For the last few months I've been absorbed in work on a new book, but even so there has been a little time for other things. I particularly enjoyed writing an article on the connections I find between kayaking and writing, published in the summer issue of Poetry News. Other work includes:
A catalogue essay for Blue Hours, an exhibition to mark the close of Lucy May Schofield's year-long residency with Visual Arts in Rural Communities in Northumberland National Park. (Republished online in The Double Negative; image above: Khosro Adibi.)
A review of the Hokusai exhibition at the British Museum in RA Magazine.
An interview with Scottish poet Macgillivray in Oxford Poetry magazine.
Reviews of titles on book design by Carol Twombly and Jhumpa Lahiri in the Times Literary Supplement.
The highlight of the winter for me will be the Tove Jansson exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery, opening on 25 October. I'm delighted to see Jansson accorded this honour, and look forward to a new perspective on her work.
During September and October I am Writer in Residence at Skriuðuklaustur, near Egilsstaðir in East Iceland. Skriuðuklaustur is the former home of Iceland's much-loved novelist Gunnar Gunnarsson, who donated it to the nation in 1948, with the proviso it should be a home for literature. (You can read more of the history and architecture of this fascinating and unusual Icelandic building here.)
During my time here I'm researching glaciers for my forthcoming book The Library of Ice. The vast Vatnajökull glacier is not far from Skriuðuklaustur, and as well as enjoying the peaceful writing environment, I've been participating in some more active research out on the icecap.
A word donated to The Polar Tombola by poet Saradha Soobrayen
If you had to lose a word from your language, what would it be?
Endangered languages and censorship are the themes of an exhibition opening on 4 September 2017 at UWE Library, Bower Ashton, Bristol. On display is the archive of ThePolar Tombola, a participatory live lit / art project with which I have toured the UK over the last two years. I've been discussing language loss with artists, writers, librarians, curators, scientists and many others, and collecting the words these individuals feel they could - or should - live without. The exhibition includes all 300+ words donated to the archive, together with texts commissioned from leading contemporary writers for the accompanying anthology A Book of Banished Words. Visitors will also be able to see the original installation, including the 'tombola' and the Greenlandic-English dictionary that inspired the project.
Special Offer! The Polar Tombola: A Book of Banished Words is available post-free within the UK for the duration of the exhibition.
The Polar Tombola runs until 31 October 2017 at Bower Ashton Library, Kennel Lodge Road, Bristol, BS3 2JT. More details here.
For a full account to the project, look out for an article on The Polar Tombola in the forthcoming issue of The Blue Notebook Journal for Artists' Books.
The Polar Tombola exhibition, publication and tour were made possible with the generous support of Arts Council England Grants for the Arts.
The shortlist for the 2017 Michael Murphy Memorial prize has
just been announced by judges Deryn Rees-Jones, Karen Leeder and John
Mcauliffe. The £1000 prize is awarded for a distinctive first book of poetry in
English published in Britain or Ireland. I’m honoured that Disko Bayis one
of the five titles on the shortlist, alongside This Changes Things by Claire Askew, Beauty / Beauty by Rebecca Perry, The Observances by Kate Miller and Otherwise by John Dennison.
The winner will be announced on National Poetry Day, 28
September 2017 and the prize will be awarded at the English Association's
Annual General Meeting on 23 May 2018. Meanwhile, Disko Bay is available to Poetry Book Society members at the customary 25% discount.