Posts Tagged ‘christmas’

Things I Love Thursday #106: Christmas 2015 edition

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

For those of you who fancy a neb at my Christmas holiday…

Christmas 2015!
Early December, the tree goes up! I’m getting earlier and earlier every year. I just find winter so depressing, and a bit of sparkle helps a lot. (Die Hard on the TV, also.)

Christmas 2015!
The tree in daylight… this is about as tidy as my living room ever gets.

Christmas 2015!
Christmassy fireplace!

Christmas 2015!
We went to Keswick for our Christmas shopping this year, to support the recently flooded businesses. The Wild Strawberry (affectionately known locally as The Strawb) is open for business, and as excellent as ever!

Christmas 2015!

Christmas 2015!

Christmas 2015!
They may have been recently flooded, but Keswick’s shops still brought the Christmassy!

Christmas 2015!
If you’re ever in Keswick, get yourself to Treeby and Bolton’s cafe. (That is where I found this rather festive light.) Most massive cakes you’ve ever seen, I promise.

Christmas 2015!
I made mince pies. These have amaretto mincemeat and orange spiced pastry. I am very good at making mince pies taste nice, but I am terrible at making them not-ugly. Uniformity is NOT something I have mastered in baking, and is the reason I would be the first person voted off GBBO.

Christmas 2015!

Christmas 2015!

Christmas 2015!
This is what my Christmas Eve looked like. My parents know how to do Christmas!

Christmas 2015!
I hope everyone had as happy a Christmas as Benny (pictured!) and I did. Here’s to 2016!

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I wrote a book of poems! It’s called This changes things, and you can order it here!

You can now get more content from me — and help me pay the bills! — by supporting my Patreon. Get a monthly writing support pack for just $5 a month! It’s like buying me a pint.
You can also support me by checking out the many sweet and sparkly things at Edinburgh Vintage, my Etsy-based store for jewellery and small antiques.
If you just want to say hi, you can find me on Twitter, or email me via claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. You’ll get a fairly good sense of the kind of person I am by checking out my Tumblr.

Yet more reasons to Write Like A Grrrl!: January 2016 semester now booking…

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

Audre Lorde
(Photo credit)

You all know by now that I teach on the innovative and exciting all-female writing course Write Like A Grrrl!, right? We had such a good year in 2015… up here in Edinburgh I ran four semesters and every single one sold out, and things were much the same in London and Manchester, too. This summer we also cooked up our Next Step course, for women who’ve completed ‘original’ WLAG! and fancy a new challenge. (That has also gone pretty excellently.) A lot of words have been read and written and a lot of barriers-to-writing have been overcome; a lot of tea has been drunk and a lot of cake (I mean a lot) has been eaten. And now I’m ready to start all over again in 2016!

WLAG! Edinburgh begins its new semester on Monday 18th January, and places are already getting booked up. There’s only space for twelve women on each course, so I suggest you get moving! If you click through to the booking site, you’ll see that you have the option to pay a deposit now and the rest later. Or you can also buy a space on WLAG! Edinburgh for a friend for Christmas.

Now convinced yet? Here are some (honest-to-god totally real and undoctored — really!) very nice testimonials from women who completed the most recent WLAG! course in September 2015:

What was most useful? Checking in every week even if [our writing] didn’t go well. That block-by-block approach is really good. And I like that you don’t have to share work yet.

Do it! Amazing value for money, really great to have a space for writing every week in your life, and a brilliant support network. Claire is a great tutor. Plus, I like that it’s variable: it can work for you whether you have small or big goals for [your writing].

I would highly recommend WLAG! It’s a very friendly environment and a great motivation to just start writing. Before, I’d started losing focus with my writing, but now I feel confident to keep going!

It’s amazing being able to talk and share stuff with other women who have a lot of the same experiences, it’s been so productive. Definitely do it! I was totally new to creative writing before, and I had a bit of anxiety about being a bit of a fraud. But I’ve found everything to be so inclusive, totally without judgement, and so as a result I’ve been able to learn and develop — and most importantly, to actually start a writing habit. Also: Claire! Best ever.

It was useful hearing about what everyone is doing and that everyone faces common challenges — [writing] doesn’t come totally naturally to everyone and there is comfort in that. I feel optimistic, energised, and more knowledgeable now.

Join! I think it’s a great course, and unique in its approach to creative writing. There’s loads of practical and very helpful advice to apply to existing work, as well as helping to generate new ideas.

Absolutely do it! Claire is a brilliant, inspiring, encouraging tutor. In only 6 weeks, I feel that my confidence has really increased. The things I’ve learned have made me feel excited about taking on my next project(s)!

What more do you need? Get over there and book already! All women — and I mean all women — are welcome!

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You can now get more content from me — and help me pay the bills! — by supporting my Patreon. Get a monthly writing support pack for just $5 a month! It’s like buying me a pint.
You can also support me by checking out the many sweet and sparkly things at Edinburgh Vintage, my Etsy-based store for jewellery and small antiques.
If you just want to say hi, you can find me on Twitter, or email me via claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. You’ll get a fairly good sense of the kind of person I am by checking out my Tumblr.

Edinburgh Vintage Christmas gift guide.. and Black Friday extended sale!

Saturday, November 28th, 2015

Hey friends!

If you haven’t noticed by now that I run a small business, then I strongly suspect you’ve been secretly living on the moon. Being a writer is great and all, but I am a firm believer that no self employed girl should be without a healthy side-business. Mine is Edinburgh Vintage, a small-but-perfectly-formed online shop that supplies vintage and antique jewellery and collectables to suit just about every taste.

I hate to tell you this, but it’s nearly December, which means that if you haven’t yet started your Christmas shopping, you should at least be planning it! And it just so happens that I am having an extended BLACK FRIDAY SALE (I know, like everyone in the world) over at Edinburgh Vintage. You get 20% off if you use the code SPARKLYTHINGS at checkout.

Here are just a few of the goodies on offer in the Edinburgh Vintage store:

Christmas gift ideas at Edinburgh Vintage
Everyone likes coffee, right? Writers certainly do. This coffee bean pendant is hallmarked sterling silver and, I reckon, a good unisex gift.

Christmas gift ideas at Edinburgh Vintage
Or, if you’re after something a little more classy, you could go for this art deco style pendant, which is also hallmarked sterling silver, and inlaid with three colours of amber, and a little triangle of Whitby jet.

Christmas gift ideas at Edinburgh Vintage
This wee daisy ring is hallmarked sterling silver too, and inlaid with faceted amethysts.

Christmas gift ideas at Edinburgh Vintage
Everyone needs a sterling silver charm bracelet: it’s a classic jewellery staple. I have a couple in the shop at the moment, but this one’s a particularly nice example.

Christmas gift ideas at Edinburgh Vintage
And of course, once you’ve got the jewellery, you need to keep it tidy! Here’s a kitty

Christmas gift ideas at Edinburgh Vintage
…or you could go for an elegant swan.

Christmas gift ideas at Edinburgh Vintage
Maybe you’re more of an earrings person?

Christmas gift ideas at Edinburgh Vintage
Or a sparkly brooch person? (Who isn’t a sparkly brooch person?)

Christmas gift ideas at Edinburgh Vintage
I’m rather in love with the selection of cross stitch pieces I have in at the moment. They include this black one

Christmas gift ideas at Edinburgh Vintage
…and this little tiny gold one.

Christmas gift ideas at Edinburgh Vintage
Or for something completely different: something to keep your mince pies in?

Christmas gift ideas at Edinburgh Vintage
Another one for the cat fans! (Sterling silver, natch!)

Christmas gift ideas at Edinburgh Vintage
…and again!

Christmas gift ideas at Edinburgh Vintage
…and again! (These are Italian hand-painted terracotta!)

Christmas gift ideas at Edinburgh Vintage
Maybe you like the whole earring thing, but you need clip-ons? I have plenty of those, too!

Christmas gift ideas at Edinburgh Vintage
Also clip ons, but with a bit more Christmas sparkle!

Christmas gift ideas at Edinburgh Vintage
Or a little something nautical? This tiny pin can also be converted into a pendant!

Christmas gift ideas at Edinburgh Vintage
I just really like this little commitment ring.

Christmas gift ideas at Edinburgh Vintage
And everyone needs a good show-stopper of a sparkly brooch at Christmas!

Happy shopping! And remember to use SPARKLYTHINGS at checkout!

(Slightly early) Things I Love Thursday #101: Christmas edition!

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

Christmas 2014 begins...

Christmas 2014 begins...

Christmas 2014 begins...

Christmas Eve 2014

Christmas Eve 2014

Christmas 2014 begins...

Christmas 2014 begins...

Christmas 2014 begins...

Christmas 2014 begins...

Christmas 2014 begins...

Christmas 2014 begins...

A sprinkling...

My Christmas tree 2014!

Christmas gift ideas...

Christmas gift ideas...

Christmas Eve 2014

Christmas Eve 2014

Christmas Eve 2014

Christmas Eve 2014

Christmas Eve 2014

Hand-painted Christmas baubles made by my talented wee sister at RockPaperLizard.
Dancing ladies Christmas card made by Laura Mossop (of ONS banner fame!)

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Have a great Christmas!

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Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Procrastination Station #138

Friday, December 5th, 2014

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IMPORTANT THINGS OF THE WEEK:

One: I am running an all-female fiction writing course and if you’re a self-identifying woman, I want you to come along! You can get all the details here, and sign up here.

Two: Tomorrow is UK Small Business Saturday. Please support small businesses by giving them some of your Christmas shopping custom! Related: I have a small business. I am also having a pre-Christmas sale right now!

Three: I am reposting this Danez Smith poem, because it is important. Really important.

OK, here’s the rest…

If the rhythm of your prose is broken, read poetry.

…and nine other very smart pieces of advice from Hilary Mantel.

Hey! The great Ryan Van Winkle is teaching an online poetry course and it looks great!

Bad reasons to start writing poetry. (Wait, there are good reasons?)

Sometimes I’ll literally turn my face away from the keyboard as I type, trying to access my unconscious a little more. Like if I don’t look, I can fool it into coming out of its cave.

Kim Addonizio is still the best.

Scottish Book Trust has called for every child in Scotland to have a library card. Proud to be a SBT staff member!

Looking for somewhere to submit your short fiction? Look no further.

Paddington stows away and deliberately avoids the immigration authorities on arrival. He is in formal legal terms an illegal entrant and as such commits a criminal offence under section 24 of the Immigration Act 1971. It is an offence punishable by up to six months in prison. If or when detected by the authorities it is more likely he would simply be removed back to Peru than that he would be prosecuted, though.

Paddington Bear: illegal entrant. Read this, it is important.

Did you write a love letter to a library for Book Week Scotland? You still can!

This is a lovely tribute to the great writer and activist Leslie Feinberg… and here is another one.

Yes, more people will buy the new Coldplay album than will read Kathleen Jamie’s next collection. Yes, poetry will remain a passion for a relatively small portion of the population. I also know that poetry is the great survivor, the Keith Richards of the arts. It was there at the dawn of civilisation – it has to be a toss-up between poetry, music or painting for what was the first art form early man took up – and it will be there at the end. When there are only a few humans left sitting around a campfire, they will amuse themselves with rhymes and word games, for poetry only needs a voice, not even a pen and piece of paper. I find this apocalyptic vision weirdly comforting.

Here’s Be The First To Like This editor Colin Waters saying very smart things.

Really weird ways to promote your book.

Bim Adewunmi’s Crush Of The Week is Quvenzhane Wallis, because she is basically the best human.

When black people are protesting in Ferguson and across America, they’re not protesting against white people. Maybe this seems obvious, but it’s worth stating. In fact, in the case of Ferguson, the protests weren’t (primarily) about one white cop. Black communities are ultimately protesting systems of injustice and inequality that structurally help white people while systematically harming black people. Just because you’re white and therefore generally benefit from those systems doesn’t mean you inherently support those systems — or need to defend them.

Because some people need to have the obvious stated at them in order to understand Ferguson.

The body acceptance community is still too focussed on “pretty.” < -- this is really great.

Movie posters made better by Mark Kermode quotes is also rather excellent.

In case you scrolled past the last video, here’s another poem by Danez Smith. F*cking watch it.

Sorry not sorry: I love Larkin. Check this out.

Here - Philip Larkin (HD) from Classlane Media on Vimeo.

This is from that Paddington article. Watch, then share. Care about this, I beg you.

29 November 2014: Detainees Protest at Campsfield House IRC from Standoff Films on Vimeo.

& finally, here’s Key & Peele ripping it out of that gross “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” song!

Have a great weekend!

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Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

ONS Featured Magazines: Amelia’s Magazine

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

amelia's magazine
(Photo credit)

What is it?

Amelia’s Magazine was printed biannually for 5 years from 2004-2009 across 10 issues, but it is now an online publication described as “the place to come for exclusive articles on the best underground creative projects in the worlds of art, fashion, music, illustration, photography, craft and design.” Amelia is a passionate promoter of all things creative and has been working for ten years to bring brilliant, original content to both print media and the interwebs.

Why feature it?

We’re rapidly approaching the 10-year anniversary of the creation of Amelia’s Magazine. And to mark this auspicious occasion, founder Amelia Gregory wants to do something super special. Enter the Amelia’s Magazine Kickstarter: an exciting campaign to produce a truly beautiful, ambitious and one of a kind print book featuring artworks, writing and, well… magic. Here’s the campaign video to give you a taste:

Why should I back this?

OK, for one, it’s going to be an amazingly beautiful book and I know that I, for one, want to have one of these babies on my bookshelf. Two, for your money you get to help create a publication that will promote the work of artists and writers at every stage of their careers — and a linked three, you’ll get to discover many brand new exciting names you might not otherwise have come across. Four, Christmas is a-comin’ and if you’re anything like me you know about a million people who’d just love to have something like this to unwrap when Santa visits them. And a not-unimportant five, if this book comes into being, it will contain at least one of my poems! Is that in itself not reason enough? *pauses to buff nails*

What should I pledge?

I am a great believer that no individual should ever feel pressured into giving up their money, so you should give whatever you can afford to give. It might be that that is not money: if you’re trying to choose between backing this Kickstarter and making sure you pay rent this month, then stop trying! However, if you can’t afford to give you can still support Amelia and her amazing book by sharing the campaign on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or any of your other networks.
If you can afford to give, then hooray! You should definitely check out the rewards Amelia is offering for the various pledge options. I was blown away by how generous they are — your average Kickstarter-er is far too keen to offer only symbolic rewards, in my humble opinion! Amelia’s are far from that: for a mere £20, for example, you get a free copy of the book delivered to your door before Christmas!

How can I find out more?

First and foremost, watch the video and read the information on the Kickstarter page. But also, make sure you check out the project’s hashtag, #TWWDNU (that which we do not understand, the theme of the book). On that hashtag you can get a sneak peek at some of the amazing work being produced by visual artists to help make this publication extra-specially-gorgeous. You can also use the hashtag to spread the word about why people should pledge to back this great project.

So what are you waiting for! Go give!

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Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Things I Love Thursday #87: what I did on my holidays.

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

Cake dome + triple chocolate ganache truffle cupcakes (#whatveganseat)

1. Baked some tasty vegan treats.
The above cupcakes are triple chocolate ganache truffle cupcakes and yep, they’re totally vegan. Dark chocolate sponge with chocolate ganache in the middle, chocolate not-butter-not-cream frosting, and a Moo Free truffle added to the top for good measure! The rather beautiful cake dome was a Christmas present from the loveliest Lovely Boyfriend. Though it looks like a vintage one, it’s new, but it is made out of 100% recycled materials! Amazing gifting, methinks.

The aforementioned LB requested “a gigantic mince pie” for Christmas dinner dessert, so I duly made a full-size 9-inch diameter mince pie with rather delicious boozy mincemeat. I had some scrappy little bits of rolled shortcrust pastry left over, so I used them to make these: the world’s ugliest mince pies. They obviously still tasted great, though!

Ugly mince-pies I made from scraps of leftover pie crust.

2. Had some even tastier vegan treats made for me.

I think I may have already mentioned here that Lovely Boyfriend is the best vegan cook since Isa Chandra Moskowitz, yes? Well, over our winter holiday he’s had even more time than usual to cook up a storm, so my belly has been extremely happy. Lots of people have been curious about how the heck you even do Christmas as a vegan — the answer is, the same as everyone else. You eat lots and lots of extremely tasty stuff! This was our Christmas morning breakfast:

Christmas morning breakfast: scrambled mushroom tofu on a sesame bagel, and champagne :)

That’s Isa’s own tofu scramble with a Lovely Boyfriend twist: a Christmassy spice mix featuring lots of rosemary, and extra mushrooms. All on a sesame bagel and served with champagne, because Christmas.

I didn’t get a pic of our Christmas dinner because it seemed rude to be a food-snapping hipster blogger in front of our guests (also I was too keen to just SCOFF IT), but again we are indebted to The Great Isa. We had a version of this stuffed seitan roast, with a more traditional sage-and-onion type stuffing to make it more Christmassy. Plus all the usual roast potatoes and veg type stuff, and then my uber-mince-pie with vegan ice cream and these to finish. Delish!

3. Received many amazing gifts.

I couldn’t really do a gratitude post at this time of year without thanking everyone who bought me gifts over the festive period. Thank you, amazing people of my acquaintance, for giving me so many thoughtful, useful and beautiful things. I especially want to thank the folk (a lot of you this year!) who shopped local, supported small businesses like mine, bought secondhand, and/or made charitable donations in lieu of presents. You rock.

Everyone thought this would be a good gift for me!

I also love that so many people got me gifts that are so ‘me’. (This seems to happen a lot, so I hope that means I’m easy to buy for. Or perhaps I am just easily pleased!) This vintage typewriter calendar was clearly an obvious choice… and now I have one for home and one for work! Perfect!

4. Met the newest member of the family.

My parents have always been cat people. Seriously: their house is full of cat-related stuff. Cat mugs, cat ornaments, cat coasters, cat Christmas tree decorations… they really like cats. So they were devastated when their faithful furry friend Beatrice went to the great cattery in the sky back in 2012.

BENNEH.

After a period of mourning for “Little Bertie,” as she was affectionately known, I was extremely excited to hear that they’d decided to rescue a new fur-baby. World, meet Benny! He’s been part of the family for nearly three weeks now, and he’s a super cute, slightly eccentric TOTAL BABE. As you can see, he knows exactly how beautiful he is and loves having his photo taken.

My parents' new kitty, Benny!

Like me, he’s also a stove-worshipper. Smart kitty.

5. Bought a lot of books.

I know, I know, so what’s new? In short, I made the mistake of going to Bookcase Books in Carlisle while on my New Year travels.

Bookcase Books in Carlisle.  Place of dreams.

I’ve blogged about this place before. The bookshop occupies two big townhouses that have been knocked together, and there are books in every room, including the two basements and the huge attic. You can also buy the artwork, paintings and oddities (I found an antique book-press I so wanted) which are displayed in the various corridors and staircases. There are over thirty rooms full of books here. It’s AMAZING.

Bookcase Books in Carlisle.  Place of dreams.

Hours of book-browsing fun, and only an hour on the train from Edinburgh. Just sayin’!

6. Did a lot of plotting.

I love New Year, perhaps even more than I love Christmas (and I really love Christmas). I’m very good at saying “yes” to things and ending up super busy all the time, and very bad at pausing to take stock. So during that between-Christmas-and-going-back-to-work lull, I try to do as much mental stock-taking as I can.

Happy 2014!

There’s always a lot of journalling. This year, I’ve been reading posts like this and thinking about ways to make new year’s goals and resolutions (which I always make, regardless of how uncool everyone says it is) that are meaningful and will last. I prefer to set new year goals — a list of things to achieve — rather than make resolutions, because goal-setting feels way more positive than ’stop doing this thing you do because you like it,’ and ‘do more of this thing you don’t do because you hate it,’ etc. (For example, this year I’ve got ‘find a yoga class I like,’ rather than ‘do more yoga.’) But I have also committed to a couple of “higher resolutions” (the big stuff), which I hope to work on all year.

[One of them is: get better at being sociable. I am generally bad at making new friends, especially with women (this article, the part about rejection, rang so true with me). I have this assumption that most of the people who hang out with me only do it out of some masochistic form of politeness. I'm sure you'll all agree that that mindset is pretty toxic and needs to go. It's been with me a long time, but this is the year I intend to at least begin to cut that shit out. And the other big resolution is a secret for now, because I don't want to jinx it. If I manage to keep it, then all should be revealed in due course.]

Finally, I also use New Year as a time to think about the past year, and what I achieved. Every life coach/internet guru/mindfulness blogger and their dog is keen to point out that saying thank you for the good stuff in your life makes more good stuff happen. So that’s why I write Things I Love Thursday posts (still), and it’s also why every year I write a ‘in [year], I…’ post. Usually I have to go through my old diaries, Facebook updates, and blogposts to recall what I did. So much good stuff gets instantly forgotten and I’m always gobsmacked to revisit it… which is another reason why this process is useful.

If you haven’t done any 2014 plotting or 2013 revisiting yet, try it! The year is young! I highly recommend it.

What are YOU loving this week?

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Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Things I Love Thursday #86: Christmas in Edinburgh

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

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Happy holidays, all!

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Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Things I Love Thursday #74: Christmas & New Year edition

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Skelelove
While I was home for Christmas, I stayed in my sister’s room. Her interior decor is super cool!

Christmas times

Christmas times

Christmas times
My parents always decorate the house in a sweet, traditional way. The decorations are a big part of Christmas for me!

Christmas times

Christmas times

Christmas times

Colours!

Christmas times

Christmas times

Christmas times
My mum is a teddy bear collector — they’re perfect if you need a cuddle!

Happy New Year from One Night Stanzas!

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Things I Love Thursday #73

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Glitterowl

Sparkle.

Scruffy presents

Festive typewriters

Cute cards (thanks!)

Best self-portrait ever?

So happy I didn't sell this.

Vegan mince pies!

2012 journal... nearly done!

What are YOU loving this week?

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!