My boring holiday snaps ’11

I didn’t actually mention it before, but I spent last week on the Amalfi Coast in Southern Italy. I’ll admit that I miss the long two/three month breaks of the undergraduate summer, so this was a way of enforcing some rest in my (seemingly) orderless research. The views from Ravello and Capri were stunning and reading by the pool was just the ticket for my frazzled thesis brain. The shops mainly sold souvenirs – which is a good thing since I am due to pay my first month’s rent on a new flat next week (more of which anon).

Just a small spot of usual literary tourism. Ravello was where D.H. Lawrence wrote Lady Chatterley’s Lover (commemorated by a plaque) and also a holiday destination for Graham Greene, Virginia Woolf, Tennessee Williams and Paul Valery. Capri has plenty of history in that way too – foremost in my mind as the place that Oscar Wilde met Lord Alfred Douglas again after his time in jail.

View from Ravello over Minori

D.H. Lawrence plaque

Some wares...

View down to the sea in Minori

Malfi fountain in Amalfi

View of the Bay of Naples from Anacapri

A rare visit

After my PhD angst about how empty college is in the vacation, I’m feeling a bit more positive about the absence of undergraduates after a visit to my college library this week. I don’t tend to use it because most of the texts I need are too specialized but also because during the term time it is hiving and as a result can be quite noisy. Most days this week I’ve had the whole library all to myself, and it was quite pleasant.

While searching for photos of the library I came across these on Flickr. They were taken in 1971 and 1977, but the interior hasn’t changed a bit and I love the effect their age conveys – plus the emptiness.

GKC/COOX/2/5/3 Wadham College, University of Oxford, 1971 & 1977


GKC/COOX/S/1 Wadham College, University of Oxford, 1971 & 1977

Missing, though, are the piles of unclaimed (finalists?) notes that currently line the walls.

I’m currently preparing a conference paper for the Autumn – and by the time I give it I’m sure the rest of college will be back and in the college library. So I best make use of it while I can…

A heady dose of PhD angst

I’ve mentioned before that I feel like I get no real work done during term time because it all goes by in a whirl of research seminars, college and society events and so on. However, working through the vacation poses some problems too – problems which I’d appreciate some space to whine about. Skip the next bit if you have an aversion to PhD angst.

So, the catalogue ordering system OLIS is down for 10 days until they implement a new ordering system. I appreciate that this is very important, but it does mean I can’t get at books in closed stacks – ie. most of the books in the Bodleian. This makes me a bit sad, and leaves me at a bit of a loss. As if this library stalemate wasn’t enough, some books I had ordered up went back to the stacks much earlier than usual because they are opening a new bit of the library (the Gladstone Link – which appears to be the basement).

My college has gone into conference and B&B mode, so there are no cheap food to be had in Hall or anything else really going on at all. There are strangers wandering around my accommodation site, looking winsomely at me as I waddle to the recycling bin.

The number of tourists in the city has literally reached critical mass. You simply can’t get from A to B without being photographed striding past something picturesque. Last night I had to pick some things up from a friend and I couldn’t park because a tourist was filming a building (which was doing nothing exciting anyway), and when he saw I wanted to park where he was standing he filmed me parking instead. Is that even legal?

Of course, complaining about all this is merely a way of distracting myself from that chapter. I am genuinely miffed about the books though.

Red Wheelbarrow Day

One of the real joys of working on contemporary poetry is the sense of working in contemporary poetry. At the same time, I am also concerned by elements which effect my field. I’m disappointed to see that Amazon is buying The Book Depository because I feel that the monopolization of bookselling has a negative effect on publishers and in turn poets, poetry and readers. This week Mslexia also claims that most educated women have a phobia of poetry – which is to say nothing of my crippling fear of those who fear poetry (namely potential future students).

I’ve also been very distressed by the ongoing issues at the Poetry Society. The situation has been fairly well documented in the papers, and on other blogs – and I certainly won’t be launching into any allegations on here. For those of you who aren’t aware, the Poetry Society promotes poetry, runs a number of educational programmes, national competitions, publishes a journal and newsletter and does all of this, by and large, very well. In the past two months there was some schism between the trustees and the staff, resulting in a number of high level resignations and much concern from poets and poetry enthusiasts. Due to the lack of information, a requisition calling for an EGM (or rather seeking to ensure that our concerns are addressed at the GM already called…) is being delivered to their central London offices this afternoon in a red wheelbarrow. Might this be a red letter day for their governing trustees.

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

– ‘The Red Wheelbarrow’, William Carlos Williams.

And, might Red Wheelbarrow Day be a reminder of our happily shared purposes for poetry and be the beginning of an end to all this mess.

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