Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Astonishing: new evidence of William Stafford busking in Heaven to raise money for a ticket to this years Westcountry Storytelling Festival.

Hurry mon amours! 10% off ticket price till friday.

A word from the sponsers: news on The Westcountry Storytelling Festival this August bank holiday 27/28/29th August. The school will be there (possibly a Sat allnight telling of Parzival if the story winds are fragrant and persuasive enough.) The festival is chock full of talent...including the great Minnesota poet Timothy Young (vibrant new book HERDS OF BEARS SURROUND US soon out)and U.S. film maker Haydn Reiss bringing over his new documentary on William Stafford - a fantastic achievement with clips from Alice Walker, Michael Meade, Coleman Barks to name but three, entitled;
EVERY WAR HAS TWO LOSERS. Both Young and Reiss are part of the School of Myth tribal presence at the festival, and i am also planning to interview Robin Williamson, Hugh Lupton and others on the nature of myth and storytelling and get some general debate going. Chris Salisbury tells a great story from The Mabinogian, so please badger him for it. It will be a wonderful, exceptional festival. Here's some Stafford:

A Ritual To Read To Each Other

If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider--
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give--yes or no, or maybe--
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep

Stafford poems sometimes take a little work, but they are well worth the labour

Ok-here's the commercial:
We thought you might like a reminder that Embercombe is hosting the Westcountry Storytelling Festival this summer (Bank Holiday weekend 27/28/29 August) and that if you book your tickets before Friday 30th April you get a 10% discount on all tickets.

Visit the website http://www.weststoryfest.co.uk/ where you can pay on-line using Paypal, credit or debit card or download a booking form and send it with a cheque.The website is packed with details of this exciting and unique event featuring top UK storytellers Jan Blake, Hugh Lupton & Robin Williamson and 30 other local, national and international stars of the storytelling world. This is a family-friendly weekend camp and Festival with activities for all ages; a solar powered stage; indoor and outdoor venues; activities on the lake; giant puppets; workshops; film-making and lots more, in a weekend of Stories for Change - marrying song, story and sustainability.

If you know a good place near you to display some flyers, please let Sue know at sue@embercombe.co.uk or telephone 01647 252983.

I'll finish with something by Bly on letters:
Robert Bly: Donald Hall and I have been sending poems back and forth twice a week for forty years. At one time, we had a 48-hour rule: the other had to answer within 48 hours. My generation did a lot with letters. Galway Kinnell and Louis Simpson and Don and I and James Wright would often send five- and six-page typed letters commenting on and arguing with each others' poems. I'm amazed we had the time for that. Tranströmer and I exchanged hundreds of letters. The gist of it is that no one writes alone: One needs a community.

See you soon,


Tuesday, 20 April 2010


"and another thing you bastards" Heaney Lets Fly

The Binding Secret

Been reading Seamus Heaney's essay 'Hughes and England' in the Keith Sagar (ed)
'The Achievement of Ted Hughes' (Manchester University 1983). Found one blazing summers day in a thrift store (or Oxfam to us brits) in Teignmouth, Devon. As usual i had irritably waded through the poetry section, found nothing and had staggered/flounced back out onto the pavement to blister my very retinas with the unrelenting assault of The Sun, while counting my new collection of ill fitting, gawdy second hand shirts and cursing Betejamin. Cara's hawk eyes re-scanned the shelves and found this gem of a collection. So Heaney talks of T.S. Eliot's idea of "the auditory imagination' and this quote i wanted to share:

"i presume Eliot was thinking here about the cultural depth-charges found in certain words and rhythms, that binding secret between words in poetry that delights not just the ear but the whole backward and abysm of mind and body; thinking of the energies beating in and between words that the poet brings into half -deliberate play."

That binding secret. What a great phrase.

A woman that knows something about the binding secret is Katherine Rauk, out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Katherine, a finalist in the Black Lawrence Press competition, has an economy of line that makes every image more expansive, and at that same time selects ebullent phrases that are speedy doors into huge kingdoms of sensation. Like a Mexican surrealist writing a Haiku.

She comes from a family of lunatics: raised on champagne, Picasso's cigar smoke and the lonesome keening of the she-wolf. (uncle Duncan has wandered snowy wastes following the tracks of the Wolverine whilst muttering old Sufi chants to himself, father Erik hung out with James Wright and has spent a frankly indecent amount of time in the deserts and backwoods of the U.S. polishing his mind into some falcon -like and playful arrow.) So she brings trouble with her.

We hear rumours of a freshly- born babe, so all at the School of Myth send much love and congratulations to babe, Katherine, handsome husband, and all assorted Storlie- Rauks everywhere. Hunt down Eriks 'Notes on a Friendship with James Wright' (Five Points: A Journal of Literature and Art, Vol. II, No. 3, 2007)

Enough of my yakking. Here's one from her bow:

How many hours in a peach
that swallows light
like a woman with her secret
windows, each pain a glass
which opens onto orchards
sown with how many
bites of time?
How many minutes in the room
where rain is born
with her sudden bouquet of hands
which flattens furrows
hewn in foreheads
and presses how many
thumbprints in the grass?
How many seconds in a question
seeded in the dirt
as when the peach’s ribbed pit asks
shall I come?
and its tender flesh asks
shall I go?

Here's the only man i could find to follow that today, Robert Bringhurst.


These poems she said

These poems, these poems,
these poems, she said, are poems
with no love in them. These are the poems of a man
who would leave his wife and child because
they made noise in his study. These are the poems
of a man who would murder his mother to claim
the inheritance. These are the poems of a man
like Plato, she said, meaning something I did not
comprehend but which nevertheless
offended me. These are the poems of a man
who would rather sleep with himself than with women,
she said. These are the poems of a man
with eyes like a drawknife, with hands like a pickpocket's
hands, woven of water and logic
and hunger, with no strand of love in them. These
poems are as heartless as birdsong, as unmeant
as elm leaves, which if they love love only
the wide blue sky and the air and the idea
of elm leaves. Self-love is an ending, she said,
and not a beginning. Love means love
of the thing sung, not of the song or the singing.
These poems, she said. . . .
You are, he said,
That is not love, she said rightly.

Robert Bringhurst, in The Beauty of the Weapons: Selected Poems, 1972-82
Copper Canyon Press, 1982

Monday, 12 April 2010


News just in: The School of Myth goes to Hollywood. Stay calm, we won't be attempting to botox Baba Yaga or fix the teeth of Ceridwen, but 'THE PATH OF DESTINY AND THE SOUL OF THE WORLD' arrives in Hollywood and Malibu this June.(dates above)I will be with my long term collaborator and soul - buddy Mr. Daniel Deardorff. The weekend after i am up in Point Reyes (just outside San Francisco) reunited with Coleman Barks, Lisa Starr and David Darling. Just before all of this i will be with Robert Bly, Lewis Hyde, Caroline Casey, Gioia Tipanelli and others at the Great Mother Conference in Maine. You probably know this, but please scroll down a few entries if not.

I love working with Danny, the man is alive to all sorts of mythic insights that pulse through his nervous system on an hourly basis. Some huge, unusual idea is always close when you are with Danny. We are telling a big Russian Fairy Tale, and digging awfully deep into some extraordinary terrain of the soul. Join us -John Densmore from THE DOORS will be there too no less, hopefully adding some of his great percussive patterns to the day.

Thank you to all that came to 'THE VOYAGING HEART AND COURTED SOUL' a day on the story of Tristan and Isolde last Saturday. It takes skill to take a root story of western Romantic love and breath new life on to it, but due to a cluster of insights and personal openings to its images i think we did just that.

Next day was a trickier gig. A yurt full of children for my daughters birthday. Sheesh. Let the Wild Rumpus begin. A wilder crew of keen eyed pirates and nimble voiced Princesses i can't imagine. Actually it was great.

I will be adding more soon, possibly even later this week. Only a month till 'THE HOPE OF THE WEST: THE RETURN TO THE VILLAGE' the last weekend of the year course. Deposits in now please! A weekend under canvas, by the fire, studying the stories of the Brothers Grimm.............