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Showing posts from March, 2017

Starting again by Valerie Bird

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Spring: N M Browne

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‘APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain.’
I never used to agree with old TS Eliot. As a young woman, I never thought April  cruel. I was largely an optimist, given to romantic melancholy but nothing worse. As an older woman and a writer, I would concede that all that bursting and budding could leave a writer feeling uncreative and inadequate.  But then pretty well anything can make a writer feel uncreative and inadequate in my experience.     This year though, as March fades and Brexit is triggered, the prospect of April is disturbing; I can see cruelty in its false promise. With Trump in the White House, sunshine and daffodils reminds me of the opening shots of a disaster movie, the beautiful before. I can almost hear the elegaic music, the lingering, loving camera shots before a tidal wave, or a nuclear winter destroys the lot. I should  come clean and confess that  I am still editing an old  pos…

Terrorism, Alien Gender Issues and Unbound, by Enid Richemont.

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I am starting my blog on the day after the terrorist attack in Westminster, once more full of thoughts about life, death and the little deities we invent in order to make sense of our existence on this small planet. The guy who did this clearly thought his life was worth sacrificing in order to murder a few of the people he imagined were offending his god by not actually believing in him (although the latest evidence suggests that he actually enjoyed hurting people regardless of their beliefs or lack of them, and had already been banged up for GBH.)
      It seems to me, however, that if you're a real god, one who'd actually created universes etc etc, you'd be somewhat above being offended by the manners of mere mortals. But then, gods need believers, otherwise, like Peter Pan's fairies, they might cease to exist (cf Terry Pratchett's "SMALL GODS")  Mr Pratchett, regrettably no longer with us, always got these things quite uncomforably, but always amusingl…

Attending the LBF on Twitter - Andrew Crofts

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This year I decided to stay home and follow the London Book Fair on Twitter.
I can’t remember when I first attended the show. It could be as long as thirty years ago. Then it seemed impossibly daunting. So many thousands of books being promoted, none of them by me; so many people who all seemed to know each other well enough to air-kiss or hold intense meetings.
I wandered the aisles downstairs among the publishers for hours and then bluffed my way past the guards upstairs to wander among the agents as they haggled over foreign rights, overwhelmed by the enormity of it all.


Authors were not expected to attend in those days, so at least I had rarity on my side, but no one really wanted to talk to me either, fearful that I might pitch an idea or ask what had happened to my outstanding royalties.
Once I became more established and had relationships with half a dozen agents and half a dozen publishers, the experience became less overwhelming. I actually had meetings to attend and somet…

For Derek Walcott, from Chicago by Dipika Mukherjee

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On June 6, 2013, the Poetry Foundation in Chicago hosted the Chicago segment of the Poetry Society of America's 2013 national series, Yet Do I Marvel: Black Iconic Poets of the Twentieth Century. I spoke about Derek Walcott's poetry influencing my own creativity.


I chose to speak about Derek Walcott, for Chicago is as much home to me as is Kuala Lumpur and New Delhi, so I chose Walcott, another nomad poet, who writes about exile and politics and a post-colonial identity in a voice resonant with many languages. He claims the brilliance of a monsoon sky while in the bonechilling winds of an American winter. Although Walcott is of a generation earlier than mine his concerns remain relevant to the generation that comes after me. The world still remains divided by wars, endangered by racial violence and religious distrust...and still, driven by greed.

There were years when I could not write creatively at all...except for poetry. In my twenties, as a young mother of two little boys, …

The Pain of Titles by Susan Price

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Over the past year I've been trying - with a satisfying amount of success - to make my garden more attractive to wildlife. By which I mean birds, frogs, newts, that sort of wild life and not certain friends. (Apologies for the photo's poor quality - new camera that I've not got the hang of yet.) 
     Chatting recently to my agent about the possibility of selling a non-fiction book, I happened to mention this. My agent was interested. A non-fiction book for children on the how and why of 'creating a wild-life garden.' She could get behind a book like that.
     Ah, but what to call it? It's one of the banes of a writer's existence that books and articles have to have titles.
       I started the book with the working title 'Why You Should Make a Wildlife Garden.' But this very blog's own Karen Bush strongly objected to this on the grounds that it sounded so boringly educational and worthy that it would be avoided by all. She suggested, 'Go…

Roads less taken, Jo Carroll

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I'm home from Malawi, and have begun the process of teasing stories out of the scribbles in my notebooks. For there are stories - of generous, welcoming people who spend three rainy months of the year working their socks off to grow food, and the rest of the time eking out whatever they have grown. There are stories of people starting schools under trees. There are stories of people trying to provide health care with no running water. There are stories off illegal logging and people trying to plant new trees. There are stories of aid agencies, with their baseline studies and conferences. There are stories of lions and hippos and fish eagles.

So you can see why I might be struggling to shape this into some sort of coherence that can hold together in a narrative. Bear with me, I'll get there.

Meanwhile, I think these three pictures illustrate something of my dilemmas.





This is the M1, previously known as the Great North Road. It is the main road north from Lilongwe, the capital.…

No Laughing Matter by Lev Butts

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I generally try to stay out of politics on this blog as much as possible. I do enough ranting and raving on my private Facebook page that, to be fair, if the current administration was actually enforcing a pogrom on political dissidents, I'd already be calling dibs on the top bunk of a FEMA camp/artist "colony."

However, after last week's release of Trump's budget proposal, especially it's elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, I feel like I need to speak up.

It's not even that I am surprised a conservative president wants to cut resources for these two programs, as far as I can tell, every conservative president since the programs were enacted fifty years ago has wanted to restrict their funding out of some kind of belief that supporting the arts does not add much to the country's benefit. I would point out, however, that the word "much" still allows some benefit, possibly why even…

On being a CLANGER, Ali Bacon tries out a new method of work-life balance

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Not too long after my last grumble about combining writing and staying sane,  I came across a newspaper  article which I thought provided a useful model for day-to-day living, one that sounded sensible, achievable, and isn’t attached to one particular philosophy (or perish the thought, product).

The main tenets of this are: Connect, Learn, be Active, take Notice, Give back – with the handy acronym of CLANG. Even better, if you add Eat Well, Relax and Sleep it becomes CLANGERS. What’s not to like about that? I’ve since found the same ideas on a number of NHS websites so it looks like a well-known combination. But how easy is it to put into practice? On a recent Friday (which for me starts with an exercise class so A is taken care of) I decided to see how many I could manage.  
C is for Connect with people.
Well you could say that connection online is all to easy and although it can prevent loneliness it can have other bad effects. And so after my Friday morning Zumba Gold, rather than ta…