Tag Archives: A Dance with Hermes

On the Cover: A Drink with Hermes?

By Kirsty Hartsiotis

dwh-front-coverLindsay Clarke’s new book, A Dance with Hermes, which launches this Thursday 1 December at Black Book Café, Stroud, is all about ‘Hermes, the messenger god of imagination, language, dreams, travel, theft, tweets, and trading floors’ and on the cover is an image showing Hermes flying, dancing, running across the page.

Fittingly, this image is from a kylix, an ancient Greek wine cup, the kind used at Greek symposia, parties where like-minded men would gather to drink and talk, share poetry and enjoy entertainments. Symposia feature in Plato’s writing as places where learned men talk about the nature of life (and where other, drunker men gate-crash the party, sparking more chat!). In real life they may have been a bit more ‘lively’, with games such as kottabos, where the wine lees were flicked across the room to a target that would ring like a bell if it were it in the right way, and dancing and boys provided all kinds of entertainment.

Kylixes were made to be fun objects as well. They are usually decorated around the outside. The one from which the image on the cover of A Dance with Hermes is taken has athletes and trainers running around it. But with the wine brimming in the cup, you wouldn’t be able to see that there was an image on the bottom – a surprise when you had finished your drink! The surprise image was often of someone dancing or running, and our Hermes is no exception. He dances over the sea, clasping his lyre (complete with plectrum in red) and his caduceus – his staff with two intertwined snakes – as he goes.

The kylix is part of the British Museum’s collection, and dates from the 5th century BC – the cup type is much older, though, going back at least to Mycenaean times, decorated then with boggle-eyed octopuses. You can find out more about the cup here.

Join us for our very own symposium to share a drink and hear Lindsay Clarke talk about his book and share poems from it alongside Stroud’s own Jay Ramsay at 7.30pm (for 8pm) on Thursday 1 December at Black Book Café, Stroud. Tickets £5 on the door, redeemable against the cost of a book.

 

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Lindsay Clarke reading in Stroud

By Jay Ramsay

lindsay-picLindsay Clarke is the foremost novelist of the imagination and the spirit alive today in Britain. He was the winner of the Whitbread Prize for Fiction for The Chymical Wedding (1989), and his most recent novel The Water Theatre (2010) continues his preoccupation with modern psychological initiation and personal transformation. He is a gripping storyteller as well.

Lindsay has always been a poet in essence. His last collection, Stoker, which recalls his upbringing in Halifax, is now followed by a return to alchemical themes in the figure of Hermes (aka Mercurius), traditionally the winged messenger of the gods. A Dance with Hermes (Awen, 2016) is the result.

He will be launching this book with a 40 min. presentation on Thursday 1 December at Black Book Cafe, Nelson Street, Stroud. I will be reading from Places of Truth now re-set in its 3rd edition. The evening will include Q&A and is also a celebration of Awen Publications, founded in Bath by Kevan Manwaring and recently taken over by novelist and ecologist Anthony Nanson (Deep Time, 2015). Doors open 7.30 for 8.00 p.m. start. Entry £5 (redeemable against the cost of a book). Please visit wwww.awenpublications.co.uk.

Those of you who saw Lindsay present at the Awen Forum Subscription Rooms series in 2012-13 will remember how enjoyable he is to listen to, and I hope you will join us for this rich evening.

Lindsay Clarke book launch

DWH front cover.jpgAwen are delighted to announce the publication of Lindsay Clarke’s new book A Dance with Hermes. Lindsay will be reading from the book, alongside Jay Ramsay reading from Places of Truth: Journeys into Sacred Wilderness, at a launch event in Black Books Cafe, Stroud, GL5 2HL, on Thursday 1 December, 8.00pm. Entrance £5 on the door (redeemable against the cost of a book). Contact: 01453 840887.

Here’s some info about the book:

In a verse sequence that swoops between wit and ancient wisdom, between the mystical and the mischievous, award-winning novelist Lindsay Clarke elucidates the trickster nature of Hermes, the messenger god of imagination, language, dreams, travel, theft, tweets, and trading floors, who is also the presiding deity of alchemy and the guide of souls into the otherworld. Taking a fresh look at some classical myths, this vivacious dance with Hermes choreographs ways in which, as an archetype of the poetic basis of mind, the sometimes disreputable god remains as provocative as ever in a world that worries – among other things – about losing its iPhone, what happens after death, online scams, and the perplexing condition of its soul.

‘Clarke brings his considerable erudition and love of language to allow the intellectual and the poetic mind to come together, imagining where and how Hermes might be concealed in everyday life – the whisper in the inner ear, the sudden silence when “the air hangs watchful”, or “the fitful flare that lights our way”.’ Jules Cashford

‘This is an impressive collection, with an ancient and perennial wisdom, and language that is modern, even “street-wise” without being cheap. I admire the range of contemporary reference; the “voice” of these poems suggests a real freedom of mind, and expresses a live imagination.’ Jeremy Hooker

‘Deft, witty, wing-footed – Lindsay Clarke’s poems wonderfully embody what they describe: the god Hermes, who is comprehensively shown to be just as revelatory and double-dealing in the digital age as he ever was in antiquity.’ Patrick Harpur