Here's a last bit of Samhain magic for you all during the misty and mystical days of late autumn:
The video above comes from the Welsh performer/director William Todd-Jones and photographer Carol Amos (who are both close friends and neighbors of mine here in Devon). The haunting poem is by Todd, the splendid photographs of the Scorhill stone circle on Dartmoor are by Carol, and the glorious music is by Todd's cousin, the Welsh composer Hilary Tann. The poem was read by Welsh singer/song-writer Cerys Matthews, for broadcast on BBC 6music.
Also, Andy Letcher gives an evocative account of Day of the Dead in Oxford, England on his music & writing blog; while Stu Jenks covers Day of the Dead in Tucson, Arizona on his photography blog, The Fezziwig News. (More photos of the latter event are available here.)
This week's other magpie gleanings:
* Rima Staines discusses the Travelling People in a terrific post at The Hermitage. (For more Travellers' lore and history, there's also an article in the JoMA archives here...a little dated now, perhaps, but containing some good book recommendations at the end.)
* Midori Snyder discusses Italo Calvino's Italian Folktales on stage and on film at In the Labyrinth. (For more on Italian folklore, go here and here.)
* Katherine Langrish continues her discussion on mystical (and real) voyages at Seven Miles of Steel Thistles.
* Kat Howard has a lovely guest post on "Putting Women in the Story" at The Rejectionist.
* Jo Walton, author of Lifeload (winner of the Mythopoetic Award) and other wonderful books, has published an insightful piece on Pamela Dean's "Secret Country Trilogy" at Tor.com. (And I only just discovered that she wrote about The Wood Wife last year. How did I miss that??)
* Laura Miller discusses epic fantasy by two African-American writers (N.K. Jemisin and David Anthony Durham) in Salon magazine. It's a good article and well worth a read -- although my personal preference would have been for a piece covering the fantasy genre in general (not just epic fantasy), for then Miller would have been able to introduce Salon readers to many more good writers of color in our field .
* Also in Salon: Novelist Maile Meloy and her brother, musician Colin Moloy (of The Decemberists), discuss their childhood in Montana and its impact on their creativity. And Steven Heller looks at "the fantastic fonts of Art Nouveau" in an interesting piece reprinted from Imprint magazine.
* Algis Valiunas discusses Jung as "Psychology's Magician" in an in-depth article published in The New Atlantic.
* R.J. Snell has posted a thoughtful little essay on "a sense of owingness" at The Front Porch Republic.
* On The Guardian's website: Rosemary Hill discusses Fiona Hill's The Last Pre-Raphaelite: Edward Burne-Jones and the Victorian Imagination; and Mark Brown discusses Ford Maddox Brown, in connection to the new Brown exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery, on now until the end of January.
* I've been reading my way through the archive of author interviews on The Paris Review's website and have particularly enjoyed their discussion with Native American writer Louise Erdrich (The Antelope Wife, The Plague of Doves, The Painted Drum, etc.), who is one of my favorite novelists . Here's a snippit:
Erdrich: I take great pleasure in writing when I get a real voice going and I’m able to follow the voice and the character. It’s like being in a trance state. Once that had happened a few times, I knew I needed to write for the rest of my life. I began to crave the trance state. I would be able to return to the story anytime, and it would play out in front of me, almost effortlessly. Not many of my stories work out that way. Most of my work is simple persistence. I’ve had some stories for twenty years. I keep adding to them word by word.
But if the trance happens, even though it’s been wonderful, I’m suspicious. It’s like an ecstatic love affair or fling that makes you think, It can’t be this good, it can’t be! And it never is. I always need to go back and reconfigure parts of the voice. So the control is working with the piece after it’s written, finding the end. The title’s always there, the beginning’s always there, sometimes I have to wait for the middle, and then I always write way past the end and wind up cutting off two pages.
Interviewer: Why do you do that?
Erdrich: When I can’t end a story, I usually find that I’ve actually written past the ending. The trick of course is to go back and decide where the last line hits.
* Video recommendations this week (in addition to the "Samhain" video above): the great drama teacher Patsy Rodenburg explains why she does theatre and the importance of being in the moment -- discussing ideas that can also apply to writing, illustrating, and other forms of storytelling.
* Radio/podcast recommendation: "Altered States" on Ellen Kushner's Sound & Spirit (WGBH Boston & Public Radio International) -- an excellent episode, which Erdrich's comment on "trance states," above, brought back to mind.
Have a good weekend, everyone.