Thursday, 26 February 2009

Huddersfield Literature Festival 2009 Events - Huddersfield Student - February 09 Edition

*Hand to publish a month beforehand due to the March edition being released after the festival*

HUDDERSFIELD LITERATURE FESTIVAL EVENTS: 11th – 15th March 2009

Wednesday 11th March – Launch Day

1. THE SHOW TELL MUST GO ON: song writing master class with DAVID GILL
2.30 – 4.30pm.
Room WG/13, West Building, University of Huddersfield.
Tickets £5/£3.50 (includes refreshments)

In this master class author, song writer and singer David Gill will explore how close to poetry a popular song lyric can go before it has to make its drastic manoeuvre to avoid collision. Words both sung and on the tongue.

2. REGIONAL VOICES: JULIA DEAKIN, GAIA HOLMES, GLYN HUGHES

6-7pm
Media Centre, Northumberland Street, Huddersfield
Tickets £5/£3










Glen Hughes and Gaia Holmes:

Regional Voices celebrates new work from three of the best poets in the region. Julia Deakin won the 2006 Northern Exposure Prize and was a 2007 Poetry Business Competition winner for The Half-Mile-High Club. Her first poetry collection Without A Dog was recently published by Graft. Gaia Holmes debut poetry collection Dr James Graham’s Celestial Bed was published by Comma Press in 2006 and described by poet Amanda Dalton as: ‘sassy and streetwise, dark and blue.’ Glyn Hughs has been awarded the Guardian Fiction Prize, the David Higham Prize, and been short listed for the Whitbread and James Tait Black prizes. A recent poll of Guardian readers chose two of his books as “Eco Classics”. Recent poetry includes Dancing Out of the Dark Side (2005) (Shoestring).

3. And 4. BLOODY BRITS: a guided tour into the dark world of crime writing
7.30pm
The Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield
Tickets £7/£5

Featuring four of Britain’s leading writers including Sue Walker and Danuta Reah in a lively mix of rehearsed readings, discussion and debate atmospherically underscored by guitar and vocals. And of course there will be one or two trade secrets thrown in too.

NB: A practical workshop: Location, Location, Location – why sense of place matters will take place before the performance. Event and workshop combi tickets cost £10/£8.
Please contact LBT for more information.

5. THE 4TH HUDDERSFIELD LITERATURE FESTIVAL LAUNCH
7.30-8.30pm
Media Centre, Northumberland Street, Huddersfield
ENTRY FREE

Drinks and nibbles, poetry and music. This reception event will include the official award presentations for the Grist anthology of new writing. www.hud.ac.uk/grist

6. DOCTOR BUCK’S BURLESQUE: post launch party
9pm
Peacock Lounge, 6 Railway Arches, Viaduct Street, Huddersfield, HD1 5DL
Tickets £8/£6

Doctor Buck’s Burlesque is an evening of burlesque celebrating literature past and present, featuring comedy, music, performance and burlesque dancing.

THURSDAY 12TH MARCH

7. A WRITE CHARACTER: creating great characters with MICHAEL STEWART

3.15pm – 5.15pm
Room WG/28, West Building, University of Huddersfield
Tickets £5/£3.50 (includes refreshments)

What makes a character interesting? How do writers construct unique and complex characters that live on in the minds of the reader? This two hour master class will give you the tools to create strong, active characters that jump off the page. Michael Stewart is an award winning writer, who has written several full length stage plays, one of which, Karry Owky, was joint winner of the King’s Cross Award for New Writing, as well as securing work in radio and television. He was the winner of the BBC Alfred Bradley Award in 2003 and his radio play Excluded was recently short listed for the Imison Award 2008.

8. YORKSHIRE! YORKSHIRE! YORKSHIRE!
6-7pm
Media Centre, Northumberland Street, Huddersfield
Tickets £5/£3

Three internationally acclaimed voices from Peepal Tree Press/Inscribe, accompanied by axe man to the stars, Chris Campbell. A superb and varied evening of spoken word, poetry and music.
From Simon Murray’s hard-hitting social conscience and catchy licks, to Khadijah Ibrahiim’s beautifully evoked 1970s Leeds childhood and lyrical chants, to Seni Seneviratne’s gentle and accomplished poetic voice tracing her cinnamon roots across oceans and centuries, this is a fantastic opportunity to catch three of the best Black writers around today.
Simon, Khadijah and Seni are published by Peepal Tree Press, home of the best Caribbean and Black British Writing. www.peepaltreepress.com

9. LEMN SISSAY: LISTENER
7.30pm
Media Centre, Northumberland Street, Huddersfield.
Tickets £10/£8

Lemn Sissay is the author of four poetry collections and his work has appeared in many anthologies. He has also written stage plays, made a six part jazz series for BBC 2 and is presently writer in residence at The South Bank. Lemn will perform poems from his latest collection ‘Listener’.
“Hugely enjoyable, inventive, funny and touching.” The Guardian.


FRIDAY 13TH MARCH

10. THE WORKSHOP OF SENSORY DELIGHTS: with GAIA HOLMES
2-4pm
Room WG/13, West Building, University of Huddersfield
Tickets £5/£3.50 (includes refreshments)

Gaia Holmes will discuss the importance of sensory detail in poetry and guide you through a series of writing exercises to help you produce poems that explore the rich and evocative language of the senses. Gaia is a Luddenden-born poet whose work digs beneath the surface of mundane, urban life to reveal a remarkable seam of exoticism. Her debut poetry collection Dr James Graham’s Celestial Bed was published by Comma Press in 2006.

11. POETRY KARAOKE: hosted by DAVID GILL and MICHAEL STEWART
6-7pm
Dogma Cellar Bar, directly opposite the University.
ENTRY FREE

Ever wanted to read out your poem aloud to someone? Do you have one or maybe several poems you want the world to hear? Well here is your chance to have that desire filled. Share your work or a favourite poet (alive or dead), your own or indeed someone else’s and join the karaoke line to stand up and read it to the audience. Alternatively take pot luck and let us give you a poem to perform.
Prizes will be rewarded for:
• The Strangest Poem
• The Funniest Poem
• The Best Performed Poem
• The Best Dressed Performer
And finally
• The Best Chin Stroked Award.

12. IAN MCMILLAN and TONY HUSBAND: A cartoon History of Here
7.30pm
St Paul’s Hall, Huddersfield University
Tickets £10/£8

Comedy, cartoonery, poetry and impro. An hilarious live-action cartoon of Huddersfield starring its friendly folks, fantastic fortunes, dazzling ambition and tender moments. Created by tonight’s audience with Yorkshire poet, broadcaster and comedian Ian McMillan and Cartoonist of the Year Tony Husband. A fast flowing, rapid-rafting adventure in which two top men reflect upon local stories, legends, rivers and romance. Poems and cartoons to go.

SATURDAY 14TH MARCH

13. “Vlad: The Last Confession”
8pm
Dogma Cellar Bar, directly opposite the University.

C.C Humphreys takes historical facts and creates a monumental novel of blood, love and terror in ‘Vlad: The Last Confession’. In the first ever novelisation of Prince Vlad, here is recounted a dark tale told through the eyes of those closest to him. The only woman he ever loved and whom he had to sacrifice. His closest comrade and traitor. And his priest who betrays the secrets of the confessional. This is the true story of Draculea, as it has never been told before. Known for his novel ‘The French Executioner’ C.C Humphreys is also an actor and performer, so be prepared to be entertained on Friday 13th if you dare…

14. NICK TOCZEK’S MILLION-MILES-AN-HOUR SHOW
12 noon – 2pm
Room WG/13, West Building, Huddersfield University
Tickets £4 adults/£3 children (includes refreshments)

After last year’s success, we are delighted to welcome back popular writer and entertainer Nick Toczek, presenting his wonderful one-man show in which he chats and jokes, performs his snappy poems, does brilliantly baffling magic tricks and introduces you to some of his wild and wilful puppets. All at breakneck speed. He doesn’t bite but his puppets might!
Suitable for 3-9 year olds.

15. ESSPRESSO POEMS with THE ALBERT POETS
6-7pm
St Paul’s Hall, Huddersfield University
Tickets £4/£3

The Albert Poets are renowned internationally for helping poetry find a voice in the North of England. For over Twenty years this poetry group has ground away to produce fresh, pungent writing through a mix of informal writing workshops and monthly performances at Huddersfield’s Albert Pub. Having put down their pints, they are now based a local coffee shop for their performances, CoffeEvolution. The Alberts group is evolving but continues to wake people up to poetry with their award-winning poets, some are new writers from the Huddersfield area. There will be a few minutes break at half-time in order to allow people to pause during this rapid-fire event.

16. JOANNE HARRIS in conversation with PAUL BLEZARD

7.30pm
St Paul’s Hall, Huddersfield University
Tickets £8/£6

Joanne Harris is the author of Chocolat, which was made into an academy award nominated movie starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. Since then she has written seven novels, a book of short stories, Jigs and Reels, and two cookbooks. We are delighted to welcome back our chief patron for an evening of conversation with broadcaster and writer, Paul Blezard. Paul was, for eight years, the key presenter at Oneword Radio – the digital station dedicated to spoken word, books and drama – where his unique daily author interview programme “Between the Lines” has recently clocked up over 1,500 editions. He has also been the books reviewer for BBC Radio 2’s The Green Room with Mariella Frostrup. In addition to broadcasting he has chaired literary events at the prestigious Guardian Hay Festival, the Edinburgh Festival, Oxford, Cheltenham, Harrogate, Ilkley and Guildford Festival.

17. JOHN COOPER CLARKE
8pm
The Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield
Tickets £15

In a vain attempt at bourgeois credibility, Manchester’s sharp-dressed, sharp-delivering punk poet Lenny, changed his name to John Cooper Clarke and embarked on a polysyllabic excursion through Thrillsville. Expect a mix of hilarious anecdotes of life in a northern t own interspersed with machine-gun fast delivery of some of his best poems. If you this poetry is dull and boring, or posh and erudite – you haven’t heard JCC.

SUNDAY 15TH MARCH

18. HUGHES ON THE HILL
1pm
Meeting Place: Mytholmroyd Station (by Walkers Notice Board, at top of slope)
Tickets £5/£3

A guided walk of countryside that inspired much of Hughes’s work led by Donald Crosslet of the Elmet Trust, who will provide a commentary linking key Ted Hughes poems to the landscape. The walk will take about 2-3 hours.
Please note strenuous route-walking boots are essential. Weatherproof clothing advisable.

19. ROB CHAPMAN: STEAM OF CONSCIOUS MESS – OR MY FOUND LIFE
3-5pm
Room WG/13, West Building, Huddersfield University
Tickets £5/£3.50 (includes refreshments)

Creative writing is all about self-expression, Right? Or finding your inner voice. Well it can be, but there are other routes suggests Rob Chapman. Drawing upon rich heritage of experimental literature and modern art, Rob will demonstrate in this workshop how cut-ups and ‘found objects’ from the everyday world can be successfully unitilised in the creative process. Rob Chapman’s debut novel Dusk Music was recently published by Flambard. He has been a regular contributor to Mojo, Uncut and The Times and is currently completing a book about the eccentric founding member of Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett.

20. SALT OF THE EARTH
6-7pm
St Paul’s Hall, Huddersfield University
Tickets £5/£3

Three prize winning writers will be reading from their recent collections. They are two short-story writers and one poet, each published by Salt, the innovative publisher of new and exciting work. All are experienced at entertaining live audiences with engaging readings.
Elizabeth Baines is a novelist, short story writers and recipient of many prizes, the most recent being 3rd prize in 2008 Raymond Carver Short Story Competition. Her collection ‘Balancing on the Edge of the World’ (Salt 2007), was long listed for the 2008 Frank O’Connor Short Story Prize.
Mike Barlow is a poet who has won a number of prizes including First prize in the 2006 National Poetry Competition. In 2008 a portfolio of his poems was shortlisted for the inaugural Manchester Poetry Prize. His second collection is ‘Another Place’ (Salt 2007).
Carys Davies has won prizes in many national and international short story competitions, including Bridport, Asham and Orange/Harpers&Queen. Her critically acclaimed debut collection ‘Some New Ambush’ (Salt 2007) was long listed for the Wales Book of The Year Prize and the 2008 Frank O’Connor Short Story Prize.

21. RENEGADE: MARK E SMITH in conversation with MICHAEL STEWART
7.30pm
St Paul’s Hall, Huddersfield University
Tickets £8/£6

The festival finale is a real coup for Huddersfield. For over thirty years Mark E Smith has been the front man of The Fall – one of the most exciting and innovative rock groups in England. Mark will be talking about his life, work, writers and writing and his autobiography: ‘Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E Smith, an hilarious comic rant’. “I hope this book turns out like Mein Kampf for the Hollyoaks generation” Mark E Smith. This is a rare chance to meet a living legend.

For more information on all these events, the places and to book/reserve tickets please visit www.litfest.org.uk.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Writing Tips - Huddersfield Student - January 09 Edition

Wilson’s Writing Wonders:

1. Pen and Paper – the writers weapons and must be carried with you at all times so once you are besieged by a wave of imagination you can capture it in ink and keep it ensnared on paper forever. Many great best seller ideas have started from such a humble setting as a piece of scrap in a note book amongst other mad ramblings. A biro can cost as little as 25p and you can a note book for around a quid at any supermarket.

2. Writers and Artists Yearbook – this is the holy bible for all creative types. It is the size of a brick but holds an endless fountain of information from agency listings, publisher contact details, useful websites that you may wish to contribute to as well as many pieces written by famous authors who have had experience of the business of writing in any genre you can think of. If you want to get ahead in the world with your writing, you can’t start any better than this. One is released a few months before its set year and is sold at £14.99. Not a bad price for such a worthy source of information and inspiration.

3. Writing Magazine – this is like the Yearbook but in a much more casual format. It does have many great interviews with author’s not just famous ones but ones you never have heard of but yet have made it into the publishing world and written some eye-catching novels. It also hosts regular short story competitions and the occasional one for poetry which you can enter and if you win you get published in their magazine as well as on their website as well as a cash prize which for a student is always helpful. They also suggest a range of books that will help writers of any kind be it travel or romance and also get hot tips from those in the business side of publishing just to help you become more aware of what being a published author involves, not to mention the process of becoming one. If writing is just a hobby and you have no great desire to be famous, this is just the magazine for you, offering you great advice as well as the chance to a small claim of fame. You can subscribe to a full years worth of issues for just £25. A bit more expensive than the Yearbook but offers more regarding writing genres of all types and gives great insights into the lives of well known authors.

Grist Anthology Competition Reminder - Huddersfield Student - November 08 Edition



Calling all Authors or Poets! - *COMPETITION NOW CLOSED*

Do you fancy yourself the next J.K.Rowling? Do you have the talent to be the next poet laureate? Well this is your final chance to get your name and work in print up alongside some top authors and poets and read by many. I’m referring to the Grist Anthology Competition of course! All due to our very own creative writing tutor Michael Stewart who has organized it all in order to give us young creative people a chance for fame!
And because its university supported and approved all students who enter the short story and poetry competitions can enter for free! All that’s needed is your NUS number on your application form and you won’t have to pay the £3 quid per entry.
Another great thing is that the short stories will be judged by Joanne Harris, author of the award wining film ‘Chocolat’ starring the dreamy Johnny Depp and our locally grown poet Simon Armitage, author of the newly released re-written version of ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’, will be judging all the poetry entries.
Joanne Harris, judging the short stories says “I am very happy to be a part of the anthology, where established authors will be able to give a platform for new writers to launch their work to the public. It is so difficult to be a new writer nowadays and yet there has never been more exciting new talent and more interest in books. I am delighted to be associated with this project.”
There are three cash prizes up for grabs in both sections of the competition and all runners up in the short list will be published along side the three top winners when the anthology is compiled and published in summer 2009! The winners will be revealed during the Huddersfield Literature Festival in March 2009.
However the competition submission deadline is 30th November! That’s less than two weeks away! So if you think you got the magic when it comes to writing, quickly go to www.hud.ac.uk/grist, read the rules for both competitions, print off an application form, write and edit all your selected works, print them off, add your NUS number and get it handed or posted in!

Sir Gawain and The Green Knight Theatre Performance Review - Huddersfied Student - November 08 Edition




Storytelling at the LB Theatre:

Ok hands up who hasn’t heard of ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’. You might have a long time ago if you’re lucky. I know I didn’t know much other than his name but I now know a whole lot more since me and my friend Michelle went to the Lawrence Batley Theatre (the one next to Tokyo’s) and saw a truly imaginative performance of this tale one weekend in late October.
However this was a re-enactment so to speak of the tale re-written, in great poetic form, by our local celebrity poet Simon Armitage. So not only was this performance great story telling in its purest form but it was written in such a way that even a boy of eight could understand and relate to it. It is a story still containing a lot of archaic charm but with language and turn of phrase fit for the modern world. With many great lines that help conjure a whole collage of images before your eyes no wonder the four actors involved didn’t need a great expensive set and props fit for the narrative when such magical words performed the story in a way no physical action could.
As regards to the story it is all about simple honesty, trials of deceit, acknowledgement of human flaws and as well as knightly chivalry, honour, courage, strength and faith in your personal beliefs.
Sad to say though, I managed to watch the performance on its last night and I can’t honestly say if it will be back in the theater again. I certainly hope so. But do not feel sad if you are at all intrigued by this magnificent tale for it is out in book form, so simply go to any good bookshop and ask to be shown ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ by Simon Armitage.
So if you like good poetry, or even a good medieval legendary tale, or know who someone who does, I strongly recommend adding this to your Christmas shopping or wish list. It really is a story suitable to be enjoyed by anyone of any age. Just try reading it out aloud to your family or friends and I’m sure you’ll soon rediscover the joy that is telling a good story.

Sony's E-Reader Review - Huddersfield Student - October 08 Edition



Technology + Literature = E-Reader

It has finally happened. Books of all genres are finally going to be released not just in the traditional paper bound way but also as downloadable PDF files for the modern world’s latest invention, Sony’s Reader.
Now a lot of you out there may be thinking that this means the end of the line for printed paper books but it honestly doesn’t. All the Reader is, is a new way of reading not writing or publishing books. And with the price tag of £199.99 pounds then people will certainly have to think hard about the benefits they gain from the Reader before they decide to leave the paper and hardback world of literature for good.
I have managed to spend a small amount of time with the Reader personally, as anyone can by trying out the example model in any Waterstones store, yet even though it does have some excellent features and qualities I’m still split about whether it will ever be around for as long as the printed word has.
The Reader itself has the stylish look of an expensive book with a hard, slim and comfortable cover, the light weight of a small paperback and the amazing capacity to fit 160 books within its main memory. With the added advantage of being able to increase that by inserting a memory card like that from a digital camera. The menu and all its options are easy to use, follow and understand. The buttons involved with navigating from page to page and selecting various options or changing settings are simple to operate and control.
The screen is large and readable from any angle unlike certain types of flat screen. The text of your pages can be enlarged up to three times for those who have got poor vision and the book itself can be read either vertically or horizontally. At the moment it isn’t back lit so you will still need to read by either candle light or electric but there are light screens in development that will feature small LED lights all away around the border of the screen and slot easily into the present model without needing to take it apart or buy a new one.
You can also purchase either a leather or silicon plastic casing or an extra protective screen cover to go along with it. Surprisingly its battery life is quite good; you can flick through 6800 pages before it dies on you so it doesn’t need charging as regularly as a mobile phone if left on all day and all night. Due to its vast memory you can store any series or collection of books of your choice which can be organized by author, date or publisher.
The Reader can also act like an Ipod in that you can store and play music on it as well as pictures that show in very vivid detail and quality albeit in black and white. You can also bookmark as many books as you like, which is if you are mad enough to try reading several books at once but from a students point of view that is handy. I will add however if you are, like me and other English students, using lots of books, this may be quite a neat thing to have for studies but you can not annotate on it so any notes you do make will have to be done the old fashioned way by pen and paper.
To put e-books onto your Reader it’s all rather simple, much like when putting music into your Ipod or MP3. When bought it comes with a CD-rom that has all the software on it for you to download e-books from websites such as Waterstones or Amazon then once on your PC or laptop it’s all a matter of drag and drop.
So there you have it, the arrival of virtual texts. I think due its current price, not to mention the individual price of each e-book you will have to pay for before you download them, I might wait until it’s reduced a bit in popularity and costs before I join the e-readers of the modern world.

Thought Experiments - Book Review - Huddersfield Student - October 08 Edition




The Pig That Wants To Be Eaten (and 99 other thought experiments) by Julian Baggini RRP £8.99

Yes this book is as interesting as its title sounds. It’s all about questioning and analyzing why we think the way we do and why certain situations (or thought scenarios) pose even more questions about us, our culture and the way we view the world.
To help explain what I mean let’s take the title’s thought scenario as an example. This thought scenario is actually taken from Douglas Adam’s book ‘The Restaurant at the End of the Universe’ in which a character called Max Berger, a vegetarian for 40 years, is about to eat ‘pork sausages, crispy bacon and pan-fried chicken breast’ but this is a meal with a difference. Not due to the way it’s cooked but the way the animals have been reared or even engineered. You see the bacon and sausage meat has come from a pig called Priscilla who has been genetically engineered to be able to speak and most significantly to want to be eaten. Max Berger is aware of this and thinks it would be disrespectful not to eat her. The chicken had come from a genetically modified bird which has lived the life of a vegetable with no awareness of itself, feelings or emotions. ‘Killing it was therefore no more barbarous than uprooting a carrot’ the book says.
This scenario really does question whether there is any method of satisfying the problems vegetarians find with eating meat from an animal. The book explains that there are firstly two issues with this, one is that of the conditions the animals were kept in and two is the of the act of killing an animal who might have led a fairly decent life. Hence the way Douglas Adams has invented two fictional animals that would satisfy these two issues, firstly a chicken who is totally unaware of its own existence that it wouldn’t matter a great deal by killing it and secondly a pig whose dream in life is to be humanely killed and eaten for lunch. So what is wrong with this scenario? And if so why is it wrong? When it seems to negotiate two issues that so trouble us. The main character Arthur Dent ‘recoiled in horror at this suggestion, describing it as ‘the most revolting thing I’ve ever heard’.
Yet even he fails to state exactly what is so wrong with this scene. It all comes down to us not wanting to accept what isn’t natural. For example the fuss about using or eating Genetically Modified Crops, all this scene has done is apply it to animals and we still get the same response of disgust or even fear at what humanity has altered in the natural cycle or life of things.
Anyway if you are interested or even entertained by the questions posed in this example then I recommend this book because it not only helps you learn about yourself and your own personal views but also the way our thoughts work.

Dictionary of Place-names - Book Review - Huddersfield Student - October 08 Edition



Oxford Dictionary of British Place Names RRP £10.99

Have you ever passed through the village of Goole? Or Wetwang? Heard of Cocking? Or Box? Or just generally saw a sign that got you wondering who on earth thought up such a name? Well this book has all the answers and some rather sensible explanations when examined. The Oxford Dictionary of British Place Names is a great resource for researching into this little curious part of our language and its history. Plus it’s handy to satisfy any interested historian or curious mind, which kind of fills both my tastes.
This book not only has quite a few pages to explain the history and origin of place-names but also regarding the different aspects of names such as those place names which are named after a person, a geographical feature, a natural feature or to do with a reference to the town itself. Even which language it came from be it Old English, Saxon, Celtic, French, Danish, Swedish, Irish and Norwegian.
All these various place-names explained really do make you realize how much our landscape and language has changed with all the invasions and cultures and people who had continuously migrated, moved or traded with our homeland.
I myself did a project study into the origins of place-names in my local North Yorkshire during my second year and I can now proudly say, due to the help of his book and others that at least 98% of North Yorkshire is of Danish/Norwegian/Swedish origin. This means we are Viking Country. Wahey! Makes sense as we were where the heaviest invasions occurred and the first part of the Dane Law.
Although it’s not a must-read-page-turner of a book it could help spawn a few ideas for any personal or academic project or dissertation. So never misjudge an interesting, curious book as boring, it may turn out to be a good read.

Grist Anthology Article - Huddersfield Student - September 08 Edition



*This competition is now closed - please check back in late March to learn about the winners and release of the anthology.*

Huddersfield ‘Grist’: The Anthology for New Voices

‘Grist’ is a new anthology being created by Michael Stewart, a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing who is based here at Huddersfield University. He has set up a writing competition for poetry and short stories that will help compile this anthology which will not only include the three winners, the runners up but two of the biggest local literary stars.
They are Joanne Harris, author of the novel Chocolat which was turned into the hit film starring Johnny Depp and who has won many British and international awards herself for both her novels and short stories but also Simon Armitage, a renowned poet who has won many awards for his poetic pieces including the Sunday Times Author of the Year.
These two famous and very popular writers will also have written a specially commissioned work which will be published as part of the anthology but not only that, Joanne Harris will be judging the Short Story section of the competition and you guessed it Simon Armitage will be judging the poetry side of things.
But I have saved the best for last, if you are a student who is keenly interested and eager to enter this competition, regardless of what course you are doing, you can enter…for FREE! All you have to do is check out the Grist website at www.hud.ac.uk/grist, read the competition details and guidelines, print off an entry form and once you have refined your best poetry and short story to its finest you just put your student number (found on your NUS card) next to your name on the entry form and your in. You can enter as many pieces of creative work as you like, as it won’t only increase your chance of being one of three winners from each section and getting your hands on the cash prizes available but even if you don’t make it that far your work may still be published along side other deserving student works and beside two big literary stars! There really is nothing to loose with this fantastic university based competition!
The deadline for entries 30th November this year! So what are you waiting for? If you’re interested get yourself to a computer, find the website, get your entry form and get writing. Good luck to all who take up the challenge!

Graduate Job - Book Review - Huddersfield Student - Sept 08 EditionG

‘The Real Guide to Getting a Graduate Job’ published by Lake District Press - (order now at www.realgradguide.com, £3.99)

Although for many this will become their first taste of university life but for equal numbers it is near the end of that journey and the hard work. Soon their exams and course work will be collected, marked and hopefully all will pass quite happily but what next?
Obviously the first thing to do after finishing your degree is to find a job and for a lot of you, you may already have an idea of what profession and company you wish to go into as a career choice. This book is all about helping you find, approach and pass the many trials all graduates will go through for the job of their choice in a professional capacity. Because it’s written by graduates who have gone through this exhaustive process already you get the real view of what’s needed to be accomplished in your job hunt.
As a third year myself I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t realise (after reading this book) how much you would have to do to get a graduate job; but this book not only explains everything clearly and simply but helps you understand what each test requires of you in order to impress your future employer and be offered the position.
It covers everything from applying, preparing your CV, filling in the forms, the attitude tests, presentations, interviews, assessment days in general, group work and role play. These are all the tasks you will have to go through and pass well to succeed in your job offer. But this book is packed full of useful tips, hints and guides to help you through each individual challenge. Yet despite how hard it all may seem it always keeps your remaining optimistic and hopefully less stressed which will help you perform your best when the assessment day finally arrives.
So regardless of whether your in your first year or just entering your final year, this book is a must have for your Christmas or birthday list. It will be money well spent in the investment of your future career.

Student Cook Book Review - Huddersfield Student - Sept 08 Edition

‘Student Cookbook – Healthy Eating’ by Ester Davies - £8.99 RRP


This cookery book has quite a charming colourful front cover but in a way it’s a deception to hide all the white and black pages within that don’t even come with any pictures of the recipes involved but that really is the only fault I can find with it.

Written by Ester Davies, a food and nutrition consultant you are guaranteed to get more of the genuine facts and less of the fearful fantasy about what is good to eat and what isn’t. The best thing is using her experience and knowledge she gives a list of tasty recipes which makes healthy things yummy and suggests easy and often cheap ways of cooking them so you get the best quality and less of the bad stuff.

From the start she shows great understanding on the situation of students and the slight fear they face when they must fend for themselves in the kitchen for the first time and the small space they get to use as a cupboard. With helpful advice on what basic utensils and equipment to get, how best to stock your cupboards, fridges and freezers and what with; she follows this up with useful tips on how to shop for food economically on a student budget and the best methods on how to keep your kitchen clean to prevent anyone suffering food poisoning and missing tomorrows lectures.

As the title shows this cookery book is set around the idea of healthy eating so it is only sensible that this book is full of facts, figures and charts showing in an easy to understand way what food is good for you and what isn’t. This continues on through the recipe section with a small nutrition chart showing how much (or how little) fat is in each recipe. So you really do know what you are eating and what your body absorbs.

The recipes cover everything from casseroles, pancakes, curries, stews, stir-fry, smoothies and delicious sounding desserts not to mention the family classics. All are easy to follow and with a chart explaining cooker settings you really couldn’t go wrong.

So if you are a student who wishes to try out a diet this year or simple want to become the top cook in your flat, you really couldn’t start better than with this book. I recommend the chocolate dipped strawberry recipe. Tasty and slightly naughty. The potato wedges recipe is quick and easy for a friendly gathering too.

Friday, 13 February 2009

The Old Ways Never Die - Rewrite Two

My work took me to the old Viking city of the north, York. I had been there many times before and each time I always struggled to decide whether it was better or worse. Yet in the August sunshine my mind didn’t have time to dwell on such decisions. I sipped my cappuccino in Starbucks and crossed off another name on my quota. I heard the radio in the corner announce that a serious crash had occurred on the A64 east of York and the road would be closed for at least four hours. I paused to wonder which of my colleagues had performed well this time.

I gazed out through the open door and into the street. Tourists, teenagers and families, who passed by going left, carried no bags but the necessaries. The rest of the crowd going right, held several bags from a variety of stores. York was always good at selling. It was a renowned trading centre in my youth and I am pleased it still was.

A shadow came over me as Geirölul finally joined me for our usual coffee break of the day. Sunshine glaring through the open doorway outlined her fine figure in golden mercury. Today she wore a silk blue dress, with a pearl white hand bag and the custom sterling silver bracelet, the trade mark of our group. She took off her large yet oddly stylish hat as she sat down, revealing her always shimmering corn blonde hair.

“Just like the weather back home isn’t it?”She remarked openly, placing hat and bag under the table before taking her seat. Her viper green eyes lingering casually on the quota sheets before me.

“It is indeed. How many have you got left to visit today?” I enquired, with a wry smirk at the humour of how we all pitted against each other to finish the quota first. If only because the first one home would have first pick of men to serve and care for that night.

“Have about ten maybe eight left. How about you?”

“Same more or less. Would you like a coffee?” I offered, my hand already reaching into my own bag for my purse, causing my wavy brown hair to fall across my face.

“Oh no thanks Mist, perhaos once today is done. Where are the rest of the girls?”

I paused to recall our briefing at sunrise. “I think Göll is somewhere along the A64 towards Scarborough, Hlökk is travelling with her as she has some to collect there anyway. Herfjötur is around Monks Cross shopping centre. Can’t remember where the rest are but I am sure they are somewhere in the area.”

“I still can’t believe the boss chose Hild and Thrúd to go to Iraq of all places.” She muttered bitterly.

I raised an eyebrow ironically. “Are you saying you would like to go there?” What she was suggesting was as absurd as if she had said that pushing the sun further away would stop global warming.

She looked at me with a small sheepish smile appearing across her lips. “Well, it would be nice to do a job abroad for a change. I’m getting bored of Europe that’s all.”

“Yeah sure you are, you just want to visit Constantinople again for a tan boost.” “Can you blame me though? My skin’s going pale again because the sun here is too weak. Besides I prefer a natural tan, unlike all the women these days who use paint or bright light to burn themselves silly shades. A delicate gold brings out my hair more don’t you think?” She twisted some golden strands around her fingers against her cheek as if it to prove a point.

I merely nodded, always amazed at how vain she could be despite her warm heart. She sighed dramatically. “So where is your next visit of the day?”

“The hospital.”

“Great I have a child to visit there as well.”

I glanced through the windows, turning in my chair so I could see the now familiar towers of York Minster. My mind suddenly changed focus from the present to the past. “I can still remember the time when that wasn’t there. Even when Clifford’s Tower was made of wood.” I said this more to myself than to Geirölul.

Such landmarks, structures and even town names always reminded me about how much time has truly passed. In each case I remember how I came to be in the position I am now and all I’ve done since. I was, and still am in some respects, part of this world yet am restrained from truly participating. It felt like half of myself existed here but the rest of me in another entirely separate realm. The two worlds lay close together but only ever offering the faintest of touches. Enough to feel close but never whole. A torn existence between what is, what was and what will never be.

“That night in March, I think it was, when all those Jews were strapped inside and the tower was set alight. That was my first job with you and the team.” My voice blurred as memories drifted around me in the endless invisible sea of time. I found my gaze on my half drunken cappuccino. I didn’t see the warm liquid but all the faces of those I had saved and lost, swirling in the froth and rising in the steam.

“We had a tough challenge that night. What with children and women crying and the men, well they weren’t being much help.”

“Oh Geirölul, have you truly forgotten how you felt when you discovered the truth? I understood, that’s why I was able to calm them down before they passed on.”

She paused in replying and stared at me. I could see it in her eyes. How she struggled to keep herself in control of the memories, the sights, the sounds, the faces. She couldn’t have forgotten, no one ever does. Death will always leave its mark in some way. Geirölul was one of the many that act as if what came before never happened, as if it wasn’t them. Just a tale on the news about someone else’s dramatic loss and agony. Nothing to do with them. She had seen and witnessed far greater change in the world than I have done during my time with the team. The distance in her memories was immeasurably bigger than the cause of my own heartache.

“OK, I admit it if you weren’t there we wouldn’t have been able to escort so many to Valhalla safely. Although half the men were in the end sent to Hel to keep her well fed. She has as large an appetite for souls as her father Loki does for causing mischief.”

She answered my question by giving me the wrong answer. She fidgeted with her silver and amber rings showing I had made her touched a wound, still sore after so long. I wanted to say sorry but that would openly acknowledge her weakness, her one flaw but one we all bear. So I chose to allow this change of subject, she is my elder in more ways than would appear in this light of day and I still owed her a lot of respect for the way she handled my own conversion. I had no right to question how she handled her own.

“Yes, our methods of selection have changed a lot since then. Now we have to copy what the Christian angels do, base our decision on their good and bad qualities.”

“I miss the old days when it as all decided by the way you died not by the way you lived. If you died bravely or by the sword you go up, if you die of illness or old age you go down. It was so much simpler back then. The Bitfrost test can only tell us if they deserved to die, nothing of the qualities of a warrior which is what the boss is truly looking for.” She glanced at her watch. “Anyway as much as I would enjoy chatting all day we have still got work to do.”

I nodded finishing the last of my drink to vanquish the bitterness of our situation rising any further into my heart. I had learnt a long time ago that getting angry about it helped no one and changed nothing. Better to make the best of it because all of us knew on the team that there was a far worse position to be in than our own. “Ok let’s go.”

With that we left Starbucks and made our way through the throbbing streets towards the district hospital.

Once at the hospital car park we walked to a shaded corner away from curious eyes. There we both unfolded our white bags into our luscious white swan feather cloaks. She tied mine around my neck and fastened it with a silver brooch whilst I did the same for hers.

“Mine is on the second floor where is yours?” Geirölul asked. She no longer wore a dress under her cloak but a slinky outfit made from tanned leather delicately sewn together with silver and gold thread. Only the most senior of the team, second to Freya who founded us, were allowed to wear Frigg’s enchanted golden threads. It was a symbol of honour as well as a special defence when in battle with spirits. My own outfit was a mixture of silver and blue embroidery glistened in the frozen sunlight.

“Fourth floor I think. Wait for me here when you are done, I don’t know how long I am going to be with this one.”

With a final nod to each other we strode purposefully back round the corner across the car park and into the building. No one gave us a glance and no one got in our way.

I found the man I sought in the ward filled with other cancer sufferers. He lay in his bed as if sleeping. The monitors were quiet and his drips didn’t stir. A woman sat beside him holding one hand yet she sat distantly as if afraid to get too close. She did not look up when I arrived. She would seem to be around my age but no one is near my age anymore. I walked silently to the end of his bed.

I lifted up one side of my cloak and pulled out smoothly my tall ash wood spear tipped with silver. My Norse name in futhark runes glowed upon its hand grip in dazzling silver. It was housed in another enchanted piece of fabric, similar to that of Baldur’s longboat which would be folded away to fit into the palm of your hand. It is the only way of carrying our weapon with us with modern tight security. All the women in the team received these spears, blessed by the boss as we called him but our real leader was his adoptive daughter Freya. We all believe she is the one who inspired mankind with the concept of Mother Earth. A force that can be so gracious and beautiful yet at the same time savage and deadly, in both respects. All were embodied in her. But then the Vanir were a race internally bound to the forces of nature and life. The Aesir were simply semi-human counterparts next to them. Like mortals needed air, food, water and warmth to live, The Aesir relied on Idunn’s golden appels to remain young. But staying young forever does not make them invulnerable, they can still be killed by a physical wound. Even Tyr lost his right hand to the mongrel Fenris wolf, another offspring of Loki’s tainted seed.

I banged the butt of my spear upon the cold plastic floor.

“Arise soul of the dead. Arise and answer my summons!”

A silhouette of sparkling mist began to form over the man in the bed. After a minute it became a solid double that sat up and stared at me with blank eyes and an empty expression.

“Are you or are you not David Garret?”

The soul merely nodded slowly.

“Good. Awake David Garret. Your time has ended upon this earth and a new life will soon begin.” I stomped my staff once more. The eyes began to blink and gaze around curiously yet with fear.

“Who…who are you?” He managed to ask clearly shaken. They always were at this stage.

“I am your guide to the next life David.”

He looked me up and down. “You look like a strange kind of angel.”

That line had been said to me so many times it no longer made me laugh.

“I am not the angel of your God David. Your God has decided to pass your soul to my Lord’s care. But the decision still remains whether you deserve an afterlife of happiness or pain.”

“So your Lord isn’t my Lord?”

“No David. My Lord is a god of eternal ancient power despite the Christian numbers. It is he whom you will serve if you pass the test, if not you will be sent to Hel’s Underworld.”

“Does your Lord have a name?”

I paused, not many of the deceased have been so curious as to ask about names, they usually worried about where they will go in the next life. I decided to answer for politeness sake.

“Yes. His name is Wodan, Odin, All-father, Father-of-All, and Lord of the Glorious Dead, Masked One and the Wanderer.” I walked towards the window and threw it open. No breeze blew through just still rays of sunshine. “Now, are you prepared to take the challenge?”

That was when something was clearly wrong.

David began to laugh.

Not the laugh of fear or even joy but of malice and hatred. He leaped off his bed and ran for the open window and jumped out into the sky in a blur. He did not fall, or even scream but glide out over the surrounding area. I spat upon the floor muttering a foul curse, my hand grasped my spear tight.

“Bláin!” I yelled into the air, knowing Geirölul would hear me despite being several floors below. “You scum of darkness! That soul is rightfully mine!”

He pivoted in the air to face me, an evil smile upon his face. “He is mine now and Hel will feast gladly on his soul.”

Bláin was a renowned trouble maker to all soul guides. He had the unfortunate talent of possessing a body upon their last breath then taking control of their souls directly. The true souls mind is awake through the entire experience and unless freed to regain their will they may face the wrenching pain of the Underworld as their essence is drained by Hel.

I heard a gasp of breath as Geirölul finally joined me. Her eyes lit with fire when she spotted the cursed being flying lazily around in the air. Visibly mocking us and only ever encouraging combat between us.

“Did you manage to send the child away safely?” I asked eager for some good news.

“Yes, I heard your cry just as she passed through the rainbow bridge to Asgard.”

“Good. Shall we put this dark elf back into the earth Geirölul?”

“Oh yes it’s about time I had a proper target to practise on.” She nodded. We spread out the sides of our swan feather cloaks and flew after Bláin.

As we approached he quickly flew away out towards the bridge connection to Museum Street.

“Face us you coward!” Geirölul cried out gliding in front of me over the time frozen city.

“You have to catch me first.” He taunted flying further away heading lower towards the river. His choice of words made me wonder if he modelled himself on the folk tale of the Gingerbread man. However he may have forgotten that the wily and cunning fox eventually caught and ate the gingerbread man. Or in this case two vixens.

“Geirölul! Snap trap.” I suggested quickly into her ear as I flew past. It was one of the many catching techniques we as a team practise when we come across such situations.

As predicted Bláin flew straight under the bridge with Geirölul in close pursuit, shrieking her war cry to intimidate. It is such a cry that has given us the name Banshee or Wailer to some folk over the ages. Luckily he did not look back to see if we were both behind him. So as he started to climb back up again I threw my spear from up high piercing him straight in the stomach, giving Geirölul a chance to grasp and banish him with the words imbued with Odin’s power.

He let out a long groan of pain before his appearance evaporated in black plumes of smoke. Our spears remained frozen in the point of impact. Beside them a wispy figure of David stood, his eyes wide and shocked at being so high yet not falling. I wasted no more time upon retrieving my spear. I scored an invisible line in the air at feet level and then using the flattened edge of the blade drew it in a long, tall arch over the line. Rainbow colours marked my magic drawing.

“Now David, no soul that deserves to go to Hel would be snatched by a dark elf so eagerly. Therefore I grant you access to Asgard. Pass under Bitfrost and be welcomed into the next life.”

He stepped forward in the air, tapping the spiritual plane we stood on. The mortal fear of falling still firmly in his mind. Then with one last glance around the world he once lived in, smiled at me and walked through the rainbow arch doorway. His last mortal words were “thank you”.

“Right I think we deserve a coffee for that, how about you?” Geirölul said her chest heaving for air. “Could I tempt you to share a brownie with me?”

“Ha!” I laughed loudly. “You know as well as I that a Valkyrie’s work is never done.”

***

I felt so much more at ease once I was away from the hustle and bustle of this proud city although standing on the old city wall above a busy road wasn’t the best place to find it, it was a lot better than sitting in the streets still full of shoppers and workers.

A large black rook swept over my head and landed on the top of the trees that stood and grew amongst the gravestones between the wall and the road. It glanced my way, titled its head up and heralded me with a loud call. One of Hugnin and Munin’s many cousins, same blood but different breed. Rooks, Crows and Jackdaws were Odin’s spies in this world whilst Hugnin and Munin flew their large wings over the other eight realms he had domain over. Watching the rook begin it’s evening watch distracted my senses from alerting me to the new presence at my side.

“You’re not thinking of jumping are you? I’ve already had enough of that today.” A smooth voice spoke to me.

“Hello Lucifer.” I answered not intending to look him in the eye. Those snake eyes of his were as powerful as my spear and I was not wanting a fight tonight.

“Please call me Luke, I’ve told you girls many a time that Lucifer is so old fashioned.”

I kept my fix maintained on the rook whose attention occasionally passed over to me. It too was aware of Lucifer’s presence.

“How is my brother these days?”

“I wouldn’t know, I don’t visit his prison much. The snake’s keeping good enough guard over him.” That is Loki couldn’t escape without having toxic venom dripped upon him and searing him to the bone. His only supporter left is his wife who tries to keep him venom free but can’t watch over him twenty four seven fortunately.

“Ah yes, poor Loki. Well at least I’m still around to carry out his work. I mean, you girls need something to chase now and again, don’t you?”

I smirked. “How is Bláin?”

“Oh he’s fine, smouldering but fine. Stuck him in the sewers for a few days to recover with the rats and then he’ll be back pestering you as normal.”

“Don’t you have any angels to harass?”

“Erm, not at the moment no.”

“I wonder why. Perhaps your losing your touch.”

“Oh no Mist, don’t mistake me, I love winding up their little white wings but their all such righteous minded and morally bound. Their all so dull nowadays. They don’t truly understand their role like you and I do.”

“Is that so? So what is your role Lucifer?”

“You know the answer to that as I do Mist.”

“Yeah, you’re the pain in the backside for everyone.”

Lucifer laughed, a sound so similar to Loki’s own that it was undeniable of their blood ties. “Very true I do not deny it.” He paused and leaned over the wall, “Ah here comes one of my own now.”

His grey gloved hand pointed down at a mother pushing her toddler in a pram. In the next second the pushchair hit a raised pavement stone and flipped forwards, the toddler fell out onto the pathway and began to cry. As the mother rushed forwards trying to soothe her child a youth walked close by and swiped her handbag underneath his coat. The woman didn’t realise until the child was back in the pushchair. “I’ve got a good feeling about that one, I think I might lead him to drugs next or knife crime. I haven’t quite decided yet.”

“God did a good thing when he chucked you out of Heaven. Bullies don’t deserve the blessing of having wings.”

“Did he? Did he really? Others would say otherwise you know.”

I didn’t answer, seeing his cruelty didn’t put me in the mood for a theological debate if anything it made me want to whip out my spear and stick his head on it. Lucifer sensed this in me too.

“Don’t get your heckles up Mist, you know the rules.”

We weren’t allowed to interfere with their work and they weren’t allowed to interfere with ours. Covert cooperation was not allowed and not approved. Soul designation was for them to decide not us. Religions could only work together if the top deities agreed to it. The only time any religions worked together during my time was the Asian tsunami and that was only because so many mortals were living lives without faith or belief in anything other than the physical and material. All faiths were losing worshipers and so loosing strength and existence. So they decided to claim souls that weren’t bound to them under the cover of the Vanir’s earth practises. It did work to stabilise them but then Loki and Lucifer caught onto the idea and so nine eleven happened. All mortals and gods learnt a brutal lesson that day.

“Meeting you is always a pleasure but as I’m sure you are aware the day is not yet over and there are still mortals needing our attention.”

“Oh are you leaving?” I asked being sarcastic.

“Yes, I’m afraid so, I’m a very busy man. Until next time Mist. Happy hunting.”

When his voice no longer tainted the breeze did I relax once more. I looked up to the rook on the tree top who gave me a nod of approval. Resisting Lucifer was only a small part of our war but I relished each challenge he presented me.

Nodding farewell to the rook I pulled out my quota and selected my next client and continued the job. Each soul saved was, to me at least, one more nail on Loki and Lucifer’s future. As we gain strength they got that little bit weaker. When the day of Ragnarok comes, I will be one of several who leads are army into battle, to push all evil into oblivion and bring the dawn of a new, peaceful existence for all worlds. Despite the great loss that came with the job of a soul guardian and guide, deep in my spiritual heart I never stopped thanking the Gods that I could be a small but crucial part of life after death.

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