Monday, 26 July 2010

The Culture Diaries - Guest Post by Rachel Cox

Rachel Cox
Rachel Cox is a 14 year old student from Sheffield who I met recently when I was invited as a guest into her school to do a reading and some creative writing exercises. All the young people I worked with that day were fantastic, brave and wonderful people. They really put themselves into the work and rose to the challenges I set them.  Rachel's  writing took my breath away, I found her commitment to reading and writing astounding, and suggested she send some of her work into the Foyle's Young Poets competition. I told the group about these cultural diaries and Rachel said she would like have a go at doing one...

Monday 19th
I got a new notebook today. Not very exciting on its own, BUT, this is going to be my new poetry book. I’m very excited about it. Sad? Yes. Very sad. But its one of those in significant details what light up my week.

I read more of The Princess Diaries, Gimme Me Five by Meg Cabot. I’ve had the collection for ages, but never got round to starting them. Up until about two months ago, that is. I don’t get too much time to read, but when I do, I go on a reading binge.

Tuesday 20th
I got to use my new notebook day!  I wrote two new poems; Writer’s Block and July Storm. I’m quite proud of them actually. I would put them here, but that would prevent me from entering them into any competitions etc.

I’m a bit of an unusual teenager.  I don’t enjoy television that much, in contrast to my mum, step-dad and sister. They’re always watching crime programmes and I disagree with them because I think I resembles what a dismal place our world can be. But that’s just me.

Wednesday 21st
Oh my word. Has anybody seen Schindler’s list? Well, I watched it after school today as part of the history topic. Wow. I have never cried so much so many times at different pints in a film. It’s so sad. Two boys behind me laughed when a man stepped on a piano so I turned around and had a go at him. I had no idea how someone could be so insensitive. I was furious.

I could hardly do anything all day. I was a bit emotional. That sounds really pathetic, but I cry at anything.  Remember Me, Homeward Bound even Monsters Inc. I can’t bring myself to watch The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas or Titanic. I felt it necessary to write a poem about it. I think it needs a bit of work though.

Thursday 22nd
I went to see Toy Story 3 today with my mum and sister. Oh, it’s excellent. I laughed so much. It’s quite sad though. I nearly cried again. But I think we’ve established I cry at a lot of things.
I got a chance to read more of my book. I’ve only got a couple of chapters to go.
I worked on my Schindler’s List poem. I think it’s better now.

Friday 23rd
It was the last day of school today. We watched so many DVDs. It’s supposed to be a treat, but it can get a bit tedious…. But I don’t care now. I have SUMMER! I can’t wait to go to the cinema, bowling shopping , read my entire bookshelf three times over and what ever else takes my fancy. Yayyyy…..

Saturday 24th
Erm, is dancing classed as cultural? Well, I had dancing today. I think my legs might actually fall off. Not a good feeling…

I had a Rowan Atkinson marathon in the afternoon. Blackadder Series 2 never fails to amuse. Johnny English is awesome too.

Read some of my book today.  I’ve two chapters left…

Sunday 25th
I went shopping today to Meadowhall. I got some of my new school stuff already. The early bird gets the worm…

Other than that I haven’t done much. I’m planning my outfit for my Auntie Gill’s 50th-pirate-birthday-party-a-year-early-because-she’s-in-Switzerland-for-her-actual-fiftieth. Her decking is going to be a pirate ship. It’s gonna be awesome.


If you are a creative, ie. a writer, artist, musician, film-maker, photographer, actor etc and would like to contribute your cultural diary as a guest post, please get in touch with us through the main website. Please have a good read round first to be clear about the ethos of the sites.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

The Culture Diaries - Guest Post by Jane Espenson

Jane Espenson has written for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, Battlestar Galactica, and Caprica among other series.  She has also written an episode of HBO's upcoming Game of Thrones and is co-creator of Syfy's Warehouse 13. She writes comic books, webisodes, and edits books of pop culture essays. She is currently developing new projects.

Day 1 - Saturday

I start the day as I often do on Saturday, by watching the previous day's Tivo'd new episode of The Soup.  A cultural diary in its own right.

Internet surfing. is my current obsession, along with my friend's blog JoshReads is second level pop culture, since it's a blog about comic strips.  Inspired!

On Twitter, my friend Cheeks (@GoCheeksGo) has Tweeted a link to a new video he made -- a "deception analysis" of
Lindsay Lohan's recent court appearance. It's retweeted by Perez Hilton and becomes an instant hit.  There's a flurry of Tweet activity.

I have a meeting about a stage project I'm working on.  I select a director and the project clicks forward one more notch.

In my car, I listen to an audiobook:
Reagan: The Hollywood Years by Marc Eliot. Jane Wyman is a piece of work.  Fantastic.

I attend a fundraiser in the evening at which a short documentary about Costa Rica is screened. It was shot specifically for the fundraiser -- media made to order.  Very effective.

Day 2 - Sunday

A friend emails me a link to a
60 Minutes piece.  I immediately make a reservation at the restaurant that is mentioned.

I read four chapters of "Gay L.A." by Lillian Faderman and Stuart Timmons.

I watch 48 Hours Mystery.  I love true crime stories.  I read everything Ann Rule writes.

I look over the typeset pages of a book of essays that I'm editing.  Looks good to me!

Day 3 - Monday

Half-watch the Home Run Derby.

I field emails about the upcoming San Diego Comic Con.  Emailing about an event at which I'm signing copies of books and comic books that derive from television shows... there are many layers of consumable culture there.

I read and post to Twitter as I do most evenings.  Let's take that as a given from here out.

Day 4 - Tuesday

More emails about the stage project and about Comic Con.

The All-Star game is on in the background, but I cannot claim to have really watched it.

Day 5 - Wednesday

Watched Work of Art. One of my favorite new shows. These shows are largely about casting and they did a good job.  My friends and I speculate that they are having to disguise the dominance of one of the contestants to make the outcome appear to be in doubt.

It's my birthday, so there is more email than usual.  I have wonderful friends.

Day 6 - Thursday

Watched Top Chef.

I order dinner and have it delivered.  I like to eat while watching Top Chef.  The ease of using the internet both to order delivery food and to make restaurant reservations has made my dining life easier and more varied.

Day 7 - Friday

I work a half day and then go to see Inception with my colleagues.

I have dinner at the restaurant I heard about through the 60 Minutes piece.  One of the best meals ever.  My friends and I have become big fans of molecular cuisine. (Which we learned about on Top Chef.)

I listen to more of the Reagan audiobook in the car.  Jane Wyman continues to be a piece of work.

I firm up plans for another meeting about my mysterious stage project.  It's starting to feel very real.

My friend @GoCheeksGo posts another Twitter link that I like and
I watch "The Soup," and catch up on everything I missed for one more week!


If you are a creative, ie. a writer, artist, musician, film-maker, photographer, actor etc and would like to contribute your cultural diary as a guest post, please get in touch with us through the main website. Please have a good read round first to be clear about the ethos of the sites.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Recital is Salt's Number One Bestseller

Top 10 Bestsellers

  1. John SiddiqueRecital
  2. Richard Marggraf TurleyWan-Hu’s Flying Chair
  3. Jasmine DonahayeSelf-Portraint as Ruth
  4. Elizabeth BainesToo Many Mgpies
  5. Vanessa Gebbie (ed.)Short Circuit
  6. Andrew PhilipThe Ambulance Box
  7. Brian HenryWings Without Birds
  8. Shaindel BeersA Brief History of Time
  9. Wena PoonLions in Winter
  10. Linda CracknellThe Searching Glance

Just been told that Recital has sold out on Amazon both in USA and UK, so if you are after one please be patient with Amazon, or get your local bookshop to order it, it would be much quicker that way.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

July Writing News

Salt have issued my Children’s Book – ‘Don’t Wear It On Your Head.’ They have done such a wonderful job with it, and it is a perfect read for Boys and Girls aged 6up. It also makes good bedtime read-aloud material too for younger children. 

Fiona Waters says this about it 'The subtitle of this book is ‘poems for young people’. Make that young people of all ages, any person whose mind is open to a different view. This is a book which biffs you round the ear one moment and takes your breath away the next. There are poems here to challenge and poems to make the reader laugh out loud.'

Recital continues to have it’s own life, and is particularly relevant over the next few weeks with the anniversaries of 7/7 and the police murder of Jean Charles de Menezes. Though don’t think its all tough stuff. The book is really a love poem to Britain and family, though it is not a sentimental love, it has all the stuff contained in those relationships between its pages.

Something I have been thinking about recently is..... How there is no society, no country or life without the individual. Everyday we are reduced further and further into statistical thinking, and yet each of us knows that those shapes won’t fit us. We get broken by ‘the wheels’ when we try to become those statistics and so it seems a wonderful thing to me, that the way out of this is personal responsibility for our own lights and shadows. That doesn’t mean indulging in our worst behaviour, but learning and being responsible for who we are. This it seems is the greatest challenge of our times, and that makes things very exciting indeed. – Yes I’ve been reading Carl Jung’s The Undiscovered Self, which I can highly recommend.

Love and light



14 July, Southwell Poetry Festival

23, 25 (My Birthday,) 28 & 30 July 'The Sacrament of Marriage' Poetry and Dance Performance with Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Cartwright Hall, Bradford. - the event on the 23rd is the launch, 6pm - 8pm if you fancy drinks, canapes and a bit of hob nobbing as well as the performance.. you are invited..
Poetry School Workshops
Starting at the end of September I will be running a series of monthly workshops in the beautiful environs of Hebden Bridge for The Poetry School. They will take place upstairs at The Hole int' Wall pub on the last Saturday of each month. This term we’ll be looking at developing your poetic consciousness and building your own writing life in a way that works better for you.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Your Culture Diaries

The blog is getting a lot of hits every day and so I’d like to open up the blog to you. 

I’m stealing this idea from The Paris Review but while they do it their way. I want take it in another direction. I’d like to run a series of weekly diaries from my readers about their cultural input.. anything from music in the car, a great piece on youtube (though we may take exception to Justin Bieber & Glee videos, we have to have some standards...) poetry and books you’ve read, through to museum trips and theatre and cinema etc.. I had a go at doing it myself, take a look at my diary from a few weeks ago, if you click the tab above that says culture diaries you'll get to it.... and if you fancy writing about a week in your cultural life drop me a line and I'll create a schedule.... I should have the first guest post up next week..exciting stuff

Perhaps what I'm looking for with these diaries is somehow connected to this statement:

'The world buries its treasures, despises its glories, and seeks contentment most readily in the places where it is least likely to be found. Fortunately for us, it is in just those unlikely places, that the opportunities and treasures of the world may often be found.' - Michael Chabon

Friday, 9 July 2010

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Inside #2 - A Poem for 7/7 from Recital 'An Almanac'

Being the 5th anniversary of the London Bombings of July 2005, I have recorded my poem Inside #2 which takes the reader/listener onto the ill fated bus in Tavistock Square that day. I decided to put the piece on Youtube and share it on my blog, to make it easily accessible to anyone interested. Please take a look, and please pass it on to anyone who you think would be interested, or who perhaps thinks poetry has no relevance in these days.

If you are after a bit of summer reading my not make Recital one of your books? and/or don't forget Don't Wear It On Your Head, for the kids.

Just a thought:
I believe that peace comes from being strong enough to make it, war and terror are the weapons of the weak - they are both easier options than having to face both self and other. It is time we as individuals let ourselves be strong, and stop looking outside for answers to people who believe in statistics and the economy as some kind of god. 

Kindest regards