Tag Archives: libraries

One Day

“One Day” originally appeared here in 2015, https://kmorrispoet.com/2015/12/23/one-day/. A friend subsequently commented to me (in person, not on this blog), that the poem could equally apply to both readers and writers. He had a point. However I had writers/authors in mind when I penned the piece, hence my poem stands as originally written.

Kevin

Banning Books

A couple of weeks ago, I fell into conversation with a librarian. During the course of our conversation she mentioned that the library does not stock books which their readers might “find offensive”. This exchange got me thinking about how one defines what constitutes “offensive”, and whether something being so classified is a sufficient reason for not allowing it on to the library’s shelves.

The great English author and poet, Rudyard Kipling is loved by people of every race and creed. Yet a number of his writings would, in today’s society be considered “offensive” by many. Take, for instance his poem “The Stranger” which begins thus:

“The Stranger within my gate,
He may be true or kind,
But he does not talk my talk –
I can not feel his mind.
I see the face and the eyes and the mouth,
But not the soul behind.

The men of my own stock
They may do ill or well,
But they tell the lies I am wonted to,
They are used to the lies I tell.
And we do not need interpreters
When we go to buy and sell”. (http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/poems_stranger.htm”.

The message of “The Stranger” is, in effect that people of different races should not mix (I.E. the black should stick to the black, the Asian to the Asian and the white to the white”. This is not a view I share and I can understand why many people find Kipling’s sentiments highly offensive.

“The Stranger” can be found in any complete collection of Kipling’s poems. Given that most people (including me) find the sentiments expressed in the poem offensive, should libraries not stock complete collections of Kipling’s works on the grounds that readers may be offended by them?

To answer the above question we need to stand back and look at “The Stranger” from the perspective of the time of it’s composition. The poem was written in 1908, at a time when many Englishmen (of all political persuasions) held views which we would, today regard as racist. Kipling believed that Britain had a duty to look after what he (in “The White man’s Burden” terms as “lesser breeds without the law”. This was not (as with the Nazis), a belief that those with white skin had the right to enslave or exterminate those of darker skin. Rather it was a paternalistic (and to us today) patronising view. It was not, however an uncommon opinion (as stated above) and was (as previously mentioned), widely held by Europeans at that time.

To banish “The Stranger” from library shelves would be a deeply illiberal act. Educated adults can employ their judgement and understand the historical context in which “The Stranger” was written and (without in any way justifying the message of the poem) appreciate the musicality of “The Stranger”.

One of the problems with defining what is offensive, is that what I may find offensive my friend Jo Bloggs may find perfectly acceptable. For example some religious people wish to see books which (in their words) “promote homosexuality” banished from libraries. They regard gay sex as immoral and believe that those who engage in it (or, via books, the media etc “promote”) it are ungodly. This is not a view I share, however those holding it are entitled to do so. What they are not entitled to do is to foist their opinions on others. If you don’t approve of a particular book, don’t read it, but don’t dictate to others what they can and can not read.

In conclusion, adults should be treated as such and not as children who need to be protected from reading something which may “deprave”, “offend” or “corrupt” them. Its perfectly possible that some of the views which are, today mainstream may, in the future be considered as “offensive”. I trust that, if this does transpire, that the librarians of the future will treat adults, as adults and not as children.

I would, of course be interested to hear your views and, in particular those of any librarians who may read this post.

Kevin

How to Promote Your Books

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Free Image Licensed from 123RF Stock Photo – Copyright amasterpics123

How best to promote one’s literary masterpiece, is an issue which exercises the mind of many an author, including my own. In the spirit of reaching out to my fellow authors I thought it was high time for me to set out my thoughts on this most important of topics. Below are some suggestions which will, I hope prove helpful to those who labour over smoking hot keyboards:

1. Climb Nelson’s column and recite passages, from your books with the aid of a loud hailer from that vantage point. You will, no doubt attract a crowd of curious onlookers together with a fair quantity of pigeon droppings for Trafalgar Square is a magnet to which our feathered friends flock. If it’s a nice sunny day you might also wish to don colourful swimming attire thereby further delighting the audience who will be listening, with rapt attention to your every word.
2. Hide behind the bookshelves in W. H. Smiths or some other purveyor of books and jump out on potential readers shouting at the top of your voice, “buy my book, buy my book” and if they are so ungracious as to refuse to avail themselves of your literary masterpiece, belabour them around the head with a copy of same.
3. Remove other authors books from the shelves in public libraries (for they are mere dross when compared to your scribblings) and replace their works wwith copies of your worthy tomes.
4. When talking to potential dates, regail them with chapter and verse as to why they should purchase your books. I find it helps to back them into a corner and (if at all possible) to ensure there is no easy means of exit. You may well not find the love of your life by employing such a stratagem. However your ex date will, very probably buy your book in order to effect his/her escape!
5. Send out automated tweets, every 5 seconds or so saying “please, please, please buy my book”. Your Twitter followers will be so impressed with your efforts they will show their appreciation by purchasing your book in droves or, just possibly deserting you in droves …!
6. If all else fails, repeat and repeat again!

School Days

I recall The library’s high shelves
Where I would delve
For books.
Often I forsook
My peers
To read
And on solitude feed.

All those years
Gone by.
I sigh
And wonder why
The past holds such sway.
And we humans lose ourselves in yesterday.
Oh how easy it is to perspective lack
As we gaze back
Down childhood’s track.

I remember the schoolyard’s din
And the wanting to join in.
Sometimes I ran with the crowd
Yet my nature proud
Held me apart
And I solace found in art.

I see the library now
And wonder how
The school goes on
Now that I am gone
An whether books still stand
Waiting to command
The future poet’s hand.

What Would Your Youthful Library Record Say About You?

What would your youthful library record say about you? An interesting question and one addressed by John Crace (amongst others) in yesterday’s Guardian, (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/03/youthful-library-record-haruki-murakami-belle-de-jour).
I, like John Crace, used to enjoy reading the Biggles books. Indeed I still have a copy of “Biggles Millionaire” on the bottom shelf of the bookcase in my living room. A good old fashioned yellow hardback book. I also still possess H. G. Wells “The Time Machine” and his “War Of The Worlds”, together with Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” (although the latter is missing one Braille volume. Heaven only knows what happened to that)! I must have been an extremely boring teenager as I have no recollection of reading anything salacious unless one counts a rather abridged version, on audio cassette of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” which, I must confess I did not enjoy reading.

Kevin

How To Get Your Book Into A Library

I am fortunate to live within 10-15 minutes walking distance of Upper Norwood’s Joint Library, the oldest and, I believe the only independent institution of it’s kind, (http://uppernorwoodlibrary.org/).

In search of ways to get my book, “Dalliance: A Collection of Poetry and Prose” into the hands of more readers I visited the library to ascertain whether they would add it to their shelves. To my delight a librarian confirmed the library would be pleased to accept my book. Its wonderful to know that “Dalliance” is available for the residents of Noorwood to enjoy.

The following article contains useful advice on getting a self published book into a library, (http://www.wikihow.com/Get-a-Self-Published-Book-into-Libraries). The article mentions the importance of specifying that you wish your book to be added to the library’s stock rather than sold. This is good advice and I asked the librarian to add “Dalliance” to the library’s shelves rather than selling it.

My experience diverged from the advice contained in the article in the following manner. The article refers to many libraries requiring more than one copy of a book. I offered the Upper Norwood Joint Library 2 copies of “Dalliance”. However the librarian politely advised me that it is their policy to only accept 1 copy of a book.

On my next visit to the city of my birth, Liverpool I will make a point of popping into Liverpool’s central library and donating a copy of my work.

 

Kevin

The Package Arrives!

On Wednesday evening I collected a package from the local drop off point for one of the leading courier firms. The box contained copies of my book, “Dalliance: A Collection of Poetry and Prose” (http://www.amazon.com/Dalliance-collection-poetry-prose-Morris-ebook/dp/B00QQVJC7E). The parcel should have been delivered while I was at home to receive it. However, the courier company having the laudable desire to enhance my physical fitness chose to leave it at the drop off point thereby necessitating the use of Shanks Pony. I am eternally grateful to this philanthropic firm for their efforts in improving my physical health – thank you unnamed courier company!

Leaving aside the public spirited actions of the courier firm, I was delighted, on reaching home to open my parcel and see “Dalliance” nestling in amongst assorted packaging. It felt great to hold the product of my labour and know that I had created something which will, I hope provide pleasure and entertainment to readers.

I have been distributing copies of “Dalliance” to family, friends and one neighbour who had expressed an interest in reading my writing. In addition I left a copy on the book shelves in my local station’s waiting room. Casually I approached the shelves and unobtrusively placed “Dalliance” on the top shelf. I then sauntered towards the door intent on catching my train.

“Is this your poetry?” a gentleman said.

So much for my cunningly designed plan to unobtrusively leave copies of “Dalliance” in public places for people to find and (hopefully) read!

“Yes. If you read it, I hope you enjoy doing so”, I said exiting the waiting room.

Have any fellow authors left copies of their books in public places? Have any of this blog’s readers found a book which you know or believe was left by a writer for you to find?

 

Kevin

A Modern Wasteland

Last night I dreamed of a library. I wandered around unable to locate what I was looking for although, as is frequently the case with dreams it was not at all clear what, exactly I was in search of. Looking back on my dreaming I can not, in point of fact recollect having encountered a single work of literature.

Loud music filled the institution making concentration all but impossible. I approached the librarian asking that the volume be turned down or, preferably silenced completely. She informed me that the people liked it. That this was, in fact the modern way.

Are we living in a culture so devoid of meaning that my dream is fast becoming the reality? I avoid reality TV like the plague however, while in doctors surgeries and other similar venues one can not but help coming across shows such as Jeremy Kyle in which inadequate individuals launder their dirty clothes in public. The audience (both that present in the studio and those viewing remotely) are treated to the unedifying spectacle of supposedly rational human beings frequently screaming abuse at one another.

“You slept with my sister”

A woman yells at her boyfriend – etc, etc.

Doubtless many of those who appear on programmes such as Jeremy Kyle do require help. However the assistance needed is that furnished by relationship counsellors, social workers or other professionals. Such shows are modern manifestations of a dessicated culture. One in which entertainment is substituted for serious thought. In the past the Romans watched gladiators fight to the death or “enjoyed” the spectacle of Christians being thrown to the lions. Today the audience cheers, boos and laughs as those in search of their fleeting moment of fame make fools of themselves on television. T S Eliot’s Wasteland seems so very appropriate for our times (http://www.bartleby.com/201/1.html).