Monday, 17 July 2017

Acceptance Speech of UEA Honorary Doctorate 17 July 2017




Thank you very much indeed, Chris Bigsby.* Thank you the University of East Anglia. I am enormously honoured and astounded. To pick up a theme from Chris, this is indeed a time of refugees, though the climate of reception has changed since my family came here. Let me say a word about my own time as a refugee.

When we arrived in England in the December of 1956 the authorities placed us, along with a lot of other Hungarian refugees, in off-season boarding houses on the Kent coast. Hundreds, maybe thousands of us, were being accommodated in such places elsewhere. It was in the depth of winter, cold and dull, but we could take walks along the prom and gaze at the sea, a great alien body of water the like of which none of us had seen before. It was as grey as everything else around us at that time but its noise was denser, a hiss, a low growl and a sort of clattering surge that served as both threat and safeguard. It was tangible, almost solid. If we wrapped up well and kept watching we would finish up tasting of salt. Our fingers had a clear salty taste. And as the year moved towards spring and colours brightened we got sharp salty winds and moved through what we began to think of as salty light.

The sea, the light, the taste of salt, are primal experiences, a kind of poetry written on the bone. Everyone understands poetry in that form. For most of us it is, as W H Auden put it in his poem In Memory of W. B. Yeats, a way of happening, or what Finn McCool in Irish legend decides is the music of what happens. It is the way someone steps out through a door, the way something lies on the table, the way light moves, the way something extremely minute makes sense by being itself yet being other and more. It is usually concentrated into a moment and my guess is that we desire such moments more than we desire money or fame or even what we call happiness. Such moments are what move us from routine into possibility. We live for the poetry in them and can’t really live without them. We want the other stuff that jobs and careers bring us and offer to society, and - of course - they too contain such moments. But we need the poetry of being to bring the world round to us and to make life worth while..


For a writer, it is more specific. It is sea, light and salt as they meet language. It is the way words strike each other and form something beyond themselves. It is not lyrical speech or a pretty way of saying something plain. It is language that is compelling in its own way, however simple or difficult, however direct or ironic. It is complexity coming to a shape, becoming a process that reads as meaning. It is all the terrible and beautiful things we fear, know, hope, and imagine assuming a comprehensible shape in words. 
 I don’t want to speak in grand rhetorical terms but I feel this is true. If we don’t believe something like this why do it? Why engage with it?

Well, we do engage with it. I started at seventeen knowing practically nothing and I don’t claim to know much more now.  What I do know is that I am deeply privileged to be honoured in a way I never expected. For me it is moving and rather astonishing. Thank you for the great honour. Thank you for astonishing me.

As for refugees they are, as we were, like leaves blown off a tree, drifting where the wind or sea takes them. But not just leaves. Leaves wither and die and return to earth. Refugees, migrants of all sorts, are also seeds of new growth and always have been. Few of us present here now live in the places where we were born. We too drift and seed. On good soil with a little tending we become part of the landscape. That is our history, our present and, with luck, our future.

*The oration was by Professor Christopher Bigsby

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Tuesday, 9 May 2017

ON BREXIT AND FURY 4




OTHER FURIES


The bad relations with the metropolitan elite are one reason for the fury but there are others.

The first is sheer frustration and the pressure of poverty. The poor don’t want to be given moral lectures by the comfortable. They have not benefited from that which the liberals preach. Watching their phrases, tempering their emotions, following the latest codes of speech has not made them any better off. Besides, they don’t think their own codes so bad. They are capable of supporting each other, nurturing each other, and of showing kindness to strangers. But those codes are vaguer, wilder, more lonely, more fiercely isolated than before the break up of the great industrial communities in the 80s.

The decline and dispersal of the working class as a self-respecting and striving force makes for sad history. It is documented in many places and there’s no point going over it here, Enough perhaps to suggest that we are beyond the 80s now, in a new, more desolate phase of development.

That which was common has been largely hollowed out leaving a mass without a body. People have moved from communities of redundancy to redundancy without community. Individuals have shifted from short term job to short term job. People split up, hitched up and split again. This was followed by the gig economy and zero-hours contracts. Nor was anyone promising a way back. The nationalised industries were not going to return in a hurry. The world had changed. Has changed.

*

In one sense it has became far larger and moved beyond our understanding. Money rushes round the globe looking for places to roost. It lands then moves on. If it doesn’t like a place it simply leaves. A country is no longer a sealed unit. It is a landing strip. The desolation of old working towns is the desolation of landing strips overgrown with weeds.

In another sense however, the world has grown smaller through personalised technology. Computers, smart phones, the internet: everything is available at our fingertips. But for all its great benefits - and there are many - the web, that can create real intimacies, is more apt to create virtual ones between presences not bodies. It also produces a terrain in which the individual is ubiquitous yet insignificant. You can shout and scream all you like, as loud as you like, into the web and no one will stop you. It does not assure you. It will not love you. It simply amplifies you and your voice. It has an enormous capacity to fill the world not just with news but with alternative news. It licences and offers a ready arena for fury.

*

Fury is not just a reaction to perceived contempt but to the fading and vanishing of the known and trusted: the village that has turned into a weekend home for the wealthy, the town where people speak strange languages and establish shops catering primarily for themselves, the city with its disorientating, ever-changing districts and accents.

The atavistic is the familiar. The familiar is what can be controlled. We must take back control. We must be ourselves, putting ourselves first. America first, was Trump's cry, but we can substitute whatever country we like for America. It is by taking back control that we might become great again, in our own clearly demarcated region of greatness, which is chiefly composed of popular half-memory and nostalgia which must be defended with all the fury at our disposal, lest they, whoever they are - liberals, faceless bureaucrats, foreigners - take it from us.



ON BREXIT AND FURY 3




ON THE OTHER HAND


Having criticised the smugness and disdain of the ‘metropolitan liberal elite’ doesn’t mean I think their values or instincts are wrong. On the contrary, I am, on the whole, a slow but genuine supporter of the ‘political correctness gone mad’ persuasion. I have felt the resistance to 'correctness' at times but later found myself agreeing and adapting to it. That is because not all my first instincts are to be trusted.

And it is true that though I am no longer metropolitan and never have been in that precise sense, I do often describe myself as a liberal, of the liberal-left to be precise, someone who must, I suppose, be one of the elite in that, despite the lack of a university education or family wealth, I seem to have come by a couple of degrees and a level of success as a poet, translator and occasionally public writer that I coveted in my youth. Furthermore, I live in an old unthreatening town without too much visible poverty and move (in so far as I move) in a circle of educated middle-class people who accept me as one of them. I am a fortunate guy.

So 'Furious' of Doncaster and 'Seething' of Halifax are right. I cannot appreciate their sufferings at first hand: I am only told of them and read of them. They can admonish me once and I will accept it, yea three times, but when they go on a fourth time in a tone of aggrieved fury they annoy me and I just want them to bugger off. That is partly because I have a faint claim on disadvantage myself – not that I intend to draw on that capital unless in dire need – and because I can understand a claim the first time, and indeed the next two times out of courtesy.

But their claims do not blast my opinions out of the water. I think no better of Brexit for their fury which, it turns out, has little or nothing to do with Europe and far more with the substance of my previous post. I understand the nature of fury but I don’t follow its prescriptions or yield to its claims.

It’s a delicate balance though. I am not a model of patience and I too can be angry. I was, and remain, very angry about the way the referendum was organised and the great thumping lies told by the arch-Tories leading it as well as by the repulsive Farage who is all the more repulsive for his comic grin and hail-good-fellow manner. I remain deeply concerned about the direction the country has taken since the referendum, about the threat to those who have come here to work conscientiously and to the great benefit of the nation, and about the loss of hope of a more stable, more united Europe that could be a counterweight to the giants of America, China and an increasingly expansive Russia. I am, I will admit, fiercely anti-nationalist. The very word 'nationalist' gets my back up. On the other hand I am a European by birth and temperament, but that has never stopped me being British or even, sentimentally, almost patriotically, English, since England is where I live and have lived ever since it welcomed me and my parents in the eighth year of my life.

This is chiefly about myself. I want to write one more post on this subject, not about myself but about another aspect of the fury.



ON BREXIT AND FURY 2





BAD EGGS AND LANGUAGE FURY

I want to venture a little further here and explore the idea of the ‘metropolitan liberal elite’ and its products. Those products include, and are symbolised by, everything the Mail or Express or Sun might describe as ‘political correctness gone mad’. Those who feel themselves restricted by these things understand them as the imposition of values that run counter to certain atavistic instincts relating to gender, sexuality, race, diversity, health, dependency, ceremony, and, very importantly, to the language, that underlies them all.

It is not so much that certain people are hostile to foreigners, to women, to different social practices, to those claiming support and so forth: most people, most of the time can handle that and are capable of great kindness and generosity. I know UKIP supporters eminently capable of open generosity, people in fact more generous than I am.

It is, I suspect, the way in which liberal values are articulated and put into practice that has long galled them. The 'liberal elite' they say, don’t talk to them but dismiss them out of hand. We oppress them chiefly through law but also through opaque and often patronising language. We don’t argue, we impose, exclude and shame. And they are sick of it, they cry. Why should they stop doing something they, and possibly their parents, have always done? Why should they be made to feel ashamed of something they’ve said or thought? Why should their instincts be outlawed by those who don't live like them, live where they live, in their circumstances. We, who are comfortable and superior and elite have no right to lecture them.

This has long bothered me and I have always felt it would get us – we ‘metropolitan, liberal elites’, we ‘citizens of nowhere’ - into trouble at some stage. Now that trouble is here. Not that our values are bad but that they are good but we don’t argue them in terms to which they can relate. Because we impose them. Because we don’t care for their values or examine them. Because we are scared to even touch them with a bargepole for fear of our own censoriousness.

That, at least, is the charge and there is some truth in it. Why, you might ask, engage in Socratic dialogues with racists or sexists. Why not just tell them what they are and let them understand these are bad things to be. Why not just fire bad words at them, and indeed at any of us who don't seem to get with whichever programme is going?

Bad words are like bad eggs. Once those eggs are thrown they stink up those they have hit. We may even compliment ourselves on our aim. Hit that one fair and square, we smile, angry but smug.

You can’t come in stinking like that, says the notice on the door. But there seems to be something of a crowd outside.



ON BREXIT AND FURY 1




FURY AGAINST THE METROPOLITAN LIBERAL ELITE


On a thread on David Hirsh’s page I suggested that the issue with Brexit wasn’t so much Brexit itself as what the issue channelled. It was, I thought, a kind of fury directed not specifically at the EU and certainly not at the market that is one of its props, but at those who supported it. Those who had come to be labelled the ‘metropolitan liberal elite’.

This notorious group included Michael Gove’s famous ‘experts’ from whom, he thought, we had heard ‘quite enough’. His words pointed not just to a few economic and political forecasters but at all those who considered their opinions to be informed. They could easily be depicted as a bunch of superior privileged people with no feeling for those less fortunate and all too happy to impose their interpretation of the world on the poor. The fact that Gove and Johnson were both elite Oxbridge products was secondary. It wasn’t the education that mattered, it was their opposition to what their supporters called liberalism, the creed of those who, they felt, considered themselves morally and intellectually superior. By liberalism I don’t mean economic neo-liberalism of which both Gove and Johnson are firm supporters, but the complex package we think of as social liberalism or a belief in 'progressive ideas'.

I have experienced that fury a couple of times on Facebook and it is not hard to find it. My hunch is that the intensity of the fury – and I associate the fury far more with Leavers than Remainers whose anger is of a different kind – was and is still directed at those who supported or propagated or enforced the package. It was, I think, an essentially atavistic fury, a hankering for a lost something that could not be defined only evoked or symbolised. That sense of pride in empire. That curved or straight banana.

I use the term atavism in preference to xenophobia or racism because the atavistic instinct is not necessarily channelled through race or fear of foreigners. The atavism I mean asks certain crucial questions. Who are we? What does that mean in terms of loyalties, behaviour and expectation? Under whose thumb must we survive?

These are not unnatural questions and we all ask them, Brits or otherwise. They are vital practical questions that play on the nerves.

Atavism lies at the core of all right wing feeling from simple conservatism (with a small c) to the extremes of Fascism and Nazism. The family, the settled orders and hierarchies, the sacred practices and rituals, the status of the tribe - whatever an individual's position within it - are its natural home, to be guarded with ever fiercer jealousy as they come under pressure.

It is that insecure atavistic core of feeling that the right-wing press have been playing to for a very long time, with ever greater intensity. Those accusations of treason, treachery, and betrayal refer precisely to that.



Wednesday, 12 April 2017

The Closing of the CEU: the Closing of Hungary




We are deeply concerned about the passing of the disgraceful law intended to shut the Central European University in Budapest.

The law, intended for this one specific purpose, is the latest step taken by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to close out democratic institutions in the country, including press, media and NGOs.

Please note we do not say opposition institutions since the CEU is in no way a political opponent of the government. It is simply an independent university.

On 10th April, the president of the country, János Áder, signed the law and, that night, for the second night running students were out in the streets protesting in their thousands and tens of thousands. Those students are the last bastion of hope against the establishment of an authoritarian state in Hungary.

If that should happen it would be a serious blot on the EU's conscience to have permitted this act of the Orbán government to pass without response. It reduces Europe. It weakens it. It takes it one step further to the edge of disintegration.

It is vital to act quickly. We ask for a period of intensive fact-finding into the legality of the Hungarian government’s law in this specific instance and its consequences for freedom of education, and for a process of mediation, bringing the parties together around the principle of European rule of law.


George Szirtes, poet and translator
Ottilie Mulzet, translator
W. N. Herbert, Professor of Poetry and Creative Writing at Newcastle University, FRSL
John Sears, Independent Scholar and Curator
Colm Toibin, writer
Toby Litt, novelist
Carolyn Forché, poet, professor, Georgetown University
Christopher Reid, poet, London
Sean O'Brien, poet
Michael Nyman, composer
Nicholas Lezard, critic, London
Rosie Goldsmith, journalist, presenter, director European Literature Network
Meg Rosoff, writer, UK
Sarah Churchwell, critic and author
Professor Menna Elfyn, poet 
Daniel Hahn, translator
Richard Smyth, writer, UK
Terry Glavin, columnist, National Post and Ottawa Citizen
Pascale Petit, poet, Cornwall, UK
Jacob Polley, poet
Tiffany Atkinson, poet, UK
Bill Swainson, freelance editor and literary consultant
Annie Freud, poet, artist, teacher
Choman Hardi, writer, Kurdistan
Mangaleh Dabral, Hindi poet, India
Ludwig Steinherr, poet, Germany
Alex Preston, writer, Senior Lecturer, University of Kent
lène Cardona, poet and actor, US, France, Spain
Mauricio Montiel Figueiras, writer, Mexico City, Mexico
Liam Carson, literary festival director, Ireland
Professor Robert Archambeau, literary critic
Amal Chatterjee, Writer, Amsterdam & Oxford
Claire Ramsey, Professor Emeritus, University of California
Michael Augustin, poet & broadcaster, Bremen, Germany
James Hopkin, writer, Europe.
Koyamparambath Satchidanandan, poet and academic, India
Fionnbharr Ó Duinnín translator / communication trainer, Budapest
Nicola Murphy, School of Law, National University of Ireland, Galway.
Ophelia Benson, writer
Natalie d'Arbeloff, artist and writer, London
Selina Guinness, writer and lecturer
Lee Yew Leung, editor,-in-chief, Asymptote journal
András Gerevich, poet, Hungary
Ana Silvera, composer
Alison Croggon, writer and critic, Australia
Margo Berdeshevsky, poet, USA
Prof Riri Sylvia Manor, writer and Professor of Neuro-opthalmology, M.D. Sackler University
András Laszlo, cancer researcher, USA
Tom Bowden, University of Michigan, Ann-Arbor, College of Engineering
Eric Henze, Professor of Law, Queen Mary University of London
Kit Kelen, Professor of English, University of Macau, China
Annemarie Mullan  Queens, Belfast, New York University
Penelope Shuttle, poet, Cornwall, UK
Kevin Jackson, writer, United Kingdom
Robert Eaglestone, Professor of Comparative Literature and Thought, Royal Holloway, University of London
Moniza Alvi, poet and tutor, Norfolk
Hannah Lowe, poet and lecturer
Julian Evans. Writer, Bristol
Linda How, teacher, London
Alica Kavounas, writer
Dr Rimas Uzgiris, poet, translator, lecturer
Katherine Groves
Veronika Krasnova, UEA
Priya Sarukkai Chabria, poet, writer, translator, India
Andrea Holland, poet and tutor UEA
Dr Alexandra Loske, art historian and eeditor, University of Sussex, UK
Maria Koliopoulou (Magda Kapa), writer, teacher, photographer, Greece and Germany
Mark Robson, writer and academic, Professor of English and Theatre Studies, University of Dundee
Sergiusz Bober, Jesuit University Ignatianum, Krakow, Poland
Professor Janet Montefiore, University of Kent
Richard Ashcroft, Professor of Bioethics, School of Law, Queen Mary University of London
Catherine Czerkawska, novelist and playwright, Scotland
Tsead Bruinja. Poet, Netherlands
Tom Deveson, MA (Cambridge) Teacher at London Centre for Young Musicians
Susan Walker MA Corporate Governance Kingston University and MFA University of the Arts London
Gregory Woods,  Professor Emeritus, Nottingham Trent University.
Charles Lambert Università di Roma Tre
Dr Antony Shuttleworth
Lesley Burt, Southampton Solent University
Bette Adriaanse, writer, Netherlands
Robbie Travers, University of Edinburgh
Peter W Houlihan . PhD, faculty UMass Amherst
Myra Schneider, poet
Kees Klock, historian, poet, translator, Netherlands.
Gregory Dowling, Ca' Foscari University of Venice
Brian Johnstone, Hon President, StAnza: Scotland's International Poetry Festival.
Dr Omar Al-Kayat, Neurologist and writer
Terese Coe, poet, professor, New York
Erika Mihálycsa  PhD, lecturer in 20th c British literature, Babes-Bolyai University Cluj/Kolozsvár, translator.
Jacqueline Fear-Segal Professor of American and Indigenous Histories, UEA
Sasha Dugdale, editor MPT, UK
Victoria Musgrave, Educationalist. Exec Head Abbots Bromley School and International College
Thomas Karshan, UEA
Linda Ashok, poet, India
Colin Ventura, composer, UK
Benjamin Ramm OD/ BBC
Christian Lux, publisher and translator, Wiesbaden, Germany
Christo James, author, UK
Kerry Shawn Keys, poet, Vilnius, Lithuania
James Perrin, writer, Hon Fellow of Bangor University
Chris Gribble, CEO Writers’ Centre Norwich
Danuta Kean, journalist, Tunbridge Wells
Helen Ivory, poet and artist
Carol Watts, poet
Rachel Appleby, ELTE university, Budapest
Steven Robert Carlson, writer, California
Judi Sutherland, PhD, MBA, writer and scientist
Keiron Pim, writer, Norwich, UK
Stuart A Paterson, poet, Scotland
Jacalyn McNamara, artist, writer, educator
Michael T. Young
Michael Dickel, writer and lecturer , US and Israel
Agnes Marton, poet and editor
Mihaela Ghita, translator, Romania
Anna Robinson, poet and senior lecturer, University of East London
Rosemary Grant, poetry editor, UK
Guy Dammann, Uppsala University, Sweden
Howard Curtis, Literary Translator
Katherine Gregor, Literary Translator
Dr Geraldine Green, poet, editor
Peter Eustace, translator and poet, Italu
Martin Figura, writer
Philip Alcabes, Professor, unter College, New York City
Pasco-Q Kevlin. Director NAC
Barbara Epler, editor, publisher, New Directions
Catharina Blaauwendraad, poet, translator, teacher, Austria
Nessa O’Mahony, poet, Ireland
Mary Ann McCarra, poet, Peekskillm NY, US
Antonia Lloyd-Jones, translator
Georgina El-Nagashi, librarian, human rights activist, former Green politician, Vienna
Sam Ruddock, programme manager, Writers’ Centre Norwich
Judith Palmer, Director, The Poetry Society
Daniel Szabo, English teacher, France
Zoe Brigley Thompson, Visiting Assistant Professor, Ohio State University, US
Nick Owen, LSE, Oxford, Reading, Oxford School of Psychotherapy
Nicki Heinen, writer, London
John Henshaw, artist
Hugh McFadden, poet & journalist
Ralph Dumain, independent scholar
Professor Said Leghild
Rose Anderson, poet, Leeds, UK
Fran Isherwood, poet, performer and teacher.
Stephen Pogany, Emeritus Professor, Warwick University
Joan Hewitt, poet, Tynemouth
Annie Wilson, freelance writer, journalist
Gordon Kerr, Scottish writer
Kriszta Szendroi, UCL
Edward Mycue, poet, San Francisco, USA
Mark Husmann, Northumbria University
Peter M Baroth, poet and novelist, US
Lou Robson, MA student, Birmingham City University
Richard Soloway, retired lecturer
Tyler Massey, songwriter, UK
Pauline Fayne, poet, Ireland
Bharat Ravikumar, writer, India
Mario Domínguez Parra, translator, poet
Jacqui Rowe, writer and educator UK
Max Wallis, poet and writer
Diana Hilliard, educationalist
Ravi Shankar, poet, USA
Alexander Gordon Smith
Karen Davies
John A A Logan writer, Scotland
Eva Szilagyi
Paul Hawkins, poet and text artist, Bristol
Jacqueline Saphra, poet
Ray Fisher
Steve Vowles
Fran Brearton 
Francoise Harvey
Diana Becker
Harry Smart, writer
Hugh McFadden
Pete Jordan
Adam S J Foulds, writer
Rosemary Dun
Laura Noszlopy, PhD
Ian Stasmore, artist, UK
Carla Palmieri, translator, Italy
Jane Draycott, poet and translator, UK
Karen J McDonnell, writer
Stacy Dianne Kennedy
Jeannie Wells
Dominic Gill, journalist, London
David Swann
James W Wood, poet and novelist
Dr Karima Brooke, Oxford, UK
Dan Wyke, MA, MBACP
Dr Irene Lampert, MRCPsych, MA Norwich
Christina Dithmar
Esther Gómez-Sierra, Lic Fil Hisp (Madrid Complutense), PhD (Manchester).
Kirk Parsons, UK writer and journalist...
Raphael Urweider, poet, Switzerland
Lydia Macpherson MA Hons Oxon, MA London
Gábor Gyukics, poet
Inez Baranay, PhD, writer
Bernice Reynolds, B.Ed
Anne Beer, PhD
James Harrold
Maria McManus, poet, Ireland
Cathy Bryant, poet, EU citizen
Claudia Daventry MA Hons Oxon, MLitt, (EU citizen, poet, teacher, linguist)
Jenny Yancey
Catherine Ann Cullen, writer, Ireland
Ilya Anski
Tim Gardiner PhD (Essex), FBNA
Jacob Ziguras, poet, philosopher, PhD
Penelope Kease
Michael Iossel, writer / professor, US/Canada
Jez Noond
Deborah Alma
Alison Armstrong, writer, teacher, musician, painter
Jonathan Hurley
Lena Clamp
Paul Vaughan (MA, Oxon)
Angela Topping, poet
Penny Sharman
Kálmán Faragó, Budapest
Dr Richard Slade, artist
Dave Garbutt,
Brett Hardman
Cristina Newton, writer and educator, UK
Juno Gemes
Claire Kidman
Julia Lock,MA Oxon, Budapest
Hanne Busck-Nielsen
Rachel Winter
Ruth Valentine, writer
Catherine M Brennan, writer and teacher
Jude Cowan-Montague, poet/artist, Resonance FM
Leslie Donovan, BSc, BEd, MA
Roberta Burnett, Arizona
Josephine Dickinson MA Oxon, LRAM, poet
Bernard Hurley MA MSc DPhil.
Anne Mullane ( retired Reader Development Manager)
Nancy Mattson, Canadian writer living in London, England.
Robert Mason, illustrator and writer
Hugh Waterhouse, poet, historian, storyteller
Maria Jastrzebska writer
Tim Collard, retired British diplomat.
Grant Tarbard, writer
Mei Lim artist
Lindy Barbour (B.A. Hons. Oxon) University of Edinburgh
Laura Sgarioto, translator, Budapest.
Frederika Randall  US/EU dual citizen, translator, Rome
Beatrice O’Malley, BSc, PPharm
Dr Catherine Nichols, Leeds university, UK.
Mark Carlisle
Natalia Zagorska-Thomas, artist and curator
Joanne Limburg, poet
Ranbir Singh Sidhu, writer
Reuben Woolley
Brian Flynn, writer, Washington DC
Paola Grenier, PhD Budapest
Susan Castillo
Vanessa Gebbie, writer
Josephine Corcoran, writer, Wiltshire, UK
Nigel Patrick Forde, poet and playwright
Carmelo Militano, poet, teacher, broadcaster
Harry Owen, poet, S Africa
Ruth Irwin, Secondary school, English teacher, London
Jim Lindop, retired businessman
Catherine Slusar Buck, writer ‘Being Human’ USA
Umit Singh Dhuga, publisher and managing editor, The Battersea Review
Victoria Herring, English language teacher
Andrew McDonnell, University Centre, Peterborough
Meirion Jordan, writer and editor
Bethany W Pope, poet, US and UK
Ruth Mullen, writer and editor
Professor Oz Hardwick, poet and academic
Marc R Sherland, President of the Scottish Association of Writers
Sue Millard, writer, singer, webmaster
Györgyi Voros, PhD, Senior Instructor, Visginia Tech University, poet
Isadora Papadrakis, Art Historian, Rome
Rob A. Mackenzie, poet, reviews editor at Magma Poetry magazine
Karen Redman, journalist
Mab Jones, writer, tutor at Cardiff University
Balázs Szendroi, Oxford
Simon Hall, Professor of Modern History, University of Leeds
Helen Calcutt, writer and poet
Bori Németh, Egyptologist, Budapest
Martin Reed, author, London
David Savill, Novelist, University of Salford
C. Stene Duckworth, Publisher, Writer, Entrepreneur, United States
Cathy Dreyer, University of South Wales
Fiona Pitt-Kethley, writer.
Chrissie Gittins, pet, writer, playwright
Simon Williams, poet, technical journalist
Balint Bethlenfalvy
Stephen Payne, Professor of Human-Centric Systems, University of Bath
Sai Leighild, Professor, poet, beekeeper
Wendy McMahon, Senior Lecturer in American Literature and Culture, UEA
Kate Birch, publisher
John Freeman, writer and critic
Richard Skinner, novelist, Director of Fiction, Faber Academy
Éanann Mac Donnchadha, translator, Barcelona
Barbara Smith, writer and teacher
Alessandra Bava, translator and poet, Rome, Italy
James Milner, novelist, Creative Writing MFA Director, Kingston University
Ron Carey, poet
Shanta Acharya, poet, academic
Rosemary Major, BA Hons (Open) nurse, Oxford
Myrto Gondicas, translator, poet
Pam Bridgeman M Phil retired teacher
Rachel Rooney, teacher and poet
Edward Grdner, psychotherapist
Anthony Cox, Senior Lecturer in Clinjcal Pharmacy, U of Birmingham
Sally Evans, poet, writer and bookseller
Aline P’nina Tayar, conference interpreter and author
Tim Dooley, poet, visiting lecturer, University of Westminster
Paul Olchváry, translator and publisher
Emma Lee, poet, Leicester, UK
James McGrath, author and lecturer, Leeds
Helen Szirtes, writer and editor
Josie Crescent-Moon, writer
Fiona Larkin, poet, London
Bina Sarkar Ellis, editor, publisher International Gallerie
Steven Waling, poet, reviewer
Sandy Solomon, writer
Adam Horovitz, poet, UK
Nigel Parke, book dealer
Eleanor Hooker, poet, Ireland
Isobel Dixon, poet, literary agent
Georgia Varjas, speaker, writer
Donald Campbell, Retired social worker and social work teacher
Richard Copeland poet
Amaia Gabantxo, literary translator
Pippa Little, Royal Literary Fund Fellow, poet
Donald Gardner, poet and translator
Robin Buckallew
Eryl Shields artist, writer
Roland Nilsson
Rachel Hore, writer, university tutor
Padrika Tarrant, writer
John Eliot, poet, Wales
Judith Buckrich, historian, Melbourne, Australia
Eszter Molnár, literary translator
Steve Foulger
Clive Stubbs, playwright
Katie Flook
Susan Greenberg
Bethany Rivers, poet
Kinga Fabó, poet, Budapest
David Grant, teacher, Glasgow, Scotland
David Alcock, architectural conservation
John Kay, teacher
Jody Porter, poet, poetry editor Morning Star
Bob Hopcraft, headteacher
Khadim Hussain, Sacred Alien Comix
Caroline Gilfillan, poet and fiction writer
Jill Townsend, writer
Clarissa Upchurch, artist
Neil McCarthy, poet, Austria
Véronique Martin, writer, France
Carla Palmieri, translator, Italy
Davide Trame, teacher
Gary Moon, community support organiser
Daniele Pantano, poet, Switzerland
Julia Webb, poet, poetry editor, Lighthouse Literary Journal
Sue Hubbard, poet, novelist, art critic, London
Tina Gharavi, filmmaker and academic
Richard Livermore, poet, magazine editor
Pamela Robertson-Pearce, fillamker, Northumberland, UK
Zachary Bos, editor, New England Review of Books
Lyn Moir, poet, translator
Johanna Boal, librarian, poet
Ann Leshy Wood, writer, musician
Sandra Reed, librarian, London
Rachel Winter, psychoanalytic psychotherapist
Caroline M Davies, poet, pensions adviser
Pru Kitching, poet
Elena Remigi, interpreter and translator
Pierre Ringwald, teacher, Helsinki
Stephen Oliver, poet / voice artist
Sam Gwyn
David Robertson, Professor of Public Policy, Liverpool (retired)
Sally-anne Lomas, television director / producer
Jack Little, poet
Michael Prince, artist, Nottingham
Duncan McGibbon, poet
David Swann, teacher and writer
Lee Prosser, poet
Michael Rought-Brooks, gardener
Janet Smith, scientist, academic
Professor Suzie Hanna
Judith Baumel, poet, Professor of English, Adelphi University, New York
Jonathan Taylor, senior lecturer, University of Leicester
Alexander Cigale, poet, translator
Debra Lynn Pughe, writer, Fine Art Museum of San Francisco
Anatoly Kudryavitsky, poet, novelist, translator, Ireland
Charles Hall, teacher
Paul Hellyer, Wellington, New Zealand, Hungarian citizen
Alan McCormick, writer, England
Dawn Oei, health practitioner
Bob Wittock, Warsaw, Poland
Naomi Sachs, actress and poet, London
Tanvir Bush, author and lecturer
A. F. Harrold, poet, author, performer
Margaret Royall, poet
Kevin Reid, artist
Desmond McGrath, editor
Wynn Wheldon, author
Jane Roberts, writer, Shropshire, UK
Martin O'Connor, poet
Rania Hafez, senior lecturer, London
Rajan Naidu, community worker, UK
Agnes Eperjesy, management consultant, UK, Hungarian citizen
Jane Ponsford, artist, UK
Liz Nugent, writer, Ireland
Kinga Fabó, poet, linguist, essayist
Stephen Barnard, Advaitin philosopher
William Harvey, art director, UK
Neil Fulwood, poet, Nottingham, UK
Martin Reed, writer and performer
Meena Kandasamy, poet, India
Dray Zera, performer, poet
Cerasu Ceceep, painter and sculptor, Indonesia
Michael Prince, artist
Liz Lacey, lecturer and writer, Liverpool
Sarah Atkinson, musician / educator, Istanbul / Toronto
Mary O'Donnell, poet and novelist, Galway University
Michael Langan, writer
Janet Davidson, editor, Northern Ireland
Linda Black, writer, editor, teacher, artist
Francis David Rafferty, performance poet, comedian
Pauline Rowe, writer and tutor, Liverpool
Peter Daniels, PhD candidate, Goldsmiths, London
Professor Diane DeBell
Andrea Scrima, artist and writer, Berlin / New York
Leigh Jones, researcher
Ildiko Melis, college teacher, Michigan, US
Susan Greenberg
Elizabeth MacDonald, Pisa University
Andrea Porter, teacher and poet, UK
Sophie Plowden, teacher and author, London
Sophia Bartleet,  writer and teacher
Eloise Miller, publisher, UK
Katrin Mäurich, painter, UK / Germany
Mark Roper, poet
Anna Dreda, bookseller, Wenlock Books, Shropshire
Paul Perry, writer, Ireland
Melanie Williams, writer, UK
Ellen Sokolow, architect, New York, USA
Sally Crabtree, writer
Michael Bartholomew-Biggs, mathematician and poet, London
Domenico Iannaco, teacher, Italy
Maria Taylor, lecturer, Loughborough
Rosie Jackson, writer and lecturer, UK
Dr Nathalie Teitler, arts activist, London
Oliver Stanton, designer
Mari Alföldy, translator, Amsterdam
Alexandra Buechler, cultural manager, Aberystwyth, UK
Sandy Solomon, writer, Vanderbilt University
Olga Serebryanaya, journalist and literary translator, Prague
Kathryn MacGregor
Thomas Humphrey, gallery proprietor, Norwich
Peter Chaltas, entrepreneur, poet, Toronto
John Phillips
Elizabeth Macklin, writer and editor
Andrew Ervin, novelist and critic, Philadelphia, US
Stephen Morrissey, poet
Daniel Gustafsson, literary translator
Denni Turp, Disability Arts, Officer, Wales
Susan Young, journalist, UK
Keith Lander, software engineer and writer, UK
Dr Alyson Hallett, poet and Advisory Fellow with the Royal Literary Fund
Dr Gyorgyi Voros, poet, Senior Instructor, Virginia Tech  University, USA
Anthony diMatteo, poet
Dr Peter Ryley, University of Hull (retired)
Victoria Clegg
Karen Margolis, author and translator
Anne Cooper, writer, poet, educator
Márton Dornbach, visiting assistant professor, Johns Hopkins University
Selina St.Clair Mills, author MPhil Cantab
Katy Ewing, writer and artist, Scotland
John Holyer, avionics engineer
Lydia Towsey, poet and performer
Graham Mummery, poet and psychotherapist
Stephen Hyatt-Cross, nurse, UK
Irena Makarewicz, translator
Clare Allan, writer, lecturer, City University, London
Fiona Hanley, art director, graphic designer, illustrator
Frank Dullaghan, writer, poet, business consultant
Kitty Gifford, USA
Hannah Jane Walker, writer
Rebecca Byrkit, Clinical Professor, Creative Writing, ASO, poet
Peter Street, poet, tutor, writer
Miki Byrne, poet, writer, Gloucestershire
Briony Bax, editor Ambit Magazine
Trevor Joyce, poet, Cork,  Ireland
Aaron Deveson, academic, National Taiwan Normal University
Nadia Kingsley, publisher and poet
Maria C.McCarthy, writer, Kent.
Francoise Robin, INALCO, Paris
Sue Hardy-Dawson, poet and illustrator, UK
Katia Buffetrille, EPHE, Paris
Anne Pollert, sociologist, Leamington Spa
Sarah Wedderburn, poet and freelance copywriter
David Ian Ross
Rowyda Amin, poet
David Smith, literary agent, London and Kent
Danica Ogjenovic, weiter and gallery co-ordinator, UK
Oxana Yakimenko, translator, university lecturer, St Petersburg, Russia
Kathy Page, writer and professor at Vancouver State University
Mike Gallagher, poet, Ireland
Patricia Mullin, author, tutor, mentor
Linda Feldman, associate professor of German, University of Windsor, Canada
Jo Erbacher, concerned European
Edit Weigl-Gibby, teacher, director, London
Jean Morris, writer and translator
Jennifer Wong, poet and translator
Todd Swift, editor and publisher, Eyewear Books
Dr Geraldine Green, poet, tutor, editor
Dr Carly Holmes, writer and editor
Andy Ching, editor and publisher
Ben Borek, poet, Poland
Peter Fredlake, eeducator and photographer, USA
Marieke Piggott-Boswinkel, translator and editor
Andrew Fentham, poet and translator from Hungarian
Laurie Stone, writer
SJ Butler, writer, UK
Michelle Madsen, poet, journalist, theatre-maker, London
Samia Malik, singer / songwriter
Dr Alena Oberfalzerová, head of Mongolian and Tibetan Studies, Charles University, Prague
Lucie McKee, poet
Bobby Parker, poet and artist
N J Hynes, writer
Rob Hay, scientist and acoustician
Max Dunbar
Morelle Smith, writer and translator, UK
Peadar O'Donoghue, poet, publisher
John Fitzgerald, poet, attorney
Graham Burchell, poet and teacher
Ashley Louise Fox, writer, poet and artist
Jane Burn, poet and checkout operator
G. R. Livingston
Ruth Philo
Diane Cockburn, pet and teacher
Agnes Somlo, literary translator
Gabor Hellyer, CEU graduate and descendant of 1956 refugees
June Nandy, poet
Maria Heath Becket, writer
Denise Burchard
Leslie McGrath, poet and educator,  Central Connecticut State University
Hannah Vicek
Robert Shaw, theatre and opera director, hungarophile, London
Jan Fortune
Deirdre O'Neill, editor
Allison Hope
Dr Leila Farnes, RCSI, Norway
Moira Forsyth, author and publisher
Peter Adair, poet
Marion Kelly, Ireland
Nick Hilditch, animator, Budapest
Lee Moore
L. E. Usher, author, Australia and UK
Szilvia Schmitsek, doctoral researcher, The University of Warwick
Jacqui McMenamin
Jé Maverick
Györgyi Jakobi, journalist, Budapest
Michel Queue, France
Eoin Barry
Stephen Varcoe
Dr Rob Miles, poet, lecturer University of Hull
Georgina Kuna, teacher, access to music, Norwich
Katrina Naomi, poet, Penzance
Angela Carr, poet and architect, Dublin
Maurice Devitt, writer, Dublin
Ross Wilson, Lecturer in Criticism, University of Cambridge
Humphrey Astley, writer, Oxford
Eunice Yates, freelance writer, Belfast and London
Brian Kirk, writer, Dublin
Nicholas Birns, writer and academic, New York
Haworth Hodgkinson, composer and writer, Aberdeenshire
Michael T, Young, poet, US
Chris Meade, PhD student, University of Bath Spa
Katy Evans-Bush, writer, London
Jaimie Shorten, architect, London
David Hirsh, Lecturer, Goldsmiths, University of London
Jennifer Mackintosh, conference interpreter, teacher
Felicity Evans, writer and editor, Cambridge
Theophi Kwek, writer, Oxford
Anne Berkeley, Cambridge
Rishi Dastidar, poet and copywriter
Scott Barley, filmmaker, visiting lecturer, Winchester School of Art
James O'Fee, Northern Ireland
Iain Robinson, writer and academic, Norfolk
Marilyn Francis, poet, Radstock
Edmund Prestwich, retired teacher, Manchester, UK
Aidan Semmens, journalist and poet, Suffolk
Josephine Balmer, poet and translator, East Sussex, UK
Kathryn Gray, writer, London
Louise Lotz, complementary therapist, poet, Welwyn Garden City
Rachel Burns, writer, Durham
Robbie Burton, poet, North Wales
Jennifer Grey, London
Frederick Taylor, historian, West Cornwall
Cutter Streeby, poet and translator, USA
Irena Szirtes, retired, Worcestershire
Katherine Rosen, arts consultant, Monte Sereno, USA
Andrew Philip, poet, West Lothian
Jackie Gorman, poet, Athlone, Ireland
Julia Seiber Boyd, retired lawyer, Chair Cambridge Szeged Soc, and Mátyás Seiber Trust
Sally Craythorne, writer, Norfolk
Anders Howerton, software engineer and poet, Oakland, USA
Pamela Ireland Duffy, La Rochelle, France
Crysse Morrison, writer, Frome
Victoria Neumark Jones, associate professor, journalism, London Met. University
Sandra Banawich, ex-Councillor, poet, St Helen's, UK
Cath Drake, poet and writer, London
Maggie Harris, writer UK
Gill Stoker, London, UK
Robert R. Calder, University of Strathclyde, editor Lines Review
Tom Hubbard, Scottish novelist, poet, editor, was visiting professor ELTE, Budapest
James Knight, poet, Wells, Somerset
Anne-Marie Creamer, artist, lecturer, University of the Arts, London
Rebecca Farmer
Janet Sutherland, poet, Lewes, UK
Nell Sartain, teacher, Cambridge, UK
Patrick Williamson, poet and translator, Paris
Elenor Knott, academic, London School of Economics
Sean Fraser, writer, Galveston, Texas
Emma van Woerkom, poet, Wales
Zoltán Rozgonyi, director, Euroexam, Budapest
Dr Michael G. Stevens
JustinCoe, poet
Breda Wall Ryan, writer, Ireland
Lyn Moir, poet and translator, St Andrews, Scotland
Lemuel Ibbotson, retired academic
Theo Best, teacher, Norwich
Marie Hudson (nee Rudas) yoga teacher, Powys
Rinzing Kelsang, musician, photographer and Buddhist monk
Robert Fitzmaurice
Isobel Urquhart, retired lecturer, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge
Philip O'Neil, poet, writer
Luise Valentiner Moulin, graphic designer, letterpress artist, Scotland
Clare Cox, university administrator
Louisa Adjoa Parker, writer, Dorset
Ben Richardson, bookseller, Norwich
Helen Farrell Simcox, writer and artist, Cork
Irina Shkolnik, banker, Miami
Adrian Green, poet, UK
Dr Martin Smith, academic editor, artist
David Spiller, Higher Education Consultant, Australia
Maria Clara Paulino, art history professor, USA and Portugal
Lillian King, writer, Scotland
Julia Sherwood
Habie Schwarz, photographer and consultant
Dan Duggan, poet, outsider artist, London
Barbara Cumbers, poet, UK
Susan Gunn, artist, Manchester
Dick Jones, teacher, poet, translator
Andrea Fisher de Cuba, musician and English trainer, Vienna
Ambrose Musiyiwa, facilitator, CivicLeicester
Suzannah Endfield Olivier
Silva Zanoyan Merjanian, poet, USA
Patricia Allmer, Senior Lecturer, Edinburgh College of Art
Sue Healy, playwright
Susan Bernofsky, Columbia University School of the Arts
Jill Galvan, Associate Professor, Department of English, Ohio State University
Zoltan Zubornyak, actor
Christopher Hawtree, writer and library campaigner, Hove, England
Prof. Toby Walsh, Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, Guest Professor TU Germany
Klara Szentirmay, translater, publisher, editor, Wellington, New Zealand
Edward Vanderpump, teacher / writer, Norwich, UK
Rebecca Tamás, British-Hungarian poet, UEA
Pauline Levis, retired teacher, London
Marysia Wojtaszek, Scotland
Ed Luker, poet
Elizabeth Rimmer, poet, Scotland
Tim Cumming, writer
Kieran Ryan, artist, poet, student,  University of the Arts, London
István Kolozsi, designer, Hungary
Sonja Benskin Mesher
Ed Cottrell, London
Maggie Alexander, teacher, London
Peter Sherwood, Emeritus Professor of Hungarian, University of North Carolina
Professor Stephen Harnad, Universities of Southampton and Quebec* resigned from Hungarian Academy in protest at failure to resist Orbán
Nigel Quinton
Claire Potter, poet
Julia Keddle, education writer
Hisham M Nazer, poet, Department of English, Varendra University
Sarah Tyler, office manager, Devizes
Alison Stewart, writer and teacher
Naomi Kerans, retired teacher
Merryn Williams, poet, North Oxford
David Lefeber, Dorset
Jackie York, artist, Banbury
Rakesh Bhanot, teacher, freelance writer
Matthew Falaize, writer
Lenke Kiss, concerned Hungarian, St Albans
Benedick Grant, writer
Emma Farrant, physician of Chinese medicine
Tamás Szelei, software developer, Hungary
Dr Jo Catling, University of East Anglia
Gábor Gasztonyi, photographer, writer
Prue Chamberlayne, poet, retired researcher and academic
Anne Caldwell, Open University, poet
Barton Young, songwriter
José Maria Peréz Fernándes, English Department, University of Granada, Spain
Jenny Swann
Andrew Oldham
Lena Camp, European Association for Jewish Culture
Adam Strickson, Teaching Fellow in Theatre and Writing, University of Leeds
Jonathan Jarrett, Lecturer in Early Medieval History, University of Leeds
Ivan Vince
Jen Webb, academic, Australia
Kim Baker, concerned friend of Hungary, Paris
Mary Clarke
Csilla Toldy, Rostrevor, Northern Ireland
Sarah Watkinson, scientist, poet, Oxon, UK
Anne Phillips, teacher
Zia Haider Rahman, author
Helen de Cruz, Senior Lecturer in Philosopher, Oxford Brookes.
Jane Hattatt, BSc
Claire Steele, writer, teacher, Buckinghamshire
Lance Hattatt, BA
Dorothy Allan
Catherine Ayres, teacher, Alnwick
Chozo Tull, musician
Sue Guiney, writer, Cambodia
Dr Robert Mayer, Oriental Institute, University of Oxford
Katy Carr, European and citizen of the world.
Joel Davie, librarian, Nottingham
Carolyn O'Connell
Richard Sheehan, editor, Leicester, UK
Erica Sartor, Krakow, Poland
Pat Winslow, poet, Oxfordshire
James Ellis, writer, Bath
Patricia Horgan BD, nurse
Mark Wingrave
Kay Bentley, teacher trainer, Norwich
Becky Cherriman, writer, UK
Sarah Hymas, writer, UK
Dr Suzanne Fairless-Aitken, academic and editor, Hexham, Northumberland
Prof E. S. Shaffer, Series Editor, The Reception of British & Irish Authors in Europe

Friday, 2 December 2016

China Journal 5

Hall in preparation


Huang Lihai hands over the prize statuette


Reading one of three poems


5 November

23:15 in Guangzhou. Received my Poetry and People award tonight. What a ceremony, Chinese style! Red carpet, glamorous hostess, photographs of me at different earlier periods, a eulogy by the poet and awarder Huang Lihai in which, to go by the impromptu English translation, he clearly understands what I am doing as a poet, a lovely choir to sing to me. the presentation of the award, (a big statuette about the size of a small child and weighing about the same) and a print I haven't yet opened. 

I say a brief thank you. Then music. Bits of film. Then I read two poems, then more music by a guitarist who has set 'After a Line of W H Auden' from Mapping the Delta (in Chinese), then Melindra launches the book with a short speech, more music, three of my fellow poets read from Mapping the Delta, then a small drama group perform their interpretation of The Yellow Room from the book, more music, a discussion...it's long, some two hours to a big audience and lots of press.




Then a lot of book signing, because there is a whole selected poems from the last three books in translation ready done. I sign far more books than I have ever done in one place in England.
It is exceedingly grand and I am not sure what to make of it all except be flattered and sane. 

The prize is, of course, an enormous honour. The previous winners are a parade of stars (Transtromer, Zagajewsky, Dove, Walcott etc.) I am not one of those. But just for tonight, in Guangzhou and South China, I am offered as a pretender to such thrones and have a child-sized statuette I am tempted to call Del Boy now sitting next to the electric kettle in the university hotel room. How we'll get Del Boy home is another question. (Answer: send by what I thought was shipping but turns out to be air mail costing over £100). Still there is a money prize too.


Del Boy at home with post-it from Lukas whose favourite word at the moment
is poo which is to be taken as a compliment


Thankful and tired.


6 November

Yesterday a big indulgent dimsum for all the group at 11:30 including black eggs and Chinese custard pies, followed by a tour of the university but first the memory of the journey by Maglev or 'bullet train' from Yangshuo to Guangzhou the day before.

After the mountains and plains the hills and the road to the airport. The coach negotiates a narrow unfinished road with stones from landslides sprinkled on it. There are new unfinished houses either side arranged to no obvious plan but with families living in them.

The road gets worse. Rough, unsurfaced, with big drops on one side and passing places with holes on the other. We wind upwards very slowly behind two trucks carrying rubble. It's all uphill and traffic down must gauge the space available.

When we get to the Maglev station it is fully modern and international standard. It is as if the development around it was an afterthought. There are a lot of stairs to climb with heavy luggage. The bullet train arrives.

Once on the train it is wonderfully smooth. All the buildings we see along the way look to be standard, constructed like Lego. No difference anywhere. When we move towards Guangzhou the same standard blocks grow into enormous high uniform estates. Very Brazil à la Terry Gilliam. Daunting, vast, military, convenient, monsters of anonymity, becoming more varied and pleasant as we approach the university which is a long way - Guangzhou has a c12 million population - in a crawl of traffic.

*

Sun Yat Sen university verges on luxury with marvellous tree-lined (eucalyptus, acacia etc) avenues, ponds, passages of dense vegetation and birdsong and, at the core of the old university, a group of hundred year old buildings that forms a suburb of its own. There is a bust of Darwin before one of them. Cyclists and electric scooter-riders weave through in silence. Some trees are being pollarded.

After the tour, the bookshop, a four floor emporium of beautifully produced books. The owner introduces us to the store. Books on all subjects, mostly designed to an understated delicate aesthetic, as well as gifts and a decent café with proper, though expensive coffee. You can buy a book for the price of a cappuccino.

*

Rúnar and I read in the evening along with our leader and inviter, Fan and - as a surprise - Jiang Shumei, a beautiful 80 year old woman who was illiterate till the age of 60 but who has since written five books and is teaching herself to paint.

Rúnar and I do our stuff then we listen first to Fan then to Jiang Shumei. Fan has written, in English, about her schooldays at the time of the cultural revolution and Jiang Shumei reads a recollection of the practice of foot-binding. Both are marvellous. Rúnar and I are literature, but Fan and Shumei are first-hand life, the realism of the real. It's spellbinding.


Shumei after reading with Barbara, Ravi, Fan and Daan in the background


Then, to end, a junior school children's drama group perform, in English, a piece with music, singing and dancing, that they themselves wrote in English. Their spoken English is impeccable, their dancing sweet and one of the girls has a hell of a voice on her. I can't imagine an English primary school capable of doing the same in a very foreign language with the same panache, if at all.







We learn more about China from Fan, Shumei and the children.



Then we break up. Rúnar, Gudrun, Clarissa and I pop into MacDonalds for a small burger. We need something plain after all the rococo dimsum.


Macsonnet
for Runar Helgi Vignisson

Samuel Jackson and Travolta in a car.
I’m starving, says Jackson. Travolta agrees. Me too.
There’s a Big Mac round the corner, not too far.
A man’s gotta eat, he says. OK for you?

Ain’t nothin’ better in a fuckin’ jam,
Jackson replies. With plenty sauce. Too right.
Best wipe the blood off yo’ lapel. Goddam,
says Travolta, just too much blood tonight.

They bomb down the M and slip in through the door.
A queue at the counter, fat guy at the head,
behind him a dozen customers, maybe more.
Move, muthafuckas! says Jackson. Or you dead!

McChicken, says Travolta. Side dish of French fries.

The cops burst in, big shoot out. Jackson dies.