Anthony speaking in Trowbridge, 2 May

Picture6Lyrical: Open Mic & More

Thursday 2 May

6pm. Trowbridge Town Hall Arts, Trowbridge, Wiltshire

Writer, story-teller, editor and translator Anthony Nanson will be speaking at Diana Durham’s new Lyrical event in Trowbridge about his new translation of a collection of short stories, By the Edge of the Sea, by Nicolas Kurtovitch, one of the leading literary lights of New Caledonia in the Pacific.

Anthony met Nicolas Kurtovitch during a research trip to the islands in 2016. Kurtovitch’s stories were published originally in French as Forêt, terre et tabac and Anthony found it ‘a great privilege to translate Nicolas’ gorgeous lyrical prose into English.’

Anthony has a background in natural sciences, education, and publishing. A love of nature, authenticity, and the spirit of place informs all his work. His books include Deep Time – a prehistoric lost-world romance; Words of Re-enchantment: Writings on Storytelling, Myth, and Ecological Desire and three collections of stories. Anthony has worked widely as a storyteller both on his own and with the group Fire Springs. He lectures in creative writing at Bath Spa University; serves on the editorial board of Logos: Journal of the World Publishing Community; and blogs on Anthony Nanson’s Deep Time.

Optional theme for Open Mic: The Exotic and the Other

More info: Lyrical Series – Diana Durham, Writer & Poet

& Town Hall Arts:  Lyrical: Open Mic & More

 

Lindsay Clarke speaking in Trowbridge

9781906900564Lyrical: Open Mic & More, Thursday, 4 April, 6.00-7.30 p.m. 

Trowbridge Town Hall Arts, Trowbridge, Wiltshire.

Diana Durham is very excited to host visionary novelist Lindsay Clarke, who is not only a brilliant writer but a very lively speaker as well.

Lindsay will be talking about his new collection of essays, Green Man Dreaming, from Awen Publications.

Optional theme for Open Mic: Inside/Outside

‘Lyrical: Open Mic & More’, Trowbridge, 7 March 2019

LyricalThursday, 7 March, 6.00-7.30 p.m. 

Trowbridge Town Hall Arts, Trowbridge, BA14 8EQ

​Diana Durham will be reading poetry by Jay Ramsay and people are welcome to come and read their own favourites by Jay and/or poems of their own. Optional theme for open mic: ‘Vision’.

Jay Ramsay was author of Monuments (Waterloo Press), Kingdom of the Edge (Element), and Pilgrimage (Awen), among many more, editor of six anthologies of poetry, including Diamond Cutters (Tayen Lane, co-edited with Andrew Harvey) and Soul of the Earth (Awen), as well as two prose books about alchemy and some classic Chinese translations. Jay passed away on 30 December 2018, and many in the poetry scene are still getting used to the idea that he is no longer with us, so influential was his presence and work.

The aim of Lyrical is to blend the open mic + guest poet format with conversation and also expand the slot to include talks, book launches, and workshops. Each evening will have a theme, announced beforehand, which poets are free to explore or ignore.

More info: Diana Durham

Lyrical: Open Mic & More

Jay Ramsay’s funeral, 24 January

People are welcome to attend the church part of Jay Ramsay’s funeral at 12 noon on Thursday 24 January at Angela and Jay’s local church in Littlehempston, about 2 miles from Totnes.
Jay’s very old friend and collaborator Martin Palmer will be taking the service.
The address of the church is St John the Baptist Church, Grattons Lane, Littlehempston, Totnes TQ9 6LZ.
The service is expected to go on until about 1 p.m. After that some refreshments will be available until 2pm.
The pub will be open if people arrive early and want to have a cuppa after a long journey.
People should be able to park at the pub or in the village car park.

‘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.

Some words about Jay Ramsay

by Lindsay Clarke

lindsay-picThe last time I saw Jay was at the launch of A Dance with Hermes in the Black Book Cafe and I remember how astonishingly well he looked despite the various ordeals of both illness and treatment he had so recently undergone. It felt characteristic of his courage and resolution that he coped so well with conditions that might have left a lesser spirit utterly debilitated. As with my old friend John Moat, he was fortified and invigorated by the presence of poetry within him and the indomitable power of the spiritual imagination.

He and I were friends – at times close friends – for around a quarter of a century, during which time I often teased him for an occasionally over-portentous seriousness of purpose which, in these days of arid intellectual scepticism, I also deeply admired. I must have tried his patience at times but he always received my jocular critique with good humour and a shrewd awareness of my own deficiencies in the spiritual realm. In many ways, he was like a younger brother to me, one from whom I had much to learn.

Jay carried light within him through this dark time. It shone through his work as it resounded, unforgettably, in his voice. That illuminating presence will be deeply missed by me and by the many others whose souls it so feelingly touched.

Oxford launch of The Tragicall History of Campbell McCluskie

9781906900557.jpgAwen are thrilled to announce the launch, on 17 January 2019 at Blackwell’s Bookshop, Alistair McNaught’s long-awaited novel The Tragicall History of Campbell McCluskie.

7.00–8.45 p.m.

48–51 Broad Street, Oxford OX1. Free admission.

The book is adorned with stunning cover art by the printmaker Andy Kinnear, which marvellously captures the likeness of the eponymous Glaswegian playwright. The Tragicall History of Campbell McCluskie can be ordered directly from Awen’s website or via the other usual channels. Here’s what it says on the back of the book:

The question that haunts Ian Alexander MacDuffy is why the playwright Campbell McCluskie was murdered at 10.30 p.m. on Wednesday 16 June 1954, for that was the very moment that Ian’s mother died giving birth to him. The coincidence suggests that some universal meaning may lie behind that gratuitous and painful event. Ian tries to uncover every detail of Campbell’s short but colourful life: the guilt-ridden hypocrisy of his grandfather; his father’s success as a shoe manufacturer; his childhood in Clydebank; the death of his favourite aunt; his bewildering role in the D-Day landings; his post-war success as a playwright; his passionate and eventful love life; his ambiguous relations with the criminal underworld; his violent death – because as Campbell himself wrote, in his inimitable style, ‘It’s all down tae patterns and figures; if you can decipher them, then Auld Nickie-Ben’ll dance tae your tune.’

‘Alistair McNaught’s ingenious fictional biography brings to life not only slain playwright McCluskie but also the mid-twentieth-century Glasgow he inhabited. McCluskie’s literary career, social life and erotic escapades are vividly evoked against a backdrop of smoke-filled bars, sombre tenements, and back streets haunted by prostitutes and razor gangs.’  Andrew Crumey

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