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Recommended reading

Tuesday, April 25, 2006
At last! Some media book coverage that isn't just about the latest bestseller. Waterstone's, rather suprisingly, have just released a list of 30 'forgotten' books and another 25 recommendations of favourite reads by authors and celebs .

But, best of all, the Guardian's Culture Vulture blog has kick-started a discussion which includes lots of other great recommendations including books in translation from all over the world. So, that's my summer reading sorted.

There are lots of suggestions here of writers I love, and lots that I can't wait to try, but I think I'd also have to add a couple of personal favourites: anything by Paula Fox, especially her Desperate Characters; and Anna Kavan's strange and beautiful Sleep Has His House.

If anyone would like to offer their recommendations, please let me know. I'm looking forward to getting back to reading something other than books by Julia Kristeva, interesting as she is...

Kenyan poet's blog

Sunday, April 23, 2006
Congratulations to Mshairi on her recent win of a Kenya Unlimited Kaybee 2006 award for best poetry blog.

Mshairi (word for 'poet' in Kiswahili) lives in the UK and says that she is: 'dreaming of a time when the cultural, legal and political obstacles that prevent African women attaining economic independence and equality are eradicated.'

Story of refugee from South Africa

Allan Leas fled Apartheid South Africa in the late '70s. Now he's started telling his story online. The first chapter of Allan's story makes compelling reading and gives a very honest and intelligent insight into what it's like to be a refugee. It's interesting that lots of things about the asylum system haven't really changed since then. In fact, as Allan himself observes, they're probably even worse now.

Check Allan out here.

Allan now works for The European Council on Refugees and Exiles. I'll definitely be reading as he continues to post his story.

Back when we knew everything...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006
I failed miserably with the one-word poem idea. It was so hard to come up with that one word, the right word for the way I was feeling in that moment. But it did make me think and got me rolling some old favourites and some new discoveries around on my tongue.

I also had the slight excuse that it was the half-term holidays and Tom's three gorgeous girls came to stay with us. Last Monday, we went to the library to listen to Shonaleigh, a Drut'syla or storyteller from the Yiddish tradition.

For Shonaleigh, story-telling is: 'a way of making the unbearable bearable, it's a way of dealing with life' and something which the Jewish culture has always valued and kept alive.

She told us a wonder tale about the time before each one of us is born, when we each know everything there is to know in the world: why the wind blows and how the earth was made and how to understand the languages of all creatures... And then, just before we are born, an angel presses his finger to our lips: Ssssshhh! He tells us that we must never whisper a word of this knowledge to anyone. And, once we are born into the world, we begin to forget everything that we knew. But we have two lines between our nose and our mouth, where the angel left the imprint of his finger.

But storytellers, being natural chatterboxes, are not so easily hushed. The angel has to press his finger very hard over the lips of a storyteller and that is why you can always spot them - because they have much deeper lines above their mouth than other people.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Is this a poem?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Can one word be a poem?

At first, I said 'no'. But then I began to think what my one-word poem might be, and I found it a really difficult and interesting thing to think about on all kinds of levels. I'm going to write a one-word poem every day for the next few days...


Possibly the best story about blogging ever...

Monday, April 03, 2006
This time last year, I met a gorgeous man called Tom. Tom knew more than a thing or two about blogging and he encouraged me to start this blog as a way of getting the Lots of Big Ideas project off the ground.

Not long after I began to blog, I began to acquire a few readers along the way, including a very cool and sparky woman called Krupskaya who blogs over at The Edit Barn.

Krupskaya left a comment on one of my very early blog entries and so I visited her blog and became completely hooked. She is just so good at telling stories - about her life, about her two incredibly cute chidren and about the little things she observes on a day-to-day basis from an unspecified location in the States somewhere. I remember thinking that here was someone whom I'd love to meet, if only we didn't live thousands of miles away from one another. We seemed to have so much in common and to have some very similar ways of looking at the world.

A year has gone by and I now live with the gorgeous man called Tom. But, in the meantime, I've continued to read Krupskaya's blog and, when it came to passing on Molara Wood's recent meme, I didn't think twice about what my number one favourite blog would be.

But life got crazy for a while and I got behind in my blog reading. Imagine my amazement when I caught up with Krupskaya's adventures last week and found a new entry entitled, Pen Pal. Warning: She says some very generous things about me which are totally undeserved!

Yes, you've guessed it. My favourite blogger, the woman whose stories I've been savouring for the last twelve months and with whom I instinctively felt a sense of solidarity from our first online rendez-vous, turns out to be my childhood pen pal from Omaha, Nebraska. She blogs under her pseudonym, Krupskaya, and I won't blow her cover by revealing her real name...

I still don't know to this day whether she stumbled across my blog by pure coincidence. But, however she found me, it's a great story about the power of blogging and about how it can bring people together to create communities of like-minded people. It makes me feel all warm inside to think that this kind of thing is possible, and it makes me even more determined to try to find more people who want to tell their stories through Lots of Big Ideas.

Krupskaya, if you're reading this, I'm sending you a huge hug from across the ocean. It's great to have found you again!