Time to Read Blog

"It’s hard to describe the experience of reading The Devastation"

Posted Thursday 7 March 2019 by Writing Squad in Writing Squad Reviews

Melissa Buzzeo – The Devastation (Nightboat, 2015)

In the latest in a series of books by members of the Writing Squad on what book most influenced them, Dominic Leonard writes about a book that does not end with the page...

Buzzeo DavastationIt’s hard to describe the experience of reading The Devastation. It is a long (nearly 200 page) prose poem in several sections, tracing the end of a relationship through its reflections, difficulties, freedoms and relations, using the ongoing metaphorical dynamic of a slow, out-of-time sea-wreck. Refuse builds on the ocean floor as the fragments of what was once intimate connection is thrown down there, left to float away. The poem seems to disregard itself in the act of writing; it is a book, like Bhanu Kapil’s Ban en Banlieue, largely about the inability to write in the face of violence and pain.

I first read this book in the frantic weeks leading up to my undergraduate dissertation submission, and despite its intensity it became a remarkably calming presence in my life – I continued to read it through revision for my finals and into summer. Looking back through it now I can remember the experience of first falling into this book; it is difficult and disorienting, like being lost at sea. The lines often don’t line up in a way that makes immediate sense; M. NourbeSe Philip describes it as a ‘liquification of language that simultaneously drowns yet buoys us up.’ The accumulative effect is one of being utterly adrift from the moors of language:

‘Death to death water to chatter. The recovered chemicals the charter. / Catheter charter / Heart / Beat.’

The book gestures outwards, indicating that it does not begin nor end with the page. Buzzeo’s dynamic use of the line and of white space challenge the very parameters of a book, both literally and metaphorically. The second part of the poem, ‘An Object,’ is one page, on which the poet promises that if she could, she would break off a piece of The Devastation and give it to the reader: ‘Not like a text, like an object.’ I tore most of the page out, and keep it in the back of a notebook.

Dominic LeonardAbout Dominic Leonard

Dominic studied English in Oxford and is now studying for an MA in Postcolonial Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds. His poems and reviews have appeared in Poetry London, Oxford Poetry, The Scores, amberflora, Zarf, and elsewhere. In 2018 he won the Eugene Lee Hamilton Sonnet Prize, was the runner-up for the Jane Martin Prize, and a finalist for the Hollingworth Prize.

Dominic’s pamphlet love, bring myself is published by Broken Sleep Books.

Inaugural Speed Dating library event is Valentine’s hit for LiveWire in Warrington

Posted Wednesday 20 February 2019 by Ian Anstice in Latest Libraries News

ValentinesLove was in the air at Orford Jubilee Neighbourhood Hub in Warrington on Wednesday 13th February, when LiveWire held its first Library Speed Dating event - which received fantastic feedback from those who attended.

Organised by LiveWire’s Community Librarian Team, the free event was one of the UK’s first ever speed dating events held in a public library space.

It was attended by around 30 people who enjoyed coffee and cake and the chance to meet and chat with new people, in the welcoming and familiar setting of a library.

Wendy Molyneux, LiveWire Strategic Libraries Manager, came up with the idea for a speed dating event. Such was the unusual nature of the event, Wendy was even invited on to BBC Radio Manchester to talk about the idea.

Following the event, Wendy said: “There was a fantastic atmosphere in the library during the event, and everyone looked like they were having a great time.  Overwhelmingly people told us they enjoyed it and said it was a good way to meet new people, and that they hope we organise similar events in the future.

ValentinesQuite a few people made comments about how they liked the idea it was in a library rather than a bar or club because they felt safe, and it was nice to meet people face to face rather than virtually.

It was also a great way to engage with the community and help combat potential social isolation – all important functions of libraries.”

The speed dating event has been praised by Time to Read, the partnership of public library authorities in the North West that collaborate on reader development initiatives.

Ian Anstice, Time to Read co-ordinator, said: “This is fantastic to see. The LiveWire Team has gone way beyond in order to come up with a successful event that looks like it will start a bit of a trend. It took some bravery to put on something like this and it is great to see it has paid off. Linking it so closely to Valentine’s Day was inspired as well. We know people love books and all the other services that libraries provide but it’s great to see love itself as a possibility now.”

LiveWire hopes to hold more speed dating events in the future.

Hidden depths: Peter Street gets grave

Posted Monday 11 February 2019 by Preeta Press in Author blogs

Peter Street

Northwest publishing house Preeta Press have been in touch about an author and book which have got them excited ...

"Peter had no confidence in reading and writing until at the age of 32, after a serious accident when he badly injured his back, met an English Literature teacher from a local high school who was in the next bed. Both were in hospital for an extended period and during the boring long hours of recovery, Peter decided he wanted to learn how to read and write and the teacher agreed to help him. They have remained lifelong friends.

Following this, Peter discovered he an aptitude for writing poetry and became well known on the national poetry scene and was given a grant to write poetry from the the Royal Literary Fund. He has had several successful published poetry collections.

At the age of 64, Peter was diagnosed with autism and whilst this was a relief it was the impetus he needed to write his autobiography.

Hidden DepthsHidden Depths is the first volume of his autobiography to be published. He chronicles how working as a gravedigger, for the first time in his life, he found social acceptance and friendships.

One of his first jobs was digging in sand and Peter imagined the beaches at Blackpool. Unfortunately, the reality was much more frightening as the sand came into the grave and began to drag him down. Luckily a fellow grave digger noticed the situation and eventually it took two of them to get him out, much to his relief. The next day there was a bucket and spade waiting for him in the workman cabin.

"One of his first jobs was digging in sand and Peter imagined the beaches at Blackpool. Unfortunately, the reality was much more frightening as the sand came into the grave and began to drag him down."

There was also the poignant side of the work when he was given the horrendous job of burying a stillborn baby, made more difficult as he knew the mother personally.

Set in the middle 1960s, the book also tells the love story between Peter and Sandra, who against the wishes of both sets of parents, fought to be together."

Great North West Read 2019

Posted Monday 4 February 2019 by Ian Anstice in Latest Libraries News

GNWR logoWhat is it?

A joint promotion between 22 library authorities in the North West, covering a population of 8 million people and including all Liverpool and Greater Manchester. The aim is to get people in the region reading and talking about one book. This would be in libraries but also with promotions being sought in other outlets and through radio publicity. This theme is modelled on the successful CityReads programme that started in London and will be on a similar scale. The aim for the title is for it to be “popular” with some tie in to the region but the book does not need to be a bestseller or come from a big-name author.

We will provide:

· Potential space for display in over 300 libraries, with an active membership of one million.

· Social media (#GNWR hashtag) and email promotion by library authorities.

· In addition to the assistance of the library authorities, Time To Read has a budget of around £5 000 to use as necessary.

We are looking for:

· Any format or type of book will be considered. We’re looking for one which will be likely to get popular interest which will get people talking and, ideally, reach beyond the traditional library readership. Fiction, non-fiction, modern or classic will be considered. Some themes may be politically unacceptable by some library authorities and so will not be considered, but this will be decided on a case by case basis.

· Some copies for free for the various authorities. Other possibilities include a discount for titles or paying for printing. Preference will be given for a title that is available as multi-copy loanable  e-book.

· Point of sale material would be appreciated. Across the region, we would need 10 000 A5 leaflets and bookmarks, 1 000 A4 posters, and 500 A3 posters.

· As many author visits as possible. It’s understood there would be fewer visits for a “big name” author but a smaller name author would be considered if more visits could be arranged for them.


· October or November 2019. Submissions for the second half of 2020 will also be accepted.

Ian Anstice, timetoread@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk,

North West Libraries

Librarians in the North West have pioneered partnership working to encourage new readers into libraries. Time To Read is a partnership of librarians engaged in reader development activity in public library authorities in the North West Region. 22 public library authorities in the region currently support Time To Read.

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