Wednesday, October 24, 2007

" Sophie's Mother, Adele's Daughter"

Elaine Feinstein wrote a poem once called " Izzy's daughter".* ( see end of post) It's a favourite of mine.
Izzy's daughter in the poem fascinates me; there's a compelling mix about her that intrigues.
Izzy's daughter has a "liquid black stare, an olive face". She wants to be: "as reckless as a man...dive through rough, grey waves on Southport sands, shake salt out of hair as he did.."
Izzy's daughter writes stories too ( "I was Maggie Tulliver, proud of my cleverness" she says) "and her family marvells: "Where DOES it all come from?" they say, mystified.
And alone in a quiet corner, Izzy, the timid mother, smiles...

On Monday, poet Sophie Hannah held court in the Town Hall's Council Chamber ( as part of Chester LitFest) with HER mother. And Adele Geras isn't timid; I can't see Geras spending long hours in quiet corners. She's vivacious and strong and extremely bright. She's eloquently wise about the world of the writer and her chat is peppered with a briskly sensible humour. It's also clear where her daughter's talents come from; like Izzy in Feinstein's poem, Sophie is " her mother's daughter". Oh yes, they're an inspiring pair, this dark haired and dark eyed mother and daughter.

Sophie Hannah ( she claims to like "grotesquerie") first published aged 24.
When she was five, she chose names for her mother's characters. And, Geras says, she chose exactly right.
Hannah's now in her mid 30's; she's published poems in acclaimed collections and somewhere, I read that she was declared " genius" after her first collection, although I'm sure she's too modest to tell us that.
She's currently writing psychological thrillers and her fourth was published recently.
Hannah likes ingenious plots; she creates them ( it seems) fast and furiously, declaring that writing's:" my way of dealing with good and bad aspects of my life" And next year, her short stories appear in a book intriguingly titled: "The fantastic book of everybody's secrets"

Adele Geras has written prolifically for 30 years; she's written over 90 books, for children, teenagers and adults
She plans her books in bus queues and in the supermarket and sometimes she plans what dress she'll wear when Sir Melvyn interviews her on TV. She likes reading on her sofa; favourite writers include Jane Gardam and Jacqueline Wilson and she admires Julie Burchall for her "sheer chutzpah". And Geras ( tongue in cheek?) believes that if you get your book banned or denounced, you're well on the way to hitting the News! She cleverly includes protagonists of all ages in her books; she reckons this gives them appeal to readers of varied ages. She says, too, that getting NO reviews is certainly preferable to getting " real stinkers"...

AND SO you see: we had a lively time in the Town Hall on Monday; hopefully, these two creative women will call again. They'll be more than welcome.

PS :
*The poem " Izzy's daughter" is from Elaine Feinstein's collection " Daylight ( Carcanet Press)
Adele Geras recently published " A Hidden Life" and Sophie Hannah recently published " The Hurting Distance"
The poster at top of post is:" A Mother and her daughters carrying bouquets of roses in a decorative manner"


Blogger Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

That was a brilliant post, I so enjoyed reading it. I love the insights one gets from attending events such as these, particularly when one comes away with the sense of the real person behind the words. Thanks for sharing, Jan!

6:49 am  
Blogger Jon M said...

Dang! I missed that and it was in half term, mind you I was in London! Got to rationalise life!
Your word verification spells: off ti sea (Off to sea?) how curious!

7:31 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Am I allowed to comment on this blog? I do hope so! Thanks Jan for a wonderful write up...super to see you again and hope it won't be too long before we meet again.

12:15 pm  
Anonymous adele geras said...

Sorry...never meant to be anonymous!

12:16 pm  
Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

Always good to catch up and to read your informative, entertaining and well written posts Jan!

1:30 am  
Blogger liz fenwick said...

Thanks Jan, great post :-)

2:49 am  
Blogger Minx said...

A wonderful insight to a fascinating pair - strong genes in that family, no doubt.
Small Fecker once gave me a list of names for my characters but they seemed to be mostly made up from Thomas the Tank Engine - ah well.

10:25 am  
Blogger Jan said...

Yes, the "real guy" is gradually revealed...( hopefully!?)

Do you think Im "off to sea in a beautiful peagreen boat???"

Adele Geras:
Thankyou for your comment. It was lovely to hear from you.

Must catch yours ASAP.
Are you ever contemplating
visiting UK?

Good, Liz, all very good.

Some brilliant names there too, Minx. Good to see you again.

12:24 pm  
Blogger marlyat2 said...

What were those names, bestowed at 5? My daughter just suggested that we give each other titles and write the stories to go with them.

12:36 am  
Blogger Jan said...

Think I just might adapt this thought for my class!!
Thanks Marly!

10:20 am  

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