Tag Archives: UK

Project 5am

Today guest contributor Jason Haye shares his Project 5am.

Jason writes, “Project 5am is about capturing and following the essence of being in the moment. It is an interdisciplinary project which can be viewed as a celebration of creativity or as a 5 year old diary of exploring a moment of enlightenment. The allusive aspect of the site reflects the Allen Ginsberg poem “5am” that it was inspired from and the mystic of the people, stories and philosophies that I have encountered on my journey. The aim is for the viewer to signify with references that are on the site and to put into their own context because …questions answers life.”

5am…

A moment that can happen at any time.

when everything falls into place,​
clarity is at clearest,​
confusion transforms into oneness​
and when fate…​
Welcomes you with open arms

“on a day like this”

“A lazy sailor at heart”

Jason Haye (b. 1978) is an Ipswich based artist and is currently studying a BA (Hons) Fine Art at the University Campus Suffolk.

To share your own “five am” moment as a video or Soundcloud file, email thatklickitat [at] gmail [dot] com. Submissions will be accepted throughout April.

UPDATE: Jason pointed out that today is the anniversary of Ginsberg’s death, making this post particularly apropos.

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Leave Your Sleep by Natalie Merchant

Leave Your Sleep isn’t just about my putting poems to music. It’s about the poets themselves.” – Natalie Merchant

Although not marketed as a “children’s album,” Natalie’s Merchant’s 2010 album Leave Your Sleep was inspired by poetry written for children or by children. Merchant, who began the project as a way of documenting the “word-of-mouth tradition” she employed “to delight and teach” her young daughter, collected a diverse set of poems that span several centuries and cultures. Several works will be familiar to poetry buffs but, on the whole, the collection is an impressive roster of little known gems.

The original poems may have been written for children but this is an album for adults. Not because of the subject matter – though some material may prove too complex or frightening* for young children – but because of tone. As Peter Pan remains a child while Wendy continues to mature, the poems selected capture the ethereal nature of childhood, a country to which we can never return once we’ve left. Only grown-ups can empathize with Charles Causley’s (“Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience”) confusion at no longer seeing the world through a child’s eyes. It’s a jarring moment in any life, and though some, like the poets represented, are better at mimicking that perspective, it can never be regained once it’s lost. It isn’t a coincidence that “Nursery Rhyme” opens the album.

I don’t mean to imply that children can’t enjoy this album too. There are many fun tracks (“Janitor’s Boy,” “Adventures of Isabel,” “Bleezer’s Ice-Cream“) in which young children will delight. But I believe older elementary and high school students would best be able to enjoy the album in its entirety. Perhaps it’s best to say that this is an album that will grow with you. 

The album consists of two compact discs (1 hour, 53 minutes) along with a companion hardcover book that provides the complete poems and brief author biographies. iTunes sells the digital edition with a PDF version of the book.

The EPK explains the project and Merchant’s inspirations in more detail.

Concert excerpt that features “Spring and Fall: To A Young Child”

Video of “The Man In The Wilderness”

Video of “Calico Pie”

Video of “Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience”

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* “Spring and Fall: to a Young Child” explains death, “The Sleeping Giant” talks about little boys being eaten whole, and “Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience” concerns the inevitable loss of innocence as we age.

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“Once Upon A Wartime,” Imperial War Museum (London, England)

Youth literature is cropping up in museums a lot lately. After my recent visit to Toronto I highlighted an exhibit at the Art Galley of Ontario composed of Walter Trier’s illustrations. Today let’s take a cyber field trip to London, courtesy of the fabulous Playing By The Book.

All Rights Reserved, IWM

This week Playing by the Book ran a two part (1 2) series on “Once Upon A Wartime,” an exhibit at the Imperial War Museum (London) that uses five children’s novels to explore how children experience war. Looks excellent. Wish I could snap my fingers and visit. Any time you want to adopt me, Britain, give a shout. Have tea cozy, will travel.

The videos below describe the exhibit further:

The books featured are:

I’m not familiar with any of them. Are you?

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Filed under Field Trip, Youth Literature in the Wild

Listening to the Newbery, Part 1

As I’ve mentioned, I’m currently enrolled in a course on the Newbery. Each student is asked to read at least one medalist from each decade. Obviously, that’s a lot of books, especially because when I hear the words “at least” I multiply the requirement by five in my head, automatically. So, to achieve my lofty goals, and to keep myself entertained while watching endless muted news broadcasts and basketball games at the gym, I’ve begun borrowing audiobook versions of Newbery medalists from the library. My thoughts on the books themselves and the audiobook version in particular are recorded below.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare (1959 Medal)
Narrated by Mary Beth Hurt
Listening Library
ISBN: 9780739359693

First off, not my favorite Newbery. My main issue is that Kit is just too defiant to be either believable or sympathetic. Far be it from me to criticize a sassy heroine but Kit felt more like a transplant from the twentieth century than Barbados. And really? A long suffering, saint-like cripple character? Ack. But, on the positive side, I enjoyed Kit’s unconventional contributions to the dame school. And this book did teach me the significance of the name Horn Book so I thank it for that.

Mary Beth Hurt does a fine job handling the diverse cast of characters’ voices. I was going to quibble with her performance of Kit because she came off as a total priss but then I realized, she is a total priss, so well played, Madam.

The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman (2009 Medal)
Narrated by the author
Harper Children’s Audio
ISBN: 9780061551895

The Graveyard Book is notable for being heavily decorated. Along with winning the 2009 Newbery Medal,  it also won the 2009 Hugo Award for Best Novel, the 2010 Carnegie Medal (a British equivalent of the Newbery), and a Locus Award for Best YA Novel. That The Graveyard Book won awards for three different age ranges (children’s, young adult, adult), hints at its broad appeal. Although, just to give all of the above a sprinkling of salt, I would point out that Gaiman has an especially rabid fanbase and just maybe they were waiting in the wings to reward him? I mean, was anyone else at ALA Midwinter this year? Hoo boy. Talk about mania! I hid out at an awards discussion to avoid being drooled on or trampled.

This is an excellent audiobook; one of the best I’ve listened to in a long time. Gaiman’s text begs to be read out loud and the fact that Neil himself (pun intended) is such a fabulous narrator is a huge bonus. I realize the guy wrote the book and therefore knew what dialects the characters would use but he does all the voices! He even does convincing women without resorting to falsetto. Phrases like “scraggly grass” come to life in their rightful British accent. It’s awesome. I recommend you give it a listen.

The story itself, I’m afraid, sputters out after an excellent first chapter. Oh, it’s still interesting but it doesn’t have the same pow! it starts with. It revives for the final act though. Oh, does it ever. I apologize to my neighbors for my shouting quite a bit while listening to the second to last chapter.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Reading the Newbery

The Great Dog Bottom Swap

This installment of “That’s A Children’s Book?,” or really, “That’s a book at all?” is credit, Ms. Jen Knoch. She seeks out inappropriate children’s books and this is her latest find.

This is the story of the Dogs’ Summer Ball, an affair so fancy, that all the dogs have to remove their “bums” (illustrated as cheery pink ‘o’s) to dine. Suddenly a fire breaks out and all the dogs have to grab whatever bum they can find, with no guarantee that they’ve grabbed their own. Ostensibly, this is an origin tale of why dogs sniff each others’ butts.

Not a question that needed an answer.

Sadly, I can’t find any images of the interior art for you. Those little pink ‘O’s, all hung in a line, are something to see.

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Sunday Song: Rambling Man, Laura Marling

Laura Marling’s music is one my favorite recent discoveries. While I often hear her compared to Joni Mitchell, in my mind she’s more reminiscent of Sandy Denny. This track, “Rambling Man,” comes from her latest album I Speak Because I Can.

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