If this has been a thin year for poetry, I’m living in an alternate dimension

I wasn’t the only person to be annoyed by John Burnside’s comment in a recent Spectator article that it has been a “thin year for poetry” but apart from the fact that it’s so patently wrong it seems to contrary to the spirit of the poetry community. The whole idea that any one man can translate their personal views into some kind of objective statement on the state of anything seems tone deaf in the current climate, anyway. Perhaps the world of poetry has moved on from the handful of stately white chaps patting themselves on the back for their cleverness but it’s been long overdue and poetry is the richer – dare I say, fatter – for it.

One thing I love about being a part of the poetry community is how welcoming, warm and supportive it is. I think it is this very drive to open up to people from a range of backgrounds which contributes to the fact that it’s such a positive environment. All that Burnside’s comment reinforces is the outmoded idea that poetry is some kind of elitist, old boys’ world. And listen, unlike that unfounded comment, I have receipts.

If you can wade through the noise and discover poetry twitter, you’ll find a community of writers who all spend a lot more time promoting others’ work than their own. There’s an infectious enthusiasm for any new work, for new voices and perspectives. US-based poet Kaveh Akbar uses his twitter following to share new work that excites him. When Zeina Hashem Beck shared an emotional poem about a traumatic experience from her past, I discovered her incredible writing because so many people were applauding and sharing her work and showing solidarity. That’s just two examples of something I’ve seen happening throughout the year, and it’s a demonstration of what an incredible year it’s been for poetry and for poets opening up into the wider world. The only negative impact I can think of is on my bank balance, as it significantly increased my book purchases this year (but I regret nothing).

The community extends beyond single poems or shared promotion. Deborah Alma, AKA The Emergency Poet is currently pulling together an anthology of women’s poetry in response to the #MeToo phenomenon. The collection provides an outlet for voices that have been previously ignored, and all proceeds will go to Women’s Aid UK. I currently have a poem shortlisted for the collection and I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed on that score as I would be immensely proud to be part of such a valuable project. Either way, I’m determined to promote the hell out of that book next year because it’s important and it will add another dimension to the world of poetry. There is nothing thin or mean-spirited about something like this project, from Deborah’s strength to read what must have been a distressing collection of submissions to all the women speaking up for the first time and the many others who can offer support to make the book a success.

And while I’m talking about a supportive community, I should also shout out the amazing Salome magazine, launched this year to support female writers. I am very proud to have a poem in their second issue but it’s about more than that; I love the atmosphere that they’re creating within the magazine. It’s a supportive community, all published writers are paid, all who submit receive feedback, the team are relentlessly positive and their launch events are a celebration of writing and writers. I simply can’t see how, if the year has been a thin one for poetry, how they would have achieved all this within their first year.

On a micro level, I’d also point to all the writers who encouraged me in gathering up my courage, fighting back the imposter syndrome and applying for a PhD. I am part of three workshops with truly incredible writers and there’s never anything but support and insight within those groups. No one shakes their head at how little poetry there’s been this year, no one suggested to me that I shouldn’t follow my dream. I’m now studying something I love, and it’s a direct result of it being such an inspiring year for poetry.

My first instinct on reading that Spectator review was unprintable, but on reflection what I want to say is this – “Hey John, come over here where all the other poets are, get yourself a gin and tonic and listen to all the incredible voices that have categorised this year – you’ll never experience a thin year for poetry again.”

Backwards and in High Heels

There is a famous cartoon talking about Fred Astaire with the caption, “Sure he was great, but don't forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did, ...backwards and in high heels.” I always used to think that meant that women had to be twice, perhaps three times (depending on your views on staying upright in high heels) better than men just to share the same stage. While that may be true, it’s not the only reason this quote rings true for so many and why it resonates across many forms of art.

If we ask, for example, why the dance demands that the woman travels backwards, or why she dances in heels then we get closer to the issue. It’s an external accepted standard that it’s just the way things are done, a standard unlikely to have been set by female dancers. You could argue that the style and look fits the music but then, who decides the music? If Rogers is allowed to be more than a decorative foil to Astaire, if she’d been allowed to pick the tunes and the style of dancing, what more was she capable of?

The reason I’m thinking about this is because there’s a structural problem within many of the arts which automatically locks out women and minorities because of the accepted standards and assumptions. It’s certainly there in poetry. For example, there has recently been a translation of the Odyssey published by a female translator and while that’s fantastic and I’m excited to see what she’s made of Homer’s poetry, we’re all trapped within that tale. These stories are inexorably skewed towards men and dominant cultures. There could be as much drama, interest and joy in the story of a woman finding peace, but this would be deemed a domestic story. The overall message is that women’s stories are for women, and men’s stories are universal. Minorities, presumably, need not apply - although personally I feel that the Aeneid is crying out for a modern translation reflecting the challenges and struggles of migrants. I’d love to see an actor of colour at the top of his game like Riz Ahmed retelling Aeneas’ story in the way we should all learn to see it.

Many of the barriers to greater visibility of women and minority groups are hidden. If nature and classical music are accepted subjects and inspirations for poetry, for example, and you live in an urban tower block with no access or connection to a concert hall, you’re at a disadvantage. If you’re LGBTQ and the standard love stories don’t fit your understanding of romance, your work will be considered specialist or niche. If you’re a person of colour, you might have a whole rich tradition of culture embedded in your work but because it’s not recognised in the predominantly white canon, you won’t get the recognition for this scholarship.

What I can’t understand is why, when they’re plain for all to see, we don’t let go of these implicit standards. Why not let Ginger Rogers kick off her shoes, pick her own tunes and let’s see what she can do? And while we’re at it, let’s invite some of those minorities who’ve never before been invited to take the stage, those who can’t afford a spangly costume or have a different idea of what constitutes beauty – or music, or dance. The end result is more beautiful art in the world and even if it does mean that white men have to relinquish centre stage and the standards they hold dear, I think we all benefit from that. 

The Odyssey
By Homer Homer, Emily Wilson

The magic of reading to children

Roger McGough is 80 today and I honestly can’t think of a writer who’s been so influential on me; I believe he’s the reason I’m a writer today. It’s all because of a very strange picture book he wrote called Mr Noselighter. It’s about a man with a candle for a nose, and it’s strange and dark in a way that’s still quite rare in books for young children. I loved that book so much, I used to make my Dad read it to me over and over. Later, when I was too old for bedtime stories, I would listen in when he read it to my younger sister. I loved the sound of the words, the strange and startling images - the rhymes and the rhythm seized me and I don’t think they’ve ever let go.

I love that book also because it reminds me so much of my Dad. Until the day he died a few years ago, he could recite the whole thing because he had read it so often. When I look at it now, it’s a strange book for a child to get attached to; the images are quite scary, the ideas are surreal and the ending doesn’t offer any resolution. Quite why this would become a touchstone isn’t immediately obvious, except it’s all there in the words, the music and magic of them.

The circumstance, too, played a part. My Gran was a strange and unknowable woman who wasn’t much interested in her grandchildren, and she bought the book. I think she chose it because it was dark and she liked to stir up difficulty. I think she thought it might annoy my Mum, or that she could laugh if it gave me nightmares. If so, it backfired because that book is part of the fabric of our family’s history and despite all the darkness, holds nothing but happy memories for all of us.

I think that might be the secret of all family histories, a sense of happiness despite the darkness, despite the lack of resolution or neat conclusions. Obviously, that never occurred to me as a child, I just loved the sound of it, and the shivers that would travel down my spine as my Dad read a perfectly timed rhyme. From there, I started reading more children’s poetry and I don’t think I’ve ever looked back.

When I was little, I thought there was no one better in the world at reading stories and poems than my Dad. Part of me still thinks that, but looking back I can see that he enjoyed it as much as I did. He also loved words and language and every time he read that book he gave it his all. We both put so much into that one story, and it repaid us a hundredfold.

So, happy birthday to the man who opened my eyes to poetry, who still shares his enthusiasm and talent on Radio 4. And while I’m here, let me take the time to say… read to your kids. You’ll make memories to last a lifetime and you never know when you’re going to ignite a spark. 

In Search of The Real Thing

I took myself to the theatre yesterday to see Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing and I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s a brilliant production; the script has some truly beautiful lines and they’re played with sincere depth. The play may have a complicated architecture and layers of artifice - plays within the play and scenes within a scene - but the overall vision is clear-eyed and direct. It strikes straight at your heart. Henry’s speech about the sanctity of words had me holding my breath; I don’t know if I’ve ever heard how I feel about writing so accurately articulated. I saw myself in those lines and in Henry’s absolute romanticism.

I admire actors because of the talent they have to bring words to life with a great measure of sincerity. It’s such a talent, to balance all the delicacy of the written word and make it seem, on stage, like it’s from the heart. Laurence Fox is excellent in the role of Henry because whether he’s talking about words, love, pop music or a cricket bat, he seems so real. The almost hopeless romantic streak of the playwright is revealed slowly, and shows tenderness underneath the brilliant wit.

Both Henry’s ex-wife Charlotte and his new wife Annie are also played with sensitivity and grit; the realness and pragmatism of these women are what shines a light on Henry’s romanticism. They are complex, sympathetic and brilliantly played by Rebecca Johnson and Flora Spencer-Longhurst. Henry doesn’t inhabit a world of fiction where women swoon into a man’s arms, or act the villain and yet he loves like a courtly hero, in an absolute sense. It is to Fox’s credit that Henry comes across in this way – he has a streak of naiveté a mile wide - without losing any of the character’s intelligence or humour.

I don’t know why I went on my own to see this play other than because it felt right. Perhaps I, too, am a hopeless romantic and would rather go it alone than see it with anyone who wasn’t “my chap” but I don’t think it’s just that. I’ve long reconciled myself with the idea of being single. I’m too romantic to compromise, too incompetent at dating and nowhere near pretty enough to compensate for either failing. That’s OK. I didn’t go to the theatre alone to weep into my gin and tonic, nor because I wouldn’t be able to find anyone to go with me. I went alone because words are one of my true loves, and I wanted to be with them.

I’ve been feeling uncertain about my own writing - a little lost, out of place or left behind by peers, frustrated that I can’t get anywhere, not really sure where I want to get. So many things competing in my head, no wonder I’m feeling uncertain. Yesterday reminded me that I should hold true to my love of words, and write in all sincerity. Maybe I needed to be alone to see that. Maybe that’s why I so admire talented actors – when they bring words to life, something in me comes alive too.

A Word on Witch Hunts – I don’t think it means what you think it means

The phrase “witch hunt” seems to be cropping up a lot recently, and not just because it’s Halloween. It’s been used in relation to the investigation into collusion between Russia and the US government and in association with the powerful #MeToo campaign. Neither are witch hunts in the original sense of the word because in both causes, they are seeking specific wrong doing. If they are witch hunts, we need to rename our police force the Witchfinder Generals.

The phrase refers to trials of witches who were accused of causing harm by magical means. Anything from having red hair or being left handed to being independent or promiscuous could be used as proof of witchcraft. The point about witch trials, as made so powerfully in Arthur Miller’s iconic play The Crucible, is that the charges are arbitrary and the accused are clearly innocent. There may be an argument that there was, at the heart of the McCarthy-era witch hunt for communists that inspired Miller’s play, a sense that there was some wrong doing. However, the way that people were accused, the hysteria and distinct lack of proof made it closer to Salem than a search for justice. These recent cases have led to criminal investigations, and those simply aren’t initiated because someone starts a whisper campaign that leads to hysteria. In short, there is more than a discarded poppet behind the Russian investigation and there is no more a witch hunt against Harvey Weinstein than there was against the Yorkshire Ripper.

Words and phrases can evolve, however. Lindy West’s excellent article Yes, This is a Witch Hunt. I’m a Witch and I’m Hunting You turns the idea on its head. Instead of hunting for witches or their modern day equivalent, she suggests, the #MeToo campaign is empowering women and hunting down oppressors. There has been an increase in women identifying with the figure of the witch along these lines; witches, after all, have independence and power. In stories, they often get the best plot lines and have a lot more fun, even if they’re made to pay for it. Why not change the story and own the insult? While this is not the original intention of the phrase, it’s a positive development.

I’m not OK with powerful men crying witch hunt when they get found out because it’s an emotive phrase with the weight of brutal history behind it. It’s different when women do it because it’s our history and has been repeated in so many ways over generations. We’re not living in the village of Shirley Jackson’s haunting short story The Lottery and what’s happening now is neither arbitrary nor unfounded. It’s been a long time coming, and so perhaps it is time for witches to step out from the shadows and start hunting.

I have a poem over at Dodging the Rain today in which I own my inner-witch. It’s a call to arms for women to raise their voices and embrace their power; I couldn’t have known when I wrote it just how relevant it would be. What I do know is that we have to listen to these voices. Believe women as they step out from the darkness. Together, they have power you can’t imagine.

#MeToo and the Importance of Finding the Words

There’s something at once depressing and profoundly uplifting about how fast the hashtag #MeToo started trending across the world. Women from all walks of life and all ages shared their stories of sexual harassment, some perhaps for the first time. It may feel like nothing – a few more words sent off to the ether, jumbled with all the other endless words on the internet. In fact, it’s a revolutionary act, rejecting that this is either the fault of the victim, or just the way things are. The more women speak up, the more varied the circumstances and outcomes, the easier it becomes to see that there should be no shame attached to women and something has to change.

I have my own stories in the #MeToo vein, I think all women do. I have almost shared and hesitated several times, demonstrating how deep the problem goes. Perhaps my stories aren’t dramatic enough, perhaps I should have been more careful, perhaps I can’t explain that cold, sweating shame inside me without being stained by it, without somehow taking the blame. This is why women stay silent, and why it’s so uplifting that so many women are speaking up. Articulating these issues as a problem is the first step to changing them, and that’s the hard part. Finding the words for something like this, something that is so deeply, socially and institutionally ingrained in all of us, takes more than courage, it takes poetry.

I have some wise words by Audre Lorde stuck above my desk to remind me why I write and why I need to keep going as I head further down the rabbit hole of my PhD studies. 

For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams towards survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.

One of the reasons that I chose Audre Lorde as one of the poets to study was because of this quote. It made me think of the witches in Macbeth who talk about “a deed without a name,” and I wonder how much living in today’s society as a woman is still a deed without a name. We lack the language and the audience to be able to express our experience, at times. Poetry has a role in helping us reach that expression, and it’s why I chose both to study female poets for my PhD and why I’m using the history and mythology of witches as a lens to channel that expression in my own creative work. I may not yet have the words to succinctly add my own #MeToo to the beautiful angry chorus arising online, but I am working towards it.

If you’re interested in learning more about Audre Lorde (and you should be, she was a phenomenal woman, activist and poet) there’s a launch event at Waterstone’s Tottenham Court Road for her collected essays and poetry, Your Silence Will Not Protect You next month. It feels like this collection is incredibly timely and much needed and I’m looking forward to more inspiration and writerly fire at the event.

Exclude me from this narrative

Something really weird happened today, or certainly something really weird for me. Something I tweeted a couple of weeks ago got picked up by a couple of total strangers who then proceeded to fight each other over something very strange and petty, tagging me in at each stage in the conversation. My original tweet had been about enjoying a night of live music with my Mum, and now all of a sudden these people were arguing about the relationship status of one of the musicians and it’s bugged me a whole lot more than it should.

I think the first reason is because I try to keep things positive on social media. I don’t understand people who feel compelled to share online the films or books they didn’t like, or the public figures that annoy them. If I love something, I share it and if I see a film that I wasn’t so impressed by, for example, I keep quiet because maybe I wasn’t in the right mood, or maybe it just wasn’t my thing. I don’t see what value it serves, just like gossip and bickering in a public forum don’t do any good, either.

I have an aversion to bitchiness and gossip that goes back to being bullied at school; I can’t understand why people don’t take more care over how they behave online. I get that this is a first world problem of course; I just got tagged in a heated discussion of celebrity gossip, I mean so what? I guess it bothered me because the matter they were discussing was hugely relevant to me; like the figure they were discussing, I’ve been single for a number of years, too. They couldn’t have known that, and obviously I’m not imagining my love life invites the same level of speculation as a celebrity. It just reminded me of something that I still wonder about - when I post about loving a play or concert, when I share my writing, is there a contingent of people who ignore all that good and can’t focus on anything but the fact that I’m single? Are there people side swiping all the joy that comes from art for a chance of some grubby gossip?

I think this matters beyond what annoys me. A recent Guardian article looked at how addictive features are built into social media. This means we’re getting hooked on the positive reinforcement of approval, but I think too many people crave any kind of attention, even if that means inviting negativity. As this is World Mental Health Day, I have to take a breath to think about what this all means. If we’re all getting hooked on attention, and negativity seems to garner more attention – as ever the squeaky wheel gets the grease – then what are we letting ourselves in for? I’m not trying to put forward some kind of Pollyanna vision here. The bewildering range of social injustice across the world makes me angry and I’m not afraid to say so. I’m not burying my head in the sand, but I don’t call a roar for change negativity. Anything that highlights injustice and leads to change can only help our mental health.

But for the other side of social media, the side that likes to gossip, or pick fights, I’m going to keep myself away from all that. I want to focus on the things that give me joy – the people I love, the art that comforts and inspires me and the writing that I can’t live without. Maybe people will still gossip behind my back but to be honest, as long as I don’t have to hear it, I’m not sure how much I care. I’m going to focus on the positives and so with that, let’s take this full circle. For World Mental Health Day, here is the music that I so enjoyed with my Mum, from a musician who gave me a memory I will always treasure.

Back away from the gossip and the negativity for your own mental health. You’re much better off finding ways like this to make your soul sing.

Student Days

I officially registered for my PhD today and I’m at once thrilled and terrified. I’m excited about the work I’m doing and somewhat daunted by the long road ahead. I honestly never thought I would be able to do something like this – not rich enough, not clever enough, not creative enough, just plain not enough, I suppose. When you don’t come from an academic background, those opportunities appear to be for other people and it’s taken a lot for me to overcome that assumption and even get as far as day one.

I know that it’s not going to be easy, and that I’ll have many obstacles along the way. One of the few things in my favour is that I seem to thrive in that environment. It’s not a skill I wish to have, I’d rather be one of those luckier people who breeze through life but I’m not. It is something, at least, to know that when all else fails, my resolve never will.

When I started writing, I wanted to see what I could do if I really tried. It’s a scary thing; if you never try, you can always imagine the potential you might have had if it hadn’t been for a career, family or life getting in the way. Once you start, at any point you could realise that perhaps this isn’t the path you’re meant to travel, that your talent exists only in your own imagination.

At every point in my development – first an Open University course, then some Arvon courses, and most recently an MA, I’ve been waiting for someone to tell me I don’t belong there. No one has yet, so while I may have to fight off that imposter syndrome in my own mind, the truth is that I’m doing OK. I work hard at my writing and while I’m writing, I believe in it. This wavers after each rejection, then I take a deep breath and resubmit my work elsewhere. My belief in myself may be fragile, but that’s all the more reason for me to protect it so fiercely.

So here I go, about to start a course of study that’s going to take me to some dark places, creatively and mentally. I’m confident there will also be many moments of light because there always is. I was saddened today to hear of the loss of Tom Petty, but grateful that it prompted me to rediscover his music. One song in particular has reminded me who I am and that whatever challenges may lie ahead for me as a student, I won’t back down.

Music video by Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers performing I Won't Back Down. (C) 1989 Geffen Records

Pop Quiz Writers: What do you do?

I’m getting my head around starting a PhD next month and earlier this week I undertook the mammoth task of tidying my desk. It’s amazing the difference it makes, looking at it now gives me a feeling of control that is otherwise slightly lacking in my frame of mind as I leap into the unknown. It also gives me a sense of possibility about my writing, rather than looking at the random pile of papers and post-its that was there previously and inspires nothing more than a passing thought of “eugh, I need to sort that out.”

I was thinking about the difference those couple of hours of effort has made to my mind set when I met with a writer friend yesterday and we got to talking about the rituals we undertook before we started writing. There’s nothing magical in intent or result about these rituals, we have not unlocked unparalleled access to a mythical muse. It’s more about getting your head in the right space to concentrate on what you need to do – and sometimes trick yourself into writing even when you don’t initially feel inspired. Some people light candles or meditate; others seek out the perfect soundtrack and begin writing when the music starts. I have a writing cardigan and when I’m wearing that, it’s time to get to work.

There are some aspects of writing that can’t be taught and the writing ritual is one of them. You have to find your own way, let the process evolve and trust what works for you. What I call my writing cardigan has no inherently literary or magical properties; it’s one that my Mum knitted for me when I was a teenager and at this point it’s a little frayed and lost its shape. Because I love it, I can’t let it go and initially I would wear it when I was writing because that’s something I do at home on my own and frankly it’s probably not fit to be worn in the outside world. Over time, it became a signal to my mind that I was going to be staying at home and writing whenever I put it on.

I think that’s what the writing ritual is all about. We all have lives outside of writing, and most of the time you’re working hard to keep that going – whether that’s working to keep a roof over your head, looking after children or just the smaller things like keeping food in your cupboard or making sure your car has had its MOT. It’s something very personal and it depends on how you write, and how much time you have. If you have all day, by all means take an hour to meditate and do what you need to in order to get your head in the right space. If you’re cramming writing into an already busy life, it may be that you just need to take a deep breath and connect with your writing. You don’t need a clear day, a perfect space, a tidy desk or your lucky table at a coffee shop to do good work, but if you’re finding a lot of other things competing for your attention, the ritual can help.

I think the other thing about rituals is that you’re bringing some level of magical thinking into play, and that’s another important part of the process. I am aware that from the outside, my writing cardigan is faintly ridiculous, and there’s not really any chance that it would help to lend it to anyone else if they were stuck. I can – and do – write without it. However, if you’re struggling with maintaining your momentum, or finding the idea of your big project daunting, clearing a space to write and finding a way to get yourself there can make a big difference. Now if you’ll excuse me, my cardigan and I have some work to do. 

Honey, let me READ

I don’t like book snobbery. I don’t like it when people think they’re better than others due to a combination of their education and personal tastes leading them to like books labelled “literary” instead of “genre”. Some prejudices may dissipate in time – Naomi Alderman’s incredible sci-fi novel recently won the Baileys Prize, fantasy series Game of Thrones is mainstream and you only need look at the raft of amazing films and TV series that are currently popular to know how rich the storytelling is in graphic novels. So maybe the snobs will stop telling people what to read, but how to read appears to be another issue.

Really, it’s the same issue in a different hipster outfit. Books aren’t sacred objects. You can dog-ear pages, crack spines, scribble notes, spill your dinner on the cover or read in the bath and let the pages get crinkled and this doesn’t mean you love or appreciate books any less. The magic of reading doesn’t reside in the book - it lives inside you. I asked Simon, a smart bookworm friend of mine, where he stood on things like folding over pages to keep your place in a book and he said the most beautiful thing. “Every book is a museum of fossilised sound.” I loved that because I hear every book I read, and fossilised highlights just how robust it is, how lasting an effect books can have. Glyn Maxwell talks about how you feel good poetry throughout your whole body. It doesn’t really matter if you read it in a pristine first edition, on a kindle, or in a battered paperback, what matters is what you hear and feel as a result of reading.

And OK, yes I know this is petty, but it’s important to me because book snobbery puts people off reading. I’m not sure that those people who claim to love literature and then look down on others for reading different things or treating their books differently do really love it. Perhaps they love feeling cleverer than other people. Perhaps they like their smart bookshelves more than piles of crumpled titles scattered around a house because they look better. But if they cared about literature they wouldn’t care what and how other people read because all readers keep literature alive.

It also matters because if you get too precious about books then kids won’t read them. They have to be able to read what they want, without being afraid of getting shouted at for reading the wrong thing, or not looking after their book. In short, they have to be a part of their lives and you have to let kids love books in the same way they wear down the fur on a favourite teddy bear. I recently took my niece and nephew to see the musical of Matilda and they were genuinely shocked when Mr Wormwood destroyed her beloved books. This despite the fact their own books get folded in their bags, splattered with milk from reading over breakfast or rumpled in bed. That’s because letting books get worn is not the same as disrespecting them.

Listen, if you like keeping your books pristine, then be my guest. You do you, honey. Personally, I don’t care what state my books are in as long as I can read the words inside them. I have a copy of The Crow Road that has literally travelled all round the world after I lent it to a friend when he went travelling and it really looks like its seen some shit. I love that book. I love that my friend, not a big reader, took it with him everywhere he went and read the whole thing. I don’t care that it’s now battered, I care that another person read a beautiful story. If it falls apart, I’ll get another copy or I’ll download it on kindle, I’ll get the exact same story whatever form it’s in.

There’s too much judgement in the world as it is, so really, is folding down the pages of books the hill you’re choosing to die on? Let people live and honey, let me READ.

The Crow Road
By Iain Banks