The P-Word

This week Twitter has been abuzz over what is always a hot topic in the literary world. I am, of course, talking about the P-word – plagiarism. In her was-to-be-published debut collection of poems, American writer Ailey O’Toole was accused of stealing language from the work of fellow poet Rachel McKibbens. O’Toole was publicly called out by McKibbens and has subsequently had her debut collection cancelled by Rhythm and Bones Press. Since then, several other poets have come forward to claim that O’Toole has appropriated work belonging to them. The writing community, always a febrile place where plagiarism is concerned, rounded on O’Toole who issued an apology to McKibbens. So far, so ugly. Continue reading “The P-Word”

They

They are well-intentioned. For the most part. They walk into the park in their little groups, merry with lager and rum-and-coke, laden with sleeping bags and thermos flasks and rolled up ground mats. They’ll huddle together with their fellow do-gooders, music and torch shenanigans keeping them amused. They won’t sleep a wink, of course, but that’s not really the point, is it? They’ll have a tale to tell, a shared experience, something to post on their Facebook timeline. They’ll raise some money of course, let’s give them their due. Not that any of it will reach me, huddled on my bench on the less salubrious side of the park.

Continue reading “They”

Alone Amongst the Beasts

It was big enough for a grizzly but not the right shape. Too wide for a deer and not well enough defined to be a cougar. There was no frosting on the mud – whatever had made the tracks was close. Travis blew into his hands and shouldered his shotgun. Only a pale grey glow was left lingering above the treeline, the remnant of a sun long-set. He began to trudge up the forest trail again, breath clouding over his shoulder in the cold air. Continue reading “Alone Amongst the Beasts”

The Responsibility of Reading

This week our four-year-old has been learning her first sight words. I, can, said, no, to, not, you, here, help, play, where, and we have all been written onto flashcards before being splatted by a fly swat as she recognises each word. She’s had great fun splatting, and it has allowed her to join in when we’re reading to her before bedtime.

I’m reminded of all the exploring she has ahead of her. She’ll tiptoe along wainscots with Arrietty. She’ll whitewash the fence alongside Tom Sawyer. She’ll grope around Gollums’ cave in the darkness and guess the password in front of the Fat Lady in Hogwarts. To have all of this in front of her, undiscovered, is a precious thing, and one I’m not a little jealous of. Continue reading “The Responsibility of Reading”