Woman Computer Scientist/Kobieta informatyk II by Anna, under a Creative Commons licence
Heading off on holiday? Want some poetry picks to take with you, but aren't sure what to take? The staff of the SPL has a few suggestions.
Robyn Marsack, Director
Novels, but one in in verse! That’s Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, in the translation by Stanley Mitchell. I look forward to discussing Onegin at the Book Festival in August. Late catching up on Elena Ferrante, but now my daughter has recommended My Brilliant Friend, I’ll try it (I was glad to read Tim Parks’s essay on not finishing books, having always felt bound to do so…). And another trusted reader has told me that Cathy Rentzenbrink’s Last Act of Love is sad but marvellous, might be just the thing for those late-night train journeys during the Festival.
Jennifer Williams, Programme Manager
I've been and will be reading books in preparation for events that I'm chairing or involved in at EIBF, including Do Not Enter My Soul in Your Shoes by Natasha Kanapé Fontaine and Kuessipan by Naomi Fontaine, Sam Riviere's Kim Kardashian's Marriage, Sean Borodale's Human Work, Blake Morrison's Shingle Street and Niall Campbell's Moontide. I've also got Louise Gluck's Faithful and Virtuous Night next to my bed, as well as a bunch of books by the Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector. I also just received two hot recommendations from the American poet Dorian Geisler: House and Fire by Maria Hummel and Wolf Centos by Simone Muench.
Julie Johnstone, Librarian
My summer reading is devoted to my favourite painter, Agnes Martin. I loved the beautiful retrospective of her work that's on at Tate Modern at the moment, and I have been dipping into several books on her work. I'm now reading the first biography to be written about her, Agnes Martin, Her Life and Art by Nancy Princenthal (Thames and Hudson). It's a fascinating and quietly revealing book about a very elusive individual. For my poetry I'm going to be reading Gary Snyder's latest collection, This Present Moment (Counterpoint).
Lizzie MacGregor, Assistant Librarian
The best bit about my holiday in rainy Northumberland was a big squashy chair in the window with a glimpse of the Aln estuary and a pile of books on the windowsill from the blissful Barter Books in Alnwick (a holiday destination in itself, for those of our persuasion). What was in the pile? Oh, James Herriot (what’s a holiday for?), Richard Church’s Small Moments with Joan Hassall’s engravings, and as many of Andrew Williams’ novels as I could get.
Mary Wight, Senior Assistant Librarian
I've travelled to the home of an old friend, deep in Andalucia taking two volumes of memoir that have been on my shelves for ages but that I've not yet read: May Sarton's Journal of a Solitude and P.J. Kavanagh's The Perfect Stranger. The rest of my reading I'm going to do on kindle, and as I like to read poetry on a paper page, the closest brush will be Clive James's Poetry Notebook 2006-2014, which I'm very much looking forward to. I also have a couple of novels: Cathetine Czerkawska's The Physic Garden, set in 19th century Glasgow, and Anne Enright's The Gathering, both of which I missed when they were first published.
Amy MacDonald, Project Manager
Michael Rosen, Ewan McVicar, T. S. Eliot, Roger McGough, R. L. Stevenson, Edward Lear and countless others all became a unique soundtrack to our family holiday this week. They were our travelling companions in the car, and extra guests on the sofa. Although Julia Donaldson’s Poems to Perform anthology is aimed at school age children (there are tips for class performances at the back), many of the poems still work well for reading aloud to under fives. My kids have got the whole of their literate lives to enjoy poetry on the page – in the meantime it’s a joy to see them enjoying rolling new sounds around and learning the comic effect of rhythm. Let me know if you’ve got any other poetry books to recommend for under fives…
Georgi Gill, Learning Manager
This summer I’m looking forward to finding the time to read a few new collections. There’s been a lot of hype around Claudia Rankine’s Citizen so I’m keen to see if it lives up to the buzz. Similarly I’ve heard good things about Zelda Chappell’s debut collection The Girl in the Dog-tooth Coat which has just been released by Bare Fiction. Also this summer Don Paterson is launching 40 Sonnets: one of my favourite poets writing in a favourite form – I can’t wait!
Colin Waters. Communications Manager
Very intrigued by the extracts of Citizen I’ve read so far and by the interviews with its author Claudia Rankine. I’ll be bagging that once a copy comes into the SPL. I also have the SPL’s copy of Rosemary Tonk’s Bedouin of the London Evening. Only flicked through it so far, but the poems are just as intriguing as the story of her ‘disappearance’. Prose? Looking forward to Iain Sinclair’s London Overground; I can’t get enough of his explorations of London and its layers of memory and literature. And after watching Mark Cousins’ film 6 Desires: DH Lawrence and Sardinia, I’ve got hold of a copy of Lawrence’s Sea And Sardinia. Call it research.
Jessica Johannesson Gaitán, Library Administrator
I've been reading The Street of Crocodiles and Other Stories by Bruno Schultz all summer. It resists speed, but invites its reader into a long-term relationship. These stories are also – quite literally – at home in the warmest month. Everything is slightly decayed and about to burst open, including the father who lives with birds and, somewhere else, becomes an insect. During his short life Bruno Schultz, I think, truly challenged certain divisions we make between poetry and prose.