Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Music with Tanisha....

My lovely friend, Tanisha Christo, is a brilliant blogger. She is also an avid music fan and has been doing wonders for sharing, exposing and celebrating new music and sounds to the world with her blog, 'Monday Mephobics.'
It was with great pleasure that I put forward some music choices for her a few days ago ( as she has quoted me saying, music is abundantly amazing.... it was extremely difficult to get it down to just three songs!) But hey ho, here it is, Tanisha's blog, where I have put forward Matt Corby, Seth Lakeman and Marty O Reilly... enjoy x

Monday, 16 February 2015

Burrow into a Book

Oliver Jeffers has become one of my favourite author/illustrators over the last few years. I remember my housemate showing me his book Lost and Found and immediately I was swept away with his simplistic yet stunning style. I love the way he presents his illustrations on the page and the different mediums he uses to create such a beautiful, colourful world.

His collaboration with author Drew Daywalt, The Day the Crayons Quit is a fantastic book that I have steadily been recommending since I first read it. No.1 on the New York Times Best Seller List, it is brilliant for young children as it is not only a beautifully crafted book with Jeffers squiggly, funny, rustic illustrations, but one that also really engages with the reader. It highlights and questtions ideas of creativity, individuality, duality and purpose in a fun, relaxed way. Why is is that we only use the Blue crayon to colour in skies, whales and seas? Why not use the pink or the yellow? Why does Mr White feel so empty and why is the Mr Beige always second to Mr Brown?

It is a book that is such as strong talking tool between parent and child. Each crayon personally writes a letter to their artist, Duncan, detailing, what they do and do not like about the way he uses them in his drawings. This itself is highly entertaining and insightful writing from Daywalt; the conversation between the adamant Orange and Yellow trying to decipher who is the true colour of the sun is  especially memorable. It is also a chance for lovely illustrations from Jeffers - via the use of different mediums, each letter 'stands' off the page (it is a picture of a real piece of paper) and is surrounded by various creatures, things and characters all coloured in using the colour in question.

It is such an imaginative story that literally ties in all the colours of the rainbow. For adults and children alike, this book will make you look at your crayons in a totally different way. Pure brilliance.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Burrow into a Book

"All I did was go to the library to borrow some books....."

The Strange Library is the first book I have read by the masterful Murakami, an author that I have always meant to read.

For my first encounter, this short story was engrossing, intriguing and a feast for the eyes. Along with the story were absolutely stunning images and interesting, odd facts, all on donated marbled pages from archives found in The London Library. This was an element that really made the book, for me, beautifully strange. The typography over pages was very effective, instantly bringing a childlike innocence into a warped dark world which made me think of Alice in Wonderland and helped link me to the main characters joint feeling of bafflement and intrigue to the situation he found himself in.
I don't want to give a synopsis of this as I feel you should read it fresh for yourself, but I will say a few words that come to mind when thinking of the book;

Lyrical darkness, cartoon-character-moodswings, fairytale-carnivalesque-oddity, subversion, playfulness, fright, magic, wide eyed interest. Oh and don't forget sheep and birds.

I recommend this as a quick, indulgent on the eyes and stinging on the mind, read. It is a brilliant book, I can't wait to read more of his work. Definitely one to read at night if you want to scare yourself a little.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Meg Burrows Music

Tuesday 13th January was another great night at The Grinning Rat's Open Mic. It was really good to be back amongst friends and sharing the stage with a brilliant selection of local musicians, including the host herself, Sophie Jill Welham, Nick Brown, Megan Hughes, Jordan Hay and our local events promoter and poetry enthusiast Amy Wragg. I was very lucky to be asked to be the showcase performance for the evening and was given the opportunity to play five of my own songs, plus a few covers, with the wonderful accompaniment of Jonathan Coy. I hadn't planned to, but I ended up performing one of my poems 'A Circle is an Open Shape' as well which went down positively.

Friday 16th I was at the Cult Cafe Bar on Ipswich Waterfront supporting the marvelous Hattie Briggs. Hattie, who has a lovely, pure voice, is currently on a mini-tour of East Anglia and has recently announced she will soon be touring with Sean Lakeman and Kathryn Roberts this spring. Her CD My Sheperd's Hut is lovely, I have been listening to it a lot since last week. I personally love Hattie's song Old Eyes which, on realising it was written about her dog, appealed to me even more. My own set went well, a mix of my own and covers, with a few requests from the audience too. It was great to see to so many friendly faces in the audience, thank you to all for coming and thank you to Mike and the team for having me to perform again.

Burrow into a Book

As I have mentioned before, I do like picking books sometimes by their covers. My eye is caught by something and oops, there I go, veering course in the bookshop.

This was very much the case with The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Theriault. I was immediately drawn by the front cover with its delicate cherry blossom, it's intriguing title and it's modest size - of late I have been reading sizeable books and in all honesty I was excited by the thought of enjoying this in one sitting. I then saw the stamp of Radio Two Book Club which, for me, is always a good sign. To further my interest, I found the main characters name was Bilodo ( my Tolkien inspired brain immediately jumped to Bilbo and again, took it as a good indication) and I was also happy to find that the story based around a communication of Haiku poetry. Being an enthusiastic, if not sometimes haphazard poet myself and an avid letter writer, these final details sold the book to me.

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman revolves around just that, the life of a young, introverted postman, Bilodo, who, for thrills, reads other peoples mail. It is through this past time that he stumbles upon a beautiful exchange of Haiku poetry between two people called Gaston and Segolene. Swept up in her penmanship and elegant words, the postman soon begins to fall in love with Segolene, a woman he has never met. When a sudden, tragedy occurs, Bilodo takes action so as to keep his new found obsession of Segolene and her poetry safe, but it is through these actions that his life crashes down around him.

I felt that I met Bilodo in an odly charming manner, very similar to how I felt when I first read Jonas Jonasson's The Hundred-Year-Old-Man-Who.....'  This makes sense when I realised that both books were published by Hesperus.The delivery of the first page lines 'In the meantime, he was a postman. He was twenty-seven years old' was brilliant, specifically after the mention that Bilodo, if the opportunity was made available, could master any hypothetical stair-scaling Olympic event. It clearly showed Bilodo as a young man caught in an ageing routine, living a rather seemingly solitary life and yet a man who has an underlining potential, mystery and want for more.

It was my first time reading Theriault and I am happy to say I would highly recommend him as an author. Often compared to Murakami and Julian Barnes, his craftsmanship of writing is very entrancing, yet understated, very poignant, yet, at times blunt. He en captures a truly human quality, a very honest voice, with a great sense of longing but that which makes you question the lines of privacy, right and wrong and what defines companionship. At times I couldn't believe the lengths that Bilodo was going to, teetering on the perverse and insensitive but then suddenly he would say or write something endearing and pity for the poor postman would overtake; especially during moments with the eager waitress Tania.

I particularly liked the imagery, use of metaphor and the lyrical aspect of the book; the scenes during which Bilodo moves into Gaston's apartment I felt a real sensuality with the surroundings and a very vivid image and clear understanding of how much Bilodo craved to be in his world and close to Segolene but also the reality of how wrong it was at the same time. Coinciding with this, I am a fan of the old fashioned Haiku and love letter and it was through these that again the reader was elevated into this height of poetic love that Bilodo had for Segolene. It was really enjoyable to see how the Haiku's progressed to Tanka alongside the progressing relationship of Bilodo and Segolene and back again;

“And so the history of the haiku’s birth repeated itself : stripped of superfluous words…the naked essence of the poetry emerged.”

I was also pleased that there was a Q & A at the back where Theriault discussed his writing process, inspiration for the story and also the history and philosophy of the Haiku and its ancestor, the Tanka.

 A quote that stuck with me was regarding different types of writing and how Theriault describes them;

"The screenwriter is never far behind the novelist, but he stays in the shadows, it is necessary to make good literature."

Overall, a small book with big worth. I have to say that the ending left me wanting more? I appreciated the metaphorical link and how it supported the books Zen philosophy but I was expecting just a little more.

Still, I will be lending this to many friends for when they want a train ride companion, Haiku inspiration or a short, truly evocative story about a well meaning, if not slightly deluded,
young postman named Bilodo.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Postcard Poetry

For the love of words, stamps, people and imagery I started the project 'Postcard Poetry.' I have for years, collected Black & White postcards, sent them, sent letters and written poetry and I thought, why not combine them together?

Starting on National Poetry Day 2014, fellow poets, writers and postcard enthusiasts embarked on the project, a project which I refer to as a 'Chinese Whisper' of poetry via postcards. I started it by writing a poem at South Bank on NPD 2014 about Bubbles ( my Grandma) and gave it to the next poet on the list (I cheated slightly as it was my boyfriend so I didn't post it but hand delivered it.)
I had intended to take one of my postcards off my infamous 'wall' but I forgot in my dash for the train that morning, so instead I very quickly squiggled a biro doodle. This is something I'm encouraging the other poets & writers to do - drawing your postcard would be great as this project is very much about the art as much as it is about the words.

I will be keeping a log of the postcards as they go on their journey with the hope, that possibly, I can bring the postcards and poets together at the end of it for an exhibition.

The third postcard, from Justine de Mierre to Brendan Way is on the left and on the right is what Brendan used to write his poem and send to Amy Wragg, a.k.a Amy Soapbox

After attending Aldeburgh Poetry Festival yesterday (which was fantastic...everyone, go and check out Hannah Silva immediately and her incredible show Schlok!) I know that the postcard is currently with Amy and soon shall be on it's way to Suffolk based poet, Bob Lenney.

As I've already said, for the first postcard I had intended a black and white postcard, but due to running late for the train, I doodled an image ( this can be seen down below in the blog.)
However, since then I have written the starting poem on the black and white postcard, here it is;

If you would like to be involved, please contact myself, Meg Burrows, via email or Twitter; 

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Burrow into a Book....

I was very lucky growing up to be surrounded by books and those that love books. Ever since I was young I have read a range of genres. I am very much a lover of books, their pages, their smells, their drawings - I have always treasured children's books and picture books. Authors such as A A Milne, Michael Bond, Roald Dahl/Quentin Blake, Cornelia Funke, Jacqueline Wilson, Lemony Snickett, Shirley Hughes, Beatrix Potter, Walker Books, Chicken House, Oliver Jeffers.
I am also a great Tolkien, Rowling and George Martin fan. More recently I have discovered authors such as Neil Gaiman. I am currently reading, as part of Waterstones bookclub, Joshua Ferris - I hope to read more of the Man Booker shortlist - Jonas Jonasson, Khaled Hosseini, John Williams & Maya Angelou.

Americanah is Adichie's third novel. As always, the front cover doesn't disappoint and reflects the author's own subtle, lyrical beauty with flecks of colour over a blurred image. I'm not afraid to say that sometimes I chose a book purely by it's cover, I feel it is a way to find new material without any pre-conceptions stopping you. This is very much the case with Chimamanda Adichie's books; I found Half A Yellow Sun stunning, bought it and hence started a love affair with a great female writer.

I found her writing when I was sixteen. I remember at the time I was reading Ibsen's A Doll's House, exploring Nora's character and very interested in the representation of women in writing. Adichie is an incredibly readable author, she immediately caught me with her fluid, immersible writing style and ever since continues to do so. Reading her work is so enjoyable because it feels as though she is with you, showing the story right before your eyes with such ease, allowing you to get engaged, involved and thinking profoundly of both domestic, human emotion and political, racial and gender based issues. She has great conviction and talent for bringing together the day to day lives  of characters against much more complicated, deep rooted backdrops.

Shortlisted for the Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction,  Americanah is predominantly a love story between two Lagos teenagers, Ifemelu and Obinze, who take different paths in life and who soon face triumphs and complications. However, their journey's spread over three different continents - America, Britain and Nigeria - and with that we see both characters striving their way through life during significant cultural, social and political change. Throughout the book, Adichie discusses at length race, gender and identity with bold yet confident flair and highlights universal, social experiences, such as depression and how it is received in different cultures, brilliantly. Something that I also greatly admired is the honesty and authenticity in Adichie's voice and characters, especially concerning social acceptance and avoidance and social interaction;

“If you don't understand, ask questions. If you're uncomfortable about asking questions, say you are uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask anyway. It's easy to tell when a question is coming from a good place. Then listen some more. Sometimes people just want to feel heard. Here's to possibilities of friendship and connection and understanding.” 
― Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieAmericanah

A reoccurring theme is that of Ifemelu's hair and the treatment of it - although I cannot personally relate to dealing with black hair politics, it is something that I can relate to as a woman in the sense of conformity and the growing expectation and consensus of image, product and style, which has greatly resulted from our media saturated society.

Integrity and insight are certainly two defining features of not only Adichie's new book but also the author's recent exposure of feminism as a whole in her new essay We Should All be Feminists. From University discussions, to TED talks, to featuring in a Beyonce song, Adichie has vocalised strong, consistent views that can be found amongst all of her works, to which she has gained deserving praise and appreciation.

Adichie has yet again delivered a very human story with Americanah. It is also very important and relevant, not just in retrospect to today's still very prominent social attitudes but to embedded attitudes, reactions and desires for love. I cannot recommend this book, or the author enough.