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12 Books in 12 Months

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censorship

No Coherence Without Chronology?

Last night I went to a couple more things at the Book Festival – not necessarily the sorts of things everyone was tweeting about (on my feed the James Tait Black Prize for Fiction was the highlight) but things that were of particular interest to me as a sometime journo and history student.

The first was a reading in the Amnesty International Imprisoned Writers series, focusing on the work of journalists Anna Politkovskaya, Hollman Morris, Marielos Monzon and Mohamed El Dahshan who variously reported conflict in Chechnya, Columbia, Guatemala and Egypt and have all been threatened (and much worse) by their governments for trying to tell the story of what has gone on in these countries.

As the first reader, journalist Catherine Mayer pointed out, these people do the kind of work that makes idealistic young folk want to get into journalism – there’s a level of integrity and courage involved in some areas of the profession that people forget about in the face of events like the phone hacking scandal.  There were some scary statistics read out – 2000 journalists have been killed in the line of duty over the past 20 years, 94 in 2010 – and last year 89 countries put restrictions on freedom of expression.  Sort of puts things into perspective, doesn’t it.

The second event was a debate on The Wonderfulness of Us – where three historians pondered Michael Gove’s desire to make schools teach ‘our island history’ in order to present Britain as “a beacon of liberty for others to emulate.”

He is glossing over a few things there, I fear.  Were we not involved in the slave trade after all, then?  But then this is a man who was overcome with worry that his six-year-old daughter wasn’t taught Greeks and Vikings in chronological order, and claimed Isaac Newton came up with the laws of thermodynamics.  (He didn’t.)

Continue reading “No Coherence Without Chronology?”

Forest Fringe Prepares to Leave Bristo

If you’ve been reading religiously, you will have heard a lot about Edinburgh’s Forest Cafe on the blog over the past couple of weeks.  Apologies to readers who aren’t based here but there is a reason for it; namely that this is likely to be the last time the building is used in the Fringe Festival.  They’re obviously hoping to leave Bristo Place with a bang, so that when they find a new venue it’ll have something amazing to live up to.  Forest volunteer Harry Giles somehow found the time in amongst poetry marathons and readings to write this guest post on what to expect from the Forest’s swansong.

This August is (probably) the Forest Café’s last Festival season in 3 Bristo Place. That makes us sad.

But it hasn’t stopped us programming an amazing month. Forest is a year-round multi-arts centre, with a gallery, gig rooms, spoken word events, library, workshop space, and much else besides. We’re also a free venue: it’s free to put work on here, and free to see it. So when August comes around, with eager, bigger audiences, we use it as a chance to champion what we do the rest of the year – or show off a wee bit – showcasing the fringes of the arts world.  With free and liberated events providing space to the marginalised (or just plain awesome), Forest is a venue  that programmes what commercial venues won’t. Plus we throw some pretty awesome parties.
Continue reading “Forest Fringe Prepares to Leave Bristo”

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