This week I’m celebrating the life and work of my friend and mentor Rudi Holzapfel.
Rudi died of cancer on 6 February 2005 and it seems the time has passed so quickly. He was a wonderful, caring and talented man. I first met him when we worked together in a bookshop – me because I was just starting my career, Rudi because he needed to work while preparing his PhD on the works of James Clarence Mangan.
I had never met anyone who said they were a poet – writer, artist, musician, yes – but never a poet. I came to know him very well both at work and outside when we were able to escape the draconian clutches of the people who ran the shop. I was fascinated by how and what he wrote and fortunate to witness his work first hand when he wrote a poem ‘The Employee’ based on my work in the store. I still have the original written on a sheet of brown wrapping paper we used to pack piles of books for the students. It was published in the The Penguin Book of Irish Verse (1970) and has even been set to music, though how and to what end escapes me.
I moved on to a new job and a new world and Rudi moved away, but not before he persuaded me that I could write and indeed that should write. He mentored me, critique my writing and pushed me to that goal. As I browse through the pile of memorabilia he gave me with the words: ‘Keep this safe. One day I might be famous’, and through my collection of his published works I’m saddened that such a great talent has gone for good. But he leaves behind a wealth of wonderful material. A list of books and audio readings by Rudi can be found at rudiholzpafel.com
The London Book Fair has announced the winners of the second Trailblazer Awards celebrating young talent under the age of 30 in publishing who have demonstrated innovation, creativity, passion for the industry, ambition, and a desire to be the best at what they do.
The winners are:
- Anna Russo, Sales Executive at Hodder Education
- Caroline Tatam, Platform Marketing Executive at Cambridge University Press
- Claire O’Neill, Business Affairs Manager at Audible
- Željka Marošević, Co-Publisher at Daunt Books Publishing
- Heather McDaid, Publisher at 404 INK / Scot Lit Fest
The five winners will each receive: VIP entry to The London Book Fair 2017; Membership to The Club at the Ivy pop-up at the Fair; Inclusion in the LBF International Excellence Awards.
The Trailblazer Awards were founded by The London Book Fair in 2015 and are supported by the Society of Young Publishers and BookBrunch.
Despite plans to make reading a daily habit, I’ve only recently managed to start working my way through a mammoth pile of books – mostly fiction. Having finally completed Roddy Doyle’s Paddy Clarke Ha, Ha, Ha, I quickly ploughed through his Woman Who Walked into Doors. I enjoyed both for very different reasons. Paddy Clarke was hard going simply because it was one long yarn but certainly reminiscent of my school days in lots of ways. While I say I enjoyed it, it was more of a challenge to read it as it wasn’t a book I would have chosen voluntarily.
The latter was an excellent portrait of a lone woman’s fight to rid herself of an abusive husband. Not for the faint-hearted, Doyle paints an excellent picture of a brutal, but sometimes humorous existence. If you’ve not read any of his works before I think this is a good place to start.
Next on the reading list is Kate Mosse’s Winter Ghosts. Again this is not a read because the theme of the book caught my eye, but because I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed both Labyrinth and Sepulchre. Mosse has a great aptitude for enveloping the reader in the world she’s created – OK it’s the aim of hundreds of writers but it’s amazing how many fail. This book is not on the same scale as Labyrinth or Sepulchre but set in similar mysterious surroundings. Looking forward to finishing it this week.
Last few days!
Time is getting tight for this competition run by the Poetry Society.
Since its launch in 1978 it has attracted tens of thousands of entries from across the globe. It’s easy to enter and copies of last year’s winning poems can be found on the website. Deadline is 31 October 2016. The winners will be announced next Spring and published on the recently revamped PS pages. You can, of course, save on the entry fee by joining the Society – a really worthwhile investment for all who enjoy poetry in all its forms.
Last Saturday’s Shakespeare celebrations saw the BBC getting back to what it does best with its Shakespeare Live (BBC2) broadcast. Thankfully they couldn’t cut it short for some depressing news report or bore us to death with yet more football. The wealth of talent really made the show, plus a great mix of music, performance and dance gave a good insight into Shakespeare’s influences. My two particular favourites were the Horrible Histories take on the Bard and a sketch where several of our best known actors explain to Paapa Essiedu where the emphasis should be in Hamlet’s famous soliloquy ‘To be or not to be’. Contradictions abound with the final word being left to Prince Charles!
For anyone wanting to dig deeper into Shakespeare, I can highly recommend the FutureLearn course Shakespeare and His World which kicked off on April 18. This is a 10 week course consisting of videos, articles, play readings etc. Don’t be put off by the time – you get out what you put in – and the first week is a basic intro, so it’s easy to catch up. This week’s play is The Merry Wives of Windsor. This is one play I’ve neither read, nor seen, and having started on the opening scene I’m not surprised, but I’ll persevere. A great resource among the hundreds of books on offer is Bill Bryson’s Shakespeare (Harper Collins): a biographical romp full of fascinating facts interspersed with Bryson’s trademark humour.