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Here's a novel way to help the unemployed; or more literally a poetic way to help the unemployed. Sinclair-Stevenson's anthology, Poem for the Day - 366 Poems, Old & New, Worth Learning by Heart, is sponsoring an unusual means of raising poetry awareness for The Poetry Marathon on Sunday 13 October in London's Little Venice. pounds 10 is being offered to unemployed people who can recite a poem of 14 lines or more that they have learnt by heart. There is also an offer of pounds 5 each to the first 50 people under 18 who recite a poem. And to think there was a time, long ago, when we used to memorise the stuff for pleasure.

I don't know how much of an advance his publishers have given the estimable Bill Bryson for his next travel book recording his hike along the 2,157- mile Appalachian Trail. But judging from his first dispatch (to the Waterstone's Magazine), it sounds as if he needs danger money.

"The woods were full of perils," he writes, " rattlesnakes and copperheads, bobcats, wolves, black bears, wild boar, even the occasional deranged moose. I learned of a man who had stepped from his tent for a midnight pee and was mistakenly, but savagely, attacked by a hoot owl - a hoot owl for Christ's sake - and of three people crushed in their tents by falling trees or limbs...

"Then there were all the diseases I could get - schistosomiasis, giardia, lyme disease. Lyme disease results from the bite of a common deer tick smaller than a pinhead. If undetected it can lie dormant in the human body for years before erupting in a fiesta of symptoms that can include chronic fatigue, nausea, facial paralysis, meningitis, brain tumours, dizziness, cardiac irregularities, shortness of breath, achiness and - not surprisingly - depression.

"Accordingly, I suggest an advance of hoot owl and deer repellent and a six-month supply of Prozac."

The pattern is set: classic book; classic serial; book of classic serial of classic book. Following the success of last year's The Making Of Jane Austen's Pride And Prejudice comes the "sequel", The Making Of Jane Austen's Emma. The television adaptation by Andrew Davies is on ITV in November, coinciding with the book publication by Penguin. Sue Birtwistle, who produced the adaptation and put together the book with Susie Conklin, says: "With Pride And Prejudice" we went over material retrospectively in order to produce a book. This time we got everyone on the set to keep diaries."

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