Keat’s poem The Grasshopper and the Cricket has the line ‘the poetry of earth is ceasing never’, and much as I have suffered badly with the post-book lull since The Well of the Moon came out, I’m beginning to feel more as if the poetry of earth hasn’t stopped here either. Preparing the poetry conversation about poetry and Geopoetics with Helen Boden has helped to get my mind back into gear, (you can find a recording of it here) and the fact that our new library is under construction so that I will soon be able
to find all my books has given me a sharper focus on how I want my work to develop.
I’m looking to make, and to write about poetry that centres the earth – the landscape where we live, and all the creatures who live there, not the occasional urban visitor. A poetry that is in conversation with the earth rather than commenting on it. And I’m looking to write some essays about both sides of that proposition – both ‘place writing’ and poetics – the philosophy and practice of earth-based poetry. The first of these has now been added to my non-fiction page. It’s a revised and extended version of a draft I sent out with my most recent newsletter and you can find it here.
In the middle of that, my own personal ‘walking the territory’ practice, the herbs, the knowledge of how to grow and use them, the traditional practices and beliefs, the connections across cultures and history. I am working on a revised and annotated version of my translation of The Charm of Nine Herbs. The history of herbal medicine has a lot to teach writers about attitudes to language, landscape and indigenous knowledge, and it keeps my poetry grounded.