Tag Archive | Nature

Literary Festivals

Dartington Hall, Devon, UK in late autumn light.

Dartington Hall, Devon, UK in late autumn light. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week I have been to two very different literary festivals. The Ways with Words Festival has been running for over twenty years at the very beautiful Dartington Hall, and is well established. Sponsored by the Daily Telegraph, the speakers, not surprisingly, are authors who have published books that the arts editors consider to be important. The other smaller and more community minded was in the small market town of Chudleigh about six miles outside Exeter.

I was one of the organising  committee at Chudleigh and we put together a programme that would appeal to both readers and writers. Ways with Words is primarily aimed at readers although many writers do attend in the hope of learning something about the craft of writing from some of the countries most successful authors. Nevertheless I found a common theme in both.

One of the workshops at Chudleigh was taken by Chris Waters, a poet and member of the Dartmoor Poets, who provoked us into thinking about landscape by looking at photographs taken by James Ravilious of places and people in north Devon in the 1960’s although they looked like they were from a much earlier period. Later the author Fay Sampson www.faysampson.co.uk  talked about her novels which she said were inspired by place, indeed her latest series, the Aiden mysteries are set in the sacred places of Britain. At Dartington Jane Feaver the author of ‘An Inventory of Heaven’ talked about how difficult it was to write about the countryside unless you had lived in a landscape since birth and your family had lived there for generations. She described the land as having no sense of humour. So three authors and three different views on writing about nature.

Notes from Old Venn: Amazon.co.uk: Margaret Taylor: Books

Old Venn

Old Venn

I have published this book of poetry about the countryside around our home in Devon. If you like nature, you might enjoy this.

Notes from Old Venn: Amazon.co.uk: Margaret Taylor: Books.

Swifts- Apus apus

Each year in May we watch for the return of the  swifts who nested here under our thatch, hoping they have survived the long journey to and from Africa. They have now arrived and it seems the three pairs who left last year have returned or their offspring have. I wrote this poem about them coming back here.

Swifts‘ Return

On early summer evenings we wait

For the swifts, impatiently.

Arriving dramatically

They circle the house

Remembering the way under the eaves.

Each evening they fly

Screaming, winged speed hurtling

Straight towards the thatch

Thump against the board and vanish

The noise reverberating through empty rooms.

We shelter them until late August

Until they imprint this place

Hardwired on their homing systems

And fly south, their nests empty.

Only the creaks and groans of the house

In the wind, recalls the summer months.