Category Archives: Non-fiction

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!

 

Book Launch in Stroud: Lindsay Clarke and Nicolas Kurtovitch

by Anthony Nanson

9781906900564.jpgOn Wednesday 5 December, Awen has a launch party in Stroud for two new books – at the Black Book Café, Nelson Street. It’s a free event; doors open at 7.30 p.m. and the talks start at 8.00 p.m.

Green Man Dreaming: Reflections on Imagination, Myth, and Memory is a definitive gathering of Lindsay Clarke’s inspiring essays and talks. Those of his essays which had come my way in past years had a big impact on my life, and I think the same has been true for many other people, so I’m really thrilled that Awen is able to make this amazing body of work available in book form. Lindsay is as inspiring a speaker as he is a writer, so if you’re in reach of Stroud do seize this opportunity to come and hear him.

9781906900533.jpgWe’re also launching By the Edge of the Sea, a collection of short stories by Nicolas Kurtovitich, one of the leading literary lights of New Caledonia, whom I had the pleasure to meet during a research trip there in 2016. The book was originally published in French as Forêt, terre et tabac. It was a tremendous privilege to translate Nicolas’ gorgeous lyrical prose into English. I will read from one of the stories at the event, but we also intend that Nicolas will be present via skype from New Caledonia and have chance to speak to us.

The evening will be emceed by the irrepressible Richard Selby. Please come if you can.

Below is some information about Green Man Dreaming. I’ll say more about By the Edge of the Sea in a subsequent blog post.

The transformative power of imagination, the elusive dream world of the unconscious, our changing relationship to nature, and the enduring presence of myth – these subjects have preoccupied Lindsay Clarke throughout the thirty years since he emerged as the award-winning author of The Chymical Wedding. Assembled in this definitive collection are the major essays, talks, and personal reflections that he has written, with characteristic verve and insight, on these and other themes relating to the evolution of consciousness in these transitional times.

Speculative, exploratory, salty with wit, and interwoven with poems, this book brings the Green Man and the Daimon into conversation with alchemists, psychologists, gods, and Plains Indians, along with various poets and novelists the author has loved as good friends or as figures in the pantheon of his imagination. This lively adventure of the spiritual intellect will take you through shipwreck and spring-water into the fury of ancient warfare, before dropping you into the dark descent of the Hades journey and urging you on to the fabled land beyond the Peach Blossom Cave. Through a reverie of images and ideas, Green Man Dreaming puts us closely in touch with the myths and mysteries that embrace our lives.

‘Among the many things we need right now is a voice as sane, wise and affectionate as the one deployed so compellingly in these pages. Lindsay Clarke is the original northern powerhouse. Green Man Dreaming is an important book.’ Andrew Miller

‘Lindsay Clarke’s magical prose elucidates the deep wisdom held at the depth of our soul. Green Man Dreaming brings together some of the gems of Lindsay Clarke’s inspiring and imaginative writings. This is truly gold dust.’ Satish Kumar 

‘There is something simultaneously elated and searching about Lindsay Clarke’s writing which makes it quite distinctive and immensely attractive. He is an inspiring teacher and talker and a gathering of his occasional pieces is to be heartily welcomed.’ Adam Thorpe

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

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.