Friday, 22 July 2011
Elsewhere in the magazine our Jazz Jews writer Mike Gerber explores the connection between Jews and boxing, while the writer of our forthcoming Battle for the East End book on Cable Street, David Rosenberg argues with David Cameron about multi-culturalism. The other stand out pieces in a very good issue of the mag includes a long report of a speech by Afif Safieh, the PLO's Roving Ambassador for Special Missions (an old friend of the Jewish Socialists' Group) and an article by Paul Collins on Victor Gollancz, founder of War on Want, the Left Book Club and the once influential publishing house that carried his name. The current issue costs £2.50 including postage from Jewish Socialist, BM 3725, London WC1N 3XX and a four issue subscription costs £10 from the same address.
Tuesday, 19 July 2011
Monday, 18 July 2011
The book is partially set in the ancient Hungerhill gardens in Nottingham, where I used to have a couple of allotments at one time. Hungerhill gardens are very secret - high hedges, mysterious winding paths, old brick sheds. You could hide there, and Aazim does, for a while. He is a refugee child. At one stage in the story he is asked "Why did you come here? Were you escaping something? Or did you come for a better life" [Aazim thinks} She doesn't want me to tell a story that will make her feel bad. I can tell. She doesn't really want to know. "Everyone wants a better life," I reply. "Don't you?"
Saturday, 16 July 2011
There is one exception. Chris Patten, an honest man among Conservatives, wrote a book about being the last Governor of Hong Kong, on a realistic £50k advance from HarperCollins. The book was however never published as it included some of Patten's comments on the Chinese government. Murdoch was at the time getting into bed with the Chinese government on some business deal and did not want to publish anything critical of that Government. So Patten was dumped, and his book went on to be published, successfully, by MacMillan. I can only hope, as the Murdoch empire fades, that the excellent Times Literary Supplement survives, under new ownership.
Saturday, 9 July 2011
Thursday, 7 July 2011
In earlier years Five Leaves published several books by refugees and about allotments. And here's these subjects brought together: http://www.inpressbooks.co.uk/secret_gardens_david_belbin_i022641.aspx
Wednesday, 6 July 2011
Southwell Library is one of those libraries you dream about - great stock, committed staff, room to move books to one side to set up a stage and create a hall for 120, a drinks license and a year-round programme. The Minster and the Minster School are to hand for really big events - 400 came from Carol Ann Duffy in my last year of involvement. In the same year I persuaded the library to open all night, with a night-long arts programme as part of the National Year of Reading. The staff did not take much persuading and again the library was the talk of the town.
It is good to see the Council continuing to support the festival, though the library has lost four workers in the recent round of library cuts. Nevertheless, the library does what it can with less staff than it should have and the festival is a major part of Nottinghamshire's literary calendar. Everyone is pleased that the Council continues to organise the event.
And me? Well, Five Leaves had an Adrian Buckner pamphlet launch at the Festival and our writer Andy Croft gave a good reading (with Tom Warner) last night, together with a fascinating talk on "the common music of poetry", which brought in football chants, his work that day in a special school, the work songs of slave and the Odyssey. I hope the lecture is published. The festival continues until 9 July (www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/poetryfestival). But I have to get used to buying tickets rather than swanning around pretending to be important.
Anyone coming to the festival can be sure it will succeed. At the opening event, in the wonderful soaring Minster building, standing below a gold Christ figure (pictured) suspended from the roof as if he was going to fly (or go SPLAT) the Dean of the Minster said a prayer for the arts. We have God on our side. We cannot fail.