By Deb A.
It's summer—time to curl your toes in the sand or unfurl the picnic blanket and while away an afternoon with a good book and some sunshine. This year, we've compiled some hot tips from a former U.S. President, a business leader and philanthropist, and the Queen of All Media for you to find in your local independent bookshop.
This is the only one of Obama's suggestions that is not a celebration of African culture. But he says this this memoir by his former speechwriter and aide is "one of the smartest reflections I’ve seen as to how we approached foreign policy, and one of the most compelling stories I’ve seen about what it’s actually like to serve the American people for eight years in the White House."
By Deb A.
Summer is festival time. Here's a sample of just some of the events for bookworms, art lovers, and photography fans taking place this season.
Athens Photo Festival 2018
6 June –29 July; Athens, Greece
The main exhibition at the Benaki Museum was curated from over 100 entries; there is also a Young Greek Photographers exhibit.
21 June–1 July; Lodz, Poland
One of Poland's first major photography events in 2001, this year's festival looks at the Anthropocene epoch with over 30 exhibitions.
23 June–1 July; Leipzig, Germany
This year the biennial festival for photography will examine how photography can be used for democracy and mediation.
National Arts Festival
28 June–8 July; Grahamstown, South Africa
Visitors get free entry to exhibitions by "hundreds of visual artists working in almost every conceivable medium," including I am because you are: A search for Ubuntu with permission to dream and Sister Sister, an all-female exhibition.
29 June–1 July; London, England
Somali-British poet Warsan Shire will headline the U.K.'s biggest annual African literary festival, which features book launches, workshops, masterclasses, panels, and roundtables with authors from a dozen countries.
Read by the Sea
2–7 July; River John, Canada
A festival that brings some of Canada's best authors and poets to a small town in Nova Scotia; WordPlay, a children's event, will include Paulette Bourgeois (Franklin the Turtle).
2 July–23 September; Arles, France
"Cross space and time with a breathtaking, celestial journey across the ages"—who could resist an invitation like that?
Antiparos International Photo Festival
7–16 July; Antiparos, Greece
With a maximum of just 15 photographers, this mostly open-air event may be the smallest international photography festival in the world.
Upfest—The Urban Paint Festival
28–30 July; Bristol, England
Europe's largest, free street art and graffiti festival, with artists from around the world painting 60,000 square feet of surfaces. Also includes an affordable art sale.
Edinburgh Fringe Festival
3–27 August; Edinburgh, Scotland
It bills itself as "the world's greatest platform for creative freedom," as well as "the single biggest celebration of arts and culture on the planet," neither of which is an empty boast. Featuring spoken word performances, art exhibits, plays, dance, cabaret, and more, it is perhaps best-known for comedy.
Kilkenny Arts Festival
9–19 August; Kilkenny, Ireland
Enjoy the music, theatre, dance, and art, but don't let it distract you from attending a poetry workshop with poet-in-residence Eavan Boland.
17–19 August; Kampala, Uganda
In its sixth year, Uganda's leading literary festival will be looking to build on its foundations and set the tone for the next five years.
Queensland Poetry Festival
36–26 August; Queensland, Australia
Poet-in-residence Yona Harvey will offer workshops, talks, and more; the winner of the Emerging Older Poets Mentorship will read, and a poet will be selected to represent Queensland in the Australia Poetry Slam.
By Deb A.
The extraordinary Hay Festival in Wales draws to a close today, and we were thrilled to find a list of books that give some of the festival speakers hope. Combine that with Steven Pinker's suggestions for reading material to make or keep you optimistic, and you have the start of a promising summer reading list.
One of the things that gives us hope is hearing women's voices, so here we offer, in no particular order, a selection of the books that make authors feel good. What books give you hope? Add your favourites in the comment section below.
By Deb A.
My Dear Sir,
It has been so long since letters gave way to e-mails that now e-mails themselves have been replaced by messages that are easier to type with one's thumbs. And yet, there's something undeniable about the power of the handwritten word—in particular when it comes in an envelope.
For anyone rolling their eyes at this anachronistic, romanticised view of letter-writing: Try imagining an audience listening rapt as a renowned performer reads a piece of correspondence aloud. Is that performer reading a WhatsApp chat or a letter?
Chances are you're thinking of epistles, not emojis. So were the founders of Letters Live, who began an event series in London in 2013 that has, after over a dozen events in the United Kingdom, recently made its way over the the United States as well.
Letters Live bills itself as "a celebration of the enduring power of literary correspondence." The events are a surprise; the audience is aware of what to expect in the most general sense—in essence, a cast of famous people reading memorable letters from other, mostly famous, people—but the personalities and subject matter involved are a mystery until someone takes the stage, and every show is different. Perhaps Ian McKellen will read Kurt Vonnegut's letter to five teenage fans. Maybe Benedict Cumberbatch will recite Albert Camus's missive to the teacher who inspired him. The process is so secretive that the performers themselves are told only moments before they step into the spotlight what they'll be reading.
Shows are generally sold out, and part of the proceeds are used to support literacy-focused charities such as First Story, The Reading Agency, and 826LA. The next event is the series' New York debut this week.
By Deb A.
This Earth Day we join NASA in looking back at a single iconic photograph: Pale Blue Dot, taken in 1990 from Voyager 1.
While it still looks the same from this vantage point, that single speck now contains more microplastics than there are stars in the galaxy.
Here's how the Earth Day Network is working to ensure that our pale blue dot doesn't get choked by plastics.
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