A protest poetry collection

Deaf Republic, by Ilya Kaminsky A coherent selection of the poems from this collection has been published in The New Yorker. I’m going to talk about the first 3 poems, which you can read in less than 10 minutes. In relation to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the 2022 Winter Olympics, and everything else happening inContinue reading “A protest poetry collection”

A short protest story

‘Condensed Milk’, by Varlam Shalamov (trans. John Glad) Read it here in 6 minutes. In relation to the 2022 Winter Olympics, thinking about how we can use literature to protest… Shalamov spent almost one-quarter of his life in Russian gulags (forced-labour camps), for being critical of, and protesting against, his own government. This story presumablyContinue reading “A short protest story”

My top 10 of 2021

Here are just some of my favourites from my 2021 reading: ‘The Blind Woman Without a Toe’, by Intan Paramaditha, from the collection Apple and Knife Paramaditha’s short story collection reimagines fairy and folk tales, with a dark twist. This particular story is a fun retelling of Cinderella, while the others are tales from the author’sContinue reading “My top 10 of 2021”

A short story for winter

‘Winter Break’ by Hilary Mantel Read it here in about 15 minutes. Thinking about time… Time is important in this story, for several reasons. Firstly, time is used as a structural device. The story is just under 2,000 words long, and spans the duration of a taxi ride from the airport to the couple’s hotel,Continue reading “A short story for winter”

To MA or not to MA?

The MA in Creative Writing I’ve just completed my Master’s degree in Creative Writing. Why did I study an MA? I’m a secondary school English teacher. It occurred to me a few years ago that although I was teaching creative writing, I’d never studied it myself. I decided to fix that, and return to somethingContinue reading “To MA or not to MA?”

A short story I recently read

‘Bottles of Grief’ by Eva Shelton This story is one of the winners of The Insider Prize 2021. You can read it here (scroll down) in about 10 minutes. Thinking about story focus and characterisation… The narrator is attending a group grief counselling session. They (gender unknown) watch as the other attendees share their stories.Continue reading “A short story I recently read”

A short story I recently read

‘How to Talk to Your Mother’ by Lorrie Moore Read it here in about 20 minutes. Thinking about motifs… I’m a sucker for nostalgia. Having a short story/novel look back into the past, especially after a character has died, gets me every time. The opening line of this story tells us someone has died: ‘WithoutContinue reading “A short story I recently read”

A short story I recently read

The Man I Killed, by Tim O’Brien Read it here in 10 minutes. Thinking about structure and effects… O’Brien’s use of structure is amazing throughout the collection The Things they Carried; many of the stories spiral around events, revisiting them, reconsidering them, which I think reflects how memory works, especially in relation to trauma. TheContinue reading “A short story I recently read”

A short story I recently read

‘The Man on the Stairs’ by Miranda July Read it here in about 10 minutes. Thinking about time and characterisation… I love this story. In the opening, the narrator wakes to hear someone on the stairs outside her bedroom. We have this repetition and extension of things she can hear and feel, which demonstrates herContinue reading “A short story I recently read”

Book review

Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell You can read an extract, here. I’ve just finished reading Cloud Atlas, and wanted to write a review about how amazing it is, but it’s difficult to do that while avoiding spoilers, and I really don’t want to ruin the reading experience of anyone who hasn’t read it yet, soContinue reading “Book review”