Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Questions, questions...

You would think, wouldn't you, now that April's here it would be safe to invoke the theme of Spring for a Poetry Cafe event? Indeed if climate change had a shred of compassion for my nerves, as Mrs Bennett might have said, this April would sizzle with summer warmth as it did last year. Instead we've had hail, sleet, and snow. Despite which, 18 poets seized the night, creating an amazing collaboration of warm words, deep thoughts, and delightful humour. Rosemary Dun, the spangly - or possibly spanking - host of Bristol's Big Mouth Cabaret, was our witty guest (do Soulmates profiles really request 'No Performance Poets' apply? Apparently so...) and seasonal themes ranged through cuckoos and the first glimpse of builders to Persephone and Sheelagh-na-gig. A great night, showing how with poetry anything goes: if you can think it and feel it, tell it. Many thanks to all who did.

What makes a short story memorable? Sally Flint and Ginny Bailey, editors of Riptide, drove up from Exeter on Monday to talk to the Library Writers Group about their selection criteria for this sassy new journal of 'short stories with an undercurrent'. Their 18 enthusiastic listeners scribbled down helpful tips like “Start a story as close to the end as you can” and "Know what shoes your character wears, and what's under the bed. You won’t use it, but know it." After hearing smatterings from stories in issues 1 & 2, copies were grabbed faster than tickets for Glastonbury.
Sally & Ginny are currently considering submissions for Riptide 3 - check their website. And on a similar theme, a new project Yellow Room Magazine seeks stories of up to 2500 words. Hey, why not send to both?

Is this the end of the line for the semicolon? asks The Guardian whimsically (G2 supplement, last Friday). There's a semantic storm whirling in France, apparently. "People don't like it, writers are afraid of it, journalists rarely use it" laments Sylvie Prioul, author of 'La Ponctuation ou l'art d'accommoder les textes'. Unsurprising with so Proustian a title that its author deplores this trend - I'm more curious about those 3 separate categories of non-user; as a journalist, a writer, and a person too, should I be triply averse? Prioul blames the English for an increasing succinctness of self-expression, thus pushing the poor point-virgule into redundancy. The Guardian editor has trawled famous authors for views 'For' and 'Against'. My fave is Irvine Welsh: "People actually get worked up about that kind of thing? I don't fucking believe it. They should get a fucking life." He's been put with 'Undecided'.

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