Review | In Glad or Sorry Hours – a memoir, Alastair Niven | Starhaven Press

Why write an autobiography? Setting aside the ‘celebrity’ memoir, it is generally undertaken in a person’s later years, usually to give insights into how experiences have shaped them as a person . . . to preserve their life story for future generations . . . to shed light on an important moment in time . . . or to set the record straight.

Alastair Niven starts his engaging memoir, In Glad or Sorry Hours, in his early childhood, ending in the present, spanning a period of social and cultural innovation. He played an influential role, contributing to shaping the evolution of culture in England for over three decades: at the Africa Centre, the Arts Council, the British Council, as President of English PEN and at Cumberland Lodge. For twenty years he was Chairman of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Discerning and generous in using his power, he clearly deeply cares about the value and wellbeing that literature and culture bring to individuals and to society. Continue reading Review | In Glad or Sorry Hours – a memoir, Alastair Niven | Starhaven Press

Interview | Michael Schmidt, founder, Carcanet Press | Indie Publisher of the Week

Founded in 1969 by Michael Schmidt, Carcanet Press is the UK’s leading poetry publisher, producing a comprehensive and diverse list of contemporary and classic poetry in English and in translation. The poetry magazine PN Review is produced from the same office.
In 2000 Carcanet was named the Sunday Times millennium Small Publisher of the Year. Four of its authors have received Nobel Prizes, nine have received the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, and six have received Pulitzer Prizes, among many other honours.

Are (were) your parents great readers? Tell us a bit about yourself.
My parents both read a lot of books and the house was full of books and magazines.

Did you want to work in the publishing industry from the start?
No, I had very little idea what I wanted to do. Banking seemed a good place to be, but I never made the grade.

Has your vision from when you started Carcanet 47 years ago changed?
Yes. I started with no idea of becoming a publisher. I wanted to publish a few pamphlets and then get on with other things. It was not for some years that I realized I was a publisher faute de mieux. Continue reading Interview | Michael Schmidt, founder, Carcanet Press | Indie Publisher of the Week

Review | Skies, Alison Brackenbury | Book of the Week

“Alison Brackenbury loves, lives, hymns and rhymes the natural world and its people like no other poet.” Gillian Clarke, National Poet of Wales

Brackenbury’s latest (ninth) collection, Skies, reflects on childhood memory, Christmas in the country and stories from the WW1 passed down by relatives and friends.

It was the First World War.
Her husband was away.
She knew fear, but also found
new freedom in the day . . . Continue reading Review | Skies, Alison Brackenbury | Book of the Week