e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

One Hundred Shadows by Hwang Jungeun tr.Jung Yewon

Korean literature is new to me. I’ve just bought this book and look forward to reading it. I don’t generally go for romance, but this sounds intriguing.

My thanks to the author of blog Word by Word for drawing my attention to it.

Word by Word

oe-hundred-shadowsEthereal, dream-like, accepting of their fate. South Korean working class literature.

Two young people work in an electronics market and slowly develop a friendship.

We meet Eungyo as she is following her shadow, causing her to become separated from the group she is with. Mujae follows her and stops her. Shadows rise and seem to lure one to follow it, something that others try to prevent, for it feels death-like.

Although it is never explained the constant mention of human shadows and their various behaviours provoke the reader’s imagination to ascribe meaning. Ill health and approaching death cause it to rise, and perhaps thoughts, reaching the limit of what one is able to endure. One shouldn’t follow it.

Their bond is formed as the environment within which they work is threatened with demolition. There is a subtle interdependency between the market traders, repairing and selling electronics, so when people who…

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Bird words

51umy7zgnll-_sx328_bo1204203200_I’ve just bought a lovely little book: A Conspiracy of Ravens compiled by Samuel Fanous.

It’s a list of collective nouns for birds. Apparently, creating these words was a pastime of hunters in times past. Now, thankfully, they are the province of word-hunters looking for novel ways of describing the world.

I’ve known a gaggle of geese and a murmuration of starlings since childhood, but most of the collectives in this book are new to me: a fling of dunlins; a pitch of orioles; a raft of auks! I wish I could think of a literary use for them.

Some of the names are so fitting. How about a paddling of ducks or an ostentation of peacocks? And some, like a bellowing of bullfinches, make me laugh.

With an interesting forward by Bill Oddie and woodcut illustrations by Thomas Bewick, this book is a real gem.

The Poetry Periscope

The periscope

If you’re in Birmingham or Durham over the next couple of months, you should look out for this strange beast.

It’s a sound installation called Poetry Periscope and it’s on a UK tour. It started it’s journey in April as part of the European Literature Festival, and it’s still going – unwearied and cheery in its yellowness.

It plays 30 poems from 30 European cultures. Each is played in its own language and in English translation. To stand in a shopping mall or railway station and listen to all that may be a bit much, but perhaps the commute to work or shopping trip can be enhanced by a couple of the recordings.

In addition to the Festival, a number of organisations are involved with the project including European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC), The Poetry Society and Pianos on the Street.

Travels of the imagination

1743363664.01.ZTZZZZZZBrowsing around the web I discovered a site called TripFiction, dedicated to reviewing books about places. The suggestion is that, if you have a trip planned, it’s a good idea to read stories set in that place before or during (or after for that matter) your visit.

I agree that this is a great and unstressful way of learning things about a place that you won’t learn from a guidebook. You’ll also learn about the author’s view of that place – does it matter if this colours your response when you actually arrive and see the real McCoy?

Guidebooks have their own appeal – they usually have the most enticing photographs. Only in children’s stories, like the Mr Chicken books, will you find pictures of your destination. I often browse the travel section in bookshops or libraries, just to imagine the journeys that I’ll quite likely never make – and in some cases wouldn’t want to.

Reading the reviews on TripFiction reminded me of another travel related site, Poetry Atlas which claims

everywhere on earth has a poem written about it

and gives numerous examples – some places, particularly the great cities, have huge numbers of poems about them.


Carpe Diem and Pedro Calderon de la Barca


Carpe Diem has several haiku challenges going at present. I like the one (number 1033) using a prompt by the Spanish poet Pedro Calderon de la Barca.

This is the prompt:

These flowers, which were splendid and sprightly, waking in the dawn of the morning, in the evening will be a pitiful frivolity, sleeping in the cold night’s arms.

There are several ideas here around day/night, the fleeting nature of flowers, the effect of time on perception of splendour/frivolity/pitifulness, whether flowers sleep or wake, and I’m sure there are others I haven’t noticed.

I decided to put the sleep first and look forward to the wakening:

As night falls, so do
the petals of the daylily.
In the summer moonlight,
buds of tomorrow’s lilies
prepare to open at dawn.

The poetry of pink


I took this photo while on holiday some weeks ago. I noticed the flower among others not only because it’s a beautiful rose, but because it is so pink – ultimately pink. I thought the tiny beetle was sort of cute, too.

Having made a contact with pinkness I looked around to see if anyone has celebrated it in poetry. Sure enough there are a good many poems on the subject.

Poem Hunter has a list. The one that most suited this post is:

This Peach is Pink with Such a Pink by Norman Rowland Gale
This peach is pink with such a pink
As suits the peach divinely;
The cunning colour rarely spread
Fades to the yellow finely;
But where to spy the truest pink
Is in my Love’s soft cheek, I think.

The second verse is about white, so I leave that out.

Then there’s Emily Victoria’s blog called Poetry in Pink, but her poems aren’t actually about pinkness.

Color by Christina Rossetti starts with pink, but then goes on to other colours.

What is pink? a rose is pink
By a fountain’s brink.

Structo 15 now online for free

Taking the trouble to put work online and make it free for everyone is an act of true generosity. Thank you ShortStops for a great read.


Structo issue 15 is now online, in its entirety, to read for free. This most recent issue features 11 short stories, 17 poems, a feature on cover on design, an interview with three of our favourite cover designers and another with the ex-poet laureate of North Korea Jang Jin-sung. You can find more details, as well as bonus material such as audio recordings, at the issue page.

To mark the occasion, the physical issue is currently discounted from £7 to £5, so if you want one before they sell out, now’s the time! Head here to pick up your copy. That said, the most valuable thing you can do is read the magazine and tell a friend about Structo, as magazines like ours thrive by word of mouth. Share and enjoy.

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Evening song

Bird on roof


The blackbird’s song flows
through an evening garden; today
ends musically.


Writing in North Norfolk has some great and imaginative posts. Here is a wonderful example of new and unusually used words. I think the bird is a kiwi, but I could be wrong; I’m not very knowledgeable about birds.

writing in north norfolk

My response to Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Wordle #117 “July 11th, 2016”


Ambisinister as a duck,

I scratch the surface of a metaphor

That destructs

In a shivering thunderhead

Of poetic ephemerids,

Filling the chambers

Of my heart with benign

Imagery and rhyme.

No need to bribe

Saint Peter

To enter

The plush gates of heaven

When you have your own

Narrow turnstile.

© Kim M. Russell, 2016

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Haiku and Estonia

A blog challenge based on a whole country! From pictures Estonia looks beautiful, but photographs are all I have to go by as I’ve never been there.

As usual Chèvrefeuille has given us some great haiku examples and some interesting insights into the country and its spirituality.

Below is my take on the subject.

Version 2

This trail through forests,
valleys, lakelands – since the stone-age
a guide for travellers –
leads us today from the sea
to the heavenly dancers.

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