Cover Stories: McGovern's; New women poets; Essex Book Festival; Yellow Submarine

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The Independent Culture

It's 32 years since George McGovern, the presidential candidate who promised to end the Vietnam War at all costs, was defeated by Richard Nixon after an election campaign that bequeathed us the Watergate tapes. Now, with the 2004 campaign in full swing, McGovern - former Second World War bomber pilot and UN Ambassador who represented South Dakota in the Senate - is back. As a bookseller. McGovern's has opened its doors on Main Street in Stevensville, Montana, a town of 2,000 souls near Missoula. The store is run by his grandson, Tim Mead. It features a lavish helping of liberal history alongside predictable fare, as well as a selection of well-thumbed secondhand books from the bibliophile senator's own library. Apparently, tourists are flocking in to discuss the state of the nation with the proprietor, who is frequently to be found in the shop.

* A good prize-winning season for male poets - or rather, for just one of them, after unstoppable Don Paterson added the TS Eliot Prize to his Whitbread award this week. So why not buck the trend and explore the Top 10 of new women poets featured in Mslexia, the magazine "for women who write"? A panel of poets and editors came up with a list notable for its "confidence and authority": Kate Clanchy; Polly Clark; Gwyneth Lewis; Alice Oswald; Pascale Petit; Derryn Rees-Jones; Catherine Smith; Jean Sprackland; Greta Stoddart; Jackie Wills. With Sylvia about to open, reading them might offer an antidote to Gwyneth Paltrow-induced visions (above) of gifted women poets as stricken, suicidal and - preferably - long dead. Mslexia subscriptions: 0191-261 6656.

* The Essex Book Festival, now in its sixth year, brings together a formidable line-up of talent across the county, which boasts 300 reading groups. Many of the 40-plus writers in the programme, which runs throughout March, have local connections: Martina Cole is an Essex Girl and proud of it; so too Lesley Pearce and Barbara Erskine. "Scud Stud" Rageh Omaar and Joanne Harris are the bookends for the Festival. Check out events at: or call 01206 573948.

* Here's the ideal gift for baby-boomers to buy their godchildren and grandchildren. Walker Books, whose much-loved kids' characters include Maisie and Wally, will publish in the spring the first-ever picture-book version of Yellow Submarine, The Beatles' 1968 animated movie.