elsie katz's blog

Giving new writers a chance - Radio 4 should help us

Radio 4 is our only well-known channel which is about words not music. Where do they get their material from? The formats often feel 'tired' and threadbare. How do 'us lot' get in there? I suspect unless we are very lucky or a known name our work sinks to the bottom of a barely glanced at submissions pile. Could one of our editors approach them and get a regular half hour, call it 'easy as Abc?' or something. It would be win-win because Radio 4...

In The Womens' Library - photocopying my work

Some of my past work is in the Womens' Library, currently housed on the top two floors of the London School of Economics. Back in the days of second stage feminism I wrote opinion pieces, book reviews, poetry and a short story for the Edinburgh Women's Liberation Newsletter and my pieces are in files on shelves in the open collection. I decided to photocopy them while they were still there. The Women's Library, previously the Fawcett Library has...

Returning to Patricia Beer

Why is Exmouth's only well-known female writer (1919-1999) almost invisible? The Guardian and the Independent both describe her poetry as 'wry.' Wry rhymes with 'shy', the vowels of wry chime with 'irony'. No mention of passion, fire, humour, bite. The lace curtain of 'wry' sells her short, ignores her often present precision and anger. Her swipe at her father, who lived his working life 'from puberty to impotence' as a railway clerk at Exeter...

The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa

A long book which does away mostly with character, dialogue and plot. A central character who is a lot of people the main one, Bernardo being a 'mutilated' Fernando, the same environment but more restricted. The lethargy of a still great capital city in a country which ruled the world for centuries. A ledger clerk who is underpaid and accepts it as he has become almost fond of the office where he works as a near robot and who thinks Vasques, his...

The Recovery Letters ed James Withey and Olivia Sagan (including Elsie's letter)

A collection of letters written by people who have been through depression. We address a person 'out there' who we imagine as currently struggling with it. Each letter starts 'dear you'. About 50 letters each of us saying in our own way 'you are not alone' to a person feels they are and 'it won't last forever, that's the depression talking' to the person who feels the illness may never lift. 'From Elsie' is on pages 153-54. A simple format and...

Paddington Bear 2

Go on, I dare you. You will not feel out of place if you go on your own. I saw it yesterday and most of the audience were my age or older. Only a few had rounded up a child or grandchild. Good inventive slap-bear-stick. A varied set of real and imaginary views of London, Paddington Station, the Shard and showground with a mystery object that leads our innocent marmalade-head to aargh! prison. Don't want to give away any more but it's...

The Elegance of the Hedgehog - by Muriel Barbery

First heard this on Radio 4 a few years back, now re-reading it.I love stories that give me something new and since I have never lived in a big posh Parisian apartment block... The narrators take turns. Renee the concierge was a poor farm girl. She married a local lad and they moved to town. He died young, she continued working and living in her tied flat and at 54 she has a long-term prickly view of the residents who take her for granted as a...

How Far Do I Go?

It's a writing dilemma. I know that I am able to push myself harder and there are a couple of directions where I can go. My writing strengths are non-fiction and fiction with its feet firmly embedded in fact. And thanks ABC for giving me the space to play around in all directions and come to this assessment. Now where do I go? One option is to create a collection of full-on factual memory writings. Another is to arise off my 61 year old ass and...

Dogwalking

The good thing about dogwalking, some extra time out along the estuary and on the beach and in Phear Park with its monumental 200 year old oaks. The bad thing - the dog! My best friend slipped on the estuary mud when walking Chesney, Rudy and Thor - daft name for a Jack Russell. She's mega-conscientious and she's also skint so she is carrying out her work duties with her right forearm in plaster and supported with a sling. She's my best friend...

Bloomsday 2018

There are Bloomsdays worldwide, from Montreal to Melbourne. However next year I shall see what it's all about in Dublin on June 16. It's a long time ahead but I would guess budget accomodation books up fast. It probably adds extra resonance to the day if, like myself, you know and like the writings of James Joyce. This is not compulsory and I am sure quite a few individuals sort of fall into the day by chance because they happen to be in 'dear...

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