Tag Archives: tom sykes

Bristol Festival of Literature Appearance 22nd Oct

12 Sep

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I’ll be discussing my new travelogue of the contemporary Philippines, Realm of the Punisher, at the Bristol Festival of Literature on 22nd October. My good friend Mike Manson will be present too, riffing on his new novel Down in Demerara. Click here for tickets and further details.

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The Realm of the Punisher Out November

22 Jun

‘At last! A Western journalist/academic writing about the Philippines who has done proper homework and legwork, and who clearly has affection for both the country and its people.’ James Hamilton-Paterson, author of Ghosts of Manila and America’s Boy

In June 2016, Rodrigo ‘The Punisher’ Duterte won the Philippine presidential election. Infamous for his bombastic temper and un-PC wisecracks, he is waging a brutal drug war that has killed an estimated 10-20,000 people so far.

Over the last nine years, British writer Tom Sykes has travelled extensively in the Philippines to understand the Duterte phenomenon, visiting the sites of extra-judicial killings and interviewing friends and enemies of the regime. Sykes witnesses an anti-government demonstration in the capital Manila and journeys to the provincial city of Davao, where Duterte began his crusade against crime using police and civilian death squads.

The Realm of the Punisher also features encounters with slum-dwellers resisting violent eviction, an elderly former sex slave to the Japanese in the Second World War and a public artist who must work while under attack from Maoist rebels.

The past is never far away from these present-day problems and Sykes’ travels to festivals, memorials and a tomb housing an embalmed corpse reveal how key figures in Philippine history – from José Rizal to Ferdinand Marcos – have influenced current affairs.

Funny, tragic, enlightening and uncompromising – and infused with the author’s strong sense of social justice – The Realm of the Punisher is the first major travel book by a Westerner to explore Duterte’s Philippines.

(Design and image by Louis Netter).

Pre-order here.

#ReclaimTheNews: Apply for Our Free Local Journalism Course

19 Feb

Star & Crescent has partnered up with the Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ) to offer 12 local residents a FREE place on a 10-week local journalism course worth £100s and based here in Portsmouth.

Are you ever disappointed by local news coverage? Do you feel like there’s more to a story than a few hundred words in the local paper? Have you ever wished there was something you could DO about it?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then we’ve got some great news for you and it’s called #ReclaimTheNews, a new training course coming to Portsmouth in April 2018.

What is the #ReclaimTheNews course?

This spring, the Star & Crescent team are joining forces with the Centre for Community Journalism to teach 12 Portsmouth residents the fundamental skills needed to deliver high quality, investigative local journalism that makes a real difference to our communities.

From April, the S&C team will be joined by national experts and journalists over 10 weeks to train participants in a range of areas relating to investigative and community journalism. Alongside their training each week, participants will be supported and mentored to write at least one story for publication on S&C from July 2018.

Participants will be invited to remain with S&C after their training as part of our new Community Reporting Team.

Find out more here.

Publishing Weekend @ Portsmouth Bookfest

30 Jan

Portsmouth Bookfest, Star & Crescent and the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries, University of Portsmouth present:

Publishing Weekend @ Portsmouth Bookfest

Saturday 17th February – Sunday 18th February 2018

10am – 4pm

White Swan Building, New Theatre Royal

£20 per day (includes tea/coffee and a light lunch) or two day Saturday and Sunday combined ticket offer £30

BUY TICKETS HERE 

This event will be useful to anyone looking to research and edit their writing, publish their work and build their author brand. Whether you are thinking of self-publishing or going down the traditional route, understanding the process is essential. Our range of experienced experts will be sharing their wealth of knowledge on all aspects of the publishing journey and there will be plenty of opportunities to ask questions.

Saturday: Working towards Publication: The focus on Saturday is working towards getting ready for publication with talks and practical workshops on researching, editing and pitching your ideas to publishers.

Sunday: Publication and being a published author: On Sunday we focus on the publishing process and how to build your author brand through book cover design, book reviews and the use of social media.

You can book for either day or attend both days at a discounted price! Your ticket price includes a light networking lunch and tea and coffee.

Programme:

Saturday:

10am: Introduction

10.15am: Editing tips and traps with Helen Garvey and Tom Sykes

Writing a book is easy, right? Perhaps, but how about producing something you can be confident is of top publishable quality? Join professional freelance editor Helen Garvey as she discusses the process of taking your first draft through to publication, sharing her tips and highlighting the traps she wishes she had known about when she started writing.

Tom Sykes will explore the processes behind line-editing nonfiction books, making large structural adjustments to narratives, and compiling anthologies of short stories and articles.

11.45am: Coffee break

12noon: Pitching your idea/work with Wendy Metcalfe and Tom Sykes

Wendy will talk about submitting fiction short stories and novels.  She will cover preparing your story, submission guidelines, and keeping your motivation up when the rejections roll in.

Wendy has been submitting short stories and novels for over twenty years.  She will share stories from her own struggle to scale the slush pile.

Tom will examine proposing non-fiction works and journalistic articles to a range of professional markets, drawing on real-life contracts, pitch letters and editorial suggestions.

1.30pm: Networking lunch

2.30pm: Do your research with Suzie Wilde

Rudyard Kipling writes …

“I KEEP six honest serving-men
 (They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
 And How and Where and Who.”

… which is a good mantra for researchers, too. But the first question is, what kind of researcher are you? Suzie will help you decide.

3.30pm: Bookshop and Q and A

Sunday:

10am: Introduction

10.15am: Thinking of self -publishing? With Chindi

CHINDI authors have self-published novels and non-fiction books in various formats over the last five years. They’ve made audio books, e-books and printed books that have sold to thousands of readers. They’ve also made a lot of mistakes along the way. Christopher Joyce will lead a discussion of how to publish your book, where to go and what not to do using experiences from the group of 22 authors. www.chindi-authors.co.uk

11.15am: Coffee break

11.30am: Judging a book by its cover – your book as a product with Christine Hammacott

In traditional publishing producing a book is all about creating a saleable product. Whether you are aiming to be traditionally published or are self-publishing the marketing and selling process starts with the cover. This workshop is designed to give an understanding of book cover design and formatting, and why getting to grips with genre is so important by publication stage. It will also cover positioning your book in the marketplace, and the all important considerations when producing your ‘product’.

12.45pm: How to build an author platform from scratch with Jo Mallory

Jo’s workshop will cover: Where to start 101; your Website; let’s talk platforms and your social media, with the opportunity for questions.

1.30pm: Networking lunch

2.30pm: Writing book reviews to establish yourself as a writer with Carol Westron

“Many of the exciting opportunities I’ve received in the past few years have stemmed from my first reviews for Mystery People. I’ve made some wonderful friends, raised my profile as a writer and honed my reading and writing skills. In this talk I will discuss the benefits of reviewing and how to write a review that shows you at your best”.

3pm: Organic marketing with social media with Jo Mallory

In this workshop Jo will cover: Knowing your audience and where to find them; mailing lists; growing your audience organically Vs paid advertising; a fun tips session; the writer trap; don’t be afraid to cull and don’t feed the trolls.

3.45pm: Conclusion, questions and feedback

Two New Tunisian Stories in New African Magazine

27 Aug

I have one article on the ancient Carthaginian and Roman sites of Tunis and another on Tunisian cuisine in the current edition of New African. The pieces are not online yet so it’s well worth buying a hard copy through the site right here, even if I say so myself.

‘Letter from Manila’ now in Private Eye magazine

22 Jul

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My story about the siege crisis in Marawi, the Philippines is in the current issue of Private Eye magazine, available only in the print edition.

Election ’17: Evading the Brainwash with Gareth Rees and Tom Sykes

1 Jun

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Gareth Rees has been following politics for fifty years and has written about it for the Guardian, Contemporary Review and S&C. He chats to S&C editor and contributor to New Statesman and Private Eye, Tom Sykes, about how the Labour Party has changed, the ‘infantile’ clicktivists of Facebook and the need for scepticism towards the ‘back to the seventies’ slur and others.

Tom Sykes: What was the first election you were aware of?

Gareth Rees: Harold Wilson’s in 1964. It was exciting. There was a lot of involvement at my school – we had mock elections and it was a big deal. Posters were everywhere and there were vans with loudspeakers going round. I think today the parties know pretty much which constituencies they need to win and they focus on them. I’ve hardly seen a poster here [in Portsmouth South] because it’s not a marginal seat. It’s all decided in the marginals these days.

TS: Did you get a sense that there was a clear choice between Tory and Labour in ’64?

GR: God yeah.

TS: Was there a point in your life when you felt like there stopped being a difference between them?

GR: I suppose the Tony Blair era, wasn’t it? Everybody was aiming for the centre but that seems to have changed with the latest Labour Party manifesto. It’s clearly different this time.

TS: Many are saying that Corbyn isn’t up to the task of being Prime Minister.

GR: That’s media brainwashing. The old guard of the Labour Party have undermined him, betrayed him, so it’s made his position look weak. Having said that, I’m not sure about some of the people on his team. Emily Thornberry seems a bit flaky to me and so does Diane Abbott. They’re not masters of their briefs, which you need to be if you’re going to be in government.

TS: It’s interesting that initially he was trying to reach out to the right wing of the party and appoint them in positions in the shadow cabinet. It seems like he’s the one who’s been conciliatory.

GR: If his opponents in the party had got behind him I think things would be really really different now. What are people like that doing in the Labour Party anyway?

TS: Perhaps people called Tristram shouldn’t be let into the Labour Party in the first place. Do you feel the media coverage of Corbyn has been…

GR: Disgraceful. The tabloids are a disgrace.

Read on here.

War is a Politician’s Vanity Project

23 May

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Graham Horne of the anti-war campaign group Veterans for Peace (VfP) talks to S&C editor Tom Sykes about what the coming election could mean for Britain’s arms industry, foreign policy and international relations.

Tom Sykes: Will the election have any impact on VfP’s campaign work? Is VfP getting behind any of the candidates?

Graham Horne: As far as I’m concerned, it’s a case of steady as you go and keep taking the tablets. Whatever comes out of the election is unlikely to affect VfP. We are strictly politically neutral. We do not endorse candidates of any description whatsoever. At the same time, we will talk to anybody who wants to make common cause towards peace and against interventionist wars wherever they may be in the world.

TS: In the past you have interacted with a politician that will figure heavily in this election: Jeremy Corbyn.

GH: We have had one or two dealings with Corbyn, that’s true. It appears that he’s been pressured by his party to adopt a multilateralist approach to nuclear disarmament, whereas he personally has always been a unilateralist, as I understand it. Yet again, we’ve got what appears to be a duplicitous and perfidious politician who will go against his heartfelt conscience in order to gain votes. This makes me cynical, I’m afraid. I just don’t trust any of them. We at VfP have known for a long time that lobbying the Labour Party to, say, return to a unilateralist policy is a busted flush. It’s a waste of effort.

TS: If the Tories win the next election, as predicted, will British foreign policy change? What about the prospects of further conflicts abroad?

GH: Theresa May has been talking about raising defence spending. It’s what the militarist establishment and the military-industrial complex like to hear. It wouldn’t surprise me if the politicians were planning for a war in the near future, given their track record in recent years. They may dress it up as they usually do with the doublespeak of ‘humanitarian intervention’. ‘We’re bringing food or liberation to an oppressed part of the world,’ something like that. Remember the same rhetoric about Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan? And look how worse off those countries were after we’d finished with them.

We know May’s going to walk through the door with a thumping majority because of our corrupt first past the post system. She’ll want a war because prime ministers in the past, Labour and Tory, have had one. Attlee had Malaya and the Greek Civil War, Eden had Suez, Heath and Wilson had Northern Ireland, Thatcher had the Falklands, Blair had Iraq and a load of others. War is a vanity project for a politician. May might come to be affected by ‘the Falklands factor.’ Now I don’t know if you remember 1982?

TS: Just about.

GH: In the opinion polls in 1981, Thatcher’s government was looking like it’d get a beating in the 1983 election. She’d come in on an anti-working-class ticket and she’d hit the ground running, attacking everything in sight. It was a bit like what the Tories are doing at the moment. Thatcher was thrown a lifeline in the form of General Galtieri of Argentina, who himself was dealing with a lot of internal political pressures. His invasion of the Falkland Islands was an answer to her prayer because, when you bang the nationalist drum and declare a war for a ‘righteous cause’, next thing you know your party’s in power for the next 15 years.

Read more here.

Review published in Social Identities academic journal

20 Apr

My review of The Dasmariñases, Early Governors of the Spanish Philippines by the historian John Newsome Crossley is now available here.

Democracy in Portsmouth? It’d Be a Good Idea

27 Feb

In the wake of recent protests both local and global, I question how representative our elected representatives really are – in Portsmouth and beyond.

Criticisms of democracy have been around since the birth of democracy itself. But new questions are being asked in the West about how fair, efficient and representative our systems are given the allegations of dirty tricks in the run-up to the EU referendum and the election of Donald Trump with almost 3 million fewer votes than his opponent Hillary Clinton. The unprecedented protests against Trump across the United States are, in part, a symptom of public frustration with a perverse procedure that, on four occasions in American history, has handed the presidency to the candidate who won the electoral college but lost the popular vote.

Read the rest of this article here on Star & Crescent.