see us in the bottom of the league for funding in Europe.

So why do we do it? Why do we spend our waking hours putting emotion into colour and buying lots of very specific material for a project that, if you round it up, will reach 0% of the world’s population?

Because we have to.

Not because we can –  as most of us spend our waking hours panicking that we secretly can’t and no one has told us yet – because we have to.

Creating isn’t medicine. It’s not going to fix you. It’s not going to make you feel better. It’s going to take you places. Sometimes dark places. Sometimes places you wish you’d never gone. And in doing so, it grows you as a person. And ok, sure, sometimes you deal with that childhood trauma, or you unburden yourself, but usually, no, you just express the thing that makes you vocalise an abstract feeling into something tangible.

Creating is a high and we’re all addicted. Imagine the luxury of being able to turn the mind off and relax for once. But nope. We’ve got obsessive creative disorder and there’s no stopping us now. Like the old pringles add said: once you pop…

 

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This blog post was written by Shane ‘Woe Is Me’ Vaughan. If you have something to say and nowhere to say it, why not write us an email at stanzas.limerick@gmail.com.

Why Do We Create?

What Makes An Ending Good?

It’s officially HallowMonth, and we’re full into the swing of spooks, ghouls, and nightmares here at Stanzas HQ. We looooove horror, and there’s nothing we love more than the Stanzas Halloween Fancy Dress and Chapbook Month! (Well, ok, there are things we love more, but it’s definitely Top Five.)

As it’s HallowMonth, we’ve been watching a LOT more horrors. And they other day this author stuck on a Netflix adaptation of Gerald’s Game. Originally a Stephen King book, this movie looked pretty interesting. Aside from a few minutes at the beginning to set up the plot, and a few minutes at the end – which we’ll get to – to wrap things up, everything takes place in one room: the bedroom.

Here’s the gist of the plot: Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) and his missus Jessie (Carla Gugino) try to rekindle their marriage with a sexy weekend away. He cuffs her to the bed and then has a heart attack. She is left to figure out how to survive, and battles not only the cuffs, but her own mental chains as repressed memories come back to haunt her.

SPOILER WARNING!

So, the movie is an hour and forty-five minutes long. And for an hour and a half it’s amazing. It’s tense. It’s gritty. It has an amazingly disgusting scene with a shard of glass. It has a spooky nightmare coming to life. it has childhood trauma. It has ghosts of a sort. And it has great acting from Gugino.

And then the last fifteen minutes arrive… Jessie is out in the hospital, she cashes in on the life insurance, sets up a charity, and confronts what turns out to be a cannibalistic serial killer who has been going around killing and eating people. The nightmares weren’t invented, and the figure of death she kept seeing was, in fact, this creepster who was there in the room the whole time.

On paper, this maybe sounds interesting. But in reality, it twisted the movie into a plotless chasm. Everything we’ve seen up to then is ruined and it just adds this weird, unnecessary, layer on top.

It turns the movie from being about Jessie to being about Jessie and this killer – but we’ve spent 90 minutes with Jessie, and only 10 disappointing ones with the killer.

This is the problem with plot twists and bad endings. They need to make sense, they need to reward your viewership. Literally anyone can write a plot and then write a different ending and splice them together, but that’s not good writing.

Good writing is leading the reader on a journey, but then revealing the path was going in the other direction all along.

Maybe the killer cannibal twist could have worked if they’d worked it more into the story from the start – but ultimately this twist comes off as a cheap trick. It ruins the rest of the movie. Seriously. Ruins it.

So if you want to watch it (and you know what, you probably should, because it has 90 really good minutes) then stick it on: but remember, once she leaves the bedroom, turn it off, sit back and think: wow, that was pretty good.

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This blog post was written by Shane ‘Spoiler’ Vaughan. If you have something to say and nowhere to say it, send your words to us at stanzas.limerick@gmail.com

What Makes An Ending Good?

Letting off Steam

Sometimes, when you’re head-full of a project, you get bogged down and, without realising it, bowled over. It happens all the time – one minute you’re powering ahead full-steam! and the next you’re crying into a gin saying ‘I can’t do it, I can’t do it’ until the barman calls you a cab.

Well, ok, maybe it doesn’t go exactly like that, but we paint a pretty picture all the same.

This September, Stanzas went back to college. Or, Jared, Caleb, and Shane, all independently took a dive and returned to the world of institutionalised study groups.

It’s fun. It’s challenging. It’s time-frikin-consuming.

We as a team are used to the more bohemian get-up-when-I-feel-like-it work-what-I-want-to lifestyle. We’ve had a few years of busking, hustling, and make-it-up-as-we’re-going. But there’s only so much you can learn off YouTube before you start to wonder if there’s more you could be doing.

Many of our Stanzonians are either in, starting, or just finished college. And we get it, everyone’s going through the motions: class, break, study, eat, work, sleep, repeat. But on top of all that we’ve also got an event to run, and a festival to plan, and blogs to write. So, we cut ourselves a two week slack. We took some time off to put the time in. We blew some steam in the library. But now it’s back to business. Blogness. Bloginess? Anyway, it’s back to all that.

So just remember, the next time you’re neck deep in a poem, or a story, or even an essay – give it your everything, but if you need to take a few days to let off some steam, do it. There’s no point burning out after the first hurdle.

But always, always, come back to it.

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This blog was written by Shane ‘Cop Out’ Vaughan. If you have something to say and nowhere to say it, why not message us and we’ll put it up here! Get in touch at stanzas.limerick@gmail.com

Letting off Steam