Showing posts from 2015

Sarah Mooney's eXXpedition Story - interview

Glastonbury-based storyteller Sarah Mooney is setting off on what, as a bard of Glastonbury myself, I cannot help but see as a Bardic Quest. Starting this week, Sarah is going to be sailing the Atlantic Ocean from Senegal to Brazil, with thirteen other women (including scientists and sailors), creating stories on the way to bring back to schools and other groups on her return.

She has raised an amazing £4605 towards funding the voyage through crowdfunding - you can see her made for the fundraising effort, in which she explains some of her motivations and hopes for the project, here:

I asked Sarah a few questions before she set sail.

How did you come to be involved in eXXpedition?
I sailed from Cornwall to Ireland on a 100-year-old ketch called the Keewaydin with my son and some friends a  couple of years ago. When I came home I kept saying to myself "I am a sailor!" On board there was talk about a group called the New Dawn Traders who are sailing goods from South America, mos…

Bardic Diary: September 1st - October 3rd, 2015

I've been conscious for some time that September was going to be a busy month as Bard of Glastonbury. On the night in May when I was given the Chair, I remember Stuart the sound technician coming up to me and making a point of mentioning that there was to be a Bardic Stage at Night at the Abbey, and that it was up to me to make sure things went on there. After that, other offers started coming in - we decided to launch my Library of Avalon residency in the same month, and later on to have my first resident session there, too. I was also glad to receive an invitation to appear as the guest at Street Library's Poetry Lunch Club.

Night at the Abbey

Only as the 'Night at the Abbey' date (11th September) approached did I realise how many aspects of the Bardic Stage were actually up to me to sort out, and it was only with about a week to go that it dawned on me that it was indeed up to me to sort out lighting! I am very grateful to my family at Splotts Moor for providing lant…

Library of Avalon Residency: the Launch

Today I launched my new residency at Glastonbury's Library of Avalon.

I am grateful to Dearbhaile Bradley and all of the volunteers and trustees involved at the Library for organising the event and for reading some choice texts from the shelves by way of an introduction.

I read a few poems that I felt were at home in that space ('Catwoman', 'Dunstan' and 'The Annual Visitor'), and afterwards ran a taster workshop for those present who chose to stay for it.

For the workshop, I invited the 5 writers in the room (plus me) to find a book on the shelves that got their attention. We straight away had a real mix - a book of folklore about Merlin, a pulp science fiction novel, Nichelle Nichols' memoirs, one on prehistoric London... you already start to get a picture of the breadth and the particular nature of Avalon's bookshelves.

The writing exercise I led involved choosing a word from a random page in each book, and inviting each writers to turn one thin…


for Tim Hawthorn, 1st Chaired Bard of Ynys Witrin, on his 50th birthday - and of course, for hawthorns everywhere. -
A hem, a haw
That guards the door:
You are the wood-ward of all borders
Stood red-berried at the edge
Between silence and speech
The garden and the wild;
This world and the next. -
The Glastonbury Thorn has been shortlisted for The Woodland Trust's 'Tree of the Year' - you can vote for it here.

Live appearances & dates for your diary

Already over a month into being the Bard. Tempus, as ever, fugit.

Here are some things that I've been booked for or are, in any case, happening; that will involve me wearing my robes and probably saying some words to anyone who'll listen - do come if you can.

9th July - Divided Families gathering in London
The third anniversary of rules that divide thousands of British Citizens from their loved ones, or else force them to live in exile. Full details here.

11th September - Night at the Abbey There will be a Bardic stage again this year. And we're assured that organisers are aware of last year's sound problems and have taken steps to stop that happening again! Always a lovely night. Tickets here.
19th September - Library of Avalon Residency Launch
I am thrilled to be appointed as the Library of Avalon's Writer in Residence. This afternoon event will be the launch for the residency; incorporating spoken word performances, readings from the Library's shelves, and …

Aadeilop Rsst

An alphabetical repent of Eden, with a cameo appearance by a prehistoric whale. Apple bitten,
Code defied.
Eden flitten,
(Garden hide).
In justice’s keeping:
Labour, multiplication; now.
Of paradise's quarrel reaping -
Serpent’s tongue: uncertain vow.
Why cross, YHWH?

Apple bitten,
Labour now.

Ugly Aunti

Some years ago I contributed to an art student publication called 'Ugly Aunti'. I never found out where the name came from, or if it had any deeper meaning beyond the possibility of insulting all of our Aunties.

I think I wrote something for an issue of this zine that never got made (or maybe it did and I just never saw it). I was trying to find this never-published piece of text in the never-made issue on Sunday, when I came across a couple of pieces that had made it into earlier issues of the zine.

I thought perhaps they had something to them (if some of you might reasonably think that what they have is nothing more than debt to Borges) - so I'm putting them here on the blog.

The first of them was for the issue entitled 'Dad'.

Eachan's father was a horse. Sometimes language would escape Eachan. Other times he found himself running, uphill and against the wind, the world full of scent and absent of artifice. He would reach the crest and stand, chest heaving, for…

Mayoring Sunday

Written for the Civic Banquet and Thank You Party of the Mayor of Glastonbury, Denise Michell - Glastonbury's first Green and first Druid Mayor; June 2015

image copyright (c) Bill Nicholls
appears here cropped with colours enhanced
licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons licence

I suspect it may come as a surprise to many outwith Glastonbury That our famous town’s Mayor has not already been a Druid Green Who has also been known as the Fairy Queen.

With Glastonbury's reputation for alternativity (as keen to mark Beltane as the Nativity) What took us so long? Our Town Hall has stood since 1818. That's as long as London’s Old Vic, which in the intervening 190-odd years, has seen Thirteen productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream...

But perhaps we shouldn't be too hard on ourselves For, alongside their many magical features Fairies are notoriously elusive creatures.
Until today, some would have thought it no more possible To put chains on a Fairy Than put an anchor on a cloud Tie the…


on the appointment of the European Robin as the National Bird of the United Kingdom; June 2015

When we named you ‘red’,
We didn’t have a name
For that stain on your chest and face; Your unashamed orange blush That says,
“I have something to say”.

Down the centuries, we’ve made you friendly, Here in the land of Goodfellow, And that Hood fellow.
Leaving you unharmed
In countless nods to folklore:
Sit on our garden tools.
So say it you do.
You come to us, here with the voice of the brook,
Singing phrases we will never understand.

Call to the College

The Bardic Chair is now on display in Glastonbury Library, along with the Tim Sebastian Memorial Trophy currently held by my colleague Steve Leighton. They've already been generating a bit of interest - if you're in the area please come and see them too. 
In the coming days and weeks I'll be adding information about the Chair to the display boards around it. I am asking all members of Gorsedh Ynys Witrin to bring a piece of writing for display along with the chair. This can be information about Bardism, or even better your own creative work.

If the boards get full up I intend to keep refreshing them with newer work, so if pieces need to come off to make room, I will put a folder there that those can be archived in.

Everyone who has been initiated into our Bardic College (you'll know if you have - the annual ceremony at the foot of the Tor) is welcome to bring or send me work at the Library to be pinned around the chair; including all past recipients of the Tim Sebastian T…

Bardic Diary: 19th - 24th May

So. Last Tuesday I finally managed that thing I've been trying for six years, and became the 'Bard of Glastonbury'. Or, to use my formal title, the 10th Chaired Bard of Ynys Witrin. I am greatly honoured and also excited to have attained this title in the town where I have lived since I was born (and where my ancestors have lived for at least hundreds of years); let alone in a place with such a rich and important place in history.

I mean to publish an ongoing diary of my time as the Bard, here on my writing blog. If you'd like to follow updates, please subscribe to the blog (I think that 'Google Friend Connect' button, top right, will do it).

Tuesday May 19th
The night I won - here's the piece I won with. My fourth attempt. I'm glad I didn't get it on the first go. I've learned more, and there are more people around to help me. Lisa Ceneri aka 'Raw Poet' took the crown - I hadn't met Lisa before the trials but I've already been im…