Vintage commercial for Lousiana Yams

I’m reading Four Guineas by Espeth Huxley and I came across a description of the following job:

“I passed through a village calle Elele, where in former times dwelt a yam priest who for seven years never set foot outside his compound, because if he did so, any man strong enough could kill him and fill the office in his stead. The position brought much wealth and honour, but when the seven years were up the priest, if no one had vanquished him, was expected to commit suicide.”

Seven years wealth and honour in exchange for house arrest, constant wariness and certain death. I wonder how many would sign this faustian pact today…

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‘Haiku. To-con-vey one’s mood. In sev-en-teen syll-able-s. Is ve-ry dif-fic.’

Black and White photo of John Cooper Clarke wearing sunglasses
John Cooper Clarke by University of Salford

John Cooper Clarke’s perfectly imperfect haiku always makes me smile. And it’s true — It’s not easy to get your point across in seventeen syllables. That’s why a good haiku is so powerful. Having such strict limitations forces you to really weigh each word, to pare down each thought to the essence.

Of course sometimes seventeen syllables isn’t enough. Sometimes you need to go full Beowulf. But whenever I feel like my writing is getting a little flabby, I flick through a few haikus and remind myself of beauty of less.

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