Ken’s Jolabokablog

We’re going to have a bit of a break over Christmas and New Year, so there won’t be quite as much new content on the Autumn Voices website until we get going again in January.

This week though, in the run up to Christmas, we’re honouring the Icelandic phenomenon of Jolabokaflod, triggered by the tradition of book-gifting and reading on Christmas Eve – something we thoroughly approve of and encourage!

Each day this week, we’re bringing you a book recommendation (or two) from the Autumn Voices team members – a Jolabokablog series, if you will!

Ken Cockburn, Projects Coordinator at Autumn Voices, recommends:

Winter Recipes from the Collective by Louise Glück (Carcanet, 2021)

The US poet Louise Glück (b.1943) was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2020. Winter Recipes from the Collective is her first book since that award. It’s a slim volume, written in deceptively simple language, conversational at times, often describing mundane events (two girls in the back of a car, their parents in front, a cat sleeping in the doorway of a wine shop), yet the writing opens up a vast emotional hinterland to such simple scenes, with loss and death never far away. 

In what seems to be a care home, a woman falls asleep while telling a story, and her audience can only sit there, ‘stranded … / like ships paralysed by bad weather.’ A teacher of painting admits, one day, ‘I have been blind for many years’, and yet that may not be a disadvantage; when he asks the poem’s narrator, ‘what do you think of your own work’, they reply, ‘Not enough night … In the night I can see my own soul.’ 

A wintry book, indeed, but like a walk on a day of chill winds, we return from the outing refreshed, cheeks glowing, with a sense of the fragility but also the joy of just being alive.


Why don’t you tell us all about your favourite festive reading?

Don’t forget about our other book recommendation and ideal Christmas gift this month

Tom Langlands will be joining us in January to talk about the book and taking up photography as a hobby.

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