Geopoetics News 30 October 2020
I hope you’re well and keeping safe.
Virtual Geopoetics Event
Saturday 7 November 2020 from 1 pm to 5 pm
Please register now for our virtual Geopoetics Event on Saturday 7 November which is our main event this year. It will include music from Ada Francis, our Annual General Meeting at 1.15 pm (agenda and papers will be sent to those who register) and the Tony McManus Geopoetics Lecture by Richard Roberts at 3 pm. At our AGM we will be discussing plans for our next conference and a series of online geopoetics talks and discussions in 2021. There are only 100 places which are filling up fast and will be allocated on a ‘first come’ basis. Full programme details and Register here!
Ada Francis is a singer, songwriter and harpist whose band Lyras has just released its first single, ‘Don’t Keep Me Awake’.
Geopoetics in a time of catastrophic crisis
We are living in what for the West, Europe, Anglo-America – and Scotland – is a time of apparently unprecedented crisis. This is not a singularity, but a complex interpenetration of crises, environmental, economic and societal, now greatly intensified by the global Covic-19 pandemic. On a mythic level this situation merits characterisation as a time of judgement and decision (κρισις), and even apocalypse (ἀποκάλυψις). What in such a context does Geopoetics have to offer as a basis for reflection and guidance for the conduct of a small country beset by multiple challenges? Scotland has nurtured both the birth of political economy in the thought of the illustrious Adam Smith, and its counterpoise in a respect for the contingent particularity of the natural world in human ecology and geopoetics that extends (inter alia) from Duns Scotus through Patrick Geddes to Hugh MacDiarmid and Kenneth White.
We shall outline geopoetic traditions, touch upon antecedents of the present crisis, and then crystallise the acceleration of recent transformations and the emergent categories of the virtual and the real. This lecture is framed by allusions to Hugh MacDiarmid’s great poem, On a Raised Beach. This austere epic confronts humanity with the intransigence of the rocks, yet it implies a union between the microcosm of the grasped pebble and the macrocosm of the Earth. How such a conjunction might be achieved without the destruction of the renewed object of love, Nature itself, will draw us into the anthropology of shamanism and its latent possibilities.
Richard H. Roberts (Prof.) is an Honorary Fellow, New College, University of Edinburgh.
The bumper issue of our online journal Stravaig#8 can be read on these links. The Ecological and Climate Emergency is extremely urgent and green actions to create a new normal rather than returning to the old one are essential. The poems, essays and art that reflect this in the journal are a great read.
The theme of Stravaig#9 will be discussed and decided on at our AGM on 7 November. Please send us your suggestions for our next theme ASAP e.g. on our Facebook page here or Twitter here. The call for submissions will go out in November 2020 with a deadline of 31 January 2021.
Don’t forget you can also read the current and back issues of Northwords Now, the free literary magazine of the North, online here. Highly recommended for poetry, short stories and reviews.
Extinction Rebellion Rewilding
James Murray-White took part in our Wiston Weekend Conference last year and has an essay you can read in Stravaig#8 Part One on the need for rewilding. He has set up an active Facebook Group to campaign which now has over 12,800 members. More details are here if you would like to join the group and also here to apply for oak saplings to plant all over Britain: www.savetheoaks.org.
Action on the Climate Emergency depends on how the American people vote next week.
Dorothy Whitaker B.A. Fine Art (Drawing & Painting) Glasgow School of Art
Born in Partick in Glasgow in 1944, I taught Art in Glasgow, Ghana, Perth (Australia) and England and have had Exhibitions of my work in all of those countries. I lived for a time on the Island of Luing in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, but only discovered Slate, Sea & Sky by Norman Bissell many years later. This inspired me to a deep interest in Geopoetics, with that feeling of connection to the Earth and the Environment, and with the contributions of thoughtful members who have similar concerns. These apocalyptic times we are living through inspire my strong political feelings which I express in cartoon form of drawings, but I also work on private painting commissions and book illustrations. You can see more of my political cartoons at Dorothy Politics.
COVID-19 Funding for Artists
The Creative Scotland Hardship Fund for Creative Freelancers of £5 million which opened this week was 60% subscribed within hours and was paused until 12 noon on 10 November when the Screen Scotland Hardship Fund will reopen as well. However, the Creative Scotland Open Fund: Sustaining Creative Development can be applied for and, despite the lengthy application form, more writers and other artists are being encouraged to do so. Useful advice about the application process from the Creative Scotland Literature team is here.
Geopoetry 2020 on National Poetry Day on 1 October was a huge success with 45 geologists, poets and others from all over the world taking part all day and 400 people registered to attend. The whole event was recorded and can be viewed here: https://bit.ly/Geopoetry20record. My illustrated talk on geopoetics and geopoetry runs from 4 hours 54 minutes in until 5 hours 9 minutes and has 19 slides about geopoetics. A book of the contributions is in preparation.
Leela Soma’s virtual book launch of Murder at the Mela takes place on Wednesday 4 November at 7 pm. See further details about her book below and book your place here.
To celebrate the paperback launch of Barnhill, join me and Mandy Haggith on Tuesday 17 November at 6 pm as we discuss the creative process of writing a novel based on true historical events. Full details and book early here.
The popular exhibition of the work of the great Glasgow photographer Oscar Marzaroli continues until 20 December at Street Level Photoworks, 103 Trongate, Glasgow. Open 12-5 pm from Thursday – Sunday. Find out more here.
BOOKS TO ENJOY
It’s not too early to start buying books as Christmas gifts direct from authors, publishers and your local bookshop. Here are some we recommend:
The Vanishing World of The Islandman: Narrative and Nostalgia by Mairéad Nic Craith focuses on Tomás Ó Criomhthain, a writer on a small Irish-speaking island community off the west coast of Ireland at the beginning of the 20th century. Mairéad probes the appeal of an “ordinary” island fisherman’s century-old life story to readers in several European languages. Tomás’s memoir was written in Irish Gaelic and portrayed an authentic, “slow”, precarious lifestyle of an island community that has since been evacuated and is often compared with St Kilda. Through the overlapping frames of literary analysis, archival work, interviews and ethnographic examination, nostalgia emerges and re-emerges as a central theme, expressed in different ways by the young Irish state, by Irish-American descendants of Blasket Islanders in the US today, by anthropologists, and beyond. The book is available in paperback or as a kindle version here.
In this eagerly awaited addition to Tartan Noir, Glasgow’s first Asian DI joins the ranks of great fictional Scottish detectives. Alok Patel is thrown in at the deep end as a newly promoted DI with his first investigation, the brutal murder of an Asian woman at Glasgow’s Mela Festival. Facing prejudice from his work colleagues and suspicion from the Asian community, Patel struggles to balance the pressures of his rank, relationships, and racism. This murder-mystery explores tensions among Glasgow’s communities which threaten to boil over when another body turns up. Whether fuelled by revenge or rivalry, Patel must examine a growing list of suspects and get to the bottom of the murders. Order it here.
Set in Lanarkshire and Argyll after an apocalyptic pandemic, this is a story about home, family, and community, and re-establishing our relationship with the environment. Other themes are language, gender and social class. You can read an extract from it, and read more about it and about Carol on her website www.carolmckay.co.uk/books.
Alastair McIntosh has a new book out from Birlinn which takes a balanced look at the science of the climate crisis and the need to restore a sense of community if we are to overcome it. He discusses it here with Stuart Kelly at the Wigtown Book Festival.
American member John Lane’s new novel takes place on Thanksgiving Day in a deep river bottom in a mythical Piedmont county, Morgan, South Carolina, a creation carried over from his first novel, the award-winning FATE MORELAND’S WIDOW. The story is told from four perspectives on the possible death and certain disappearance of Old Doc, an 85-year-old land owner/deer hunter, and turns into a search for the truth in the deep woods.
My review of John Rodden’s excellent Becoming George Orwell: Life and Letters, Legend and Legacy is on the Orwell Society website here and my virtual Creative Conversation with Sarah Armstrong, Angus Peter Campbell and Colin Herd about writing the past in the present is here. Barnhill is now out in paperback and signed copies are available from me and unsigned copies from Luath Press who have reduced the price of the hardback to £9.99.
Members of The International Institute of Geopoetics including Kenneth and Marie-Claude White.
The website of the International Institute of Geopoetics contains 8 Founding Texts of Geopoetics by Kenneth White which are well worth reading. They include The Great Field of Geopoetics, On the Highway of History, Geopoetics – A Scientific approach, The Atlantic Shore – A letter on the origin of geopoetics and Geopoetics – A Philosophical Approach. There is also lots more to read about Kenneth White on his own website.
A warm welcome to all new and renewing members who have recently joined the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics. By joining and renewing you are supporting the development of geopoetics and enabling us to respond to the growing interest in geopoetics worldwide. If you wish, we can include a page about you in our Members’ Pages on our website if you send me your content and some images.
New members will receive free copies of Grounding a World: Essays on the Work of Kenneth White rrp £9.95.
Annual membership costs £10 waged / £5 unwaged and is renewable one year after you first join.
If you have news of events, activities, books, blogs, websites and exhibitions etc which you think might be of interest to geopoetics-minded people, please let us know.
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