Friday, 28 June 2013

Hooray for booksellers; Summer reading

It's Independent Booksellers Week #IBW2013 beginning this Saturday.  I am sure all book lovers  would like to assist the Booksellers Association with their campaign to get more customers supporting booksellers that have a high-street presence. 73 bookshops closed last year and Booksellers Association members declined to 1,028 in 2012.

The Summer Reading Challenge launches on 13th July and reaches 750,000 children. This year’s theme is “Creepy House” and participants are encouraged to read six books over their summer holidays. Please mention it on your blogs, websites, and at school-visits encourage pupils and teachers to go and participate. There is a great website which helps children choose their books - see here and also if that's easier to remember.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Poetry of Place

the necessity

or inevitableness

of verse

The critic T E Hulme argued in 1908 that the aim of the modern poet is “to fix an impression”. In his own case, he said, “the first time I ever felt the necessity or inevitableness of verse, was in the desire to reproduce the peculiar quality of feeling which is induced by the flat spaces and wide horizons of the virgin prairie of western Canada”.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Russian publishing: can it be true?

In the current issue of The Author, Scott Turow, President of the US Authors Guild writes:

'Last October, I visited Moscow and met with a group of authors who described the sad fate of writing as a livelihood in Russia today.  They said there is only one physical publisher left, and that ebooks are savaged by rampant and instantaneous piracy that goes almost completely unpoliced.  In the country of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Pushkin and Chekhov, few Russians - let alone any Westerner - could name a contemporary Russian author whose work regularly enters the national conversation.  The Framers of the US Constitution had it right. Soviet-style repression is not necessary to diminish  the audience and influence of a nation's authors. Just devalue their copyrights.'





Monday, 10 June 2013

Creative non-fiction with Stuart Kelly

Variations on a cowardly lion?
Stuart Kelly gave a class in creative non-fiction last Friday (June 7th) to a room in Castle Douglas full of eager former journalists, copy-writers and poets. Stuart  - who paid tribute yesterday on BBC TV Scotland to Ian Banks - has written two well received books himself, on Walter Scott and Lost Books. Kelly's 'Scott-Land' explains how Walter Scott invented the myth of modern Scotland as well as inspiring half of Europe's writers and many an opera. As an exercise, Kelly recommended looking at the story of - say - the Wizard of Oz, and trying out different ways of starting the narrative. He split us into pairs and together we had to come up with ideas. My partner and I suggested starting the story with the birth of the cowardly Lion and explaining how he came to be so fearful in the first place. We then suggested that in our new story the Cowardly Lion may turn out to be related to Disney's Lion King, Simba - in other words a potential spin-off or miscegeny between two fictional stories. It's the way you tell 'em!