February 2018: A Highland Stravaig and other Geopoetics News
Welcome to your Geopoetics newsletter for February with news and information about upcoming events in Scotland and beyond.
Stravaig: Online Journal
Many thanks to everyone who sent in essays, poems, images and artwork for issue 6 of our online journal Stravaig. We received more submissions than ever before so it will take us some time to complete the editing. There will be more news to follow but in the meantime take a look at previous issues here.
Geopoetics Highland Stravaig: Abriachan, Saturday 26th May
Our next event will be a Highland Stravaig on Saturday 26 May 2018 in Abriachan in collaboration with Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s Creative Writing Centre, and the Abriachan Forest Trust. Abriachan is a rural community set high in the hills above the western shores of Loch Ness. We will explore Abriachan both as a rich cultural and literary landscape and as a part of a diverse bio-region, reflecting on different creative, poetic and aesthetic ways of being in this place.
A live theme at last year’s Expressing the Earth’conference on Seil Island in Argyll was the contribution of geopoetics to modern land consciousness. There is a social and poetic link here: 2018 sees the 20th anniversary of the Abriachan Forest Trust’s community land buy-out in 1998, which followed the Isle of Eigg in 1997. This year’s Stravaig event is, in part, a celebration of this milestone in Abriachan’s history. Local writer Katharine Stewart (1914 – 2013), a former member of the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics, played an important role in this story. Stewart’s writing – including A Croft in the Hills (1979) and Abriachan: The Story of an Upland Community (2000) – is celebrated this year by Moniack Mhor with a bursary for aspiring nature writers and writers of historical fiction.
Following the inaugural Tony McManus Lecture on ‘Nan Shepherd as an Early Geopoet’ by James McCarthy in November 2017, we will also reflect on the work of local author Jessie Kesson, who, upon a chance meeting with Shepherd, was inspired to pursue her writing.
To introduce the day, we will discover more about the story of Abriachan from leader of the Forest School, Suzann Barr, and Gaelic expert Roddy MacLean will share his deep knowledge of Gaelic place-names, native flora and fauna and local geodiversity on a forest walk in the shadow of hill Carn na Leitire (outdoor wear recommended!). In the afternoon, following a lunch of soup and bread, we will hear from ecologist and international river campaigner Lucio Marcello – who is currently investigating archive materials to chart the impact of dams and other land use changes on the biodiversity of the Ness river system – and from writer and cartographer Raghnaid Sandilands who will share her creative approach to landscape and cultural memory.
Following some free creative time in the afternoon, we will traverse 1.4 miles up the road to the Village Hall. Writer and musician Heather Clyne will introduce us to the work of Jessie Kesson with a selection of readings on a short walking tour through the village. This will be followed by a hearty shared meal in the hall and an evening ceilidh with opportunities for open floor contributions. Music for dancing will be provided by the local ceilidh band.
N E W S & E V E N T S
Members’ News: Elizabeth Rimmer launches ‘Haggards’ at SPL
We would like to send very best wishes toElizabeth Rimmer, who launches her third full-length poetry collection at theScottish Poetry Library on Saturday 10 February. Haggards, published by Red Squirrel press, plays off the different meanings of the word ‘haggard’ – wild and untamed, worn by grief and hardship; and the Irish designation for a patch of land, too small to cultivate, granted to peasants to grow their own crops, to create poems about herbs, personal and social upheaval, creativity and regeneration. Free event, free wine. All welcome. Read more
Bothy Culture and Beyond: A Live, Lasting Culture
‘Bothy Culture and Beyond,’ the music of Martyn Bennett orchestrated for the stage by conductor Greg Lawson, was a major highlight at this year’s Celtic Connections Festival. Read Mairi McFadyen‘s outstanding essay on the cultural significance of this event, reflecting on the potent link between the politics of land reform and the poetics of a deep culture. Read here (
Asheville Wordfest, NC, USA: Earth, People and Words
Norman Bissell and Alastair McIntoshwill travel over the Atlantic this April to speak at Asheville Wordfest in North Carolina on the theme of science, soul and art in conversation. The event is organised by Laura Hope-Gill, who attended the Expressing the Earthconference last year. Laura is a writer, poet, architectural historian, film-maker, teacher and directs the Thomas Wolfe Center for Narrative at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Asheville. Read more.
Geraldine Green: Writing Workshops and Courses
Cumbrian writer Geraldine Green is leading several upcoming workshops and courses details below:
Friday 6 April, 10am – 4pm
Write in Nature at Eycott Hill, Cumbria Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve, free workshop details here.
Geraldine blogs at Salt Road: http://
Please send information about geopoetics related publications, news and events for our next Newsletter to firstname.lastname@example.org.