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Building a Library – Part One

Ever since I was a little girl I have wanted a library. This has been met with very mixed reactions over the years. For anyone who didn’t see my flat in London the books were quite literally stacked to the ceiling. Sadly I only have photographs from when I was selling it and most of the books had been taken out to make it look less personal.

I’ve had problems with damp twice now – once when my books were in London and my whole house was full of damp (basement flat and two lots of cowboy builders) and then again when they were being stored in my parents’ attic and the roof leaked. The second time was much worse and I lost 130 books at first and just recently found another ruined full bag. I’ve wanted all of my books in one place, where I can see them and read them for a very long time.

Looking at houses was amusing as people (quite naturally) assumed that I wanted a second room for guests or a future nursery. Trying to explain to people that the books were my children was good fun. My new house is perfect for the library – it gets the sun in the morning and is the larger of the two bedrooms with the smaller one having an en-suite.

I had several things that I knew I wanted to have. Two desks, so that visiting writer friends could work in here too. Armchairs so I could read near my books. Dark walls, just feels right for a library. Several lamps so I can have lots of different lighting levels (still working on this). And shelves, obviously.

For once I didn’t take picture while I was painting so you can see the room pre-shelves and post-shelves but the paint is all there! I’m only posting a couple of pictures now and will put the rest up online soon as well as probably a full blog full of pictures of my books.

One half of the library – with a hidden hint to my next poetry project…

The other side of the library

The arrival of the bookcases. Much heavier than they look too!

Almost half way through bookcase construction!

I’ll post pictures of the library as it looks now with all of the books in very soon.

Vick.

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Vintage Burgess

There are lots of ways to find new friends on Twitter. I have a tendency of jumping of top of conversations and talking to everyone – even if I don’t know all of the people involved. Also I often talk to people who my friends have re-tweeted. I did a combination of this last week when Vintage Books (@vintagebooks) re-tweeted a comment by @stujallen about their re-releases of Anthony Burgess’ books and saying that his best known work was perhaps not in fact his best. Ever eager for new books to read I asked for recommendations. And I got them. Also the wonderful, wonderful Vintage team have sent me them to read.

So not only did I make a new twitter friend but I now also have the chance to read these amazing books. I’m going to be starting with Byrne which to my chagrin I had never even heard about. Very excited. The other that was recommended by @stujallen was Earthly Powers.

So here is a look at the gorgeous new covers and a first look at the shelves in my almost-completely-finished library!

Settling in with my other books.

The first to be read (red read?)

Beautiful frontispiece (excuse the poetry behind – I’ve been working hard today)

Beautiful design.

Probably my favourite cover – The Complete Enderby.

I can’t wait to get reading. If you want to read more about them head on over to the Vintage site to take a look at their Burgess pages.

I’m off to finish my poetry so I can read!

Vick.

Ten Years of Chocolate Crackles

Ahem. Please excuse the odd title – I have been watching election results come in live for ten years now and a tradtion has grown up that I always have chocolate rice-crispie cakes of some kind while doing so.

This sugary tradition is even more important when, like tonight, the election is happening five hours behind the time-zone you live in. Lots of tea, chocolate and sugar today! I also need help keeping awake this year because it’s the first time in a while that I have been up for an election but without access to a TV. While I was living in London I crashed other people’s election parties (yes, we Politics geeks do have such things) or was at my folks’ house.

One of the things that I like reading about during elections in the US are the state-specific amendments and some of the senate races. They don’t get much coverage in the UK sadly and you have to hunt to find out more. Al Jazeera has done a good run down of some of the more interesting non-Presidential issues.

Of the ‘other US elections’ highlighted in that last link I am really interested to see where the three votes on same-sex marriage go. It’s an issue I care deeply about but also all three states that have amendments on the table are solid Democrat states. One to watch…or rather, three.

There are a few really interesting amendments being looked at. The California Proposition 34 is set to abolish the Death penalty. The LA Times article can be found over here. Strangely (or perhaps not) most of the pieces I have read about this have been focused on the cost to the State of life-imprisonment vs. death penalty.

One of the issues I’ve been following closely has been LR-120 out in Montana about Parental Notification for abortions. Many states already have this so it’ll be interesting to see which way Montana votes.

The Orlando Sentinel has done a pretty comprehensive run-down of the twelve amendments being proposed in Florida this election. An important state it has been in the news even more over voters having trouble getting into polling stations. Not helped by things like this of course…

This is a great article about North Carolina (a state I particularly love) as a swing state. It’s from the Duke Chronicle – the newspaper from Duke University. Top tip here – if you want to read very passionate and well researched journalism from the USA you could do a lot worse than reading the College papers and magazines.

Colorado is another interesting swing state – there are some great county stories to watch out for. The Denver Post has done a run-down of what to watch.

I love this. I am a true politics geek at heart, even now I am no longer working directly in politics it doesn’t affect me any less. Even though the election is based in the USA the world is so small now we are deeply influenced by decisions in every country.

As I keep reading throughout the night I might pop another post up with some more links. Tonight I will be reading the NYTimes, Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Guardian, NPR and as many local online news sites as possible, especially for the states I’ve been watching for Senate seats and key amendments. And if it all gets a bit much then I’ll watch an episode of ‘The West Wing’ and pretend all is well!

Vick.

Why I Don’t Read

Well, clearly the title is a little silly, of course I read. I read vast amounts of other people’s work both poetry and prose but I do not read my poetry aloud. Pretty much ever.

One of the thing I am asked a lot when I tell people that I’m a poet is when I am doing readings or where I like to read my poetry. Never. Nowhere.

I have been to a few poetry readings that have been wonderful but I have also been to some that haven’t been to my taste at all – I’ve loved the poetry when I read it myself but the performance of it took away something. I honestly don’t believe that all poetry can be put into one category and I don’t write poetry to be read.

I spend a lot of time on constructing the shape of my poems with sentences and line-breaks working together to create a rhythm and visual style. Occasionally I have written poems that are meant to be read aloud – when I entered the BBC Proms Poetry competition I knew that it needed to be suitable for a reading so I did that deliberately to work as a spoken piece as well. I also used part of that poem last week at the Wigtown Book Festival when the SPL were recording snippets of poetry for a podcast.

People seem to think that poetry can only be one thing – which is complete rubbish. It can be read, spoken, signed and sung. The fewer rules the better the outcome, the more we can create. If you want your poetry to be read aloud then it is important to make sure it sounds as good as, if not better than, it looks. If you are not then it doesn’t matter, to me at least!

Poetry is important to me. It is my favourite way of expressing myself and it is my favourite way to find other views of the world. But…I like to do it inside my own head. One of the most wonderful things about poetry is the vastness of options – you can choose and explore. And I choose to read alone, to get lost in it, to put my spin on the words that someone else has crafted. It’s not the only way, I wouldn’t want it to be, but it’s my way.

So in short – if you see a poem of mine on your travels then it is meant to be heard inside your head. Because I love inside your head – I really do.

Vick.

This Week

This week (and a bit) I have been without my computer. Not a lot of fun. Most of the things I need I can access apart from my bookmarks which has been annoying but it could have been much worse.

I’ve been playing around with all of the photographs that I took on my trip to Wales recently but I hadn’t realised just how long it takes to sort through them all! Will be a while before they are all finished and organised.

Over here in England we’ve had a sudden upswing in temperatures. Now, for most people this is great news. Me – not so much. Warm weather makes me feel sick, lose my appetite and have an almost constant headache. I have the summer version of SAD! So I’ve been grumpy, complaining and hankering for frozen yoghurt almost constantly. I have developed a new way of looking at this though; many of my friends love the heat and are very happy so I’m trying to see it as something that makes them feel better than something that makes me feel worse!

I’ve been focusing on my new line of custom poetry on Etsy as well so a lot of other things have been put to one side for the week. I’m hoping to be able to get through a lot of work this weekend and make sure things start leveling out next week.

One of my biggest projects at the moment is working out how to merge my Jackdaw 19 business with my V.C. Linde business. One of the things that I have done is to start merging my boards on Pinterest. I’ve joined up my business and Etsy ones but for the moment I am leaving my art ones alone. Eventually I’ll also try and link blogs through to Pinterest as well but that will take a little longer and I don’t want to try and do it all at once.

I’ve been reading ‘City of Lost Souls’ by Cassandra Clare. Finally. I love her books, all of them and I made myself wait until I had finished launching my poetry until I bought the new one. I have to admit to savoring it a little as well because I could easily have read it in a day. The other main bulk of my reading is poetry, I’m working really hard on developing my style and keeping on top of practicing and re-defining my own poetry and reading as much as possible is key to that. I’m switching between some great anthologies and some individual collections. The anthologies I usually read are chronologically organised so I can see how periods of history affected the writers.

Today I am working on my poetry, finding new areas to promote and seeing who might be interested in it all. That and reading through some more cookbooks!

Vick.