Monday 20 January 2014

How Not to Write Poetry

This weekend I was mostly trapped at home waiting for a cooker delivery - "the perfect time to get some writing done'" a friend said. Well you might think so, but that is not how things panned out.

The said cooker was scheduled for delivery sometime on Sunday. On Saturday I frantically cleaned the kitchen - moving things out of the room to enable access, and cleaning the disgusting and very embarrassing mess that had accumulated down the side of the cooker. I also had to find the key to the padlock on the gate and make sure it worked, plus clear up a little present that either a cat or a fox had left on the back doorstep. (The plus side of this was that I discovered a stash of beer that had been put outside when the fridge was full at Christmas - result!) By the time I had finished all this I was exhausted, and it was as much as I could do to collapse on the sofa with a film and a beer.

Sunday dawned - the day I usually have a lie-in, but the email had said that the cooker could arrive anytime from 8am to 8pm, so I had to make sure we were up and breakfasted just in case we happened to be their first delivery. Next I went online to track my delivery. I typed in my delivery number and was informed that I could expect my delivery between 10.10am and 2.10pm. I resisted the urge to growl and decided to get on with some work. I wanted to edit some poems and type up some others. But here's the thing - when you know that two burly men can knock on your door at any second and expect you to jump up and open the gate etc. it is pretty hard to settle to any work. In the end I had to give up, as I just couldn't concentrate, and I decided to read a book instead. It didn't feel too much like cheating as I do have to finish it before the book group tomorrow night. Anyway, I reasoned, the cooker will be in by three at the latest: I can work then.

The delivery men (who were very friendly) arrived at about 1.30pm. They came into my kitchen and decided that there was no way that they could install my chosen cooker as the cupboards on either side are too low. I argued that I have had the same type of cooker there for fifteen years - but regulations have changed, so back the cooker went to the depot. I then spent half an hour on the (very expensive) helpline only to be told that I will have to ring back and sort it out on Monday. In the meantime I needed to go back to the drawing board and find another cooker that I could order in its place.

I bribed son with the promise of a cooked vegetarian breakfast at Morrison's cafe, and he drove me to Currys. The selection of cookers was small and the staff were unhelpful. I bought son and I breakfast and decided I would have to look online. Online though, whilst it sounds like an easy option, necessitates hours of trawling through websites comparing features prices and reviews. So as you can probably tell no writing or editing got done this weekend - and no baking as I am back to square one with the cooker. I am writing this whilst listening to some kind of demented piano music on the Knowhow helpline. Some time soon I will get some poetry done

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Books Read in 2013

90) Tenth of December - George Saunders (fiction, short stories)
89) Train Dreams - Denis Johnson (fiction)
88) The Colour of Milk - Nell Leyshon (fiction)
87) Her Birth - Rebecca Goss (poetry)
86) How Many Camels is too Many? - Colette Sensier (poetry)
85) Electric Shadow - Heidi Williamson (poetry, re-read)
84) A Dangerous Age - Ellen Gilchrist (fiction)
83) The Round House- Louise Erdrich (fiction)
82) Song Hunter - Sally Prue (fiction)
81) 7 Poets, UEA Creative Writing Anthology 2013 (poetry)
80) Finding Caruso - Kim Barnes (fiction)
79) Maggot Moon - Sally Gardner (fiction)
78) Twelve Slanted Poems for Christmas - edited by Helen Ivory and Kate Birch (poetry)
77) The Stone Thrower - Adam Marek (fiction, short stories)
76) This Afternoon and I - Sarah Roby (poetry)
75) The Norfolk Mystery - Ian Sansom (fiction)
74) A Virtual Love - Andrew Blackman (fiction)
73) Standing in Another Man's Grave - Ian Rankin (fiction)
72) Mateship With Birds - Carrie Tiffany (fiction)
71) Running the Rift - Naomi Benaron (fiction)
70) What I saw - Laura Scott (poetry)
69) Familiar - J. Robert Lennon (fiction)
68) The Mind's Eye - Hakan Nesser (fiction)
67) Burning Man - Alan Russell (fiction)
66) Borkmann's Point - Hakan Nesser (fiction)
65) All the Birds Singing - Evie Wyld (fiction)
64) The Havocs - Jacob Polley (poetry)
63) Daybreak - Viktor Arnar Ingolfsson (fiction)
62) Why be Happy When You Could be Normal - Jeanette Winterson (non fiction)
61) Godforsaken Idaho - Shawn Vestal (fiction, short stories)
60) Apple Tree Yard - Louise Doughty (fiction)
59) The Detective's Daughter - Lesley Thomson (fiction)
58) Quesadillas by Juan Pablo Villalobos (fiction)
57) Homesick for the Earth, Poems by Jules Spervielle with versions by Moniza Alvi (poetry, re-read)
56) Kei Miller -A Light Song of Light (poetry, re-read)
55) Black Vodka - Deborah Levy (fiction, short stories)
54) A Map of Nowhere - Martin Bannister ( fiction)
53) Reservation Road - John Burnham Schwartz (fiction)
52) The Crumb Road - Maitreyabandhu ( poetry)
52) High Performance - Luke Wright (poetry)
51) The Son of a Shoemaker - Linda Black ( poetry)
50) One Step too Far - Tina Seskis (fiction)
49) The Dinner - Herman Koch (fiction)
48) The Falling Sky - Pippa Goldschmidt (fiction)
47) The Most Beautiful Thing - Satya Robyn (fiction)
46) Rites - Sophie Coulombeau (fiction)
45) Property Of - Alice Hoffman (fiction)
44) The Wildflowers of Baltimore - Rob Roensch (fiction, short stories)
43) Absolution - Patrick Flannery (fiction)
42) Autobiography of Red - Anne Carson (poetry)
41) Broadcasting - Andrea Holland (poetry)
40) Cross Bones - Kathy Reichs (fiction)
39) Flash and Bones - Kathy Reichs (fiction)
38) Waiting for Bluebeard - Helen Ivory (poetry)
37) The Blue Bedspread - Raj Kamal Jha (fiction)
36) Raptors - Toon Tellegen (poetry)
36) Hills of Doors - Robin Robertson (poetry)
35) Faber new Poets 1 - Katherine Benson (poetry)
34) The Doll Princess - Tom Benn (fiction)
33) This is How to Lose Her - Junot Diaz (fiction)
32) Behind the Beautiful Forevers - Katherine Boo (non fiction)
31) Furious Resonance - Terry Jones (poetry)
30) Speaking Without Tongues - Jane Monson (poetry)
29) Bevel - William Letford (poetry)
28) The Other Side of the Bridge - Geraldine Green (poetry)
27) The Overhaul - Kathleen Jamie (poetry)
26) Stalker - Lucy Hamilton (poetry)
25) The Wigbox; New and Selected Poems - Dorothy Nimmo (poetry)
24) Once You Break a Knuckle - D.W. Wilson (fiction, short stories)
23) This isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You - Jon Mcgregor (fiction, short stories)
22) Grace - Esther Morgan (poetry, re-read)
21) Contemporary American Poetry - eds A. Poulin Jr & Michael Waters (poetry)
20) The Silence Living in Houses - Esther Morgan (poetry)
19) Chick - Hannah Lowe (poetry)
18) Peacock Luggage - Moniza Alvi and Peter Daniels (poetry)
17) The Hungry Ghost Festival - Jen Campbell (poetry)
16) How the Stone Found its Voice - Moniza Alvi (poetry)
15) Faber New Poets 1 - Fiona Benson (poetry)
14) Stag's Leap - Sharon Olds (poetry)
13) Place - Jorie Graham (poetry)
12) Infinite Sky - C.J. Flood (fiction)
11) Dear Editor - Amy Newman (poetry)
10) Shelter - Jayne Anne Philips (fiction)
9) Self Portrait in the Dark - Colette Bryce (poetry)
8) The Bridle - Meryl Pugh (poetry)
7) Claiming Breath - Diane Glancy (poetry)
6) Jump Bad - A New Chicago Anthology (poetry and prose)
5) Night Journey - Richard Lambert (poetry)
4) The Man from Beijing - Henning Mankell (fiction)l
3) The Thing About Joe Sullivan - Roy Fisher (poetry)
2) Adventures With My Horse - Penelope Shuttle (poetry)
1) Carrying My Wife - Moniza Alvi (poetry, re-read)