Posts Tagged ‘Five Leaves’

I love being ignorant. It means there’s something I don’t know which I can learn.

Five Leaves' new camcorder

Scary? I don’t think so!

This is a surprisingly recent realisation. Someone expressed astonishment that I’m not scared of electronic gadgets (in this case, Five Leaves’ new camcorder) and asked, “Do you actually enjoy working out how to use them?”

There were so many exclamation marks in her voice that the proofreader in me had a red pen out of my rucksack before she’d got to the question mark. My immediate response was, “No, I just get on with it, and I find it relatively easy, so there’s no problem.” Later, on the way home, I thought about it some more.

C++ Pocket Reference

THIS is scary… (all will become clear)

I’d spent a little while playing with the camcorder at home, getting to know its basic controls. I captured this clip of #1 hairy brat… as you can see, he was impressed with my movie-making prowess. (Why isn’t there a way to embed the video into my blog post? Another area of ignorance on my part… excellent!) [edited: see below šŸ™‚]

I thought that was enough to prepare me for recording the speakers at a Five Leaves event. After all, I was just going to put the camcorder on a tripod, point it in the right direction and press ‘record’. Um. No. Not that easy at all. It did lots of automatic adjustment stuff depending on where the speakers were, which resulted in an annoying variation in brightness. I didn’t zoom to the right shot for some of the bits. And, horror of horrors, I couldn’t ask the speakers to start again from the beginning so I could get it right. LOTS to learn. Goody goody…

From Revolution To Repression launch event flyerJust in case you’re interested in the event I was filming, this is the flyer (click on the image to see an enlarged version).

You can see two of the videos by following these links:

Gennady Estraikh answering the question ‘Why did Stalin murder Yiddish writers?’

Ross the Boss reading part of a story by Peretz Markish

[edited: Or you could scroll down to the bottom of this post where you’ll find all three videos embedded! I found out how to do it and am happy! It’s actually quite easy – you don’t use the embedding HTML generated by youtube, you just paste the URL into the post as plain text, and WordPress magic does the rest.]

The book, From Revolution to Repression: Soviet Yiddish Writing 1917-1952, edited by Joseph Sherman, is full of fascinating fiction and poetry, and has a couple of essays about the history of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in the decades after the Russian Revolution.

Ignorance = happiness

“So, Pip,” I hear you ask… “why is your life so much better now than it was when you were earning a fortune working in the computing industry?”*

My answer is: because I’m almost always working on something I don’t know very much about. And I love it. I’m always being challenged, but in a good way. I’m not expected to do everything brilliantly (even by myself these days, thanks to 12 months of CBT and a repeat prescription for antidepressants!), which removes a lot of the pressure, and means when I succeed it feels like a real triumph.


A teaser for the next blog… do you like this logo? what does it mean to you?

When I started working with computers I loved it. All those amazing things you could make them do, all the ins and outs of arcane programming languages and development frameworks. Designing software that would do exactly what the clients wanted it to do. It was an intellectual challenge, and it was fun. But after a while, I realised I was just doing essentially the same thing over and over again. I knew how to do it all. Yes, there were new languages and new frameworks, but the learning process was the same as the last time. And gods, it was BORING.

Variety isn’t quite enough. There has to be novelty too. And the best way to achieve that is through the deliberate pursuit of ignorance, then the resolution of that ignorance. My ex-husband says, “Stupidity is worse than ignorance. At least ignorance can be cured.” And for once, I agree with him.

* I have no idea why you would be asking that question either… but go with the flow…

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I went to London yesterday, just to keep an eye on the boss… this is what he got up to.

I was given charge of Five Leaves’ new camcorder, and this is my first ever youtube video… I obviously have a lot to learn, but I’m quite pleased that it’s watchable.

From Revolution to Repression event flyerFive Leaves was launching its newest book, From Revolution to Repression: Soviet Yiddish Writing 1917-1952 at an event commemorating the execution of 13 members of the Soviet Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee by Stalin’s regime. Five of those murdered were writers, who are represented in the book alongside other notable Soviet Yiddish writers.

The event was fascinating, even though I know next to nothing about Soviet Yiddish writers and the social, political and historical context of the time. I know a bit more now… and am greatly looking forward to reading the book.

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Beeston Poets logoIt’s official – Beeston Poets is back! We have a website and a logo and everything! (do you like the logo? I made it! (it was Cathy’s idea to make the stinger into a pen nib though.))

I’m so excited to be involved in this project… I can’t stop talking about it. I missed the first Beeston Poets series, which ran from 1983 for nearly 20 years and is still remembered fondly now by many Beeston and Nottingham poetry-lovers, so being a part of its resurrection feels like an incredible privilege.

Anyway, here’s a rundown of what it’s all about.


To bring the best in contemporary poetry to Beeston, of course!


At Beeston Library – the original venue for Beeston Poets – which is welcoming us back into its new upstairs space that might have been made especially for poetry readings.


This is the really exciting bit…

Jackie KayThe series will re-launch on Saturday 20 October with Jackie Kay, a favourite from past Beeston Poets readings. She is delighted to be asked to read for us at this event, and we’re pleased to have her. I’m particularly pleased, as I’ve wanted to meet her for AGES and what with one thing and another I haven’t managed it yet.

Essential Poems from the Staying Alive Trilogy, edited by Neil AstleyFollowing his adjudication of the Nottingham Open Poetry Competition on Saturday 24 November, Neil Astley will be reading for us from Essential Poems from the Staying Alive Trilogy, published by Bloodaxe this year. The Staying Alive anthologies introduced me to the breathtaking range of contemporary poetry, so I’m particularly looking forward to this.


1948, by Andy Croft and Martin RowsonOn Saturday 8 December we’ll be entertained and edified by Andy Croft, whose most recent book is 1948, illustrated by Martin Rowson and published by Five Leaves. It’s a comic novel, written entirely (and I mean entirely, including the foreword, contents and acknowledgements!) in Pushkin sonnets. Andy is a great performer, and this will be a highly entertaining evening.

What next?

We’re still considering plans for 2013… watch this space… or better still, subscribe to our email newsletter and we’ll keep you up to date with everything.

Whose fault is all this?

The partners in Beeston Poets are:

  • Nottingham Poetry Society (Jeremy Duffield, Cathy Grindrod, me)
  • Nottinghamshire Libraries (Sheelagh Gallagher, Gill Rockett)
  • Five Leaves (me, Ross Bradshaw)

… just so you know who to blame!

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I can’t believe I haven’t posted anything since April. There was such a good response to the possibility of releasing all Rose Fyleman’s books that Ross has chucked everything else off the schedule and we’re going to do it!

(what? it’s not April Fool’s Day any more? damn…)

Lowdham Book Festival Programme

Life at Five Leaves has been very busy – lots of ebook production, more typesetting, designing the programme for Lowdham Book Festival, which I’m very pleased with. Recent book releases include Michael J Malone’s Blood Tears, typeset by yours truly, which sold out at the Bristol Crimefest bookshop on the second day of the festival, andĀ 1948, a comic novel about the 1948 London Olympics, written in Pushkin sonnets by Andy Croft and illustrated by Martin Rowson, which was Nicholas Lezard’s book of the week inĀ The Guardian.

Museum MadnessOn top of that, I worked with Mark Gwynne Jones and students at Springwell College towards what was an excellent performance at the Chesterfield Lyric Lounge. I was so proud of them, those who performed (Matthew, Ashley, Chloe L and Courtneyrose) and those who didn’t. The anthology of their work is fantastic, a lovely souvenir of an inspiring project. The best moment was when Matt and Ashley came up to me and said ‘Miss, we’ve asked Mrs McCabe if we can carry on writing poetry, and we’re going to do it at lunchtimes.’ Wow!

Here is some advice from Ashley about writing poetry:

Poems look hard, but they are easy if you put your mind onto paper. Never give up, if you make a mistake don’t let it stop you, keep writing and edit at the end. The mistakes give you more inspiration.

We asked the students to write some interesting text to include in the introduction – mainly to counteract the usual stuff from the councillors and such-like worthy people – and they came up with some excellent lines… such as the following from Imigen, Chloe L and Mollie:

Eurghhh! Don’t get me started on how boring we thought it would be. But when we did the first session we decided it was actually quite good. … It was fun!!!! We enjoyed!

I think if I’d been asked to contribute towards the introduction, I might have written something like:

Eurghhh! Don’t get me started on how much IĀ didn’t want to work with schoolchildren! I almost didn’t turn up on my first day, I was so nervous. But every single moment of it has been fantastic. The students were funny, inspiring, clever and interesting, and I feel no shame about the tears of pride I shed on May 12th as I watched them perform their work.

So that’s a lesson learned for me too. I’m determined to take every opportunity I can in this wonderful weird writing game, because I never know in advance what’s going to work for me.

Lots of other exciting stuff has happened in the last couple of months. I’ll post about some of the highlights over the next few days…

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I’m sitting watching The Wonders of the Universe, featuring the ever-grinning Professor Doctor Saint Brian Cox, and he’s rabbiting on about how long turtles have been laying their eggs on the same beach – longer than the continent in question has been in existence. And I thought to myself, that’s about as long as it is since I last blogged.

“What’s happened since then?” I hear you cry…

well, quite a lot.

Most excitingly, I’ve been shepherding the relaunch of Five Leaves Publication’s Crime Express imprint.

Crime Express Proofs

Four damn fine books. Buy them.

I’ve been proofreading (and a bit of copy-editing), liaising with the typesetter, cover designer and printer. I’ve been setting up events with the authors. I’ve talked to bookshops about stocking the books, I’ve sent out press releases, I’ve approached magazines and websites about reviewing the books, I even set up a Facebook page (please ‘like’ it – it needs friends!)… and what fun it all is!

It’s also totally nerve-wracking, especially when I had to email the printer to say, “yes, print hundreds of copies of these books.” My experience as a typesetter tells me there are always mistakes… and the best I can hope for is that they’re not too disastrous. I think the most galling mistake that slipped through was a typo in my own biography in last year’s student anthology!

The new Crime Express books aren’t officially available until April 1st, but you can get them (post free in the UK) from Inpress Books along with the previous books in the series. I’d strongly recommend them. All of them. They’re brilliant.

Anyway. I’ve resolved to write short but sweet blogs from now on. Easier to read, and much easier to persuade myself to write. So I’ll sign off for now, but promise to write more very soon about all the exciting goings-on in the life of the Old Bat.

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