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Ditch Vision: essays on poetry, nature and place by Jeremy Hooker – review by Ian Brinton

Tears in the Fence

In the first essay of this remarkably wide-ranging book Jeremy Hooker refers to examining an entire life of a district. He looks at Gilbert White’s consideration of the “human (including antiquities) and nature where he found them, side by side; he did not need to go beyond the bounds of his parish to find the fullness of nature”. Hooker is looking at the idea of what might be contained in the word wilderness and recognises that there has been none in the British Isles since the Middle Ages:

“…even in the sense of the word given by Dr Johnson in his Dictionary (‘a desert; a tract of solitude and strangeness’), wilderness is nowhere to be found upon an American scale in these islands.”

I was tempted here to recall a passage from the ‘Anoch’ section of Johnson’s Journey to the Western Isles where the urban figure from the world of…

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A Dance with Hermes, Lindsay Clarke – review by Fiona Tinker

fionatinker

Book Review:  A Dance with Hermes, Lindsay Clarke    (Stroud: Awen, 2016.)

It is somewhat difficult to know where to begin with this slim volume of poetry: just as a bead of quicksilver will scatter in a thousand different directions, glittering and enticing you to follow their paths, so too will the ideas and images in this deceptively simple collection call you to follow the myriad directions of their dance. Indeed, the patterns of disturbed mercury brings forth  an image of thoughts, ideas and communications flashing through the mesh of neural pathways in the brain, synapses sparking as each new thought is transmitted and grasped. In turn, that image leads to pictures of the electronic interconnection of the world-wide web and a reminder of the Hermetic premise all is one.

Clarke’s collection of forty-nine poems transmits meanings on at least three levels. They begin as a biography of Hermes…

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A Dance with Hermes by Lindsay Clarke – review by Lorna Smithers

Signposts in the Mist

A Dance with HermesA Dance with Hermes is the first full poetry collection by the British novelist Lindsay Clarke. Serving as a messenger for Hermes, the winged-footed messenger god of ancient Greece, Clarke brings his myths to life in the twenty-first century in this series of masterfully crafted verses.

In his introduction, ‘A Note at the Threshold’, Clarke writes about his creative process. As a poet and polytheist I found this fascinating. The book began life as a ‘hermaion’: a ‘windfall’ or ‘god-send’ beginning with a single poem called ‘Koinos Hermes’ based on the presiding presence of Hermes in the life of his friend, John Moat. I was fascinated by this sense of gifting.

Most of the poems consist of four quatrains steering between ‘half-rhymes to suggest the elusive nature of the god’ and ‘full rhymes echoing on his sudden presence.’ Cleverly they shift between ABAB and ABBA rhymes echoing the dancing beat…

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‘A Dance with Hermes’: an evening with Lindsay Clarke in Bath on 6 September

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Hermes, the messenger god, will be celebrated in a ‘power-poem’ presentation at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution (BRLSI) on Wednesday 6 September 2017 by Whitbread Prize winning novelist Lindsay Clarke. He will read from his 2016 book A Dance with Hermes, examining how the messenger god of the imagination is as relevant to us in the digital age as he was in antiquity.

Lindsay will be looking at how creativity can flourish in a world that constantly bombards us with stimulus of all kinds. Mixing contemporary wit with ancient wisdom, he will explore how language, dreams, travel, tweets, and trading floors are all aspects of Hermes, the archetype of the imagination and the poetic mind. Rather than the modern world being a threat to our creativity, by harnessing our knowledge of these ancient mythical figures, we may in fact enhance it.

Lindsay Clarke is a writer and educator now based in Somerset. He won the Whitbread Prize for his novel The Chymical Wedding in 1989. His novels, poems, plays, and non-fiction have often featured myth, legend, and alchemy.

The presentation will begin at 7.30 p.m. Tickets will be sold on the door: £4 non-members and £2 for BRLSI members and students.

The Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution is an educational charity based in the centre of Bath. The Institution runs a programme of more than 150 public lectures each year, on topics including science, philosophy, art, and literature. It also maintains collections of minerals, fossils, and other items, as well as a library of rare books. BRLSI’s Jenyns Room is one of Bath’s leading gallery spaces with a year-round programme of art and museum exhibitions.

BRLSI, 16–18 Queen Square, Bath, BA1 2HN. 01225 312084. www.brlsi.org

Walled Garden, Hawkwood

A beautiful, seasonal poem from Awen author Kevan Manwaring. Do click through and read the whole thing.

The Bardic Academic

Image result for garden in the sun

So soon now the midsummer
builds like a migraine,
a pressure in the head.
The sun rucks the sky,
stuns us into submission.

Drunken bees tumble
dark poppy heads ~
with their forgetful secrets.
Under the nets the strawberries
quietly bloom to fullness.

How sweet the seed
that from the bitter earth
erupts, clamouring for
the spell of light and
the kiss of rain.

Each thorn snags
a bud of dew,
sap swims up
the hidden rivers
of roots and stream.

Green blood pulses
and pushes life up
and out with a broken
cry of yes. And the trees
nurse us asleepwake

with their beards of birds.

Kevan Manwaring

14 June 2017

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Ballad Tales – not exactly a review

There are a lot of Awen author and Fire Springs folk in this anthology…

Druid Life

Last summer I was approached by Kevan Manwaring to contribute to an anthology titled ‘Ballad Tales’.  The premise was that people with a background in folk – be that as musicians, storytellers or enthusiasts, would re-write traditional ballads as short stories. I cheerfully dived in. So I can’t write you an unbiased review of this book! There are 19 stories, 18 authors. I knew most of the authors and most of the original material before I started reading.

The collection runs a broad range of interpretations. It opens with a faithful retelling of Tam Lin, from Fiona Eadie. Kevan Manwaring’s Thomas the Rhymer is largely faithful, but plays with the unreliable narrator in some inventive ways. Chantelle Smith takes on the Selkie of Sule Skerry. The Marriage of Gawain by Simon Heywood is also a largely familiar retelling.

Richard Selby places the song The Cruel Ship’s Carpenter in a landscape…

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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.