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The Art and History of Whiteknights: 3 – Martin Andrews on the Old Dairy, and a tour of his studio

Martin Andrews writes:
“I first got to know Whiteknights in the early seventies as a student and I am still here in Reading fifty years later after a career as a museum designer and then a lecturer in graphic design at the University. Art has always been at the centre of my life and my involvement in the Whiteknights Trail and the Two Rivers Press, both central to the cultural life of the town, has been a source of great joy.”

Martin recently recorded a short video in which he talks about the Whiteknights campus, the Old Dairy on Upper Redlands Road which inspired his painting in the book, and takes us on a personal tour of his studio in Caversham. Take a look!

 

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In a normal year, towards the end of May we would be looking forward to the annual Whiteknights Studio Trail, where our local artists and craftspeople open their houses. This is the trail’s 20th year, and in a joint venture with the Whiteknights Studio Trail, Two Rivers Press is delighted to publish a beautiful celebratory book, The Art and History of Whiteknights, which features 28 artworks all inspired by the Whiteknights area of Reading. The featured artists have all exhibited on the trail over the years, and in the unfortunate absence of the trail itself in 2020 (it will be back in 2021!) we hope that this book will remind you of the wealth of creative talent in our locality, as well as inspiring you to reflect more deeply on the history and roots of this special part of town.

In the run up to the book’s official publication date of 21 June 2020, we are offering a discount of 15% off the book’s published price. Use the code AHWEARLY15 at the checkout.

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Poem in which a fish is not a fish ~ a new poem from Claire Dyer

Poem in which a fish is not a fish

In the water it is beautiful,
can swim against the tide,

and with it, be covert,
indiscernible, visible, leap

to twist; see its scales rainbowing,
its fin-flick, its dark, dark eyes.

Now see it in the shallows,
how its body shines with the sun on it.

See its power, length. Don’t
think about the stories of

it mating and spawning, the
incalculable distances it swims,

it in a net, and gasping. No,
remember it for itself, and its colours,

and you, leaning over the edge
of the boat, the bridge, quay,

riverbank, cupping your bare hands
around it, holding it steady for a while.

Claire Dyer

Claire Dyer teaches creative writing at Bracknell & Wokingham College, runs Fresh Eyes – an editorial and critiquing service – and curates Poets’ Café, Reading’s longest-running poetry platform on behalf of The Poetry Society’s Reading Stanza. Her poetry collections, Eleven Rooms (2013) and Interference Effects(2016) are published by Two Rivers Press, and she has another, Yield, forthcoming in February 2021. Quercus and The Dome Press have published her novels.

Her website is www.clairedyer.com

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Poet of the Week – 9: Jane Draycott

TWO RIVERS PRESS POET OF THE WEEK—9: JANE DRAYCOTT

Jane Draycott’s first two publications from Two Rivers Press were projects of characteristic collaboration and partnership, each published with accompanying images created by TRP’s visionary founding editor Peter Hay: Christina the Astonishing, a meditation with Lesley Saunders on the life of the medieval saint reputed to have flown like a bird from her own coffin, was published in 1998, followed in 2002 by Tideway, a collection of poems about the Company of Watermen and women working on the London river (including work first published in TRP’s Waterlog journal and shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem).  Storms Under the Skin, her most recent Two Rivers publication, is a collection of translations from the artist-writer Henri Michaux and is a Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation. Other collections include The Occupant (a PBS Recommendation), Over (shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize), Prince Rupert’s Drop (shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection) and a translation of the medieval dream-elegy Pearl – all from Carcanet Press.

Jane’s interest in dream narrative and elegy has led to developing associations with mental health-care professionals, including writer-psychoanalysts Adam Phillips and Caroline Garland, via the British Psychoanalytical Society, the NHS Tavistock Centre and the Freud Museum London, and to performances for Medicine Unboxed.  Other collaborations have included three projects with the British Film Institute: Essentially British (2008), Psychopoetica (2011) and Poets for Pasolini (2013). Jane teaches for the Arvon Foundation, the Paris Institute for Critical Thinking (PICT) and the universities of Oxford and Lancaster. She is an Advisory Fellow for the Royal Literary Fund and co-producer on their Writers Aloud podcast series.

Jane Draycott writes about Storms Under the Skin:

In 2011 I discovered the poetry of Henri Michaux in Edwin Morgan’s wonderful Collected Translations (Carcanet 1996) and was immediately caught by the wry, mercurial invention and psychological truth of his poetic imagination.  What kind of mind, I wondered, thought like this:

Carry me off in a caravel,
in a sweet and antique caravel …
In the false velvet of snow.
In the breath of a little knot of dogs.
In the nerveless ranks of dead leaves.

The more I read of Michaux’s work, the more I knew that his was a poetics I admired and envied in equal measure – playful, searching and serious, operating with all the strange and seamless logic of dream.  I wished I could write like him. In essence I began translating poems from his collections of the 1930s and 40s partly as an act of advocacy – more people should know about these! –  and partly as an apprentice to his hallucinatory poetic world, treading as closely as I could in the traces of his extraordinary imaginative mind and alert lexical ear.

Born in Belgium in 1899, a friend of Gide and Supervielle and a companion of the Surrealists, Michaux was as self-effacing as he was original, shunning publicity, declining France’s Prix National des Lettres, rarely photographed. Outside France he is perhaps best known for his work produced during his mescaline experiments of the 1950s, but few people this side of the Channel whom I asked seemed to know of his poetry. When I wrote to TRP editor Peter Robinson proposing a book-length collection of translations, I had no idea whether the concept would appeal. I count myself eternally lucky that he said yes and that Michaux could become an addition to the Press’s growing strand of European poetry in translation, joining Geoff Sawyers’ Rimbaud (The Drunken Boat – so finely and unforgettably illustrated by Peter Hay) and Ruth Spiers’ translations of Rilke.

So began my third Two Rivers adventure in what has always felt wonderfully like a collaborative process towards publication – Peter generously editing the growing manuscript, Sally Mortimore steadfastly pushing through the painstaking permissions process, and Nadja Guggi and Sally Castle turning it into a beautifully designed publication finally in 2017.

Seamus Heaney wrote of translation’s value to the writer as an act of refreshment and – in Dryden’s term – of transfusion, of writing by proxy. When I began work on Storms Under the Skin, I was just finishing the manuscript of a collection of my own poems and was indeed in serious need of refreshment. Like writing a new poem of one’s own, each new translation was an attempt to find what pieces of the work would glow in the dark, trying hard to really hear what was there, and to know why that might matter. Discovering the work of Michaux gave me the chance, in the words of Zoran Anchevski’s ‘Translation’ as rendered by Sudeep Sen, to sleep ‘on the pillow of someone else’s dreams’. Two Rivers gave readers the chance to discover just how extraordinary the dreams of Henri Michaux are.

THE GIRL FROM BUDAPEST

In the warm mist of a young girl’s breath I placed myself
and then withdrew. I have not left that place. Her arms
weigh nothing. Coming to them is like coming to water.
Every faded thing evaporates beside her – only her eyes remain.

Fine long grasses, fine tall flowers grew in our meadow.
So light a burden on my chest, how heavily you weigh there now.
How you press on me, now that you are not here.

ICEBERGS

Icebergs – no safety rail, no lifebelts –
where storm-tossed ancient cormorants
and the new-dead souls of sailors lean upon their elbows
in the far spellbinding northern nights.

Icebergs, icebergs: religion-free cathedrals
of eternal winter, draped in the ice-sheets
of planet earth. Such height and scale,
such purity of profile born from purest cold!

Icebergs, icebergs: backbone of the North Atlantic,
noble frozen Buddhas in un-contemplated seas,
death’s shining lighthouses that lead the way to nowhere
where the wild cry of silence echoes on for centuries.

Icebergs, icebergs: lone solitaires, lands going nowhere,
needing nothing, far away and vermin-free.
Parents of small islands and of well-springs,
how well I see you now, how familiar you are to me …

[from Henri Michaux, Storms Under the Skin: Selected Poems 1927-1954 trans. Jane Draycott]

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The Art and History of Whiteknights: 2 – Jenny Halstead writes about the Whiteknights Studio Trail and Christchurch Green

It was the autumn of 2019 when the idea of a book to celebrate the Whiteknights Studio Trail’s 20th anniversary in 2020 was conceived. Two Rivers Press, who had been an exhibiting member of the WST since the very beginning, were keen to be on board and a joint publication with shared costs was born.  The book would feature artists’ work in a response to the area of Whiteknights, as well as chapters on its history. As TRP had many titles lined up for publication in 2020, this new ‘babe’ if it was to be out by June, had to be created as soon as possible.

I contacted artists who had been in the Trail from the beginning and others who worked in different mediums or lived in the area, asking if they would like to participate and produce a piece of work inspired by the Whiteknights campus or the area round about, with a deadline of just over 5 weeks!  I had an enthusiastic response from 28 artists. The two chapters on the history of the area, one on the campus of Whiteknights Park estate by Ian Burn and John Grainger, the other on the surrounding area by Evelyn Williams and Dennis Wood , were an excellent complement, and also a foreword by Radio 3’s Fiona Talkington on living in the area. Everyone, to my great joy, met the deadline!

Having been one of the WST founder members and now its Co-ordinator, I felt particularly saddened by the need in March to cancel the 20th WST event this year, due to Coronavirus.  I was heartened by the fact that the book would be published in June as planned and that WST would be back next year for a 21st birthday celebration on 12 &13 June 2021.

Lock-down – Christchurch Green

My home and studio are on Christchurch Road and in these weeks of lock-down I have seen a massive change in the usually busy, noisy road. Now a strange eeriness – no students, a few people distancing in a queue waiting to enter the chemist, many shops closed. The silence broken only by the sound of birdsong and (alas) ambulances.

I pay a personal homage to the No 21 bus travelling valiantly past my house every 20 minutes or so, even in the evening, carrying perhaps just a single passenger. A warrior. My painting, featured in the book, shows the shops opposite Christchurch Green in autumn when I painted it, but actually includes the No 21 bus!

Last week the Green was transformed from a wild meadow by RBC Streetcare Team. When I spoke with the gardener, he was delighted to know that we all cared for this tiny green and that we had in place a watering rota for the new plantings. He strimmed the long grass, trimmed the shrubs, returning the next day to lovingly mow and mulch the plants.

A new neighbourhood group – The Friends of Christchurch Green – is about to be launched, delayed only by this current situation.

The Green last year had live music from a local band for several hours during our Whiteknights Studio Trail offering a festival feel to the weekend as visitors walked around and  just last week, BBC Radio 3 presenter Fiona Talkington broadcast one of her shows, a 3-hour long  music programme, live from  her home just a few metres away.

On one Thursday evening clap for the NHS a group of professional musicians who share a house across the Green brought a four piece band out and the air was filled with music and memories of the Beatles song ‘Come Together ‘.

~ Jenny Halstead

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In a normal year, towards the end of May we would be looking forward to the annual Whiteknights Studio Trail, where our local artists and craftspeople open their houses. This is the trail’s 20th year, and in a joint venture with the Whiteknights Studio Trail, Two Rivers Press is delighted to publish a beautiful celebratory book, The Art and History of Whiteknights, which features 28 artworks all inspired by the Whiteknights area of Reading. The featured artists have all exhibited on the trail over the years, and in the unfortunate absence of the trail itself in 2020 (it will be back in 2021!) we hope that this book will remind you of the wealth of creative talent in our locality, as well as inspiring you to reflect more deeply on the history and roots of this special part of town.

In the run up to the book’s official publication date of 21 June 2020, we are offering a discount of 15% off the book’s published price. Use the code AHWEARLY15 at the checkout.

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The Art and History of Whiteknights: 1 – A visit to the studio of local artist Sally Castle

In a normal year, towards the end of May we would be looking forward to the annual Whiteknights Studio Trail, where our local artists and craftspeople open their houses. This is the trail’s 20th year, and in a joint venture with the Whiteknights Studio Trail, Two Rivers Press is delighted to publish a beautiful celebratory book, The Art and History of Whiteknights, which features 28 artworks all inspired by the Whiteknights area of Reading. The featured artists have all exhibited on the trail over the years, and in the unfortunate absence of the trail itself in 2020 (it will be back in 2021!) we hope that this book will remind you of the wealth of creative talent in our locality, as well as inspiring you to reflect more deeply on the history and roots of this special part of town.

In the run up to the book’s official publication date of 21 June 2020, we are offering a discount of 15% off the book’s published price. Use the code AHWEARLY15 at the checkout.

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In the first of a series of posts to celebrate the publication of the book, we invite you to visit the Studio of Sally Castle, where she shows us around and talks about the creation of the work she produced for the book, which is inspired by her memories of her grandfather and of the house on Hatherley Road where she was born.

Sally enjoys experimental self-directed work as well as a variety of commissions using lettering and illustration. You can see a selection of her work on her website: http://www.sallycastle.co.uk/