e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

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.

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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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Reflex Fiction Summer 2018 Winners!

I love success stories and hearing about winners. There are still a number of opportunities here.

ShortStops

Winter 2018 - Reflex Fiction - Flash Fiction Competition - ShortStopsReflex Fiction is a quarterly international flash fiction competition for stories between 180 and 360 words. We publish one story every day as we count down to the winner of each competition.

Summer 2018 Winners

At the end of September we published the three winning stories from our Summer 2018 flash fiction competition as chosen by Sherrie Flick. Here are the winners and links to the stories:

First Place: Crowbar by Lyndsay Wheble
Second Place: Consanguinity by Fiona J Mackintosh
Third Place: Skin by Donna L Greenwood

You can read Sherrie’s thoughts on the winning stories here.

Autumn 2018 Long-List

We’ve also just published the long-list for our Autumn 2018 competition and have started publishing stories as we count down to the announcement of the winners at the end of December.

Winter 2018 Open for Entries

We’re also accepting entries for our Winter 2018 competition. Here are the important details:

Prizes:…

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The Forgotten Kingdom by Peter Goullart

I’ve just finished reading this book and can recommend it to anyone interested in a different, beautiful world.

Fleeing the Russian revolution, the author ended up in China and finally in Lijiang in Yunnan province in the late 30s and 40s, where he worked for the government in the Co-operative Movement. He was there for nine years before fleeing again, this time from the Communists.

photo of Nakhi dancerIn the forgotten kingdom of the Nakhi people he seems to have found his true home: the people were friendly and cheerful, the area was beautiful, wildlife plentiful, he made many friends and had enough work to feel fruitfully occupied.

This is not a travel book, he was not passing through but lived the life of a local person. It is more a memoir of a time and a world that no longer exist. Goullart describes the area as a paradise on Earth, despite the bandits and diseases. Whether the people he knew there felt the same will now never be known.

 

Picture: Amazon

The darkest hour and its poetry

I have recently discovered a new-to-me word that is really useful, probably to most people. It isn’t a new word, in fact it’s pretty old having been used, rarely, in Old English.

It is uhtceare and it means to lie in bed before dawn worrying.

Who hasn’t experienced this horrible, sleep-robbing feeling? Who hasn’t panicked during the darkest hour before dawn then got up after sunrise feeling a bit of an idiot for fussing over trivia?

If you haven’t, may you never go there. But if you have, you now have a name for it. Does having it named make it less scary?

The word is found in a longish Anglo-Saxon poem called The Wife’s Lament.

hæfde Ic uhtceare
hwær min leodfruma londes wære

I don’t know what this means but, given the ‘uhtceare’ it must have something to do with the lady’s worries.

The word is having something of a revival and getting more usage than it did in the lamenting wife’s days. Sauviloquy has a whole poem about

that wretched uhtceare

and so has Sohinee. There are probably others I haven’t found.

It isn’t certain yet if this word will become generally known, but it looks as if it has a chance. Maybe in future, instead of sharing dreams over the breakfast table we’ll share uhtceares.

Short poems – the triolet

How great my grief, my joys how few,
Since first it was my fate to know thee!
Have the slow years not brought to view
How great my grief, my joys how few,
Not memory shaped old times anew,
Nor loving-kindness helped to show thee
How great my grief, my joys how few,
Since first it was my fate to know thee?

The poem above is a triolet, written by Thomas Hardy who was one of the stars of melancholy. I don’t think the very subtle change of meaning in the repetition of the first line is essential, but it expands the poem.

The rules are simple: the first couplet is repeated at the end and the first line is also the fourth; there are only two rhymes. For more information on its history etc try poets.org.

I was first introduced to the form in a poem by Susan McLean in the May edition of Snakeskin Poetry, an online magazine with a wide ranging content of both modern and traditional styles. (To find her humorous poem Crushed use the link above then click on Snakeskin Archive and then on Snakeskin 250).

I thought it would make a change from writing haiku and tanka. I found it took a while to get into the flow of the style but it was fun to try.

grey day photo

Shortest day – peevish, groaning, grey –
don’t turn your back on my shivering smiles;
backwards is another dark-lit way.
The shortest day – peevish, groaning, grey –
shakes hands with twilight, makes the sunrise pay,
as at our sour assembly in these cold-lit miles.
This shortest day – peevish, groaning, grey –
don’t turn your back on my shivering smiles.

 

 

Poetry Book Society Choice: Venus as a Bear

My Poetry Book Society choice for this summer has arrived. Its title is a challenge to start with – do bears and Venus have any relationship?cover art

The book has been widely reviewed and with good reason. I haven’t had time to read it thoroughly yet, but, as one expects from Vahni Capildeo, the poems I have read make me think.

For instance, very few poets deal with the subject of pets. Capildeo doesn’t cover the cuteness or amusingness of domestic creatures, but what it means to be a pet and the deep relationship between two species. Many other poems deal with animals and plants in their natural or semi-natural state. Then there are the places: the roads, the seas, the foreign, the homes.

This is a wide-ranging collection and I’ll be reading it for some time.

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