Archive for January, 2015

Write for BBC Radio

January 25, 2015


Broadcasting HouseOnce a year a window opens for new writers with no experience of radio to submit a short story  to Opening Lines – BBC Radio 4’s showcase for short stories. And that window opens today, Monday January 5th 2015: it closes on Friday February 13

What you can send:
One story which must be between 1,900 and 2,000 words long to fill a 14 minute time slot. If it is shorter than that, or longer, it won’t be considered.

It should be:
written to be read aloud

It should have:
A strong narrative.
A strong opening.
A strong ending.

It shouldn’t have:
too much dialogue.
too much character description.
A dark, harrowing theme.
Obscene language or unsuitable material likely to cause offence to a wide audience of all ages.
(Reading transcripts of stories which have featured in recent series  should help you get a feel for the kind of…

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Sue Millard – Genealogy

January 17, 2015

The Stare's Nest


Ich bin Englanderin
My mother’s great-grandfather had to leave
when they said his family name belonged to the enemy…
Tá mé bean na Fraince
..they spat upon his wife in the street
and hanged her dog on the garden gate.
Je suis irlandaise
My father’s great-grandfather had to leave
when potatoes turned to mush in the ground…
yo soy una mujer alemana
..his wife brought up sixteen children
without asking the parish for a penny.
I am an Englishwoman. With these voices in my genes
I cannot understand why an Englishman must shout
immigrants, go home.

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The Interesting Life of T. S. Eliot

January 16, 2015

Interesting Literature

We could write thousands of words as part of a T. S. Eliot biography, but instead we’ll limit ourselves to a shortish piece that distils all of the most interesting aspects of Eliot’s life into one relatively brief post. What follows, then, is a short and, we hope, interesting guide to the amazing life of T. S. Eliot (1888-1965).

Early Life

Thomas Stearns Eliot was born on 26 September 1888 in St Louis, Missouri, the youngest of seven children. His ancestors had lived in America for the last couple of centuries, since Andrew Elliott had left East Coker in Somerset for Massachusetts in the 1660s. (Elliott was one of the jurists who tried the Salem ‘witches’ in 1692, alongside John Hathorne, great-great-grandfather of the American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne.) An earlier ancestor, his namesake Thomas Elyot (c. 1490-1546), was an influential scholar during the reign of Henry VIII who had spoken…

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Who Said ‘The Pen Is Mightier Than the Sword’?

January 16, 2015

Interesting Literature

‘The pen is mightier than the sword’. The phrase has the ring of proverb about it, and most proverbs don’t have an author: they’re anonymous nuggets of wisdom handed down from generation to generation, part of an oral rather than written tradition. But we can actually trace ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’ to a clear source – at least, in a sense.

The phrase came about in 1839 when it was invented by a nineteenth-century writer named Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873), in a play about Cardinal Richelieu. Bulwer-Lytton was himself a fascinating figure who would also gain notoriety for inventing the most laughably clichéd opening line in all of literature, as we revealed in a post on five fascinating facts about him. He would also inspire the name of the drink known as Bovril, as well as being offered the throne of Greece – quite an eventful life…

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What Happens in Beowulf? An Interesting Summary

January 9, 2015

If, in my first year at Reading University in 1964/65, we had studied Beowulf instead of extracts from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (so dull!)
maybe I should have stuck with reading English instead of switching to Philosophy and obtained a better class of degree than the Gentleman’s I ended up woth (a pass, just like T S Eliot).

Interesting Literature

What happens in Beowulf, the jewel in the crown of Anglo-Saxon poetry? The title of the poem is probably the most famous thing about it – that, and the fact that a monster named Grendel features at some point. But because the specific details of the story are not widely known, numerous misconceptions about the poem abound. When was Beowulf written? This is a matter of some conjecture, with guesses ranging anywhere between the eighth century and the first half of the eleventh century. Critics can’t even agree on what the first line of the poem means. The poem continues to enjoy popularity, thanks to a bestselling translation by Seamus Heaney and a translation by J. R. R. Tolkien, which was only published in 2014. We’re here to offer a brief overview of the plot of Beowulf, along with some interpretations of the poem. So, to begin, a brief…

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Winter by Jeremy Page

January 7, 2015

Abegail Morley


We weren’t invited
but after the distance we’d trekked
through snow the like of which
they’d never dreamed
she could hardly turn us back.

And so we stepped into
the welcoming glow, all
stamping feet, rubbing hands
and catching breath
after a mere half hour
in the ice-bound city,
and Anita greeting us
like her longest lost cousins,
grasping us to the stove-like warmth
of her breast and serving us
runny scrambled eggs
and schinken, with heavy slabs
of thick black German bread.

And the girls come back to life,
sensation returns to fingers, toes,
eyes shine, while I sip hot, black coffee
and outside the pavements
grow heavier and heavier with snow.

First published on London Grip

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Sunday Poem – John Foggin

January 5, 2015

Adding this to my blog mainly for the poems.

Kim Moore

This week has been a strange one – in some ways it feels like the laziest Christmas/New Year period I’ve had for a long time.  The husband has post-viral fatigue syndrome – which I had a couple of years ago and is truly horrible.  It basically means you’re exhausted all the time but he has had other symptoms -feeling sick, sore throat, not eating (first time in ten years I’ve ever known him not to eat) so to show solidarity with him I have been sitting on the sofa for hours re-watching Game of Thrones.  But also because I was tired as well – it felt like I was hovering on the edge of getting better so I decided I would start running again and do some jobs but spend most of my time sitting/lying on the sofa.

Apart from lying on the sofa watching TV and cooking – how…

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Channel by Mary Norton Gilonne

January 1, 2015

I am not a silent poet

If it comes it will be with night.
Oil-slicked, lamped pools, rancid fear
rust deep. Soft-footed, crabbing up,
tarpaulin skin slit.

If it comes it will be flashed,
gut-cold, fleshed white, tight
with dread. Raw as boned sea air,
body shrunk, belly taut.

If it comes it will be unlit,
hungered, swallowed down
deep in dirty knots of yellow.
Crate-chinked, lathed with dark.

If it comes it will be tunnelled
port-side, rubber-black
stinking salted silence. Eyes
have never been in need of light as this.

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