In between the May-time madness of mock exams, I got to two lovely literary events this week. If that's not too much alliteration all at once ...
The first was my talk, The Science and Mythology of the Northern Lights, at Leicester's Central Library. Lovely both because of the setting and the people. The staff there made me very welcome, got my powerpoint projection all set up for me and we had a good crowd in for the talk. As usual, images and stories of the aurora worked their magic. And it's always interesting to hear other people's experiences of witnessing this strange spectacle, even in Leicester city apparently!
The Central Library is situated in a beautiful old building. I've enjoyed sitting at their desks to catch up one some writing time when I'm in the city or go on the hunt for research books. Not as often now it's true, but still it's a comforting and creative place to step back into.
'The library building was originally built for the Liberal Party by the prominent local architect William Flint, and later was used as a concert hall, where such musicians as Nicolo Paganini and Franz Liszt performed. The entrance hall was a separate building, built as a cinema.'
I mention all this because the library is the subject of a somewhat controversial proposal to close this building and merge the Central Library with a nearby reference library, almost certainly leading to job cuts and a reduction in stock. Which seems a great shame. Whatever happens, I hope it won't deter the many current users who enjoy amongst other things, a new Knit and Think group, led by the library's friendly Book Doctor, Alison Dunne.
And hot on the heels of my library visit was a book launch in the building next door, Leicester's Adult Education Centre. Hosted by Leicester Writers' Club, my good friend and wonderful writer, Maxine Linnell, was sending her first book out into the world, a novel called Vintage. This is a young adult story based around the snazzy concept of two teenagers who swap bodies - one from 2010 and one from 1962. Nice concept but it's the execution that's so enjoyable - witty, thought-provoking and often moving. It's published by the Nottinghamshire press, Five Leaves.
But the launch also plunged us deep into nostalgia for own childhoods. Maxine's daughter had cannily devised two buffet tables representing the book's two locations. On the 1962 table, we were treated to dandelion and burdock, dairylea sandwiches, Victoria Sponge and cheese & pineapple chunks on sticks - while on the 2010 table, we found glutein-free tortilla chips, fat-free chocolate cake and dips from around the world. It was the 1960's plate that I wallowed in, I have to say.
And this week, as pre-exam nerves reach fever pitch, I will retreat on Wednesday to a leafy corner of Abbey Park to give another talk to their Over-50's club. What era will their refreshments be from? I'll let you know ...
Writing is a journey, both imaginary and physical. My first book took me to the Arctic to 'catch the colours' of the Northern Lights. Then I hunkered down to catch the wind-blown voices of polar explorers on Shackleton's 1914-17 Endurance expedition. More recently I'm obsessed by space: the race, the rockets, the final frontier.
Hear a BBC Radio Leicester interview about my space poetry at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03wfpyp
Explore my digital narrrative PHILAE'S BOOK OF HOURS, published by the European Space Agency, at:
My prose-poetry collections FIREBRIDGE TO SKYSHORE
and MAD, HOPELESS & POSSIBLE are both published by Original Plus Press at:
Contact me for signed copies or bookings at:
- Leicester, East Midlands
- As a storyteller, my work crosses boundaries of myth, science, history and spoken word. It has been presented in the British Science Museum, Ledbury Poetry Festival, National Space Centre and the European Space Agency website. In 2014 I ran a digital residency on WW1 for 14-18NOW and Writing East Midlands. I teach Creative Writing at De Montfort University and have experience of leading school events, workshop tuition and mentoring.