Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My London Adventure in Photos

This is the London Eye. It is on the South Bank of the Thames River and you see all sorts of lovely things up there like Big Ben and the Parliament Building. It's not scary at all, sadly, a bit like a slow moving glass room.

This is award winning writer Vanessa Gebbie who I ate THE most fantastic burritos with.

Here is poet, novelist, stage writer Sue Guiney and short story writer extraordinaire (as well as poet) Tania Hershman in front of The Tintin Shop. Yes- everything inside is Tintin, hard to believe but I saw it with my own eyes, in Central London. I doubt Micky Mouse could do the same.

This is South Bank and the Thames River.
A seahorse at the aquarium at South Bank.

This is a very blurry photo (I wasn't sure I was allowed to take photos) of a panel discussion with Lionel Shriver (she's at the end) about new technologies and writers. I was a bit disappointed by her comment about free things, saying that free condoms were given away in Africa (the mythical country) and no one used them. Which, of course, is not true in Botswana, which is part of Africa. But otherwise an interesting discussion.

A juggler in Covent Garden.

A cool jelly fish at the aquarium.

This is the road on which my hotel, the Fielding Hotel, is located. If you look carefully it's on the right with a brown sign. I had a lovely little room on the third floor.

The Charles Dickens Coffee House, sadly I never got a chance to eat here but passed it numerous times as it was near my hotel

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I'm Off To London to See the Queen!

When you read this know I'm gone, off to London for the LSE Space for Thought Literary Festival. While I'm in London I'll be attending Sue Guiney's launch for her latest book of poetry. I'll also be meeting in the flesh two of my online friends: Vanessa Gebbie, a fantastic, award winning writer who I worked with on the One World book and short story queen, Tania Hershman. Very excited about this!

My talk is on Saturday at noon and I'd so love to meet any of you who have the chance to attend.

Talk when I get back...wish me luck in the BIG city!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

When Traditionally Published Authors Jump Ship

Alisa Valdes has learned some hard lessons from her quite successful run with traditional publishers. She felt since she was the one meeting with her readers she knew their needs better. Her publisher thought otherwise so she's in the process of self publishing a third installment of her Dirty Girls Club books. It took her two days to learn how to do it. Read the inspirational article here.

If you continue reading the comments, there's some interesting bits there as well. The warning from the agent that not all books should be published. This is the traditional attack on self publishing, that it's sub-par but I don't think that applies here. Alisa Valdes has sold over a million copies for traditional publishing houses. I also think the comment from the small publisher who instead of fighting the change embraced it by helping her authors self publish and then assisting them in marketing is interesting.

It really doesn't need to be either or, it actually can be both.
What do you think?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Ancestress, a poem

My Ancestress
(New Year’s Eve 2010)

They say she lived in a cave
Dark, likely with bats.
Her mystical, not of this world
And me, practical as dirt.
Yet finally something resonates inside
At the same wavelength
On which she travelled so long ago
And I think the one word
That never sat familiar on my tongue-

I wonder did they chase her there?
Somehow I doubt it.
A witchy woman is never chased.
She chose her cave.
I see her hair long and tangled
Maybe a cursory look would uncover sticks
Brought from the southern reaches
From where she came
To the icy northern land
In search of freedom.
The opposite trip from mine, though
Exactly identical too.

I’m happy to know that somewhere
In my cellular make-up
A strand of feral, feminine DNA
Untainted and pure,
Hiding in the powerhouse
Of the cells, of my body
Belongs to her.
Perhaps the essence of us both.
I hope.
I wish.

Her bits make me want to look behind
From where I come,
The place I fled.
Where everything was unfamiliar
And strange.
She has sent out a torch light
For me alone, I think
Over generations and time, over distances.
And for the first moment, I am connected
No longer floating untethered.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

From a Friend in Egypt

On the last day I was in Egypt a friend of one of the writers I was with Dalia Basiouny took us on the most amazing tour of Cairo. A whirlwind tour that took us to ancient mosques and hidden magical places. Her love of Cairo was so apparent, she adored the city. Through the last 12 days I've wondered about her and others I met in Egypt. I was so happy to read her account here of being in Tahrir Square on the Day of Departure. Here is her blog from Cairo.

I've been so touched by the humanity and dignity of the protesters; their bravery up against such fear and mis-information.

They are all heroes and I hope they know the world is with them.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Badilisha Poetry Radio

I came upon this fabulous website , Badilisha Poetry Radio via Facebook this morning. I've managed to lose an hour listening to poetry by African poets both here and abroad. I got captured by Karin Schmike's poem Shamshack about the two-faced, false concern of politicians. Powerful.

When writing about why the founders saw the need to establish Badilisha Poetry Radio and The African Centre they say this:

For a range of historical, political and economic reasons, many of the important collections and productions of African art today are located or performed outside of Africa. As a result, Africans living on the continent have limited access to their own artistic heritage and the work of contemporary practitioners. Based in South Africa, the Africa Centre was conceived as both a physical entity and an ongoing philosophical journey that aims to redress these imbalances.

I've been thinking a lot about this very thing lately. After my recent interview about the books I read last year, I realised I've hardly read any books from other African countries except for South Africa. It is easier for me to buy a book from America or the UK than is is for me to buy a book from another African country. The books are just not available. There is something wrong with that. It appears this is the same for many areas of the arts. There is something seriously wrong with this and I'm glad at least Badilisha is trying to change things.