January 28, 2010
This blog, this day, is one year old! We’ve enjoyed writing it, and we do hope you’ve enjoyed reading it – these newsy nothings, those blowsy musings, our events, our happenings, our cakes. Thank you for returning, for your comments, for lending us your eyes, for sharing with us your poetry.
January 27, 2010
So four poetry collections have won the Costa – formerly the Whitbread – Book of the Year and oddly, except for Heaney’s Beowulf, they’ve all been written by husbands about their late wives: Douglas Dunn’s Elegies, Ted Hughes’s Birthday Letters, and now Christopher Reid’s A Scattering. I think it’s because the narrative of human relationships in these books is one that novel-readers are comfortable with; the subject is immediate, heart-rending, intimate. The awards are for ‘the most enjoyable books’; Josephine Hart, Chair of the judges, said that Reid’s collection is ‘a devastating piece of work and all of us on the jury felt it was a book we would wish everybody to read’. In these books, the poets make of distressing subject matter, the most personal of experiences, something that wakes recognition and a kind of comfort in a wide range of readers. We’re not taken out of ourselves, but more deeply into ourselves, to a place of chaos and dread (and inadvertent humour, sometimes) that becomes, in the poet’s words, a place where these feelings are articulated and ordered. Elegies remains one of the most borrowed books in the library. Perhaps A Scattering will contain a poem that you’ll want to keep close and carry.
January 26, 2010
“I was struck by the great sadness of this landscape” – Mark O. Goodwin
Fresh podcast with which to nourish your ears! Subscribe with iTunes or subscribe using RSS – you’ll thank us! Means you can be ahead of the pack when our podcasts go live… If you can’t get your head around that, you can use the rudimentary player on our hosting page.
Ryan managed to squeeze in a goodly few chats during his recent trip with our Lilias to northern climes and this episode, the second in our ‘Highland Trilogy’, features a fascinating conversation with Gaelic poet Maoilios Caimbeul and English poet Mark O Goodwin. Their recent collection, The Two Sides of the Pass (Two Ravens Press, 2009), is a conversation in poems across two languages and the landscape of the Isle of Skye. Presented by Ryan van Winkle. Produced by Colin Fraser. Incidental music by Ewen Maclean.
January 21, 2010
The Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and Poetry Live have invited 20 leading poets to perform at Westminster Central Hall, London on Saturday 30 January at 2.30pm in a fundraising event for the people of Haiti.
Poets include Carol Ann Duffy, Roger McGough, Andrew Motion, John Agard, Dannie Abse, Brian Patten, Gillian Clarke, Imtiaz Dharker, Grace Nichols, Elaine Feinstein, Daljit Nagra, Ian Duhig, Lachlan Mackinnon, Owen Sheers, Glyn Maxwell, Jo Shapcott, Robin Robertson, Colette Bryce, Maura Dooley and Robert Minhinnick, along with the musicians John Sampson and Andy Roberts.
Tickets are £10 | Telephone 01497 822629 or go to www.poetryliveforhaiti.org to book.
Tickets will be available at the door on the day for cash only.
All proceeds will go to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Haiti Earthquake Appeal.
January 20, 2010
Dear far flung friends, and anyone else who prefers to shop from the comfort of their living room within proximity of the kettle,
our online shop is open! Featuring some of our most popular titles, including our charming ‘Great Occasions’ books Handfast, Handsel, Lament and Kin (all Polygon), the only-available-from-the-SPL Addressing the Bard: Twelve Contemporary Poets Respond To Robert Burns (just in time for the great man’s birthday!) and our fabulous SPL linen book bags to put them all in, our shop will satisfy your poetry desires. All purchases help us continue doing what we’re doing – the gift of poetry that keeps on giving.
Plastic at the ready…
January 20, 2010
Last night we got the inside track on what it was like to host the hugely popular Poet’s Guide to Britain programmes, part of last year’s BBC Poetry Season, from poet and novelist Owen Sheers.
In case you didn’t catch the programmes – and some of last night’s audience hadn’t – there were six in total, each taking an element of landscape and looking at that through the prism of just one poem. Thus, London and city life were explored via Wordsworth’s ‘ ‘Composed upon Westminster Bridge’; villages and towns with Lynette Roberts‘ ‘Poem from Llanybri’; islands with George Mackay Brown’s wonderful ‘Hamnavoe’ (‘My father passed with his penny letters/ Through closes opening and shutting like legends’); woods and forests using Louis MacNeice‘s ‘Woods’; coast and sea with Arnold’s haunting ‘Dover Beach‘ and mountains and moorlands with Sylvia Plath‘s ‘Wuthering Heights’.
We watched the opening sequence of the ‘Hamnavoe’ episode, then Owen spoke to our Robyn about how the series came about, how he chose those six poems, and the many more that have subsequently been collected in a companion anthology, A Poet’s Guide to Britain (Penguin) (there are still a few of these left to purchase in the library if you want to get your grubby mitts upon one). Robyn was especially interested in how his selection criteria was defined by the private lives of the poets - would people have tuned in in such numbers to find out more about a poet who had gone about their poetic business without drama or controversy, without having lived in interesting times? The immediate and tangible benefit of the programmes was dwelt upon – sales of George Mackay Brown books soared a whopping 800% on Amazon, and we certainly experienced a surge of interest here in the SPL – was this part of the plan or happy side-effect? She wondered if Owen felt poetry lent itself well to a visual medium. The audience wondered if the BBC will make another series.
We can tell you that the episodes are soon to be released on DVD, and the afore-mentioned book is out and available here and in bookshops near you. We’ll be featuring fragments of this event in an upcoming podcast, as well as a quick chinwag snatched by Ryan – in ten short minutes, he somehow unearthed that Owen was one of the masterminds behind C4 The Big Breakfast‘s regular feature ‘Streaky Bacon‘ – in which, according to Wiki, “Richard Bacon would get a member of the public out of their house to ‘streak’ along their street wearing nothing but bacon-covered underwear in order to win a large supply of bacon from their local butcher.” As you do. An evening both entertaining and informative, it was particularly gratifying to see Lynette Roberts’ and George Mackay Brown books being borrowed straight away, to sell a few of Owen’s books and to have people rushing to the stacks – bringing people and poetry together: yes sir.
January 19, 2010
…Philip Gross for The Water Table (Bloodaxe), a collection of poems meditating upon the Severn estuary. Chair of judges Simon Armitage said “It is so concentrated and keen-eyed and patient. The poems have a beauty and a craft to the writing and it’s hard to imagine how he kept it up over 64 pages.”
The shortlisted poets were
The Sun-fish by Eiléan Ní Chuilleánain
Continental Shelf by Fred D’Aguiar
Over by Jane Draycott
The Water Table by Philip Gross
Through the Square Window by Sinéad Morrissey
One Secret Thing by Sharon Olds
Weeds & Wild Flowers by Alice Oswald
A Scattering by Christopher Reid
The Burning of the Books and Other Poems by George Szirtes
West End Final by Hugo Williams
You can join us for a closer look at The Water Table at our New Books session: T S Eliot prize winner special, on Monday 15 February, 6.30 – 8pm.
January 18, 2010
Well, definitely Hamish, but only sort of Doris Lessing… In this week’s podcast, Ryan speaks to Hamish MacDonald, director of Moniack Mhor, recorded during a recent foray to Skye and Inverness. There’s also a wonderfully haunting track by Sheila K Cameron entitled ‘Last Night I Dreamed About Doris Lessing’. Why not pop on some cans and have a listen? Someone over on Twitter said listening to our podcasts was like having his brain licked. And we know he meant that in a fabulous way…
January 15, 2010
This week we ate bakewell tarts; were delighted to see the fruits of our Carry a Poem labours in print; were additonally delighted that people over on Twitter (follow us and Carry A Poem on Twitter!) seem to be delighted with our print!; welcomed Elspeth Murray and a catalogue of librarians for a workshop this morning – Elspeth demonstrated different crafty methods they could employ to enthuse their junior library visitors about poetry; got our events programme off to print; booked trains for Owen Sheers (who’s here on Tuesday!) and John Hegley (who’s here in February); had a big turn out for the Genomics Social Sessions event on Wednesday, a discussion by poets about the relationship between poetry and science and dispatched our first podcast of 2010 into the world. Now I’m biding my time till the Poetry Forum reading with Douglas Dunn, Kevin MacNeil and Eleanor Livingstone starts. More on that, and more, next week!
January 15, 2010
Our pals up the road at the Scottish Book Trust have asked us to flag up these opportunities.
You are currently writing short stories, novels or plays. Ever wondered what it takes to write for Film and TV? After the success of last year’s course, Scottish Book Trust is pleased to announce the launch of Screen Lab 2010. Screen Lab will show you exactly what it takes to break into one of the most competitive and lucrative areas of writing and will also include a day on adaptation. Screen Lab is led by award winning writer and director Adrian Mead, who will take you through the realities of the script development process and the strategy you need to adopt in order to break into the industry.
Application Deadline: Thursday 4th February
Dates: Friday 26th, Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th February
Cost: Screen Lab is completely free of charge to successful applicants
Find out more http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/node/3760
Writers in Schools: a three way mentoring programme
Scottish Book Trust is seeking a professional writer, interested in developing their skills in delivering sessions, projects and residencies within a school setting. The successful applicant will be paired with a writer with experience in delivering school projects, as well teacher to carry out a six session residency which will take place over a period agreed by the participating school and writers. The purpose of this initiative is to give writers with little or no experience of delivering classroom projects the opportunity to work with a mentor with an established track record of working in schools, as well as developing good practice models for effective schools projects.
Application Deadline: Friday 5th February
Cost: Successful applicants will not have to pay for this opportunity and will be paid Live Literature Funding rates for the residency
Find out more http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/node/3761