Burns and the button tin

January 26, 2014

Here’s an everyday story of button-wearing folk; I wanted to put it up yesterday for Burns Day but of course I was massively late having the idea and also scrupulous about getting the permission… But to be honest, it would have crowded the post. So here, in the tail end of Burns Weekend, is a […]

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Happy Rabby Day, for a’ that

January 25, 2014

As my friends up and down the land scrabble for haggis and bake whisky cakes, you don’t need me to say much about Robert Burns. Just read this. Read it not as a famous, canonical lyric that was sung at the opening of the Scottish Parliament. Read it as a poem written by a man […]

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Paix, Joie, Santé, Bonhomie, & Thibault

January 8, 2014

They sound like four little elves, don’t they! I’m sorry, I’ve been rubbish so far this year. Sick in bed for part of it, and immersed in lots of book-intensive activity: reviewing, profiling,  prepping the TS Eliot shortlist workshop on Saturday, getting ready for the start of term. Reading since Christmas includes: Kate Tempest’s The […]

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The turn of the year: darkness, light, art, enemies

December 31, 2013

Bogged down in a tether Ugh. I hate New Year’s Eve. I’ve been trying to write this post all day with no enthusiasm, no idea what to write, and a growing awareness that even thinking in terms of the old year just makes me queasy. This time last year I was on ten eye drops […]

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Ten ways to celebrate poetry this Christmas

December 21, 2013

Well, it’s now the busiest weekend of the year – the weekend before Christmas – and I’d better get this post up while you’re still figuring out how to celebrate, what to give people, and so on. Following on from my Ten ways to celebrate National Poetry Day post, I thought it might be nice […]

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The ghost of Christmas baking past

December 14, 2013

I was looking for a Stollen recipe. I’ve just about given up on Christmas baking – there were years when I used to make my own Panettone – delicious, and the recipe long lost – and there were years when I used to make both my own Panettone AND my own Stollen – recipe also […]

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Tourists in the past

December 12, 2013

I’m thinking a lot about the past. Specifically, about how we write about it. Claire Trévien wrote a blog post for the Poetry School about ‘poetry tourism’, talking about the dreaded Holiday Poem and other forms of unthinking cultural appropriation. Your idyll is the maid’s poverty, etc. The article exhorts poets to question themselves before writing: […]

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War Horse, children’s books, and the moral compass

December 5, 2013

With perfect timing, I got a last-minute call yesterday from a friend who’s in the cast of War Horse – on his day off, was going to see it, had comps, did I want to go? It was perfect timing because I had JUST time to drop everything and leave, with no phone battery or […]

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