Bookseeker Literary Agency

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Difficult poetry and the Russian Revolution.

Some interesting reading on various blogs recently. Our client Marie Marshall had a little to say about difficult poetry, after which her colleague Daniel Paul Marshall – I’m assured that they’re not related – took the subject a little further. Any of you who are interested in poetics might find the discussion sets you thinking.

sosoAlso Marie recently blogged her short story set a few years before the Russian Revolution, the centenary of which is this year. Who is the mysterious ‘Soso’? Would we recognise in him one of the famous persons of the twentieth century?

By the way, if you have not read Marie’s poetry collection, I am not a fish, I am told that copies are still available from Oversteps Books. The collection was nominated for the 2013 T.S. Eliot Prize, which gives you some idea of how good it is!

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Edinburgh International Book Festival

1.1I have just spent a long fortnight in and out of the International Book Festival in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh. this has become an annual thing for me, and I have a whale of a time even though I’m actually engaged in hard work. while I’m there I’m writing, tweeting, talking, taking photos, so when I get back I don’t really want to write any more. So here’s an essay in photographs rather than words, about the scenes and faces at this year’s festival.

The photos were taken on a bog-standard Nikon D50 or an iPad.

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2.2 Graham Swift

Graham Swift

2.4 Ian Goldin

Ian Goldin

2.1 Ali Smith

Ali Smith

1.2 a wave of beards

A wave of beards swept through Charlotte Square. I think that’s author Philip Ardagh on the right.

2.2 Iain Macwhirter

Iain Macwhirter

Chris Close’s excellent photo-portraits of visiting writers etc. were on display again this year. The exhibition was better than ever – here are just a few faces, including Alexander McCall Smith, Gavin Francis, Joan Bakewell, Wilko Johnson, Ruby Wax, and Attila the Stockbroker. Thanks for letting me use these, Chris.

4.1 Alexander McCall Smith & Gavin Francis

4.2 Joan Bakewell & Wilko Johnson

4.3 Ruby Wax & Attila the Stockbroker

And back to my own pics…

1.4 Book Shop

1.5 posing

2.10 Michael Scott

Michael Scott

2.5 Thomas Clark

Thomas Clark

2.9 Zaffar Kunial

Zaffar Kunial

1.10 relaxation

Relaxation…

1.6 photo bunch

Photo call

2.11 Jackie Kay

Scots ‘Makar’ Jackie Kay

2.13 Roy Hattersley

Roy Hattersley

1.8 staff

2.3 Louis de Bernieres

Louis de Bernières

2.7 Gordon Brown

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown

2.8 Richard & Daniel Susskind

Richard Susskind & Daniel Susskind. In the background is journalist Lee Randall, who chaired their event.

2.12 Carol Ann Duffy

Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy

2.6 Roger Mason

Roger Mason

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1.7 Cloud

Late in the day we heard that actor Gene Wilder had left our world of pure imagination, maybe to watch from this cloud.


A little touch of haiku in the spring…

1We have heard from our client Marie Marshall that the Spring 2016 Showcase of the zen space is now published. the zen space is of course the e-zine for haiku and other short, in-the-moment writing. This issue appears to be shot through with paintings by Vincent van Gogh. When asked why, Marie shrugs and says “Why not?” Can’t argue with that! Click on Vincent’s selfie to be transported to the zen space.

By the way, Marie also tells us that the editing process has begun for her novel KWIREBOY vs VAMPIRE, the sequel to From My Cold, Undead Hand, with publication due later this year. Good news – we’re looking forward to it greatly!


A connection with the creator of Dracula…

cmt picThe agency is now representing Scottish-based writer Constance Tonge. Constance says she has been a writer by calling from an early age, having swapped her swing for a typewriter at the age of five! The daughter of an Isle of Man TT racer, and a descendant of Bram Stoker, she is a graduate of St Andrews University. After a career specialising in dementia, she did postgraduate study at Aberdeen, and is now pursuing her Doctorate at Newcastle University where her thesis will be on Phenomenology.

Constance’s debut novel, Wisp, is set in Scotland. She says of it:

At the heart of this novel is a topical issue in that Wisp is concerned with people suffering from microcephaly – the phenomenon which has recently been connected with the Zika virus in Brazil. It is a novel which will, additionally, appeal to a core audience of readers who appreciate character-led fiction as well as those interested in the workings of modern science. Set in the ancient University of St Andrews, it features the everyday subjects of personhood, consciousness, religion, ethics, genetic engineering, afternoon tea, mushrooms, and magic.

Her second novel, Men who Play with Lightning, is currently being prepared. It is the story of a conscientious objector in World War II who joins Bomb Disposal. The agency is very excited about having this excellent writer with us.

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Stanza 2016

StAnza header

Here are some visual memories of this year’s StAnza at St Andrews. As always, the main venues for this exciting poetry festival were the Byre Theatre and the Town Hall, each place having rooms enough for simultaneous presentations, readings, performances, and exhibitions.

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Will Philip

I got the chance to meet and chat with several interesting people and to catch some of the excellent poetry sessions. I had a long chat with Scottish poet Will Philip, in which we explored everything from the concept of art, through the poetry as communication, to theology. My good friend and colleague Damo Bullen was there, and we had a chinwag – when he wasn’t checking the Burnley v. Blackburn score on his smartphone – and caught the performance by Jemima Foxtrot together.

Helena Nelson and I, along with another visitor to the HappenStance stall at the Poetry Market, had a long discussion about lip-reading as part of the reception/interpretation of spoken performances. Helena gave me a copy of her book How (Not) To Get Your Poetry Published – thank you Helena, that’ll come in very handy – and told me I should style myself a ‘literary secret agent’ because it sounded much more glamorous.

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Helena Nelson

Yes, literary secret agent, I like that.

On top of that there were pieces of cake served on poem-bearing serviettes at the Poetry Market, macaroni pies and Schiehallion ale at the Studio Theatre, and blissful scones at the café in the Byre. StAnza is still in full swing as I write this, but alas my own visits are over until next year…

… when maybe the literary secret agent may even step into an open mic event. You never know.

Paul

 

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Kirsten Luckins

5

Valerie Laws

 

6

Aase Berg

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The Poetry Market

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Jemima Foxtrot


Meet Tich Ennis

tich1

David ‘Tich’ Ennis – not a client as such, but a bod we happen to like here – is an Irish poet, man of humour, and general all-round ‘good egg’. He’s tich3a one-time resident of the lovely Vale of Avoca. His poetry is simple, and has been simmered over a low flame of of dry wit. It rhymes a bit too. He reads it out in public, sometimes accompanied by a man with a gong.

So far so good. Anyhow, Tich has joined us in the 21st century, and now has a YouTube channel all of his own. He vows to make it grow, and we’ve promised to give his vow a little boost here.

So, why not go for a little visit? Pull up a chair. Make a habit of dropping in to see him…

I met a metaphor today
it said I haven’t much to say,
you see, I mean to things at once
and may be taken for a dunce.

tich2