an audience of friends

The biggest change in approach for me [to writing about Ghana for a North American audience] came when I realized that it's important to tell these stories to an audience of friends. The audience, however you imagine them, should be the company you want to keep. The North American audience is no different from any audience and they are not so different from myself in so far as we're all trying to live and make meaning out of existence. That realization freed me up a lot. Now I just aim to embrace vulnerability and write courageously for faceless humans, past, present and future.

- Kae Sun, in interview with me over at One Ghana, One Voice. You can read the whole thing here.


it's a great deal more fulfilling to read and think about a fine book

Why is there so much fuss in the media about how to write a novel – "everyone can become an author" – when the more important thing is how to read one?

A hearty number of writers, as a result of the unpaid author scenario, end up providing blogs, lists and endless tips on "how to write".

How to write fiction. Tips on getting started. Tips on writing a book in a month, tips on writing a book on your fingernail, tips on how to get laid and write a book on the back of the person in bed beside you. Or how, if you're quick enough, you can write one on the bottom of the foot of that person opposite texting furiously on the train. You can write your way out of any situation. You can write your way out of the Conservative party and up the arse of a goat. You can write away austerity. You can write with austerity. You might save the NHS if you only finish your novel-in-progress, especially if you sign up for this writing course – see the advert over there on the right-hand-side.

There are no adverts that instruct you to sit down, have a cup of tea and read. This, I suspect, is because there's no economic advertorial kickback from those acts...

There seems to have been a shift from a reading culture to a writing culture, a diminishment of critical space for the contemplation of literature. Writing needs to be discussed and interrogated through reading. If you wish to write well, you need to read well, or at least widely. You certainly need to contemplate reading a book in translation, unlikely to be widely reviewed in newspapers, many of which are too busy wasting space on "how to write" tips and asking about an author's personal fripperies. It's a great deal more fulfilling to read and think about a fine book than to attempt to write one.

- Anakana Schofield, writing in The Guardian about the perils of publishing and publicity and such. You can read the whole thing here.

And the best part? The two ads for Guardian Writing Workshops next to the article!


After Lydia... The Movie!

After Lydia - Raoul Fernandes

Daniel took an axe to a young fir tree in the grove
behind the dance school. Trevor immersed himself
in a book on the elements of typography. Clive smashed
his mother’s favourite vase and spent the next week
painstakingly gluing the pieces back together. Rob spent
all his free time at the gym, building a coat of muscle
around his slender frame. Michael gazed at his drink
as if it were a jar of dimly glowing fireflies. Dean listened
to an old murder ballad for an entire night, becoming
more and more gentle with each repeat. Adam began
his fight for the preservation of the bird habitat in
his community. Spencer bought a beautiful motorcycle
that spoke like a lion. Billy gave up smoking. Patrick started.
David went on a pilgrimage in Spain, the Camino de Santiago.
Ian didn’t feel anything until he saw the destroyed fir tree
in the grove behind the dance school. Then he gasped
her name.

Originally published online by Geist. Reprinted with permission of the author.

As regular silaron readers will know, I'm a big fan of both Raoul Fernandes and video poems. So needless to say I was pretty damn excited when I learned about a video poem project based on Raoul's poem "After Lydia".

The film will feature a scene for each of the twelve guys described in "After Lydia". The first one, based on poor old Daniel, is already finished:

In order to complete the project the organizers (director Nicholas Bradford-Ewart and producers Susannah Ludwig and Bret Goldin) are trying to raise $17,000 through an Indiegogo campaign. Perks include free copies of the finished product and, if you really shell out the cash, special private screenings, dinners and executive producer credits. That's right, you can be an executive.

If the project is a success the organizers hope to build it into a "Poetry on Film" series, which would highlight the work of emerging writers. So check out the Indiegogo campaign already, ok?

p.s. At the very least please fund them long enough that they get to guy #4, Rob the weightlifter, so I can finally make my film debut.

p.p.s. Speaking of video poems, the deadline for Visible Verse 2013 submissions is August 1st. Get going!


many things purdy

As the A-frame restoration heats up, there are many Purdy-things happening, such as:


Saturday, July 27, 2013
11 AM - 4 PM

Restoration Update Websites!



Fundraiser DVD Trailers!

Al Purdy A-frame trailer from Brian D. Johnson on Vimeo.

When you have a fundraiser DVD trailer... well, that's when you know things are really picking up. Great job, Purdy team!


poetry becomes a negative force in people's lives

A liberating thing happened to me a few years ago: I stopped giving a shit about the production of writing. I no longer see poetry as a commodity, whereas in those first years of writing I was so excited by poetry I bought into many of the lofty dreams that poets are expected to dream. I found that this type of strategic and ambitious thinking made me unhappy and for many years I hadn’t realized it.

I began to see how poetry becomes a negative force in people’s lives. The business of poetry can easily ruin a poet. I think now that if a poet gets publicly upset about a literary prize shortlist or the contributor list of a “best of” poetry anthology then the Canada Council should mandate that they spend at least 25% of any grants they receive on Jungian therapy.

- Brad Cran, in interview with The Toronto Quarterly. You can read the whole interview, and a few poems from Cran's new book Ink on Paper, here.


Dead Poets Reading Series this Sunday!

The next Dead Poets reading is this Sunday, July 14th, from 3-5 PM at Project Space. The reading will be dedicated to poets in translation.

It will feature:

Gerrit Achterberg (1905-1962), read by Christopher Levenson
Ingeborg Bachman (1926-1973), read by Cathy Stonehouse
Anne Hebert (1916-2000), read by Thoung Vuong-Riddick
Yasunari Kawabata (1899-1972), read by Joanne Arnott
Yehuda Amichai (1924-2000), read by Dvora Levin

As always, entry will be by donation, and you can RSVP via Facebook here.

See you there?