No End

I awoke one morning last week, with the wisps of this evaporating in the last breaths of a dream. I was on a beach in the Mediterranean, aAlong which were strung low signs, calling people to come and celebrate leaving the EU. I tried to take a photograph of one of the signs when a wave crashed over me and washed me up the beach. As I came to rest, a woman was singing, gently, eyes on the middle-distance.

Did it really have no meaning?
Well, I never thought I’d hear those words from you
Who needs a meaning anyway?
I’d settle any day for a very fine view.

I think many of us have lost our belief in the power of language in the last few months. It feels epochal as if we’re about to shift (or have shifted) into a new space, a space that floats free of the old bonds.There has been a great, grand cheapening of the truth, the very grounds of meaning usurped by a new clowning mischief, irrevocably disrupted and unmoored. Maybe it’s a necessary corrective, a welcome into the epistemic uncertainty always experienced by those not in the slipstream of the seats of power. Whichever, it’s terrifying, and one finds oneself wanting to retreat into a space of monkish silence. To pick up the leaves, wander in the void of the woods among the simpler truths of those bare, ruined choirs.

I’ve travelled more than forty miles today, I must have grown some wings.
It’s strange how time just seems to fly away, I can’t remember things.
In a world of my own they say and who can blame them, they’re just not the same.
I’ve known about it all along though I thought I was all wrong, and it’s such a shame.

And beyond all of this, a friend and family member is in the reachless fathoms of dementia. He is cared for by the most extraordinary people, in the most extraordinary, selfless ways. He is an erasure, and they, in turn, suffer a kind of erasure themselves. But they continue to search for him and provide the softest, safest space for his gradual and terminal disappearing. Onward he goes, propelled by who knows what mysteries, into the trackless wild. K, as you go, they are there, they are there, and that heat you feel, that is they, brandishing the weight of love’s flaming torches.

Deer

I wrote a poem a while back. Ash Akhtar read it and decided to do something with it. He got the miraculous Christopher Fairbank to read it (yes, that one), wrote some beautiful music and made this short film. It’s a privilege to have been involved.

See more of Ash’s fantastic work, and some of our other collaborations over at the Fervent Arts YouTube channel.

Winter is icumen in…

Icumen in
Icumen in

I’ve wangled my way into the Winter volume of this set of lovely anthologies – edited by the fabulous Melissa Harrison and out on Eliott and Thompson books. It’s off the back of some stuff I’ve been doing over at Some Small Corner and I couldn’t be happier. It’s only short, and it’s weird being alongside Coleridge, Gilbert White and Kathleen Jamie, but damn I’ll take it! Buy ten copies. Or one.

The Voices of Anne Briggs.

ab

We all dream of escaping. If not in our waking lives, then subsumed, interred – to reappear in our dreamlives, in the whorls and ditches of landscapes where we run in the howling wind and hide. Hide. But imagine escaping as Anne Briggs did?

She was, by all accounts, a difficult creature, seemingly always already in the act of escaping: into unconsciousness, into the wreck of nature, into the sea. By 1973, leaving behind a small raft of recordings, she escaped fully – into the Hebridean blue, taking all that frail talent and running with it, into that same wind, into the far reaches of the north, deciding best to keep it buried: invisible, totemic – a Hadean lodestone for the curious, those seeking exaltation, beatitude.

Otheworldly is a horribly overused word, but in her recordings, and in this brief documentary it is how she comes across – a stranger, an eidolon, stripped bare by the gaze of the world. But the voice, the voice: that siteless, mapless expanse – there, there she is present, laughing into the void.