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November 2015

Giving Thanks

My annual Thanksgiving poem, reminding me of all that I have to be grateful for. Health issues prevent me from making my usual climb to the top of Nattadon Hill this year, but in my imagination I am on those trails, Tilly bounding just ahead....

Our hill in the mist

I'm also thankful for you, dear Readers, and the whole mythic arts community.

To those of you in America: Have a warm and peaceful Thanksgiving weekend, full of good talk, good food, loud laughter, quiet moments, and of all of the ancient, mythic, magical, noncommercial things that matter the most. And to those of you in the rest of the world, I wish the very same.

I hope to be back to the studio (and Myth & Moor) sometime next week, if all goes well. Fingers crossed.

Tlly on Nattadon


Recommended Reading

Comfort in Quilting by David Wyatt

From Irish Fairy Tales  illustrated by Arthur Rackham (1920)

The bug that I'm down with is still going strong, so I can't yet predict when I'll be back in the studio. In the meantime, here's some recommended reading for you...

"A Conversation with Phillip Pullman" (Slate Book Review).

"An Interview with Jenny Diski" by Robert Hanks (The Guardian).

"Witches Brew: Patti Smith's M Train" by Evelyn McDonnell (Los Angeles Review of Books).

"The Books" by Alexander Chee (The Morning News).

"Writers, we need to stop saying this" by J.H. Moncrieff  (blog post).

"Paint by Gender: The Shoes Under the Art World" by Pat Lipsky (The Awl).

"Why are Old Women Often the Face of Evil in Fairy Tales and Folklore" by Elizabeth Blair (NPR Books).

"Richard Dadd: the art of a 'criminal lunatic' murderer" (and fairy painter), by Paul Kerley (BBC Magazine).

"The Greatness of William Blake" by Richard Holmes (The New York Review of Books).

"Salthouse Marshes" by Robert Macfarlane and Adam Scovell (Caught by the River).

"HS2: The Human Cost" by Patrick Barkham (The Guardian).

"Finding Time" by Rebecca Solnit (Orion).

"Rebecca Solnit on Modern Noncommunication" by Maria Popova (Brain Pickings).

"In the Eyes of a Bear" by Julian Hoffman (Zoomorphic -- a fine new magazine dedicated to wildlife and the more-than-human world).

"In Search of the Mountain Ghost" by Katey Duffey (Zoomorphic).

"The Last of the Granny Witches" by Anna Wess (Appalachian Ink).

"The Exemplary Narcissism of Snoopy" by Sarah Boxer (The Atlantic).

"The Tea Party in the Woods: a Modernist Fairy Fale by Akiko Miyakoshi" by Maria Popova (Brain Pickings).

"A Mythological Dreamworld: Inside Sophie Ryder's Spellbinding Home" (The Telegraph, via Tanith Hicks) -- an inspiring glimpse into the magical home of one of my very favorite artists.

"The First Person on Mars" by Sarah Smarsh (Vela Magazine). I love Smarsh's autobiographical essays, drawn from her working class background...and this one is particularly good.

"The one with the Storyteller" by Joel Defner (Serial Box). Although ostensively an essay answering the simple question "What is your favorite Buffy the Vampire Slayer episosode?," it's actually much more: a meditation on the importance of stories themselves. Whether you're a Buffy fan or not, please don't miss it.

"Saved by the Invisibles" by Jonathan Carroll (Medium). Brief and lovely.

Tilly sillinessArt above: "Comfort in Quilting," a painting in the Local Characters series by our friend & neighbor David Wyatt; and an illustration for James Stephen's Irish Fairy Tales by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939). Photograph: Tilly looking rather less elegant than Ozzie, the gentle whippet in David's painting.


Myth & Moor update

Sleeping Beauty by Honor Appleton

Dear Readers,

Well, so much for plans. I'd scheduled an off-line Work Retreat for last week, my intent being to catch up on all the writing and correspondence that I've fallen behind on due to health problems over the summer. I'd been planning this Retreat since September (postponed several times), so I woke up early Monday morning excited and eager to begin at long last...and within an hour I was back in bed again, knocked off my feet by the latest lurgy (a virulent cold-flu combo) making the rounds of our village.

"It's just not fair!" I wailed to my patient husband...or, rather, croaked to him, since by this time my voice was disappearing rapidly. I'd barely left the house for many months precisely to avoid catching anything like this while in a weakened state of health -- but the week before I'd finally reached a level of recovery where I could start to live a more normal life. I went out exactly twice that week: to dinner at a friend's house and to a Sam Lee* concert at a small local venue...and, alas, that's all it took to put me back in bed again.

All of which is to say that I don't know when Myth & Moor will resume...it depends on how long this lurgy lasts. I've barely been able to read this week, let alone write; I can only hope the coming week will be kinder.

Also, I send my deepest apologies to those of you awaiting for correspondence from me; I will get to it as soon as I possibly can, and I'm grateful for your continued patience.

Finally, to the Video Fairies (you know who you are) who have been showering me with videos out of the blue: your timing couldn't have been better, and I'm touched indeed. More personalized thanks will be coming your way as soon as energy permits, and I love you all.

Faithful companion

* Footnote: If you have a chance to see Sam Lee perform live, please don't miss him. The concert that friends and I attended (down a windy, muddy track in the wilds of Devon) was not recorded, but here's am earlier film of Sam discussing his work as a singer/song collector, including a 4-year apprenticeship to a master singer of Scottish Traveller ballads.  He does a wee bit of singing towards the end of the talk, but you'll find more of his music in this previous post.

Related to this, as Sam talks about being a Jewish lad from London singing Gypsy songs, I'm reminded of the words by Ellen Kushner in this post: "The Cauldron of Dreams."

Toskiyuki Enoki

Art above: Sleeping Beauty by Honor Appleton (1879-1951) and Tokyo-based painter Toskiyuki Enoki.


Dreams of deer

Brother and Sister by Cremonini

I have another deer poem for you today, a psalm for the wild ones of the forest.

Fawn by Kiki SmithThe enchanted deer in the pictures above and below come from two classic French fairy volumes. Above is "Brother and Sister" from Les contes de Grimm, illustrated by Cremonini (Editions Fabbri, 1965). Below is "Bright, Dear Deer, and Kit" from Le livre des bêtes enchantées, illustrated by Adrienne Ségur (Flammarion, 1956). Selections from Le livre des bêtes enchantées and an earlier volume, Il était une fois, were published in the U.S. as The Golden Book of Fairy Tales, translated by Marie Ponsot (Golden Books, 1958).

The illustration on the right is "Fawn," by the German-American artist Kiki Smith. Alas, I have no idea where the final photograph is from...but isn't it marvelous?

Bright, Dear Deer, and Kit by Adrienne Segur

Old photograph, provenance unknown