With the next LSE Literary Festival just around the corner I thought it would be a good idea to highlight the many ways you can satisfy your literary cravings while at LSE and in London.
The LSE Literary Festival is a wonderful opportunity to get to see some of the most illustrious names in literature right there in your usual weekly lecture theatre. Every year the festival has a different theme – this year it is ‘branching out’. One of the highlights from this years programme is PD James talking in a BBC World Service panel discussion about the challenge of ageing. PD James is probably most well known for her series of detective novels starring policeman and poet Adam Dalgliesh, however her work encompasses many other genres. Death Comes to Pemberley was a very successful sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and her dystopian novel The Children of Men was the basis of the feature film of the same name.
I had the honour of meeting Andrew Motion, former poet Laureate, at a previous LSE Literary Festival a couple of years ago. He read out a selection of his poems and tried to explain the tenuous relationship a writer has with his inspirations and the struggle each writer must face trying to harness into continuous energy what is too often just a lightning bolt of insight.
One of my favourite poems of his:
The Last Call – Andrew Motion
Death called me,
I did not hear.
He spoke again:
I went to look
Poor death, I thought,
he loves me.
I guessed right,
And now I love him too,
There are plenty of opportunities to get involved with literature in London as well as LSE. A couple of years ago I signed up to be a volunteer at English PEN which is part of a global literary network. They work to promote and defend free expression and to remove barriers to literature.
A few weeks ago I volunteered at a benefit event where Seamus Heaney and Simon Armitage shared a selection of the poetry and prose which had most inspired them in their lives. The event was supported by actors Charles Dance and Jenny Jules. I have always loved the work of Seamus Heaney so the opportunity to hear him read was really exciting. What I didn’t expect however was that I was going to meet him! I found myself sitting in the green room getting ready for the event with Charles Dance on one side of me, reading over his lines and Seamus (as I now call him) casually chatting to us.
I have always considered Charles Dance to be a stellar actor, but nothing could have prepared me for how mesmerising he is up close. He read out the first act of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and when he finished, there was a silence of such admiration.
Estragon: Nothing to be done.
Vladimir: I’m beginning to come round to that opinion.
Contrary to words above, there are some wonderful volunteering opportunities in London and it’s a great way to learn more about the things you love.