Last week I finally got around to ordering a copy of the new EarthLines magazine published by Sharon Blackie and David Knowles of Two Ravens Press. My main reason for ordering it was because my dear friends (and influences), the storyteller and healer, Tom Hirons and the artist and Baba Yaga, Rima Staines just happen to feature in it…
Photograph taken from Rima’s ‘A May Miscellany’ blog post.
The moment I placed my order I knew I was in for something a little special when Sharon emailed me to say that my copy “will be on its way out to you in Monday morning’s post bus”… EarthLines ships from the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, which for some reason seems right for a magazine dedicated to high quality writing on nature, place and the environment.
In their own words EarthLines seeks:
“to help forge a new ecoliterature that is truly responsive to, and that deeply and meaningfully engages with, the global challenges we face. Writing that doesn’t just acknowledge, but that actively embraces all the contradictions and discomforts inherent in our relationship with the natural world – those contradictions which surface in all of our genuine attempts to reconnect.”
EarthLines is inspired by the American magazine, Orion, but realises that Northern Europe, and Britain in particular, needs to examine and develop it’s own unique ecoliterature determined by it’s individual and diverse geography and ecology. This is no easy task; centuries of enclosure, Cartesian bigotry and ‘progress’ have left us so ecologically estranged that many of us now feel that the only relationship we can have with ‘the wild’ is as tourists – as visitors to the margins. The truth, of course,is that from the bacterial battlefields of our inner space to the green which is willing to take a mile for every inch that the gardener ‘allows’ it, the wild is always with us.
Despite having to wait for the post bus my magazine arrived very quickly and the first thing I turned to was, of course, the story and illustrations created by Tom and Rima. These were used, in part, to help illustrate a piece by the editor, Sharon Blackie entitled ‘Re-Storying the Earth: listening to the land’s dreaming’; which talks of the importance of myth and storytelling in our urgent attempts to re-connect with land and environment. For me this article alone was worth the ridiculously cheap £4.99 (inc postage) paid for the magazine.
Then I noticed a piece by another of my favourite artists, Alice Starmore, where she speaks of her childhood, the land, language, life and the inspirations behind her stunning Mamba exhibition. In fact, I soon found that this was a magazine filled with people who have had a deep influence on my psyche in recent years – including an interview with one of Britain’s most original living writers, Jay Griffiths, and an all too short piece by Paul Kingsnorth.
Among other familiar favourites, such as the poet Em Strang, there were also a number of new (to me at least) revelations; each proving in their own way that the song-lines of Europe can still be heard by those who are prepared to listen.
In short, this was exactly the kind of magazine I’ve been waiting a long time to read. If you, like me, have been moved by the journals produced by the Dark Mountain project (Issue 3 out soon!) then this is the magazine for you. As a writer (or scribbler) work of this quality can sometimes be painful to read. Not just because of the sheer depth of the subject matter, but because you know that you cannot, and probably never will, write as well as a Paul Kingsnorth, Tom Hirons or Jay Griffiths. The good news however is that their talent cannot help but inspire you to try. No matter what your own subject matter is, or whether it happens to fact or fiction (or somewhere in between), if you write then you should read this magazine.
Issue One is available now, click here to order or subscribe, BUY IT!