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Ian McMillan Ian McMillan | 03:49 UK Time, Friday, 15 January 2010

Well, The Verb's hit the ground running at the start of the new year and the start (depending how you count) if the new decade. On this week's show we've got a marvellous new poem Simon by Barraclough marking the passing of Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the last survivor of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki; he was on a business trip in Hiroshima when the first bomb dropped, was badly burned and taken home to Nagasaki when the second bomb fell; as the mayor of Nagasaki said. 'we have lost a great storyteller'.

We've also got new work from a new writer: Darrell Lloyd. He's won a number of Verb competitions in the past, including last year's one based on the Radio 3 Composers of the Year that Rob Cowan and I judged. I like Darrell's work very much; he writes tiny short stories that have an odd, unworldly feel. They feel European, somehow, as though a writer like Kafka might be one his guiding influences, although he names American writers like John Steinbeck and Raymond Carver as the ones he turns to.

anton-chekhov.jpgWe've a new competition, too, based on Radio 3's Chekhov season. We want people to write a story of not more than 1000 words, taking one of three of Chekhov's story titles as a jumping-off point. The titles are The Lady with the Dog, The Lottery Ticket, and Difficult People. The stories don't have to be Chekhovian, and they don't have to have the same characters as the original. The titles are just a free gift, a bit of inspiration to get people going.

I wonder if the competition will turn up a new writer as good as Darrell Lloyd ? I hope so: that's part of the Verb's mission, to uncover and promote the new and exciting, as well as the long-established... 


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