Our brilliant festival team was: Jay Armstrong, Sarah Purnell, Annie Harrison, Anna Cathenka, Aysha Bryant, Shannan Sterne, Sarah Cave, Emma Gibbs, Paige Davis and David Brady. Thanks also to Sorrel Watson for her interview.
The team from the Falmouth’s School of Writing and Journalism have been camped out in Trefelix, the beautiful Arts & Crafts house at the centre of the festival. We’ve been working in the house’s library, which is a lovely family room with ceiling-to-floor shelves filled with family reading. After spending Saturday working amongst the books, Anna wrote a poem reflecting on that experience.
By Anna Cathenka
Unfamiliar shelves in unfamiliar rooms
draw my attention in the quiet hours.
I pick up, browse backs
passing pint to left hand, a book
fits where a cigarette is lacked.
These wrinkled, well-loved worlds
who are untold to me. And then,
winking from across the room
an old friend, A Modern Herbal,
echo of my childhood. So sudden
the well-known spines appear
amongst the strangers; Wyndham,
Chatwin, sixties Pan Books
of Neville Shute, C.S. Lewis,
The Silmarillion, nineties
Bill Bryson (this one signed)
Wild Swans, Stieg Larsson,
Harry Potter, Terry Pratchett,
faded Frank Herberts. My pint,
back in my right –
now more a quarter-pint –
sinks wistfully as I wonder:
“a house with books is never
All weekend we’re asking people at the festival to share their current favourite books with us. Here Anna Cathenka talks to Rosie Hoppe, owner of Laid Back Coffee Co – who says her favourite book is Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier.
She also says she has had a great day at the festival – and we can personally vouch that her coffee is fantastic.
Before going to Horatio Clare’s talk about his new book Down To The Sea In Ships I catch a quick bite to eat with my fellow student-journalists in the festival’s mess tent. As I sip my silky coffee, I spy a tanned, bearded man in a blue, Nordic jumper eating his lunch. I come over all fan-girl: “That’s Horatio Clare!” I whisper.
I discovered Horatio Clare when I was given his first book Running For The Hills about his childhood which, much like mine, was set amongst the smell of bracken and sheep’s wool in the deep, dark valleys of Wales. His writing is lyrical, delicate, moving.
Clare is a picture of coolness as he takes to the stage, changed out of his jumper into a t-shirt and dinner jacket, stealing our attention away from Jill Murphy’s beautiful deerhound, Flora, who kindly introduces the talk (with the help of Patrick Gale.) Down to the Sea in Ships was written after a stint working as writer in residence for the Maersk shipping company. I was initially jealous of his experience, but after sinking into the salty depths of the book, the jealousy turned to admiration. Continue reading →
It is 10.30 am on a damp, wild day in North Cornwall. I am sitting in a marquee, beset at every turn by industrious money spiders, making their own pattern-poems with their little black bodies on the white expanse of my paper. The event begins with Eduard Heyning’s improvised, mellow soprano sax, coursing a late-night jazz sound poem into the wet veins of this early morning.
Victoria Field and Philip Wells recite their poetry to us. Their work is worlds apart. Field uses what she refers to as “little words”– a reference to a quote from Wendell Berry: “The little words that come out of the silence like prayers”. It is almost a paean to Victoria’s poems; friendly whispers that catch you when you’re least expecting it. Wells is the masculine voice to Victoria’s feminine quietude. His words roar right inside you: shake you to your core. Wells’ poems are fast-paced, loud, everything opposite to Field, and yet neither is less powerful.
Each recitation is brought to a close (or alternatively, introduced) by a sound poem from Heyning. As one of the audience later tells me: “his music clears your mind in between these two very different poets.” My favourite sound poem is what sounds to me like a heated argument, a two-and-fro between a very light, feminine voice and a rough, deep masculine voice. While Wells and Field are in accordance, the piece nevertheless seems relevant. Continue reading →
It’s 10.30am and we’ve arrived in the beautiful location of Trebetherick on the North coast of Cornwall.
Our team, made up of Jay, Anna, Annie, Sarah, Vicky and myself have been up bright and early on this mild autumn morning ready for a full day of writing ahead.
We’re ready and raring to go to give you a live stream through out the weekend of what’s happening at the North Cornwall Book festival this year. If you couldn’t make it this year, or just curious to what the festival is about then keep an eye our for reviews, live tweets and much more to get a taste of what’s going on.
Today entails many activities such as talks with Jill Murphy and Horatio Clare to workshops practising traditional crafts, and walks around the idyllic surroundings we’ll be in.
Why not get involved? Our question for the weekend is: what’s your favourite book and why? Tweet us @swjfalmouth or find us on Facebook swjfalmouth.
“Poetry is always beyond definition, it is bigger than anybody ever realised and as long as we keep that sense of scale and cosmic piety about it, we won’t lose its deep magic,” says Philip Wells. His passion for poetry is fiery and contagious – and explains his moniker, The Fire Poet. Wells’ new book, Horse Whispering In The Military Industrial Complex is about using poetry as “a channel through which to speak the truth,” he explains as we discuss his poetry and activism ahead of his appearance at the North Cornwall Book Festival.
“I have fond memories of Cornwall from childhood holidays, but walking 270 miles barefoot along the coastal path made it very special,” he says. Wells is one of the founders of Barefoot Billion, the project for which he walked 1000 miles barefoot in order to raise awareness of the 1 billion children living in poverty. The walk started in Cornwall: it raised £23,000, as well as getting children in 80 different countries writing poetry.
The walk also “awakened the conscience of the world” in Wells. It allowed him to discover “the absolute kernel of what matters: a connection, a golden thread that runs through us all, asking us to change the world and stop all this ridiculous inequality. Now is the time to act, I will use poetry to do that.” Continue reading →