Platform 65, a non-profit cultural arts group by a group of Singaporeans based in London, organised an evening of poetry reading and open-mic poetry at W&T on Thursday 28 June 2012. With the blare of music and sounds of drinking revellers at the StockMKT Bermondsey in the square muffled somewhat by the closed doors and steamy heat in the shop, the event featured special guest and Singaporean poet Alvin Pang, as well as other poets participating in the open-mic session. Alvin is in town representing Singapore as part of the Cultural Olympics festival, the Poetry Parnassus. Alvin's work has been translated into over fifteen languages and featured in anthologies, journals, and publications all over the world. His latest book is When the Barbarians Arrive, a collection of new and selected poems, published by Arc Publications in the UK.
Congratulations Yinka and Shaun, on your awesome work for the library of Orolu Kingdom of Ifon Osun! Yinka and Shaun got in touch with W&T last year to ask if we had books we could donate. We certainly did! We also asked publishers if they had surplus stock they were willing to donate. The duo, on their own time and effort, and with their own money, then collected all the boxes of books and delivered them to Orolu in Nigeria, where they helped set things up. Thank you for being a wonderful inspiration.
Palestinian Seham Abu Awwad and Israeli Robi Damelin of the Parents' Circle Families Forum was at W&T yesterday evening to share their personal stories and the message of reconciliation and hope. The PCFF is a non-profit organisation comprising individuals who have lost loved ones in the Israel-Palestine conflict. The audience also watched a short film - Blood Relations, which features Seham among others. (I have to say I choked back tears and pretended to tinker with my laptop wire, not only because it was sad, but because it was uplifting and hopeful.)
Among the messages the speakers were keen to impart was: 'Stop importing our conflict' said Robi. She said to see the polarising effects of people in other countries taking on either an inflexible pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian stance was distressing, that creating opposing camps is not 'part of the solution' but 'part of the problem.' Seham stressed that both Israeli and Palestinian civilians were fatigued by conflict and that 'it is enough.'
Both speakers travel the globe to share the PCFF's core message: It won't stop until we talk. They have tirelessly spoken and lobbied anyone who will listen, and also speak to school children in Israeli and Palestinian classrooms. In humanising this conflict, they remind us that we are all mothers, sisters, brothers, and fathers. So, want to do more than just pontificate? You can help courageous members like Seham and Robi keep the dialogue flowing. Visit PCFF's website here: http://www.theparentscircle.org/
It was a packed house at Canada Water Library's Culture Space on Monday 11 June 2012, with more than 150 people turning up for an event with author Lionel Shriver (who we must mention, braved the wind and rains and cycled to the venue!)
Lionel Shriver is a novelist whose previous books include Orange Prize–winner We Need to Talk About Kevin, The Post-Birthday World, A Perfectly Good Family, Game Control, Double Fault, The Female of the Species, Checker and the Derailleurs, and Ordinary Decent Criminals. She is widely published as a journalist, writing features, columns, op-eds, and book reviews for the Guardian, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the Economist, Marie Claire, and many other publications. She is frequently interviewed on television, radio, and in print media. She lives in London and Brooklyn, NY.
Some of the photos of this page are courtesy of Canada Water Library. (Hint: The non-shaky ones not taken using a Blackberry LOL)
I start a lot of books. My bedside table is an overcrowded space and my unread, half-read pile now extends onto my dressing table, down the hall, into my study and out into the lounge. It's the repeating motif of our flat; every single room/living space has its selection of books- novels in the bedroom, Vanity Fair in the toilet, life writing/creative writing texts in the hallway, Shiv's phd-related stuff in my office, Fran's phd-related stuff in her office, a mix of literature, art, photography, non-fiction, Yiddish writings, and lots more besides in the living room. In the shop, I get excited when new orders come in, tear open the boxes, pull out the contents, pore over a few pages...take the 'worthy' ones home and add to the pile. Those that command my attention from start to finish are few. When I happen upon one that I really can't put down, I read through the night, every night until it's finished and when I turn the last page I feel saddened, like I'm losing a good friend. I can think of several books that have stayed with me, lingered on, long after I turned that last page: The Camerons by Robert Crichton, The Furies by Janet Hobhouse, The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir- and now I add a new best read: You Are Not Like Other Mothers by Angelika Schrobsdorff. The subject - - an assimilated German Jewish family's struggles during the Holocaust- is a familiar one. My phd, which I am now finally in the stages of writing up, focuses on Holocaust memory in elderly Lithuanian survivors. I am all Holocausted out... and yet... this book re-awakened the 'reader' in me. Is it because the mother of the title is like my own, who also was not like other mothers, or because it is written so beautifully, so lyrically and yet captures fear, anguish, guilt in such an agonizingly truthful way? Because its approach is unique? It vacillates between first and third peson. Because it has a lovely cover? Yes, I can be swayed by style over substance. Because it landed in my lap at the right time? Possibly all of these. What I can say is that I loved, loved, loved it. And that is all too rare.
Southwark LGBT Network celebrated its 10 year anniversary with special guest speaker Gok Wan, who kindly engaged in an impromptu book-signing session of his latest book - Gok Cooks Chinese. There were plenty of surprise guests including Gok's pooch Dolly, who kept Matzo - the bookshop dog - company, and local MP Simon Hughes also dropped by to lend his support. The network's Chairperson Gaby Charing led the proceedings, providing updates on what the network has achieved over the last year. The network hosts a meeting/event at W&T on the first Wednesday of every month and attendance is free. To find out more about the network, visit: http://southwarklgbtnetwork.com/