e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

Cancellation! Cancellation! Cancellation!

 

Edinburgh Boook Festival

Harrogate Festivals

Crimefest

Guernsey Literary Festival

 

 

 

 

All over the world events are cancelled. People who worked hard to put together a programme see it torn to nothing by a creature that is so small it’s invisible.

Those of us who were looking forward to a dose of culture, in my case particularly literature, must give up for this year.

Online is wonderful, and I congratulate and thank anyone who has created an online festival. But it’s not a substitute for the buzz of a real poetry reading, the joy of anticipating a panel of famous writers in the flesh, the pleasure of going through a hard-copy programme and ticking off the events to see.

However, there’s another side to this. So many festivals cancelled! Yes, but let us remember that there were ‘so many’ to cancel. So many organisers, who are often volunteers, so many eager audiences.

In years past and to come we live in a time of celebrating the arts and sciences like never before in history.

Royal Society of Literature – RSL Ondaatje Prize

The Royal Society of Literature has published the long list for this prize. Needless to say, I’d like to read all of them, and probably won’t even read a few.

The prize is worth a good deal in terms of money, but winning is probably more important to the writers than the swelling of the bank account.

Reading about success is so heartwarming; good luck to all of them.

Picture from RSL website

World Poetry Day 2020

Today is World Poetry Day and I suspect there is a lot of disappointment around at the cancellation of readings, workshops etc.

World Poetry Day logoFortunately poetry is something that can be enjoyed as much alone as in social gatherings. Reading a favourite poet, or perhaps a newly bought book, is almost social: reader and poet together.

I think the current crisis will leave several kinds of mark on history, and one of those will be poems.

Picture from https://www.awarenessdays.com/awareness-days-calendar/world-poetry-day-2020/

New poetry books after absence

This is my first post of the new year/new decade. Where better to go for newness than new poetry books.

Eliot Collected PoemsRendang coverThe approach of spring revived my interest in shopping so I treated myself to this T S Eliot collection.

Rendang by Will Harris is a Poetry Book Society choice.

The Eliot is what I expected it to be: exciting, beautiful, varied. It was his work that helped me into reading modern poetry.

I haven’t had time to study Rendang, but it has a lot of interesting stuff in it.

Now all I need is time to sit and absorb the beauty and depth of these two fabulous poets.

 

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.

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.

 

 

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