e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

Another new-to-me word – enisled

I was reading The Librarian by Salley Vickers when I came across the above word. New-to-me-words tend to jump off the page at me, waving their letters and demanding I look them up in dictionaries, thesauruses and/or websites.

Although I could guess the meaning, I followed the demand and found out, as expected, that the literal meaning is ‘to put on an island’ and the metaphorical is ‘to isolate’. I think it’s definitely more attractive than common or garden ‘isolated’.

Pronunciation was much more interesting; all possibles could be found somewhere on the web. I guess that either:

there are really many ways of saying the word

different dialects pronounce it differently (very differently)

the word occurs in other languages

a lot of people pronounce it wrong.

The one I prefer is to say ‘isle’ in the usual way and add the ‘en’ to it, keeping the stress on the long i.

You’ll have to read the book to see the context the author uses it. I can recommend it as an easy, pleasant read with an unusual ending.

Advertisements

Independent Libraries Conference

More or less by chance I’ve discovered that there are associations of independent libraries in the UK and elsewhere. A new-to-me discovery that I find somehow joyful: bringing together independence and libraries to help each other.

LIA logo

And on 25th to 27th of September this year the UK and American groups are to have a conference.

The formal agenda looks more or less as one might expect, but I would love to listen to the between-formal chat. Do the delegates discuss the latest books or bemoan the cost of quality shelving? Perhaps they share snippets of history and founders’ wisdom. Or maybe they read.

Favourite weeds

The good weather we’ve had lately means my garden is still rich with flowers and foliage, most of them self-seeded – many are pretty even if they are weeds.

Last year’s favourite weeds were sunflowers; we had several of them of different sizes and styles.

sunflower

This year they went somewhere else and I now have different favourites. One is a giant clover with a pale mauve  flower and decorative leaves.

Another is a lush green thingy growing like the clappers. I’m hoping it’ll flower so I can see what it is.

very green

I had a browse on the web to see if there are any poems about weeds.

There are a lot, many of them drawing rather obvious lessons and few extolling the beauty of these adventurous plants.

However, I really like this simple little one by a poet called Boruch.

A Reblog from Interesting Literature – all about gods and giants

In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle reviews a new translation of Scandinavia’s founding literary works What connects the Jim Carrey film The Mask, the work of J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Thor movie franchise? The answer is that they all owe a debt to […]

via Gods and Giants: The Poetic Edda — Interesting Literature

The poetry of heatwaves

Cooling down in the heatwaveAs our over-hot weather goes on I had a look on the web for poems about heatwaves. There seem to be an amazing number of them, although google often produces the same thing in different contexts.

One of the first I came across was John Stammers’ Like a Heatwave Burning:

It was the hottest summer on record;
we flew into rages at the drop of a pin.
The heat made cacti of us all.

I love that line about cacti. There are plenty of things that make me feel cactus-like, not only in the heat. There are several more verses all as entertaining (link above).

Ted Hughes also had something to say in Heatwave which starts:

Between Westminster and sunstruck St Paul’s
The desert has entered the flea’s belly.

So far I’ve not come across any subject that doesn’t have at least one poem of its own.

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.

 

 

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.

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: