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

A Poem on World Poetry Day – from Jehanne Mehta

awen-blog

We went with family on a boat trip from St Justinian, near St David’s in West Wales, to circumnavigate Ramsey Island, a bird sanctuary with enormous cliffs and large settlements of seabirds, including kittiwakes and guillemots, and sheltered inlets where the seals come to pup in great numbers in the breeding season. The seals, like this one, pop up to look at the boats. I don’t speak Welsh but know how to pronounce it and I love the sound of the language and learn a few words from the traffic signs. These felt a fitting start for a poem.

 

Sea Riders                 

 

Araf

araf

araf nawr

slow

slow

slow down now.

Stand … stop … before this wide

blue-green expanse of ocean.

Sefwch yma

wait here, stop

at the edge,

until you feel

the rolling rhythm of the tides,

these returning cosmic cycles

that nothing interrupts,

these rolling rhythms that mould us

soul deep.

Foot falling in the sand,

feel the salt lick of the

running wave.

Listen to the

mounting roar and sink

of incoming swell,

the withdrawing rattle of sliding

shingle.

Watch the dipping wing

of kittiwake and guillemot

tumbling among these dark

and massy cliffs,

where seals sing in hidden

clefts, dolphins dive, and the air

stings,

sharp against you mouth,

gaping and amazed before this

ocean mystery.

 

Ignore the man-made clouds that

stripe the sky,

dropping steely rods of rain,

deploying drought,

like armaments, displacing

the habitual patterns  of

wind and weather: sorcerer’s

apprentice stuff this, which

we are bound to drown in,

when fear takes over,

feeding on surface insecurity.

But no.

Ar agor.

Open,

we are open,

open for business

with a deeper magic,

allied

to the unstoppable rhythm

of the tides.

 

We are sea riders,

riders of the deep.

 

 

© Jehanne Mehta 31 July 2013

Jehanne is one of the contributors to Soul of the Earth: the Awen anthology of eco-spiritual poetry edited by Jay Ramsay.

Reviews for Places of Truth

Jay Ramsay’s poetry collection Places of Truth came out in March 2016. Here’s what reviewers have been saying.

“Readers of Ramsay’s poetry are likely to be an audience who recognise the reality of places in the world that are mirrors which reflect the soul, leading to a sense of oneness. It is for these readers Ramsay’s poetry will sing in the way the poet intended.” Fiona Tinker

fionatinker.wordpress.com/places-of-truth-journeys-into-sacred-wilderness-jay-ramsay/

“I would recommended this book to anybody interested in connecting with and listening to places and the deeper visions and experiences born from long periods of meditation. It forms an important waymarker in the development of mystical tradition in the present day and is well worth reading for students of mysticism from all spiritualities and religions.” Lorna Smithers

lornasmithers.wordpress.com/places-of-truth-by-jay-ramsay/

“There’s an intensity of presence and connection as the poet is affected by the landscape in each chapter. There are also photographs to help the reader connect with each place, which I found enriched the experience. Each chapter has its own tones and moods, different sections will no doubt resonate more than others. For anyone interested in land and poetry (so, Druids, definitely!) it’s a fascinating read.” Nimue Brown

druidlife.wordpress.com/books-for-opening-unexpected-doors/

Find out more about Place of Truth here – awenpublications.co.uk/places_of_truth.html

 

The Sci-Fi Croft

A new blog from Awen founder and author Kevan Manwaring about recent adventures in writing and landscape.

The Bardic Academic

wp_20160913_19_34_55_pro Sunset, the Croft, Gairloch Bay, K. Manwaring, Sept 2016

 As I was up in Edinburgh doing research in the archives for a week I thought, what the hey, why not have a Highland fling? But instead of tossing the caber willy-nilly, so to speak, I decided my ‘fling’ would involve a 9-10 day solo writing retreat in a remote croft on the coast of Wester Ross. Boy, I know how to party! Actually, I can’t think of anything more pleasurable (solo). It would be my third visit to the croft – a private residence and long-time family shieling which I had the good fortune to gain access to through a chance encounter at a Resurgence Readers’ Summer Weekend, where I was performing five years ago. Belonging to a musician and eco-minded soul, the old fisherman’s cottage, nestled within its private cove at the end of ¾ miles of rocky…

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Review for Words of Re-Enchantment

Words of Re-Enchantment, by Anthony Nanson,

Reviewed by Paul Cudby

A mine of thought provoking essays for those interested in the importance of story-telling in changing how we relate to the natural world. This book is a collection of articles and papers by the author on the theme of the value of story-telling from an eco-spiritual perspective. As such it is perfect for readers such as myself who wish to take their first steps into a subject about which they recognise the importance but with which they are largely unfamiliar.

It consists of three sections, Myth, Storytelling and Ecobardic with the latter collection having perhaps a more academic slant. As you might expect from an experienced storyteller and teacher of creative writing, each chapter carries well presented and thought-provoking insights which I found deeply inspirational. The lengthy bibliography reveals quite how well researched this collection of essays are, yet Nanson writes in a way which, while clearly an expert in this field, does not read as an academic text book and manages to remain accessible throughout.

To give some insight into the subject matter and the challenge that Nanson recognises he faces, the following comes from the chapter titled, ‘How Can Storytelling Re-enchant the Natural World: ‘By re-enchanting nature, storytelling may aspire – alongside diverse other efforts – to help foster a collective sensibility that constrains the exploitation of the earth’s resources and seeks the mutual flourishing of humankind and nature. However, this lofty ambition flies against the biological instinct of human nature to pursue short-term self-interest above all else.’ Nanson’s ideals and ambitions are well-earthed in the reality of 21st century climate change and the difficulties faced by the global population in changing the habits of generations to exploit rather than value the planet and her resources, but he puts forth a strong case for the role story-telling has in changing hearts and minds through revealing a world which transcends a simple materialist understanding.

If I were to make any criticism, and it a small one, it is that some editorial culling would have been useful in the ‘Storytelling’ section in which there are two or three very short articles, (a couple of pages each) which are essentially reviews of productions and performances that the author has watched. Having not seen them myself they seemed rather superfluous to the general tone of the collection but, given that they amount to no more than a handful of pages, these do not detract from the overall flow of the book.

Nanson clearly writes from a spiritually well-read and experiential perspective. He remains objective and open-minded, including writing in positive terms about Christ which comes as a refreshing change in an eco-spiritual context. He writes from the perspective of one who has engaged with a wide range of spiritualities and is well-informed and writes clearly and inspiringly about these other approaches. In short, an excellent book which clearly argues the case for story-telling as a neglected yet positive force for change in re-enchanting humanity with the natural world of which it is a part.

Paul Cudby is the author of The Shaken Path,  coming soon from Christian Alternative.

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

Kevan Manwaring wins One Giant Write

Awen author Kevan Manwaring has been announced as the winner of the One Giant Write Science Fiction writing competition.

Marcus Gipps said of Kevan’s entry: “Black Box is an original take on the exploration of our solar system, with a Cthulu-esque monster and a harrowing sense of personal responsibility for one’s actions leading to a nightmarish closed-room murder mystery.”

TIM front cover - August 2016Read more about the competition here – http://literatureworks.org.uk/one-giant-write

Find out more about Kevan Manwaring’s work with Awen here – http://www.awenpublications.co.uk/kevan_manwaring.html

 

Tales of Witchcraft and Wonder

Tales of Witchcraft and Wonder with Inkubus Sukkubus and Kirsty Hartsiotis
Friday 9 September
at Blackfriars, Gloucester

8pm.

During the evening you can enjoy an acoustic set of folkloric songs covering subjects such as shape-shifting, river goddesses and local mythology by Inkubus Sukkubus and friends (inkubussukkubus.com), plus folk tales of Gloucestershire by storyteller Kirsty Hartsiotis.

Kirsty is the co-author of Gloucestershire Ghost Tales 

Tickets £15 from gloucesterhistoryfestival.co.uk, tel 01452 503050 or in person from Gloucester TIC. All profits to Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.

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