Corbel Stone Press
10th Anniversary Event
FILM AND WORDS
Over the past ten years Corbel Stone Press has become one of the foremost small presses dedicated to landscape and the natural world. In addition to their own groundbreaking individual and collaborative work, they have provided a vital space for emerging and established writers to address the issue of what it means to share the world with other forms of life. In the pages of their journal Reliquiae you will find work by many vital voices in contemporary ecoliterature, from Kerri ní Dochartaigh to Robert Macfarlane, Don Domanski to Penelope Shuttle.
Introduction by Autumn Richardson & Richard Skelton
Corbel Stone Press began life in late 2009 with the publication of Typography of the Shore, a collaborative micro-collection of poetry written as a sequence of ‘field notes’ in response to a specific locality. Over the next few years we produced a series of similar, limited-edition pamphlets, focused on the flora and fauna of unique environments, before gathering them into our first book, Field Notes (2012). The main impetus behind this work was to amplify acts of attention; to ‘enshrine an aspect of a particular place within a single poem or small collection’.
When we began Corbel Stone Press, it was always our intention to publish the work of others in addition to our own — to gather both old and new writing that focuses on landscape, nature and mythology. In 2013 the first volume of Reliquiae was published — a transtemporal, multicultural journal that seeks to celebrate the variety and importance of other-than-human life. It has been an honour to publish contemporary writing from the Yucatán alongside ancient Southern African folklore; to feature modern interpretations of Old Norse charm poems alongside ancient Greek natural philosophy; to showcase Canadian animist poems alongside ancient Sumerian inscriptions. Over the past seven years we’ve featured nearly two hundred writers and translators, old and new, from across the world in what we hope is a vital and necessary contribution to the fields of ecoliterature and mythological studies.
In selecting writers for this tenth anniversary celebration, we’ve looked closer to home — reflecting Aerial’s concern with supporting the work of artists local to the North West. We’ve published both Erica Bell and Andy Hopkins in Reliquiae, and their poetry reflects not only the depth of talent in Cumbria, but a deep and abiding engagement with the natural world. Gerry Loose is from a little further afield, just up the coast on the isle of Bute. We first featured his work in Reliquiae in 2015, and published his evocative collection of ogham translations, The Great Book of the Wood, in 2020. The work of Penelope Shuttle represents a fertile channel running south-west down to the Cornish coast — she’s become a regular contributor to Reliquiae since 2016. Helena Hunter & Mark Peter Wright have been long-term friends of the press — we published Mark’s Tasked to Hear in 2014, and Helena in Alterity in 2019. Lastly, to add a little international flavour, Peter O’Leary is from Illinois, USA. We first contacted him in 2014 in his capacity as executor of Ronald Johnson’s work. He graciously allowed us to republish an excerpt from the seminal British landscape poem, The Book of the Green Man. As a consequence, we discovered his incredible translations from the Finnish Kalevala, and featured an excerpt in the same volume of Reliquiae. We’ve published his vivid, incantatory poetry in the journal many times since then. It’s been a joy to invite each of these poets and artists to make a short film in celebration of ten years of Corbel Stone Press. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
Autumn and Richard
Autumn Richardson reads from her collection, An Almost-Gone Radiance – poems that deeply engage with perennial cycles of life, death and regeneration in the natural world. The work in this collection was written for the boreal forests of northern Ontario and the Kootenay Mountains of British Columbia, Canada; the limestone escarpments of the Burren, Ireland; the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Spain; and the Cumbrian uplands of northern England.
Emerge Like Wraiths is a short film composed from diffuse, palimpsestic footage of the isle of Skye, Scotland, and accompanied by gauze-like spoken fragments from transcriptions of traditional Hebridean songs that reference the natural landscape. The effect is hypnotic and unsettling — a shadowplay of indistinct forms with moments of occasional clarity, like shapes veiled in perpetual mist.
A Mercy Kill is a short film that explores the moment of a child’s loss of innocence and the power of natural landscapes to become vessels for memory. Filmed in Cumbria and in the Scottish Borders, it follows the dark progress of a subterranean stream rising through the soil and bringing with it unwanted memories from a long-lost past.
No Frontier is a short film exploring the psychological effects of travel, climate change, remoteness and isolation. Filmed on the eastern fringes of Iceland during a time when the artist had no permanent address, it is a travelogue of motionless, lingering images that are ambivalent in tone and entirely devoid of human figures. The film’s sense of unease is compounded by a series of captioned, first-person texts, adapted from the Poetic Edda, which essay a kind of psychological disturbance that is both deeply personal and reflective of a more widespread cultural trauma. No Frontier was produced for ‘Frontiers in Retreat’ – an international artist residency programme exploring multidisciplinary approaches to ecology in contemporary art.
Erica lives in West Cumbria with her husband Ed and their dog, Rosie. “Shorelines” is a result of time spent on the Solway coast. The poem comes from the poet’s own questions about time and the sea’s endless answers. It examines the interweaving of myriad subjective times at many scales, including that of the observer.
Andy has taught in London and Carlisle. His chapbooks include Dark Horse Pictures (Selkirk Lapwing Press, 2007). His work has appeared in The North, The Interpreter’s House, Under the Radar and Reliquiae. He is organiser of the Carlisle Poetry Symposium and regularly blogs.
“Crow Joy” was written having closely watched the huge numbers of crows in the farm buildings around the poet’s house: their intelligence, their coldness, their bonds and their function in our monoculture.
Helena works at the intersections of visual art, poetry and performance. Mark is an artist and researcher working with sound, ecology and contemporary art. Together they work as Matterlurgy, exploring art and ecology through interdisciplinary collaboration.
Falling Birds features poems written with extinct and endangered birds at the Horniman Museum London, alongside X-ray images of bird mounts. The film questions natural history, authorship, ethics and gestures towards hidden narratives entangled in the lives of the birds.
Gerry is a poet living on the Isle of Bute. His work is to be found inscribed in Botanic Gardens, wild landscapes, hospitals and galleries as well as in his books. His concerns are with the natural world and the world of geopolitics, which intertwine. The Great Book of the Woods has been a work in progress for many years. It is drawn from ogham inscriptions, mostly on stone, found in Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Each poem is a version of one inscription based on a decade’s long study of ogham script and a knowledge of the landscapes in which they are found.
Penelope has lived in Cornwall for many years. Her pamphlet, Father Lear, appeared in August 2020 from Poetry Salzburg. Her next collection, Lyonesse, is published by Bloodaxe on 27th May, 2021.
The work she reads here is a reflection of the way ‘we remember, we invent, we visit and re-visit places key to our life. We move among myriad threads of memory, reflection, journaling, dream-plunges, tags, quotes, fragments, straws-in-the-wind.’