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 DaniĆ©lou, (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