Books and poetry
Off the Shelf at Black’s - Spring 2012
Jan Woolf of the Guild’s Books Committee reflects on the Guild’s events in partnership with Black’s in London, and looks forward to the 2012 programme
You come in, sit down and have a coffee – a good coffee mind ; unless you prefer tea. If we’re beyond October the fires are lit. Then we settle in the same comfort enjoyed by children listening to a story. We hear from the writer: first reading from something published, then work in progress. And we discuss what we’ve heard.
And boy what we’ve heard so far. Lindsay Clarke, an entirely fitting writer to launch Off the Shelf, gave a profound exposition of where writing comes from, why we do it and why we’re all nourished by literature. He read from his Whitbread Award winning The Chymical Wedding and his most recent work The Water Theatre. Jemima Hunt read from her emotional thriller The Late Arrival and, as an agent for the Writers Practice talked about the processes of getting published. We had Jake Wallis Simons and his enriching novel the English German Girl. Its subject, the Kindertransport of WW2, meant, of course, that discussion turned to the difficulties and emotional challenges of this subject matter. Check out the podcasts made from each talk.
After lunch is brilliant too. More readings in the restaurant, but this time from the audience, with the writer of the day helping others realise their own works. Its lovely, all of it, and we have the help and support of Fiction Uncovered to make it happen. So check out the spring programme (below).
Carol Topolski (January) is a writer who reaches the darkest of places with the lightest of touches. Her books take us to difficult places in the human psyche and the behaviours it can throw up, but in a way that informs and (can I use this word?) entertains. I think I can, for if a book sets a journey for the reader, Carol’s journeys are worth the fare.
Lucinda Hawksley (Charles Dickens's great, great, great granddaughter) will talk to us in February. She has a special interest in visual art, and her books Lizzie Siddel and The 50 British Artists You Should Know are fascinating.
In March the Welsh poet Owen Sheers will read from and talk about how his novel Resistance was transformed for film. Resistance is about the plausible and human complications of an imagined German invasion of the UK in a small Welsh border farming community where all the men have left. He writes about the complications of survival in this situation with depth and integrity – and the eye of a poet.
Then we have that renaissance man Alan Franks in April: an accomplished poet, novelist, playwright, songwriter and journalist (www.muswell-press.co.uk). Freshly retired from The Times, he now has more time to do all of this. He will probably sing! Good.
Book your places pronto! Because there are only 23 of them. Off the Shelf is getting talked about and places go fast. Especially at £25 a head which includes lunch and coffee (or tea). So get in there.
Off the Shelf at Blacks: A series of monthly, one-day residencies for fiction writers
Venue: Black's, 67 Dean Street, London W1D 4QH
30 January Carol Topolski Monster Love, Do No Harm (Penguin)
February 27 Lucinda Hawksley Lizzie Siddal (Andre Deutsch), 50 British Artists You Should Know (Prestel)
March 19 Owen Sheers Resistance – From novel to movie (Faber and Faber)
April 30 Alan Franks Going Over, The Sins Of The Sons (Muswell Press)
The day starts at 11:00am with coffee and ends at 4:00pm after lunch and an open-mic session, during which participants can read short extracts from their own work if they wish. All writers will read from previously published work as well as work in progress. An audience of up to 23 will then discuss the work and writing processes, chaired by Jan Woolf of the WGGB Books Committee. This is an opportunity for established authors to receive mature critical feedback and for the audience to get some guidance too. Cost for each day is £25. This includes coffee, two-course lunch, and all-day and evening membership of Black’s. You will also get automatic reference if you want club membership.
In association with Fiction Uncovered