Poem Of The Week: At The Navigation By Ian Pople

At The Navigation The sun was tucked behind the visor as I was driving back from work; the road reached round from house to house. A horse was grazing an out-of-season cricket pitch. They were leading sheep down to the reservoir; hooves slipped from bank to crumpled sky; fleecy heads bobbed out towards the middle.

But What Can I Do? - Chatting With Alastair Campbell

Alastair Campbell, once the official spokesman and Director of Communications for Tony Blair’s government from 1994 to 2003, is now far better known as a writer, journalist, broadcaster, strategist and heavyweight political pundit.

'But Where Are You Really From?' - Tongues and Bellies by The Whole Kahani

Writers’ collectives can all too easily descend into little more than mutual support groups, not conjoined by ‘being a friend a Bill’, but the understandable imperative to be amongst fellow wanderers on the lonely path travailed by many a published, or aspirant author.

Shoes Maketh The Woman: Someone Else’s Shoes By Jojo Moyes

There is no doubt in my mind that shoes are an essential fashion accessory and that they say much about the wearer.

Poem Of The Week: The Long Snow By Matthew Hollis

The Long Snow As the drift grew deeper he pressed on, to where it cupped his ankle and his calf. On, above his knee, around his waist, until it held him fast. And there he stood, unable to return or to advance.

To See A World In A Grain Of Sand : Interview With Reshma Ruia

Reshma Ruia is a British writer of Indian origin and traded a life as a senior accountant for the UN, for that of an author. She holds a PhD and Master’s in Creative Writing from Manchester University. Her first novel, Something Black in the Lentil Soup, was described in the Sunday Times as ‘a gem of straight-faced comedy’.

Under The Plan: Interpolated Stories By David Rose

These texts were born out of a sense of frustration with the author's own short stories, along with much other current short fiction, and a need to open up the formal possibilities of the short story; an acknowledgement that the world is too various, reality too multi-stranded, to be restricted to a single perspective or narrative plane.

Hyde And Seek : The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde By R. L. Stevenson

It is that time of the year once again – exams! And I wish all candidates the very best of luck - I still feel their nerves - and all families as much sanity as the next few weeks will allow. I well remember the mum who drew the line at ‘post-it notes on the cheese box in the fridge’ when her son decided to stick revision notes all over the house.

The Sweet Smell Of The Rose : Silent Accusation By Lesley Scott

To quote Billy Connolly - ‘Books are your ticket to the whole world. They’re a free ticket to the entire earth.’ Of course, sometimes, they take you even further than that as you enter a new world, meet new people and explore new locations.

Poem Of The Week: England In 1819 By Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

England in 1819 An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying King; Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow Through public scorn,—mud from a muddy spring; Rulers who neither see nor feel nor know, But leechlike to their fainting country cling Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow.

Exploring Catalan Literature - Part Eight (Conclusion): To See The Wood For The Trees

The birth of ‘Modern’ Catalan literature was explored in Part Three of our series, taking the 1970s onwards as its semi-permeable delineation. Once again, the focal point of our concluding episode is Contemporary Catalan literature per se.

Poem Of The Week: Crane Moor Wall By Kay Buckley

Crane Moor Wall Pennine spine, stone racked and hand packed. Bloomed lichen jade that whitens worn stones. Furred seeds of black moss in crevice bones. Thigh high ridge, a field mace of stone lace. Scraped by the dry dents of a bruised land. Flanked by knee-crags too bowed to stand. Hovelled and chiselled, shovelled into place. Hemmed in, regular rectangles up ended.

Her Inner Lioness: The Keeper Of Stories By Sally Page

I am lucky to have a source who often gives me books for birthdays or Christmas and this one came from there – and yet again, it was a brilliant choice. How do love stories start? A spy meeting a spy, ‘emerging through the steam of a Moscow tearoom’ or a cleaner ‘stepping onto a corporation bus on a dull, cold Thursday afternoon’. What is the ‘perfect moment’ wonders Janice.

Going Viral - Part Two: Liam Brown’s Skin

Skin is the fourth novel by British writer Liam Brown. A plague is ravaging the globe, and the populace is forced into quarantine for survival. Interestingly, in an author’s note towards the end of the book, Brown reveals that the story was inspired by an episode in his own life in which he was hospitalised for a strange skin condition that very nearly proved fatal.

Exploring Catalan Literature - Part Seven : All That Glitters Is Not Gold

Catalan literature, much like any other body of writing, should not be approached with the immutable idée fixe that all that glitters is gold. However effervescent a creative cauldron maybe, it’s prudent to bear in mind that the ingredients of such bubbling broths are often variegated in both quality and appeal!

Vaseem Khan: Writing The Wrongs Of Colonialism

Am I about to be murdered? I am wondering if Vaseem Khan, the first British Asian Chair of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, could be plotting his next novel - using me as a guinea pig. He has eyed me up. Surely, I want something stronger than a large glass of water, he asks. “A vodka instead?

Longlist Revealed For Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel Of The Year 2023

The longlist for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2023 has been announced by Harrogate International Festivals. The search for the best crime novel of the past year gets underway as the public are now invited to vote for their favourites to reach the next stage.

Clouding, Clearing, Shining : Dynamo By Luke Samuel Yates

In Luke Samuel Yates’ postmodern landscape, cities have many roundabouts that lead nowhere. Like Andover and Milton Keynes, they carry the suspicion of directional options, but a destination that is mostly a starting point: ‘I often feel that I’m coming up to that roundabout. I’ve got choices.

Going Viral - Part One: José Saramago's Blindness

I’ve recently investigated not one but two apocalyptic thrillers along the theme of viral pandemics: José Saramago’s Blindness (1995) and Liam Brown’s Skin (2019). Apposite reading, perhaps, as we come to terms with the impacts of Covid-19. For myself at least, reading these virus-related fables acted as a reminder that we’re not fully out of the woods yet.

Poem Of The Week: Opera By Robert Crawford

Robert Crawford’s gorgeous sonnet to his mother transfigures her labour into a kind of art. The work to which she is committed is transformed, in her industry, into a spectacle no less impressive than a performance, whose accoutrements - the ‘stagey chandeliers’ – might illuminate a fitting homage to her vocation.

The Rise And Rise Of A Star: Sooley By John Grisham

I did the unthinkable the other week. I went away for the weekend and forgot to take a book! Fortunately, the service station obliged with a good old ‘buy one get one half price’ offer and I was able to pick and choose. Grisham for me, James Patterson for my husband.

Classicism…Muse, Mistress And Mentor: Exploring Catalan Literature - Part Six

During this series, we’ve observed how the past osmotically permeates the present, conditioning modern sensibilities, and often undergirding the literary voices of those building upon the creative efforts of their authorial forebears.

Poem Of The Week: A Child Half-Asleep By Tony Connor

A Child Half-Asleep Stealthily parting the small-hours silence, a hardly-embodied figment of his brain comes down to sit with me as I work late. Flat-footed, as though his legs and feet were still asleep. On a stool, staring into the fire, his dummy dangling. Fire ignites the small coals of his eyes; it stares back through the holes into his head, into the darkness. I ask what woke him?

Carrying On As Usual: The Light Years By Elizabeth Jane Howard

Go on then, what do you do with your books once you’ve read them? Bin? Charity shop? Book swap? Willing victim or sorry recipient? Or like me, do you find a cranny to squeeze them into, defiantly filling shelves so tightly, you’ll never manage to get one out again. There again, why would you want to?

Barnsley Soundscape: The Place Is You By Kay Buckley

The tomographic appearance of leafless trees in winter yields a ‘neural’ map: against the background of a dying afternoon’s sun, they can look a little like the filigree branchings of a cerebral cortex on brain scans.

…From The Beloved Soil, Precious Flowers Bloom : Exploring Catalan Literature - Part Five

Tiago Miller, the literary translator who has acted during this series as my gracious guide through the candescent firmament that is Catalan literature, shares something beyond a mere literary linkage with the authors he most venerates. Both Tiago and the writers he adores, share a profound passion for the very soil of Catalonia, its people and their irrepressible, indomitable authenticity.

Poem Of The Week: Anaesthesia By Anne Stevenson (1933-2020)

Anaesthesia They slip away who never said goodbye, My vintage friends so long depended on To warm deep levels of my memory. And if I cared for them, care has to learn How to grieve sparingly and not to cry. Age is an exercise in unconcern, An anaesthetic, lest the misery Of fresh departures make the final one Unwelcome.

Outcast Bernard Ginns

Bernard Ginns spent the pandemic lockdowns productively, writing a thrilling debut novel based on the true-life accounts of a hostile takeover bid at Sheffield-based William Cook Holdings. Many of us who know Ginns recognise he is a journalist with a fine attention to detail and an eye for spotting a great story.

… Nothing Worth Discussing Is Ever Straightforward ! Exploring Catalan Literature - Part Four

Discussing the notion of a ‘literary canon’, irrespective of the language forming it, is beset with problematic issues. Broadly, a literary canon may be understood to be a collection of works deemed to be exceptionally important, influential, and definitive.

The Funny Garrett Millerick

Group Editor, Andrew Palmer, meets up with a comic heading north on a UK tour, which hopefully will not be as bad as facing 800 UN peacekeeping troops, starved of alcohol for two months and denied watching the end of an Arsenal football match!