Tag Archives: woodland

At Allen Banks


I’m spending a lot of time at Allen Banks these days – stepping out of the garden into the wild.  It’s the site for my current PhD research at Newcastle University and I’m looking at its history as well as its ecology towards writing a book-length sequence of poems.

As part of my endeavour to consider it as a collective site, it seemed natural to invite a group of folk to participate in a walking renga at the end of the summer, on the brink of my starting my second year of study.  We walked on the East side of the river, up through Moralee Woods to the tarn, stopping along the way to write and share our verses.


Here is the renga we made together:

The Landscape, Ourselves


Today’s truth –

the seventh month is our ninth

white river brown


a startled heron

wingbeat of silence


what is that sumptuous smell?

she only knows it

as ‘country’


a choice is made

to keep to the middle way



tripping on roots

my breathing quickens


through the ghost of a window

we gaze over the valley


mirror tarnished

by pondweed



layer upon layer

memories settle


my companions are painting light

collecting earth

gathering pollen


by the water

a stack of wooden bones


and so we lean

into the landscape



picture the moonlight

shadowing these branches


in a wild grove

between two fields

with all that’s unspoken



muttering, meandering.


A 14-verse Renga at Allen Banks,

Morralee Wood,

on 6th September 2017.



Jo Aris

Matilda Bevan

Holly Clay

Martin Eccles

Linda France

Malcolm Green

Sharon Higginson

Alex Reed

Eileen Ridley

Christine Taylor



Sound artist and fellow PhD student, Martin Eccles recorded the day and you can read his own renga here.  As well as writing our collaborative version, this time I encouraged everyone to keep all their verses and make their own individual renga, imagining them all as parallel shadows of our shared experience.


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Full Moon

photoToday gathering kindling in the woods behind my house it was lovely to see the drifts of wood sorrel bathed in sunlight.  Now the season’s a little more sure of itself, I’m starting to enjoy exploring the contrasts between Home and Away, North and South and City and Country – a strong impulse for my writing.

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Oxalis acetosella (wood sorrel or common wood sorrel) is also known as Alleluia, as it generally flowers between Easter and Pentecost.  Like everything else, it’s late this year but the coolness will also keep it in bloom for longer than usual.  The acetosella part of its name refers to the tart citrusy flavour of the leaves; heart-shaped and folded, they are a particularly vivid green.  The white flowers have fine mauve lines pencilled inside each petal.

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Tonight it’s Vesakha Puja – the full moon of May being the traditional time to celebrate the Buddha’s birthday.  Blessings on all beings this holiday weekend!

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