August 2012: Piers Plowright
The Royal Society of Literature has some 500 Fellows. They include most of the very best novelists, short-story writers, poets, playwrights, biographers, historians, travel writers, literary critics and scriptwriters at work today.
Our new Fellow's Choice page features selections from the RSL Library by one of our Fellows.
This month, read Piers Plowright's article and selections from our Library. He has served as a member of the RSL Council for five years and is a Fellow of the Society, recognised for his work in radio as a producer of dramas, documentaries and innovative features.
I write on air. Always have done. My books are radio programmes, my plots are real people’s lives, my landscapes sounds, and my characters voices. When I look at my home shelves of cassettes and CDs, as authors might look at their novels, plays, poems, and essays, I hear those voices: Mr Fletcher the Poet, recorded during the 1984 Miners’ Strike, remembering the ritual pig-killing in his Leicestershire village in the 1920s; Doris the window cleaner, climbing her ladder to polish and peer through the glass of Golders Green in North London, and so intrigued and moved by what she saw that she converted from Christianity to Judaism; Troy the black delivery man in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, getting lost with his plate of sandwiches, on his journey from the deli to the dining table; an old man in a Barcelona side-street, singing along to a tape-recording of his younger self; and, above all, Alison Waley, widow of Arthur, the great translator from Chinese and Japanese, re-imagining his peaceful death, one brilliant June morning fifty years ago. This last is a two and a half minute prose poem endlessly polished in the telling and built round Arthur’s translation of a sixteenth century Chinese poem, by Feng Meng Lung, which begins: "Don’t set sail/ Tomorrow the wind may have dropped/ And I shan’t worry about you/ And then you may go" As Alison tells it, the...
A recording of Dimitri Bykov, Angela Livingstone and Jon Stallworthy discussing Boris Pasternak.
Marilynne Robinson speaks about her life and work in this recording from Monday 20 September 2010.
The 2011 V.S. Pritchett Memorial Prize winning short story by Carys Davies.