Poem in Land of Three Rivers anthology.

Land of Three Rivers

I have a poem, “The North Sea At Tynemouth”, in the new Bloodaxe anthology, Land of Three Rivers: The Poetry of North-East England.

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Being interviewed by the RLF on poetry and the writer’s life.

‘After a while most of us find we’re doing the same stuff; I tried new things.’

selfRLF

What has it been like being a poet and publisher the past couple of decades? These are some of the things I talk about in this interview with poet, Geoff Hattersley, for the Royal Literary Fund.

Listen to the whole podcast.

 

Towards the new gulag one vote at a time.

denisovich
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzheitsyn.
Solzhenitsyn’s short masterpiece should be essential reading for all young people. It’s a reminder (or perhaps the first encounter for some) of the horrors of communism in the Soviet Union. Socialism, communism, Marxism, whatever you want to call it, ends inevitably in labour and death camps or in complete social collapse, as is happening now in Venezuela.

Here’s the blurb from Penguin Books about One Day…

Bringing into harsh focus the daily struggle for existence in a Soviet gulag, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is translated by Ralph Parker in Penguin Modern Classics.

This brutal, shattering glimpse of the fate of millions of Russians under Stalin shook Russia and shocked the world when it first appeared. Discover the importance of a piece of bread or an extra bowl of soup, the incredible luxury of a book, the ingenious possibilities of a nail, a piece of string or a single match in a world where survival is all. Here safety, warmth and food are the first objectives. Reading it, you enter a world of incarceration, brutality, hard manual labour and freezing cold – and participate in the struggle of men to survive both the terrible rigours of nature and the inhumanity of the system that defines their conditions of life.

Though twice-decorated for his service at the front during the Second World War, Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) was arrested in 1945 for making derogatory remarks about Stalin, and sent to a series of brutal Soviet labour camps in the Arctic Circle, where he remained for eight years. Released after Stalin’s death, he worked as a teacher, publishing his novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich with the approval of Nikita Khrushchev in 1962, to huge success. His 1967 novel Cancer Ward, as well as his magnum opus The Gulag Archipelago, were not as well-received by Soviet authorities, and not long after being awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1970, Solzhenitsyn was deported from the USSR. In 1994, after twenty years in exile, Solzhenitsyn made his long-awaited return to Russia.

If you enjoyed One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, you might also like Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, available in Penguin Classics.

‘It is a blow struck for human freedom all over the world … and it is gloriously readable’
Sunday Times

For a more detailed and more gruelling read, there’s The Gulag Archipelago, also by Solzhenitsyn.

Scott-King’s Modern Europe by Evelyn Waugh

‘Then what do you intend to do?’
‘If you  approve, headmaster, I will stay as I am here as long as any boy wants to read the classics. I think it would be very wicked indeed to do anything to fit a boy for the modern world.’
‘It’s a short-sighted view, Scott-King.’
‘There, headmaster, with all respect, I differ from you profoundly. I think it the most long-sighted view it is possible to take.’

from Scott-King’s Modern Europe, by Evelyn Waugh

Labour’s Lost Boy – Jeremy Corbyn IS Peter Pan

corbyn-snag

WHEN I WAS preparing a short podcast on Peter Pan for some students it occurred to me that some of what I was talking about had a direct relevance to current left of centre politics. This can be boiled down to two points: the first is the overwhelming desire to live in a fantasy world where you do not need to grow up, and the second is the amnesia that accompanies that desire.

We all know that Peter Pan himself is a Lost Boy, who refuses to grow up, preferring to live in Neverland, where he can play to his heart’s delight without having to bear the responsibilities of growing up in the real world. Listening to any leftist is like listening to a Peter Pan promising utopia: you can do what you want, everything will be free because mummy state will provide it, and the rich will pay for it. You don’t have to worry about taking responsibility for your own life or actions.

Read on at The Fortnightly Review.

There’s more panning of such Peter Pan-nery in my by book that you should read.

“For whom the bell tolls…” – a reading of John Donne’s famous words.

My reading of an extract of John Donne’s Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, with its famous words about the bell. On my YouTube channel, English Readings. Please subscribe.

Three Men in a Boat – latest 3-minute lecture/podcast on YouTube.

Here is my 3-minute lecture/microlecture/podcast on Jerome K Jerome’s classic, Three Men in a Boat.