Category Archives: Poetry

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.

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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.

Jay Ramsay: A Celebration of his Life in Music, Poetry and Words

Jay celebration

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.

‘It’s All One Place’ – recollections of and tribute to my friend Jay Ramsay

by Diana Durham

Diana Durham edit.jpgMy poems were still in the bottom drawer of my desk, and the very idea of performing them was challenging, when I first met Jay, around 30 years ago. Like many other poets before and after me, I got to experience Jay’s extraordinary kindness and encouragement, and soon had a first volume of poems from the Diamond Press with the help of Jay and publisher Geoffrey Godbert. Not long after that, I joined the other members of what was probably the second generation of the performance group Angels of Fire, with Jay, Lizzie Spring, Carolyn Askar and Taggart Deike.

Jay became a lifelong friend and colleague, editing four poetry anthologies that I contributed to, editing two of my poetry books, writing endorsements, offering his Chrysalis imprint for my collection of sonnets. He came over to America after I moved there with my family, and we had a lot of fun giving workshops and readings. My daughter was eight years old at the time, and I will never forget the ‘living sculpture’ of driftwood and flotsam she and Jay built down along the marshy edge of the tidal pond close to our home. It stood for a surprising number of years before tides and weather dismantled it.

Jay’s generosity functioned within his own passion for and dedication to the craft of poetry. The number of his poetry books alone is legendary. But, more than this, what I valued always was his unabashed staking out of what he called ‘the visionary dimension’. Jay’s perennial theme is that the worlds of vision and form are intertwined:

I cross the threshold, and wade

Where the breath hangs in the sunlight and the green

And there’s no sound, only the breath whispering,

Humming inaudibly like bees, at my feet …

 

And the light pours down, the light is pouring down

Over my head, drawing me into silence

So there’s no difference between the light

And what it’s shining on—it’s all one place

from Pilgrimage

Why is this important? Because: ‘Where there is no vision the people perish.’ Visionary awareness brings coherence, brings life. And for Jay this is what poetry enacts, what it is for:

Poetry, stuck like a rare transparency

Pressed between the pages of a book

When we need it written all over the air

A mile high, so blind eyes can see?

from ‘prelude-for Ted’ in Monuments

Jay persisted in this understanding, the poems flowing out through decades dominated by the intellectual arrogance of postmodern nihilism, reductionist science, and the juggernaut of global markets. His poetry forms a significant thread in the gold weave of vision sustained by all great poets – and which in turn sustains us.

Recently returned to the UK from America, I managed to see Jay twice. Once in a sunny cafe, when he looked radiant, the second time at the launch of The Dangerous Book, when he looked more gaunt. Now he is no longer here, in form anyway, although I know he is here in presence. Nevertheless, I will miss him, miss co-creating, miss hearing his beautiful voice.

Jay Ramsay, a Tribute

by Verona Bass

verona bass croppedI knew him as Jay, although he tried to revert to being known as John near the end of his life. I have a book of poems by him acquired in 2008, with an inscription addressed to me: ‘for Verona. In your heart’s life and dreaming, warmest and best, Jay. Waterstones. (9.10.2008)’

The title of the collection is Out Of Time, which seems poignant now that I know that he ran out of time on 30 December 2018, just over ten years later.

On the dedication page are several quotes, all of which now seem prescient:

Time becomes more and more dreamlike. It’s often only possible to know something happened or somewhere was visited by seeing the marks I made … (Kurt Jackson, Sketchbooks)

This is journey without distance, to the place you never left. (Tom and Linda Carpenter, Healing the Dream)

How we imagine our lives is how we will go on living our lives. (James Hillman, Healing Fictions)

Jay (or John) influenced people both by who he was and how he wrote. I didn’t know him well, and didn’t often see him, but it doesn’t take that much time for someone to have an impact. He seemed kind, had an instinctive understanding of the human condition. He was a performer of great power and presence with a quiet authority. They say he was a healer. He practised psychotherapy. He conducted teaching sessions to encourage creative writing, and it is here I encountered him in a day of in-depth writing at Hawkwood College in Stroud. I booked to attend a longer course with him, somewhere remote, which he had to cancel because of his father’s illness.

In Out of Time, there are poems about his father: ‘Driving Home on Christmas Day’ and ‘Golden Leaves’. In the latter one he describes sweeping up golden leaves on the garden path in the last light of day, with his father indoors, ‘wondering if you can see me’ … It was a task, a duty, but an act of devotion for his dad, and it begins, poignantly:

I was in the darkness, Dad

and you were already in the light.

One of my most telling encounters with him was when we both tried to offer support to a fellow poet and friend, Mary Palmer, before she needed to go into a hospice. It was a short but sympathetic overlap.

These moments are the stuff of what makes us human, what informs the transactions we regularly make as we navigate the currents carrying us through life. Jay’s flow has entered a different realm but we will feel the ripples in the wake of his passing.

Jay Ramsay (1958–2018)

by Anthony Nanson

Jay Ramsay Pembroke College cropped (2)I heard last night that our beloved Jay Ramsay had passed away that morning (30 December), peacefully and without pain. I saw him in hospital in Torquay on 23 December. He was very poorly, and both medics and family were preparing for the worst, yet there was such a fire in him still that I hoped he might bounce back once more. He said, ‘See you!’ not ‘Goodbye.’ His last words to me, just as I was leaving, were, ‘Give my love to everyone.’

I can’t yet believe he’s gone. He will leave such a big space in the healing and poetry communities of which he’s been such a leading light. He was Awen’s biggest champion, just as he championed and encouraged so many individuals on their creative and spiritual journeys. He said to me once that for him poetry and psychotherapy were essentially the same thing, equally concerned with transformation. He had no time for poetry that didn’t have some kind of transformative intent.

Jay referred to his cancer journey as an ‘initiation’. I feel privileged to have got to know him more personally during these last years, when new levels of courage and grace blossomed in him. Although he fought so hard to find healing, and felt there was much he still wanted to do in this life, he seemed not to fear death. I remember him saying, ‘It’s just a gateway, after all.’ Conversations with him reinforced my conviction that death is not the end and there’s a multiplicity of possibilities of what comes after.

Jay was the author, editor, or translator of 48 books, by my count; three of them just this year. He launched The Dangerous Book, his interpretation of the Bible, at a well-attended event in Stroud on 1 November. Perhaps it was fitting that such a supremely ambitious work, accomplished while he had cancer, should be his swansong.

In the course of the past year, Jay attempted to revive his true name, John. He felt an affinity with St John, the beloved disciple, the one who tradition says laid his head on Christ’s chest during the Last Supper and thus heard the heartbeat of God. The heartbeat of God certainly pounds through Jay’s writing, just as it did through his life.

Kevan Manwaring and Bardic Poetry

by Anthony Nanson 

9781906900427.jpgKevan Manwaring excels in a wide range of creative pursuits. One genre in which it seems to me he’s made a particularly major contribution is that of ‘bardic poetry’. ‘Bardic poetry’ is a form of performance poetry, but may be distinguished from other kinds of performance poetry – such as slam poetry – by aspects of form and content that draw upon the bardic traditions that flourished in ancient times in the British Isles and have today been revived by Druidic and associated communities. So you will find in Kevan’s bardic verse the exaggerated wordplay and rhetorical tropes of Celtic bards, as well as kennings and alliteration as used by Germanic skalds and scops, and the deployment of motifs from an encyclopaedic knowledge of Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, and Arthurian myth and folklore.

The scale of Kevan’s output of poetry of this kind is prodigious, ranging from individual lyrics to ambitious epics. For more than two decades he’s been performing such material in all kinds of situations, wherever opportunity has arisen. Much of it has been published in pamphlets and anthologies, sometimes mixed in with ‘page poetry’ of a more conventionally literary kind. It struck me that this line of Kevan’s work was such a significant achievement, and one potentially inspiring to others who feel drawn to writing and performing poems in this bardic tradition, that it deserved to be gathered into a major omnibus collection. Voila, Kevan’s new book, Silver Branch: Bardic Poems & Letters to a Young Bard, which brings together the bulk of his bardic verse to date. As the title hints, the book also includes Speak Like Rain: Letters to a Young Bard, a distillation of Kevan’s expertise in the art of composing and performing bardic poems, which complements the inspiration to be had from reading his poems with practical instruction and wisdom pertaining to this art form.

Silver Branch can be ordered through Awen’s website and the usual retail channels. Here’s what it says on the back cover, including a quote from Caitlín Matthews’s lovely foreword and also a comment from Philip Carr-Gomm of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids:

What does it mean to write and perform bardic poetry in the twenty-first century? This monumental collection, from the author of The Bardic Handbook and The Way of Awen, brings together 25 years of selected verse to explore that challenge. The diverse range of poems can be enjoyed for their own sake and will also inspire others to craft and voice their own creative responses to identity, ecology, and community, grounded in the body, the land, and conviction. Silver Branch includes an introduction to the author’s practice as a performance poet, originally published as Speak Like Rain, along with the Bardic-Chair-winning poem Spring Fall; Bio*Wolf; Green Fire; Dragon Dance; The Taliesin Soliloquies; Thirteen Treasures; poems from the stage shows Arthur’s Dream, Robin of the Wildwood, Return to Arcadia, and Song of the Windsmith; plus more recent bardic poems and songs.

‘Within Silver Branch, the ancient and modern worlds are woven together in the remaking with which we have to engage at every moment, perceiving the ancient and allowing its currency to irrigate our time and deepen our, often, surface culture. As ancestral structures fall away, as wise councils fall into argument … as the beauty of nature is despoiled, so it becomes our bounden duty to listen harder and deeper to the mythic levels of our collective life … Fall silent now and hear the voice of the bard!’

Caitlín Matthews, author of The Lost Book of the Grail and Celtic Visions

‘In addition to a selection of Kevan’s poetry, ranging from earliest to most recent, this book includes a detailed and enthusiastic exploration of what it takes to produce great performance poetry. “Speak Like Rain: Letters to a Young Bard”, inspired by Rilke’s famous “Letters to a Young Poet”, feels like required reading for any poet – aspiring or experienced. Utterly absorbing and inspirational!’

Philip Carr-Gomm, author of The Prophecies and DruidCraft