Sunday, 24 April 2011
Friday, 22 April 2011
The selection of poetry is excellent, including the never to be forgotten title "The Industrial Relations Act, 1971 (Repealed 1974)", though that is an exception, title-wise. The stand-out poem for me was "I am the Esperance" by Gerda Stevenson, which imagines the creations of the workforce - the floating crane Hikitia, home from Wellington, the Empire Nan, a stout tug, the Delta Queen "her great stern wheel churns the foam / as she steams in from the Mississippi" - "canvas unfurled, freighted with hope, / as wave upon wave, you surge into Glasgow Green". Some of the poems are by well-known writers, Edwin Morgan and Jackie Kay for example, her "The Shoes of Dead Comrades" being reprinted here, another great poem. The majority of writers were new to me.
My one criticism would be that the songs don't quite work as well as the poems, unless you know the tunes they were based on. I wish the book had included a CD of the songs. Good value though at £8.95 for 140 pages.
Thursday, 21 April 2011
2012 will also see a vast increase in our jazz list, from, um, one to three titles. Peter Vacher, who shares the Guardian jazz obits with John Fordham, and who writes for many jazz mags, is pulling together his interviews of American jazz players under the title Mixed Messages, a companion volume to one publisher earlier by our friends at Northway, currently getting good publicity for their Peter King autobiog. And Chris Searle is going through his fantastic 750 jazz reviews in the Morning Star to select 100 of the best to come out at the same time. Chris sends his weekly copy to the Star handwritten. Just as long as he doesn't try that on us! Chris's earlier jazz book was also published by Northway.
Elsewhere in the paper there is another story of the Con-Dem elysium in which we are living. The writer Emanuel Litvinoff (many of whose poems appear in Five Leaves' Passionate Renewal: Jewish Poetry in Britain since 1945) has fallen on hard times and the local Council has withdrawn his carer. He can't afford the £150 a week to keep the service he had. He was told he should sign on and claim Job Seekers Allowance. Emanuel is 97. His partner can't sign on as she is unavailable for work as she has to look after him. As well as being a great poet, Emanuel wrote one of the best books of life in the East End in the 1930s when he was fed by the Sally Army and was given old boots by the Jewish Board of Guardians. His Journey Through a Small Planet is still available from Penguin. As he said in the paper "It seems the same as 1931 all over again. This is a depression caused by financiars and bankers, but it is the poorest who are paying for it."
The formal setting in the BL Auditorium precluded the kind of rumbustiousness seen at the Nottingham event held a few months ago, but it was well worth attending, particularly to catch up with Michael and Ann Sillitoe, Alan's brother and sister-in-law.
Tuesday, 19 April 2011
Monday, 18 April 2011
I should add that I only took one manuscript to read, and checked emails only every second day. This really was a holiday, some of which was spent in the same street Byron wrote Childe Harold. The rest was spent in a Greek island town of 15,000, which had four Greek language bookshops plus several other book outlets.
Friday, 1 April 2011
Sharp also lists 198 forms of unarmed resistance - ideas lapped up in some Arab states - though how they managed to translate "bumper strike" or "nonviolent air raids" into Arabic is beyond me since it seems hard to translate them into English. There is a minor and invisible Five Leaves' fingerprint on the production, but I'm really pleased to see Housmans returning to publishing with this important book.