Monthly Archives: July 2014

The People of the Other Village, by Thomas Lux

Anthony Wilson


One of the poets I am most looking forward to listening to at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival in November is Thomas Lux.

I first became aware of ‘The People of the Other Village’ after I was sent a tape of his performance -tender, wry, furious- at Aldeburgh in 2000. You can listen to him reading it here.

Sometimes a poem comes into your life and you know straight away what it is about, the history and grief of its context matching so perfectly to the otherness of its diction that it becomes at once absolutely right both for now and all time.

‘The People of the Other Village’ is one of those poems. There is not a morning, recently, when I haven’t woken up to the news and thought of it. No other explanations seem necessary.

The People of the Other Village

hate the people of this…

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Dangerous Loves, Deeper Truths

Elizabeth Stott - to Blog or Not

Three of my Cumbrian literary connections have written novels that turn and examine issues of sex and sexuality. Two of these novels are debuts,  written by Alex Morgan  and Simon Sylvester. Respective titles: Tandem, and The Visitors.  The third novel, The Centauress, is by the well-published biographer and poet, Kathleen Jones, who has  a previous novel,  The Sun’s Companion, both published by The Book Mill. Tandem was the  2014 Hookline novel competition winner, and is published by Hookline Press. The Visitors was published this summer by Quercus, and is shortlisted for the Guardian Not The Booker Prize. Simon and Kathleen are linked to my blog via ‘The Writing Process Blog Tour’.

If there is anything that human society struggles with – perhaps more than keeping body and soul together – it is the issue of sex and sexuality. Our ideas of ‘body’ and ‘soul’ are enshrined in…

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The Undercover Soundtrack – Amanya Maloba

My Memories of a Future Life

for logo‘Thoughts circulating in a lyric or a line’

Once a week I host a writer who uses music as part of their creative environment – perhaps to connect with a character, populate a mysterious place, or hold a moment still to explore its depths. This week my guest is fashion writer, stylist and author Amanya Maloba @Amanya_M

Soundtrack by Erykah Badu, Tyler The Creator, Peter Tosh, Outkast, Shabazz Palaces, Q-Tip, Florence + the Machine

I’m a notorious lone wolf — I spend most of the day alone. I’m also an avid people-watcher and work best surrounded by movement and chaos. How do I reconcile these traits? People repellents, also known as large headphones, large sunglasses, and an unwavering jawline. These allow me the ability to situate myself in bustling environments and maintain my inner solitude and concentration, without the distractions of small talk. This also means that most of my…

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Literary Islands: Salvatore Quasimodo


If I could take only one emblematic book with me from Sicily, I’d defiantly choose Salvatore Quasimodo’s complete poetical works.

One of Sicily’s Primo Nobel’s in Literature, Quasimodo illustrates all the colours of his native island. His lifetime’s work, themes and forms span from: sparse expressive poetry, experimental pieces, poems inspired by mythology, politically charged works, recollections from childhood, melancholic epigrams, migrant experience, translation of ancient Greek lyrics, sketches, observations and philosophy of his beloved Sicily.


Quasimodo’s poetical world is melancholic, tinged with emotions like regret, fueled by themes such as love and death. He creates a natural world which is as tangible as any physical object.

Reading Quasimodo is a visceral experience, his poetry is engulfed by the sensual, each body part reaching out to create a connection between the language and the reader. He can paint the emotions of a certain time and place in a few vivid…

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The things that no one sees


She has the best house in the street. People regularly ask if she’s selling.

It is a lovely house. The porch a haven to sit in the shade. Plants in baskets hanging by a rusty nail that’s coming loose. In the living room impressive carved chairs sit full of dust from the street – they let out a plume every time someone sits down. If you sit on them at the wrong angle the seat, and it’s occupant, fall through the middle onto the floor. Between the chairs fake flowers bloom in pink and green sitting in a broken vase. The living room opens into the kitchen. They’ve just put new tiles down. There is a plastic bag over the kitchen tap because the sink is broken and she doesn’t want it to fall through the work surfaces.

She has pictures of her family in broken frames. Three clocks adorn…

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‘The music of exile’ – The Undercover Soundtrack, Kathleen Jones

Nail Your Novel

for logoMy guest this week has written a novel of exiles – artists, sculptors and musicians displaced from their home countries by the border shifts after World War II. The central character is doubly exiled, born between genders at a time when such things were poorly understood. Music helped her create their personalities, guide her research and develop their histories. She drew on a rich heritage of opera, jazz and folk – and even composed her own folk song for the novel. She is Kathleen Jones and she’s on the Red Blog with her Undercover Soundtrack.

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The Undercover Soundtrack – Kathleen Jones

My Memories of a Future Life

for logo‘The music of exile’

Once a week I host a writer who uses music as part of their creative environment – perhaps to connect with a character, populate a mysterious place, or hold a moment still to explore its depths. This week my guest is biographer, poet and award-winning short story writer Kathleen Jones @KathyFerber

Soundtrack by Istrian folk songs, Tuscan folk songs, Kathleen Jones, Gilad Atzmon and the Orient House band, Ben Webster

I don’t use music in the way many writers do. I have to write in silence because the rhythm affects the rhythm of the words. But music is very important to me and I listen to a lot of it while I’m researching a book and beginning to develop the story. I use music in my novels to establish atmosphere and also character. The music that they either like or hate expresses their personalities and sheds…

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Sound of the streets


I know when it’s raining by the sound of the street. With the rain comes a silence rare in any part of Cuba. Every door is shut, people disappear, shops close up against the onslaught of torrential rain. Water bouncing off the cobbles and swelling the streets into rivers. Slowly, as it passes, the music of Havanan life starts once again. First the clave, then a maraca from the lady selling in the shop below, next the song from the man selling dulces de guava, the drums, dancers passing on stilts, tourists chatter, cameras click. Havana’s song is complex and constant.

The time just after the rain has past is my favourite time to walk the streets of Havana. The streets are calm, empty of people. Except those going about their daily lives – a woman hurrying to work, a bar tender putting the tables back outside. The air fresh…

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‘The heartbeat of who we are’: Jeanette Winterson on war, wealth and creativity

‘Underneath the endless, acute crises of our planet’, Jeanette Winterson argues, ‘is the chronic crisis of how we manage what it is to be human.’

That's How The Light Gets In

Jeanette Winterson

Jeanette Winterson

She began with Dorothy Wordsworth walking the Lakeland fells in May 1800 and continued by way of Karl Marx, prehistoric cave painting, James Hargreaves’ spinning jenny, Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century,  John Maynard Keynes, Degas and the Arts Council, to arrive at the First World War and Wilfred Owen.  All this in the space of  a brilliant fifteen minute essay by Jeanette Winterson broadcast on Radio 3 last week.

Winterson’s essay was one of a series in which writers from different countries were asked to reflect on the meaning of the First World War for them personally, and as a creative artist. Lavinia Greenlaw, who curated the series, gave the contributors only the loosest of frameworks, borrowing the title, Goodbye to All That, from Robert Graves’s famously ‘bitter leave-taking of England’ in which he wrote not only of the First World War but also of the questions it raises: how…

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