NEW: The Reader 43

Ian McMillan writes a poem in celebration of the first staging of The Winter’s Tale, in which we meet Shakespeare in person and get right inside the skin of a bear. And we have fine poetry too from Martin Malone, Rebecca Gethin, David Cooke, and Stuart Henson.

In our Poet on Her Work series, Gwyneth Lewis movingly writes about her great long poem A Hospital Odyssey, written while her husband was suffering from cancer.

We have some great new fiction for you to sample with two extracts from Steve Sem-Sandberg’s mortifyingly powerful Emperor of Lies (Faber, July 2011), set in the Łodz ghetto. And David Almond’s ‘The Book of Beasts’ is taken from his first novel for adults, The True Tale of Monster Billy Dean (Viking, September 2011), a test of a child’s innocence. David Constantine’s short story, ‘Strong Enough to Help’ revolves about the way books and poems can connect people up both to each other and to themselves.

Angela Macmillan talks about putting together her new anthology for a younger audience, A Little, Aloud for Children.

We welcome two new essayists whom we hope to hear from regularly: Andrew Crompton writing and drawing on almost anything and everything, and Alan Wall offering an occasional series on the way that words’ meanings or forms change over time, and yet they stick around part of our everyday usage. It’s like the archaeology of the spoken word. And we welcome back and old friend, Kenneth Steven, who writes of the mountains.

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