e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

Archive for the category “Celebrations and events”

Buddha’s Word

I love museum exhibitions and this one sounds fantastic. Fortunately, we’ll be in that part of the country later this summer so I’ll definitely get to see it.

Many people have devoted their lives to making beautiful books of the sayings of the great religious teachers. At one time viewing them would have meant a lot of arduous travel, but now thanks to modern transport and the organisation of modern museums, we don’t have to go so far.

University of Cambridge Museums

Buddha’s Word: The Life of Books in Tibet and Beyond  is the first exhibition of Tibetan material in Cambridge taking place at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology . It will display some of the world’s oldest Sanskrit and Buddhist manuscripts – and a gift from the 13 th Dalai Lama – in a special exhibition on Buddhist books from 28 May.

The exhibition displays for the first time the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology’s astonishing Buddhist artefacts and brings together collections and research from three of the University of Cambridge Museums; the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences and the Fitzwilliam Museum – as well as the University Library, the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, and Emmanuel and Pembroke Colleges.

Historians, anthropologists, linguists, art historians, chemists and material scientists have all contributed to this…

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From festival to festival

search-logoBrowsing around the web, as I do from time to time, I stumbled on the site of a magazine called Stylist. I’ve never heard of them before and style type things are not really my style, but one of their articles caught my eye.

It gives a list of what they consider the seven best literary festivals. The events they list are spread all over the country and through the summer. A quick google indicated there are many more festivals. If one had the time, the money and the stamina one could spend weeks on end festivalling – maybe with the odd music event in between.

Back to the seven best. How did they decide?

I imagine some exhausted junior reporter rushing, by bus, between events, staying in horrible b&bs, listening for hours to authors they don’t read, and then scribbling a brief report at 3:00 am to catch a deadline.

Or maybe a senior reporter samples the most interesting talks by authors s/he has read while sipping cocktails in the best hotels. The quality of the cocktails affects the report s/he dictates to the secretary.

Or maybe the editor calls the staff together in their coffee break and demands they each name a festival they’ve enjoyed in the past.

The method of info gathering affects the final list, which affects who attends which events and buys whose books, which affects the authors’ income and popularity with their publisher, which affects whose work gets published, promoted and read at next year’s festivals, and so on into the foreseeable future.

The programme is finalised… ta-dah !

An interesting literary festival in a lovely setting. I’d never heard of either the village or the festival before stumbling onto this blog. It just shows what can be found if one looks around.

A day of silence and its poetry

The last day of March was Nyepi Day for the Balinese. This means a day of silence – traffic stops, people stay at home and contemplate, all is quiet. I wish we had such a day here.

I couldn’t find poems about Nyepi, not in English anyway, but the website Bali for the World has what seems to be a translation of one, as well as a good write up of the deeper meanings of the day.

With flowers make yadnya,
Melasti with going to the beach.

It is the sort of ceremony that ought to have a rich literature. Perhaps some of my readers know of it, if so I’d be grateful if you could let me know.

National Libraries Day

Today is National Libraries Day and all over the UK there are special library events to celebrate it.N L D logo

Our country has so many libraries – public ones, schools and colleges, public and private institutions, commercial organisations, and all of them are worth celebrating.

While looking up local events and other library related things, I remembered that not all libraries are still around. Wikipedia has a long list of lost book collections. How much knowledge has gone up in smoke or been eaten by termites?

So along with celebration has to go determination to keep all that thought and creativeness safe.

Centenary year

I did a quick google on ‘centenary’ to see if any literary people of note came up. First time around almost everything was past its sell-by – mostly to do with last year, but some older than that.

I feel a rant coming on!

Why don’t site owners take down out of date stuff?

Nuff said. I tried again with 2014 in the search box.

This time I got a huge number of hits for the start of the First World War. One of them even had ‘celebrations’ in its title. Ugh! Who celebrates war?

It looks as if any other person or thing with a centenary this year is going to have to work hard to get noticed in all the war stuff. One I know about is Dylan Thomas, but I’ll be blogging about him in a later post when I’ve done enough research to sort of do him justice.

Among all the war hits there were a couple of golf ones: Hockley Golf Club and The British Golf Collectors Society. So I went in search of golf poetry. There’s quite a bit of it but most is definitely unserious.

One Gabe Anderson wrote this little gem which is one of the best summaries I’ve seen of anything:

Golf is a great sport
Driver hybrid wedge putter
From tee box to green

End of the old year

The New Year approaches. I am spending it quietly at home with a couple of friends. If you’re going out partying I wish you a joyful and safe night with no hangover tomorrow.

I wrote this small poem years ago and had forgotten it.

Three leaves cling to the alder.
A distant siren wails
the last sorrow of the year.

Happy New Year to everyone.

A new book award

Since I’ve started this blog and taken to browsing the web for literature news, I’ve come across some interesting events and awards in the book world.

cover art

‘My Beautiful Genome; by Lone Frank, shortlisted in the General Biology category.

The one I’m blogging about now isn’t exactly literature – it is the Society of Biology Book Awards. They have just announced the shortlists – three categories (undergrad textbooks, postgrad textbooks, general biology) so three lists.

Choosing the judges must have been a task in itself: textbooks are such specialised reading. Did they wait until the entrants were in then choose judges accordingly, or did they invite a selection of people and hope they’d understand the books?

The Society website talks of this being the inaugural award, so presumably the first time they’ve given it. We have awards everywhere these days and I suppose it’s good for academics to be up for some – writing the books must be very hard work and the writers are not often rewarded with a wide readership.

But I do sometimes wonder about the books that don’t get mentioned on short or long lists. Do they do worse or better than they would otherwise? Does an award raise the profile of a type of writing to the benefit of all its producers? I doubt if we’ll ever know.

T S Eliot Prize is 20 this year

This major poetry prize, run by the Poetry Book Society (PBS), has reached a milestone.  Over the years many well-known poets have been shortlisted and this year is no different.

In 2011 the prize ran into some controversy when John Kinsella and Alice Oswald, two of the shortlisted poets, withdrew from the competition. They felt they could not take part after sponsorship from Aurum, a fund management company, was announced.

So that this doesn’t happen again, it is now part of the competition entry requirements that the publishers (who are the ones who submit the books to be judged)  act on the following:

the Prize will benefit from the second year of Aurum support, so publishers should not enter their work unless the poet accepts this.

To celebrate twenty years of supporting and encouraging poetry, the PBS is running a national T S Eliot Prize 20th Anniversary Tour which will visit Portsmouth, Winchester, Oldham, Halifax, Ludlow, Glasgow, Norwich, Liverpool, Durham and Sheffield between 17 September and 15 October.

Has poetry changed much in the last twenty years? I think performance poetry has increased and has had an effect, but I’m not aware of other large changes – just of the continuous gentle pushing out of the envelope by inventive individual poets.

What will it be like in 2033? Will the 40th Anniversary Tour be virtual? or beamed from space? will we still be around to find out?

A new writing project

I’ve just come across a new writing project that is part of the Brighton Digital Festival. It’s call Geo-writing, run by Paragraph Planet.

It sounds great, people roaming around Brighton during the festival get prompts and each write 300 words of a story. When all are done someone sorts them and publishes at least some of them. Further details from the websites (links above).

I suspect that the editors will have a mammoth task. Making sense of hundreds of paragraphs from different people and deciding what order they go in, could be a lot of work. Enjoyable though.

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