Archive for June, 2015

Five Fascinating Facts about George Orwell

June 25, 2015

Interesting Literature

George Orwell’s short life was a busy one, so we’ve distilled his biography into five striking facts

1. George Orwell coined the phrase ‘Cold War’ – well, sort of. If we’re being wholly accurate, Orwell did and he didn’t. So who actually coined the term ‘cold war’? Orwell did have his party to play, but the issue is a little complex: Orwell is credited with being the first to use the phrase ‘cold war’ in English, in 1945, but historian Martin McCauley has actually traced the phrase back to some 600 years before Orwell.

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Poetry please!

June 17, 2015

National Railway Museum blog

On National Poetry Day (7 October), Search Engine launched a competition to find the next budding railway poet. Whether it’s the rhythm, the romance, the frustration or the majesty, there’s something about railways that has always inspired people to put pen to paper and compose.

So I thought I’d use this opportunity to share with you the variety of poems and related archival material that we have in the collection. We’ve got poems by passengers, by railwaymen and by the railway companies themselves. We’ve got nostalgic poems, humorous and satirical poems, poems that mark an occasion – plus let’s not forget the lyrical poems, songs and ballads that have all used railways as their muse.

Here’s a selection of the type of poetry that we have and that you can read and enjoy in Search Engine.

Poetry anthologies

Top-left is Railway rhymes, edited by Peter Ashley and…

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Navvy poets. Have you heard of such a thing?

June 17, 2015

National Railway Museum blog

If we think of a railway navvy, a few choice adjectives come to mind. I would hazard a guess that “erudite”, “literate” and “religious” were not among those chosen. However, we have recently acquired an intriguing collection of poetry by self-proclaimed railway navvy, William Garratt, where these adjectives would appear very appropriate.

Book of poetry by William Garratt, a railway navvy. Printed Coventry by Herald Office around 1882. Book of poetry by William Garratt, a railway navvy. Printed Coventry by Herald Office around 1882.

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Tiffany Anne Tondut, featured poet,

June 17, 2015

Roy Marshall

I met Tiffany at the launch of Magma magazine, issue 61, and was struck by her poems (she read two) which seemed to have an authority and memorable originality. I felt there was an unusual vibrancy and freedom to her work ( ee cummings sprang to mind), which can only be a good thing.
After I complemented Tiffany and asked her if she would like to be featured here, she kindly supplied the following poems and this brief biography.  Having heard Tiffany read a few of her poems I was obviously aware of the technical skill, dexterity  and emotional resonance of her work, but  nevertheless, I was unprepared for the impact of ‘Canary Girls’, which I am very pleased to publish here.

After publication in Poetry News, Tiffany’s poems have appeared in Rising,
The Moth, Morning Star, The Rialto and elsewhere. She is is interested in  as ‘outlaw, lyrical, and dialect poetry.’ Much of her work is influenced by, and explores, modes of Lorcan’s  ‘duende’.Tiffany is re-launching Silkworms Ink…

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Rick Mitchell – three poems

June 15, 2015

Against Mnemosyne by Ruth Foley

June 13, 2015

Three Drops from a Cauldron

Against Mnemosyne

Today, I’m choosing chaos—each
circle of the fan becomes a new
surprise, each feeling of surprise
a new emotion bubbling from
the spring. Each blink will bring
a new spring, a new season of
forgetting and discovery. Each
blink is new, each eyelash,
every dark flash an awakening.
The bird—I will not know it
is a bird, or what flight is, or
landing, or recognize the branch
or that it is a branch or a maple—
can have a new song with every
breath. Its unnamed flutter
can match my magic blood.
The cars will not be cars, the
highways will not point anywhere.
I will gladly lose my direction,
not turn myself to where you
are lying, not think about what
time it is there or how you slowly
peeled yourself away from time,
sleeping in the morning, sending
messages all night across mountains
you would never…

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Glamour by Kyle Cooper

June 13, 2015

Three Drops from a Cauldron

Glamour

Time passes differently here. It’s dark, and the tables heave with the weight of fine food and drink; strange liquids in strange colours, red haunches, exotic sweets. Do not eat or drink anything. The city is full of fey. Familiar foxes cross the streets as a cabal of three shriek past in a black carriage. The horses are sweating on their plinths, and beautiful kelpies beckon youth from dark doorways, their teeth pointed and appetites sharp. Any prince you kiss tonight may wake up a frog tomorrow morning, but that will be the least of your worries. In dark parts, poisoned princes pummel raw head and bloody bones. Heroines light spoons, sending changeling children chasing up chimneys. A vast dragon sighs underground, sending warm air up through tube lines, while bogeymen bellow ‘Brownie! Brownie!’ at night cleaners, and bearded fauns wallow melancholic on the last bus home.

By tomorrow…

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The Best Philip Larkin Poems Everyone Should Read

June 10, 2015

Interesting Literature

Our pick of the 10 best Philip Larkin poems and why you should read them

Trying to create a ‘top ten’ definitive list of Philip Larkin’s best poems is impossible, not least because each Larkin fan will come up with a slightly different list. However, we’ve tried our best to bring together some of Larkin’s most classic poems here. Whether you’re a devoted fan of the great man’s work, or seeking an introduction to a handful of his best poems, you should find something of interest here.

We’ve provided the year of composition for each poem rather than the date of publication; given that all but one of the poems in the list appeared in one of just three volumes of poetry (published in 1955, 1964, and 1974), and Larkin sometimes kept a poem for several years before publishing it, we figured that knowing when he wrote it (or, more…

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Day 1: Awaiting Departure

June 8, 2015

Book Guy Reviews

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This is the first of what will become a sort of travel log of my time spent in Turkey. Book Guy Reviews will be taking a relative hiatus from the standard “musings and reviews” and transition for the next three weeks into a travel blog.

My girlfriend and I are officially en route to Istanbul and could not be more excited.

I’m sitting a hard-pack leather seat in gate C-36 awaiting what I’m sure will be yet another phenomenal trip to exotic lands and climes. What awaits is the unexpected, the unexplored (at least by me), and the inexperienced (again, by me). Travel is something that is entirely different from what is normally the standard vacation.

Vacation is the pool replete with cocktails, sunshine, and the comforts of conditions that are normally not experienced during home-life. There’s a sort of estimable luxury behind vacation that is nice for a brief…

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Parliament by Carol Ann Duffy

June 8, 2015

List poems are often oddly poignant – the mere fact of noticing so often touches me.

Poem as Totem

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Then in the writers’ wood,

every bird with a name in the world

crowded the leafless trees,

took its turn to whistle or croak.

An owl grieved in an oak.

A magpie mocked. A rook

cursed from a sycamore.

The cormorant spoke:

Stinking seas

below ill winds. Nothing swims.

A vast plastic soup, thousand miles

wide as long, of petroleum crap.

A bird of paradise wept in a willow.

The jewel of a hummingbird shrilled

on the air.

A stork shawled itself like a widow.

The gull said:

Where coral was red, now white, dead

under stunned waters.

The language of fish

cut out at the root.

Mute oceans. Oil like a gag

on the Gulf of Mexico.

A woodpecker heckled.

A vulture picked at its own breast.

Thrice from the cockerel, as ever.

The macaw squawked:

Nouns I know –

Rain. Forest. Fire. Ash.

Chainsaw. Cattle. Cocaine. Cash.

Squatters…

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