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Don't Mention the Children by Michael Rosen

Posted on January 26, 2017 by Eimantas Zolondauskis

Michael Rosen has written and edited over 140 books, known as a children’s author and poet, this is Rosen’s first collection for adults in eight years. Keeping the child-like honesty and humour in his writing, Rosen discusses his daily thoughts, from politics to his children’s first words. With the mundanities of life described in his dead-pan fashion to the absurdities of his imagination, Don’t Mention the Children is a joyous and thought-provoking read.

 

Boy: Are you Michael Rosen?

Me: Yes.

Boy: Really?

Me: I am Michael Rosen.

Boy: You look just like him.

- Conversation on a Bus

 

Available to buy on the Inpress website here, now on sale!

On Friday 27th January there will be a chance to get your hands on all of the books featured on the blog this week, check back then to see how you can win!

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Between Stations - Andy Willoughby

Posted on February 22, 2016 by Yen-Yen Lu

Poet Andy Willoughby finds himself transported on a mock epic, high-octane locomotive beat journey from his native post-industrial Teesside to deepest Siberia and back again.

With an improvised soundtrack of half-forgotten Irish Catholic hymns, Fenno-Ugrian magic chants, Russian folk tales and a battered old Bob Dylan cassette, Between Stations ricochets between present and past with a raggletaggle bunch of Finnish fellow-travelling poets and the hallucinatory shades of Blake, Mayakovsky, Eisenstein and Mandelstam on a ramshackle quest for the Golden Woman of Khanty Mansiysk.

Available on our website.

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The Twelve Days of Christmas: Day 10

Posted on December 15, 2015 by Yen-Yen Lu

To get us into the festive spirit here at Inpress we've been looking back at some of our favourite books from 2015. It's...

Our favourite international writers from October!

Rebecca's Choice: A Science Not For The Earth by Yevgeny Abramovich Baratynsky
 

http://inpressbooks.co.uk/products/a-science-not-for-the-earth

It is only in the past quarter-century or so that Yevgeny Abramovich Baratynsky (1800–1844) has gained wide recognition in Russia as one of the great poets of the 19th century. While his psychologically acute love elegies and meditations written in the early 1820s earned him some fame during his lifetime, his later lyric verse was ignored or misunderstood by most of his contemporaries. Yet it is this body of work in particular, where he explores fundamental questions about the meaning of existence from an analytical epistemological perspective, that today seems remarkably modern. 

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Yen-Yen's Choice: Don't Forget the Couscous by Amir Darwish
 
http://inpressbooks.co.uk/products/dont-forget-the-couscous

Don’t Forget the Couscous is a book of poetry about exile and home, love and loss. It is a beautiful love-song to the Arab world – Syria, Kurdistan, Morocco, Palestine and his native Aleppo. It is a memoir of the failed Arab Spring and the civil-war that has turned his native Syria into a ‘fountain of blood’. It is a bitter account of the demonization of Islam in the West, and the violent interference of the West in the Islamic world. It is about being a Muslim and not a terrorist.

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The Twelve Days of Christmas: Day 7

Posted on December 09, 2015 by Yen-Yen Lu

To get us into the festival spirit here at Inpress we've been looking back at some of our favourite books from 2015. It's...

Two fantastic collections of poetry from July.

Rebecca's Choice: Talking to the Dead by Gordon Hodgeon
 

Following a series of unsuccessful operations on his spine, the poet Gordon Hodgeon has ben confined to his bed, unable to move his arms and legs or breathe without the help of a ventilator. He recently has lost the power of speech. Today he can only communicate with the outside world by blinking at a Dynavox computer screen.

Nonetheless, Hodgeon has continued to write, recording the changing seasons of his disability and the changeless seasons outside his window. The result is this extraordinary series of poems from the furthest edge of human endurance. 

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Yen-Yen's Choice: You're So Vain You Probably Think This Book Is About Youby Pete Knaggs
 
A poetic landscape populated by quietly seething factory workers, domestic mermaids in bath chairs, foot fetishists in Scunthorpe book shops, exuberant van drivers blasting Showaddywaddy on the tape deck. Welcome to a world that holds a fractured mirror to the seemingly mundane scenery around us, a singularly slanted worldview that imbues the everyday with a deliciously skewed and subtle magic.
You may not think this book is about you – but it probably is.

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Read All About It: 'Don't Forget the Couscous' by Amir Darwish

Posted on September 28, 2015 by Yen-Yen Lu

Satirical, honest, an unapologetic apology, Don’t Forget the Couscous is a debut collection of poetry by British-Syrian poet Amir Darwish, published by Smokestack Books.

Darwish writes emphatically in response to the Islamophobia that is taking hold of Western society and to the war that has torn the Arab world apart. At times, he juxtaposes strange, sad, and shocking images, particularly in a poem about a female dancer performing for a group of men in a ‘fountain of blood’. Most of the poems seem to be structured in this way; building layer upon layer of images, continuing to reveal new meaning as the poem goes on.

Darwish’s own story is one of overcoming the odds; since arriving in the UK on the underside of a lorry, he has gained British citizenship and achieved degrees at Teesside and Durham universities, having just completed an MA in International Studies at Durham.

You cover some very personal topics in your collection. As a writer myself, I often find writing cathartic in order to make sense of experiences and emotions. What is your own experience of writing on matters close to your heart?

I am no different to you, my friend. I find writing cathartic. To write on matters close to [your] heart is to let off steam and recharge the battery for life. It’s worthy to point out here that I am not religious and yet to make up my mind about “religion”. I am rather confused and find it good enough for me now. 

What I talk about is racism that comes towards anyone who “looks Muslim”. It is close to heart as I experience it myself and to write about it is to express disagreement with such practice, but more so to express the Muslim community’s disagreement. 

So after all, it is not only a personal experience. Instead, it is to preserve the beautiful colours of multiculturalism and speak of its beauty. There is a fraction of society who decided to attack that beauty and found Muslim communities as their target. Some of my poems are to counter that particular fraction.  

Tell me about your influences, Naguib Mahfouz, Muhammed al-Maghut, and Rumi.

For the first, Naguib Mahfouz, I find him unique in his touch on existentialism and the way he provokes that questions in his work. Like all writers who identify themselves with others works and life experiences, I did compare Mahfouz’s to mine. I am nowhere near the stage and quality of how he writes though. His childhood and religious restrictions are similar to mine and I often draw on how he breaks chains of upbringing to write free.

For the second, Muhammed al-Maghuz, the influence is more in poetry, particularly in its free verse form and the way he set the scene in his poems. Not far from where I lived in Aleppo, Al-Maghut was born in the city of Hama and gradually developed a vision to free Arabic poetry from the restrains that makes it elite specific. I suppose that is the main influence of him on me, where he wants to make the message simple, plain and understood by all, yet it is still “poetry”.

As for Rumi, he is possibly the most influential of the three on me. He writes about love. About how to create beauty.  About how to live and depart in happiness. For me, he cracked it. [An] ocean of ink gone on people writing about love on the page, from Gibran to many others, but Rumi manages to put the message full of calm and ease.

Which pieces from the collection have you enjoyed writing the most? What were the difficulties particularly on writing on what could be considered sensitive subjects?

I guess the main piece for me but the least likeable for others is It’s All about Love. In that piece, I try to present the concept of love to be everywhere and always around. There is no particular aspect to it, no location, and no one can claim it to be his or hers.

Sensitivity of subjects is most evident in socio-political poems. At first, the process was too personal, perhaps with emotions that overwhelmed me but as I wrote, studied and developed thoughts, I came to realise that differentiations must be in place and clarity to be there at all times. What I mean here is for me to state poems’ aims when I get the chance, particularly to mention that pieces in the collection do not set two sides against one another. Instead, it’s about an identification of a group in society who is now under pressure and [an attempt] to express and demonstrate in words that a particular group is under pressure.

Don’t Forget the Couscous is published by Smokestack Books. You can now order it here on our website for only £7.95.

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