In the Summer Solstice 2017 edition of Eternal Haunted Summer, an e-zine publishing ‘pagan songs and tales’, I have been interviewed by editor, Rebecca Buchanan, and Rex Butters has reviewed my book, The Broken Cauldron. Do check out the diverse blend of poetry, fiction, essays, reviews, and interviews.
This is a reblog of Rhyd Wildermuth’s review of Enchanting the Shadowlands. Rhyd lives in Seattle and writes and blogs compassionately and compellingly about the beauty of his land and the horrors capitalism has wrecked upon it and his people. As a bard of the Welsh gods his words are fuelled by the pure untrammelled force of the Awen. This review is breathtaking and a piece of poetry in its own right and I’m very honoured by it.
Rhyd divines insights I didn’t know myself and have left me pondering. He describes the book as ‘a trap’ and says it takes you into ‘the memory not just of a poet, but of a land itself, ages intersecting at the crossroads of you.’ ‘I’ve never been to Lancashire, though some part of it now lives within my memory, the River Ribble’s waters soaking into the rain falling upon me in Seattle.’
I don’t understand this yet. At present I think it says alot about how time and space can meet in moments of enchantment (and disconcertment) to which ages past and opposite sides of the world form no true obstacle. It also says alot about the power of words to bring about change.
On that note as editor of a new website called Gods & Radicals Rhyd is encouraging pagans from across the world to unite in ‘beautiful resistance’ against capitalism. There are already a number of excellent articles and its ideas and influence are swiftly growing. I have contributions planned for May and June.
If you like Rhyd’s writing do check out his book Your Face is a Forest for his pilgrimages and deep reflections on land, deities and ancestors.
I don’t know how to compel a person, a stranger, regardless of their disposition towards my words, to read a book. But it’s not for that this review of Lorna Smither’s collection, Enchanting the Shadowlands, is so overdue, nor from any of the usual excuses of pre-occupation or inundation. That is, the world hasn’t gotten in the way, nor have I been too afeared I wouldn’t have quite the right words.
Rather–the book’s a trap.
Don’t carry the slim volume with you, thinking you might find time to read a few poems on the bus to work, or occupy with her words some unguarded moments at a coffeeshop or bar, waiting for a friend, perhaps, or sitting merely idle. You cannot merely fill space of distraction with her poetry any more than you might hope a quick stroll through a park will ‘clear…
View original post 766 more words
On Wednesday 22nd April I held an evening of poetry, song and story to celebrate the launch of Enchanting the Shadowlands at Korova Arts Cafe in Preston. The night was very special for me because it marked the publication of my first book, the completion of a spiritual journey and brought together friends who have supported me since I took to writing poetry seriously in 2012.
Storyteller Peter Dillon was MC for the night. We opened with a joint performance of ‘The Bull of Conflict’ a glosa recording the moment when my patron god, Gwyn ap Nudd, gave me the imperative of ‘enchanting the shadowlands’.
Vincent Smith’s ‘Woodland Eulogy’ and reflections on early memories of a close friend made a poignant start to the first half. Mike Cracknell brought the house down with his hilarious poem about lovers with nothing in common except filthy habits. Martin Domleo performed poems tying in with my nature themed work including ‘Thor’s Cave’ and the experience of deceleration linking to his passion for motorbikes. Singer Nina George was the first headline act. She started with a haunting piece written by a friend. Her second song, she told us, demanded to be sung at the launch! She got everybody joining in with the chorus:
‘She said this is my church here where I stand
With my hands in the earth and my feet on the ground
She said this is my church here where I stand
With my heart in my mouth and my soul in the land.’
Nina finished with a song by Jodi Mitchell. At the end of the first half I performed poems exploring local history written in voices of the ancestors and spirits of the land. These included a reluctant resident of Penwortham Lake Village, a spinner in her cellar, the spirit of the aquifer beneath Castle Hill and Belisama, goddess of the Ribble. During the break we looked out at a pink-purple sunset against fairy-lit trees and the silhouette of St Walburge’s spire. I opened the second half with ‘Slugless’ which was written when I had a spate of people confessing to me about their slug problems. All but one…. As we often bump into each other walking beside the Ribble, Terry Quinn performed poems about the river, one set at a crucial time when a campaign run successfully by Jane Brunning saved the area that is now Central Park from a huge development scheme. Dorothy mentioned she also had a slug scene in her novel ‘Shouting Back’. Her poems included the memorable ‘City Rats’.
Nina returned to perform a song about reclaiming Druidry and a controversial tongue-in-cheek ditty called ‘The Day the Nazi Died’ by Chumbawamba. Novelist Katharine Ann Angel read excerpts from ‘Being Forgotten’ and ‘The Froggitt Chain’ and spoke of her inspiration from people, particularly working with difficult teenagers.
The second headliner was poet Nicolas Guy Williams. He opened with ‘Ancient by thy Winters’ saying he thought it would be suit my launch as it contains howling: ‘Hear them HOWL! HEAR THEM HOWL! Once no forest was defenceless.’ He also performed ‘Woman of the Sap’ and ‘Oh ratchet walk and seek that scent’ one of my personal favourites based on the local legend of the Gabriel Ratchets.
I ended the second half with a piece dedicated to Gwyn on Nos Galan Gaeaf called ‘When You Hunt for Souls in the Winter Rain’ and poems recording a journey to Annwn (the Brythonic Otherworld) with horse and hound to an audience in his hall. As a finale I performed ‘No Rules’ which summarises my philosophy of life:
‘Break every boundary.
There are no rules.
Only truth and promises
Bind us in the boundless infinite.’
Afterward there was an open-mic where it was great to have Flora Martyr, who is missed as a host of Korova Poetry, back to perform. Following Nina’s protest songs John Winstanley, who is involved with the Wigan Digger’s Festival, sung an old diggers song. I also opened some presents from the generous members of my grove. Nina gave me a bottle of wine (knows me too well!). Phil and Lynda Ryder gave me a book about Boudica, a warrior queen and ruler of the Iceni (horse) tribe, called ‘Dreaming the Hound’ with a wonderful bronze image of a howling hound on the cover.
When we left Korova the crescent moon was high in the sky with a bright and beautiful Venus above the fairy-lit trees. I felt the shadowlands had been enchanted. There is power in a promise… and in the support of friends without whom I wouldn’t have been able to see it through. I’d like end on a note of thanks to Peter as MC, everybody who performed and came to watch and to Sam for providing the venue.
This is a reblog of River Stone’s review (on Gods and Radicals) of the ‘Fractured’ exhibition by Sam Peacock at the Curious Duke Gallery in London.
River says: ‘Peacock’s works are subterranean imaginings of how the land may be changed when gallons of chemicals and water and sand are injected into the earth at high pressure to release natural gas… The works themselves are steel sheets layered with paint, plaster, wire and colour, blistered by fire. Each is named after a place in the UK which may become a fracking site.’
There is a link to Curious Duke Gallery’s website within the review whereby you can see the artworks, learn more about the sites and buy an artwork if you wish.
Terror and Beauty
Let me start by explaining why I’m posting a review for an art exhibition you can no longer see. Fractured, artist Sam Peacock’s third UK solo show, ran at Curious Duke Gallery in London from 5th to 15th March 2015, a disappointingly short run for such a powerful set of pieces. The primary reason is simple: I want you to see these creations. This is my first (yes, first ever) posting and I want to use it to share images of these works. So, go on, click here before reading any more to view what I was privileged to see hanging on this tiny gallery’s walls. (If you then click on individual images, you’ll be taken to a separate page where you can read a small story about the work in question. Do that now, if you like, or stay with me…
View original post 630 more words
This is the third positive review I have had of Enchanting the Shadowlands, from Nimue Brown at Druid Life. Nimue speaks of her connection with the landscape and ancestral aspects of the collection and suggests it would inspire others setting out to explore and give voice to their localities.
I’ve been following Lorna Smithers’ blog for some time now, so when I heard she had put together an anthology of poetry, I went straight over to Lulu and ordered a copy. It’s taken me a while to get a review together, not least because I do not like to read poetry quickly. One or two at a time and then space to ponder is my preferred approach. Consequently I don’t get through poetry at the same pace a prose book of this size would allow. I like that about poetry, I value the slowing down and the encouragement to savour and reflect.
Lorna is a skilful poet, who crafts exquisitely with language. If you like beautiful wordcraft, I expect you are going to like this collection. As a writer and a teller of tales, Lorna has an amazing ability to get inside a story, a person or a worldview…
View original post 390 more words
My write-up of Sunday’s Sacred Penwortham walk, which I led on an atmospherically foggy day where a new stone was discovered, Faery tales were told and I learnt to identify the goosander, can be found on UCLan Pagan Society’s blog.
Enchanting the Shadowlands has had its first review by Heron on ‘The Path of the Awenydd.’ This review is in depth and touches with understanding on the core of the narrative; Gwyn ap Nudd’s imperative and my ‘imaginative recall’ of the memories of my local landscape. It also forms a great introduction to the collection from an alternative perspective. I feel very honoured by this first review and it will be well remembered.
Review of Enchanting the Shadowlands by Lorna Smithers
This is a substantial collection of poems and prose by Lorna Smithers written in response to an imperative from Gwyn ap Nudd who gave her the task of ‘enchanting the shadowlands’, of bringing back enchantment to the land through her writings. As a task carried out for the god she follows it is an exemplary illustration of one way of following the path of the awenydd and , indeed, of showing dedication to the gods.
The Prelude sets the scene for the collection with a reference to the ‘Bull of Conflict’, the words addressing Gwyn ap Nudd at the beginning of the dialogue between him and Gwyddno Garanhir contained in an early Welsh poem in the manuscript of The Black Book of Carmarthen. Following this the collection is divided into a number of sections, each of which are aspects of a…
View original post 805 more words