A review of Word Migrants by Hazel Smith

Hazel Smith’s Word Migrants is a poetry collection that is utterly relevant right now. Smith brings her cross-media poetic aesthetics to such topics as racism, the plight of refugees, diaspora, stereotypes, climate change, grief, aging and death, semiotics and literary theory all in a way that weaves and intersects seamlessly. Though there’s a neat circularity in the book – starting and ending with disappearances, Word Migrants is organised into five sections, each with a slightly different focus. The first, “The Forgiveness Website”, focuses on the nostalgia and sense of loss that comes with displacement. This chapter explores refugees and migration, but also the motion from past to present, and of all that we lose in our identities as we try to find ways to live and forgive in the face of oppression.

A review of Unravelling by Channel D

Although its darkness is a little too unrelenting, Unravelling is a virtuoso performance, but it is much more than that. The long-awaited follow-up to Mosaic of Disarray was born of a terrible period in singer-songwriter Nick de Grunwald’s life when he felt he was coming apart at the seams.  This new album dazzles the listener with the sheer variety of the songs, constantly delighting the listener with new soundscapes and characters stuck on the wrong side of life.

A review of Review of Researching Creative Writing by Jen Webb

This is a book that has the potential to help creative writers ‘make knowledge festive’ in the process of creating their research projects. It is structured logically so as to make for optimal comprehension. It is superbly written and gives exciting examples of writers and books that illustrate the process of researching creative writing and writing as research.

A review of Local Time: a memoir of cities, friendships and the writing life by Inez Baranay

Baranay’s memoir is about travelling, art and culture(s) and food, home (and not having one), writing, and friendship. She begins by telling the reader that an inheritance has allowed her to plan a trip to Europe in 2006, one that will enable her to live well while she’s travelling but not be away too long as she does not want to stop writing for too many months. The author does not expect to write while she’s away, which gives us the first hint of a commitment to writing that is strong but realistic. In fact, she does write, and she describes how her life really revolves around writing and reading as well as friendship and human connection.

An interview with Robert Eggleton

The author of Rarity from the Hollow talks in some detail about his new multi-genre novel, about why it’s not for the “prudish, faint of heart, or easily offended”, his characters, what draws him to science fiction, about the charity his book supports and why, and lots more.

A review of Cure by Jo Marchant

Marchant’s extensive tour of a range of placebo based trials around the world where doctors and patients who are seeing powerful results (thereby perhaps changing the whole meaning of the word “placebo”) on some previously intractable conditions. It’s not just the “power of positive thinking”, but actual real chemicals such as endorphins, dopamines, and hormones being released in response to a number of different stimulations.

The UK’s In-Out Referendum by David Owen

At last, a grown-up book about the issue of the moment. David Owen’s booklet was written before David Cameron had completed his renegotiation, so-called, of Britain’s EU membership. Since then Owen has come out in favour of leaving the EU, a clear indication that he doesn’t believe the prime minister has got a good enough deal.

A review of The Arrival of Missives by Aliya Whiteley

The Arrival of Missives is an immensely readable book. It contains delightfully light characterizations in which people are encapsulated by a phrase, a tone of voice, a gesture. And, towards the end of the novel, intentionally or not (what does it matter?), there is an image straight out of Hamlet that provides beauty and horror in equal measure.

A review of My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

Every story told in the book is written as a past memory and Lucy intertwines her own reflections as she tells her story. The story is told through the narrator’s point of view in the same fashion one would write a memoir about his or her own life. What Elizabeth Strout has done so brilliantly is convinced readers that Lucy’s life is real and we are a part of it.