Over the course of the summer months I will be sharing the recommended authors who feature in the Smorgasbord Bookshelf along with their books and a selected review.
If you are looking for a guide to visiting the UK then A Bit About Britain’s High Days and Holidays by Mike Biles, is a must read… it is the second of Mike’s books that I have reviewed and enjoyed.
About the book
High Days and Holidays are special occasions, celebrations, or commemorations. They occur throughout the year, some wanted, some not, some remembered more than others. In days gone by, the passing year was marked by seasonal or religious feast days of one sort or another; in some respects, they still help define our calendar.
A Bit About Britain’s High Days and Holidays explores a baker’s dozen of Britain’s notable occasions and traditions, from New Year onward, the things we associate with them and the stories behind each one. If you’ve ever wondered who Valentine was, where Christmas crackers come from, or thought about the Easter bunny (and who hasn’t?), A Bit About Britain’s High Days and Holidays is for you. And, whilst this book is not just for Christmas, it does include an A-Z of the festive season. A couple of recipes have been thrown in for good measure too, as well as an agenda for your hosting your very own Burns’ Supper. Oh – and at the end is an extensive list of Britain’s Big Days and events that normally form part of Britain’s Year – through Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.
So, if you’ve ever been baffled as to why some Brits do some of the things they do, or have even questioned why you do them yourself, this little book might help. Occasionally lighthearted, fascinating and useful, once you’ve read it, keep it handy to refer to when needed.
One of the reviews for the book
As an englishman I see some of the traditions in this book as utterly sensible, laudable and to be encouraged – while dismissing entirely, of course, those from the “RoB” [The Rest of Britain}. All are described in this volume with the concomitant touch of puzzlement, derision, love, nationalism, outrage and amusement that they deserve. This book – and another by this author – ‘A Bit About Britain’s History’ – ought to be compulsory reading for all of those below the age of “me”. If there’s one thing we do well in England – and, grudgingly, in Britain too – it is to be …peculiar.
Why did I spit my coffee over my lap and my hitherto pristine copy of this book? Well, the author won’t mind a brief “spoiler” when I say that the august figure of Robert Burns is (accurately) referred to as a chap whose brain was generally used as merely a periscope for his willie. If you don’t know what a ‘willie’ is then please, don’t look it up. I could have finished reading the book there and then; the author had earned his meagre royalty.
What made me curse the author? Christmas. Specifically the author’s criminal disregard for the magnificent creature that is the Brussels Sprout. At that point I wanted my money back.
Aside from the Brussels Sprout issue, this is an accurate book, providing sufficient detail but not too much. Beautifully written, well edited and admirably printed by the company that runs this website. I commend this book to the nation. Also to the Commonwealth, the remains of the old Empire, the poor souls in the “rest of the world” and any aliens looking for a great read during their stay at Her Majesty’s pleasure in RAF Woodbridge (the equivalent to ‘Merica’s “Area 51” thingy).
Also by Mike Biles
Mike Biles has lived in Britain all his life and generally loves the place, warts and all. He first learned history on his dad’s knee and went on to study medieval and modern British and European history at university. He was planning on teaching it, but then drifted into a career running his own business. Despite having worked with some of the UK’s most prestigious firms, he is often at his happiest with his nose in a history book, or exploring a historic site where the past is close. Several years ago, Mike began a blog – now an increasingly authoritative website – ‘A Bit About Britain’. He had to write a bit about Britain’s history for the website, and it seemed only sensible to put the material into his first book.
As a participant in Colleen Chesebro’s weekly Tuesday Tanka Challenge, I have discovered so many different forms of syllabic poetry and come to love creating poems in these formats. I loved this guide and can highly recommend
About the book
Are you ready to learn how to craft Japanese and American poetry? Consider this book the first step on your journey to learning the basics of how to craft syllabic poetry. Inside, you will discover many new forms, syllable combinations, and interpretations of the different Japanese and American forms and structures of haiku, senryu, haiga, tanka, renga/solo renga, gogyohka, haibun, tanka prose, the cinquain, and its variations, Etheree, nonet, and shadorma poetry.
So… what are you waiting for? Let’s craft syllabic poetry together!
One of the recent reviews for the guide and poetry collection
This is an excellent tutorial for anyone wanting to craft effective syllabic poetry. It covers a range of different forms of American and Japanese syllabic poetry, some of which I never come across before. Each chapter starts with the history of the particular form, moving onto a clear explanation of the technical aspects and suggestions of where to find inspiration, then come some examples, a recap and further examples. I particularly enjoyed reading these, especially the ones by the poets I know. It was like unexpectedly bumping into a friend!
Although still somewhat daunted by the more complex forms which come at the end of the book, I am definitely encouraged to experiment more with all the different forms. The author’s final exhortation to the reader: ‘Be bold. Be creative. Write some syllabic poetry!’ With such encouragement, who can fail to try?
Also by Colleen M. Chesebro
About Colleen M. Chesebro
Colleen M. Chesebro is a Michigan Poet who loves crafting syllabic poetry, flash fiction, and creative fiction and nonfiction. Colleen sponsors a weekly poetry challenge, called Tanka Tuesday, on wordcraftpoetry.com where participants learn how to write traditional and current forms of syllabic poetry.
Along with JulesPaige, Colleen is also a co-editor of “Word Weaving, a Word Craft Journal of Syllabic Verse,” at wordweavingpoetryjournal.com. The debut issue of this journal will publish in October 2021.
Colleen’s syllabic poetry has appeared in various other online publications. Recently, she created the Double Ennead, a 99-syllable poetry form for Carrot Ranch. Colleen’s poetry has poetry in various anthologies and journals including “Hedgerow-a journal of small poems,” and “Poetry Treasures,” a collection of poetry from the poet/author guests of Robbie Cheadle on the “Treasuring Poetry” blog series on “Writing to be Read” in 2020.
Colleen published “Word Craft: Prose & Poetry, The Art of Crafting Syllabic Poetry,” which illustrates how to write various syllabic poetry forms used in her Tanka Tuesday challenges; and a collection of poetry, flash fiction, and short stories called, “Fairies, Myths & Magic: A Summer Celebration,” dedicated to the Summer Solstice. She contributed a short story called “The Changeling,” in the “Ghostly Rites Anthology 2020,” published by Plaisted Publishing House.
Thanks very much for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books.. thanks Sally.