Archive for February, 2012

Where is Claire?

Monday, February 6th, 2012

10-Red

So although I promised myself at the New Year that I’d have a quiet year in terms of performing, it seems I’ve managed to get myself signed up for all manner of interesting literary shenanigans in the coming weeks. If you fancy coming to see me read poems, talk about poems and generally Witter About Stuff, here are the places to be…

10-RED, Wednesday 15th February, 19.00, The Persevere Function Room, Edinburgh. £3.00 entry.
10 RED is an evening of poetry in the beautiful Victorian Lounge of the Persevere Bar, Easter Road, Edinburgh. All the poets performing are published by Red Squirrel Press, who kindly published my pamphlet, The Mermaid and the Sailors, early last year. I’m hoping to try out some new material on a friendly crowd! Some great folk on the bill, too — worth coming along for McGuire alone! You can see a trailer for the event right here:

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“Making Poems, Writing Histories, Excavating Myths”: a lecture by Claire Askew for the Melrose Literary Society, Tuesday 21st February, 19.30, The Ormiston Institute, Melrose. £3.00 entry, non-members welcome.
The truly lovely people at the Melrose Literary Society have asked me to come and talk about my current research, and I am incredibly flattered, very excited and utterly terrified all at once. Come and hear me grapple with the question of Why We Write Poems, and investigate the ways in which poetry informs history, history informs myth and the two inform all kinds of creative writing. You’ll also get chance to ask me probing questions!

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Edinburgh Literary Death Match: March, Tuesday 27th March, 19.00, Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh. £5.00/£8.00 ticketed — get tickets here!
You’ve probably heard of the massive worldwide phenomenon that is Literary Death Match…? If not, get on it, because it’s a big deal! I’m super flattered to have been nominated (by the fabby @LynseyMay) and invited to perform at Edinburgh’s hippest literary outpost. The Voodoo Rooms is a gorgeous venue and I’m up against some serious talent… Gavin Inglis = legend! Grab your tickets, quick!

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Three Red Squirrel Poets at Trashed Organ’s “Belonging Fest” Opening Night, Monday 30th April, venue and time TBC, Newcastle
Details of this one are still TBC, but let’s just say it’s going to be good. Watch this space!

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Got an event you’d like me to read at? Talk about? Attend? Email me via claire @ onenightstanzas.com and tell me about it!

Procrastination Station #100: THE ALL-TIME BEST OF

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

100 with peeling paint

So yep — terrifyingly, I have managed to procrastinate my way to 100 whole posts of weird and wonderful blog links, Youtube videos and other internet flotsam over the course of my three-and-a-half years at the helm of One Night Stanzas. In recognition of this epic event, I decided to trawl through all 100 previous procrastination station posts, and bring you my pick of the best lovely links so far. Let the wwilfing commence!

I never did buy the waterproof notebook, but now I’ve remembered about it I sure am coveting it again!

“Few who believe in the potential of the Web deny the value of books. But they argue that it is unrealistic to expect all children to read “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “Pride and Prejudice” for fun. And those who prefer staring at a television or mashing buttons on a game console, they say, can still benefit from reading on the Internet. In fact, some literacy experts say that online reading skills will help children fare better when they begin looking for digital-age jobs.”

What effect does the Internet have on literacy rates? Will the web kill reading?

All-time favourite words from around the world.

Want a web/phone app that FORCES you to write? You got it!

“Although we all have stories to tell very few of us have a book worth writing in us. I am with John Milton when he argues in Areopagitica that “a good book is the precious life-blood of a master-spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life”. Very few of us are great poets.”

The old adage, “everyone has a book in them?” Not true.

A hilarious list of “ways to be cool.”

“Well, I like poetry that is amusing, that maybe makes me chuckle a little. I’d rather read something reassuring and light than something complicated or gloomy. Is that bad? Does that mean I am a jerk?”

Smart answers to some of the common, and really stupid, questions people ask about poetry.

Want to look up that poem you heard in a movie? Here’s your resource.

Not writing-related (except perhaps for the fact that the blogger misspelled “hilarious” in the post title!), but I greatly enjoyed revisiting these funny/creepy US church billboards.

A great series of interviews with poetry editors.

Altered books is a huge and beautiful vispo and book art resource. So is Fuck Yeah Book Arts!

I have a tattoo of one of these babies now, so it was cool to learn a little more about the ampersand.

“The cash registers were idle much of the time, but the [book]store was full, seemingly peopled by freeloaders sitting in chairs with stacks of books piled at their feet. What was appearent was that very few of those books would be purchased and the books in turn would be dog eared, bent , battered and otherwise made less than pristine. The staff, in turn, seemed as though they could give a flat fuck about the state of the store; sections were out of order. Vain as I am, I wanted to yell at someone.”

CHEAPSKATES AND DEADBEATS KILL BOOKSTORES! — & see some of the world’s coolest bookstores, in pictures.

Colour Me Katie has some sweet, simple rules for Living A Creative Lifealso in pictures!

How could I possibly exclude Gala from an epic link-love round up? One of my all-time favourites of hers was Very Definitely Not Dinner and a Movie.

Holy freaky book art, Batman!

“Certainly you may buck the conventions of the query letter if your work is too amazing/revolutionary/brilliant to be summarized. Why don’t you also try applying for jobs without a résumé, using only your psychic powers. Let us know how that works out for you.”

The ultimate, and I mean THE ULTIMATE take on submission guidelines, by the one and only Rejectionist.

I’m really bad for auto-apologising. I clearly need to re-read this article, on stuff you should never apologise for, and why.

I think I’m in love: a Flickr group devoted to the coolest customised Moleskines on the planet. Hipstertalent!

Ever wondered how a publisher goes about choosing the perfect covers for their about-to-be-published books?

DIY Pirateship Armada: PEOPLE ACTUALLY LIVE HERE. (I am jealous of them.)

“Inside my sheltering head: the sound of rustling green. Husband,
you are the riddle beneath which I dream blossoms and birds, but
when I wake, icicles hang from the eaves, the size of a man and twice as lethal.”

Here’s my favourite poet, being awesome.

Want a story on your shirt? A limited edition story, no less? Head to I Love Boxie.

HOT GUYS READING BOOKS. Enough said.

“We’re all practitioners of an art that doesn’t generally interest or impress the vast majority of people, and most of us will struggle to be heard, read, enjoyed and make a living out of our art. It is therefore quite darkly hilarious that many poets do not read other poets work, and nor do many performance poets attend performance poetry events.”

Jenny Lindsay is fabzilliant in this guest post at LumpInTheThroat, about the “divide” between page and stage.

What happens when bad men are also great writers.

Neil Gaiman’s assistant tells you the 10 Things you should never send to your favourite writer (no matter how obsessively you love them).

Think you can’t fight crime? Try making your damn bed!

How to be the most annoying author ever and why dating a writer really isn’t all that cool.

“Someone wants to kiss you, to hold you, to make tea for you. Someone is willing to lend you money, wants to know what your favourite food is, and treat you to a movie. Someone in your orbit has something immensely valuable to give you — for free.”

I’m not normally into all this self-help type stuff, but the Manifesto of Encouragement is pretty darned encouraging!

You’ve got to love Hark! A Vagrant!. It’s like, the law.

“You think I’m stupid. You think I’m immature. You think I’m a malformed, pathetic excuse for a font. Well think again, nerdhole, because I’m Comic Sans, and I’m the best thing to happen to typography since Johannes fucking Gutenberg.”

Comic Sans speaks out at McSweeneys

A really interesting blog about the difficulty of being a self-promoting artist.

Hey, remember Jacqueline Howett and her comment rage?!

Writing a female character? Use this flowchart!

“Some blind date has persuaded you to go to a poetry slam. On the stage you see people shouting horrifying personal and global traumas with lines like “And I wonder / if George Bush was a woman / would he still let his Dick / do most of his thinking?” A valid question, but it is not the type of ambience that leads to a second date.”

Why everyone hates poetry.

My favourite webcomic strip of all time, I think.

Photos of female writers looking awesome in spite of these disturbing publishing trends.

Typewriter p0rn!

“”Oh, yes. That. Well, the sperm comes out of the man’s penis and it goes into the woman’s vagina. This happens when the two do what’s called, ‘have sex’. And that’s where the egg – there’s usually only one in the woman’s pond at a time – gets fertilised.” Only after the fact did I realise that I had said the words penis and vagina and sex in a strained, sotto voce tone. This was also something my own mother would have done.”
When The Birds and The Bees Talk gets out of control…

Photos of great writers at their typewriters!

Who doesn’t want to see great writers go head to head in a war of words?

“A student said to me yesterday, “I didn’t know professors could have long hair.” I said, “They can. If you do something well, people won’t bother you. That’s true in all professions. If you are the one guy who can fix the computers, you can keep a boa constrictor in your office. No one will say a thing.” His eyes flashed. Possibly he “went over to the dark side”… or something. I felt happy for 11 seconds.”
I still think about this article a lot: on teaching creative writing.

So… why do we all want to be ‘well read’ anyway?

Writing an application for an MFA? Some crucial dos and don’ts.

“If a customer tells me she’s looking for a book by a man and there’s a girl in it but she can’t remember the author or the title, I give her Lolita. If she’s looking for “that popular book about the animals”: Animal Farm. “That controversial book my book club is reading”: The Autobiography of Malcolm X. “The book with a red cover and the word ‘the’ in the title”: The Joy of Sex. I’m a bookseller, not a magician. My dark-framed glasses and skinny jeans possess only so much magic.
If you read nothing else from this post, read Bookseller I Would Like To F***.

So funny. So cringe-y. So true. The Ultimate Celebrity Interview.

25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing Right Fucking Now.

I loved this so much at the time and rediscovering it was a joy! Serious patience and craftsmanship right here:

Basically the most bad-ass bloke ever right here:

My favourite Lady Gaga song. For reals.

My little sister is megatalented.

I SO HEART GEORGE WATSKY.

My favourite short film of all time. (+ an amazing soundtrack!)

Wizard Smoke from Salazar on Vimeo.

Watch. Be amused.

Edinburgh’s hippest cyclist.

Sweet song, and the cutest music video ever.

It’s terrible, but you kind of have to love it.

What he said.

“I’m going to write smart things about Death in Literature.”

Shakespeare vs Dr Seuss (OMG Watsky <3)

Phew! Here’s to the next 100. Have a great weekend!

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One Night Stanzas loves mail. Say hello via claire@onenightstanzas.com. NB: I am physically unable to reply to non-urgent stuff unless I have a free afternoon and a cup of tea in my hand. Please be patient!

(Photo credit)

Things I Love Thursday #54

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Last nights beautiful special dinner at David Bann. BTW I've had better

Stuff I love this week.

Lovely Boyfriend getting old
Last weekend, Lovely Boyfriend turned 27 whole years old, which gave me an excellent excuse to turn the whole weekend into one long parade of cool stuff. I spent my Friday off building a birthday tent in the living room, for example: LB and I have a long-running joke/tradition of tent-building indoors after I scoffed at the idea of winter camping and flatly stated that the only way he’d ever get me to sleep in a tent between the months of November and April would be to build said tent inside my flat. This tent was built in the middle of the living room and was festooned with balloons, bunting and fairy lights and filled with presents. It was an excellent venue for cake-eating and movie watching, and I was pretty sad to finally take it down on Tuesday morning. I was also brave enough to cook LB, an accomplished chef, a fancy dinner on Friday night, and miraculously I managed even the choux pastry without a hitch!
The rest of the weekend was spent taking in some heavy-duty bookshopping; the newly-revamped National Portrait Gallery; cupcakes from Bibi’s; a screening of the fantastic “Apart Together“, followed by a somewhat awkward audience discussion!; bento boxes and veggie sushi at Tang’s; Sunday brunch at the nom-tastic veggie heaven that is David Bann’s (pictured); a mega West Wing marathon (we’re well into series four and I’m slowly changing my mind about Amy Gardner!); and pints and craic at the Brew Dog Bar. What presents did I buy him? Among them were a tea-and-chocolate hamper from the world famous Betty’s, the super fabulous Middle Eastern veggie cookbook Veggiestan, Four Tales by Philip Pullman and a signed copy of Alasdair Gray’s Collected Verse. I know, I know — he’s a lucky boy.

Gifts from the Universe.
After the ups and downs of 2011, I was in need of a boost at the start of the new year — some kind of omen to suggest that maybe in 2012 things were going to get a bit better. And holy cow, did January knock my socks off in terms of positive goings-on! At the start of the new year, my poem Male Privilege won the Mookychick 2011 FemFlash contest, which handed me a few very-handy-indeed post-Christmas quids, as well as a subscription to the frickin’ excellent BUST Magazine. I was approched from all sides to read my work at all manner of cool literary later-this-year events, including March’s Literary Death Match Edinburgh and Trashed Organ’s forthcoming Belonging Fest. After a handy nudge from a super-cool Edinburgh feminist and live literature promoter (you know who you are), I started proper plans for a mega-exciting poetry event to celebrate International Women’s Day (more info soon). Towards the end of the month received a very lovely acceptance email from Popshot, which is pretty much my all-time favourite literary journal (even more so now!), to say one of the poems I sent them had been picked from over 3,000 submissions to grace the pages of their “Power” issue, out in April (squee!). Finally, just as January was drawing to a close, I received some hyper-exciting but still-top-secret writing-related news that just dropped a perfect, shiny cherry on the top of the whole Excellent January sundae (I’ll tell all soon, promise!). I’m also ahead of schedule with my PhD thesis and, for now, my supervisor seems pretty happy with me. Thanks, January! February: bring it on!

Honourable mentions:
Vaclav & Lena by Haley Tanner — such a sweet, sad, happy, wonderful, original first novel. Read it, everyone. // Book-buying sprees with Lovely Boyfriend — so much new poetry to consume! // Talking with baby-boomers about how their generation made the best pop music ever // Getting my teeth into this semester’s new classes // TED Talks — the greatest classroom resource of all time, bar none // Twitfolk, and their hilarious, aggravating, oh-so-useful fabulousness // Oulipo — look out, poetry, this is about to be My New Thing // Lie-ins, early nights, naps, and all manner of excellent natural sleep! // Croissants // This song.

What are you loving this week?

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One Night Stanzas loves mail. Say hello via claire@onenightstanzas.com. NB: I am physically unable to reply to non-urgent stuff unless I have a free afternoon and a cup of tea in my hand. Please be patient!

(Photo credit)