Imagination and Children’s Literature

by Adam Horovitz on May 9, 2016

I was disheartened to read a report on Twitter from my local paper the other day about a blog written by Graeme Whiting, the Headmaster of the Acorn School in Nailsworth, titled ‘The Imagination of the Child’, in which he attempts to persuade people to proscribe fantastical literature for their children, claiming that it is perverting their subconscious minds and “may prevent them from moving forwards towards adulthood”.

Graeme Whiting states that children “do not have thinking brains until, at the earliest, fourteen years of age” and are therefore prone to be corrupted by “inappropriate images or text that confuses their imagination”, a worrying statement from a headteacher, given that it suggests that he equates Terry Pratchett and JK Rowling’s writing with pornography and, even more dangerously and fallaciously, that children cannot think for themselves.  [click to continue…]


Translation Games

by Adam Horovitz on May 7, 2016

pic by Miroslav KirinA fascinating insight into the way translation works, listening to this Croatian radio show featuring the poetry of fine New Zealand poet David Howard and myself, as translated by Miroslav Kirin.

This is the first time I’ve heard Miroslav’s translations read aloud – whilst at the Goran’s Spring festival as part of the Versopolis project in March, I always read in English with the poems projected behind me and, though I was listening (avidly) to the many different languages the festival had on offer, I never got to hear my own word music shifted into another key. 

It helps that I really like the actor’s voice, but I played a little game with myself and correctly deduced a couple of the poems, without reference to the book I came home from the festival with, just from the sounds of them (though I confess I had a little help with one, given that the names of London underground stations remained untranslated).

Thank you Miroslav!


Shakespeare 400 Years On

by Adam Horovitz on April 23, 2016

William Shakespeare400 years today since Shakespeare was buried certain fathoms in the earth, and yet his book wasn’t drowned. It bobbed up, and up again, and lives on in all its word-hoarded, unfathomable glory. Thank goodness. My small act of celebration has been to record a couple of his sonnets and Prospero’s speech from Act 5, Scene 1 of The Tempest. You’ll find them embedded below.

I find it hard to conceive of a time when Shakespeare wasn’t a part of the language – 400-odd years seems too short a time for these collected words to have been around, however much logic insists that Malory and Chaucer and whoever wrote Gawain and the Green Knight or Beowulf were there before him. A very British response, perhaps, to assume that 400 years isn’t really that long a time (I remember my American aunt laughing at me for asserting that the house I grew up in – built around the time that the First Folio was published – wasn’t “all that old” (I had meant by comparison to other houses in the area but, being young and incautious, let that slide into an implicit state)).

Shakespeare’s impact on the language is akin to a large rock being dropped in a pond. His work has created such a tidal set of ripples that they continue ceaselessly, appearing to travel back through the lexicon as much as forward, as they propel all sorts of ideas in unexpected directions.

I have no patience with conspiracy theories about Shakespeare’s non-existence, of Bacon or Marlowe or whoever having written the plays. Shakespeare exists in the words attributed to him, in the bound pages of books, in the hearts and mouths of audience and actors, in the pens of writers (be they heavily influenced or appalled by his ubiquity).

Here’s to another 400 years of Shakespeare being dead and yet unquestionably, continuously alive. Long may his rippling words stir up the waters of the English language.


The Empty Throne

by Adam Horovitz on April 21, 2016

after Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley

“The Queen, who is 80 today, is the best thing about the monarchy: constant, reassuring and one of the most accomplished politicians of our age. But the institution is finished and Elizabeth could well be all that’s keeping it alive.” Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian, 21st April 2006

I met a traveller from the wilds of Staines
who said: “I passed the monarch’s empty throne, [click to continue…]


Like Waiting for Rural Buses

by Adam Horovitz on December 15, 2015

from a conversation with Jane Commane on Twitter

Sometimes writing poems
is like waiting for rural buses.
Nothing comes. You stare at hedgerows.
Argue with crows. A little more
nothingness on the pitted tarmac.

Blown out umbrella, the sky a black,
expectant lattice. People pass in cars,
laugh at your predicament.
Then rain, a persistent mizzle
that sticks like oil.

About to go home, the light
an hour away from failing,
a rackety bus crawls to a halt,
takes you on the scenic route
whilst a little old lady,

clinging determined to the seat in front,
fixes you with one angelic eye,
sucks her teeth and tells you
absolutely everything
you never thought you’d want to know.