Mohsin Hamid and Kei Miller

9 December 2014 This was our last session before our Christmas break and I resisted the temptation of seasonal stories – well, it was really too far away and anyway we’d already read the Dylan Thomas! Mohsin Hamid’s story ‘Terminator: Attack of the Drone’ generated an interesting discussion – is it steampunk? How much did it really mean to refer to the film, if at all? How influenced was he by that fabulous dystopian vision of Russell Hoban in Riddely Walker? Hamid’s story is available to read on his own website: http://www.mohsinhamid.com/stories.html Hamid is an political writer and outspoken about immigration and Islam. He is known particularly for his novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist. He writes about a world without borders in the Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/nov/21/mohsin-hamid-why-migration-is-a-fundamental-human-right

Kei Miller’s just won the prestigious Forward Prize for Poetry for his collection, A Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion (Carcanet, 2014). The poem of his we looked at from that collection, ‘ix in which the cartographer travels lengths and breadths’ is available here: http://caribbean-beat.com/issue-125/on-this-island-things-fidget#axzz3LKDerf00 Miller is an academic and prose writer as well as a poet. His collection is based on a mapmaker and rastaman and takes great risks with language. His work is praised by long-established Black women writers such as Lorna Goodison and Olive Senior, and of this collection, he’s said: Maps are where places are invented and sometimes erased. It’s where countries and territories are established and de-established, expanded or divided up.
Miller’s not a new voice because he has previous collections, but his contribution to UK poetry is now recognised.
He’s featured on the Poetry Archive: http://www.poetryarchive.org/poet/kei-miller

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Carson McCullers and Pauline Stainer

2 December 2014

Carson McCullers is best known as a novelist with some of the most resonant titles in print – The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and Ballad of the Sad Cafe are perhaps the best examples of this. She died at the age of 50 but wrote five novels, a significant amount of short stories, non-fiction, plays and poetry. The short story we looked at this week, ‘A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud’ was published in Harper’s Bazaar in 1942. Her work and life is explored in depth here: http://www.mccullerscenter.org

Pauline Stainer is a contemporary poet, known for her spirituality and spare, visually precise work. Her most recent collection is Tiger Facing the Mist (Bloodaxe Books, 2013). The poems we examined this week, ‘The Fall’, along with ‘Harbour, Room’, come from her 1999 collection, Parable Island. Stainer was included in the Poetry Society’s 1994 New Generation promotion. Some of her work is featured on the Poetry International website with an introduction by fellow poet and editor, Fiona Sampson: http://www.poetryinternationalweb.net/pi/site/poet/item/11708/29/Pauline-Stainer See the Bloodaxe Books website for a fuller bibliography. There is a  link on the texts page.