listening to the small, wild voices

This week I was aggravated (more than I fairly should have been) by a well-known and rightly esteemed man decrying the lack of writing about a sensate landscape. It was actually a lovely and caring article, and I don't wish to denigrate the writer, who works hard to bring us into closer relationship with the natural world. But he was opining from the perspective of a literary author, and I think what saddened me the most was that once again small, brown, wild edge-voices were left out of the discussion.

In my opinion, what we vitally need is to recognise and appreciate the vast wealth of literature we already have on the subject of the living, dreaming land. Aboriginal songlines. Native American myths. The old folk stories woven out of local gorse flowers and mist.




There are also many Western writers who bring us those stories, or the spirit of them, either in traditional form or reworded from their own personal relationship with the world - for example, Sharon Blackie, Sylvia Linsteadt, Sara Maitland, Martin Shaw, Patricia Wrightson, Robert McFarlane, Tom Hirons, Starhawk, David Abrams, and although I hesitate to put my own name amongst such great company, it is true that I write on this subject also. There is also a long movement in education, led by Rudolf Steiner, to bring awareness of, and empathy for, the living world to children through stories, art, and experience.

Of course, we all individually must language our connection with motherearth. We are most of us not Aborigines whose heritage has walked its long lizard-sung way out of sun-baked stone, and we must also be careful not to appropriate the words and heritage of others without bearing a true spirit for them, a deeply-worked understanding. But I believe it is wisdom - it is infact our best hope for the future - to explore the old stories of different cultures, and read the small books, and follow the hedgerow blogs, where the knowledge of earth's spirit has been held and sung and told about for a very long time.


9 comments:

  1. I love your title. It inspires to try the stance of listening.

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  2. I often find when I read authors of this subject is that there is no soul in their writing, no heart - I buy their books and am often disappointed with the content but because of the hype and publicity I get taken in. I often find that blogs do a far better job of showing their passion, but are not as recognised as they should be.

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    1. There are many weblogs that are beautifully and skillfully written and I wish they had more recognition.

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  3. yes. and once again, a beautiful piece of writing. You have a gorgeous way of expressing yourself.

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  4. I think I may have just come across the same article, and it made me a little angry too, and more than a bit defensive. In the piece I read, I believe he was writing specifically about novels; and it was an important and fascinating read, but it can be a bit hard when ideas you've been grappling with and writing about for years are suddenly claimed in that way, as though nobody else is trying to work them out too... :) But he is right that there aren't very many *novels* yet published in the world that really take this on; though I can think of a good number of Native American authors, such as Louise Erdrich, Leslie Marmon Silko, Joy Harjo and Linda Hogan who have written in utterly gorgeous ways about land and people and myth, and who are always left out of these conversations... Well, anyhow, all there is to do is carry on with the words and tales, and know that in the great well of story, and in the dreams of earth, each effort no matter how big or small is seen, and matters. Sending love! xo

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    1. I'm so glad I was not the only one to feel angry and defensive. I felt it first on behalf of myself - although it is no doubt my own fault that I've kept my voice small, and not striven in the traditional market to get Proper Recognition, and so important people don't know what I've had to say for years.

      But then I got defensive on behalf of the other smaller voices, many of whom rightly should be known as they move in the same circles. And then I got to thinking of the books of the kind he wanted which I'd read. I just felt a little research would have shown to the author what he wanted to know.

      But it all came to good in the end, for me anyway, because it encouraged me to write *even more* on this subject, and reminded me what is truly important to me.

      And you are right, each effort matters.

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  5. I understand your feeling on this, I know a lot of authors seem to skip over this, maybe because many simply want to read a faster paced 'story'. Maybe people don't linger much anymore with a book (sigh). Gladys Taber was one who skillfully brought out the past and also the present weaving the ancient with the natural world and the world she lived in. There are others (some of whom you mentioned) however it's work to find them. Sadly.

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