International Day of the Girl 2017 – 8 Books we should All Read

international day of the girl 2017 8 books

International Day of the Girl is celebrated every year on 11 October in order to bring attention to issues of gender inequality and the barriers girls come up against, from birth to adulthood. Here are eight outstanding books we think everyone should read – books which engage with the issues girls and women face, and will leave you empowered with knowledge and eager for change.

Handmaid’s Tale Margaret AtwoodThe Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
Newly broadcast as a celebrated television series, Margaret Atwood’s modern classic, A Handmaid’s Tale, is a story of female subjugation at the hands of a male dictatorship, and the desperate hope of a young woman who cannot obliterate her memories and desires. Everyone should read this masterful story, which re-imagines modern society’s fears and flaws in a narrative at once otherworldly and entirely plausible.

 

The Colour Purple Alice WalkerThe Colour Purple, Alice Walker
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Alice Walker’s haunting novel follows Celie, a young black girl born into poverty and segregation. Raped repeatedly by the man she calls ‘father’, she has two children taken away from her, is separated from her beloved sister Nettie and is trapped into an ugly marriage. But then she meets the glamorous Shug Avery, singer and magic-maker – a woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. Though violent and explicit in its portrayal of the issues facing African-American women in the US, The Colur Purple also has its moments of empowerment and joy, showing that strength can be found even in the most tragic conditions.

Yellow Wallpaper Charlotte Perkins GilmanThe Yellow Wallpaper, Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s chilling short story was first published in January 1892, in an attempt to shine a light on the devastating impact of 19th century attitudes toward women’s health, both physical and mental. As a form of treatment, the protagonist is forbidden from reading, writing and all other forms of activity so she can recuperate from what her husband, a doctor, calls a “temporary nervous depression – a slight hysterical tendency”. With nothing to stimulate her, she instead becomes obsessed with the patterned wallpaper in her confining room, and suffers a descent into psychosis. Short but powerful, The Yellow Wallpaper is an important early work of American feminist literature, illustrating society’s profound ignorance of women’s wants and needs.

Writing Motherhood Carolyn Jess-CookeWriting Motherhood, ed. Carolyn Jess-Cooke
This important book reconsiders Cyril Connolly’s statement, that ‘there is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall’. Through a unique combination of interviews, poems, and essays by established writers, Writing Motherhood interrogates contemporary representations of motherhood in media and literature, queries why so many novels dealing with serious women’s issues are packaged in pink covers with wellies and tea cups, and portrays the exquisite moments of motherhood as often enriching artistic practice rather than hindering it.

A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing, Eimear McBride
Eimear McBride’s multi award-winning debut novel tells the story of a young woman’s relationship with her brother, and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumour. It is a shocking and intimate insight into the thoughts, feelings and chaotic sexuality of a vulnerable and isolated protagonist. To read A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing is to plunge inside its narrator’s head, experiencing her world at first hand. This isn’t always comfortable – but it is always a revelation.

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath’s only novel, was originally published in 1963 under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas, just one month before Plath tragically took her own life. The novel the story of a gifted young woman’s mental breakdown beginning during a summer internship as a junior editor at a magazine in New York City in the early 1950s. It explores unsettling themes of depression and is thought (by some) to mirror Plath’s own spiral into mental illness. It is also a feminist masterpiece, unpicking uneasy female stereotypes and despairing at what it was to be a woman at the time.

A Thousand Splendid Suns Khaled HosseiniA Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini
This tragic and achingly tender novel follows Mariam who, after a sudden and devastating loss, is sent at the age of fifteen to marry the much older Rasheed. After decades of servitude and oppression, Mariam strikes up an unlikely friendship with Rasheed’s new teenaged bride, Laila. When the Taliban take over, and life becomes a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear, we see a brilliant resilience in these Afghan women, reluctantly brought out by their deep love for one another.

The Beauty Myth Naomi WolfThe Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf
Every day, women around the world are confronted with a dilemma – how to look. In a society embroiled in a cult of female beauty and youthfulness, pressure on women to conform physically is constant and all-pervading. Naomi Wolf’s groundbreaking book will make you think about why and how you judge yourself when you’re stood in front of the mirror. First published in 1991, The Beauty Myth is sadly still all-too-relevant today.

 

 

Happy International Day of the Girl, and happy reading.

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Feline favourites for International Cat Day

International Cat Day books Feline Favourites

International cat day is the purr-fect time to celebrate man’s true best friends: cats. Here are a few of our favourite feline-centric books.

This Is Not A Rescue Emily BlewittThis Is Not A Rescue, Emily Blewitt (£9.99)
The author’s much-loved tortoiseshell cat is at the centre of this sharply satirical and entertaining book of poetry, bursting into poems with powerful personality. ‘We Broke Up’, the poem begins: ‘Because my cat/ screamed her passion on our lawn’. In ‘Dear Emily’ the feline voice asks:

Will you fall the way that cats do,
arch your spine in a defiant, graceful twist
and land on your feet?

Artist Karin Jurick’s painting of her own cat, ‘Bitz’, makes up the beautiful cover.

Jayne Joso My Falling Down HouseMy Falling Down House, Jayne Joso (£9.99)
When young salaryman Takeo Tanaka loses his home, his girlfriend and his job all in quick succession, he finds himself completely alone – apart from the company of a stray cat:

A cat had joined me on my journey from the station. He was black and handsome looking, and I guessed he was still quite young – I remember how the heat kept everything weighted, our moves made in a sun and dust slow motion.

His fears and failing health keep him inside the house through four testing seasons, and he is driven to the edge of insanity, with only a cello and the black cat to connect him to the world. Joso has written a moving exploration of identity – a must-read.

Pascale Petit, FauverieFauverie, Pascale Petit (£9.99)
The Fauverie of this book is the big cat house in the Jardin des Plantes zoo, home to Aramis the black jaguar, who haunts the Paris of this poetry collection: a city savage as the Amazon.

Transforming childhood horrors to ultimately mourn a lost parent, Fauverie redeems the darker forces of human nature whilst celebrating the ferocity and grace of endangered species. Five poems from Fauverie won the 2013 Manchester Poetry Prize, and the manuscript in progress was awarded an Arts Council England Grant.

The Other Tiger by Richard GwynThe Other Tiger: Recent Poetry from Latin America, Richard Gwyn (£14.99)
The title is a nod to Borges’ poem, in which: ‘I go on pursuing through the hours/ Another tiger, the beast not found in verse.’ This anthology of Spanish language poetry from the Americas consists of 97 poets from 16 countries, born over five decades. It includes work from Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Nicaragua, Chile, Uruguay, Venezuela, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Bolivia and El Salvador.

Richard Gwyn has arranged the poems thematically – Where We Live; Memory, Childhood, Family; the Natural World; Politics, Journey and Exile; Love, Sex and the Body – to cut across nationality and the generations, illustrating the things poets have in common, and how they differ, across continents.

 

Find more great poetry, fiction and non-fiction on our website.

Join our free, no-purchase-necessary Book Club for 20% off every book you buy direct from us.

 

Summer Sale Bestsellers

bestsellers summer sale

There’s still time to take advantage of our big summer sale, which ends midnight tonight. But what should you buy?

All our books are half price, and that includes a gloriously diverse range of books – everything from novels and short stories to poetry, biography and travel books – so we can’t blame you if you are struggling to choose what to read next. To help you decide, take a look at our sale bestsellers below.

 

Poetry

This Is Not A Rescue Emily Blewitt1. This Is Not A Rescue, Emily Blewitt
£9.99  £4.99
Top of the charts is young Welsh poet Emily Blewitt’s striking debut collection.
In This Is Not A Rescue, vibrant love lyrics contrast with poems confronting trauma and violence. Lighter themes include an homage to Jane Austen and an irreverent portrait of a Star Wars character.
‘Here is a riotous, cacophonous and wonderful book. Here is an important new voice in British poetry.’
– Jonathan Edwards, author of My Family and Other Superheroes.

Basic Nest Architecture Polly Atkin2. Basic Nest Architecture, Polly Atkin
£9.99  £4.99
Coming in a close second is Polly Atkin’s first collection, which follows her Mslexia Prize-winning pamphlet, Shadow Dispatches. Atkin has already built up a loyal readership for her complex, intelligent, densely metaphorical lyrics, often inspired by the beauties of the Lake District where she has made her home for a decade. The remarkable poems in Basic Nest Architecture are a testament to her persistence and artistry: as well as being profoundly personal, they reach out to the modern world in all it’s complexity and diversity.

Heat Signature Siobhan Campbell3. Heat Signature, Siobhan Campbell
£9.99  £4.99
There is a beautiful ruthlessness to the poetry of Siobhán Campbell, and it comes as no surprise that her latest collection, Heat Signature, is proving so popular in the sale. These are poems of moral tension, of provocation, but they are also artful: full of marvellously terse textures, of clashing consonants, subtle rhymes and insistent rhythms.
The blend of dark comedy, tragedy and politics is entirely typical of Campbell’s complex, thoughtful and profoundly entertaining poetry.

What the Water Gave Me Frida Kahlo Pascale Petit4. What the Water Gave Me: Poems after Frida Kahlo, Pascale Petit
£8.99  £4.49
‘Pascale’s poems are as fresh as paint, and make you look all over again at Frida and her brilliant and tragic life.’ – Jackie Kay, The Observer
What the Water Gave Me contains fifty-two poems in the voice of the iconic Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo. More than just a verse biography, this collection explores how Kahlo transformed trauma into art after the artist’s near-fatal bus accident. Petit, with her vivid style, her feel for nature and her understanding of pain and redemption, fully inhabits Kahlo’s world. Each poem is an evocation of “how art works on the pain spectrum”, laced with splashes of ferocious colour.

 

Fiction

Ritual, 1969 by Jo Mazelis1. Ritual, 1969, Jo Mazelis
£8.99  £4.49
Jo Mazelis’ darkly beautiful short story collection is your favourite fiction book so far. These subtle, unflinching stories explore the unsettling borderland between reality and the supernatural. Ranging from early twentieth-century France to 1960s South Wales and contemporary Europe, we are introduced, with singular vision and poetic language, to characters caught up in events and feelings they do not fully understand or control.

six pounds eight ounces Rhian Elizabeth2. Six Pounds Eight Ounces, Rhian Elizabeth
£8.99  £4.49
In second place is Rhian Elizabeth’s tragicomic tale of growing up in the South Wales valleys.
Hannah King is a liar, so everyone says. That means her stories of growing up in the Rhondda must be treated with caution. Rhian Elizabeth opens Hannah’s notebook up on her own little world of crazy friends and crazy family, and a crazy school with crazy teachers who aren’t always what they seem. From dolls and sherbet lemons, to a bright student who drops out of school in favour of drink, drugs and glam rock up on an estate which feels like another planet, Hannah, it seems, has always been trouble.

3. Larkinland, Jonathan Tulloch
£9.99  £4.99
Jonathan Tulloch’s remarkable new novel isn’t officially released until 27 July, but that hasn’t stopped it being one of our most popular books in the sale.
A pitch-perfect realisation of Philip Larkin’s poetic world, Larkinland follows the moving misadventures of would-be poet Arthur Merryweather, revealing the loneliness, commonplaces, fears, lusts and hope we all must face. Drawing on meetings with the women in Larkin’s life, Larkinland casts startlingly fresh light on one of Hull’s greatest ever poets.

4. Ibrahim & Reenie, David Lewellyn
£8.99  £4.49
David Lewellyn’s impressive and daringly human book comes in fourth on the fiction list.
Ibrahim is a young Muslim ex-student with a tough few years behind him, and Reenie, a seventy-five year old cockney, has her life’s luggage in a shopping trolley, complete with an orange tent and a cockatiel. Meeting by chance in Newport, the odd couple discover they are both walking from Cardiff to London, and not for charity. Ibrahim & Reenie follows their journey and the unexpected relationship that builds between them.

 

Non-Fiction

Dark Land, Dark Skies, Martin Griffiths1. Dark Land, Dark Skies, Martin Griffiths
£12.99  £6.49
Proving popular in our non-fiction list is Martin Griffiths’ Celtic re-interpretation of the night sky. Dark Land, Dark Skies is an exploration of how ancient Welsh peoples may have used their legends and beliefs to understand the stars above:  Leo, for instance, becoming a fearsome boar, and Pegasus (coupled to Andromeda on his back) representing the goddess Epona riding her white horse. This is a fascinating book, suitable for both amateur and professional stargazers.

2. Mametz, Aled Hughes
£14.99  £7.49
Aled Hughes’ extraordinary photographs are an artistic commemoration of the Battle of Mametz Wood, the most significant battle in World War I for Welsh troops. Over 4,000 soldiers of the 38th Welsh Division were killed or wounded there in July 1916, and Hughes’ photographs show the lingering evidence of this devastating event: images of actual trees from the war (some ‘embracing’ artillery shells), battlefield detritus, military mementoes, and images of places of modern pilgrimage and remembrance. It’s not hard to see why so many of you have chosen to buy this remarkable book.

Wild Places by Iolo Williams3. Wild Places, Iolo Williams
£19.99  £9.99
We hope all those of you with fresh new copies of Iolo Williams’ Wild Places don’t keep them pristine for long – this book is for exploring Wales’ wilderness with, rain or shine, and is compact enough to take with you on all your journeys. Informative and lavishly illustrated, Wild Places will reveal rarities like the Snowdon lily and the Snowdonia hawkweed, show you where hares box and otters swim, where to spot dolphins and salmon, and where to see Wales’ great variety of hawks and other birds of prey.

Writing Motherhood Carolyn Jess-Cooke4. Writing Motherhood, ed. Carolyn Jess-Cooke
£12.99  £6.49
Last but certainly not least is the Writing Motherhood anthology, a deeply moving and inspiring selection of poems, interviews and essays by female creatives. Why are still asking female writers with children how they find time to write? This book challenges preconceptions about motherhood as a creative hindrance, portraying the exquisite moments of motherhood as often enriching artistic practice instead.
‘Essential reading for anyone who is a mother, or who had a mother, and is interested in how motherhood and creativity intertwine.’ – Helen Cadbury

 

The half price sale ends at midnight. Take a look at all we have to offer on the Seren website.

Half price summer sale Seren

Summer sale, half-price spotlight: Alun Lewis

Half price Alun Lewis summer sale

Our Legend of the Month’s extraordinary war poetry, short stories, and biographies (written by John Pikoulis) are all included in the half-price summer sale – and the offer ends this Sunday.

Who was Alun Lewis?
Alun Lewis was born on the 1st July, 1915 in Cwmaman. A pacifist by nature, Lewis nevertheless eventually joined the Royal Engineers as World War Two broke out, and later qualified as a Second Lieutenant despite how unhappy military life made him. In December 1942, he arrived at a new station in Nira, India, and in the same year his poetry collection Raiders’ Dawn was published. It would be the only collection published during his lifetime. Lewis died on 5th March, 1944, in what many maintain to be a tragic accident. After his death came the publication of his second collection of poetry, Ha! Ha! Among the Trumpets (1945), followed by Letters from India (1946) and In the Green Tree (1948). Most recently, Lewis’ lost novel from the 1930s, Morlais, (2015) has been brought into print for the first time, marking the centenary of this great writer’s birth.

See below for our selection of Alun Lewis titles.

Alun, Gweno & Freda by John PikoulisAlun, Gweno & Freda, John Pikoulis
£14.99  £7.49
Alun Lewis maried Gweno Ellis in 1941, but they were almost immediately separated as Lewis prepared for his deployment with the British army’s Royal Engineers. Alun, Gweno & Freda delves into the charged relationships Lewis maintained with Gweno, and with Freda Ackroyd, an expatriate in India, arguing both were key to his writing and his mental health. The circumstances surrounding Lewis’ death by a single shot from his own gun are illuminated, too, contributing to the ongoing debate about whether this was an accident or suicide.

Alun Lewis Collected PoemsAlun Lewis: Collected Poems, ed. Cary Archard
£9.99  £4.99
Lewis’ remarkable body of poetic work is skillfully brought together by editor Cary Archard. The Collected Poems includes the complete texts of his two published books, Raiders’ Dawn (1942) and Ha! Ha! Among the Trumpets (1945), reprinted in chronological order and retaining the important
original section headings under which Lewis chose to arrange and group his poetry. Lewis’s two collections are a remarkably detailed and full account of the experience of becoming a soldier and going to war. As Archard states, ‘no-one can read this collection of poems, together in one volume for the first time, without being struck by how the singularity of his voice permeates a surprising diversity of forms’.

Morlais Alun LewisMorlais, Alun Lewis
£12.99  £6.49
South Wales. The Depression. Choices for young people are limited yet miner’s son Morlais Jenkins seems destined to follow the educational route out of Glannant, despite his lowly background. When the local colliery owner and his wife offer to adopt Morlais on the death of their son, his parents recognise the opportunity for an even brighter future for Morlais. But what price must each of them pay? As the story unfolds through turbulent times in their mining village, Morlais comes to a new understanding of life as he grows from a young boy into a young man.
Founded on vivid and authentic passages of everyday life, Morlais is an enthralling story of place and people and shows what an exciting talent was lost when Alun Lewis died aged only twenty-eight.

Alun Lewis: A Life, John PikoulisAlun Lewis: A Life, John Pikoulis
£8.95  £4.47
From his childhood days in the depressed valleys of South Wales, Lewis felt he had a vocation to be a writer. Pikoulis traces Lewis’s development from the remarkable schoolboy stories written as an unhappy boarder, through his university education at Aberystwyth and Manchester to his return to the valleys as a teacher. Lewis’s poems and stories, authentic and moving, were popular with both readers and critics, catching the tone of the ’phoney war’ years, and later the disturbing but exciting experience of his war in India. His vivid letters home, which have been compared to Keats’ letters, capture both the atmosphere of war and the essence of Lewis’s character, and Pikoulis draws on them to portray a fascinating man and writer.

 

Half price summer sale Seren

 

 

Half-Price Hidden Gems: Prize-winners from the archives

Half-Price Hidden Gems Seren Archive

Today we shine the spotlight on some hidden gems from the archives – fiction, poetry and non-fiction prize-winners from years passed which, if you haven’t read already, come highly recommended.

We’ve just passed the mid-week hurdle, and that means there’s only a few days left to take advantage of our half price summer sale. If you’re struggling to choose your next read, why not start with one of the extraordinary books below? These are the oldies and goodies from the Seren archive.

John Haynes Letter to PatienceLetter to Patience, John Haynes
Costa Poetry Award Winner, 2006
Set in Patience’s Parlour, a small mud-walled bar in northern Nigeria, at a time of political unrest, Letter to Patience is a vividly atmospheric book-length poem divided into cantos. The poem is not only a biography, or an essay on post-colonialism, it is an epic portrayal of a beautiful and troubled country and of one man’s search for meaning in difficult times.

Touch CoverTouch, Graham Mort
Edge Hill Short Story Prize Winner, 2011
From a young child adrift on an ice-filled lake to an ageing farmer facing life alone, the twenty-one stories display a deep sensitivity to both the natural world and to human relationships. In skilfully crafted prose, vivid with detail, Mort examines the strength and fragility of life and the ties that hold us within it.
Touch spans twenty years of short-story writing, and includes the Bridport prize-winning story ‘The Prince’.

Hilary Menos BergBerg, Hilary Menos
Winner of the Forward Prize, Best First Collection, 2010
In this extraordinarily vibrant debut collection, icebergs floating down the Thames jostle with transvestites in Singapore, aliens wading the Hudson River and the lively crew from the local slaughterhouse. We go shopping with Ingomar the barbarian and watch Bernard Manning gigging at Totnes Civic Hall. Throughout, Menos brings a sophisticated sensibility to her poetry. Her subjects are seen aslant, with ironic as well as tender intentions.

 

Gift of a Daughter Emyr HumphreysThe Gift of a Daughter, Emyr Humphreys
Wales Book of the Year Winner, 1999
Archaeology lecturer Aled Morgan and his wife Marian flee to Tuscany, and the home of old friends, to escape a family tragedy. Yet even immersed in Etruscan culture, Aled finds that friendships aren’t all they seem, and that his wife has become almost a stranger to him. The Gift of a Daughter is a novel of delusion and self-knowledge, tradition and change, loss and identity in which the pace, plotting, characterisation and dialogue are as faultless as we expect from a writer of Emyr Humphreys’s experience and skill.

Nerys Williams Sound ArchiveSound Archive, Nerys Williams
Winner of the DLR Strong Award, 2011
Shortlisted for both the Forward Prize Best First Collection and the Michael Murphy Prize, Sound Archive is a strikingly original first collection of poems. Using formal strategies similar to modernist painting: abstraction, dislocation, surrealist juxtaposition, the poet conjures a complex music, intriguing narratives, and poems full of atmosphere that query identity, gender, and the dream of art as a vehicle for emotion and meaning. Williams confronts our preconceptions about what it might mean to be a woman writing against the background of two formidable traditions: that of Welsh-speaking Wales and of English literature.

Watching the Fire Eater Robert MinhinnickWatching the Fire-eater, Robert Minhinnick
Wales Book of the Year Winner, 1993
Watching the Fire-eater
covers variety of subjects: third world poverty and the internationalism of alcohol, rugby through the eyes of a vegetarian, nuclear power, sunbathing and a thanksgiving dinner for the demise of Margaret Thatcher. But at the core of this essay collection is a vivid series of attempts to strip away the exhausted mythologies of the writer’s own country and the increasingly-packaged places he visits. Whether in the rainforest or the big match crowd, Minhinnick’s language: acid, imagist, compassionate, celebrates the people he meets and, fleetingly, defines their lives.

Nia Wyn Blue Sky JulyBlue Sky July, Nia Wyn
Barnes & Noble Discovery Prize Winner, 2009
Set between the summers of 1998 and 2005 in Cardiff, Blue Sky July follows the story of a mother whose child suffers a devastating brain injury. It traces her journey into a world hidden away in society’s pockets as she battles against impossible odds to heal him.
Through Wyn’s intimate day by day musings, the book explores the impact of the tragedy on her home life, love life, friendships and connection to the world, as the most extraordinary relationship unfolds between them. Blue Sky July won the Glen Dimplex Biography Prize and was shortlisted for both the Good Housekeeping Book of the Year, and Wales Book of the Year.

Time Being Ruth BidgoodTime Being, Ruth Bidgood
Roland Matthias Prize Winner, 2011
Time Being is Ruth Bidgood’s tenth collection, and a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. It has been said, rightly, that Bidgood’s work is ‘emphatically a poetry of location’ and it is the history and nature of her particular region of mid-Wales that most inspire the author. Her distinctive voice has a quiet authority but also a subtle, conspiratory edge, as if she is letting one in on a secret, unveiling a hidden fact, or making a discovery. She avoids sentimentality, but – unfashionably – not sentiment; an observation can engender joy or sorrow or fear uncluttered by irony. These are ambitious attempts to transcend the lyric and move towards a more epic, multi-faceted form equal to the many experiences of her long life.

The Colour of Dawn, Yanick Lahens
Winner of the RFO Award (2009); Prix Millepages (2008); and Prix Richelieu de la Francophonie (2009)
Port au Prince, Haiti. The police roam the streets and no-one is safe. Fignolé, musician and political radical, is missing. His sisters Joyeuse and Angelique search for their young brother amid the colourful bustle, urban deprivation and political tension of the city. Eventually they will find him, but in the process they will also have found more about themselves than they wanted to know. The Colour of Dawn is a tense, passionate and vividly told story of small victories of hope in the face of a seemingly impossible fight against a monolithic regime.

Bilbao–New York–Bilbao Kirmen UribeBilbao–New York–Bilbao, Kirmen Uribe
Spanish National Literature Prize Winner, 2009
Bilbao–New York–Bilbao takes place during a flight to New York and tells the story of journeys by three generations of the same family. The key to the book is Liborio’s fishing boat, the Dos Amigos: who are these two friends, and what is the nature of their friendship? Through letters, diaries, emails, poems and dictionaries, Kirmen reflects on the art of writing, and the distinction between life and fiction. Kirmen’s novel, translated by Elizabeth Macklin, creates a mosaic of memories and stories that combine to form a homage to a world that has almost disappeared, as well as a hymn to the continuity of life.

 

Half price summer sale Seren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Summer Sale: Seren books half price this week

Summer Sale Half Price

Much like the nice weather, the Seren summer sale isn’t hanging around: for one week only, all our books are half price.

Seren Summer Sale books half price

Everything from poetry to novels, short stories, art, history and biography are included, and with so much choice, we thought you might like a helping hand deciding what to read next. Take a look below at our summer sale suggestions.

Best for… taking on holiday:
The Women of Versailles Kate BrownThe Women of Versailles by Kate Brown
£9.99 £4.99
This gripping and immersive novel tells the story of Adélaïde, daughter of King Louis XVI. Envious of her brother, bored with her sister and smitten with her father’s bourgeoise mistress, Adélaïde struggles with her budding sexuality and a desire for freedom of expression, both of which conflict with the expectations of the restrictive court of Versailles. Forty-four years later, under the looming shadow of the revolution, what has happened to the hopes of a young girl and the doomed regime in which she grew up?


Best for… devouring over lunch:
the man at the corner table rosie shepperdThe Man at the Corner Table by Rosie Shepperd
£9.99 £4.99
These poems are exquisite meals, to be consumed amidst surprising intimacies. The voice is one of urban sophistication; a merciless charm that teases and tempts us with sensual evocations of food and place. The gorgeous place settings of these poems are not just carefully delineated backdrops. They toy with our interpretations of ‘at table’. As in a Dutch master ‘tablescape’, they become symbolic of our relation to ourselves, to others and the world.


Best for… armchair reading:
Waterfalls of Stars Rosanne AlexanderWaterfalls of Stars by Rosanne Alexander
£12.99 £6.49
Rosanne Alexander paints the landscape and wildlife of isolated Skomer Island in vivid detail, drawn from her ten years spent as a warden on the uninhabited nature reserve. Waterfalls of Stars is a love-letter to this remarkable island, which is an important breeding ground for many birds, and populated by a stunning array of wildlife such as puffins, manx shearwaters, seals, and kittiwakes. With her lyrical evocation of the natural world and its enthusiastic and resourceful approach to the problems of island life, Alexander’s book is sure to inspire and entertain anyone who has felt the need for escape.


Best for… livening up a long journey:
significanceSignificance by Jo Mazelis
£9.99 £4.99
Lucy Swann is trying on a new life. She’s cut and dyed her hair and bought new clothes, but only gets as far as a small town in northern France when her flight is violently cut short. When Inspector Vivier and his assistant Sabine Pelat begin their investigation, the chance encounters of her last days take on a new significance.
Jo Mazelis’ Jerwood Prize-winning novel is utterly addictive, and the cast of characters who brush ever so briefly against Lucy Swann in her last days are vividly imagined.

Best for… when you’re out and about:
Wild Places by Iolo WilliamsWild Places, Iolo Williams
£19.99 £9.99
Springwatch’s Iolo Williams picks his favourite forty nature sites in Wales and describes them in breathtaking detail, revealing rarities like the Snowdon lily and the Snowdonia hawkweed, where hares box and otters swim, where to spot dolphins and salmon, and where to see Wales’ great variety of hawks and other birds of prey. This informative and lavishly illustrated book confirms Wales’ pre-eminence as a country rich in stunning landscape inhabited in abundance by all manner of life. Take it with you on your travels, and discover all the delights of natural Wales.


Best for… broadening the mind:
Dark Land, Dark Skies, Martin GriffithsDark Land, Dark Skies by Martin Griffiiths
£12.99 £6.49
The constellations haven’t always been the province of Greek and Roman gods: ancient peoples around the world have looked up and added their particular myths to the heavens, only to have them subsumed by the Classics as the science of astronomy developed. Astronomer Martin Griffiths repopulates the night sky with figures from Welsh myths and legends, including the heroes of the Mabinogion, in this Celtic reclaimation of the night sky. Complete with star charts for the entire celestial year and 80 photographs of astronomically interesting objects, this informative guide is suitable for amateur and professional astronomers alike.


Best for… curling up with before bed:
The Tip of My Tongue Trezza AzzopardiThe Tip of My Tongue by Trezza Azzopardi
£8.99 £4.49
Enid wants a dog and wants to be a spy, but listening in on adult conversations doesn’t seem to bring her any nearer to understanding their troubled world. For all that,when times get tough and she has to stay with the Erbins, particularly her rich and spoilt cousin Geraint, she has plenty of verbal ammunition to help her fight her corner. Trezza Azzopardi transforms the heroine from The Mabinogion’s ‘Geraint and Enid’ into a brave 1970s girl from downtown Splott in Cardiff who, no matter how difficult the circumstances, always seems to get the last word. The original Enid defends her misguided husband by warning him of approaching villains, even though he has forbidden her to speak. Azzopardi’s young Enid is also unlikely to respect a gagging order.

 

We hope you enjoy browsing our summer sale. The half price offer ends at midnight on Sunday 23 July, so don’t delay – see what you can find before the time runs out.

 

 

 

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Happy Father’s Day

To all Dads, Grandads and those soon-to-be: we wish you a very happy Father’s Day. In celebration, we are happy to announce that all orders placed on our website in the next week will come with a complimentary ‘Dad joke’ to add to your collection.

Happy Father's Day
Mums, children, friends – we are so sorry. Because surely Dad won’t be able to resist treating himself to Mike Rees’ fascinating Men Who Played the Game, which pays tribute to sportsmen who fought in the Great War. He certainly won’t be able to stop himself from getting a copy of Lloyd Jones’ magnificent, newly back-in-print novel, Mr Vogel. And you can try, but we highly doubt you’ll be able to stop Dad from indulging in a little musical nostalgia with Peter Finch’s personal history of rock and pop: The Roots of Rock, from Cardiff to Mississippi and Back.

 

 

So go on Dads, treat yourself.

 

Three Poems for World Poetry Day

In celebration of World Poetry Day, we are featuring three poems by Seren poets, which you can read below.

Coinciding with the start of Spring, World Poetry Day is the perfect opportunity for us to brighten up your week with some of our favourite poems. It has been dreadfully difficult to narrow it down, but we hope you enjoy our selections: poems from Kim Moore, Paul Henry, and Rhian Edwards.

 

 

The Art of Falling Kim MooreKim Moore: ‘And the Soul’
Taken from Kim Moore’s outstanding debut, The Art of Falling – which was shortlisted for the Cumbria/Lakeland Book of the Year – ‘And the Soul’ considers the animalistic nature of the soul, be it domestic (‘And if it be a cat, find some people/ to ignore’) or primal.

 

And the Soul
And the soul, if she is to know
herself, must look into the soul…
– Plato

And the soul, if she is to know herself
must look into the soul and find
what kind of beast is hiding.

And if it be a horse, open up the gate
and let it run. And if it be a rabbit
give it sand dunes to disappear in.

And if it be a swan, create a mirror image,
give it water. And if it be a badger
grow a sloping woodland in your heart.

And if it be a tick, let the blood flow
until it’s sated. And if it be a fish
there must be a river and a mountain.

And if it be a cat, find some people
to ignore, but if it be a wolf,
you’ll know from its restless way

of moving, if it be a wolf,
throw back your head
and let it howl.

 

 

Boy Running, Paul Henry

Paul Henry: ‘Moving In’
This poem is taken from Boy Running, Paul Henry’s latest collection, which reached the shortlist for the Wales Book of the Year Poetry Award (2016). Paul is currently touring with Stornoway singer-songwriter Brian Briggs as they perform their collaborative work, The Glass Aisle – a haunting piece which crosses the borders between poem and song lyric. Find the full list of events here.

 

Moving In
I cannot see the flowers at my feet…
Keats – ‘Ode to a Nightingale.’

They look and wonder what they’re doing here,
those who’ve moved with me across the years –
Dylan Thomas, Picasso, Nightingale Ann,
Goble, David Trevorrow, young Fanny Brawne…
all strewn about this flat where I hide.
(Did I dream, last night, of a tide
laying its artefacts on sand?) They stare
but do not judge, or change, or care.

Dylan’s just opened Manhattan’s cigar box.
‘Try one,’ he says, ‘before you die. Fuck books.’
Pablo’s still pushing against his pane.
He listens for a nightingale in vain.
Goble tilts back in his top hat.
He and Trevorrow could not have shared a flat
but I loved them both, and Fanny Brawne.
There are crows on my roof. The light has gone.

 

 

Rhian Edwards: ‘The Universal Doodle’
Taken from Rhian Edwards’ new poetry pamphlet, Brood, ‘The Universal Doodle’ carries on the pamphlet’s ever-present theme of birds by musing on the appearance of a murmuration cloud of starlings. Keep an eye on our website, as numerous launch events are on the horizon – and we would love for you to celebrate with us.

 

The Universal Doodle

A scattering corralled, lassoed
into the universal doodle of birds.
A mutable speech bubble

of pondering ‘m’s. This is the bombast
of starlings as they corkscrew the sky.
Each twist and fold is summarised

to a simile like iron filings,
flocked and flung across the sky
by the metaphorical whims of a magnet.

Can you hear the pathetic fallacy?
The siren song of a metal’s hum
crooning behind clouds, a bit like a God.

 

 

We hope you enjoyed our World Poetry Day selection. If it has inspired you to expand your poetry collection, then you can find our full list of Seren poetry books here.

 

A literary Mother’s Day Gift: the Writing Motherhood anthology

Writing Motherhood 30% off Mother's Day

Today we welcome the arrival of Writing Motherhood, a creative anthology of poetry, interviews and essays by established writers, edited by Carolyn Jess-Cooke.

Writing Motherhood Carolyn Jess-CookeThe perfect literary gift for Mother’s Day, Writing Motherhood explores the relationship between creativity and motherhood, with contributions from writers such as Carol Ann Duffy, Sharon Olds and Hollie McNish. Until Sunday 26 March, you can buy Mum her copy at 30% off, direct from the Seren website.

‘This is a truly inspiring collection, all the more so for its wit and its grit, its poetry and its honesty; here we have women producing ‘good art’ despite – and often  because of – ‘the pram in the hall.’ – Shelley Day

Read a free excerpt from Carolyn Jess-Cooke’s Introduction, below.


INTRODUCTION

There is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall.
– Cyril Connolly

This book presents a selection of the most important contemporary
writing by women on the tensions between motherhood
and writing.
Cyril Connolly wrote about the ‘pram in the hall’ in his 1938
book Enemies of Promise, yet his caveat is directed at men (he took
it as given that women create babies, not art). Nonetheless, the
quote is still in use to capture those devastating effects brought to
artistic creation by a new baby. I’m not alone when I admit the
arrival of my first child felt like stepping inside a whirlwind. I had
plenty to worry about – SIDS, whether she was gaining enough
weight, whether we could afford maternity leave, etc. – but I do
remember that among my worries was a serious concern that I
might never be able to write again. My brain felt completely
scrambled. I could barely construct a text message for weeks,
months. Time was disjointed. It seemed to take an inordinate
amount of time to do even the smallest task. I remember thinking,
over and over, why did nobody tell me how hard this is? After the birth
of my son, however, writing proved effective in pushing back the
darkness of postnatal depression, and also inspired a new direction
in my creative practice; I had always thought I would only
ever write poetry, but the problem-solving, immersive elements of
narrative proved much more potent in batting back depression.
After the births of our third and fourth children, let’s just say that
I became a bit more creative in how I managed my time.
PUBLISHING MOTHERHOOD

In 2014, Arts Council England funded my Writing Motherhood
project to tour literary festivals in the UK to discuss the impact of
motherhood on women’s writing. I had read a number of reports
and articles that claimed the key to literary success was childlessness,
or for a woman to have just one child, or at least to bear in
mind that each child ‘costs’ a female writer four books. None of
these reports aimed their caveats at men. I became curious – and
not a little dismayed – by the idealization of motherhood, and by
the casual sexism that was prevalent and unchallenged in discourses
about motherhood. I set up the Writing Motherhood
project because I wanted to empower mothers and to encourage
them to talk about their experiences. Although the assumption
about mothers and writing was that we just didn’t have the time
or inclination (we’re all too busy dealing with that pram in the
hallway!), I perceived that other forces were at work, prohibiting
women’s writing from making it into the public sphere and/or
being perceived as good literature.

 


 

A few highlights from the kalaidescope of female experience featured here are Carolyn Jess-Cooke’s interview with Sharon Olds (where she discusses her famous rejection by a US literary magazine for writing about her children), excerpts from Hollie McNish’s motherhood diary, and Carol Ann Duffy’s beautiful portrait of being and having a daughter. This is a poignant and beautiful book celebrating motherhood, recognising it not as the ‘enemy of good art’, but often as its inspiration.

Writing Motherhood 30% off Mother's Day

Writing Motherhood: 30% off until Mother’s Day (26 March). Order your copy now

 

Seren’s women on the books that have inspired us

Seren's women on the books that have inspired us

To mark International Women’s Day 2017, Seren’s female staff have come together to shine the spotlight on the books that have inspired us. Countless works of literature written by female writers have changed the world; the few mentioned here have personally changed us.

Sunshine, Melissa Lee-Houghton (Penned in the Margins, 2016)
Sunshine Melissa Lee HoughtonSuggested by Rebecca Parfitt, Editorial Assistant for Poetry Wales

“It both shocked and enthralled me in equal measure. Here is a poet laying her soul and body bare for all to see and its as uncomfortable as it is beautiful. Her poems have an energy that crackles on the page and her verse often long and sprawling as to almost seem unkempt. A truly authentic and honest contemporary female voice.”

 

A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing, Eimear McBride (Galley Beggar Press, 2013)
A Girl is a Half-formed ThingSuggested by Rosie Johns, Marketing & Communications Officer

“Girlhood, growth and sexuality – this book is uncompromising in its depiction of the protagonist’s agonising journey through all of these. After puberty, she is seen by the men in her life (including her uncle) as a simply sexual thing. In reality she is fragmented, transgressive, troubled. There is nothing toned-down or dishonest about this book which, sadly, might explain the author’s staggering 9-year search for a publisher.”

 

Shakespeare’s Wife by Germaine Greer
Shakespeare's WifeSuggested by Amy Wack, Poetry Editor

“I’m a fan of this book by Greer, a scholarly and provocative imaginary life of Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare’s wife. Greer constructs a plausible and sometimes unexpected Elizabethan England based mostly on her research sifting the actual records from Stratford at the time. I know Greer can be wrong-headed and stubbornly persistent, but I always appreciate that her goal is to get people to think, to argue back, to defy received opinions!”

 

 

International Women’s Day has been observed since the early 1900s, and commemorates the moment for women’s rights. The day is also an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements. This year the campaign centres around calling people to #BeBoldForChange – to help forge a better working world, and a more gender-inclusive world. Join in and be bold.