Quarantine stories

Haiku poet and editor Scott Mason has been inspired by the 14th century book The Decameron, a collection of stories created during a plague outbreak in Florence, and come up with The Haiku Hecameron which will feature 100 haiku poets whose work reflects a spirit of gratitude for something that remains right (possibly even wondrous) in the world of the poet’s present-day experience.

Submitting poets must have had work appear in an edited haiku journal (print or online) in the last three years. Work must be the author’s own and not previously published (in print or online) or under consideration anywhere else.

Submit: Please send only one submission. A submission may comprise up to a total of three of the following, in any combination: Haiku; Haiku sequence (up to 100 words including title); Haibun (up to 100 words including title); Haiga (minimum resolution 300 dpi). Send submissions by email to Scott Mason with the subject line ‘Haiku Hecameron’. Haiga should be in jpg format as an attachment. All other work should be provided in the body of the email. Include your name, pen-name name (if used), and your location (town or city; state, province or region; country).
Deadline: April 17 (International Poetry Day). Acceptance notifications by May 17.

The goal is to have The Haiku Hecameron available in late July 2020, approximately 100 days after International Haiku Poetry Day.  Contributors and submitting poets will qualify for discounts.

Read about The Decameron and its author Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-75).

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I read Quarantine by Jim Crace years ago but its echoes still hover. Essentially it’s about Jesus and the 40 days he spent alone in the desert, but there’s much more to it than that. Read a synopsis on the author’s website.

Read the author’s description of the circumstances surrounding the creation of what became an award-winning novel.

* * *

Probably painted in the workshop of Gentile Bellini (d. 1507), this canvas shows the Mamluk governor of Damascus granting an audience to a group from Venice. The painting is dated 1511. Image: Wikimedia Commons

The word ‘quarantine’ comes from 14th century Venice and means ‘forty days’, the length of time ships were isolated to prevent people arriving with the bubonic plague. But the practice of isolation for medical reasons goes back much further. Read the fascinating Wikipedia entry on quarantine.

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Karantina is a suburb of Beirut, Lebanon’s capital, and is named for the quarantine station (lazaretto) built in about 1831 (during Ottoman rule) to house and isolate travellers arriving by sea. Between 1700 and 1848, plague raged 41 times in the empire’s Levant province. The empire’s quarantine system pushed the plague back to its frontiers by the 1840s, although from 1821 outbreaks of cholera – equally devastating – began to occur.

Karantina’s more recent history is stained by tragedy. In 1976, early in the Civil War in Lebanon, it was the site of a massacre of some 1500 Palestinian residents – men, women and children – by Christian militia.

Today, the suburb is known for its lively nightclub scene and concert hall. Funny how history gets overwritten, isn’t it?

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Shakespeare apparently had a productive period in quarantine, so here’s hoping we stay well and do too.

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