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Everything posted by Claire

  1. Excellent choice - nice one, Grammath (Need to go and scrub eyes......Ich!!!)
  2. This is an excellent biography of Mrs Beeton - compiler of the Book of Household Management that bears her name, but it also aspires to be more than that. Isabella Beeton was only 29 when she died, and had only been keeping house for herself for less than a year when she started on her book -which arose out of her involvement with her husband's magazine publishing business, and the regular advice columns she wrote for him. Her life is bound up in his stormy business affairs. In telling the story of Isabella Beeton, Kathryn Hughes also tells the story of housework and our changing attitudes to domestic life. Many of the recipes and instructions in the Book of Household Management are lifted from earlier works, with or without some modification on the way and Hughes traces the many differing sources that Mrs Beeton drew upon and the different ways in which she made use of them. Her book continues to trace the fortunes of Mrs Beeton's book, long beyond the death of the author, and analyses the ways in which it has been modified ever since, and the way that "Mrs Beeton" has become a brand and all that it stands for. Hughes traces the early roots of our modern consumer society back to some of the social changes that are reflected in Mrs Beeton's life and work, and it makes a fascinating read. My one irritation with this book was the way that Hughes reads between the lines. Any biographer, with limited material to work with, has to guess and imagine a little to fill in the gaps, but Hughes was just a bit too quick to be a bit too certain about her own suppositions. She turns her own speculations almost into facts a little too readily. (And is rather aggrieved, on occasion, when her subjects don't always behave with complete consistency - as if any of us do!) All in all, a fascinating book - and it's made me dig out my copy of the Book of Household Management to dip into, too. I'm learning all sorts of handy things about what my footman and butler should be doing each day, and the correct way to make my morning calls!
  3. I warmed to him a little more than you did, I suspect. I agree that the contrasts in the first extract were fairly obvious - I thought the description of the awkward warmth in the church hall was well observed and economically described, though, it made me smile in recognition. I was rather moved by the second half of the second extract: Dad, what’s it like to die? And when you’re dead will you still hear me play the violin? Will you be you? Or just the word instead of you? No, I’ll be you. I’ll snuggle in your memory like hide and seek again. The similes he knows are not quite lies are not quite tears, quite standing in his eyes. But I don't have much of any more depth to add, I'm afraid!
  4. Ill health and over work mean I've lost track of these a little. I've posted the next one and will post another couple over the weekend. Take them at whatever speed suits you rather than running to get caught up. Claire
  5. The next of the shortlisted books for the T S Eliot poetry prize. An introduction to Human Chain by Seamus Heaney.
  6. I'm faffing about doing my last bits and pieces of preparation for a Remembrance Sunday Service tomorrow. I'm really rather nervous, so I'm procrastinating rather than concentrating.... That sounds like a cool move - what's prompted the change?
  7. Hah!! Even my shallowest, most basic analysis turns out to be completely wrong! It's not "longer poems" but extracts from a book length "extremely long poem" Ignore me and post your own thoughts!
  8. Some of the second hand books I buy are from the "Withdrawn from Stock" shelves at the local library. Does that make me doubly naughty?
  9. The third of the shortlisted books for the T S Eliot prize is "You" by John Haynes. My initial obeservation is that he must write longer poems than the other two, because it took 5 pages rather than 3 to print the pdf out.....Profound poetic analysis, huh!? You can find the pdf right here
  10. I just assumed they had had a deep and meaningful conversation about poetry as well...but yes, on reflection it may have been something more than that. I was struck by the contrast between the way this memory was kept perpetually glowing and golden in the younger poet's memory, with the inevitable decay of the plums. Windfalls on the pavement would already be over ripe, bruised and starting to go off. The third poem left me scratching my head - but I haven't given up on it yet...
  11. That's a good find, Heather. Thanks for sharing it with us.
  12. I've read A Redbird Christmas, when I was in a reading group for a few months. It was a little too sentimental for my tastes - but the rest of the group loved it, so that's probably more of a reflection on my miserable cynicism rather than on the book! Worth a try if you are in the mood for something seasonal and positive for Christmas.
  13. I'm having a busy week, so I haven't read these as much as I would have liked. These poems don't draw me in and appeal to me nearly as much as the Simon Armitage ones did. The overall impression I have, on reading them, is of sadness, though I don't quite know why, yet. The Carvery Experience: Often poems suggest a story or at least an event - this one seems far more like a single snapshot, capturing a moment, but suggesting far more questions than it answers. What should be a celebration, an enjoyable meal out, carries a strong sense of unease and discomfort - especially in the last but one stanza "I think that stag is watching us"...."If we don't leave right now, I'll die".... The relationship between the couple seems left very open - I feel like I want to know more about them, but have very little to go on. I think this is a good point and a powerful contrast within the poem - with the added twist that the tapestries (and the boars head, come to that) are unlikely to be genuine relics of that time, but modern day reproductions, probably made by machine in order to make a chain of pubs look "Ye Olde Worlde Tavern" - equally a part of the mass market consumer society. I found this poem a bit of a non-event at first, but as I stop and try and type something about it, I'm finding it quite a haunting, unsettling moment.
  14. The second of the shortlisted books for the T S Eliot Prize is The Mirabelles I've just printed off the pdf to have a look at it - I look forward to seeing what anyone else thinks (but do keep going with the first book, too!)
  15. I would been very unlikely to make the connection between the poem and Tony Blair, if it weren't for the link in the pdf. I would have taken it as a reflection on Crufts, probably! I think I don't normally expect poems to deal with current events or political issues. I wonder what we miss when we read poems from longer ago, because we no longer grasp the wider current issues they might be commenting on. It's interesting that Heather's reaction to the poodle was coloured by the image from the front cover. I think it can't help but do that. Overall, I've really enjoyed these three poems - I'd definitely give the whole book a go, if I got the chance, or pick up one of his other collections, if I saw them.
  16. I find that chuntzy's link between the name Damien and the artist Damien Hirst is more compelling than a link to The Exorcist and related film. For me, the poem raises questions about when is something worthwhile art and when is it childish silliness, which I also start thinking about when confronted with some of Damien Hirst's stranger offerings.
  17. I've just posted up a thread for the next of the shortlisted authors. Given that I have a degree in Psychology, I really, really ought to get the next poet's surname right...
  18. I always tell my son, "If you're not completely sure of how to spell something, then check, rather than just guessing" ....I clearly don't follow my own advice!
  19. I'm interested to see that you react to the saving of the snowball as a childish joke, Heather. My first thought was, "How cool is that!!" I love that sort of surreal moment when you see something utterly out of context, like a snowball in mid-summer, and can't make any sense of it - so it seemed like a really creative, delight-bringing impulse that Damien had, which got eaten away at by the housewife's prosaic concerns. My initial reaction to all three poems was enjoyment - all three made me smile with their inventiveness, and the playful use of language and ideas - the Whale one had me most baffled - especially as to why it was called "The Christening" - I couldn't make any connections between the title and the stream of whaley consciousness that followed. More thoughts when I've read them a few more times. What are anyone elses first reactions?
  20. Thanks David! I was about to do some copying and pasting, but you can do a much neater job with your administrative magic powers.
  21. Glad to have some good company to read with, David, Hazel and Heather. Hopefully a couple more folk might dip in and join us too. I love your first reaction to the snowball poem, Heather, many thanks for diving in and getting us started. I've started a thread specifically for Seeing Stars, so that people can find it and comment on it longer term, and so that each book can have it's own thread, rather than all get jumbled up here. You can find it over here.
  22. Seeing Stars by Simon Armitage is on the shortlist for the TS Elliot Prize for 2010 You can find three poems from the book here. (Opens as a pdf), plus some introductory stuff on the book and poet and some Readers Group questions Any comments, thoughts or reactions?
  23. I've just had an email from the Poetry Book Society, which I was a member of for a year. They've announced the shortlisted poetry books for this years prize and they have rather a nice project to go along side it, which I thought some of you might be equally interested in. For each of the shortlisted books, they've produced an introductory pack, with a short biography of the poet, an intro to the book, 3 poems from the book, and some discussion starters for a reading group to have a go at (or for an individual to ponder, I guess) Plus, some recommendations along the lines of "If you liked these, then try...." They are going to email out links to these each week for the next ten weeks, up until the winner is announced, or you can read them all now on their website. I haven't read much poetry for a while and am planning on reading along with this scheme as an easy way of discovering some new poems. Anyone want to join me? I might start a thread here each week and see if anyone wants to chip in some thoughts as we go along. (Plus, it will keep me reading, if I've publicly committed myself to posting something!) The shortlist and information on the scheme are here, (or linked from this page) TS Eliot Prize The 10 pdfs can be found here or you can find a place to sign up for the weekly emails, if you scout round the site a little bit. Week 1 is Simon Armitage, Seeing Stars
  24. Some lovely poems.....Like you Squirls, I'd feel I'd lived well if I lived up to half of that Something is Missing poem - and the Ellen Bass poem is extraordinary.
  25. Lady Lazarus - come and share some wisdom with us! ETA - I sent a pm too, though I see she hasn't been around for awhile, cos of stressy work stuff.
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