Friday, 28 August 2009

Just got back from watching some live performance poetry, we arrived late as the restaurant we went to before was packed and way understaffed, but the first poets were fairly old. Then we saw some really quirky young English poets who I thought I'd share with you. Apparently this live poetry event is going to happen once a month in my town to looks like I've got a permanent outing to go to.
Hope you enjoy

Nathan Penlington

Ross Sutherland

Luke Kennard

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

The Twelve Step Poetry Program

Over at Bookgazing the TWELVE STEP POETRY PROGRAM is starting in a few days. Since leaving university the only poetry I seem to read is those poems which I teach, and while I love those poems (for the most part) I have to read the same poems that are on the curriculum for the last 3 years - they're still great but I'm not getting any variety. I saw this challenge posted and thought it'd help.
Below is (copied and pasted) the challenge description.

At it’s simplest level the challenge requires that anyone who feels like joining reads twelve books of poetry, each by a different author, in twelve months. Each book must be the work of one poet (that means no anthologies, like ‘The 101 Best Love Poems’, are allowed). Inject your lives with poetry from 1st Sept 2009 – 30th Aug 2010.

However I know what you serious challenge addicts want. You want something that allows you to make an uber-complicated list which includes categories. I want that too, what is the point of a challenge without at least a provisional list? How much better is it if the list includes separate classifications? So for my personal challenge I’ll be reading two books from each of the six categories below:

2 female poets: There are tons of wonderful female poets I want to recommend – Wendy Cope, Dorothy Parker, Adrianne Rich are just a few.

2 translated poets: This is an area I know very little about, yay for new discoveries. Anyone have recommendations?

2 dead white male poets: I have plenty of recommendations for this category – Philip Larkin, William Blake, Robert Frost.

2 poets who have held an official poetry post: I’m British so I’m thinking of reading Poet Laureates like Carol Ann Duffy and Andrew Motion. You may want to find out about poets in other countries who have held equivalent positions.

2 black/ hispanic/ asian poets: You can read books by any poets who are not white for this category. Personal favourites of mine are Srikanth Reddy and Patricia Smith.

2 GLBT poets: I put this category in because I wanted to include all kinds of diversity, but if you find it hard to pick poets (because you’ve already read all the poets where their sexuality is publically known) then you’re free to replace it with two books of poetry where the authors write a specific type of poetry (such as comic poetry, epic poetry like Beowulf etc). Personally I’d recommend picking up something by the ‘Great War’ poets Wilfred Owen, Rupert Graves or Siegfried Sassoon to fulfil this category if you haven't already read their stuff.

Here’s the especially challenging part, you can’t overlap categories and use one poet to fill many categories (for example Carol Ann Duffy is gay, female and England’s current poet Laureate but you can only use her in one of those categories - you can pick which category you use her book to fulfil but she can only count for one). You can also only read one book by each poet. That means you’ll read twelve books by twelve poets in twelve months.

But wait there’s a third level of challenge! You can join me in making poetry an even bigger part of life. In my house sits Poetry Daily’s 2003 anthology, which has a poem from each day of the year. I plan to read a poem from this anthology every day from 1st Sept 2009 until the end of the challenge on 30th Aug 2010. If you want to go the extra mile and let poetry flood into your everyday life you can either read that anthology with me or read a poem daily at heir website.


Book bloggers don’t tend to review poetry, maybe because they don’t feel like they have the expertise to judge poetry, or because they’re not sure how to make their review format work for poetry. So, while you can fully review the books you read for this challenge if you like, you can also take the option of just sharing some of your favourite lines from the book (remember please don’t post full poems, there are copyright issues with that, instead link to full versions somewhere else). If you want to include anything else (poets biography, how particular poems made you feel etc) please do! I’d love to see all kinds of poetry related stuff popping up. I’ll sort out a way of organising the links to these posts later so people can find them.

Also there’s no need to post daily reviews of your daily poems, we’d all quickly be swamped!

So after the blather, the recap:

Challenge runs: 1st Sept 2009 – 30th Aug 2010

Challenge name: The Twelve Step Poetry Program

Option 1: 12 books of poetry, each by a different author
Option 2: 12 books of poetry, each by a different author, with two books chosen from each category mentioned above
Option 3: Option 2 + a poem a day from Poetry Daily until the end of the challenge

Sign up: In the comments below by leaving a link to a post you make about the challenge (including lists if you want). I hope loads to see a few challengers join me in September.

I'm going for the simple option, however I will try and read one collection from each of the categories above. I'm looking forward to discovering new poets to me, for an English graduate I have read surprisingly few, as well as rediscovering a few favorite poets.
I'll be grabbing my Carol Ann Duffy, Ted Hughes and T.S Eliot collections. Any other recommendations?

I'm also going to try and read a poem a day from my Penguin anthology - not sure if I'm going to read it in date order - that might put me off, or just by picking a random page a day.

P.S If you haven't read Carol Ann Duffy before, or you've just not read her for a while I highly recommend her collection 'The World's Wife', each poem is written from the view of the woman living in a famous man's shadow. Gems include poems by Elvis' sister, Shakespeare's wife and Midas' wife.

Monday, 24 August 2009


Carl is again hosting his RIP challenge, a chance to pick out some of the darker books lurking in my TBR pile. The challenge runs from September 1st till October 31st. As always different levels of participation are available, I will be completing Peril the First, to read 4 books of a gothic nature. I'll also participate in Short Story Sunday each week.
My Pool:
Ray Bradbury, The Halloween Tree (audiobook)
M.G Lewis, The Monk
Angela Carter, Nights at the Circus
Matthew Pearl, The Dante Club
Anonymous, The Book with No Name
L.J Smith, Night World (Vol 1)
Edith Wharton, The Ghost Feeler
Scott Westerfeld, The Secret Hour

I'll search out some graphic novels and short story collections as well over next two months

Challenge Update August

A-Z Challenge (Authors) 19/27
A-Z Challenge (Titles) 16/27
In Their Shoes 7/4 COMPLETE
The Dream King 2/12
1% Well Read Challenge 7/13
Orbis Terrarum 18/10 COMPLETE
The Genre Challenge 8/10 FINISHED - FAILED TO COMPLETE
The Decades Challenge 4/10
The Carribean Challenge 0/6
My Year of Reading Dangerously 2/12
The World Citizen Challenge 4/3 COMPLETE
Y.A Challenge 16/12 COMPLETE
Deweys Book Reading Challenge 0/6
The 2009 Pub Challenge 2/9
999 Challenge 58/81
2nd Canadian Challenge 1/13 ABANDONING - WILL NEVER COMPLETE
Latin American Challenge 4/4 COMPLETE
The Rescue Challenge 3/4
The Graphic Novel Challenge 11/12
Manga Challenge 1/4
War Through the Generations: WWII 3/5
Lost in Translation 8/6 COMPLETE
Notable Challenge 2/6
What's in a Name? 5/6
The Well Seasoned Reader 3/3 COMPLETED!
The Chunkster Challenge 8/6 COMPLETE
The Guardian 100 novels 3/10
Banned Book Challege 1/4
Once Upon a Time III Challenge 5/5 COMPLETE
Herding Cats 0/2
Its the End of the World 3/4
Japanese Literature Challenge 1/3
Book Awards 3 0/5
Non-Fiction 5 7/5 COMPLETE

Two Non-Fiction Books

I seem to be soaking up my Non-Fiction at the momnet, and I even read one which wasn't a memoir!

Normal by Amy Bloom
Eva of The Striped Armchair wrote a fantastic review of this a few weeks back, if it hadn't been for her review I wouldn't ever have thought to read a book like this.
Normal is a collection of essays written by Amy Bloom, I couldn't believe how readable they were, and how interesting.
The first chapter focuses on transexuals, particularly male to female transexuals. It discusses the details and forms of surgery and hormonal treatment available, and boy does it sound painful. Alongside this Amy Bloom speaks to many people who are either in the process of or have had some form of surgery to change their appearance to a person of the opposite gender. As well as the stories of these men Bloom is open with us about the way she is looking at people trying to figure out if they had had a sex change or not.
The second section is about crossdressing men and their wives. She describes the men's need to dress as woman as a compulsion, something they absolutely have to do and have no control of. As she talks to the men they all come across as really conservative, they have socially upstanding jobs like Ministers and Managers, they have families and strong moral values. Many of the wives, presented in the book, don't find out abaout their husbands until way down the line and when they do they feel they have to stay and be supportive.
The third chapter about Hermaphrodites was fair more descriptive of the surgery and didn't have the same level of personal stories in it, as a result I wasn't as interested in this chapter. I had studied hermaphrodites as part of my sociology course in uni so I knew about some of the stuff which was discussed.
World Citizen Challenge
Non-Fiction 5
999 Non-Fiction

Night by Elie Wiesel

I had this on audiobook to listen to, it is one of the 1001 books to read before you die so when I saw the audiobook was part of a bookring I snapped it up.
Night is a memoir about Elie Wiessel experienced in the concentration camps.
As a young boy he is an extremely devout Jew, he visits the synagoge every day and begs a neighbour to educate him about his religion as his father refuses to.
As the war looms the town are warned by a local man of the persecution of the Jewish, but they refuse to listen to him. Snatched away during the night they soon find that his unbelieveable story was all true. 15 year old Elie is seperated from his mother and sister and goes with his father into the male side of the camp. For a long time they are not called to work or moved to other camps because they claim they are unskilled labourers. When they finally get chosen to move to another camp they know that their time is running out.
Elie's father is hospitalised in the final days of the war, begging for hos sons help in his final moments, Elie finds he is unable o help his father, he has to help himself instead.
The book is very short and very powerful, however as I'd read Primo Levi's If This is a Man many years ago I wasn't as shocked by the memoir as I may have been, the story is very similar to that of Levi, and tells of less shocking details in the camps.
World Citizen Challenge
Non-Fiction 5
In Their Shoes
999 (Non Fiction)

Saturday, 22 August 2009

A Crafty Week

(Apologies in advance for the picture heavy post)
As anyone who reads regularly will know I have gained a new interest during the school holidays, crafting. During the week I made some tags for a group swap - so far I have made 4 I need to make 16, I've just read on the site that most people make the same tag for each person they swap with wheras I'd been making different tags for each person. Now that I know that I can make a little assembly line to mass produce some of them and speed stuff up.

I've also made a couple of ATCs (Artist trading cards), the first couple I made were on playing cards - there ok as first attempts and look better in the flesh, but I'm not happy with them. The second one is my fav, it encompasses Ezra Pounds, 'In a Station by the Metro' my favorite poem. If you click to enlarge you can see more of the detail.
Finally this morning I spent 5 hours making this book! Its my first attempt at a mini book and I'm happy with how it turned out. Over the next few days I'll add little tags and cards with more quotes into the little pockets I created. The book folds out like an accordian.

What are your other interests outside of reading, do you blog about them or not?
Off to tackle mount tbr now before I go out for an Indian tonight.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Sunday Salon: Travelling from the Sofa

Africa - Sudan
Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih

A young man returns to his village after many years and finds that a stranger has moved into town and managed to work his way into the tightly knit community who are normally wary of strangers. In this place where each persons heritage is known the stranger is a rarity, it isn't even known from which village he comes from.
When he finally meets the stranger he becomes obsessed, the stranger suddenly talks to him in well-spoken English,revealing at first a small part of his past.
The past is revealed in more detail when we discover that the stranger had been taken to court and held on the charge of murdering his own wife, and being the named cause of the suicide of many of English women. When the stranger suddenly disappears into the floods one night, feared dead, the obsession doesn't end it only becomes stronger.
999 (tbr + Arfican reads)

Crossing Midnight by Mike Carey, Jim Fern and Mark Pennington

This fantastic graphic novel tells the story of twins Kai and Toshi. During the mothers pregnancy the father promised a sacrifice in payment for the birth of a healthy child. Unknown to him (and the doctors) his wife was expecting twins.
Boisterous children they quickly learn that Toshi is incapable of coming to harm through knifes and sharp objects. This knowledge leads her to be brave, disobedient and confident unlike her brother Kai.
One night Toshi wakes up to find a large man, surrounded by hovering knives leaning over her, he demands that she is his, the payment for the sacrifice her father made. When she refuses to go with him her dog is dismembered into tons of pieces. The creatures keep returning and the payments for refusal get higher, Kai ends up fighting to save the whole family from the instrusion of these mythical creatures.
This is my first violent graphic novel, I tend to stick to memoirs, and I really enjoyed it. At the back of the book the author writes about Japanese mythology and folklore which has made me want to discover more.
Graphic Novel
Japanese Literature Challenge
Orbis Terrarum

America (and the spiritual world)
A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb

I picked up this book because the cover resembled the fantastic Siobhan Dowd novel
A Pure Swift Cry, I had no idea what the book was going to be about as the synopsis is written in a pale blue against a moss green background making it hard to read.
The ovel starts with Helen, a Light, a ghost trapped on earth. She is doomed to walk the earth following a host - a person she has chosen as a life line, if she moves away from this person she feels herself being pulled into hell.
Helen follows after Mr Brown, an English teacher and is always present in his life, unbeknown to him, until she realises that a pupil can see her. The pupil James, was also a light until he learnt how to inhabit the body of a dead soul.
The pair join up and quickly become tied to each other, they struggle with their own lives plus the lives of the host body they have come to inhabit.
I haven't done this justice at all, this is a great read - its intense, gripping and your pulled right into their world. (YA for older teens).
YA 2009
A-Z (Name)

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

My Thoughts: Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

This book was doing the blogsphere rounds last year when I signed up to recieve it as part of a bookcrossing bookring, the copy visited many people in many coutries before it arrived here with me, I'll be sending it off to the next person this weekend so it can carry on its travels.

Greg Mortenson was a mountainer who whilst attempting to climb K2 become horribly lost and stranded, he was rescued by his untrained Pakistani carrier and led safely back down the mountain. He stumbled across an tiny village in Baltisan, a place where white men never visited as it was too far off the beaten track. Whilst there Greg was nursed back to health and made to feel welcome by all. He was shocked into admiration when he saw the local boys and girls trying to educate themselves on a patch of land - they had access to a teacher just once a week, the rest of the time they taught each other. Greg, touched by this promised to build the village a school.
Back in America Greg sent out letters asking for the $12,000 he needed to build a school, no replies came back, so he set about working to save the money himself. Luckily a doner was found and Greg ploughed himself into buidling this school, he faced many problems with stolen goods, travel issues, the weather and numerous others.
Greg soon realised that this village was not the only one to need help, his doner created a charity for his as a way that Greg could create schools across the region. Greg's main focus was on educating girls as they had a greater impact on the wealth and wellbeing of a village. He also set up community working areas for women so they could create goods to trade using the skills of their communities.
And his story goes on. It was particularly moving reading about the rebuilding of schools in Afgahnistan after hearing the news of the bombings in Kabul this last few days.

This was an extremely moving book, and very open minded. The issues in Pakistan where highlighted truthfully - the warring between people to gain American help, but also the desperate need to educate these children and the rights of every child to gain an education. I would love to give a copy of this to the disengaged bright kids at school to show them what they are freely given and take for granted, and the worth that others put to it.
If ou haven't read it you should. I'll certainly be getting my own copy and lending it out, and copying sections for use in school.

Non-fiction 5
World Citizen Challenge
Olympic Challenge
In their shoes.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Lazy Days

This is a little card I made for a challenge here a the Easy Craft Projects site, they set a template which you interpret with your own design, for the chance of winning some crafting goodies.
If you caught my post last week I made Mr Men cards for my sister and mum, these were made from a set wheras this week I took all different bits to make it.

I'm not sure whether I'm going to blog about my crafting here or not, I might just do so once a week as this blog was meant to be about books - anyway I'm off to make some more stuff, I have 10 tags to make, so far I only have this one done. (You'll have to click on it to see it properly.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

My Thoughts: The Onion Girl by Charles de Lint

Having read The Wild Woods by Charles de Lint a few months ago I was eager to read some more when I spotted The Onion Girl as a audiodownload. I've been listening to this on my long walks to town and the gym (40 mins each way) and looking the world which was created in my mind.
Fairie artist Jilly is knocked down in a hit and run and left in a coma, whilst in this coma she discovers the ability to visit the 'dreamworld', a world a few of her friends inhabit reguarly or through their own dreams. When I got to this point I thought it was going to be a cute story but then things get darker. We learn about Jilly and her sister's abuse as children and the different paths it led them through. We watch as her sister Raylene grows up living a life of crime and escaping into the dream world to hunt as a wolf. We also get to know many of Jilly's fabulous friends, they're all different and quirky in their own way.
The novel splits between different characters and places and worlds, giving us different impressions of what is going on. More Charles de Lint will soon be added to my tbr pile!
A-Z (Title)

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

My Thoughts: Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde

I've been in a real reading slump since the weekend, I've picked up books but not had the concentration to read more than a few pages at a time. I was about 80 pages into Lost in a Good Book so today I decided I had to make myself read it. I managed it, but did get distracted any numeber of times so it took me longer than it normally would. Hopefully now I'll go back to reading like a normal person!

Lost in a Good Book is the second book in the series, I read The Jane Eyre Affair bout a year ago and loved it, but its taken me ages to get around to this next book. The series is set in a parallel universe to our own. Thursday Next is a literary detective in SpecOps, she previously rescued the story of Jane Eyre from the evil Archon Hayes but in doing so changed the ending (to the one that we have). She also trapped an evil, terrorist inside Edgar Allen Poe's 'The Raven'.
Now that she is back she is something of a celebrity and also the subject of a muderous plot. Thursday had to deal with her new husband being erased from life, her timetravelling father, tv appearances and a series of coincidences which leave her in the path of death. She also learns how to escape into books, discoevers Shakespeare's missing play and has a dodo as a pet.
The books are funny, and far more silly than anything I would normally read, but they do assume that you know something about the major classics as their characters turn up all over the place.
A great read, even if I did struggle.
The Genre Challenge - detective
999 - Fantasy

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Crafty Corner

I always read Viviens blog, she talks about both books and her scrapping, I always look at the images and wish that I could do that. On Saturday I clicked on a few links on her page and discovered the world of crafting. After looking a blogs and websites for a few hours - I'm not exaggerating, I thought I'd have a go.
Being on a budget I've brought a few bits and pieces - card, glue, sequins etc. I also went and raided my costume jewerlry box for the necklaces and bracelets that I know longer wear or are broken, I stole from them beads and buttons.
I brought a couple of magazines as well, including Lets Make Cards, I was shocked when I got to the till and discovered it cost £7.99 but when I got home and discovered the tons of Mr Men and Little Miss goodies I got with it I realised it was worth the money.
I spent a few hours today using that kit to make these two cards - one for my mum and one for my sister as I haven't been home since June.

I also used the kit and a few beads to make these book marks, which I'll probably stick in the bookcrossing books I send out.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

My Thoughts:A Year in Green Tea and Tuk Tuks: My Unlikely Year Creating an Eco Farm in Sri Lanka by Rory Spowers

Sri Lanaka is always one of the top places that I'd just love to visit - if I could ever get the money together - so I love reading about it, rather than another fiction book I thought I'd try some non-fiction.
Rory Spowers is a determined bloke, he travels the world to discover new ways to save the planet and reduce his families carbon footprint. He also reads a stack of books gathering ideas for living without the pollutants of modern life.
As a teenager he walks through Africa and then again through India, knowing that to live the life he wants he will need to live abroad. He and his wife first visit Barbados, a place they consider living until they see the devestation caused by tourism and the Western world. But in Barbados they meet Doc Man, the creator of an eco garden which provides for his family but is also used as an educational tool to teach local children about the local plants and fruits. From this his dream to create an eco farm unfolds.
Rory and his wife and two small children move to Sri Lanka and start searching out a new home and a place to build the eco farm, they consider many enviromental issues in their search for the perfect place. Eventually they discover the '60 acres' an old tea farm which had laid empty for years.
Work then starts to transform this place into a 'bio-versity' a place not only to cultivate local and rare fruits and wildlife, but also a place to teach others about this form of farming. Rory recounts not only the farming of this land and the creation of Samakanda, but also the trials and tribultions with the local people. He is honest about his moods, his families struggles in this new country.
In the middle of his creation the tsunami arrives, impacting on everyone he knows in Sri Lanka and he is quickly involved in working with friends to create new homes for those who lost theres.
This book was a great read, Samakanda is now open to visitors and looks great, he also is a founder of The Web of HopeChallenges:
Non-Fiction 5
World Citizen Challenge
999 (non-fiction)

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

My Thoughts: The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd

This is my second read for the Southern Challenge, it featured lots of Southern food which was making my mouth water as I was reading it, fried shrimps and grits (whatever they are!).

The Mermaid Chair is Kidds second novel after writing the bestselling The Secret Life of Bees - which I loved but can't remember a bit of. This book will be the same, it was a good read for the last two rainy afternoons but it will slip out of the memory pretty soon.
Jessie is woken one night by a phone call, her mother has puposefully chopped off one of her fingers. Jessie rushes back to her and her childhood home, a place of ghosts and memories which she has avoided for years.
The return home (as happens in many novels), sparks doubts about her present life and reveals truths from the past. Within hours of being there she has fallen in love with a monk in training and figured that her mother chopped her finger off because of her guilt over her husbands death.
The novel is set on an unnamed island off the coast of South Carolina. I think it was the islands quirky characters which made this book more enjoyable, their is Kat and her daughter Benne - a woman with a childs mind, Hepzaith who speaks Gullah the language of the slaves, a mermaid shop I wanted to dive into, a few charming monks and Max the dog who seems to belong to every islander.

The Southern Reading Challenge
A-Z (Author)

Monday, 3 August 2009

Library Loot and Mail Box Monday

Library Loot is hosted by Eva and Marg.
After saying I was going to try and avoid the library and actually tackle my tbr pile I failed miserably and came back with an armload full as usual.
I picked up:
Good Omens (audiobook) by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (for the Dream King challenge - which I'm really behind in).
Piercing by Ryu Murakami (Japanese Literature Challenge)
Manga Shakespeare: The Tempest (Manga Challenge)
By Hook or By Crook: A Journey in Search of English by David Crystal (for my Language course)
Social History of English by David Leith (for my Language course)
A Year in Green Tea and Tuk-Tuks by Rory Spowers (Non- Fiction 5 and World Citizen Challenge)
Annie John by Jamacia Kincaird (Caribbean Challenge)
The Manderines by Simone de Beauvoir (for a Yahoo group)
The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey (Booker challenge)
Normal by Amy Bloom (World Citizen and Non Fiction 5)
A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb (a random pick up because the cover reminded me of Siobhan Dowd's books)
Midnighters: The Secret Hour by Scott Westrfied (Scott Westerfied Mini Challenge)

Mailbox Monday is hosted at The Printed Page this is my first time participating.
These three books arrived via bookcrossing:

Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon and Dona Flora and Her Two Husbands both by Jorge Amado were both sent by a bookcrossing friend who had seen them on my wishlist - Yay for bookcrossing.
I was sent The Piano Tuner as a mystery book, I knew the locations and first and last letter and that was it, I already own a copy - its a great read - so I will be passing this on to other bookcrossing friends when we meet for dinner tomorrow, and where I'll probably end up picking up more books!

With a mounting tbr pile I know I need to spend less time on the net and more reading! Anyone else have that problem?