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Bob Dylan wins the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature

October 14th, 2016 by Soraya Belkhiria | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Bob Dylan wins the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature
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I never thought a day would come when a Nobel Prize announcement would feel Rock and Roll, but it is definitely the case today! Sure Bob Dylan is known primarily as a folk, blues, and country singer, but the mere fact that a musician’s work is acknowledged by the Academy is quite revolutionary in itself…because it is the very first time in the history of the Nobel Prize in Literature that this has happened. Dylan is also the first American to win the Nobel Prize since Toni Morrisson in 1993.

However, this is far from being the first award he has won for his work, as he already can count one Academy Award, one Golden Globe Award and no less than 11 Grammy Awards in his collection.

The Nobel Academy crowned his achievements by awarding him “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”, preferring him to the famous Japanese novelist Murakami or this year favourite, the Kenyan author Ngugi Wa Thiong’o.

Once the initial surprise has passed though, the decision of the Academy definitely doesn’t seem unjustified. Even if Bob Dylan’s voice defied conventions and rallied counterculture in the sixties, he is now 75 years old and the cultural moment he marked now belongs to the classical heritage of American Literature.

Bob Dylan had solid footing into the literary world already. He and the famous poet Allan Ginsberg were very close friends. Here is what Ginsberg had to say about his cultural impact and aura:

“His image was undercurrent, underground, unconscious in people…something a little more mysterious, poetic, a little more Dada, more where people’s hearts and heads actually were rather than where they ‘should be’ according to some ideological angry theory.” San Francisco, 1965 (Excerpt from Deliberate Prose: Selected Essays, 1952-1995, A. Ginsberg)

Several clips featuring Bob Dylan were indeed playing at the Beat Generation Exhibition in the Centre Pompidou this summer in Paris, presenting him as a major actor of the American avant-garde of the sixties. Here are some great lyrics that let you see his poetic talent even without the accompaniment of the music (even if you won’t get the whole experience without listening to the songs!):

From Subterraneans Homesick Blues (you can see Ginsberg in the background of the video; this video clip was playing at the Pompidou exhibition):

“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” (1963)

 

From The times They Are A-changing:

“Come mothers and fathers throughout the land,

And don’t criticize what you can’t understand

Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command” (1964)

 

From Mr Tambourine Man

“Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free,

Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands,

With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves,

Let me forget about today until tomorrow.” (1965)

 

From It’s alright, Ma (I’m only bleeding):

“Temptation’s page flies out the door

You follow, find yourself at war

Watch waterfalls of pity roar

You feel to moan but unlike before

You discover

That you’d just be

One more person crying.”

 

And a personal favourite from Maggie’s farm:

“Well, I try my best,

To be just like I am,

But everybody wants you,

To be just like them.” (1965)

 

It might be time for a Bob Dylan songbook leaving the lyrics in their bare beauty! And now, time to enjoy even more good music to celebrate!

 

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Bob Dylan and Ginsberg in front of Kerouac’s grave

By Soraya Belkhiria

First Visitor Talk of 16-17: Nikki Simpson, PPA Scotland

October 13th, 2016 by morven_gow | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on First Visitor Talk of 16-17: Nikki Simpson, PPA Scotland
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ppa-scotAt 2.45pm on 6th October, with a retinue of publishing students bearing boxes of precious periodicals, Nikki Simpson (Business Manager at the PPA – Professional Publishers Association) strode through the seemingly endless corridors of the University of Stirling. She was a woman with a mission. Her aim, to convert Unbelievers – those students convinced that their future lies 100% in the world of book publishing rather than that of the magazine.

A passionate presenter, Nikki soon had many of the most hardened book career diehards rethinking their options and goals. The PPA represents over 700 magazines in Scotland, an industry valued at £154m which supports 1,300 full-time, 560 part-time and 4,400 freelancers. DC Thomson is the largest employer with around 600 employees, but the smallest publisher could have a couple of people working on a “passion project”. Annual events, the international Magfest (make a note in your diary, 15th Sep 17) and the Scottish Magazine Awards (The Beano won in 2015), provide the perfect platforms for the industry to celebrate the drive and passion of those working to produce regular magazines of the highest quality. The PPA is also planning to open a centre for magazine publishing in Edinburgh which would act as a hub for the industry and raise the profile of the sector. Exciting times!

magsThere are three areas of periodical publishing – Consumer, B2B and Contract. The boxes were soon opened and magazines representing each of these areas passed around. To appreciate magazines, it’s vital to get hands on and we certainly did. Delighted sounds filled the room as we were given a design lesson in the art of the mag. Everyone is familiar with the glossy mag, but what caught the imagination in Nikki’s presentation was the sheer variety of paper stock used and glorious typography and images. Smooth, matt, cut outs, glow in the dark, QR codes, VR – seemingly unlimited creative options. Titles like Modern Farmer, Delayed Gratification, Boat, Little White Lies, Oh Comely, ‘Sup, the Gentlewoman and Hot Rum Cow had many fans and turned the head of many a committed book careerist on the day.

It’s worth remembering that the big players are those with circulations audited every six months by ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulations). The UK top five are: supermarket mags for Asda, then Tesco; TV Choice, What’s On TV, and Waitrose magazine. Their combined circulation figures, a mighty 6.8 million.

What makes a magazine successful? Nikki explained that in addition to the basic funding models of subscriptions, copy sales, advertising, and crowdfunding, brand extensions via websites, apps, award nights, supplements (even shops in the case of Tyler Brule’s Monocle) are all so important. The issue of ad blocking was discussed. Half of us in the room admitted to using these. After Nikki’s cri de coeur against their use for magazine sites, “Die! Die!” but “I love your content!” and the particularly vivid “ad blockers stab newspapers in the face”, those students using adblockers were swearing off using them again.

Nikki covered 16 possible career areas in magazine publishing from design to insight, through ad sales and procurement – and editorial, of course – as it’s always worth keeping an open mind regarding opportunity for experience.

She rounded off her rallying call for magazines with examples of cutting edge creativity – links below.
Marie Claire
Augmented Reality

Paper Tablets

Google Glass

Following questions from the audience, those magazines which had been objects of desire during the talk were handed over to some lucky recipients, and our first visitor talk in this semester came to an end. Nikki’s presentation had qualities essential for a career in magazine publishing – passion and creativity – and she succeeded in making many of us consider a career in magazines for the first time.

By Morven Gow

Danny Frew, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2016-17

October 13th, 2016 by danny_frew | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Danny Frew, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2016-17
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dpsmall

I’m sure that most can easily relate to the feeling of standing on the precipice of change, of being faced with a crucial choice and not quite being confident in taking a leap of faith.

 

That was very much my mindset in the two years that followed my graduation from the University of Strathclyde’s B.A. in English. I was sure that I wanted to continue my studies, but was not completely sure in which manner I should go about capitalizing on my academic experience while also attempting to develop new skills. I quietly pondered this problem for the next two years.

 

Thankfully this wasn’t necessarily a doom-and-gloom tale of post-graduate malaise – or at least not in its entirety. The interim between my studies afforded me some interesting professional development opportunities. I managed to gain an invaluable introduction to bookselling with Waterstones, proficiency in arts administration and content management with Playwrights’ Studio Scotland and thereafter honed my commercial acumen in a lengthy stay as sheet music buyer for Blackwell’s South Bridge store.

 

In each of these roles I was lucky enough to be working within literary environments in which my personal interests were considered to be useful attributes. I grew to appreciate how multifaceted the literary sector is and particularly just how demanding the business of bookselling can be.

 

Having been so exposed to the inner-workings of the bookselling industry and having been made responsible for developing relationships with publishing contacts, I suppose that it was only natural that I would begin to consider what employment in the publishing industry may be like. This thought germinated and I began to seriously consider postgraduate study.

 

In surveying my options, the MLitt at the University of Stirling became a clear front runner. The course was well marketed. There was an international reputation to take note of, an impressive body of published research, and of course a gorgeous campus to revel in. Yet, most important was that the course placed a strong focus on vocational training. Issues of employability were central to my decision making process and so after deducing this I was not only reassured about the MLitt – I was sold.

 

Now having entered the fourth week of course, I’m pleased to announce that I am more confident than ever in my decision to embark on this particular course. I consistently feel challenged and engaged and I am delighting in the chance to explore the fields of design and production. I am particularly interested in how the physical book will continue to adapt to the expansion of the digital landscape and in which ways traditional binding and printing techniques may be repurposed so as to affirm literary heritage.

 

The return to academia is already proving to be a challenge, but I’m ready for the battle. I know that I will graduate with industry savvy and find myself ready to enter the workplace.

 

Post-graduation I intend to seek permanent employment in the U.S.

 

Links: 

 

 

 

Claire Furey, MLitt Publishing Studies 2016-17

October 11th, 2016 by claire_furey | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Claire Furey, MLitt Publishing Studies 2016-17
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photo-croppedDia dhaoibh! I hail from the beautiful rainy Galway, on the west coast of Ireland. At least I don’t have to adjust to the Scottish weather! It’s taken me a long while to get here, but it’s been worth it. I graduated from NUI, Galway in 2008 with a BSc in Physics and Astronomy. That may sound impressive, but please don’t test my knowledge on any of it… I realised half way through I did not want a career in physics, but as I was having such a great time socially and really had no idea what else to do with myself, I finished the degree.

I worked in various jobs for a few years – the most interesting being for an online education company where I had some editing, proofreading and general quality assurance roles. I also did some part time freelance work as a proofreader which I loved. I always toyed with the idea of going back to education. I adored books, words and anything to do with the English language so I looked into English literature, journalism, or librarian studies, but I couldn’t quite see myself in a career in any of those contexts. So instead I took off travelling.

I travelled and worked around the world for about 2 and a half years, and had the time of my life. When I got back, I decided it was time to get serious and focus on a career. Somehow publishing came onto my radar – a natural extension from the proofreading I enjoyed so much I guess! Stirling seemed to call to me out of all the places I looked at! Now I’m here I know I’ve made the right decision – both in terms of the course and the location. Before I started I was all about the copy-editing aspect of things, but the more I learn about all the other areas of publishing, the more excited I get about the prospect of a career in any of it. Particularly production. I can’t wait to see what the next few years bring!

Elena Ferrante’s ‘Unmasking’: A Publicity Boost?

October 11th, 2016 by Otieno Owino | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Elena Ferrante’s ‘Unmasking’: A Publicity Boost?
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ferranteWhen, on Sunday 2nd October, news started trickling in about the Italian author Elena Ferrante’s ‘outing’ it was on Facebook that I first learnt about it. Soon the news spread on Twitter and went viral.

Following a trail of financial transactions by Ferrante’s publisher Edizione e/o, Italian journalist Claudio Gatti presents a strong case that translator Anita Raja has been the beneficiary of the success of Elena’s books, and that she is indeed the author of the critically acclaimed Neapolitan novels among other books. The publisher and Raja have not confirmed or denied this claim.

In this digital age, where writers and readers have become a community, and engagements between the two groups continue to become intimate, I was surprised by the reactions that followed. Deborah Orr commenting on the Guardian said the revelations violated her right to not know, while Aaron Bady, an American critic, questioned the logic of this ‘outing’. Most people in my reader circles were outraged at the sheer intrusion of privacy and the fact that whatever persona Ferrante had chosen to identify herself with was not important but the quality of her work, which many agree is among the best.

Could Ferrante have been an exception? That even in this age, a writer could stay out of social media, blogs, and only offer a few interviews on select mainstream media and still move books? The number of her books sold tell their own story. The success of the Neapolitan novels My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child have shifted a combined 372,760 copies in the UK according to an article in The Bookseller, which cites Nielsen Bookscan Data.

What a massive boost from a publicity point of view. Online literary magazines such as The New Yorker and LitHub, have picked up the story as well as other major news sites and magazines including the Guardian, New York Times, Independent and the Daily Mail, to name a few. Many readers who would not have heard about Elena Ferrante will by now have heard something about her.

But there could be good news from this after all. According to the Bookseller, retailers say that Ferrante’s ‘unmasking’ may lead to increased sales in books. And perhaps Claudio Gatti will have to find ways of looking into Anita Raja’s financial records again to verify if the figures correspond with increased sales.

By Otieno Owino

Otieno Owino, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2016-17

October 11th, 2016 by Otieno Owino | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Otieno Owino, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2016-17
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otieno-owinoAbout four years ago a friend casually asked if I could proofread some work for her employer, a major publisher in Kenya. I gladly accepted because I’d make extra money off it. I was then working as newspaper reporter, having left a language teaching job. I received a lot of freelance work thereafter through referrals. I turned this freelance experience into a full time job as an Assistant Editor with Kwani Trust, Kenya’s leading literary publisher where I have been in the last one and half years.

Working in a small team made it necessary to understand all the major stages of book publishing. I realized that even though I could do good editorial work, I needed some grounding in design, production and marketing, other important aspects of the business. It is this realisation that has brought me to the University of Stirling to pursue the MLitt in Publishing Studies course.

A mini literary revolution is ongoing in my country Kenya, with online journals such as Jalada, Enkare Review and Kikwetu publishing what Kwani Trust would traditionally publish. Part of my research interest is online literary journals, how sustainable they can become, how they can make money out of the process and the digital or e-book publication market which is still to be fully exploited in Kenya.

I hope to add onto my editorial skills; project management, production and marketing which I believe will be important for future work in the publishing industry.

Other than my work at Kwani Trust I was a junior editor for a nonfiction anthology put together by Commonwealth Writers, if you get a chance, do read Safe House: Explorations in Creative Nonfiction.