Poetry in Herons – 17 February 2023

My cycle ride to the shop is regularly brightened by the sight of a green woodpecker, the squirrels are scarpering around on the Downs and there are no Six Nations matches this weekend. As such, 5pm on Saturday 18th is the perfect time for our event, Treated Like Animals, with Alick Simmons. Alick will be speaking in the shop about his brilliant book looking at how we can improve the lives of animals, from pets to farm animals to those used in research. If you enjoyed Drive Your Plow at the Old Vic recently, or Justin Gregg’s If Nietzsche Were a Narwhal, you’ll be fascinated by this talk.

Poetry in Herons
We are delighted to launch a series of poetry readings in the shop starting on 18th March at 5pm. Bob Walton – local poet and author of two collections, including the marvellous Sax Burglar Blues – has kindly agreed to start the series. His poems have a glorious jazzy rhythm and I am so excited to see the life they take on when performed. We look forward to seeing lots of you there.

New books for which to look out:

On Being Unreasonable by Kirsty Sedgman
What’s normal? Where do you get your expectations of what is ‘reasonable’ behaviour? University of Bristol cultural historian Kirsty Sedgman looks at why social norms develop, and why progress sometimes involves breaking them.

Sarn Helen by Tom Bullough, illustrated by Jackie Morris
Novelist Tom Bullough sets out along the stretches of Roman road known as Sarn Helen that connect north and south Wales (or used to). Beautifully illustrated by Jackie Morris, Bullough reflects on Welsh nature, history and culture in a thoughtful and moving way.

Hijab Butch Blues by Lamya H
An astonishing memoir about growing up queer in a Middle Eastern Muslim family. This is not just a story of rebellion and self-discovery as Lamya moves to America, but also of her reclamation of a queer tradition within Islam, as well as a reflection on power dynamics and identity.

Kick the Latch by Kathryn Scanlan
One of the most original novels of recent times, Kick the Latch is the story of a woman involved in the world of horse racing. Based on transcribed interviews with Sonia, a horse trainer, the novel investigates form and authenticity in tough and clever vignettes.

Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors
An impulsive marriage to Frank allows Cleo to keep the life she loves in New York. But can it become more than a marriage of convenience, and how will it affect those around them? A funny, reflective and tender novel about making and breaking relationships.

This Book Kills by Ravena Guron (young adult)
Jess is an ordinary high-school student until one of her short stories appears to have become the inspiration for a murder…

Rhyme Hungry by Antonia Pesenti
Dinner time, schminner time. This fun lift-the-flap board book transforms ordinary food with rhymes and silliness. Great for all the family.

Plan your pre-orders now:

Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati – published 2nd March
Calling all Madeline Miller and Jennifer Saint fans: the murderous wife of Agamemnon becomes the latest mythological heroine to tell her side of the story.

August Blue by Deborah Levy – published 4th May
Elsa M. Anderson is a classical piano virtuoso. In a flea market in Athens, she sees a woman, apparently her living double, buying two mechanical dancing horses…

Black Girl from Pyongyang by Monica Macias – published 2nd March
An utterly jaw-dropping memoir by the daughter of an African president who was stranded at her school in North Korea after a coup deposed her father.

Book groups

We meet next week to discuss Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck in the non-fiction group and The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes in the fiction groups.

If you’d like to sign up in March:

The non-fiction group will be discussing The Utopians by Anna Neima – the devastation of the First World War was followed by the challenge of rebuilding, and for some this was an opportunity to restructure society itself. Neima’s book looks at six experimental communities established around the world that sought radical new ways of living. We meet on 20 March at 18.30 in The Lansdown.

The fiction groups will be discussing The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey – Aycayia the mermaid has lived alone in the sea for centuries, the last of her people who lived in the Caribbean long ago. Now, intrigued by a singing fisherman called David, she is drawn into the lives of its modern inhabitants. But where does she belong? We have two groups meeting on 29 March and 30 March at 18.30 in The Lansdown.

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