e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

Visiting bees

A summery challenge from Carpe Diem this time, inspired by blogger Laura Williams.

My garden is full of bees at present, so I give them a little mention.

Afternoon: baked still
by sun. Even the quaking grass
is motionless. But
the lavender bush shivers,
jostled by tiger-striped bees.

 

Frank O’Connor award

I’ve just come across the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, which I’ve never heard of 9781907773716before. The winner this year has recently been announced and it’s Carys Davies with her collection The Redemption of Galen Pike.

I’ve heard of Frank O’Connor and it’s great that he’s remembered by a major award, but as with all these awards, I wonder about the people who didn’t win or even get shortlisted. Does it affect their sales? Does anyone outside their circle even know? How do they feel about it? The prize, at €25,000, is the largest in the world for short stories so winning makes a real difference.

This award is one where a publisher submits a book published within the year concerned. I assume that the author’s permission is needed, but I can imagine conflicts arising if they don’t give it (maybe there’s a prizewinning short story in there somewhere; or a mystery à la MarpleMurder in the Publisher’s Office).

There seems to be quite a revival of short stories lately and prizes like this can only encourage it. The media reports and other publicity must be good for the form and for literature generally, as well as for the writers concerned. So congratulations to Ms Davies, her publisher, Salt, and all the judges and others involved.

Five Fascinating Facts about William Faulkner

E A M Harris:

I love odd facts about famous writers, and these facts are truly odd. My thanks to Interesting Literature for gathering them up and posting them.

Originally posted on Interesting Literature:

Fun facts about the life of William Faulkner, author of The Sound and the Fury

1. William Faulkner was born Falkner; according to one story, the ‘u’ was the result of a typesetting error Faulkner didn’t bother to correct. Curiously, Falkner’s  great-grandfather had been Colonel Faulkner but had removed the ‘u’ – William put it back. Faulkner (William, that is) was born in New Albany in Mississippi in 1897, the eldest of four sons.

2. The website Snopes.com took its name from the Snopes, an unpleasant family who feature in the works of William Faulkner. Faulkner’s Snopes Trilogy, comprising The HamletThe Town, and The Mansion, was published between 1940 and 1959 and centres on the Snopes family, a grasping and corrupt dynasty including a paedophile (Wesley), a pornographer, and a thief (this article has more Snopish detail). Perhaps because of the association between Faulkner’s…

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Holmes and Watson revealed

Holmes and Watson cover artI enjoyed this book. It is well written and scholarly without being pedantic or heavy.

However, I did find it odd reading a biography of people who don’t exist. For instance, as many biographers do, Ms Thomson speculates on what her characters were doing in the times not covered by the published stories. For real people this attempt to fill in gaps makes sense – they must have been doing something. But for fictional characters the true answer is ‘nothing’, and most of the time their creator probably didn’t give the question any thought.

Reading this book has made me want to know more of the real facts and I hope to find a good biography of Conan Doyle in the nearish future.

I recommend this to anyone who enjoys the Holmes stories and who likes a stylish, fictional biography. If you haven’t read any of the stories you’ll miss out on a good deal of the references and nuances, so I suggest you get a few of them in before starting Ms Thomson’s work.

Cover art from goodreads.

Summer passing in haiku

woodlandCarpe Diem again has an interesting and thoughtful prompt. This time the originator is Jane Reichhold who has published on haiku and modern kigo. The prompt is summer passing – a look at the fleeting nature of time, the seasons, life.

My contribution:

Today the woods are green;
soon they will be gold.
How quickly summer passes.

The flâneur and the boulevardier

Rosler-LeFlaneurIn March I did a post on flânerie – the literary stroller and his environment. It was a new concept to me, but since then I’ve seen a couple of references to it. One of these introduces another stroller – the boulevardier and analyses the difference between them.

Add to these the urban explorer and the window shopper and you have a city full of wanderers. Striding past them are those who have a destination and roaming between them, the homeless.

The countryside doesn’t seem to be full of wandering – people work or hike or rush through in cars.

The cities mentioned in the various sources are modern and European – the flâneur and boulevardier seem to be 19th century French and the window shopper 20th century big cities. Were there such roamers in ancient Rome? in mediaeval Paris? or 18th century Beijing?

A Conference focussed on The Golden Age of Detective Fiction Writers

Bodies logoI came across this event via CrimeFest. It sounds like a great day out for any fan of any golden age detective writer.

A Conference focussed on The Golden Age of Detective Fiction Writers.

Mountains haiku

Once again an inspiring post on Carpe Diem. Basho is the model this time.

Today ideas came to me quickly, though, as usual, they needed time to work into the haiku form.

The mountain path
travels down as well as up.
You must follow both.

The way through the woods

 The path through the woods

 


This path, through woods green
with new growth, was trodden
by my ancestors.

Cinquain poems

I’ve recently been introduced to a kind of poetry I haven’t met before – cinquain poetry. This literally means five-line poems, but under the influence of forms like haiku some of the five-liners have gathered sets of rules and formalities, and the term ‘cinquain poem’ now has a more limited meaning.

There are several different patterns and hence different types of poems – American, didactic, lantern etc. Some of them count syllables and some count words.

A common pattern is:

One word
Two words
Three words
Four words
One word

There is also two, four, six, eight, two syllables.

For some the rules are more prescriptive:

A noun
Two adjectives describing the noun
Three –ing words describing its actions
A phrase about it
One word that sums up or is a synonym for the first

I haven’t had much experience with this kind of poem, but here is one of mine as a sample:

Oaks
Ancient, green
Growing, spreading, rustling
In the wild wood
Trees

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