Picture of Scottish Mountains

Ceasing Never

geopoetics, ecopoetics and the poetry of place

On a Lone Winter Evening

The poetry of earth is ceasing never:
On a lone winter evening, when the frost
Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,

Keats – The Grasshopper and the Cricket

Though we have not had so many posts lately, the poetry of earth has not been silenced. In August 2023 the Paperboats Zine was launched by a collective of writers loosely connected with Stirling University, headed by Kathleen Jamie. Two issues of the zine have now appeared, including essays as well as poetry.

The Archipelago Magazine, produced by Clutag Press produced issue 2:3 this spring with a lot of very fine writing, including poetry by Michael Longley and Moya Cannon, and reflections on Caoinneadh (Keening) by John Purser and on the form of Moladh Beinn Dóbhrain by Kirsty Gunn.

AnMór Studio produced Echtrai – landscapes lost, abandoned, forgotten, mythic Edition 3 in summer 2-23, and, alongside essays and artwork includes poetry by (among others) Roselle Angwin, Prathiba Castle, Julie Hamilton Barbara Hickson and Anna Quarendon.

John Bolland is publishing reflections inspired by the performances of his theatrical version of Pibroch on his blog A View from the Long Grass. With permission, here is an extract from the post Art for Life’s Sake, discussing the relevance of art-making to the current crisis

Although originally prompted by observations about electricity transmission – and specifically the transmission of renewable energy – it became clear that many other parts of our current ‘transmission’ infrastructure were no longer fit for purpose and require re-imagining: for example, those relating to water, materials, welfare, actionable knowledge and political power.

The ‘Arts’ infrastructure is a key element in the transmission of welfare, actionable knowledge or political power.  This was recognised across many of the post-performance discussions: discussions which also recognised that the current infrastructure was, again, inadequate to our needs.

Among the comments which arose from discussion were:

Art – music, song, theatre, poetry, visual arts, making – is how we talk to ourselves, together, about experience, about value. Without art there is no conversation.  And yet the current context constricts and suffocates the arts – withdrawing subsidies and charging high tariffs on the spaces in which folk can meet. 

Sociality has been commoditised to ‘entertainment’ without the engagement and participation originally embedded in the word.  For example, ‘ceilidh’ means ‘to visit’  (a verb)  not ‘a dance’ (a noun).

Theatre [live performance] is the quintessential civic art form – bringing a community together for a shared, synchronised conversation

We need to share – through conversation, theatre, sessions, recitations, open mics, karaoke – because we NEED to talk about ‘stuff’.

We want young people to join in our conversations – we want to hear their voices on this topic.

Conversation is a stage of action – a precursor of an agreement to act.

Climate action is always about ‘place’ – places – the ground on which we stand.  For, although the problem is global and pervasive – as each increment of emission raises the average global temperature everywhere – the only place we, as human beings, can respond is here and now.  In the place we each find ourselves.

Moreover, it became clear that, in the face of the atomisation of agency we each have a moral duty to ‘associate’,  in our current predicament.

It is true that the participants in the Pibroch events were a self-selecting, WEIRD[ix] cohort but there was a recognition, echoed in the recognition of the urgent need for community-based Peoples Assemblies[x], that participation needs to be

  • broad,
  • reflective of the diverse interests & desires of different members of the community
  • conversational

The work – and the performance – are, therefore, only part of the ‘being together’:  a conversation piece – the prompt for an informed, generous and, hopefully, action oriented ‘post-show’ discussion.

Please read the rest of this post, and subsequent ones (more political and philosphical perhaps) here.