Tag Archives: poems

On the Cover: Glossing the Spoils

 

by Kirsty Hartsiotis

b694b1_08f653f8784c44929d43a376cccf6604mv2I’ve always been fascinated by hoards. To me they are deeply poignant and offer a glimpse into a moment in another person’s life. It’s easy to imagine a scenario from the thin thread of evidence – the coins tucked away in a bag or pot – and see a desperate person hastily digging a hole, stuffing in their only treasure, covering it over, staring at it to try to drum the place into their memory, then snatching up a child, the rest of their belongings, tugging away a horse, and running from the chaos they’ve left behind, a raid, a battle, perhaps, but with one thought in mind – I will come back. Implicit in there is the thought, I will come home again, and pick up the reins of my old life, and all will be as it was. But we know that that didn’t happen. For whatever reason, the person who buried the hoard didn’t return, and the little bag of coins remains there until a metal detectorist or archaeologist strays on it one day and the ancient metal is brought to light.

When I first saw the cover image for Charlotte Hussey’s Glossing the Spoils, that’s exactly what I thought we had. The coins on the cover are from the Hallaton Hoard, a massive collection of Iron Age and Roman coins found near Market Harborough in the East Midlands. How fitting, thought I, a coin hoard is the perfect cover for this collection of poems expanding out, glossing, inspired by medieval texts from all over Western Europe. So often, in early medieval writing at least, all we have are the remains, the scraps, and our understanding of the complex meanings behind the poems in the Anglo-Saxon corpus, say, or the Mabinogion, and the lost tales they reference is like our understanding of coin hoards – we can imagine a bigger picture, we can gloss and explain all we like, but to capture that moment of writing, the societal context of the poet, the writer, and their world view, that’s all but impossible.

However. Some coin hoards are not like the one imagined above. Sometimes there’s a whole lot more going on. The coins on this cover are just a few of the 5296 coins found in no less than fourteen coin hoards on the site. They were deposited at some point just before or soon after the Romans came to Britain, but not because people were running away from invaders or civil war; rather, as part of a collective, community ritual. The people who deposited these coins came to the place, feasted, and held a ritual that resulted in the burial of these coins and the bones of the pigs they ate. And a Roman helmet. And, sadly to us today, it seems that the site was important enough to need to be guarded at all times – three dog skeletons have been found, psychopompic guards protecting against all spiritual comers. The coins show the exuberant horses, dots, and symbols of Iron Age coins, mixed in with the artistic inspiration – coins from the Empire across the Channel. What relationship did these people have with Rome? Who were they beyond the name Corieltavi? How did they get the helmet? Why did they stop coming?

Always there are more questions than answers. A quick glance won’t do. That’s what I take from the cover – and from the poems inside the book. There is everything to be gained from looking under the surface. In those deeper places lie discoveries – not just the materially obvious hidden treasure, but an elucidation of hidden lives and, perhaps, a glimpse into ourselves and a chance to have a deeper connection with both ourselves and the the myriad lost lives of the past.

You can find out more about the Hallaton Treasure here, and if you’d like to dig deeper into Hussey’s book, it’s available here.

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

Reviews for Soul of the Earth

Soul of the Earth is an anthology of eco-spiritual poetry, published in 2010.

Lorna Smithers, writing in 2016 for Gods and Radicals said “As I read through the pages from this year’s position of heightened crisis, I found the poems continued to resonate and feel important. Some do the essential work of critiquing the materialistic worldview of consumer capitalism responsible for our destruction of the earth.”

You can read the whole review here – https://godsandradicals.org/2016/05/26/review-soul-of-the-earth/

Stardancer on Amazon says “like the eco-bardic manifesto – this is an inspiring collection of writing”  and goes on to call for “a whole movement towards nature and magic in story and poetry and then see where it leads us.” that’s very much the sort of response the book was intended to create.

Buy the book here – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Soul-Earth-Anthology-Eco-Spiritual-Poetry/dp/1906900175/

Lindsay Clarke In Bath

On 9 March 2017, Lindsay Clarke will be reading some poems from his new book A Dance with Hermes, alongside writers Peter Please and Crysse Morrison and musicians Paul Darby and the Bookshop Band.

flyer-march-9

 

This will be an Awen-laden event as Peter Please wrote the foreword for Writing the Land, the very first Awen book. The Bookshop Band includes Beth Porter, who has often performed separately with Awen author (and storyteller) Richard Selby.

 

Soul Of The Earth

SOL front cover.jpg

Soul Of The Earth is an anthology of Eco-spiritual poetry edited by Jay Ramsay and with an afterword by Anthony Nanson. A number of Awen authors were involved in this project, links to their individual poetry titles are included blow.

The following poets contributed one or more pieces to the collection:

Roselle Angwin

Aidan Andrew Dunn

Diana Durham

Karen Eberhardt-Shelton

Rose Flint

Dawn Gorman

Alyson Hallett

Jeremy Hooker

Adam Horovitz

Charlotte Hussey (Glossing the Spoils)

Irina Kuzminsky (Dancing with Dark Goddesses)

Kevan Manwaring (The Immanent Moment)

Paul Matthews

Jehanne Mehta (poem published here on the blog)

Margie McCallum

Gabriel Bradford Millar (Crackle of Almonds)

Helen Moore

Paul Nelson

Jennie Powell

Jay Ramsay (Places of Truth)

Lynne Wycherley

Find out more about Soul of the Earth here – http://www.awenpublications.co.uk/soul_of_the_earth.html

New Edition of Kevan Manwaring’s The Immanent Moment

TIM front cover - August 2016by Anthony Nanson

I’m delighted to announce that Kevan Manwaring’s poetry collection The Immanent Moment is back in print in a new edition. This is the collection that Kevan regards as the best of all his many collections published to date. This third edition includes a number of new poems.

I’d like to acknowledge the team effort behind the scenes to bring this book back into being: Kirsty Hartsiotis on design, Richard Selby on proofreading, Nimue Brown on blog, and yours truly on synthesiser and drums.

This is what it says on the back of the book:

‘The sound of snow falling on a Somerset hillside, the evanescence of a waterspout on a remote Scottish island, the invisible view from a Welsh mountain, the light on the Grand Canal in Venice, the fire in a Bedouin camel-herder’s eyes … These poems consider the little epiphanies of life and capture such fleeting pulses of consciousness in sinuous, euphonic language. A meditation on time, mortality, transience, and place, this collection celebrates the beauty of both the natural and the man-made, the familiar and the exotic, and the interstices and intimacy of love.’

Here’s a quote from Jay Ramsay’s foreword:

‘Awen, the flow of energy that is creative life, becomes Zen, its apprehension … Kevan’s poetry is (as he is) for life; of that you can be sure.’

And to whet your appetite, the opening lines of one of the poems:

 

Bike black on chalk down,

leather against grass.

Watching the shadows lengthen

on this clear October day.

 

You can order the book direct from Amazon here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Immanent-Moment-Kevan-Manwaring/