If you're in traveling distance of Dartmoor, please join us on Ore Hill in Chagford on Thursday evening for music, song, storytelling and frolics traditional to the month of May...with the village Jack-in-the-Green and Obby Oss to lead the way. Deck yourself in green...or greenery...or else just come as you are. All are welcome, young and old.
Today, in honour of April Fool’s Day, the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic at the University of Glasgow is hosting a special online event. Fantasy and Puppetry: Animating the Fantastic is a celebration of puppets and of the art of puppeteers in bringing fantasy and the fantastic to life, on stage, on screen and on the page. This online programme of talks and demonstrations features five of the best puppet designers, directors and performers working today: Brian and Wendy Froud (The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, etc.), William Todd-Jones (The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, etc.), Mary Robinette Kowal (Sesame Street, LazyTown, etc.; also a Hugo and Nebula Award winning author), and Howard Gayton ( The Little Angel, Norwich Puppet Theatre, The Eden Project, Hedgespoken, etc.).
In addition, there will be a panel discussion of puppetry in fantasy literature -- with Mary Robinette Kowal, Rob Maslen (co-director of the Centre for Fantasy), Marita Arvaniti (scholar of theatre in fantasy), and me. We'll be looking at depictions of puppetry in fiction by Carlo Collodi, John Masefield, Susan Cooper, Diana Wynne Jones, Neil Gaiman, Russell Hoban, Helen Oyeyemi, A.S. Byatt and others, as well as Mary Robinette's own work.
It all takes place online (via Zoom) from 11:00 am to 6 pm, British Summer Time. For the full programme, go here.
Tickets are free, but you'll need to register to access the link for Zoom: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/fantasy-and-puppetry-animating-the-fantastic-tickets-293661648897.
If you miss it, don't worry, the talks will be recorded and put online at a latter date. (But if you can join us today, in real time, you'll be able to participate in the Question-and-Answer sessions at the end of each talk.)
Edited later to add the following links to the recordings of the talks:
Brian and Wendy Froud, William Todd Jones (sadly, there were tech problems with the visuals on this one, but the audio is good and well worth listening to), Howard Gayton, and the panel on puppetry in fantasy literature.
Some of you will have noticed that many of the speakers today live here in Chagford. It's Puppeteer Central in this village. I'll be up at Brian & Wendy's old farmhouse this morning (pictured above), helping out with their talk; Todd's takes place on the other side of the village; then I'm back home for my husband Howard's talk (in his studio on our hill), and my panel discussion (from my own studio next door to his). Rob and Marita join us from Glasgow, and Mary Robinette from Nashville.
We hope you'll join us too. We've been working on this for awhile now, and at last we can share it with you.
Thank you to everyone who has been sending good wishes during my absence from Myth & Moor. Yes, I'm still dealing with Long Covid. It's getting a little better all the time, and I appreciate your kind thoughts and support.
Stay centred. Stay calm. It's going to be a long week. As the US thrashes out the election, and the UK prepares for another long lockdown, the wild world is still around us...and art...and beauty...and mystery. Kindness matters more than ever.
"To open our eyes, to see with our inner fire and light, is what saves us," says Chickasaw poet and novelist Linda Hogan. "Even if it makes us vulnerable. Opening the eyes is the job of storytellers, witnesses, and the keepers of accounts. The stories we know and tell are reservoirs of light and fire that brighten and illuminate the darkness of human night, the unseen."
Stay safe. Stay strong.
"What I want is so simple I almost can't say it: elementary kindness." - Barbara Kingsolver (Animal Dreams)
No matter what happens in the US election, it's going to be stressful in the days ahead. Please be kind to each other. Tilly and I send our love to American friends, family members, and colleagues in the Mythic Arts community.
The ohotograph of me and Tilly was taken by Ellen Kushner. The little election day sketch, "Bunnies for Biden," is by me.
Dr. Rob Maslen and Dr. Dimitra Fimi, the good people who run the Masters in Fantasy programme at the University of Glasgow, have successfully obtained funding to establish a new Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic -- which will be the first of its kind anywhere. They've already created an extraordinary community of scholars in Glasgow, and the new centre is wonderful news for our field.
They are launching the centre with a online lecture by my dear friend Ellen Kushner, which I have no doubt will be splendid. Ellen will be talking about her creative practice and her award-winning novel Thomas the Rhymer (based on Scottish balladry), followed by a question-and-answer session.
The launch event is open to all, so please come join us. Tickets are free, but they're limited (due to space in the Zoom webinar room), and they're going fast. For more information, and to register for a ticket, please go here.
I'm very excited about the new centre, and also about this online event. Thank heavens our phone wires and Internet have finally been fixed! Prior to this, stormy weather kept knocking me off-line, which disastrous for my last online event (a panel discussion for ReConvene). We're having stormy weather again as I write this post, and the line is now holding up just fine.
But I think I'd better leave a dish of butter out to appease the fairies of Dartmoor just in case...
Edited to add: Tickets to the event have now sold out -- but don't worry! The organizers are making plans to live-stream the event on YouTube at the same time. Those joining from YouTube won't be able to ask questions during Q & A, but otherwise you'll have the same experience. As soon as I have more information on where to view the YouTube live-stream, I'll post it here.
The paintings and drawings above are by Jessie M. King (1875-1949), who studied at the Glasgow School of Art. To see more of her work, go here.