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.
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.
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.
The forest; a spot just off the road.
Aside from the odd distant car, it’s quiet, still.
The green is deep and various: moss, wild tussocky grass,
the trees in their last flush, the skirts of ferns.
On the heaths and moors, there is a breeze,
but here, sheltered, nothing moves, save for the odd blush
sighing in the oak crowns.
A nuthatch calls. Robins tick and scold.
In the middle distance, I think I hear a willow warbler –
my first of the year – homing for the warm south.
The last of the land’s held heat is dissipating;
the air bears the first rumours of the coming winter edges.
In my muggy oak-held hollow, I think of fires,
I think of night heavy against the windows,
and how days such as these are about gathering –
gathering light and the spaces in-between: a store, a bulwark against the…
It’s been a while. Quite a year, in fact. I’ve been learning to teach, and it turns out teaching is really hard. No matter. I’ve been posting the odd thing at somesmallcorner.co.uk, but not much. It’s a lot like unconscious babble, the mind fetching back what has happened in the world while I’ve been looking elsewhere.
One of those things has today been posted at Caught by the River. I went for a walk and met an old fella who made my heart leap. I’ve not been able to shake him. Hope that door is still open, Mike – I’ll be by at some point.