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Join the search for Erik the Red this November!

November 2017 will see us launch our second caper!
In Looking for Erik  Alexandra Fitzsimmons follows tenth century Viking, Erik the Red, from Norway to Greenland via Iceland and the odd unexpected dip in a fjord.Outlaw, settler of new lands, and – perhaps literally – legend, Erik is not an easy man to catch up with. Join Alexandra to discover whether he existed, if she found him, and what she learnt about herself along the way.

Read an extract below. And watch this space for details of the launch!

There’s a shriek. I turn towards it and catch a twisting flash of white before I duck – a bird is diving straight for my face. Pulling up my hood, I turn and run. I dodge round tussocks, curse my heavy boots, and stumble. Now I have no more breath. I slow, then stop.

Right here, they threw Erik out of the country.

I sit down on a stone and breathe. Then I look up, and try, as I’ve tried so many times today, to imagine myself back a thousand years. The same hills, rising in the distance. The same colours – dull greens, mossy browns. The same sound of water lapping at the edge of the fjord.

I’m still nervous about that bird. It’s the story of this trip – each time I get close to Erik, something chases me off.  I push down my hood and listen.

Just wind, and water, and a sheep, far off.

And now there are longboats in the fjord, ponies grazing, people gathering in judgement. Politicians. Poets. Farmers. Priests. An angry discussion. A judgement. The creation of an outlaw.

And a thousand years later, me – looking for that outlaw, looking, for reasons I still haven’t completely understood, for Erik.

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Lift Off! 24 November 2016

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We are excited to announce that the Caper Press will be launching itself on the world on November 24th. Come and join us to celebrate from 7pm upstairs at Canal 125, 125 Caledonian Road.

There will be readings by our three founder authors, Drew CarrAlexandra Fitzsimmons and Sophie Smith (aka me), the chance to buy a copy of the Caper Press’s very first book, Not all, but most, music from DJ Mr Dan Savage, dancing and more. It would be great to see you there!

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On ‘History and Futures – Greek Poetry and Writing in a Crisis’

FullSizeRender-1 (1)The Caper Press was at the Poetry Library yesterday for History and Futures – Greek Poetry And Writing A Crisis, organised by Penned in the Margins. You can check out some of our live tweeting here.

The event demonstrated the power of poems, poets and poetry  to respond to our times. The chair (Tom Chivers) and the poets (George Ttoouli, Theodoros Chiotis, Natalie Katsou) came equipped with thoughtful questions and nuanced reflections on tradition and continuity in Greek poetry, life in Greece today and the meaning of the word ‘crisis’. There were also some wonderful poems. The whole made for a meaningful, considered and sometimes surprising exploration of where we are right now.

Unpacking the word ‘crisis’ really resonated for me. ‘Crisis’ has become a constant over the past few years and I realised that it is a long time since I reflected on what it means. As Natalie Katsous said, ‘crisis’ suggests the short term and holds the promise, or at least the hope, of resolution. She believes the economic situation in Greece can no longer be called a crisis; it has become the ‘environment’ that the Greeks inhabit. And what of the refugee crisis or consequences of Brexit, or terrorism? When does a crisis become normality?

Crisis also suggests, or causes, interruptions. The poets discussed how the economic crisis in Greece brought new interruptions into people’s daily lives. Someone might be on the way to work on an ordinary day before being thwarted by a riot or demonstration. George Ttoouli described island roads carpeted with rotting fruit when the EU stopped subsidies for oranges. It seemed that such interruptions have now become part of the day-to-day.

When will Brexit and its political repercussions go the same way, becoming a permanent interruption to the status quo? We are surely still in the first throes of the interruption phase. The poets drew parallels between the impact of Brexit and the Greek economic crisis. Natalie Katsous likened the question ‘How are things there, after Brexit?’ to the questions she was asked in the immediate aftermath of the Greek economic crisis. And she observed that the answer is the same: it is still far too early to tell.

We’ve heard about the racist comments and vandalism that followed the referendum. But I haven’t noticed any political graffiti of the kind the poets described seeing in Athens, which was characterised by Natalie as a ‘live Facebook page that people can’t scroll down’. We do not have the same graffiti culture, ‘street art’ is apparently a new thing in Greece, their graffiti is of a different sort.

As the poets said however, the poetic responses to the Greek crisis have taken longer to formulate than the political reactions scrawled on walls.  It made me wonder what poetry is being written here to capture the uncertain state we’re in. Maybe we will see poems emerge in the coming months and years. I imagine Tom Chivers and Penned in the Margins will know when they do.

The audience questions too were thoughtful, and evidenced the importance of cross-cultural / cross-border evenings and publications like these to help us all see past doom-laden headlines. Though the poets weren’t particularly optimistic about Greece’s ‘futures’ even when one audience member asked ‘what are the positive aspects of this new normal?’

The enduring positive I will take away is the will of poets, publishers and readers to grasp for a deeper understanding of what we’re living through. As Theodoros Chiotis said ‘Poetry is always in crisis, that is the idea!’

Venue: The Poetry Library, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London

Poets: George Ttoouli, Theodoros Chiotis, Natalie Katsou

Chair: Tom Chivers, Penned in the Margins