The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
On Thursday we gathered at the Queen’s Hall in Hexham to launch another wild – a new edition of a pamphlet published ten years ago under the title wild. There was a mix-up between the publishers and the printers so it came back with much thinner paper and cover than expected but the small print run quickly sold out. We always hoped we might work on another edition and now, with a beautiful new re-design by Melanie Ashby, here it is…
In 2002, the artist Birtley Aris and I sought out a wild flower each month in different places around the north-east of England. This is from the original introduction:
We were interested in ordinary, less well-known spots as well as more obvious landmarks; the surprising uncontained spaces in towns and cities as well as the rural environment.
Inspired by the reverberations of wild, we wanted to seek out and celebrate that particular quality of North – an autonomous identity, the open spaces, resilient flora and fauna, unfolding seasons, relatively sparse population and unequivocal weather.
From the start we envisaged setting the large-scale context of landscape alongside the miniature world of wild flowers. Some months we had an idea of the flower we were looking for; others we left it to chance, waiting to see what was growing.
For the new version we have included eight more poems that pick up the themes of wild and take them somewhere else – looking at light, energy, memory and belonging. They are introduced by this wonderful quotation from Pico Iyer:
Love is a wildness that has been falsely domesticated.
We were very lucky to have Morag Brown playing the violin for us, her wild northern tunes creating just the right atmosphere and bringing us all together in a celebration of place and this new work in print.
If you missed it, there’ll be another chance to hear some of the poems and buy the book at the Lit & Phil in Newcastle on Thursday 4th December, 7pm. No need to book – all welcome.
Who could say exactly where a river
shifts shape into sea? Where current collides
with tide? On the pier’s stone slopes, mugwort
grows in spite of the salt and the weather:
who could say where its black becomes brown
becomes silver-grey? Today everything
is edgeless and strange. Even the spray
from the waves battering the southern jetty
bursts in the air like fireworks: a negative
framed by the window of the Bungalow Café.
Dirty glass catches the blur of what
could be a man, crouching to make a sketch
of mugwort fronds, like alchemical wands,
chancing their silver. Although, who could say?
Roker Pier, Sunderland