e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

Light on the subject – but what kind?

Today I logged into Wordnik for the first time in many months. As you can guess, if you don’t already know it, Wordnik is about words – finding, gathering, listing, sharing, commenting.

Browsing through my collection I was reminded of the words I’d garnered in the past, including one of my favourites: lucubratory. This word has two meanings that may of may not be related. One is laborious or painstaking. The other is much more poetic; composed by candlelight or by night or pertaining to night studies.

A special word for composed by candlelight!candle-197248__180

I imagine an old-time sage painstakingly writing out poems or music (or both – maybe he’s a singer/songwriter) by the light of a guttering and smelly candle; which is all he can afford until people recognise his genius and reward him accordingly. Preferably while he’s still around to enjoy it.

Are there words for composed by torchlight or electric-light? Do we need them?

Composed by moonlight is a beautiful thought: shall we call it lunabratory?  I suspect even a determined sage would find it difficult to see well enough by the moon alone.

Perhaps fairies compose by firefly light, and mermaids by deep-sea squid light.

On a more serious note, is writing or composing affected by the kind of light used? Do candles encourage the romantic and halogen the aggressive? I think it likely to have an effect, but I also think it would be both individual and very subtle.

National Libraries Day

Today is National Libraries Day and all over the country libraries are holding special events.

nld-logoIn my opinion a nation’s libraries are a major national treasure. Among other actions, they spread culture, provide a quiet place for the hassled to sit and recover their calm, and store the thinking and creativity of the past.

The also provide pleasant and worthwhile employment – or used to before austerity started harassing everyone.

While it’s the public libraries that are most active today, I like to imagine all the others joining in, in spirit at least. Universities spring to mind of course, but companies, hospitals, government departments, charities, all have their libraries and people to look after them – often volunteers or employees librarianing (I’m a writer – I’m allowed to invent new words!) in addition to their main job.

I’ll be off to my local library this afternoon, and this evening I’ll raise a glass of gin and tonic to all those people who care for our books, journals, CDs, and old papers.

Haiku in Spain

I’ve been away on and off for over a month, which is why there’s been no action on this blog. I plan to get back into posting and sharing from now on.

First, a belated Happy New Year to all my readers. I hope you’ve had a great winter so far.

Orange tree

While roaming around the sunny streets in southern Spain and looking for subjects for haiku, it occurred to me that the haiku I’m familiar with all come from further north; from autumn harvests and snowy winters. This isn’t a necessary feature of any poetry, so I looked again at where I was and what was around.

The year’s shortest day;
oranges ripen under
blue and cloudless skies.

 

Group for Literary Archives and Manuscripts

I never knew there are special literary archives. What a treasury!
I’m also amazed at the quantity of material some archives hold. I hope anyone in the Manchester area gets a chance to visit the exhibition described here.

University of Cambridge Museums

GLAM – the Group for Literary Archives and Manuscripts – celebrated its tenth anniversary in October with a meeting at the John Rylands Library in Manchester. The Fitzwilliam Museum is a member of GLAM due to its fine holdings of literary manuscripts, including autograph manuscripts of Keats’s Ode to a Nightingale, Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure, and Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. GLAM’S aim is to support all forms of literary archives and it unites professionals working in a variety of institutions: national bodies (The National Archives), universities, museums, local authorities, and special repositories.  With such a wide base of members, it is ideally placed to provide a support network for professionals working in the field of literary archives and one of its most significant achievements has been to produce cataloguing guidelines and a thesaurus.

Meetings of GLAM are usually held biannually and include presentations on…

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Carpe Diem special 184: in the spirit of Ese

At this end of November, damp and windy where I am, Carpe Diem has given us a glimpse of spring in some of the haiku he’s chosen for today’s inspiration. His model is a lady called Ese who has written many simple haiku that say a great deal in a few words.

The examples are mainly about nature and its ephemeral beauty.

Here’s what the spirit of Ese has inspired me to write:

A leafless forest.
The wind howls. From far away
someone’s dog answers.

Support Solstice Shorts come to a booklaunch

If you can look past the Christmas/New Year festivities, you may be interested in this event. I love book launches (or at least I loved the two I’ve been to), but can’t make this one.

Arachne Press

If you’ve never been to a book launch but always wondered what really happens you are invited to Arachne’s next one, which will be for The Dowry Blade, Arachne founder Cherry Potts‘ Fantasy epic. there are a handful of invitations up for grabs as part of our crowd fund for Solstice shorts Longest Night,

The Dowry Blade is around 170,000 words long, so is coming out in support of its smaller siblings the short story, generally weighing in (for Solshorts anyway) at around 2000 words.

The booklaunch will be in late February, in London – either central or South East, so if you’d like to come along, support our festival! You only have until 1st December to grab an invitation! It may look a bit like this. There will be drink, there may be cake…

meeting authors and eating cake at an Arachne event meeting authors and eating cake at an Arachne event

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‘Pages of Pain’ from Kimberly Wilhelmina Floria

Great poetry for free!

silentlyheardonce

Beginning tomorrow November 1 until November 5 Pages of Pain Kindle edition is available for free.

Just wanted to let you know. I’m still putting 100% of myself into Hidden Temptation and I’m feeling good about it.  See you all soon.

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Black Mist and other stories 7

With Hallowe’en fast approaching, this looks like appropriate reading.

Sharmishtha Basu

black mist and other stories

Sharmishtha Basu is an unemployed artist, writer who is out to test her works, see if they can help her to build an “unorthodox” career, a path followed by many before, some has been blessed with success, most have not, let us see what you make of her attempts! A failure or success- it all depends on you. These are pieces from her book, the book is available on createspace and amazon- It is a collection of dark stories, paranormal mostly but not gothic, it prefers scaring by creating eerie images not blood, gore, violence. She will certainly love to see it in your Halloween collection!

Black Mist and other stories
https://www.createspace.com/5058824
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ontgsbe

The car started to move forth.

The village team huddled together in the backseat talking in a hushed tone. Both Rajan and Mitesh could guess their disappointment but chose to pretend that they were not aware of…

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George Orwell and his poetry

IMG_6289-189x300George Orwell’s poetry was recently published as a collection. Apparently this is for the first time. Given how famous he is, I wondered why. Surely after his death any unpublished work would have been extra-valuable.

The BBC interview goes some way towards explaining this. According to Dione Venables, the collection’s editor, he wasn’t a great poet and the value of much of his verse lies in what it says about him as a person, not his politics nor poetry in general.

He was a persistent poet. Like many, he discovered the joy of writing verse when very young, but unlike many, he never gave it up, which means that this collection covers a lifetime’s output.

A good deal of his poetry has been available for some time. He published a few in magazines himself, and various websites have selections. The Orwell Prize site has links to several and also to scanned original pages of others – his handwriting was reasonably legible, but they are still difficult to read.

A lot of the poetry is light and easy reading:

A happy vicar I might have been
Two hundred years ago
To preach upon eternal doom
And watch my walnuts grow;

But born, alas, in an evil time,
I missed that pleasant haven,
For the hair has grown on my upper lip
And the clergy are all clean-shaven.

There are several more, similar, verses.

Cover picture from Scarthin Books.

Reading a mystery

Another Carpe Diem challenge and this time one open to an even wider range of responses than usual. To check out some of the ways others have interpreted the prompt go to the website and follow the links – an exploration well worth taking.

The prompt comes from a haiku by Cor van den Heuve, a well-known American haiku writer.

This is his:

reading a mystery
a cool breeze comes through
the beach roses

One could speculate for hours on the exact meaning – what mystery? a book, or something more profound? I wondered, too, what beach roses are, but a quick google answered that question.

This theme is so rich I wrote several haiku using it, but finally settled on the following as being truest to the original.

Reading a mystery
in the garden; a blackbird sings;
mystery resolved.

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