Saturday, April 29, 2017

Letter to My Younger Self

One more thing this week - you can hear me read my Letter to My Younger Self on the RLF Writers' Vox here, talking (slowly and carefully) about this photo -

A Bit of a Miscellany

A week full of this and that - Pushkin Prize Giving, last day at Dundee, Walking Mountain sessions at Queensferry Primary, Silver Skin in West Lothian -

Me, leaning one way and then leaning the other way - not quite sure why, but the event was fabulous nevertheless.  Thank you Linlithgow Academy for a great time!

My little haiku sequence Highland Bestiary is up on Zoomorphic this week, which is very pleasing.

Toby and Mal are helping me pack - a process that involves me throwing clothes about the place and them sleeping.

And April has been a bumper month for viewers - we topped 15,000!  Thank you all very much indeed.  Onwards to tomorrow and the beginning of a long, long flight ...

Saturday, April 22, 2017

My Week as a Basilisk Lizard

It's going to be one of those weeks.

Monday - Pushkin Prizegiving (Keith Gray and I are the judges)
Tuesday - last day of term in my first year as RLF Fellow in Dundee
Wednesday - day of events at Queensferry Primary, where I'm Patron of Reading
Thursday - Silver Skin event at Linlithgow Academy
Friday - a little lie down, perhaps?

And then ... on Sunday I leave for Indonesia.  I've asked Google what the Bahasa Indonesia for anticipation is and got antisipasi, which seems too easy, but of course Google is always completely reliable on all things.  Right?

And really, all I have to do is take one step at a time ...

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Emerging Critics and Walking Mountain

Emerging Critics is a scheme run by the Scottish Review of Books in which established literary critics offer mentoring to the next generation of literary critics.  A commendable project - especially when one of the books the mentees were given was Walking Mountain*!

Thanks to mentor David Robinson for telling me about it, and thanks to Jacqueline Thompson for letting me share some of her review here.  Jacqueline writes

It begins in the vast plains of space, as grazing meteors are herded by a group of celestial beings known as Drivers. One of these meteors – ‘a huge bull’ – slips loose as the Drivers enjoy a party, and charges towards a certain blue-green planet. As openers go, it’s a curious one, and Walking Mountain, Joan Lennon’s new novel for children, is a curious beast indeed...

The mythical feel of the narrative gives it a snowy freshness, and the episodic chapters mean that events zip along nicely...

Lennon does not shy away from Big Ideas, about religion, climate change and demonization, but these are mercifully never signposted, achieved without soapbox or loudspeaker. The fate of the world hangs in the balance, and aeons pass from the first page to the last, so there is a suitably ambitious feel to the narrative, but it also feels very much contained, never sprawling or unruly...

And then she closes with this:

This is a tale that bears repeated readings. From its curious beginning to its romantic, cinematic end, Walking Mountain is testament to the scope of Lennon’s imagination. It is magical, with just enough grounding in the concerns of our time on this blue-green planet to make Walking Mountain a story that illuminates the rocks beneath our feet as much as those meteors grazing – or perhaps escaping – far above our heads.

Absolutely made my day!

* Walking Mountain is published by BC Books and is coming out at the beginning of June - not long now!

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Steps Taken

This time last year I was walking in the Borders* with a son who was just about to leave for Jakarta.  

This year I'm just about to go to Jakarta to visit him.  Little bit of spring symmetry there.

* We walked a bit of St Cuthbert's Way because I was taking part in the project 26 Steps, which gave writers a particular route and asked for a photo, a poem and a map in response.  You can see what came out of our walk here.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Reviews like London Buses ...

... or perhaps it's buses everywhere?  Whatever the truth (and that's a phrase that's too topical for comfort) I'm pleased to have not one but two reviews up on DURA (Dundee University Review of the Arts) this week.  So be invited to read a little about Jack Mapanje's Greetings from Grandpa here ...

and Robert Macfarlane's Orphans by Martin Johnson here ...

As always, thank you to the poets for giving reviewers such lovely material to work with.