Tag Archives: Awen

Awen blog roundup

For a while now, we’ve taken the opportunity each Monday to re-blog something that relates to Awen and/or its wider community of writers, artists, performers and fellow travellers.

This week, there are too many good posts that we want to share on to pick just the one, so here’s a selection of recommended reading.

Roselle Angwin features two prose poems from Chris Vermeijden http://roselle-angwin.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/100-word-prose-poems-from-chris.html

Kevan Manwaring has two blogs about the recent Ballad tales project – It Takes a Village to Raise a Story reflects on the process of making the book happen while Wetting the Baby’s Head reflects on the first book launch party.

Anthony Nanson has a review for Alexandra Claire’s Random Walk on the Deep Time Blog.

Nimue Brown has an uplifting post about how modern politics crosses borders.

 

Ballads, Fire Springs and Awen

Ballad Tales, while published by The History Press features a number of Awen authors and Fire Springs members, so we’re giving it a shout out here on the blog.

The contributors are…

Fiona Eadie, Kevan Manwaring (Awen and Fire Springs), David Phelps,  Chantelle Smith (Fire Springs), Richard Selby (Awen and Fire Springs), Pete Castle, Malcolm Green, Simon Heywood, Alan M. Kent, Eric Maddern, Laura Kinnear, Karola Renard (Awen), Kirsty Hartsiotis (Fire Springs, and Awen, backstage) Nimue Brown (Awen backstage), Mark Hassall,  Chrissy Derbyshire (Awen)  David Metcalfe (Fire Springs), Anthony Nanson (Awen and Fire Springs). the book has a forward from Candia McKormack and the cover art is by Andy Kinnear.

Kevan Manwaring said “This fantastic launch event was the culmination of two years’ work – from my initial vision to publication by The History Press. It was great to celebrate the mutual achievement of all those involved with such high calibre performances from our ‘bardic dozen’ present. To see their respective contributions brought alive through storytelling, singing and exegesis was exciting. Any who didn’t make it really missed out on an excellent evening. We hope this will be the first of several such Ballad Tales revue shows.”

You can read a longer post from Kevan about the journey elading to the book – It Takes A Village To Raise A Story.

The next one will be:
Bath Storytelling Circle Ballad Tales special
Monday 19 June
8pm, free entry
upstairs at The Raven, Quiet St, Bath

Here’s a photo from the book launch…

Left to right… Candia McKormack, David Metcalfe, Mark Hassall, Karola Renard, Andy Kinnear, Laura Kinnear, Kevan Manwaring, Chantelle Smith, Kirsty Hartsiotis, Anthony Nanson, Fiona Eadie, Nimue Brown.

Storytelling events

Ecobardic is a key term for Awen, summing up a lot about who we are, what we stand for and what we do. ‘Bardic’ of course means performance, and for many of the authors, performance is integral to who they are as well as being a significant influence on written work.

Storytelling is itself a highly sustainable form of entertainment, and one that we can assume has been with us since the beginnings of human civilization. Once there are fires and people to sit in circle around them, stories must follow. And so at Awen we’re keen to promote storytelling and live events. Do get in touch via the comments if you’d like us to promote anything for you.

BALLAD TALES BOOK LAUNCH
Friday 9 June
at OpenHouse, Stroud (The British School) Gloucestershire.
7pm.
Celebrating the launch of Ballad Tales: an anthology of British Ballads retold from The History Press, with a showcase of stories and songs from a selection of contributors including Candia McCormack, Kevan Manwaring, Chantelle Smith, Anthony Nanson, Kirsty Hartsiotis and Nimue Brown.

A TIME OF LIGHT: STORYTELLING ON THE SOLSTICE
Wednesday 21 June
at Thistledown Farm, Nympsfield, Gloucestershire.
7.30pm.
This summer solstice – the longest day of the year – Thistledown Farm invites you to a storytelling celebration of midsummer. Join Fiona Eadie for an engaging evening of seasonal stories, myths and folktales. Ticket price includes either a soft drink / hot drink / small glass of wine.

TALES OF WITCHCRAFT AND WONDER
Friday 23-Sunday 25 June: SOLD OUT

Inkubus Sukkubus’ have sought out a fascinating, historic – and haunted – location for 2017. It will be a weekend of wonders, with, on the Saturday night, a cornucopia of delights: Kevan and Chantelle, as Brighid’s Flame, will be telling bardic tales and song, then after a feast, will be Kirsty and Anthony performing dark tales of the Forest and Welsh borders – then the band will be launching their new album Belas Knap in a wonderful acoustic set.

BATH STORYTELLING CIRCLE
Monday 19 June

at The Raven, Queen Street, Bath
8pm. Ballad Tales launch special! Come and hear songs and stories the ballad tradition. Supporting the oral tradition through performances of stories, songs and poems (from memory, not read). Organised by David Metcalfe. Free, arrive 8.00pm for 8.15pm start. For further information call 01225-789439.

 

A Website with a Purpose

by Anthony Nanson

 

I’m delighted to announce that we’ve recreated the Awen website using more up-to-date software. It’s responsive now on mobile devices, you can order books directly from us via Paypal, and we’re making sure it has plenty of interesting information to advance the cause of ecobardic writing.

The homepage and About page outline in brief Awen’s mission to promote quality writing that ‘engages with the world’ – a phrase intended to convey the idea of a reciprocal relationship between literature and life: writing can draw inspiration and urgency from what’s going on in the world, and reading it can flip you back into the world with a new facets of insight and commitment. This includes our relations with the natural world, for sure, but also aspects of society and the bigger picture of spirituality. It’s a broad-church vision of engagement and  connection, not a narrow sectarian prescription.

There’s more detail about that in An Ecobardic Manifesto – the entire text of which can be found on the website. The original pamphlet of this document has nearly sold out; we may reprint it sometime, but it seems more important to have it available to as many people as possible online.

The website has lots of information about Awen’s authors and our books currently in print and on sale. We’re uploading contents pages and samples of text from each book so people can get a better idea what’s in the books. The author page of the late Mary Palmer includes a bibliography and links to a video of her performing, two poems written in her honour when she died, and the entire text of my short literary biography of her (printed in the second edition of her book Iona). This suite of pages is intended to be a lasting memorial online to Mary and her poetry.

There’s still plenty of work to do on this new website. Search engine optimisation, for example, is a fiddly business that is still underway. The facility to buy books by Paypal is up and running; please do use it! We hope soon to install an alternative credit-card payment option as well. A slate of new editions of Awen titles are coming back into print this year, plus a brand new title from Jeremy Hooker. Look out for information about them on this blog and on the website when they’re published.

Visit the site here – https://www.awenpublications.co.uk

Writing on the Wall: How can Poetry Can Save the Planet?

Poets, thinkers, writers and people who care for the natural world will gather in Waterloo on Saturday, June 3, 2017 for a unique interactive day of exploring and learning how poetry can help us protect the environment.

We’re delighted to announce that a number of Awen authors will be participating in this event.

Writing on the Wall is:

  • A day of poetic action and reflection for the planet. The first in a series.
  • A chance for new and established poets, budding writers, fans of poetry and anyone stirred by the environment message and crisis to build a vision of what the world might be, using poetry as a catalyst.
  • A new collaboration between poets and the wider world of faiths, ecologists and governments
  • Supported by The Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), WWF-UK and the Southbank Festival’s Belief and Beyond Belief, of which Writing on the Wall is part.

The conservation movement’s language is so often of fear, anger and despair. But poetry can take us down different paths, and find wonder there. Our invitation to the audience during this interactive day is to help build a vision, through words, of what the world might be. To go beyond the boundaries of despair and think again about the way we live in this world. And to explore a way of being together, being part of the world and not apart from it.

“Poetry, at its best, speaks directly to both heart and mind,” said poet Jay Ramsay who has put the programme together for the Southbank Festival. “It can do what little else can do. It can speak a language that moves beyond the data of climate change, beyond the tragedy of habitat loss and species extinction, into a place of truth, where we can find a vision of a different kind of ending. Effective poetry stirs us, evoking reactions and provoking thought and, hopefully, action and commitment.

Writing on the Wall is an invitation to everyone to step “beyond a world of eco-deliverables and eco-miserables” and to delight in the wonder of the world around us.

The full day programme includes a writing workshop on how to incorporate a true and authentic vision of nature into your writing. Throughout the day there are talks, discussions, meditations and performances featuring poets, musicians, conservationists, writers and representatives from faith, spirituality and publishing groups.

The poets, speakers and musicians include: Jeni Couzyn, Glyn Davies (WWF), Aidan Andrew Dun, Irina Kuzminsky, Paul Matthews, Caroline McCausland, Niall McDevitt, Jehanne Mehta, Gabriel Bradford Millar, Helen Moore, Anthony Nanson, Peter Owen Jones, Jay Ramsay, Nigel Shaw and others.

 

Next steps

This is just the beginning. There are plans for an event at Dartington College in April 2018 and the project encourages anyone who is interested to take this further, using poetry – their own poems or other people’s – to provoke discussion, encourage debate and give hearts and minds a good shake.

 

Details:

Venue: St John’s Waterloo

Date: Saturday June 3, 2017

Times: 10.00 to 17.30, activities throughout the day. Tickets: £20

Further details and bookings: https://www.waterloofestival.com/poetry

Why I work for Awen

By Nimue Brown

Some months ago I put up a hand and offered to help get Awen Publications and its titles in front of people. Publisher Anthony Nanson invited me to blog about what led me here. The short answer is that I have friends with books at Awen and simply wanted to support them. The long answer, is a good deal more complicated.

The book publishing industry is worth a lot of money. In 2016, it was worth £4.4 billion in the UK publishers.org.uk/media-centre/news-releases/2016/ But at the same time, something like 95% of authors cannot make enough to live on. I have a lot of problems with the combination of those two figures, and with the consequences for authors.

Bigger houses tend to have shareholders. Books are published based not on merit, but on an accounting assessment of what will sell well for least effort and cost. Authors who don’t sell fast and well find themselves dropped. The middle ranking of the publishing industry has largely gone. The idea of developing an author over time has largely gone. The idea of professional authors (who are not TV celebrities) has largely gone and the industry does this while not investing in marketing in the way that competing leisure creators do (films, games etc). There’s a lot to be cross about.

I know far too many apparently successful authors who should be secure, and are struggling. I know far too many talented authors who don’t tick enough boxes to get the breakthrough. I know many part time authors, dealing with burnout, stress, exhaustion. And as an author I’ve experienced some of this too – when selling out your whole print run isn’t good enough to contract the next book because you don’t also have a movie deal…

In my early twenties I got involved with the ebook revolution, back before Amazon and the like would deign to touch them. I saw how it opened things out for self publishing and small publishers. Online giants are both a blessing and a curse now, creating opportunities, but also pushing down the price of books so that a pittance goes back to the publisher. 20% of the profits on an ebook that sold for $0.99 does not keep a roof over anyone’s head.

Since then I’ve worked almost entirely in small publishing – as a publisher myself, as an author, as a book publicist and as an editor. Small forays into the world of big publishing, and watching friends at big houses has convinced me to stay put in smaller, more ethical enterprises. Houses that care about the quality of books and want to get those books in front of readers, rather than caring primarily about the shareholders. Houses that don’t feel easy about the idea that authors are ten a penny, easily replaced and it doesn’t matter if you don’t pay them.

And so here I am. I’m putting in time and energy with Awen because this is a house with an attitude to quality that I really like. This is a house that isn’t set up to exploit creators. There are no shareholders. I doubt we’re ever going to make our fortunes this way, but there is more to life than profit. I do think we can sell books to people who want them, and make that work for all involved. I want to be part of that.

Five Haiku

by Morgan Blanks

 Recently I have been thinking about poetry; in particular, haiku, because a whole story can be told in just three lines. What I love about writing is that you can experiment with whatever you set out to do. For example, when I write haiku I do not necessarily follow the five, seven, five rule. Here are some of my poems that I would like to share with you.

Motionless, her eyes fixated

A shadow in the distance

The breeze is her only comfort.

 

 

A fiery glow,

spreading across the endless blue

sinking with the passing time

 

 

Daisy chains dancing in the breeze,

sunlight filters through the leaves

Memories escape like a swarm of bees.

 

 

Wisps of smoke,

Slow motion like the movement

of spiders crawling.

 

 

Fire from the Earth’s belly

Gurgles in its gravelly throat

A fierce, bubbling spew.

 

 

Morgan Blanks is a student at Bath Spa University and also an intern at Awen Publications.