In November 2015, The Pigeonhole launched Letters from Greece, a series of essays about everyday life and culture during the Greek crisis. Around the same time, Penned in the Margins published a poetry anthology, Futures: Poetry of the Greek Crisis. We asked Futures editor Theodoros Chiotis to select poems from the anthology to feature as extra content in Letters from Greece – one poem per letter. Here, he discusses the project.
Reading, I think we can all agree, is a pretty good idea. It’s kind of a life-hack. For very little (and sometimes no) money, you can read all the thoughts of loads of clever and interesting people, give them a quick sprucing, and then regurgitate them as your own laundered gold. Hello money, friends, success and unending glory. But finding a suitably calm, relaxing, and non-hectic environment to do it in can have you tossing your book away and reaching instead for a KFC family bucket and the remote.
Right here, for free, purely out of the goodness of its small grey heart, the Pigeon is going to hit you with a break-down of where you should be slaying those chapters.
Every morning in Berlin, I run through the former no man’s land between Brunnenstrasse and Gartenstrasse that once separated East and West. It’s a patch of ground that witnessed bloodshed and anguish as post-war ideologies clashed and parted. As I run past Peter Leibing’s iconic ‘leap into freedom’ photograph, my mind is busy with how to drive The Pigeonhole’s claim for a stake in this emerging digital publishing landscape.
Kate London discusses the background to her crime thriller Post Mortem.
‘You have the intelligence of a gnat!’
The woman was driving a large Mercedes and was incandescent at my preventing her from driving down her own street. I was in the first weeks of my service as a uniformed police officer standing at a road closure put in place as part of the safety measures for a premier-league football match in central London. Just before she had arrived at the junction, the sergeant in charge of the closure had warned me not to let anyone down the road.
‘In the event of an emergency, this is the main route for ambulances,’ he’d told me firmly, before going to check the other closures. ‘I don’t want to see any civilian vehicles going down it. No exceptions.’
‘But other officers let me drive down!’ the woman protested.
Writing has always been a place rather than an activity, as if writing is somewhere I go, my very own Rapunzel’s tower. As a child I used to sit under the table writing stories. In fact, as an adult I tried to stop writing and concentrate on more grown up things but it never worked. In spite of my best intentions I would always find myself writing.
Still, sometimes it’s hard to begin. I am a great admirer of other writers and I can sometimes feel silenced by their greatness. I also have this fear that it won’t come, that I won’t be able to get to that place where things start happening.
The answer to this, I’ve found, is to sit down and do it. It’s a discipline and, like exercising, it might be difficult to start but it’s great as soon as I’ve begun. If I’m really nervous starting I set the timer on my phone for an hour telling myself that I’ll just do that hour and if it doesn’t work I’m allowed to give up. Invariably that gets me going and then I’m immersed in it. I’m notorious for not hearing things that my family say to me when I’m at my desk.
The first literary agent J K Rowling sent Harry Potter to rejected it with a slip of paper that said, 'My list is full. The folder you sent wouldn't fit in the envelope.' Photo: The Telegraph
At The Pigeonhole, we know that among you readers are some writers, and that among you writers, some are either already playing the self-publishing game or giving it some serious thought.
So, because we want this blog to be as useful as it is thoughtful, here we present the ultimate guide to self-publishing.
2016 is the year of the PIGEON (actually it’s the year of the Monkey, but The Monkeyhole sounds like something else altogether), so here we have a brand new distraction for you. One about books and stuff.
I write in various places – cafes, bars, libraries – but my favourite place to work is my study. It is filled with mannequins, clowns, a ventriloquist’s dummy, my Doctor Who collection, Ray Bradbury quotes, a coffin full of indie perfume oils, various Pop! Bobbleheads, Lego, toppling manuscripts and shelves and shelves of books. I read in an old red armchair with my dog on my lap, candles lit and incense burning – much like a lazy, pyjama-clad wizard.
There’s nothing better than getting lost in a good book, right? Not anymore. We live in a world of distraction, one in which information comes in a digestible digital format – to our computers, our tablets, our phones, and soon, our watches. The traditional publishing model has been forced to adapt, shifting its focus from the physical and so creating space for a crop of new reading platforms like Oyster, Scribd and Glose. Some believe that this has made publishers redundant – cutting out the middleman and offering a sense of autonomy through the e-book model. Yet what we are left with is an unfiltered sea of potential masterpieces. The online shop front is a murky, disorientating place.
Which District of Berlin Are You?
From Prenzlauer Berg to Mitte, to Treptrow – Berlin is an eclectic mash-up of different districts. Each has its own personality. The question is, which one are you?
You’re a serious individual with a complex past. These days, you have a love for culture, high and low. Delayed gratification is the name of the game. You shun instant coffee, and can probably quote Proust. You like good wine, and good conversation, preferably whilst walking round an independent gallery.
Mitte: at the heart of Berlin, Mitte is full space jostling with heritage sites, museums, and memorials. High fashion collides with partial renovations in this fascinatingly ambivalent space.
If life’s a journey, you’re prepared to take the road less travelled. You’re an individual and you like your space. Yes, you love catching up with friends, but you’re also happy to curl up with a good book or film.
Treptow: A bit of a distance from the centre, Treptow is a space of walkers and cylists. It neighbours Treptow Park, full of green spaces and a chance to get some headspace.
You’re a rebel at heart, and embrace any counter-culture you can find. You like to be the centre of attention, and light up whatever room you enter. Always surrounded by a group of friends, you’re less interested in the sheer sheer excitement of the moment than you are in enjoying the social and emotional connections you make with others.
Kreuzberg: A grafitti-spashed cosmopolitcan, full of late-night cafes, vintage shops. At night the streets glare with neon signs advertising everything from hookah pipes to taxi ranks.
You embrace the YOLO ideology: life is short, and and you’re going to make the most of it. You’re exuberent, energetic and love to embrace life’s intensity – both the highs and the lows. You don’t stay up late, you stay up until dawn.
Friedrichshain: this buzzing district in east Berlin is full of painfully cool bars, clubs, pubs, and cafes. You head for the streets at 11pm on Friday and get spat out again on Monday morning.
You’re meeting up with friends, where do you go?
You’re planning your weekend, what’s the plan?
Head out with my friends for a dance
Go for a cycle ride
Wander round a museum
Potter around some vintage shops
Meet up with friends for a chat
What three words describe you best?
Alternative, Weird, Kooky
Exuberent, Daring, Imaginative
Intelligent, Considerate, Mature
Patient, Introspective, Honest
Cool, Ironic, Stylish
What is your most common emotion?
Nothing, I’m too cool for emotions
What is your biggest strength?
I’m good fun
I’m effortlessly cool
What do you value in your friends?
They remember to recycle
They’re a bit alternative
They’re fit and healthy
They can feel the music
They have good taste
What is the meaning of life?
To enjoy ourselves
To learn as much as we can
To follow the path of life
To connect with people
What’s your favourite time of the day?