Category Archives: Non-fiction

New Book by Jeremy Hooker about Poetry, Nature, and Place

DV front cover.jpgJeremy Hooker has been for many years a major figure as both poet and literary critic. He has had an enduring interest in nature, landscape, and place. So it’s both an honour and also a lovely fit for Awen to have published a collection of his principal essays on the relation between ‘poetry’ in the broad sense (including literary fiction) and the ecological. I’ll let the description and comments from the back cover speak for themselves:

Ditch Vision is a book of essays on poetry, nature, and place that extends Jeremy Hooker’s thinking on subjects that, as a distinguished critic and poet, he has made his life’s work. The writers he considers include Edward Thomas, Robert Frost, Robinson Jeffers, Richard Jefferies, John Cowper Powys, Mary Butts, and Frances Bellerby. Through sensitive readings of these and other writers, he discusses differences between British and American writers concerned with nature and spirit of place. The book also includes essays in which he reflects upon the making of his own work as a lyric poet. Written throughout with a poet’s feeling for language, Ditch Vision is the work of an exploratory writer who seeks to understand the writings he discusses in depth, and to illuminate them for other readers. Hooker explores the ‘ground’ of poetic vision with reference to its historical and mythological contexts, and in this connection Ditch Vision constitutes also a spiritual quest.

‘For thirty years and more I have admired Jeremy Hooker’s poetry, criticism, and journals. These essays touch both upon some of his familiar and deeply loved subjects, and on concerns that are more recent. His prose is clear and resonant, a pleasure in itself. His views are always challenging. He is, and has been for many years, a necessary voice.’ John Matthias

‘Lovely intense encounters with landscape come into these essays. Suddenly, in a discussion of poetry, there is the presence of warm earth on a Spring day in chalk country, or sunlight coming through trees, or drying shingle when the tide has just withdrawn. Throughout Hooker’s writing about poetry, place and environmental concern, there is this direct and frank openness to particular moments of experience, and the power they have to keep people constantly changing. Hooker searches for an environmentalism rooted in these moments of intense and poetic yet everyday experience, but also alert to global perspectives and to history. In this search, he reads other poets, including several who have been unjustly neglected, and tells the story of how place and memory influenced his own development as a poet. To all of this he brings the skills that his poetry, his childhood and his places have given him – his love of imagery, speech-rhythm, conversation and colour.’ Richard Kerridge

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Reviews for Words of Re-Enchantment

This book brings together the best of Anthony Nanson’s incisive writings about the ways that story can re-enchant our lives and the world we live in. Grounded in his practice as a storyteller, the essays range from the myths of Arthur, Arcadia, and the voyage west, to true tales of the past, science-fiction visions of the future, and the big questions of politics and spirituality such stories raise.

 

“Anthony’s account of this scene gave me goosebumps. It put me in mind of the rare occasions I’ve experienced the pagan gods speak through somebody. It illustrates the potential within our diverse religious traditions to draw upon the words of radical and prophetic figures to illuminate and critique our current political situation and also our responsibility as storytellers for our divinities.” Lorna Smithers reviewing for Gods and Radicals  read the full review here.

“As a writer and poet this book spoke to the core of my own approach. It talks about the need for our society to reconnect with nature and magic through storytelling. It is intelligently written, inspiring and convincing.” Stardancer, Amazon.

“This is a deeply philosophical book, asking what it means to be human, to be alive in this time and place, what it means to face up to the challenges and responsibilities of our moment in history. Given the subject matter, it’s a surprisingly upbeat and encouraging book. What I especially like about it, is that it offers meaningful ways forward to anyone who reads it.” Nimue Brown. Full review here.

More about the book here – https://www.awenpublications.co.uk/product-page/words-of-re-enchantment-writings-on-storytelling-myth-and-ecological-desire

On the cover: Words of Re-Enchantment

Anthony Nanson’s Words of Re-enchantment brings together his writings on myth, storytelling and the ecobardic arts, and we wanted a cover image that spoke of the discovery of enchantment out in the natural world. The image on cover the dates from a trip we took a few years ago to Turkey, and the walk to discover this place was, indeed, one of enchantment.

Anthony and I have spent a lot of time in Greece, and during that time we got into a rhythm of visiting the kind of sites we like best – mythological ones. We have a huge atlas of mythological sites in Greece, with differing categories of what you might see there, from huge sites like Delphi to places where it might just be an open hilltop where some god pursued some nymph! But although the land mass that makes up modern Turkey is intimately connected, historically and mythologically to the world of Ancient Greece, we didn’t know very much about it, and reeled around from tourist spot to tourist spot feeling slightly dazed.

Eventually, and still very much on the tourist trail, we came to Olympos. Now, Anthony has climbed all nine and a half thousand feet of Mount Olympus in Greece, so we were excited to be near another one. There are, apparently, over twenty Mount Olympuses  in the Med, all, presumably the local highest mountain, where, logically, the gods lived. This one had an ancient city at its feet, also called Olympos, but it’s no longer a thriving port. Instead, it lurks, romantic, seemingly forgotten by time and smothered by nature, along the winding Ulupınar Stream along a path that takes you down to the sea.

The image on the cover comes from a necropolis, a city of the dead, part of the family complex belonging to Marcus Aurelius Archepolis, and, like everything else, it has been taken back by nature. Olympos is a managed and maintained archaeological site, but the archaeologists have allowed us the magic of discovery, of seeing an enchanted place. When we were in the heat of summer, it was lush and green, and thick with flowers; the waters rippled, birds sang, and the white stone rose up out of this jungle.

One of the other tombs, for Captain Eudemos, has this beautiful poem on it:

The ship sailed into the last harbour and anchored to leave more,
As there was no longer any hope from the wind or daylight,
After the light carried by the dawn had left Captain Eudemos,
There buried the ship with a life as short as a day, like a broken wave.

Mount Olympos is famous, too, for the fire in its head, making this image doubly fitting for a bardic book. That night Anthony was taken up see the fire that never dies on the mountain, at Yanartaş, the ancient Mount Chimaera, where flame leaps all day and night from the rock, much as we hope the fire leaps in the head of the ecobard!

Images and text copyright Kirsty Hartsiotis

Find out more about Words of Re-Enchantment here – http://www.awenpublications.co.uk/words_of_re-enchantment.html

Become an Ecobard

“The world is in crisis. It’s been in crisis before. Individual regions have suffered environmental collapse. The planet has undergone global ecological crises in the deep geological past. But in our time we’ve become aware that for the first time during the history of civilisation the world faces such a global ecological crisis – one caused not by asteroid impact or the slow cycles of plate tectonics or celestial oscillation, but by the accelerating exploitation of the earth’s resources by an ever growing human population. In such a crisis what place is there for the arts?”

So begins The Ecobardic Manifesto, published by Awen – you can read the entire version here – http://www.awenpublications.co.uk/manifesto.html

We all need creativity in our lives and we all have the capacity to be creative.

We are all capable of being inspired, and of inspiring others.

It’s not just about singing songs and telling stories – although that can and will be part of the solution, because we need to change our culture to something more sustainable.

Become an Ecobard. Become a voice for the land, for the past and the future, a voice for life and for hope.

Books by Anthony Nanson

Anthony Nanson is the author of both fiction and non-fiction titles. Awen has published one of each.

Exotic Excursions is a collection of short stories  charting the territory between travel writing and magic realism to confront the exotic and the enigmatic. Here are epiphanies of solitude, twilight and initiation.

Order the book here or buy it from Amazon.

 

 

 

 

Words of Re-enchantment: Writings on Storytelling, Myth, and Ecological Desire is a collection of essays exploring the role of the modern storyteller. This book brings together the best of Anthony Nanson’s incisive writings about the ways that story can re-enchant our lives and the world we live in.

Order the book here or buy it from Amazon.

 

In addition to his Awen titles, Anthony is the author of Gloucestershire Folk Tales – part of a county by county series on local folklore published by The History Press.

From the intrigue and romance of town and abbey to the faery magic of the wild, here are thirty of the county’s most enchanting tales, brought imaginatively to life by a dynamic local storyteller.
Order the book here or buy if from Amazon.
Anthony’s epic novel Deep Time is published by Hawthorn Press.
Zoologist Dr Brendan Merlie has wasted his best years in futile pursuit of imaginary creatures. He’s now leading a survey of an ecological hotspot in a forgotten corner of Central Africa.
Buy Deep Time from Amazon
Anthony is also the author of Storytelling and Ecology, one of the editors and contributors to Storytelling for a Greener World, a contributor to An Ecobardic Manifesto and co-author of Gloucestershire Ghost Tales.

Fire Springs and Awen

Fire Springs is a company of storytellers who have worked together since 2000. There’s a significant overlap between Fire Springs and Awen – all of the founder members – Kevan Manwaring, David Metcalfe, Anthony Nanson, and Kirsty Hartsiotis – as well as Richard Selby, who joined in 2003, have work published at Awen. The group’s newest member is folk singer Chantelle Smith.

On the Fire Springs website, the group defines itself in the following terms:

“Fire Springs members aim to –

Fire the imagination of adults and children

Inspire transformation in individuals and groups

Reach different audiences with new and traditional tales

Empower others to tell their own stories

Our artistic roots, as a group, are in the bardic arts – performance storytelling, poetry and song. Individually, our backgrounds are in writing, musicianship and painting, and in education, publishing, the natural sciences, archaeology and art history.

Our performances bring certain artistic qualities found in ancient and modern bardic practice together with the recognition of the centrality, in our time, of the relationship between humankind and the global ecosystem.

We published An Ecobardic Manifesto in 2008 – a vision for the arts in a time of environmental crisis. A well as being a mission statement for ourselves, this draws attention to the considerable ‘ecobardic’ work that diverse artists have already accomplished and raises a cry for more work of this kind.”

That Ecobardic Manifesto can be read on the Awen website – http://www.awenpublications.co.uk/manifesto.html

Find out more about Firesprings here – http://www.firesprings.org.uk/index.html