Monthly Archives: June 2010

See the post under this one for web links to the competitions


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Filed under Manchester Writing News, Writing Competitions

Manchester Writing Competitions 2010

As there doesn’t seem to be a central ‘hub’ where this sort of information can be found, The Poplar Tree has collected a few Manchester based writing competition details together which are being held over the coming months.  The Poplar Tree will update  this list on a regular basis as it follows various websites/blogs and independent magazines. Hopefully you will find the following interesting and inspiring: Continue reading

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Filed under Manchester Literature Festival 2010, Manchester Writing News, Writing Competitions

Manchester Independent Book Market

The Manchester Independent Book Market is coming to the city this weekend, 25th-26th June at St Anne’s Square 12pm-5pm. There will be readings throughout the day by poets and authors plus stalls including book sellers and representatives from the world of publishing. The Poplar Tree took a stroll amongst the stalls last year and picked up details of writing competitions which it never found the time or inspiration to enter. It’s worth a visit if you’re looking to get published or meet some local literary talent, but if you’re looking for cheap second hand books (as was The Poplar Tree’s intention) you will be left disappointed because that’s not what it’s about.

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Rest In Peace: Frank Sidebottom

Frank Sidebottom, the man with a papier mache head (also known as Chris Sievey) sadly passed away today aged just 54. He is without doubt the funniest comedian ever to come from the streets of Timperley and I wish I’d gone to meet him a couple of years ago when he threw a Christmas Party at the Coffee Pot in Manchester, which is just around the corner from work. I didn’t go because I thought I’d get star struck meeting him, as earlier that year I’d been to watch him do a gig in the basement of the Manchester Academy. It was the funniest comedy show I’ve ever been to and the part where he sticks on a tache and sideburns to do Freddie Mercury had me crying with laughter. Even though Frank was a papier mache head with limited facial expressions, Frank Sidebottom the character was full of life and unlike some mainstream comedians, he never had to resort to cheap laughs or insults to get an audience onside. Frank/Chris showed genuine respect for his fans, regularly updating them on his whereabouts, tours and more recently on his battle with cancer, which he thought was bobbins. To some, the character of Frank Sidebottom may have seemed like a basket case, but he wasn’t – he was just having fun and creating his own little world that made people laugh. Frank and Little Frank will be sadly missed.

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A few thoughts on what caused the end of the world in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road

How do you know if you were the last man on earth? He said.

I don’t guess you would know it. You’d just be it. [pg180]

In Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, the end of the world begins with “A long shear of light and then a series of low percussions.” [p54]  The details are vague and could be applicable to a number of post-apocalyptic scenarios, but maybe they are the words of a man who witnessed the after-effects of a super volcanic eruption. In The Road, a Nuclear Winter has descended on an unspecified region of America and everything is left covered in a thick layer of dust, the sunlight cannot penetrate the clouds and everyday is as grey as a cloudy winter’s morning. For the ‘Man’ and ‘Boy’, the greyness is perpetual and even time itself has fled from the world, “The clocks stopped at 1:17.” [pg54] Calendars are no longer kept, the Man doesn’t know how long they’ve been travelling the road and there are no seasons or lasting referents to our concept of modernity. Everything they touch is the same – broken or dead, the world smells of ash or the sour stink of rotting corpses and the food which they eat is tainted and rotting. Continue reading


Filed under Books/Novels/Authors, Cormac McCarthy's The Road

What was the response to One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich?

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was a microcosm that spoke for a generation. Despite its comparative brevity to his other epics, it proved to be hugely popular and was first published in instalments by the Novy Mir literary journal. One Day secured Solzhenitsyn’s place in the Soviet Writers Union, but the novel was to divide opinion and create controversy. It was controversial because it had not been written through the eyes of an intellectual: Shukhov was poor, uneducated – a peasant, but he could tell a story. Through him the spirit of the Russian man was heard and this was to prove dangerous. Continue reading

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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich – Alexander Solzhenitsyn

“In 1960 he submitted his novel, One Day…, to Alexander Tvardovsky, the poet and editor of Novy Mir (New World), a literary journal; it was published, on the final decision of Khrushchev himself, in the November 1962 edition of Novy Mir which sold out immediately.”*

Imagine a place where work only ceases when the temperature outside reaches -41˚; a place where you sleep in a bunk crawling with bed-bugs on a filthy straw mattress; a place where your every move is coordinated and watched by a gang of armed guards. Where is this place?… Continue reading

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A Few Thoughts on Missing Thumbs in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road

The thumb is very versatile, it is a universal signifier which crosses language barriers and it’s the most flexible part of our hand; we use it to grip things, to steady the barrel of a gun as we take a shot, manacled in chains you would need it to turn a key in a lock. In Shakespeare, to bite one’s thumb was considered an insult, for children it’s a pacifier, for others (when sucked) it’s a sign of cowardice, there’s also the ubiquitous thumbs up – everything is a.ok. But in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, things couldn’t be further from the truth, because the thumb or rather lack of, signifies that something terrible has happened in the character’s past. Continue reading


Filed under Books/Novels/Authors, Cormac McCarthy's The Road

Celebrity Come Dine With Me – Celebrity Chef Special

*Parental Warning – this post contains very rude language, apologies for any offence caused, it’s because Gordon Ramsey has a potty mouth.

Celebrity Come Dine With Me – Celebrity Chef Special

Narrated by Dave Lamb. Featuring: Gordon Ramsey, Heston Blumenthal, Jamie Oliver, Gary Rhodes and Delia Smith.

LAMB: Take five celebrity chefs, make each one of them throw their own idea of the perfect dinner party, and let them rate each other in secret. Over the course of five nights we’ll see Gordon Ramsey, Heston Blumenthal, Jamie Oliver, Gary Rhodes and Delia Smith battle it out in the kitchen, in the hope of winning a £1000 prize for charity. Tonight we’re in Norwich, home of Delia Smith, the self-styled Queen of Dinner Parties and she is about to host the first one, but will it be knives out in the kitchen or culinary bliss? Let’s find out… Continue reading

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