Our Man storms Sofia…

   Further to Tom’s adventures amongst the poetic heartlands, hedonists and difficult breakfasts in Montenegro and Croatia follow him as he heads over to Bulgaria to immerse himself in Sofia’s o’er-brimming literary life… Sunday 31 July There’s a long string of coincidences behind my standing in our hallway with a rucsac full of poetry books, magazines and an English-Bulgarian-English dictionary and with a boarding card for the late-night flight from Bristol to Sofia. The short version is that, in 2013, I read part of my one-man show I Went to Albania at the University of Portsmouth. Afterwards a student came down to the front and asked me if I’d ever been to Bulgaria. Less than six months later I was in Sofia as a guest of Vasilena’s family and talking with her artist sister, Marina, about an online project which would surface in January 2014 as Colourful Star – quite possibly the only Anglo-Bulgarian poetry/visual art project on the internet. Since then I’ve taught myself Bulgarian (at least to read and write – my conversational Bulgarian still suffers from my appalling accent), begun translating Bulgarian poetry and plays and – thanks to an ever-expanding circle of Bulgarian friends – somehow…

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From the Pine Observatory
Uncategorised / 8th July 2016

First published in 2000, From the Pine Observatory introduces a poet of seductive range and power, carefully observing stillness, yet urging something to stir. Seldom far from the natural world, these are poems in which transformation and metamorphosis recur as central themes, and hint toward the mysterious, in a voice as authentic as it is startlingly fresh. This third edition of Messo’s rarely seen debut collection rescues the work of a fascinating but overlooked contemporary British poet.

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Mothwise
Uncategorised / 5th July 2016

Knut Hamsun’s 1904 classic, Mothwise, is set in the remote northern Norwegian trading post of Rosengaard. Ove Rolandsen, telegraph operator, eccentric scientist, and local Casanova, trades wits, fists, and kisses with a host of quirky neighbours. He serenades the curate’s wife and fights a drunken giant, but taking on Trader Mack, the town’s fish-glue magnate, is a more difficult matter. Fishglue. This most neglected of products is one of the key elements of Mothwise and you may never have read a piece of literature in which it figures so prominently. If you have read any Hamsun before then some of the other constituents may be more familiar: the setting in the far North of Norway where the sun never sets for two or three months that makes people act in such peculiar ways, the tales of love in all its many forms that bind and break across tiny isolated fishing communities and the characters that amuse and irritate and shine and disappoint that live and breathe from beginning to all-too-soon an end. Hamsun himself might have felt more affinity with fishglue than might be obvious: his marriage of six years to Bergljot is falling apart, he has no home and…

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