Certainly the PBS still loves it some authoritative dude poetry. I helped out with a criticism workshop the other day and we were discussing a review of Harsent by Michael Hulse, which started out by listing Harsent’s achievements and using words like ‘magisterial’, ‘masterful’, ‘universal’. One of the other folks said she didn’t feel like there was room for the reader to make their own decisions… That’s kind of what I mean when I talk about the ‘aggrandising’ stuff; when the poet’s so big there’s no room for the reader. Why bother having readers when you’ve already decided how you are going to be read? It’s dull and usually comes bearing nostalgia for the time of Great Men. Which is fine if you’re in a position to be a Great Man.
The new Scottish Book Trust public participation campaign is now open! The theme is “Journeys” — send SBT your journey-related story and it could end up in a book!
Check out these cheeky book “recommendations” from mischevious Waterstones staff!
I’ve always wanted to belong to the city of ideas, and it seems to me that membership of such a city is often incompatible with the other kinds of membership on offer along the way. Choices, or compromises, have to be made, and I find myself more and more inclined to say no to some invitations as a way of saying yes to to something closer to that ideal. I found it liberating to refuse both the Poet Laureate’s invitation to write a poem for the Queen’s Jubilee in 2012, and the Poetry Book Society’s attempt to include me in its Next Generation promotion of emerging poets this year. It’s not that I don’t want to be read, or that I object on principal to the business of actively seeking a readership. The question is one of context—do I feel happy in those groupings, in those lights? Do I want to be marketed as “young” and “new” and “sanctioned by”? Am I prepared to curtsey to the Queen, figuratively or otherwise? Do these things, these appointments, sit well with the actual poems I’m writing?
I both do and do not agree with Ms Trollope here. Discuss.
Related: In case you’re feeling depressed about the fact that one of the Scottish Children’s Book Awards was just won by a 21 year old (a deserving one — well done Alex McCall!) here’s a list of twelve authors who weren’t published til later in life.
People who complain that creative writing courses produce relatively few writers don’t complain that history degrees produce few historians, that music schools produce relatively few world renowned soloists, that art departments don’t necessarily produce a lot of major artists. I spent 16 years in schools teaching art. Are people asking how many of those are ‘great’ artists now? I sincerely can’t see why writing is different from any other art.
So that guy wrote that article about Creative Writing MFAs, which I [largely] totally and utterly agreed with… but I agreed even more with George Szirtes’ response. (I’m contrary like that.)
OMFG, Kindle Cover Disasters is… amazing.
Of writing itself, Rilke wrote: “Depict your sorrows and desires, your passing thoughts and beliefs in some kind of beauty—depict all that with heartfelt, quiet, humble sincerity; and use to express yourself the things that surround you, the images of your dreams and the objects of your memory. If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for to the creator there is no poverty and no poor or unimportant place.” All writers know this problem. A poor workman blames his tools, and we have only two: language and experience.
This essay on Rilke and ‘writing from the middle of things’ is pretty excellent.
Have you read Barthes’ Death of the Author? Here’s a pretty cool discussion on it.
Calisthenics for writers is pretty hilarious…
Your Chicken Leg Hut Performance Art will explore the idea that women can never win when it comes to their appearance; in a culture of pervasive misogyny, there will always be something “wrong” with how a woman looks. It will also ask its viewers to examine their own internal biases with regards to the objectification of women. Divorced of their context, are the chicken legs simply things? Or are they body parts deserving of love and respect? Remember that there are no right answers to these questions.
Plus you will be running around like the fucking boss of the forest in your hut on legs.
Feminist advice from Baba Yaga is pretty excellent.
You really ought to read these extracts from Citizen: An American Lyric, by Claudia Rankine, which just won a National Book Critics Circle Award.
Do you say “in a weird way”? Do you know why you say it?
It’s critical to understand that this isn’t censorship, but rather that these are amendments not permanently made to an already-published text. But the question is raised: What damage could be done to a writer’s intended vision in the name of this cleanliness?
Someone’s invented an app that will take all the swears out of any book. EYEROLL.
You might have seen this Forty Portraits in Forty Years post floating around… it is wonderful, touching, inspiring.
I LOVE Jessamyn (thanks to Lucy for introducing me to her) and I love this easy morning yoga routine she’s put together for Buzzfeed.
What is a writer’s freedom?
To me it is [hir] right to maintain and publish to the world a deep, intense, private view of the situation in which [zie] finds [hir] society. If [zie] is to work as well as [zie] can, [zie] must take, and be granted, freedom from the public conformity of political interpretation, morals and tastes.
[pronouns changed by me because they were all needlessly male]
^This is Nadine Gordimer on what freedom to write really means. Pretty good, pronouns aside.
Celebrities standing up to fat-shaming. As it should be!
The lovely Jane Alexander is launching her first novel… check it out!
Author Cesca Major created a writing webseries which is now done — this is video one and you can see all the rest here.
Have a great weekend!
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!