Kevan Manwaring found a pilgrim purpose in his traverse of the North Country landscape. Congratulations on your completion of another big walk – with its inevitable bardic fruits.
Lyrical: Open Mic & More
Thursday 6 June
6pm. Trowbridge Town Hall Arts, Trowbridge, Wiltshire
British eco-poet Helen Moore will speak about and read from her new collection of poems, The Mother Country, published by Awen.
& Town Hall Arts: Lyrical: Open Mic & More
by Roselle Angwin
Recently there has been an upsurge of interest in trees. Some of this arises from research done by Suzanne Simard that gives us a picture of what is now known as the Wood Wide Web; and building on this is the amazing book by Peter Wohlleben, The Hidden Life of Trees. There are now a great number of tree books around (of which some of the most inspiring and comprehensive are the three in a series by Fred Hageneder).
Japan has recently dedicated the equivalent of millions of pounds to the study and promotion of Shinrin-Yoku, forest-bathing, as a therapeutic aid to humans.
I myself have been leading a course called ‘Tongues in Trees’ for about five years now. In its most recent incarnation it’s a year–long online course, beginning at the winter solstice 2018, rooted in the Celtic tree ogham alphabet/calendar.
What joy, then, a few months into delivering this course, to receive a review copy of Glennie Kindred’s newest and most comprehensive tree book to date.
Kindred is the motherlode, or ‘hub tree’, of tree lore in the UK, and many people will know her several lovely, originally hand-made and -stitched, pamphlets, as well as books, on trees, plants, our relationship to the natural world, and earth wisdom more generally, all beautifully illustrated with her own drawings.
This new book is also graced with her images, which have the blended skills of loving observation and the accuracy that comes with close looking in tandem with magical insight and sensitivity. (You can buy the book, and prints, on Kindred’s website: http://glenniekindred.co.uk/)
There is not a lot that Kindred doesn’t know about trees. From this book, it’s also clear that the vast proportion of her knowledge is from her own depth of experience and communication with the tree realm. She doesn’t study them; rather she ‘builds a bridge’ to enter tree consciousness and brings back some of their gifts. ‘[M]ore than once I have found myself standing at the edge of my conditioning,’ she states in the Preface, ‘to sense an awareness of something more … a sense of communion and communication between myself and the plants and the trees, and an absolute certainty of the interconnectedness and sentience of all life.’
Walking with Trees describes what Kindred calls the ‘Council of Thirteen’: like myself, she goes with a 13-consonant Celtic ogham alphabet based on 13 native trees. (There is much disagreement about the number of ogham trees and some disagreement about their corresponding feadha, or letter-symbols.) She and I take slightly different perspectives in that one of her 13 is the beech tree, which is a later arrival on British shores (still several thousand years ago, of course), and is not associated with the Celtic uplands where one finds the other native trees, or with their mythology. However, I don’t disagree with her choice, and it’s true that, along with the small-leaved lime and the elm, beech marks an absence in the 13-month tree calendar that Robert Graves proposes and which resonates for so many of us.
Kindred’s book is ‘an urgent appeal to be part of the human changes that the Earth so badly needs us to make … The trees teach us. We learn from them; grow and expand, regenerate and deepen, as their wisdom permeates through to our depths and helps change us from the inside.’
I’m very much in tune with her perspective, especially at a time of global deforestation, and with the introduction of 5G ‘requiring’ that vast numbers of trees that are ‘in the way’ of receiving signals be felled.
My own tree course is an attempt to focus awareness on trees – in and of themselves, but also as utterly essential components in providing oxygen, keeping the hydrological cycle going, preventing soil erosion, offering habitat, shelter and foods for many millions of species of flora and fauna, offering medicines and foods to humans, and effecting positive changes to our immune systems.
They also act as mediators on a psychic level. By introducing people to the experience of being with individual tree species and trees, I hope to shift participants’ perspectives from the anthropocentric to the ecocentric via, in this case, the arbocentric.
Then, as we heal ourselves, so we heal our relationship with the other-than-human.
To learn to cherish, I believe, in anything other than the abstract, we need to know that which we wish to cherish; we need to be familiar with its ways; we need to learn to understand and love it. It would be very clear that Kindred has a deep love of and relationship with trees even if she didn’t declare it: ‘I can honestly say I’m in love with trees. They fill me with delight and awe in equal measure. I collect their leaves, blossom and fruit for my medicine cupboard and they gift me with layer upon layer of medicine for my soul. Being in their presence nurtures me, and the more sensitive and open I become to their sentience, the more levels of interaction and communication we exchange.’
The book is carefully constructed. Kindred divides each tree chapter into the characteristics, legends and folklore, and gifts as Part 1 for each species (and including information on growing the tree, plus food, medicines, and crafts associated with it); Part 2 focuses on both the wider picture of that tree in its environment, both physical and more subtle/energetic, and also inner-world correspondences, and the tree’s place in the Wheel of the Year. She includes notes on her own personal relationship with each tree. And each has several of Kindred’s relevant delicate drawings.
This is a book you’d be proud to have on your shelves – as inspiration, for information, as a thing of beauty.
Roselle Angwin is partway through writing a second book on trees and tree lore herself, partly inspired by spending some of each year in a magical Brittany forest associated with the Brocéliande of the Grail legends, which forms the subject of a preceding (as yet unpublished) book, and partly inspired by her Tongues in Trees teaching work.
A poem by Kevan Manwaring from his collection The Immanent Moment, posted on his blog in homage to his beloved motorbike that was mindlessly stolen and destroyed last week. It was his only transport and he is running a crowdfunder to help replace it.
and the thunder comes.
The dragon wakes,
flexes chrome muscles,
snorts hot breath.
A sneer on its lips,
a glint in its eyes.
A flick of its tail
and it’s off.
Trace pattern on retina.
The past a ghost of dust.
A roaring blur –
nothing but wind, vibration, a visor view.
The road unravels,
Finding peace in motion,
fully present –
now, now, now.
Never more alive
than on the cusp of death.
A knife’s edge –
riding the blade.
Into the unseen.
The road unmade
until you ride it into
From The Immanent Moment, by Kevan Manwaring, Awen 2011
Posted to raise funds to help replace my Triumph Legend motorbike, stolen on 14th May.
Please support if you can:
Thursday 30 May
7.30pm for 8pm
Hawkwood College, Stroud
Join ecopoet Helen Moore in Stroud to celebrate the launch of her third poetry collection, The Mother Country. Helen will be supported with additional readings by local poet, Adam Horovitz, who has written extensively about his mother, and about humanity’s relationship with the landscape.
Expect themes of mothers, environmentalism, postcolonialism & future generations.
Free entry, drinks available to purchase
The Mother Country by Helen Moore (Awen Publications, 2019)
Under English law a parent has the right to disinherit their offspring. The Mother Country – exploring British colonial history in Scotland and Australia, and themes of personal, social and ecological dispossession – is a poet’s response to being written out of her mother’s will.
Helen Moore’s third major collection of poems, The Mother Country, is published by Awen on 1 May 2019. Helen is a poet of passion, power, and precision. She writes with a commitment to the world – the ecological, the political, the spiritual – which fits perfectly with Awen’s vision. She has also garnered a considerable reputation in the literary world, having published many poems in top-notch periodicals and performed at major festivals and conferences.
In Helen’s case, the UK’s loss is Australia’s gain: she has just moved to Sydney with her Australian-born husband. The first section of The Mother Country, about Australia, reflects this present trajectory in her life. However, Helen will be back to launch the book with a whole tour of events through May, June, and July. I’ll give you the dates below, but first some information from the back cover of the book:
Under English law a parent still has the right to disinherit their offspring. This book is a poet’s response to being written out of her mother’s will. Exploring dispossession in a range of forms – from colonial legacies in Scotland and Australia to contemporary impacts of industrial civilisation on human health, planetary systems, and our children’s future – The Mother Country is simultaneously a journey through sorrow, a quest for poetic justice, and a movement towards forgiveness and ecological restoration.
‘She makes us see, hear and experience not only the grief of things across the planet but also the memories of the damaged and vanished worlds from which it rises … Perhaps in these perilous transitional times we are all disinherited now, and Moore’s poems perform an important duty by making us feel the pathos and the righteous rage of that condition.’ Lindsay Clarke
‘I love the vastness of Helen Moore’s vision and the unflinching way she puts it into the world … But Moore’s Blakean vision, tackling the toxic tyrannies of our own times, is always tempered by minute details which convey her deep love for what is under threat.’ Rosie Jackson
‘In these verbally dextrous, deeply rooted poems, Helen Moore demonstrates the truth of her quotation from Blake: “A tear is an intellectual thing.” … If our world is to awaken to its own danger, it will need ecopoets such as Moore.’ D.M. Black
Wednesday 8 May
The Satellite of Love, The Greenbank, Bristol
8.30pm Regular night at the Greenbank, Easton, Bristol for poetry, spoken word and beyond. Tonight launching ecopoet Helen Moore’s new book The Mother Country, alongside Callum Wensley, Bristol poet and spoken word artist, with open mic.
Monday 13 May
Frome Poetry Cafe
7.30pm Launch of Helen Moore’s new collection of poetry, The Mother Country.
31 May to 2 June
‘Nature, Ecology and Place’, Hawkwood College, Stroud
Creative writing retreat facilitated by Helen Moore.
Thursday 6 June
Lyrical, Trowbridge Town Hall
6pm. Our aim is to blend the Open Mic + guest poet format with conversation and also expand the slot to include talks, book launches and workshops. This month’s guest is ecopoet Helen Moore reading from her new collection, The Mother Country.
Wednesday 12 June
Lighthouse Books, Edinburgh
7pm. Book launch: The Mother Country.
Helen will be and reading from The Mother Country on Saturday 15 June from 8pm.
Tuesday 25 June
October Books, Southampton,
7pm. Book launch: The Mother Country. Book your free ticket via Eventbrite here.
Thursday 27 June
Words & Ears, Bradford-on-Avon
7.30pm. Helen Moore will be reading from her new collection, The Mother Country.
Thursday 4 July
Transition Town Forres, Forres, Moray
7.30pm. Double book launch with Geoff King, author of dystopian novel, Nutters, at Entry by donation.
‘Writing the Land, Writing the Sea’
Helen is facilitating this creative writing holiday for the HighlandLIT, Cromarty, Scotland. Details here.
Thursday 18 July
7pm. paper / needle / rock: Three Poets. Helen is reading with Naomi Foyle and Akila Richards, plus open mic.
Friday 19 July
Bermondsey Project Space, London
6pm. Writing workshop and reading at Marian Bruce’s solo show.
Join us on Saturday 4 May for Jay Ramsay: A Celebration of his Life in Music, Poetry and Words at St Lawrence Parish Church, Stroud at 7pm (6pm for vegetarian Indian food).
Jay Ramsay, psychotherapist and poet, passed away earlier this year. The author of nearly 40 books, including non-fiction on alchemy and relationship psychology, and translations of classics of eastern philosophy, he was an influential presence on the alternative poetry scene, and an ambassador for transformative spiritual, political and psychological awareness.
The event will be hosted on the night by poet Adam Horowitz and Hawkwood’s Katie Lloyd-Nunn. It will be a feast of Jay’s words, of memories, music and poetry with many contributors joining together to celebrate Jay’s extraordinary life and work. A further feast of vegetarian Indian food will start the event from 6pm! With thanks, too, to Revd Simon Howell for all his support.