Category Archives: Ecobardic

New tour date for Helen Moore’s The Mother Country – with Adam Horovitz

TMC Cover webThursday 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 new book The Mother Country

TMC 1

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

TOUR DATES

​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.

14–16 June

‘Expressing the Earth’ conference, Scottish Centre for Geopoetics, Wiston Lodge

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.

 11–14 July

‘Writing the Land, Writing the Sea’

Helen is facilitating this creative writing holiday for the HighlandLIT, Cromarty, Scotland. Details here.

 Thursday 18 July

ONCA, Brighton

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.

Anthony speaking in Trowbridge, 2 May

Picture6Lyrical: Open Mic & More

Thursday 2 May

6pm. Trowbridge Town Hall Arts, Trowbridge, Wiltshire

Writer, story-teller, editor and translator Anthony Nanson will be speaking at Diana Durham’s new Lyrical event in Trowbridge about his new translation of a collection of short stories, By the Edge of the Sea, by Nicolas Kurtovitch, one of the leading literary lights of New Caledonia in the Pacific.

Anthony met Nicolas Kurtovitch during a research trip to the islands in 2016. Kurtovitch’s stories were published originally in French as Forêt, terre et tabac and Anthony found it ‘a great privilege to translate Nicolas’ gorgeous lyrical prose into English.’

Anthony has a background in natural sciences, education, and publishing. A love of nature, authenticity, and the spirit of place informs all his work. His books include Deep Time – a prehistoric lost-world romance; Words of Re-enchantment: Writings on Storytelling, Myth, and Ecological Desire and three collections of stories. Anthony has worked widely as a storyteller both on his own and with the group Fire Springs. He lectures in creative writing at Bath Spa University; serves on the editorial board of Logos: Journal of the World Publishing Community; and blogs on Anthony Nanson’s Deep Time.

Optional theme for Open Mic: The Exotic and the Other

More info: Lyrical Series – Diana Durham, Writer & Poet

& Town Hall Arts:  Lyrical: Open Mic & More

 

The launch of Green Man Dreaming and By the Edge of the Sea, 5 December 2018

On Wednesday 5 December Awen was delighted to host the launch in Stroud at the ever-wonderful Black Book Café of two of our newest books. These were Green Man Dreaming: Reflections on Imagination, Myth and Memory, Lindsay Clarke’s selected essays; and By the Edge of the Sea, a short story collection by acclaimed New Caledonian author Nicolas Kurtovitch, translated into English for the first time by Anthony Nanson. Lindsay travelled up from Somerset to join us – and Nicolas beamed in from what was for him the following morning in New Caledonia, which is 11 hours ahead of Great Britain.

Last minute hook up with Nicolas as Richard starts the event! Thank you, Glenn!

There was a nervous few minutes while we waited for Nicolas to appear on the skype call that our good friend Glenn Smith had set up for us – after all, when we called Nicolas it was only 6.30am! But, bang on the dot of 8pm our time he appeared, ready to share a virtual coffee with us. Anthony then interviewed Nicolas about New Caledonia and its situation in the world – poised between Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea – Nicolas’ inspirations for his long writing career, and particular for this writing collection. He spoke about how he had gone to live on Lifou, an island off the main island of New Caledonia, among the Kanak, the indigenous people, and how the landscapes and people he knew came into his stories – and how he wanted to share his relationships and personal experiences with the world, to bring the lives of the Kanak into a wider view. At that time in the 1990s, New Caledonia was just emerging from a period unrest following a failed bid for independence from France – ironically, just weeks before the launch of this collection in 2018, there had been a referendum on whether to stay part of France or become an independent nation. This time, the New Caledonians voted to stay – but not as many did as was assumed. Here’s a clip of Nicolas talking about inspiration from Australian travels – apologies for the sound quality, he’s coming from a long way away!

Anthony and Nicolas then read part of one of the stories from the book, ‘Desert Dreaming’, Nicolas starting it off in the original French, and then Anthony picking it up in English. Here’s a taster:

Then it was time for Lindsay, ably introduced by our emcee for the evening, Richard Selby, who runs the story, song and poetry night, What a Performance!, in Bath.

It’s probably best to leave Lindsay to speak for himself on the reasons for pulling together this collection of his essays, lectures and personal anecdotes of the many other literary figures he has known. Here, he talks about some of his thinking and philosophy towards the raising of consciousness that he feels is so desperately needed in both the individual, in society as a whole and beyond:

He then went on to read from the book, exploring, first, the concept that we all have our own, personal, daimon – and what that means for us:

More readings followed, going into dreams, and back out again, via the I Ching, and into his novels, The Chymical Wedding and The Water Theatre, and back to the personal. We’ll be sharing some of this on the blog at a later date. Then there was time for a question and answer session – and the all important book signings!

Putting on a launch event is always very much a collective effort, so we’d like to say our thank yous! Of course, big thanks are due to Lindsay and Nicolas for joining us and sharing their thoughts to create a meaningful, warm, fascinating evening. Thanks also go to our hosts Black Book Café for providing such a warm and welcoming atmosphere … as well as coffee and cake! Thank you to Richard for the excellent emceeing, big thanks to Glenn for coming down and making the tech happen for us, thanks to Kirsty for managing the book stall – and, of course, to the audience!

We’ll see you at the next event!

 

The Gramarye of Place

We walked alone together up the steep hillside, finding our own desire paths through the boggy heathland, climbing our own mental inclines, the hidden engines of our hearts driving us forward, the mental cable of our thoughts reeling us up the slope – providing the traction of deferred gratification. We had come the wild West Brecons to make mythopoeic pilgrimage to Llyn y Fan Fach, a glacial tarn associated with the Tylwyth Teg, the ‘Good Folk’ of the Brythonic tradition, and with the legend of a lake maiden.

On the brow of the hill, catching breath, we caught a first glimpse of the llyn, a cauldron of water held by savagely beetling cliffs, which dropped precipitously to its shimmering fastness. The surface was a digital mirror, pixilating with waves of re-rendering detail. The wind, kinked into tight vortices, catspawed the gelid waters into sudden surges of serration, looking for all the world like a murmuration of otherworldly beings just beneath its reflection of the apparent reality. Here, another was co-existent. It was easy to believe this place to be a portal to Annwn, or the parlour of identical lake maidens, giddy with their doppelgänger dance – lost in their own enchantment, their hall-of-mirror beauty echoed into infinity, and laughing at the maddening effect it had on incautious wanderers who became bedizened by their alluring shimmer.

View of Llyn y Fan Fach (c) Kevan Manwaring
View of Llyn y Fan Fach (c) Kevan Manwaring

It was hard not to be drawn in, not to succumb to the spell-binding gravitational pull of Llyn y Fan Fach’s gramarye of place. We found a ledge to eat our lunch on – with a reassuring boulder acting as a buffer zone between us and oblivion, hundreds of feet below. At three thousand feet the wind was breath-taking, and it was essential to sit out of its icy slap. Hunkering down, we broke bread, offering some to the tutelary spirit, with a bit of cheese to be on the safe side – though casting it into the void from the precipice was not risk averse. Such was the custom – and it’s wisest to heed local knowledge.

We chewed over aspects of the lake maiden story, turning it in our conversation to reveal different cleavage plains. Depending on the version, the apparently fortunate farmer is granted the comely lake maiden as his wife upon stern conditions set by her otherworldly father – that if he should strike three causeless blows, he would lose her forever. This seems temptingly easy to avoid, so he agrees, thinking that he would never strike his beloved new bride. But with folkloric inevitability, like salt to meat, the three causeless blows occur – sometimes ‘provoked’ by the fairy wife behaving in, surprise surprise, a fey-like manner: laughing wildly at a funeral, or crying sorrowfully at a christening. By the time the third ‘blow’ is struck (usually a playful tap on the shoulder), the farmer’s fortunes have reached their zenith. But with the geas broken, the lake maiden withdraws her favours and leads all their fat livestock into the waters of Llyn y Fan Fach. Remarkably, the offspring of their union remain (unlike in equivalent selkie tales), each with a strange gleam in the eye, and the descendants of these become the renowned Physicians of Myddvai, gifted with uncanny powers of healing.

The gifts of the Otherworld, it seems, arise mysteriously and can vanish just as unexpectedly. But on a more human level, perhaps the tale tells us never to take for granted the ones we cherish. That love, and its cousins – affection, friendship, companionship – are blessings we should count every day. Perhaps it is a proto-feminist folk tale. The female protagonist, has, for once, agency. She chooses to manifest before the farmer, and she chooses her time and manner of withdrawal. Her graces we can no more grasp and claim as our own than the catspaw upon the waters. An essentialist reading, however, would suggest that men and women are fundamentally different, and we will never fathom each other’s depths. Whatever the truth of the tale – and its facets are many and morphean – the overwhelming mystique of the place remains. If magic still lingers in these lands, then this is one such frost-pocket.

Light on Llyn y Fan Fach (c) Kevan Manwaring
Light on Llyn y Fan Fach (c) Kevan Manwaring

And it is in such places that I have found inspiration over the years – fountains of awen that I bathe in through my efforts of making pilgrimage. Innumerable times I have experienced their numinous power, their landscape-medicine, and felt compelled to articulate and honour the genius loci in, most of all, poetry, which I have found captures such little epiphanies more concisely, more holistically, than any other form. A photograph captures two dimensions, a poem, four, if not more. One’s body is the camera, and the experience is ‘recorded’ in an intensely visceral way. This embodied knowledge is poured into the poem, which distils it, one hopes, into memorable wisdom – though only time will tell. To be fully in the moment is all. Often the act of taking a photograph can take us away from the actuality of the encounter; whileas a poem (or drawing) can take us more deeply into the moment. A photo can act as a handy aide-mémoire, but notes – or a sketch – done in situ are far better. They retain the tang of the wild.

We traversed the perilous ridge of the Black Mountain and descended quickly as body temperature plummeted – this was not a place to dally, but for a brief while it felt like we had walked amongst the gods, imbibing the rarefied atmosphere of myth.

Copyright © Kevan Manwaring 3 May 2018

 

Silver Branch: bardic poems by Kevan Manwaring is published by Awen this summer:

https://www.awenpublications.co.uk/

With thanks to Anthony for an epic day, another ramble-sublime!

The Tree Charter – calling all ecobards

Here’s an opportunity for action that we think will inspire ecobards…

The Charter for trees, woods and people is a project involving 70 organisations and led by the Woodland Trust. It’s about building a future in which trees and people stand stronger together. When the finished Charter is launched in November it will be used to guide policy and practice in the UK. For government to listen the Charter will need support from as many people across the UK as possible to show that there is a real recognition of the importance of woods and trees. The numbers of support behind it is what will give the Charter strength.

So, here’s what you can do to help.

Have a look at the Tree Charter principles here – https://treecharter.uk/tree-charter-principles/ – and then talk about them. Stories, blogs, poems, songs, whatever you do, if some aspect of this speaks to you, take it somewhere and share it.

Pledge your support for The Tree Charter here – http://bit.ly/TreeCharter

As we alluded to in the recent blog about Eco-linguistics, the stories we tell shape our culture. We need to tell stories about trees, landscapes and ecosystems that help inspire people to take care of these things. If you haven’t already read it, do check out our Ecobardic Manifesto for further ideas and inspiration – https://www.awenpublications.co.uk/manifesto

The Stories We Live By

We’re delighted to share this new, free, online learning opportunity from The University of Gloucestershire and the International Ecolinguistics Association  with you. As an Ecobardic publishing house we’re enthused about this opportunity for people to develop their ecological language and ideas and the encouragement to challenge conventional thinking and cultural narratives.

The Stories We Live by: is an online course in ecolinguistics, Everything in the course is free, including accessing the materials, registering, tuition, and a certificate of completion. And you are free to reuse materials in any way (e.g., in teaching).

Simply go to http://storiesweliveby.org.uk to access all the main materials. You can work through the course at your own pace.

The social and ecological issues that humanity currently faces are so severe that they call into question the fundamental stories that we live by: stories of consumerism, infinite economic growth, progress and human separation from nature. This course provides linguistic tools for revealing the stories we live by, questioning them from an ecological perspective, and contributing to the search for new stories to live by.

The course examines a great variety of texts from advertisements, lifestyle magazines and economics textbooks to surfing guides, Native American sayings and Japanese haiku. In each case, the question is whether the underlying stories encourage us to care about other people and the ecosystems that life depends on. Each section covers a type story (ideologies, framings, metaphors, evaluations, identities, convictions, erasure and salience) with notes, exercises, videos and (for those who register) discussion groups, tuition and additional materials.

Register to access additional materials, take part in discussion groups, contact a tutor or apply for a completion certificate.

Tuition is offered by International Ecolinguistics Association volunteer tutors. They are experts in ecolinguistics, each with their own research specialism, and can offer help and advice in 12 different languages.

Who produced the course? Arran Stibbe, Reader in Ecological Linguistics at the University of Gloucestershire, working with a team of volunteers. Arran has a PhD in linguistics and MSc in human ecology. He is the founder of the International Ecolinguistics Association and author of Animals Erased: discourse, ecology and reconnection with nature and Ecolinguistics: language, ecology and the stories we live by (Routledge). He was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship by the Higher Education Academy for teaching excellence and has published widely on ecolinguistics.