e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

Telling Time

E A M Harris:

Perhaps we could learn something about ageing from the trees: they do it gracefully and don’t make a fuss.

I’m grateful to Leaf and Twig for posting this lovely photo and poem.

Originally posted on leaf and twig:

DSC01461
wrinkles not rings
tell the secrets
of this tree’s age

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A to Z Reading Challenge: My Answers

E A M Harris:

I love these questions and the answers; I may even do this quiz myself one day. In the meantime I pass it on for those of you who like to mull over your thoughts on books.

Originally posted on A Small Press Life:

I ran across this on Not a Punk Rocker. I enjoyed reading her answers, so I thought I would participate, too. It’s not as if I am working against a deadline today. Nope, I am not shirking my professional duties to write this post. Okay, so maybe I am taking a slight break. Yes, that is it. A break.

If you’re a long-time reader of A Small Press Life (and if you are, thank you!), you’ve probably wondered what happened to our own reader questionnaire series, [R]evolving Incarnations. Never fear. It returns this Friday.

Until then, there’s this.

Oh, and I’ve decided to do it backwards. Z to A, which is how my books are organized.

ZZZ-SNATCHER BOOK (LAST BOOK THAT KEPT YOU UP WAY LATE): I am a late-night reader, so this is a pretty normal occurrence. It helps that I work from home and set my own…

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A book worth buying and a charity worth supporting

E A M Harris:

A good read and a fundraiser for a vital service.

Originally posted on BRIDGET WHELAN writer:

Martlets Hospice anthologyI’m not making any excuses. This post is a brazen plug for a book that has just been published on Amazon. it is the work of 17 authors and is a very good read.  You will meet memorable characters on every page from the silent workhouse survivor to the wife who is right to be suspicious of her husband’s sat nav – but that’s not why I am asking you to buy it.
I edited the book and I think you will enjoy the Where Did that Come From? section at the end of every chapter where you will discover the source of each story. But that’s not the reason why I think you should  have Dancing with Words on your bookshelf.
No, I hope you will consider spending £7.99 on this hefty paperback (at 280 pages you are definitely getting your money’s worth) because it is a tribute…

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Poems for a perfumed world

Carpe Diem has an interesting article on using all our senses to describe the world and not just sight and sound. How often are we treesconscious of the smell of a scene? Do we reach out and touch something to find out its texture? I love to touch the petals of flowers and their leaves – the variety of texture in the natural world is amazing.

Out of this comes a challenge to write about smell, and I’ve tried to do it justice.

The van, driven past
the wood’s edge, stirs up scents
of damp earth and rich green.

Reading the poems already posted suggests that most people concentrate on the perfume side of this sense, as I’ve done. One day, maybe, I’ll write about the stink of sewage – would that be in the spirit of haiku?

More deeply into haiku

Stepping Stones coverI’ve started to read Stepping Stones: a way into haiku by Martin Lucas, a former president of the British Haiku Society. I was very sad to learn that he has recently died. He leaves behind much influence and inspiration for those who enjoy haiku.

This book is not a technical ‘how to’, apart from the introduction which concentrates mostly on the important differences that the Japanese and English languages force on haiku. It is an anthology of modern English language haiku with a commentary on each one.

The commentaries encourage a deeper and more thorough reading of the poems by questioning and speculating about the context and significance of each of them.

For instance, on the haiku about the actions of a monk while swimming in a river by Steve Dolphy, some of the questions to consider are: was he alone or with other monks? was he wearing his saffron robes or had he stripped? was his ducking under the approaching oar hasty and fearful or calm and dignified? Of course, we don’t know. Each reader must ‘see’ the scene for themselves and arrive at an understanding accordingly. In another, by Andrew Detheridge, about clinging to a donkey’s tail we are encouraged to ask the circumstances: a children’s game? a moment of disorientation? a real donkey or a paper one?

Considering questions like this has made me take note of how selective a haiku writer is. The points important to the poem are abstracted from a much more complex scene.

A lot is left up to the reader. This is one reason haiku don’t contain judgements – the reader’s response should not be coloured by someone else’s opinion.

I am learning a great deal from this way of looking at an individual poem – more as a reader than a writer. But if we can’t read properly, how can we write?

A Greek New Testament Reunited – Medieval manuscripts blog

I love reading about ancient manuscripts. They have such fascinating histories – written by hand in obscure places, passed from owner to owner, altered, rebound, stolen, damaged – you name it, they’ve done it.

Often parts of their history remain mysterious.

This post about two manuscripts newly digitised is a case in point.

A Greek New Testament Reunited – Medieval manuscripts blog.

Sunflowers and the sun

Carpe Diem has set us a lovely challenge this time. The prompt is ‘sunflowers’ – very evocative and open to many interpretations.

Fields of sunflowers;
each tracks the sun, east to west.
Nightfall will stop them.

Eve in Glasgow

statue of Eve in Botanic Gdn

Last weekend I was in Glasgow. I’ve never been there before and really enjoyed it. The city has so many interesting things to see and the people are very friendly.

One of the places I went was the Kibble Palace, a glasshouse at the Botanic Garden, and that is where I took this picture. She is Eve and lounges among part of the national collection of tree ferns.

The Kibble Palace is named for John Kibble, a Victorian businessman and amateur scientist. The statue is by Scipione Tadolini, a well known 19th century sculptor.

I did a couple of googles to find poetry of Eve. There’s certainly a lot of it and the interpretation of her characters varies from writer to writer. The Boston Review had a piece on a statue of Eve minus Adam, which I thought particularly appropriate.

 

Delivery by Design: Stamps in Antarctica

E A M Harris:

I’m not a great fan of stamps and would never consider collecting them, but I found this description fascinating. I never realised that there were special stamps for Antarctica. The pictures are very evocative – in some ways more so than straightforward photos.

Originally posted on University of Cambridge Museums:

Delivery by Design: Stamps in Antarctica, opening at The Polar Museum on Thursday 12 June 2014, will explore the history of stamps used in the British Antarctic Territory, Antarctica. A recent gift of stamps, printing proofs and original artworks made by Crown Agents Limited, with the assistance of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to the Scott Polar Research Institute will accompany its already exemplary collection of stamps from the Polar Regions.

On display will be stamps, artworks and printing proofs that highlight Antarctic flora and fauna, depicting unique images of penguins and huskies; others commemorate many of the British expeditions that have undertaken Antarctic exploration to further science, detailing ships ploughing through ice and planes flying over frozen sea.

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The British Antarctic Territory, the region where the exhibition’s stamps are from, includes all the lands and islands in a wedge extending from the South Pole to 60° S latitude…

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A different haiku challenge

The Carpe Diem site has several different challenges. The one I’m trying today is to complete a haiku given the middle line.

The given line is:

mists over the foreign highlands

Extra restrictions are that it must follow the classical form and use one more kigo (season word) for Autumn. ‘Mist’ is a classic Autumn word.

I looked up some kigo words and found them inspirational.

Now it is twilight;
mists over the foreign highlands
hide the harvest moon.

Although we only have to produce two lines, this challenge isn’t easy, but on the Carpe Diem site are links to a number of amazing poems it has inspired.

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