Between The Covers: 29/05/2011

Your weekly guide to what's really going on in the world of books

*Authors are not all staid figures in freezing garrets – indeed, some are into vajazzled eggs and others are "very bendy", we can reveal.

To find out for yourself, tomorrow is the last chance to take a ride in Hendrick's Horseless Carriage of Curiosities at the Brighton Festival Fringe, where visitors are being offered a free Hendrick's gin and tonic in return for composing a short piece of writing along a "libations" theme. This evening at 6pm, Shoreditch House's literary salonierre Damian Barr will take a "genteel tipple through gin in literature", his audience lubricated by cocktails (tickets £10, including drinks). The carriage's week started with a literary salon where the novelist Polly Samson returned to Mr Barr an egg which he had given her from one of his hens. The egg had been blown (not by Ms Samson, but by her husband, the musician David Gilmour) and "vejazzled", as she called it, with diamante. Later in the week, the writer Stella Duffy revealed that she can do the splits. That should certainly be added to lectures on the noble role that gin plays in writers' lives.

*The Poetry Book Society would like to express its gratitude to the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, inset below, who has organised a benefit on Friday to raise funds for it after the Arts Council withdrew funding because of Government cuts. Duffy has invited poets including Elaine Feinstein, George Szirtes, Ruth Fainlight, Carol Rumens, Patience Agbabi, Christopher Reid and Jane Draycott to read at the event at The Logan Hall, Institute of English Studies, London University, at 7pm. There will be a minimum donation of £10 on the door, and with any luck Duffy will read her poem "A Cut Back", about the "coalition shysters". "The only bloody writing now's the writing on the wall," it laments, recommending: "And if you're strapped for cash, go fish, then try the pigging bankers."

*The Domesday Reloaded Project went online this month, meaning a blast from the past for many of the 1986 schoolchildren who wrote about their schools, lives, and local areas on the 900th anniversary of the Domesday Book in a project supported by Acorn computers. One of these was the Stroud poet Adam Horovitz, who has just rediscovered a poem he wrote when he was nine, which was submitted at the time by his dad, the poet Michael Horovitz. "Sheep on a Winter's Day", by Adam Horovitz, begins with a description of "Cold, bleak, windy fields/ With no horizon/ Mist covers the land ..." and concludes: "Their faces are like black masks/ And their wool is beigy brown./ Soon the joy of lambs!" Adam achieved this early promise, and will be appearing at the Ledbury Poetry Festival on Tuesday 5 July.

*What is a kylie? It is a boomerang, according to a new book of 8,000 interesting and obscure words called The English Wordsmith: A Lexical Eclecsis (The Great Wordsmith LLP, £12.99). And what is an eclecsis? Why, it is a compilation from various sources. The author, David Andrews, was an avid collector of words who completed the work just before his death in 2010, and who said: "Taking information from one source is plagiarism. Taking it from many is original research." Other words in the eclecsis, which runs from aa to zymurgy (heads up, Scrabble fans), include sesquipedalian (given to using long words) and forswonk (overworked). We'd guess that there are still not words to describe how the Poetry Book Society and its ilk feel about the pigging bankers and the coalition shysters, however.

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