Tuesday, 31 December 2013

To Boldly Go .....

Not bold enough for the Official TBR Challenge - some of the rules are a wee bit strict for me - I am going to have my own little Unofficial TBR Challenge in 2014.

I've chosen twelve neglected books off my shelves that I've not got round to reading yet. Now that the MA is done I commit to reading these over the next twelve months - and maybe then I'll post some reviews of them here.

I find writing reviews challenging - having to express OPINIONS !!! But I do want to get more confident at it, so this is a bold resolution.

And as for the chosen dozen - perched on my ironing board - here they are (not necessarily in reading order) :

1    How To Be A Woman - Caitlin Moran

2    Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal - Jeanette Winterson

3     East of Eden - John Steinbeck

4     Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel

5     The Golden Gate - Vikram Seth

6     The Secret Scripture - Sebastian Barry

7     The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot

8     Reality, Reality - Jackie Kay

9    Waterlog - Roger Deakin

10    Mary Swann - Carol Shields

11    Stepping Stones: Interviews With Seamus Heaney - Dennis O'Driscoll

12    The Invention Of Everything Else - Samantha Hunt

Now I must away to Jools Holland and his Hootenanny - 


Friday, 20 December 2013

Semester's End

Tynemouth Beach at dusk - or was it dawn???

I handed in my dissertation on 2 December so that was the official end of my MA course at the Centre for New Writing. A collection of 21 poems, some new, some not so new.

My library books were due to go back in January, but this week I received an email saying they have to go back today. I can't bear giving library books back - some of them have been on an extended loan, no-one else has wanted them so I've been able to keep on renewing Philip Larkin, Elizabeth Bishop, Kathleen Jamie, Robert Lowell. No matter that I don't look at them that often, I just like them being there. The empty half shelf where they've lodged makes me sad and excited. Now I'll have a place for the pile beside my bed, and room for some new books to gather. Maybe I'll start writing again.

The process makes me think of the TV programme Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners which I've watched (obsessively) for the last couple of months. The people whose houses need clearing/cleaning inevitably have issues to do with grief and loss. The cleaners whose houses are spotless also have issues around grief/loss. Some days I think I fall in the hoarder category, some days I think I'm a cleaner.

Perhaps the library is doing me a favour recalling those books ... it was never going to be easy ... and now that I've lifted Robert Lowell off the shelf I've discovered this poem, which I'd probably not have found if the library hadn't ordered me to return him ...

The Mermaid Children

In my dream, we drove to Folkestone with the children,
miles of ashflakes safe for their small feet;
most coasts are sand, but this had larger prospects,
the sea drained by the out-tide to dust and dunes
blowing to Norway like brown paper bags.
Goodbye, my Ocean, you were never my white wine.
Only parents with children could go to the beach;
we had ours, and it was a brutal lugging,
stopping, teasing them to walk for themselves.
When they rode our shoulders, we sank to our knees;
later we felt no weight and left no footprints. ...
Where did we leave them behind us so small and black,
their transistors, mermaid fins and tails,
our distant children charcoaled on the sky?

Robert Lowell (The Dolphin)