Friday, 25 January 2008

Warning: Book Pushers in the Neighbourhood!

Spontaneous applause for the Book Pushers, a group of young people based in Buxton, who, since 2002 (with successive intakes of 'Reading Activists') have been promoting, championing, extolling and blethering about books to audiences far and wide. They have a national reputation for being A Very Good Thing and this week, it's my privilege to meet and write alongside some of them. The current refurbishment of Buxton Library includes the new Headspace - an area designed for young people - part of a national project involving 20 libraries in 4 regions, that the Book Pushers themselves dreamt up and were involved in planning. (Their original name for the project was 'Book Bars' with themselves as 'Book Waiters'). Thanks also to Will Newman, Reader & Audience Development Officer for DCC, who started the whole Bookpushers phenomenon.

Here's a gem of advice from last night's writing (copyright Bookpushers 2008):

'Don't be a snob. Reading is for everyone, not just for posh or clever people - so don't look down on people for what they read, and don't be afraid to read what you want, not what you should.' So there :-)
Photo: Nick, Ben and a nice man in a suit

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Imagine... Remember, Reflect, React

Thankyou to the wonderful readers and writers who attended the workshop this evening to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day (January 27th). We were guests of Chesterfield Library's World of Words Reading Group, who have been reading Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky who died in Auschwitz in August 1942.

HMD is recognised internationally as the day to commemorate victims of all genocides and to explore wider issues of prejudice and discrimination. Together we wrote on the challenging subjects of persecution and loss, the resilience of life in the face of destruction, and the creative seeds of change.

Alongside some moving pieces by Chesterfield Young Writers, the writing produced will be on display in Chesterfield Library for a month from January 25th, as well as three poems I have been commissioned to write for the event.

Click here for more information on Holocaust Memorial events across the UK and to light a virtual candle of remembrance.

Friday, 11 January 2008

'This being human ...'

January can seem bleak. Bare trees through a veil of rain. The buds waiting to break are easily overlooked. If your landscape looks desolate, or even if you're full of optimism, here are some poems.

Mary Oliver's Wild Geese - much anthologised and quoted; Derek Walcott 's Love after Love - a gentle invitation to patience; and The Guest House by the Sufi mystic Jelaluddin Rumi (1207 - 73) whose voice across the centuries invites us to meet life with radical acceptance.

I offer these in memory of Tony Williamson, a deeply caring and generous-hearted man, who I knew through singing together in Out Aloud, Sheffield's LGBT Choir. He died on 24th December and will be greatly missed.