Rachel Donati feels life intensely, running in her veins and memories are strong connections with India and Italy, also a powerful sense of home that is interlaced with a soft spot for the thrill of adventure and the tap tap tap of stilettos. Donati has a poetic beat and vocabulary that transports us into her world where it casts new light on our own experiences and sometimes can make us re-feel past encounters.
Lena Stolle is sat on the steps of the composting toilet at Schumacher College. You hear the chimes hung just outside it, long and low, sending their reverberations through the redwoods.
It is evening, everything is lit from the side like stage lighting. Lena has been kneeling and stooping all day; and throughout lockdown – planting, weeding and growing. She shares a quote from Wendell Berry, written on the wall of the wooden compost loo. It is about one of the greatest, simplist of transformations, a true alchemy which can change how we think about our own waste, and unnecessary wastefulness.
“Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.”Wendell Berry
Lena is a grower at Schumacher College, a mindful clown, an environmentalist and has a singing voice which would lift even the greatest songbird’s heart.
Here is a Fenland walk from the generous Alice Willitts, plantswoman, writer, storyteller, environmentalist, maker of beautiful poetry scrolls. She lives in Cambridge and has loved big skies all her life.
In this audio we hear a new poem from Ilka Scobie, recorded with the drive of the city surrounding her like a sea gale, she sounds almost like she is on a boat, the cry of a whale deep below her.
Ilka Scobie’s work chronicles fifty years of ideas, feminist activism, observation, friendship and curiosity about life and the arc of time. Ilka is the embodiment of a poetry prism with many facets. She was born in Brooklyn, lived in lower Manhattan, moved to Shady in the Catskills where she homesteaded off grid, then returned to NYC where she teaches poetry in the NYC school system, writes for artlyst and performs her poems uptown and downtown unless she is in Soncino, Italy where she gardens for part of every year. She has written continuously since the mid 1960’s and has been involved with writers, poets and artists of all kinds including Janine Pommy Vega, Herbert Hunke, Jean Giorno, Ugo Rondinone.
Charles Saumarez Smith is a freelance writer, curator and art historian. He is an urban explorer by foot and bicycle, and a person who is alive to the wonders of life.
In this recording, poet Ruth Padel offers sounds and senses from her lifelong connection to a familial forest touchstone. The place and pulse of her poem is somehow umbilical, the wind and birdsong become her breath and feelings.
There are two beauties in our world, the world itself and how it’s seen. In our second mini-podcast, a moment’s thought is offered to us, and we follow the thought’s line along with artist, Andrew Hewish, to where it settles on the remembering of the dead, the rituals of stone, and the poetry, shape and movement of a poetic form being described as, almost, sculpture or choreography. In The Nature Of, shares the varied and rich ways we each see and think about the world.
This is a beginning; the first of (hopefully) firsts and seconds and thirds, and 47ths and 102nds. In The Nature Of is a series of short recordings, done outdoors (mostly) with the sounds of birds and branches as roof; water, soil and sand as flooring.
Hazel has asked farmers, artists, writers, thinkers and individuals from around the world to capture an idea, question or poem and share it. These are glimpses of a place, a time of day, a season, or momentary thought.
Our first recording is from Marguerite Legros, whose name is a strong, tall flower, which grows wild in its’ native Canary Islands, and has now made its’ way around the world in blue, pink, yellow, white, always with its raised yoke at the centre.
In Irish, the word for daisy is noínín, meaning ‘afternoon child’ and Marguerite has this sense of openess, playfulness and rootedness. Marguerite is from France, and is working as a veg and flower grower in Devon. In her recording, done under a mulberry tree, she shares an erotic poem by Audre Lorde, an American writer, feminist and civil rights activist, who described herself as “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” and whose life and creativity were dedicated to confronting and addressing injustices of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia.
Today is the first day that Hazel Press has had walls. Just beyond the press desk, we are currently looking out at a muntjac deer that has been commuting back and forth all day to nibble, and listen intensely for any sound that is not its’ own.
It is the first day of June, a time to look up at the mostly uninterrupted sky: only blue, white and greys, moving to the west. Today has been all about metadata, timelines and ticking things and trims.
This autumn, Hazel will be publishing four pamphlets, an essay by Sean Borodale, poetry by Anna Selby and Ella Duffy, and a long poem by Matthew Hollis.
Stay tuned for more information!