e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

International Archives Week

Today is the last day of International Archives Week, a bit late to be blogging about it but I’ve only just discovered it. As a professional association the International Council on Archives is hardly mass entertainment, but as a lover of libraries and bookshops and all such bookish collections I find its existence interesting.

And in some ways comforting – someone is taking care of our collective memories.

There are lists and maps of events worldwide.

They cover various activities like talks, guided tours, open house, seminars, exhibitions and even parties.

I assume (and hope I’m right) that their work includes archives from the online world. If not our age is going to be very thinly represented.

 

 

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May Day and its poetry

Today is 1st May and it has been celebrated for centuries as a special day. As May Day it started as a pagan festival and still includes maypoles and festivities. As Labour Day it celebrates the world’s workers (and in many places gives them a day off).

There is no shortage of May Day poems. One that I remember being introduced to in my teens is Robert Herrick’s Corinna’s Going A-Maying, which starts with encouragement to get up and get going.

It has several verses so I quote the first one only. The whole poem can be found on The Poetry Foundation.

Get up, get up for shame, the Blooming Morne
Upon her wings presents the god unshorne.
  See how Aurora throwes her faire
  Fresh-quilted colours through the aire:
  Get up, sweet-Slug-a-bed, and see
  The Dew-bespangling Herbe and Tree.
Each Flower has wept, and bow’d toward the East,
Above an houre since; yet you not drest,
   Nay! not so much as out of bed?
   When all the Birds have Mattens seyd,
    And sung their thankful Hymnes: ’tis sin,
    Nay, profanation to keep in,
When as a thousand Virgins on this day,
Spring, sooner than the Lark, to fetch in May.
Poetry about Labour Day is harder to find. In the US the day is celebrated in September so has come to be associated with the end of Summer. An example of a poem about both Labour Day and Summer’s end is on Poems for Free. But we are at the beginning of Summer and, although I found plenty of poems about labouring I couldn’t find any specific to the day. Probably there are some in other languages as Labour Day is an international celebration.
The picture is a traditional maypole, probably somewhere in England.
photo credit: Viktor_K79 <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/72664727@N05/40306484183″>Midsommar_2018_052_ARGB</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Poetry Book Society choice

Kingdomland cover artA few days ago I received the Poetry Book Society Spring choice – Rachael Allen‘s Kingdomland.

I haven’t had time to fully read, let alone digest, all the poems, but the ones I’ve looked at so far are very impressive.

The language is robust with strong stresses and wild, sometimes uncomfortable, images: would you

… just lie down
my ribs opened up in the old town square
and let the pigs root through my chest.

However, I do like the idea of having a

… purple name.

I’m looking forward to the poems I haven’t reached yet.

 

Nine Muses Poetry

upland scenery

One of my poems is published today by Nine Muses Poetry. I rarely write poems about the countryside, but a few months ago I felt the urge to put down my feelings after a day’s walk.

Of course I’m thrilled to see my work there, but I’m particularly captivated by the pictures on this site. Even if you’re not into poetry, it’s worth a visit.

Memoir and mystery

Secret Orchard coverWho is Muriel and what happened to her to turn her life into a dysfunctional calamity and threaten to do the same to her children? Even at the end of this memoir, set in London in the early to mid 20th century, we have no certainties, only likelihoods.

Muriel’s character was full of discords: in peacetime she was a needy drunk, but in two world wars she was efficient, hardworking and willing to take her work to the front line.

Diana Petre was her daughter and struggled with a confused and chaotic upbringing. But her book is anything but chaotic; in a plain but very clear style she analyses events and feelings, keeps track of several lives and gives us a clear vision of her mother and of Roger Ackerley, her father.

This book is part memoir and part ‘true story’ mystery, and even though the mystery is only partly solved, it is a satisfying read.

A lost world – ‘Princes of the Black Bone’

This book by Peter Goullart, the author of Forgotten Kingdom, also deals with a way of life that has now vanished.

It seems not to be as well known as its companion and is less available. I found it in a library and it looked as if it hadn’t been borrowed for decades.

The Princes of the title are tribesmen living on the borders of Tibet and China, known to the Chinese as Lolos but calling themselves Yi.

Goullart lived and worked in the area for a couple of years and got to know the people well. He travelled extensively, often in dangerous situations, and met local people at all levels of society. When he finally had to leave, he had to do so in a hurry, having stepped, unwittingly, on a few toes.

The book gives a vivid description of the area, its wildlife, scenery and inhabitants. He was there just as the modernisation of China was starting and the world he describes is now gone. We are lucky to have such a good writer to record it.

Submission opportunities at Fictive Dream

An opportunity for writers of short and short, short fiction.

ShortStops

Right now Fictive Dream has two submission opportunities. We’re open for submission of stories of between 500 – 2,500 words. As always, we’re interested in material with a contemporary feel on any subject. Your stories may be challenging, dramatic, playful, exhilarating or cryptic. Above all, they must be well-crafted and compelling.

Check out our standard submission guidelines here.

In addition, our submissions window for Flash Fiction February 2019 is open until December 31st. For this though we’ve put a squeeze on word count so, for this category, only stories of between 200 -750 please.

All the information you need for Flash Fiction February 2019 is here.

Check out the Fictive Dream website here.

We’re looking forward to receiving your best work!

Laura Black
Editor

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Past beauty

Green wave

Carpe Diem, as usual, has a fascinating challenge based on unknown haiku poets. Some of them are not completely unknown, but details of their lives seem to be sparse.

The topic this time is ‘beautiful wave’ taken from a haiku by Heiro Yaezakura (1879-1945).

My take on this subject is:

This water, foaming
on the sand, moments gone was
a beautiful wave.

 

Picture from Clifford Weinmann

Tea ceremony for everyone! Workshops with English interpretation, Sat. Nov. 17

For anyone able to get there, this sounds like a wonderful opportunity.

Alice Gordenker    アリス・ゴーデンカー

interior The “Kōka” teahouse, an Important Cultural Property, is beautifully situated within the garden of the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum.

Tea ceremony made approachable! Learn about the history and aesthetics of the Japanese tea ceremony, and how you can bring the tea ceremony into your own life. right now, without lessons or a teahouse or all the special utensils.  At the same time you can experience an authentic tea ceremony in a historic teahouse within a beautiful Japanese garden, just as the fall colors are beginning to turn.  Details and sign ups here on the museum website.

Location: “Kōka” Teahouse, in the garden of the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum

Hosts: tea masters from the Urasenke School of Tea, one of the three historical households directly descended from the 16th century tea master Sen no Rikyū. They are “the real deal” but their focus is on making tea ceremony something…

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Call for Submissions: Curse the Darkness Anthology

A creepy competition! Ghost stories are enjoying a come-back.

ShortStops

Call for Submissions - Curse the Darkness - Unlit Press

For our inaugural horror and dark fiction anthology, Unlit Press is inviting short story submissions on the theme of darkness. That could be the absence of light, the presence of evil, or the deranged thoughts of the afflicted. However you choose to interpret the theme, just make sure you leave us afraid to turn out the lights.

At Unlit Press we don’t forsake character and story for the sake of gratuitous violence and gore. We’re looking for stories with strong original voices, compelling characters and sparkling dialogue. Send us stories that step off the well-trod paths into the unlit wilderness of the unusual, the interesting, and the provocative.

Submission Guidelines

  • Word Count: 3,000 to 10,000 words.
  • Deadline: 31 December 2018.
  • Payment: One-off payment of £75 (approximately $100) plus one contributor copy for each manuscript accepted.

Visit our website for full submission guidelines and instructions.

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