Monday 22 August 2011

A title!

I've been frantically trying to finish my chapbook and have finally decided on the title - 

SWALLOW Hirundo rustica:
nests singly and in small, loose colonies

I might even be ready to unveil the cover soon <ta-daa> But I am just sending PDF copies off to friends for a bit of proof-reading. It is useful to have clever friends! Here is a sneaky peek at one of the images from inside - 

I have been rushing around with fine-liners and coloured paper (for possible covers), popping things in and out of the scanner and sizing and re-sizing on photoshop, because I am speaking at 21:30 on Sunday night at the Greenbelt Arts and Music Festival in Cheltenham. Back in March or sometime, I submitted the title of my slot as 'Lighthouses and Letterboxes,' suitably and inevitably vague. Since then I have thought a bit more about what I'll say and so I'll be reading from Good Condolences and SWALLOW Hirundo rustica (the new one), and will probably say a bit about chapbooks in general.I have still got much to do and am about to print out a hard copy to give out for friends to mark-up. I don't think the hard copy will be ready for the festival *sigh,* but I will certainly be reading from it if there is time!

I will also be helping out, Andy Tate, by reading some poetry and prose extracts as part of his talk 'All families are psychotic' on Monday at 16:00. Things I'm most looking forward to are Show of Hands, Billy Bragg, The Unthanks, and the occasional appearance by Bob Harris. It's going to be a great festival...perhaps when I get back I'll be able to finish the little chap! I've got dried fruit soaking for a festival fruit cake and need to get organised with my new plastic cups and my folding toaster!

P.S. The observant may notice a new title for my blog too - the other one was vague to say the least, this one is a bit better, I think.

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Dreams of Home: Tobias Wolff, Elbow and G. K. Chesterton

Arch stopped and looked down the garden to where the headmaster stood by the drinks table with another master. The headmaster said, Late for his own funeral! and everyone laughed, and then he put his glass down and came toward Arch with both hands outstretched. Though the headmaster was the younger man, and much shorter, and though Arch was lame and had white hairs coming out of his ears and white stubble all over his face, he felt no more than a boy again--but a very well-versed boy who couldn't help thinking of the scene described by these old words, surely the most beautiful words ever written or said: His father, when he saw him coming, ran to meet him.  
Tobias Wolff, Old School

When I was a student, my essays were effectively lists of quotations taped together with one or two sentences of reiteration.  The quotation above is one of my favourite passages of all time and happens to be from one of my favourite books. Wanting to copy this passage out for you, I opened the book to find, along with some underlining in pencil, the word 'home' scrawled in the margin.

You're a law unto yourself and we don't suffer dreamers
But neither should you walk the earth alone
So with finger rolls and folding chairs and a volley of streamers
We can be there for tweaks and repairs should you come back home

We got open arms for broken hearts
Like yours my boy
come home again
Elbow, Open Arms
Elbow are the new chocolate for me - here is an example of succinct and succulent lyrics suitable for any occasion. I would copy all the lyrics , but I want you to go and buy their albums (I still eat chocolate, by the way).

The home is not the one tame place in a world of adventure; it is the one wild place in a world of rules and set tasks.
G. K. Chesterton
This is the second time I've referenced Chesterton in my blog, but I wanted to share this quotation because it addresses the idea of home with a sidways glance. I know very little about G. K. - but this line builds an image in my mind of a child sitting in a large windowseat with a book clamped in their fists.

Having been away for a week in fragrant Cornwall and Devon (the West Country is a kind of home for me), I am easing myself into work again. Sketches and ideas gradually emptied themselves into my notebook while I sat on the train to and from and I hope to translate them soon into something you can share.

If you haven't taken a train journey in a while - do it. There are views to view and fascinating people to meet - favourites this trip were the coastal track around Dawlish and the man who taught me a magic trick!