Source: The Pikasso
Last September, I spent two weeks driving around France. The last two days of the trip were spent in Paris, where I stumbled across the wonderfully quaint Shakespeare and Company bookshop.
It’s a curious place, like all bookshops should be. It was the first place to publish the entirety of James Joyce’s Ulysses. Which at the time was deemed controversial.
The shop was open by Sylvia Beach on 19 November 1919. It moved premises before it was closed in 1941. George Whitman re-opened the store in 1951, at its current location, under the name Le Mistral. The shop’s name was changed back in 1964, six years after Beach had given the name to Whitman.
The shops have been linked with many writers, some even stayed there over the years. Ernest Hemmingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Ginsberg, Kerouac and William S. Burroughs have all spent time at the shop. The latter is said to have researched parts of Naked Lunch there.
It’s an understatement to say that the shop has plenty of history. And the building that now houses the vast collection of titles is ornate and doll-like. I wasn’t even looking for it when I found it, which made the experience much more special.
It is well-worth a visit, even if books aren’t your thing.
On Monday (6 Feb) news broke of the death of poet Thomas Lux. He was born in America in 1946, and has been publishing poetry since 1970. Lux expressed life through his poetry with humorous quips. Here’s his poem A Little Tooth:
Your baby grows a tooth, then two,
and four, and five, then she wants some meat
directly from the bone. It’s all
over: she’ll learn some words, she’ll fall
in love with cretins, dolts, a sweet
talker on his way to jail. And you,
your wife, get old, flyblown, and rue
nothing. You did, you loved, your feet
are sore. It’s dusk. Your daughter’s tall.
The Unthanks, previously Rachel Unthank and the Winterset, are a folk band from the North East of England. The band has released nine albums to date, but this Christmas sees the release of their book: The Memory Book. Containing 200-pages The Memory Book is a documentation of the band’s life, with work from past members, awards ceremonies, pieces from childhood… The list is endless.
Most interestingly are the contributors involved with the book. Music journalist Paul Morley provides the foreword, with other pieces written by author Nick Hornby, actors Martin Freeman, Maxine Peake, Colin Firth, Stephen Mangan, Dawn French, and Ade Edmondson. Fellow musicians like Orbital’s Paul Hartnoll and Radiohead’s Phillip Selway also get in on the action.
The book offers an interesting insight into the last ten years of the band’s life and career.
Previously unpublished prose, written by T. S. Eliot, is to be posted on a new website dedicated to the celebrated poet. The site is a collaborative effort between the poet’s estate and Faber & Faber, the publishing house where the poet was a director. One of the pieces that is to be featured on the site, an essay originally written in French, will be translated into English for the first time.
The site will also display hundreds of unpublished letters by Eliot, along with a collection of rare photographs taken by his late wife Esme Valerie Eliot. The letters, not included in volumes of Eliot’s letter in print, include correspondence with bank managers and tax inspectors.
Faber press director Henry Volans said he hoped the works would show all sides of the writer.
Read this article for more detailed information:
It has been a few months since I’ve posted any new poetry to the page, this is because I haven’t written anything new. I’ve been far too busy writing for Songwriting magazine this year and my brain is overloaded and foggy (in a good way). Hopefully, over the next two months a time will come when some new lines emerge to the forefront of my mind, long enough for me to be able to share them with you all.
Until then, you will have to make do with the occasional piece of news from the literary world. I can’t allow the site to have months of inactivity, so news articles will act as educational-filler.
Smoking days are over,
The needle of a sewing machine
Pierces my vein over and over,
Replacing the gnaw of nicotine.
Foot firm on the peddle –
You must hear it before you die.
Weighed down by concrete clouds,
I take a walk with Mr Shepard and Mr Boulter;
One an escape artist, the other a thief.
Walking westbound towards the Severn Bridge Toll,
Waves braking beneath us, hands of the dead grasping
our ankles, as old territory turns into mythical lands.
Escaping into the happiest of hells,
spilling drinks of hard liquor, leading to stonewall fist fights,
punching above our weight, we laugh at every demon.