Monday, September 08, 2008

An anteater needs a knife (and I've got mine)

When the RoboPanda caper went off successfully, I realized that I would be deluged with requests from people wanting to harness the awesome might of this fully operational blog audience for other, less whimsical, collaborative fundraising tasks.

And lo, it has come to pass. And this one is too amusing to resist: We can name a Mexican anteater (tamandua) after Mr. G!

picture lifted from TamanduaGirl

The Staten Island Zoo takes animals around to NYC schools for educational programs. Their current menagerie is getting on in the years and would like to retire. With our help, the zoo can purchase a new tamandua and name it "Neil Gaiman". (Or maybe "Mister G". I dunno, we can vote on it later.)

It would take 440 of us giving $10. I think it's worth a shot. The window is open for 14 days, so that (if we succeed) the deed will be done before Mr. G gets back and he can't stop us from naming it after him.

I tried to paypal myself $10 and it wouldn't let me, so for my part I will buy the tamandua it's own Neil "Scary Trousers" Gaiman shirt.

If Mr. G was here, I know that he would be blogging about the censorship scandal ripping through Britain's poetry community, so in his absence I will do my best to channel him:

It seems that the AQA board has "removed a poem containing references to knife crime from the GCSE syllabus", which has been met with cries of censorship. That poem is "Education for Leisure" by Carol Ann Duffy, who the Guardian reports is "widely considered a front-runner to be the next poet laureate".

It was originally reported that the board had asked schools to destroy the anthology containing the poem. Later, the AQA stated that "schools were not being urged to pulp the anthology: This is not about destroying books. They are allowed to continue teaching the poem, if they wish, but they are not going to be examined on it, it said."

The plot thickens from there. The Guardian writes that:
The most recent complaint was made by Lutterworth grammar school's exams invigilator, Pat Schofield, who welcomed the board's decision and said: "I think it is absolutely horrendous - what sort of message is that to give to kids who are reading it as part of their GCSE syllabus?"

In response, two days later, Carol Ann Duffy published a new poem in the Guardian entitled "Mrs Schofield's GCSE".

In the accompanying article, quotes are given by Duffy's literary agent, Peter Strauss, and Mrs. Schofield:
Strauss said last night that the poem was not written in an attempt to spark a spat with Schofield. "Oh no, not at all. I don't speak on behalf of Carol Ann Duffy, but I wouldn't say she is angry. She just wants her words to speak for themselves. It's basically a poem about poetry, and why poetry matters."

Contacted by the Guardian last night, Schofield said she felt "a bit gobsmacked" to have a verse named after her. She described the poem as "a bit weird. But having read her other poems I found they were all a little bit weird. But that's me".

  • Today is the last day to bid on Mr. G's first draft Waterstones story card! Proceeds will go towards saving the house in which Superman was created.

  • Update on the London stop of the GRAVEYARD BOOK UK tour: The London bit of the Graveyard Book tour will be run by Blackwell Charing Cross Road, and will be on Halloween, the official publication day. From 6.30 on Friday 31st October, join Neil for a talk (followed by a signing) at the Old Theatre at the London School of Economics. Tickets will go on sale shortly, and notice will be posted here when they do. If you have any questions for now, email with 'Gaiman' in the header.

  • Colleen Doran has just posted a drawing of Morpheus and Orpheus done for a Sandman 20th anniversary gallery exhibit coming up in October.

  • September 27th, the day of the National Book Festival, is also the first day of Baltimore Comic-Con this year. Anyone traveling in from elsewhere might consider stopping by. Or if your tastes run more towards the renaissance, the Maryland RenFest will be open that day as well.

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