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Tag Archives: Nature

Spring in the Step

Spring has finally sprung today and in a glorious way!

Over the last few months I have randomly decided to sit and read a few pages of whichever book I was at the time reading, just to gauge how soon I will be able to do it for a sustained period outdoors.  Today would have been perfect for that, had I remembered my book.

Still, it was a nice to see people sitting out on the grass and all the benches full of too and a gorgeous blue sky to daydream with.  I also took great delight in looking down. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 15/03/2017 in Travel

 

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February’s doubts

I’m finally back and with plenty of news, like the spam message from a certain rabid news corporation in the US which was (unsurprisingly) shockingly written. For now though , go visit my first of two reblogs for today. First up is Andrea, whose blog deserves a lot of love thanks to its evocative photography and subject matter. A haven for all those wishing to appreciate the simple joys in life.

Harvesting Hecate

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February is the fag end of winter.  Though I love this season, this is the point when I’m ready for spring, for light, for warmth.  This is the point at which the cold and dark tires me and I trudge through the days simply surviving.  When it is no longer as easy to connect with that self I find in the rich, dark dreaming.  I have woken up, but rudely.  February is the alarm that wakes me when I’m not ready to wake, interrupting a peaceful sleep.  It is the truculent moment when I haul myself out of bed before I’m ready, to a day that I’m not looking forward to.  A transition time, but not the lazy transition of summer into autumn, or the barely perceptible change from autumn to winter.  February is hard work.

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This is the time of year when winter can seem harshest.  It is usually our coldest month and the short…

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Posted by on 22/02/2017 in Blogging

 

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The Sacrifice – Indrajit Garai

sacrificeIn this collection meet:  Guillame, who gives up everything to protect his child; Mathew, who stakes his life to save his home; and, François, who makes the biggest sacrifice to rescue his grandson.

Having previously had to decline  this offering due to a mountain of other books needing their reviews done for their respective deadlines, I am appreciative of Estelle for offering me another opportunity to read and talk about these short stories, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Each of the three stories contained in volume 1 have plenty of themes both on the human and natural side.  The reader will see the price of ‘progress’ and the loss it entails with the destruction of nature – which is neatly countered with the positive effects it has on the characters actions – and the uncertain legacy of what will be left of it for the next generation.

The human consequences on nature run in tandem with the heartache of families struggling; parents aren’t there, money is tight and life grinds away at the soul but there is always hope in each other and what they do have.

It is precisely this humanity that kept me reading, seeing these people going through life, trying to do the right thing.  That’s not to say that the book is preachy in any way, it isn’t, it allows the characters and their circumstances to unfold in an organic way and clearly shows us their thoughts and feelings in a given situation.

Each of the participants are just ordinary folk and that is the beauty of the storytelling,  the reader can instantly connect with them and just go with the story – regardless of setting and circumstance – what they do and who they are doesn’t matter because they are in existing in all their flawed glory.  The titular sacrifice therefore feels more powerful because it is something truly costly to the individual which the reader can appreciate and in terms of seismic impact.  The book excels at showing the ripples made by decisions, whether large or of a more subtle variety. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 30/01/2017 in Fiction

 

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Leaf – Daishu Ma

LeafHow much power does a single man, let alone a single leaf, have in the industrial world? In this wordless, all-ages graphic novel, our protagonist discovers a leaf that radiates a vibrant light. He returns to a detailed metropolis – depicted in somber grays and blues – and searches for answers. During his quest, he stumbles upon a man who knows what’s really happening in the city’s labyrinthine ducts; a woman who spends her life studying and classifying obsolete flora; and the truth about the ever-dwindling environment. Leaf is a graphically stunning story that unfolds with a dream-like pace.  Shaded in pencil and punctuated by spot colors, drawn in a delicate but concretely realized tonal approach reminiscent of Shaun Tan’s The Arrival and Chris Van Allsburg’s Jumanji, Chinese cartoonist Daishu Ma’s first foray onto American shelves is ultimately a hopeful vision of the coexistence of the urban and natural worlds. Full-color illustrations throughout.

Wandering around Page 45 – Nottingham’s best comic book shop – I came across this intriguing effort and typically curiosity got the better of me and my wallet.  The best bit about this cover (unless you have a foliage fetish) is that there is a leaf-shaped hole allowing us to see the title on the page behind.  I mention this because it made me feel like a kid again being fascinated by a hole in the cover and on the strength of that and my natural curiosity like the man in the book, the sale was already a done deal.

Stories with no words are always thought-provoking beasts, body and facial expressions become more of an art than just an accompanying depiction to underline words.  Whether subtle or blatant each person will, according to their own experiences and thoughts open the story up to unique interpretations of the nuances within the main framework of the tale.

The pencil drawings are wonderfully realised, mixing different sizes and detailing throughout its pages.  The limited use of colour really brings out the features in each illustration and creates a vivid feel of something magical that is taken for granted in real life.  The imagined world is both grounded in reality but also has a distinct fantastical influence so the reader is both familiar but also intrigued by the setting. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 09/04/2016 in Graphic Novels

 

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Myth, Literature and the African World – Wole Soyinka

MythteriesWole Soyinka, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature and one of the foremost living African writers, here analyses the interconnecting worlds of myth, ritual and literature in Africa. The ways in which the African world perceives itself as a cultural entity, and the differences between its essential unity of experience and literary form and the sense of division pervading Western literature, are just some of the issues addressed. The centrality of ritual gives drama a prominent place in Soyinka’s discussion, but he deals in equally illuminating ways with contemporary poetry and fiction. Above all, the fascinating insights in this book serve to highlight the importance of African criticism in addition to the literary and cultural achievements which are the subject of its penetrating analysis.

In my never-ending quest to try to learn about everything, it is disappointing that I hadn’t gotten around sooner to exploring Africa’s undoubtedly rich literary identity.  This analysis – first published in 1976 –  of the themes and variations of the physical and ritual and thematic aspects of literature, proves to be an energetic and acute read.

The focus of the first two chapters is on the mythology of the Yoruba and the divergences of those ideas under the religious values of Christianity, both in Nigeria and also the transplanting of those stories to the new world.   That would have consequently have been further diluted by not only the Catholic church but also local traditions as well.

The differences in culture and mindset are myriad, western ideas and morals placed over myths and stories sometimes supersede the original misunderstood content, ignorance and an unwillingness to understand the world as seen by the locals was always the preferred way of those conquerors.  The differences in styles is highlighted throughout the book as the author takes us a brief tour of how dramas were refined from the original ritual acts.

African plays are fascinating as they tend to keep nature and humans in a symbiotic relationship and are interestingly elastic and sometimes multi directional in terms of how the past present and future influence one another.  it is also fascinating how modern advances, rather than ruin a myth actually get subsumed into it; like Sango/Shango the God of storms who now becomes synonymous with electricity, in this way myth and literature are ever-present in life and not seen as separate from it. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 14/02/2016 in Art, Plays

 

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Dark Fey: Standing In Shadows – Cynthia Morgan

FeymanjiIf you haven’t read Dark Fey: The Reviled then this synopsis for book two is going to contain a shedload of spoilers that you may want to avoid, however the review itself won’t divulge any plot information that will ruin your reading pleasure.

Gairynzvl escaped captivity among the DemonFey who had abducted him as a child through a daring act of treason and was rescued by Light Loving Fey. Now, he wants to return into the dark realm of The Reviled to attempt a rescue of the innocent childfey trapped there.
It will take more than one Fey to breach the borders of The Uunglarda and to slip past the legions of Dark Fey who abide there. It will take magic and strength, courage and military strategy and it will shake the foundations of everything The Fey of The Light have accepted as truth for thousands of years, but Gairynzvl knows the secret ways in and out of the dark realm; he is able to open portals and through his gifts of telepathic empathy and he can find the childfey standing, waiting, in the shadows.
Slipping into the darkness through darkness is easy. Escaping out again with terrified childfey is another matter. If they are captured his band of liberators will pray for death long before it comes and their success could spark full scale war, unleashing the barbaric hatred and viciousness of The Reviled upon the peace-loving Fey of The Light.
Can Gairynzvl convince the Fey of the Light to allow him to return to the Uunglarda, the realm of The Reviled? Who will join him to aid the Innocent childfey trapped in the realm of shadows and fear? And Will the Fey of the Light risk a savage war in order to rescue them?

The cover photo is great, there is no denying that and were I to see it in a bookshop my interest would be piqued.  More of this type of cover I say, rather than those dreary copy cat covers that seem to be so prevalent on the shelves these days.  As well as looking nice, it also sets the scene for a darker and more foreboding sequel.

Like the first book, this is a fantasy steeped in the natural, of the polar opposites of light and dark and the overlapping of the two and whilst the plot took, for me a little while to get going – the characters even get time for a ball game – once it gets going though, it moves along at a pleasing pace. It is an interesting mix, the plot feeling both urgent yet also fairly relaxed at times, giving the book a more ethereal feel. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 12/02/2016 in Children's Literature, Fantasy

 

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Tolstoy and the Time Tunnel

There was a Tolstoy quote I had in mind for this post which I can’t quite remember yet know it moved me back in the day. when I first read it in War and Peace.  It was about the sunlight shining through the trees and demanded to be read several times before continuing on with that epic story.

After spending plenty of time looking for my copy I wondered how I could fail to find the 1500 page doorstep of a novel, then the inevitable and ultimately fruitless search through a pdf copy actually saw my frustration lessened by the thought that  perhaps it was a good thing not to have the book to hand afterall.

What if it didn’t move me as it once did and that was a distinct possibility, if I didn’t find my actual translation would a different one have the same impact or the precise phrasing anyway?  Suffice to say, it was affecting at the time and I hope it will be so again once I find my book but until then that vague memory still makes me happy.

The point of the quote was to link in with my latest effort of writing which is a celebration of leafy ways which will soon be lost with the Autumnal flavour in the air:

 

The Arch

Passing through light to shadow
A crescent of foliage genuflects to the glory of the day
Changing the sun’s rays to oases of dappled light pools on the earthy stage.

I pause and sit
Enjoying the coolness of this climate controlled conduit.

Contemplating its aspects both seen and suggested
This is no ordinary path but a time tunnel
An admittance to fey that is a journey to distant times
A communal place of thought
A shibboleth of mysticism stretching throughout the vast span of ages.

There is perfect silence
But for the incomprehensible sound of an aeroplane,
Alien to this out of time and yet paradoxically time bound place
Birds of another form take up song.

Nature and peace reside perfectly in this spot.

The world is a dream as the weightlessness of serenity descends
The age-old trees providing a perfect phalanx to the encroaching outside.

I move on
Touched by what was and what will be again…

 

Thanks to Tom for suggesting the word shibboleth.

 
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Posted by on 18/10/2015 in My Writings, Poetry

 

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