with 20 minutes to go before her amazing SOUTHBANK CENTRE book launch show, Laura hasn’t yet got her toenails done or her outfit on… what will happen next?
Click on the 2 audio links above and check out our exclusive London Literature Festival Laura Dockrill audio-visual package…And watch my pre-show video interview with Laura also on this site!
LAURA DOCKRILL ROCKS – BY ROSIE GOLDSMITH
Laura Dockrill – aka ‘Dockers’ – is known to teenagers and twenty-somethings both across the terrestrial and cyber world (see her MySpace pages).
But here’s a thing – Laura and her poetry also bowl me over and many ‘older folk’ like me. (Now the truth is out: I am over 21!)
Laura is a brilliant wordsmith and charismatic, beautiful performer and personality. (Do I sound gushing?!)
She is quite simply a phenomenon and, as BBC Radio 1Xtra’s Gemma Cairney, put it on Saturday– Gemma was the compere of Laura’s live show at Queen Elizabeth Hall– Laura is ‘a meteorite’.
And Kate Nash, her singer-songwriter-rocker friend, praises Laura’s ‘wild and exciting imagination’.
And Laura’s famous friends were all there in flamboyant bright and beautiful glory at London Literature Festival to help her launch her second book of irreverent, whacky, wonderful, doodle-, and scrap-book-filled poetry, ‘Ugly Shy Girls’.
Can you believe it?! – a whole afternoon in Queen Elizabeth Hall of rock music and performance poetry – and it was packed. Quite a few of the teenagers in the book queue afterwards (have a listen to my ‘Vox Pop’ interviews with them) said that this was the first time they had been to Southbank Centre – Laura had drawn them in. Poetry, they said, was now trendy.
In the show, Kate Nash performed a set with her band (she removed her towering high heels and big rings after the first song – too difficult to bounce around in and bang the guitar with!); the super-talented trio ‘Peggy Sue’ did a set, and ‘Brigitte Aphrodite’, she of the strong voice, rock-n-roll guitar and black net-and-glitter gear (even her eyes were covered in sequins), kick-started the whole event with her hilarious songs.
There was a lot of glitter and feathers and stilettos. Finally, Laura appeared, dressed in a bright yellow jump suit, net cloak (with feathers ofcourse) and yellow Britney mic – she looked like a ‘cross between Aladdin and a hot chicken’, as Gemma said. I’d say: Galliano meets Woody Woodpecker.
Laura belted out poem after clever poem which had the audience roaring and click-photographing her with their mobiles. It was like a Rolling Stones concert but without the Rolling Stones – know what I mean? I laughed out loud at her poem ‘Heaven Knows’ about a cool Mum (there’s an exclusive Literature Festival recording of it on this site from the show itself!). And the final number was like something from a Hollywood musical: Laura performing her eponymous ‘Ugly Shy Girl’ poem with her ten-woman backing group, the Word Orchestra, all dressed in black, with slasher-red lipstick to light their way.
Forget the Spice Girls. We have Dockers and Co.!
Marina Lewicka launches ‘We All Made of Glue’MARINA LEWYCKA launches her new novel at London Literature Festival 2009
We had a jolly literary lunch this weekend when Marina Lewykca joined me to launch her third novel ‘We are All Made of Glue” (there are lots of references to glue and adhesives!).
We chatted about her immigrant life in Britain (both her parents were Ukrainian) and her extraordinary recent success: after years of rejection slips for her writing, she published her first novel ‘A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian’ in 2005 aged 58 and it was an overnight sensation.
We also discussed her funny-but-serious new novel – her third. This one has a narrative about the Holocaust and the Arab-Israeli conflict as its thread.
We thought you might like to hear Marina in conversation with me and to hear her entertaining reading from her new novel (I’ll just mention the words ‘Velcro’ and ‘bondage’ – is that enough?!).
Just right click on the link above.
On Saturday last, in the beautiful Level 5 Function Room at Royal Festival Hall, against a filmic background of the London Eye and the enormous purple Udderbelly (!), I had the pleasure of introducing the British-Pakistani writer Qaisra Shahraz to a lunchtime literary audience. Qaisra has been writing fiction since she was a teenager – mostly short stories – but has only attempted novels in the last few years. ‘The Holy Woman’, her first, came out in 2001 and ‘Typhoon’ in 2003.
Both books are set in the same village in rural Pakistan with many of the same wonderful characters. They examine women’s lives and loves and the day-to-day challenges of being a Muslim in modern society. They are lyrical, page-turning reads with real warmth and feeling – and you learn something too.
Qaisra has led a busy life in addition to her writing – teaching creative writing, teacher-training, working for OFSTED, TV and Radio journalism in Britain and Pakistan and script-writing for Pakistani TV soaps (the educational kind –as she points out!)
Right Click on the link above to listen to our conversation and to the readings by Qaisra Shahraz from her two novels.
Peter Conrad was interviewed by Rosie Goldsmith on Friday evening about his latest book ‘Islands’ and how he sees himself as an Island. For the first ten minutes I watched Rosie Goldsmith struggle to try and pull something positive from Conrad’s mind however, he spoke in a gloomy manner for at least a quarter of an hour until he finally started to pick up the mood when he began talking about his love for English literature. This man has such a vast knowledge of literature and culture that is is astounding. Although as some points in the interview I was bored to the point of pulling out the split ends in my hair, for the most part, Conrad’s knowledge has made me want to read even more so that one day I can know as much as him.
I also caught an hours worth of Where To? and was blown away by the amount of talent that was in the Queen Elizabeth Hall’s front room at the same time. I loved the chaos of both performers on stage and the artists towards the side responding to the performers.
Following a thrilling discussion with AL Kennedy, Adam Thirlwell and Erica Wagner, John Freeman concluded that computers have made writing easier, but reading harder.
Watch the interview to find out more about the future of literary journals and his vision for GRANTA…
It’s not often that a man of my advancing years gets the opportunity to go all quivery of knee but last night was onesuch, You see, I got to meet a real-life star of the airwaves, Bidisha.
Her BBC World Service programme The Word has a global listenership of 95 million people. Yes you did read that correctly. 95 million. And as if that wasn’t enough she also presents BBC Radio 3’s Nightwaves that will be featuring co-blogger Suzi Feay in the very near future. In addition to her broadcasting career she has also written the novels Seahorses and Too Fast To Live and was one of this years judges for the Orange Prize for Fiction.
But those are only her day jobs, for Bidisha has a secret talent that was only revealed last night in the green room of the London Literature Festival.
When Antonio, our superb green room waiter, came around with dainty little meringues on a tray with a bowl of cream and fruit puree and then spooned the mixture onto the crisp little peaks as we took them, someone – possibly Rachel Holmes or Rosie Goldsmith or Suzi Feay – said “Oooh look, it’s like Eton Mess… but without the mess.” Quick as a flash someone else – possibly me, possibly not – then said “So Eton Tidy then.”
A mild titter wafted around the table and just as all was about to become tumbleweed silent it was Bidisha who, with a calm, considered tone, looked up and said “Eton Neat, I think you’ll find.”
Now that’s talent. That’s what gets you 95 million listeners. In fact that what gets you 95 million listeners and a grey haired, literary chair as a fan. Damn she’s good.
Eton Mess Recipe
Ingredients: STRAWBERRIES, CREAM AND MERINGUES
(Serves 4 to 6)
Preparation time: 10 mins
800g fresh ripe strawberries
Kirsch, berry liqueur or Cointreau to taste
1 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
200g fresh cream for whipping
200g thick Greek-style yoghurt
6 plain meringues or meringue shells
Wash and dry the strawberries and then hull them, cut in half or into thick slices. Place all but 200g of strawberries in a bowl and sprinkle with 2tbsp of liqueur. Dust with icing sugar and chill for an hour or two. Whizz the remaining 200g of berries into a purée, adding a dash of liqueur to taste, and chill. Whip the cream lightly, fold in the yoghurt, and chill. Crush the meringues into bite-sized pieces and when you are ready to serve, gently toss the cream, meringue and strawberries and pile the lot into a glass bowl. Drizzle with the strawberry purée. Toss once and then serve.
Novelist Sarah Dunant launched her exciting new novel, “Sacred Hearts”, at The Southbank Centre’s Literature Festival.
This wonderful page-turning read with a serious message, set in a convent in 16th century Ferrara, is the third in Sarah’s trilogy of novels about women in that period. Rosie Goldsmith interviews Sarah Dunant just before her performance – yes “performance” – of her new book (which she reads accompanied by the female sacred music group MUSICA SECRETA all dressed as nuns of course).