Quay Words presents Joelle Taylor: The Night Alphabet

  • Exeter Custom House
  • February 21
  • 08:00 - 17:00
  • £4
Event Website

This June we welcome Joelle Taylor to the Custom House, for a reading from her debut novel The Night Alphabet followed by a Q&A.

‘The Night Alphabet is a glorious jewel of a novel, rich with language and story, that glows in your mind’s eye long after you have set it down. Taylor manages to combine her vivid poetry with a truly engaging tale of female resilience, an Illustrated Woman for our times.’ – Sophie Ward

About The Night Alphabet

The tattoo was a reclamation, a flag we mounted in the centre of our own landscape.

Hackney, 2233: a woman walks into a tattoo parlour. But this is no ordinary woman. Jones’ body is covered all over with tattoos but she wants to add one final inking to her gallery – a thin line of ink mixed with her blood that connects the haunting images of her body art together, creating a unique and mysterious map. But if you followed it, where might it take you?

As the two artists set to work, Jones spins them the stories behind each of her tattoos. As Jones is no ordinary woman, these are no ordinary stories: each one represents a doorway into a life that Jones has fallen into, a ‘remembering’. Some of these lives were lived out in the past, others in the future, some are sideways, but each of them connects Jones to the rapt tattoo artists, though both women are – as yet – unaware of these links.

In the hands of master storyteller and poet Joelle Taylor, in exuberant and dramatic prose, we plunge into the coal mines of 19th century Lancashire and the dystopian cities of the Quiet Men, band with a gang of vigilante sex workers, enter the dark mind of an INCEL, haunt the old Maryville gay bar and uncover dark secrets behind the production line in a mysterious factory. Our voyage with Jones through time and space is compelling, enraging, profoundly moving and absolutely unforgettable.

Set across geographies and timespans, replete with literary fireworks and writing to relish, this furious, gripping, dazzlingly original novel is a deep and bold investigation into violence, resilience and women’s stories.

About Joelle Taylor

Joelle Taylor is a queer, working class author of six plays and four collections of poetry, most recently C+nto & Othered PoemsC+nto was the winner of the T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry and the Polari Prize, as well as a Book of the Year in New StatesmanTimes Literary Supplement and the White Review.

A former UK poetry slam champion, Joelle founded the national youth slam championships, SLAMbassadors. Joelle has lead workshops and residences in schools, prisons, youth centres, refugee groups and many other settings for organisations including the Poetry Society, the British Council, the Arvon Foundation and English PEN. She is also a Poetry Fellow of University of East Anglia and the curator of the Koestler Awards 2023. She has judged several poetry and literary prizes including Jerwood Fellowship, the Forward Prize, and the Ondaatje Prize. She has received a Changemaker award from the Southbank Centre, a fellowship of the RSA, is co-curator and host of the Southbank Centre’s Out-Spoken Live and the commissioning editor at Out-Spoken Press. She was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2022. Originally from Lancashire, she is based in London.

This event will be in-person at Exeter Custom House. You can find out more about the accessibility of the Custom House here. If you have any access needs you’d like to discuss with us before the event you can contact us on quaywords@literatureworks.org.uk. We can offer free carer tickets if you need help to support you to attend.