An invitation from the fairies

The Changeling & the Trolls by John Bauer

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Art by John Anster ''Fairy'' Fitzgerald

Please join us on Monday night (UK time) to see what the Modern Fairies interdisciplinary art project has been up to.

''I Shall Go Into a Hare,'' music by Fay Hield, drawing by Jackie Morries

The paintings above are by John Bauer (1882-1918 ) and John Anster "Fairy" Fitzgerald (1819-1906). The sketchbook drawing is by Jackie Morris, for Fay Hield'a song-in-progress, "I Shall Go Into a Hare."

The Modern Fairies website & blog is here. My posts about the project are here and here.


Tales from the Hedge

Leaves

Seven Doors in an Unyeilding Stone

Tom Hirons & Rima Staines

Earlier this year, I received an intriguing invitation from my friends Tom Hirons & Rima Staines -- storytellers, mythic wanderers, and proprietors of Hedgespoken Press. They were planning an unusual new project, and asked if I'd like to join in.

Drawing by Rima StainesThey envisioned a series of pocket-sized books designed and published by Hedgespoken. Seven authors. Seven beautiful books. Seven ways to approach the unapproachable and speak about the unspeakable.

"We picture," they said, "a small book found somewhere in the wilds or in some threshold place: a railway station or the waiting room of an undertaker or a nurse; the book is a flash of lightning, a searing experience, something initiatory. We imagine a reader finding a book unexpectedly, picking it up and being drawn in, to another world, leaving that world slightly stunned and perhaps a little changed."

What a marvelously mythic concept! And also, what a challenging one. I wondered what on earth I could write...but, of course, I said "yes" at once.

My book of tiny talesThe seven small books are now complete, and will be available as of mid-November. There's a launch party at Dartington Village Hall on November 10th, and all are welcome -- so please come join us for stories and revelry if you happen to be in travelling distance of Dartmoor.

My own contribution to the series is a collection of seven tiny tales that fall somewhere between poetry and prose: mythic messages that you might find buried in ivy and leaves or under a mossy stone. Tom calls them "poems-prayers-chants," and that's as good a description as any.

The other authors in the series are Jay Griffiths, Martin Shaw, Sylvia V. Linsteadt, and Joanna Hruby, plus Tom and Rima themselves. For more information, or to pre-order the books (either individually or as a boxed set), please visit the Hedgespoken Press site. And while you are there, please ramble through their other fine book and art offerings as well.

Leaves

Books by Sylvia  Joanna  and Martin

Books by Tom  Rima  and Jay

Leaves

Terri Windling & Rima Staines, 2011


Reimagining Fantasy

Reimagining Fantasy

I'm heading up to Scotland this week to give a talk on fantasy literature with two of my oldest friends: Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman. The event is sponsored by Fantasy at Glasgow, the excellent Masters programme for Fantasy Lit at the University of Glasgow. Tickets are free and all are welcome, so if you're anywhere nearby, do come join us. And if we haven't met in person before, please don't be shy about introducing yourself afterwards.

Please note that the venue & time has been changed since earlier listings of the event (in order to make room for more people to attend). The information above is correct.


To sleep, perchance to dream

Extreme Poetry at Dartington, 2018

To friends & poetry lovers in the West Country:

You are invited to join two of Britain's finest poets, Alice Oswald and Peter Oswald, along with my dramatist husband, Howard Gayton, for an unusual and extraordinary night of Extreme Poetry.

When: Wednesday, 7 March, at 8 pm
Where: Dartington Hall, Space Studio 3, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 6EN
Tickets: Here, or phone the number above.

(Tickets will also be available on the night; you don't have to pre-book.)

I'm not sure how widely Dartington has publicized the event, so I'm doing my bit to spread the word. Please pass it on to all who might like to come. It will be deeply mythic and rather special.

To learn more about Alice's work: "Is Alice Oswald our greatest living poet?" (by Charlotte Runcie). Her most recent book, Falling Awake, won the Costa Award for Poetry and the Griffin Prize.

To learn more about Peter's work: "Rhyme and Punishment" (by Lyn Gardner). His play "Mary Stuart" runs until April 14th at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

The Sleep-Cycle at Dartington

This is the first event of series, with the next coming up on April 4th. More info soon.

Extreme Poetry at Dartington, 2018Howard in rehearsal for the first evening of the Sleep-Cycle Series at Dartington, 2018. Full masking & body-painting on the night will be by Angharad Barlow.


Women's March 2018

Roses at Bumblehill

Sending love, solidarity, and flowers (in suffragette white) to everyone who is participating in the Women's March in the United States (today), the United Kingdom (tomorrow), or wherever else in the world you are gathering. I'm grateful for you all.

In 1922, writer & activist Winifred Holtby wrote in a letter to The Yorkshire Post:

"I am a feminist because I dislike everything that feminism implies. I desire an end to the whole business, the demands for equality, the suggestion of sex warfare, the very name feminist. I want to be about the work in which my real interests lie, the writing of novels and so forth. But while the inequality exists, while injustice is done and opportunity denied to the great majority of women, I shall have to be a feminist. And I shan't be happy till I get ... a society in which there is no respect of persons, either male or female, but a supreme regard for the importance of the human being. And when that dream is a reality, I will say farewell to feminism, as to any disbanded but victorious army, with honour for its heroes, gratitude for its sacrifice, and profound relief that the hour for its necessity has passed."

Like Holtby, I would prefer to focus on "the writing novels and so forth," but the work of social change is far from done. I am proud to call myself a feminist, today and every day.

Roses in suffragette white

The white roses were given to me by my British mother-in-law on the day of the American election in 2016. She knew how much it meant to me to vote for a woman candidate, and how devastated by the outcome I was. The picture on the wall is by our friend and neighbor Alan Lee: the cover image for JRR Tolkien's posthumous book The Children of Húrin. Howard posed for the central character in the picture some years ago, and we treasure it.


Tomorrow here in Chagford:
Art Auction & Tea Party

Fairy Tales by Terri Windling

For folks within travelling distance of Devon:

A number of women artists (including me) have donated art-work and craft-work to a charity auction happening tomorrow (Saturday, November 18) in Chagford's Jubilee Hall, 2 - 5 pm.  No ticket required, no entrance fee. Please come if you can.

My friend Susan Harley organised the auction to raise funds to support women with breast cancer in Gaza, via the Amos Trust. As a cancer survivor myself, I can't imagine what it's like to face any sort of cancer under the kinds of conditions these brave women cope with. From the Amos Trust:

For women with breast cancer in Gaza, Israel’s and Egypt’s near-total closure affects nearly every stage of their diagnosis and treatment. Doctors in clinics and hospitals say that vital medicines, including chemotherapy drugs, are hard to procure. Patients have reported having had their chemotherapy course interrupted when drugs could not be supplied, or simply having been unable to complete the course at all.  Radio isotopes used in bone scans or for guided biopsy of axillary lymph nodes are forbidden entry into Gaza; and Gaza’s surgeons are prevented from travelling out to attend conferences or further develop their skills, freezing surgical practice many years behind the rest of the world.  A Harvard Medical School study has shown that five-year survival rates for breast cancer patients are as low as 30-40%, compared with around 85% in England. Having breast cancer is bad enough -- but having it in Gaza is unimaginable. The Amos Trust supports women with cancer, and runs community outreach prevention and early identification programmes as this is the women’s best chance of survival.

Please come if you can, have some cake, look at beautiful art, and support women helping women.

Update: Thanks to the hard work of Susan Harley & team, this event raised over £3000.00! Many thanks to the young woman who bought my donation to the auction (the "Fairy Tales" collage above) for giving the bunnies and tree girls a good home.


Coming up this weekend:

Hedgespoken's The Singing Bone

Rima Staines & Tom Hirons are launching their summer show at Lowton Farm this weekend: The Singing Bone, a lovely piece of storytelling woven with music and puppetry. Soon after, Hedgespoken hits the road, carrying stories, art, and magic to festivals, communities, and off-grid performances spaces across the British Isles. We won't see much of them again until autumn, which is when they return to Lowton Farm to work on their first full-lenth theatre piece, The Hedgehog's Bride: devised by the Hedgespoken puppetry team, and directed by my husband Howard.

Beautiful Lowton Farm

Howard Gayton and Rima Staines at Lowton Farm

Tom Hirons at Lowton Farm

This weekend's event is also a celebration of the Hedgespoken dream, and of all who have supported it. Once upon a time this traveling folk theatre was just a gleam in Tom & Rima's eyes -- but after a successful crowd-funding campaign, followed by a lot of hard, hard work, this amazing couple have it all up and running as they'd planned, with several projects now coming to fruition.

The Hedsgespoken Truck

One of these projects is Tatterdemalion, a beautiful and deeply folkloric new book by Rima and Sylvia Linsteadt that has just been published by Unbound. The text, by Sylvia, was written in response to Rima's paintings, and the result is pure enchantment. Here's Sylvia explaining the project:

Below: Tilly gives our brand new copy of Tatterdemalion her seal of approval.

Tilly gives Tatterdemalion her seal of approval

If you're anywhere within striking distance of Devon, please come join us at the Hedgespoken show this weekend. (Tickets here.) I'll be there on Saturday, at the 3 pm show. Howard, as part of the Hedgespoken team, will be there on both Saturday and Sunday, debuting his new "Punch & Judy" puppet show as one of the side attractions.

Below: The wicked, incorrigible Mr. Punch making an impromptu appearance in the Hedgespoken doorway....

Mr. Punch makes an appearance in Hedgespoken's doorway

Rima watching Mr. Punch

Tom watching Mr Punch

Dame Judy confront the naughty Mr. Punch

Crow, that old trickster

  

Also, for any of you who live Totnes-way, Howard will be at the Totnes Party in the Town on Friday night, directing the performers who are part of Alice Oswald's poetry procession at 8 pm. (Look for the crows!)

  


Just over the moor...

Hedgespoken

Dear Readers,

If you're in driving distance of Dartmoor, Hedgespoken (the traveling mythic arts project created by our good friends Rima Staines & Tom Hirons) is currently parked at beautiful Dartington Hall. There are magical things happening on their stage all this week -- including Egil, Peter Oswald and Howard's show, based on Icelandic poetry and myth. (Review here.) I won't be there myself, as I'm down with a bad flu, but if you can go, please don't miss the Hedgespoken Winter Showcase. Every part of it is a thing of wonder.


Viking Slam Poetry....

Flyer-front

Due to being under the weather with flu this past week I've been remiss in letting you know that my husband, Howard Gayton, and his theatre partner, Peter Oswald. have a performance at the Bike Shed Theatre in Exeter this week. If you're anywhere near Exeter, please come! The show is tomorrow (Monday) night, at 7:30, and it would be lovely to see some of you from the Mythic Arts community there.

For Mythic Arts fans, Egil is right up our alley for it's based on an old Icelandic saga of a Viking warrior and poet. Written & performed by Peter, with music & direction by Howard, the show is unlike anything you'll ever have seen before -- for it seems to me that they are basically inventing a new genre in this and other works that they have on the boil. Peter calls it "poetry performance." I'll let him explain:

"At the moment," he says, "live poetry falls into a few recognised categories. There is ‘page poetry,’ which is read by a poet from a book to an audience. This is contrasted with ‘stage poetry,’ also known as ‘performance poetry,’ which is learned by heart and performed. Performance poetry usually has a relation to rap or hip hop -- fast, rhyming, political, personal and urban. Then there is storytelling, which sometimes takes the form of poetry, rhyming or unrhyming, sometimes with musical accompaniment. All these come into the category of ‘spoken word,’ except perhaps the page poetry.

Bikeshed Theatre

"There are many other modes, no doubt," Peter continues, "but these are a few I know about. Generally speaking, in order to be recognised as a serious poet, you have to be a 'page poet’ and do deadpan expressionless readings from a book. (There are exceptions, like my wife, Alice.) Doing a performance last year with a page poet, there was a moment when I was describing what I was going to do and he looked at me in genuine dismay and said, ‘You’re not an actor are you?’  Peter OswaldSimilarly, recently in Plymouth, as part of the Literature Festival, I did a performance of a few of my sonnets, followed by a performance -- with actions, different voices, even a small dance -- of my poem Helen. Afterwards, the organiser, delighted but genuinely baffled, asked me, ‘So...do you have a background in theatre???’

"A combination that’s not readily understood is a poet who is an actor performing stories that are poems. This is what I call 'poetry performance.' Prior to this, I’ve pursued it on my own -- but now, working with Howard, the category is stepping over the line between poetry and theatre. This is the real difference between poetry performance and performance poetry. Performance poetry has no real crossover with theatre; it’s more related to standup. But poetry performance, as Howard and I practice it, has deep roots in theatre.

"We think of Homer’s works as the highest poetry, and yet they are stories designed to be performed with music. If you do that nowadays you are a storyteller, not a poet. This confusion is caused by the dominance of one kind of book poetry. We are challenging this with Egil."

Howard Gayton


Sculpture by Virginia Lee

This charming sculpture is by Virginia Lee, who says: "My onion can barely contain his tears knowing there is only week left of being in Widdershins, at Green Hill Arts, in Moretonhampstead." The show closes on Saturday, August 27th.

If you can't make it over, David Wyatt provides a glimpse of the exhibition here.

Many, many thanks to everyone who came to share the "Power of Story" evening with me & Howard at Green Hill last night.