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Showing posts from May, 2009

A never ending appreciation of the Bard

Having no choice now but to admit the presence of the black dog of depression which had been sat in the distance for some time but is now at my heels, not yet biting but there nonetheless, I turned again to the things that usually give me so much joy - the humanities - despite not being able to concentrate at full capacity and feeling like I've lost part of my memory (fog-brained) - I turn to poetry. Some studies claim that reading poetry every day is just as effective as an anti-depressant. I cannot agree, although can appreciate a tiny relief in the moment I am able to absorb a full kernel of emotion from a sentence that can often be akin to getting, in one hit, the whole poignant story of a novel length work.

However, nothing can really match the first time I read that most famous of all Shakespearean soliloquies - To be or not to be - and just being absolutely overwhelmed with sadness and joy and actually crying. Melodramatic, I know, but that's how it was. And ever since …

Salt Publishing

Here's a message from Salt Publishing:

As many of you will know, Jen and I have been struggling to keep Salt moving since June last year when the economic downturn began to affect our press. Our three year funding ends this year: we've £4,000 due from Arts Council England in a final payment, but cannot apply through Grants for the Arts for further funding for Salt's operations. Spring sales were down nearly 80% on the previous year, and despite April's much improved trading, the past twelve months has left us with a budget deficit of over £55,000. It's proving to be a very big hole and we're having to take some drastic measures to save our business.

Here's how you can help us to save Salt and all our work with hundreds of authors around the world.

JUST ONE BOOK

1. Please buy just one book, right now. We don't mind from where, you can buy it from us or from Amazon, your local shop or megastore, online or offline. If you buy just one book now, you'll help…

Frying over writers mistreatment

Stephen Fry, so-called national institution and clever clogs, has been getting on my nerves recently, especially when asked (why he was asked god only knows!) what he thought of the MP expense fiasco. He said that he couldn't see what all the fuss was about, don't we all fiddle our expenses. Either he has remained totally oblivious of the scale of the expense fiddle - what's a moat here or there - or he thinks we are still in some eighteenth century thiefdom. However, that aside, he is now in Stage commenting on something more fitting to what he actually does - write. He claims that writers are often treated like an inconvenience by most producers and directors. It brings to mind Matthew Hall's article in one of the Sundays, which was commented upon in this blog at the time. What's to do? Who knows. Most writers I know would enter into a Faustian pact just to get their work 'out there', and would consider it a blessing just to be treated as an 'inconven…

Ruth Padel - Oxford Poetry Professor... and?

So, in what had become a bitter contest for the position of Oxford Professor of Poetry, Ruth Padel was yesterday honoured with the title - the first female in its three hundred and odd year history. Quite a year then for women poets, what with Carol Ann Duffy our new Poet Laureate, also the first woman to have held the title. Derek Walcott had eventually pulled out of the race for what is described as the second most powerful poetry position after that of Laureate. Seems many could not bear the thought of Walcott being in such an esteemed position with a, it seems, long history of propositioning female students. But this is hardly new. Many other male academics are known to have done this, or do this currently, yet no hoo-haa there. It leads me to believe that there could well be something more amiss when it comes to Walcott, or that he simply fires up more animosity than most. Hopefully Padel and Duffy will proposition a few themselves. Or not. Actually, I'm writing this and thin…

Reading...

Having picked up her name a couple of times in the past week from different sources I took F.M. Mayor's rather twee sounding 'The Rector's Daughter' out of the library this afternoon. It seems she's one of those lost classic types, if Susan Hill, in her introduction to this Penguin Classic is to be believed. Mayor was originally published by Virginia and Leonard Woolf's Hogarth Press. I'm still reading Tristram Hunt's biog of Engels - which has had quite a few reviews this past week. Yet this week's Guardian Review was awash with the reviews of paperbacks of whose hardbacks they had already more than amply covered. It's my old complaint of the usual groups of novels getting ample review space first in hardback then in paperback, thus giving them two very large bites of the cherry, which doesn't make for a very democratic critical coverage system, nor, in fact, for a very interesting literary section - after all, what regular reader wants to …