Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Tomorrow I will be reading my poetry live from the YMCA on Preston FM, some time after 11. How exciting.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Blood Red Snow White - Review

Isn't it magical how you approach books? I saw this in W. H. Smith about 5 years ago and before I'd even read the title I was hooked on it. I have the hardback edition, and I genuinely feel that the texture of the pages, the colour of the writing, the beauty infused to it to submerge the reader into it's world. Well played Orion Books.

When people ask me for book recommendations I always mention this one, it's in my top list and has been there since I read it, which is an achievement because I'm the magpie of the book world. And I will tell you for why...
                        Set in the grip of Russia's communist revolution Blood Red Snow White is a mix of historical fiction, creative non-fiction, biography, fairy tale, spy thriller and love story. Squished into 300 pages. I was impressed by the sheer amount of trust that Sedgwick has in his readers. To mix these genre's take guts for the writer, but patience from the reader to allow them to flit and pick between mediums. This is combined with a distinctive 'Sedgwick' tone. The best analogy for this book is to imagine it on top of a black (red) Venetian mirror, and just when temptation gets too much and you reach out to take it you realise that is has been behind the mirror all along.
                             I have studied the Russian Revolution (GCSE History came in handy!) and so I 'got' many of the references to Russian culture at that time, the research that has gone into this novel is brilliant. However, the novel is beautiful even if you don't know a lot.
                           There are several layers of view point in the novel, you have the fairytale Bear of Russia following in the shadows adding in beautiful interludes of passion and fantasy. Alongside that there is the background of the revolution literally overthrowing and transforming a country. Out of the mist comes Arthur Ransome, broken from a love-less marriage and the love for his daughter, and consumed with trying to collect the pieces of the revolution, not to help the country but to report back to England. It is here that the reader is given a HQ, which allows them to wonder, guided, through the streets of the broken jigsaw that is Russia.
                          The first two sections of the book play out like this, the first being mainly fairy tale-esq and the second more spy thriller with the historical and biographical supporting it all. The third section has had a bit of bad press from reviews and I can understand that. Taking into account that Sedgwick is a pre-adult writer the final part had to happen as it does. It still has the beautiful gothic undertones but hurries to neaten the package to some extent. However, I felt for the characters until  page 304 and beyond, I'm pretty sure that's all that matters.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

How to Relax the Girl - Poetry

I wanted to post some poetry here, but I mainly work in big projects that I'd like to send to journals etc. so the margin for publishing work on this blog is quite slim. However, this is a piece that is entirely constructed with phrases and passages from the Kama Sutra. A collage poem that I submitted during my undergraduate to experiment with the genre. This turned out to be very beneficial and has turned up in many of my personal pieces. 

 The edition I was working from was: The Complete Kama Sutra trans.Alain Daniélou, (Park Street Press, 1994; Vermont)
                                                   How to Relax the Girl 

He must act in the dark, his amorous games which are necessary in order to deflower the girl. She blinks. “If you wish to embrace me, I shall not stop you” and a conversation is established. He gets excited, (she may imagine that he is homosexual), without talking to her. Success with the girl is obtained by moderation. She is elegantly dressed. They talk openly. He asks her questions in a few words, pretending not to know the answer. She will pronounce a single word or syllable. He starts laughing. Without getting cross he gently repeats his questions. Do you want me or not? Do you like me or not? Without fearing any opposition from her parents and friends, they take to the game.

 She blinks. He does not touch the girl. This is the correct way to relax the girl. The girl’s state of mind changes as a result of the marks of love. He does not touch the girl. He gets excited with a flood of words, he insults her. They must sleep in the ground for three days. For a whole week, side by side, without eating. After a slight struggle they talk openly and with a moving of her head she expresses her agreement. He starts laughing. She blinks. A woman is like a flower without any violence, if she is violently assaulted she becomes hostile to any sign of affection. Pressing against her gently, he puts his arms around her, but not for too long. When they are alone, he begins

and he takes her lips, after a slight struggle. They take to the game very quickly. Without fearing any opposition. Pressing against her he must only tackle the upper part of the body, so as not to upset her. If she protests, he scolds her. A girl who finds herself in a man’s possession will, in all cases, refuse to speak. To make her talk “I will mark your lips with my teeth”. The better to educate her. She must perform. He shows his passions. Success with the girl is obtained by moderation. In a loving manner he offers her betel which he keeps in his mouth. After caressing her breasts he touches the tip. He embraces her and waits. Slides his hand further. He assuages her with words, vows, and protestations and, falling at her feet, clasps them to him. She does not lower her head as a sign of acceptance. “I shall leave the mark of my nails below your beasts”. If she protests, he scolds her. He takes his pleasure in - it is not the right moment. On the second and third night, when she is more relaxed, he touches her sex with his hand. He speaks of the permanence. He reminds her to establish favourable feelings. After this gift he loosens the part of her garment that passes between the legs. Without untying her girdle. Breaking her chastity. The feelings of the hostile girl begin to awaken.

          The sheath [kanchuka] and armor [jalaka] are pierced by two lateral holes at the opening

                                                       she must go and bathe in the river

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Monday, 18 November 2013

Enron by Lucy Prebble - Review

Enron by Lucy Prebble opened at Chichester Festival Theatre in 2009, transferred to the Royal Court Theatre to the Noël Coward Theatre in 2010 where it was a huge success. Enron also opened in America Enron premiered on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre on 8 April 2010 in previews, with the official opening on 27 April.

  Enron lets the viewer into the bubble of Enron and explores the prism that is creates for itself. Naturally the only way to get the audience out is to burst that bubble. The writing is excellent. There are full sweeping speeches that examine the intricate details of finance and the company whilst making these details accessible to the audience. Anyone I know will tell you that money, maths or business are my major weaknesses, and yet I enjoyed reading this play a lot. The large speeches are offset by small, quick dialogue between Lay and Roe or Skilling and Farlow, the play continues interchanging these modes of dialogue, the effect is that the audience is kept alert, waiting and on edge to see how the play will settle itself. Spoiler: it won't, it continues until the en to interchange. This effect mimics the development of Enron in the play, how it shifts around to transform and emerge only to transform again until the end of the play.
                   I particularly enjoyed the chaos. I Youtube-d the play so that I could see how the play moved. The blend of dance and music, of projection and theatricality seemed the perfect way to represent what really happened when the biggest oil and gas company of America fell.
                The characters are formed very differently, at times you like them and at times they seem very transparent but it is the blend of the faults of each character that reflect the whole of the play. Unfortunately I was only about ... 10 when Enron fell so I am coming to this play from a completely different perspective with only the hindsight of the credit crunch to fall back on as my experience of what it's like to see a company fall. With Enron being the biggest and first company to fall it feel weird to think that wasn't the norm ten years ago.
              The play does a great job of presenting the size of the crash for Enron, I think this is a great credit to the play and another reason that the media's are mixed so much. I don't think that theatre alone could have represented it so well. The whole play has a grunge / fringe feel about it, mixed with the office setting and the suit's it shows just how innovative the ideas where and how much they were playing with the future. The fringe feel allows the Prebble to stretch her voice past theatre and into the larger question.

 You can watch the trailer for the play HERE
You can also read more about Lucy Prebble and 4 other contemporary playwrights in a piece I've written for For Books Sake

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Bookshelf Organisation.

Yesterday myself and my partner took on the dreaded task of merging our bookshelves! It took an entire day but this is the result. I can't decide if we're a bit awesome or a bit sad that is was such an adventure! (Pssst. It means we're awesome!). This is my entire book collection and about half of Luke's, so we'll definitely have to buy another book case. I googled different ways to organise them so I thought I'd make a post about how we did it. We organised them in medium first so fiction, poetry, plays, art books, text books and other, and then we split them into genre from literary fiction to sci-fi, classics. We were going to alphabetise them but we have quite a lot of odd shaped books and Luke is a big collector of hardbacks so that's why it looks a bit haphazard. I quite like it that way. The next plan in the library is to get another bookcase and maybe a display case or some book stands to display the special copies and make it more or a feature wall. That is the only wall that is free in the room I also have my piano and violin in there plus the desk and computer etc. I'm quite impressed with our little collection.

Monday, 21 October 2013


This week I had a lovely email from the people of Tumblr, telling me that my own tumblr had turned one :) What a proud day, here is the link -> http://wendyhouseofdreams.tumblr.com/ <-. I use all of my social media outlets differently. My tumblr tends to be reblogs of pretty things, it's part online journal, part me trying to figure out the internet. I use it a lot more now that I have remembered the password and I've downloaded the app on my phone. I tend to use tumblr a lot more when I have assignments and writing to do because I can scroll for hours (procrastination for the nation!) and the nice images inspire me enough to work whilst not overstimulating me enough to loose track of what I'm doing. I also update most of my modelling adventures on tumblr because it's linked to my instagram. It's easy to keep track of things on tumblr if you can use it properly (which I can't). So yes, here is my toddler tumblr.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Living with Irlen syndrome. Part 1

I'm writing this entry through the colour purple (no this isn't some experimental writing project, yet), it's in fact the only way I can stand to look at the screen without squinting. If the sun comes through the window and hits the screen I can't do my work, and reading a book on the bus whilst we drive past long railings in the morning is actually my idea of hell. These are just a couple of the annoying things that are affected by Irlen Syndrome.  When I first made this blog I had to ask my partner if the text was easily read because although this blog pleases me aesthetically I can't read my own reviews with all that image of the room behind the writing. Irlen syndrome is a lot more than having trouble reading.

    I was first diagnosed with Irlen syndrome in year 11, when I was 15, a few months before my GCSE's, the optician just happened to have gone t a few lectures on this relatively new optical condition and had quite basic equipment for testing for it. I complained that text was often unfocused and moved around the page, but the list of complaints grew once I knew more about the condition. My head was put inside of a brightly lit box, in the box was a roll of text with random words in rows all over it. Things like 'Dog has a parrot' or 'The grapefruit razorblade was' and I had to read this sheet of paper first with a regular white light and continue reading as the optician filtered different coloured overlay's and counted the increase or decrease of my word count. In the end it was pretty clear I had Irlen syndrome, there isn't a wide spread knowledge of this condition and if my optician hadn't noticed I don't even know what would have happened.
      This all happened quite late on in the GCSE year and it was no longer permitted to apply for different exam circumstances. I had to sit all of my GCSE's on white paper, in a stupidly fluorescent room with nothing but my glasses to help. My results were good, but I can't help thinking how much easier high school would have been if I had know about this earlier. I have always loved reading but in high school I slowed down considerably, and I now know it's because it hurt to read.

This will be a continual blog post / ranty knickers.

Friday, 27 September 2013

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks - Review

This is Iain Banks first novel from 1984, and it is the first Iain Banks novel I have ever read. This has been sitting, lonely, on my shelf for about a year and I had every intention of reading it a hundred times. If I'm being honest, the size of the novel makes it convenient to read, sitting comfortably in the hand at 184 pages. Don't be fooled by this! This is 184 pages of beautifully uncomfortable reading. I am equally impressed and disturbed by this novel, slightly worried I haven't let this novel settle into my mind and that I am writing this review too soon, having finished the novel 10 minutes ago. That is the intelligence of this novel, it forces you to sit down, back straight and pay attention to it. If you laze around reading a page or two at a time you're likely to miss the fine details, and then loose the plot. At one point, and you'll know where I mean, I had to hand this book to my partner as I couldn't continue reading, I couldn't even bare to have it in my bag, but that lasted about 5 seconds before I just had to know what was going to happen.  This novel doesn't give the game away at any point, even the ending is a slow burner, but the more I think about it the more I want to chew over the finer images of fire and running, drunken haze's and kite flying.
The novel follows an *cough* eccentric period in the eccentric life of Frank as he methodically grooms and cultivates the island that is his home. In the process we discover some of Frank's achievements and are given an in-depth view of Frank's mind. It's a journey,  pack a cheese sandwich and an apple in that backpack and be prepared to ramble the dunes. The blurb gives away that Frank has killed three people, children, two cousins and his brother, two boys and one girl, and these murders dropped from a great height *still a bit raw!* fall into the lap of reader and force you to accept them and move on, or you'll miss them. Murder mingles with animal abuse and the border line of sanity and insanity are amongst the side lines. The relationship of a secluded family with a history of macabre, and how these twisted jigsaw pieces fit together is the true plot of this novel. 
The imagery contained in Banks novel is beautiful, set on the north-east coast of Scotland and allows for a connection between plot and  nature that accentuates and isolates all characters in the novel. The glory of nature is juxtaposition against the mechanical thinking and construction that Frank takes out on the island itself. Turning beautiful rolling sand dunes into dams, or erecting poles high in the sky that will break up the horizon line and a step further adorning them with the dried heads of gulls and mice, or the occasional cat. There is a real fight in this novel between nature and human intervention, which leads subtly to the end of the novel.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Three Birds by Janice Okoh - Review

The play follows three siblings, Tianna, Tionne and Tanika as they play house in the absence of their mother. The eldest Tianna has to deal with growing up and becoming the head of the household whilst Tionne is dealing with it all in his own way through mysterious and disturbing experiments, meanwhile Tanika, the youngest, is trying her best to understand and keep hold of childhood.
    This play comes from Janice Okoh and is the product of 2011's Bruntwood Prize for playwriting.It was performed at The Royal Exchange in Manchester this year and has then went on to London's Bush Theatre.
Unfortunately I didn't get to see the play performed, but I have read the script after a few recommendations.

The script itself is brilliant, and refreshing. I tend to be attracted to the dark imagery of the macabre and this script, set along side a familiar home setting is a perfect juxtaposition. The situation the children find them in 
escalates to unbelievable proportions, and Okoh has shown her talent by making it believable. Each character functions on their own in the play and as part of the cast and the detail of the play. This play works well with the cogs of theatre by enticing the audience /  reader into itself and enveloping them thoroughly into it's world.
    Of particular note is the reveal at the end, which makes you want to re-read the play to look for clue's to the ending. The imagery builds upon itself to prepare the audience for the ending in a way here you half expect it, but being confronted with the macabre and bizarre is still disjointing. The layering of the script is particularly interesting, especially the small tear in these layers, as seen with the introduction of Mr. Mistoffelees the hand puppet. The true childish nature of these characters can be missed as they present themselves, particularly Tianna, as grown-up's but in these slips the reality of their ages and their circumstance is very daunting.
A word on the Bruntwood: this is obviously the quality of work that is being submitted to the prize and The Royal Exchange the product of quality to give something extra to these scripts. It is definitely a prize that carries a reputation for the winner and brings in new imagination to the theatre itself.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

On Being Taught Creative Writing...

After reading THIS  great article by Fay Weldon I feel provoked to say a few words about Creative Writing, particularly studying it at undergrad level.
       I have to admit, to myself mostly, that I was sceptical about the whole thing. My first choice had been music, and that hadn't worked out, essentially I was having a life crisis at 17. That was until my photography tutor told me that I should study writing. She said I was good with words and I liked to string things together, essentially what I'd tried to do with my images and failed, scrapping through by giving ridiculous and long explanations and writing essay's (in both photography and music) to explain what I was trying to express without words. Looking back I can't understand why words weren't good enough, now they are. I spoke with my literature tutor who was happy I was going to pursue reading but she was sure I'd get bored with it, so a joint degree was a brilliant option. That's how I ended up writing. 
    Of course there's the old 'I've always written', 'it's part of who I am' and they are true, I have a million stories, poems and snippets written all over the attic boxes but it wasn't until writing was given that priority that I thought seriously enough about it. Words are what we do, they are all around us. Conversation separated us from the animals, or something like that. If you can be taught to speak, you can be taught to write, and I think everyone should. Then maybe we will avoid those essay facebook status', for instance,twitter is great, it forces you to put an entire rant into 150 characters! (unless you cheat like me and put See last post at the end of everything)
      In music and photography they teach you how to put your own expression into the act,to take the technique that you've been taught and the passion that inspired you and combine them to produce your masterpiece of the moment. So why shouldn't they do this for writing. We express ourselves daily through facebook, twitter, email, text and on the phone with words, it makes sense for us to be able to tailor those words effectively. 

One day, when it's all over, I'll write something insightful about writing at university level, for now, onwards with the Masters in Creative Writing. 

Missingwer x

Thursday, 29 August 2013

The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald Review

 I read The Great Gatsby mainly because it has been calling to me from the bookshelf for far too long, but also because I a plan on seeing the film.
            To begin with it is not something I would usually pick to read and review but giving it's infamy I don't think, that as a reader or a writer I can avoid its influence. The plot is surprisingly bland, the characters aren't particularly likeable and are at time harsh but mainly shallow. It is the skill of writing the thing that makes this book special. Fitzgerald has managed to take a plot, cast and setting that could be uninviting and stir up emotion.. It was have been easier (but not easy) to fall back on the parties, to use their obvious luxury to entice the reader. Instead Fitzgerald takes us on a detour to discover West Egg. Each character seems to contain a single trait of human nature and so it is the book combined, or as an entire picture that reflects the world we live in.
             The great Gatsby himself is actually not that great. I think that this is where the beauty of the book lies. It looks past all the pomp and extravagance, using it as a tool to both conceal and reveal Gatsby and the inhabitants of West Egg or further a field. This outer shell of presentation is torn back before the book has begun and so in 180 pages we get to the heart of it all. The period is truly dissected.
               I admire it, the effect the book has had on the public recently and the imagery it contains. The book itself is alluded to occasionally in other writing and so knowing where that comes in is helpful. Fitzgerald's writing is beautiful and more-ish, it's likely I will read more of Fitzgerald's work very soon.

Animal Farm - George Orwell Review

How do you go about criticising a classic?
I always have reservations about this, people love it for a reason, it sticks around for a reason. Well, luckily with Orwells classic I can see why.
This story is so well known, and yet it is still a new experience to read, there aren't a lot of books that can say that for themselves. 

     It is a book that I look forward to reading to my children because it contains all of the problems they will face with authority and gives a brilliant perspective on original thought. Animal Farm is easy to read but still has extreme depth to it. The characters are full and vibrant, the situation familiar but original and the whole tale comes together. The topics of authority and free thought are common in literature and the media but this book presented them to me in a new way that made me really re-evaluate what I was presuming about the government and the world we live in. George Orwell really was on to something, and I find it slightly depressing that things can be spread out so well in these books and the problems criticised and yet no-one of power seems to have taken note.
           The plot is easy to follow and logical, with with a fabulous twist of fate at the end that I was hoping to avoid, even though I knew the story before I read it. This is a great book to read as a writer starting out, it contains a lot of lessons about minimalism and simplicity whilst drawing the reader into your world. Reading this as a first year student at Uni was a great idea because it gave me a refreshingly new perspective on everything.  After reading this book I had a moment of calm, not because anything had changed or I had found some sort of peace but because someone was spelling out what I already thought.

                  A drunken man on a train saw me reading this and then went on to discuss with me the effect that this books ideology had on his real life, his none-book-related life. This is where Animal Farm finds it's market. It revolves around questions, and provokes interaction. The characters are brilliant, you sympathise with them, you want them to do well. They are also well-rounded, you can see their flaws and they are realistic. Yes, their animals, but aren't we all? It is an emotional roller-coaster, and just because the book ends doesn't mean the story has to.
It has been a while since I read the book, but the memory of how it made me perceive the world remains, and I think that is a mark of a great literary experience.
Plus, you can read it to your children and they will love it, rarely does a book have that charm, for both adults and children. Orwell is a pure literary and political genius! That is all there is to know.

Welcome to the Wendy house

Wipe your feet on the cat before you come in.. don't worry he's into that kind of thing. Before you take a seat I must entreat you to sign, here.. and here... and here.. Oh.. and here. Incase of turbulance, please keep your arms down at all times, the exit it located at the top right hand corner of your screen. Be warned, be informed, be beautiful. You do not have to say anything, but anything you do say will be disreguarded and lost to the tinterwibbles for all. Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury! If you care to take your seats, the show is about to begin.
         Much love,