Archive for November, 2020

Christmas Shopping

So I need to tell you that Playmobil has a Greek Myths range. With Mount Olympus! The Argo! Icarus! Athena!

Also, if you’re thinking of buying books for anyone you should check out the hashtag #signforourbookshops. Lots of fantastic authors and illustrators are taking part and the deal is, basically, you have to order a copy of a book from an indie bookshop (not Amazon) and DM them, and they’ll post you a signed bookplate (some talented people are even adding in doodles and illustrations). It’s a lovely way to personalise a Christmas gift and make it a bit more special – as well as supporting independent bookshops which are currently closed by lockdown.

Anyway – do contact me if you’d like one for Fierce Bad Rabbits. Given the timing of the paperback coming out I’ve sadly hardly signed a copy 😦 so have ordered some of these lovely Edward Lear plates (he features in the book), and am glad to personalise them with the recipient’s name or a personal message.

The book is very giftable for the parents / grandparents / teachers / book lovers in your life, and even ends with a chapter about Christmas and magic, featuring The Nutcracker, The Snowy Day, Raymond Briggs, and me watching Stick Man on Christmas Day on the sofa and trying not to spill my red wine…

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Planning for Lockdown

So here we are again, planning for lockdown, only this time it’s Samhain, the beginning of the ‘darker half’ of the year, and with the US elections and then Brexit on the horizon its hard not to feel a rising horror.

Last time I became too obsessed with politics I think, I was watching The Guardian live-feed about four hours a day, as though I had some moral responsibility to pay enough attention and know what was unfolding in every corner of the globe at every minute. I don’t think I can do that again. It feels indulgent, when I know how many are suffering and will suffer over the next few months, but I’m trying to plan some strategies to distract myself.

Hobbies are good. Last time Rich baked sourdough and I got into doing my daily French on Duolingo, and spent a lot of time pottering around the garden. This autumn I’ve decided I will try to do daily yoga videos – I’ve bought a mat for £6 from Decathlon – and make lots of cocktails. With my birthday money I bought bourbon and Luxardo cherries and I’ve been making Old Fashioneds and Amaretto Sours (this recipe is amazing) and last night I watched Stanley Tucci make margaritas and panic bought ingredients online.

I’m also hoping messing around making my Clare’s Poetry Circle videos will help – Rich bought me a tripod for my birthday so hopefully they’ll get more professional (although today’s is rather marred by neighbours drilling at the end!). I’ve just put up this week’s workshop on the poetic ‘I’. Is the ‘I’ of your poems really you? How far do you stick to what honestly happened or ‘Fake it up with the truth’? (Anne Sexton). If you want poetry to be one of your lockdown hobbies, please do check out my site – I’m putting up a free mini-workshop with a prompt every week and have had some brilliant responses so far. You can share your poems at #clarespoetrycircle on Instagram or twitter or under my youtube videos. Tell anyone you know who might welcome the distraction!

Another way to prepare for lockdown is Christmas shopping of course, I love buying things for my loved ones, it seems a very pleasurable escape at the moment. A subscription to Modern Poetry in Translation is obviously a bargain at £23 for three gorgeous issues. This morning I also discovered the new website Bookshop.org – you MUST use it instead of Amazon. You can order via the page of your favourite bookshop – in my case Review Bookshop in Peckham – and they get paid a percentage of your order. I just ordered both Draw with Rob books for my children’s pillowcases…

I’ve also been able to set up my own little page where you can buy Fierce Bad Rabbits (a very thoughtful Christmas present for the parent, grandparent or booklover in your life if I do say so myself) along with some of the books I explore in it, and I’ve curated lists of poets I mention in Clare’s Poetry Circle and favourite translated books there too, and will be adding more lists this month. (Disclosure: If you buy books through my page, I will earn a small commission from Bookshop.org.)

Other ideas to pass the long nights: watching more theatre and events online (I feel like I’ve kind of exhausted TV at the moment). Last week we launched the autumn issue of MPT – Origins of the Fire Emoji: Focus on Dead [Women] Poets, a collaboration with the Dead [Womens] Poets Society, with a ‘digital seance’ so you can watch that here.

I’m still poetry editor of The Idler, and they’ve been putting on some thoroughly enjoyable ‘A Drink with the Idler’ online events – I’m planning on watching this one with Stewart Lee whilst ironing tonight. And having failed to get tickets in time last year to watch it at the Vaudeville Theatre, I’m very much looking forward to watching Emilia next week, about another Dead [Woman] Poet, Emilia Bassano. It’s supposed to be absolutely phenomenal and they’re doing pay-what-you-can.

Okay, I haven’t thought about politics for ten minutes so I guess that’s a result.

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