from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Thursday, 21 December 2017

so many words... winter solstice 2017

Usually at this time I post a solstice poem and/or blog. This time, though, I want to tell you a little of my own writing, as it's a bus-story: you know, nothing for ages and ages and then so many you don't know which to catch.

It's hard to post this and not feel boastful. But I also know that I spend so very much of my time catalysing and sometimes critiquing others' writing that my own creative projects are on hold sometimes for months or years at a time. (I also know that many of you are very supportive of my work; thank you.)

So first some news I'm thrilled to share with you. My newest collection, my poems from 18 years' worth of facilitating my writing retreats ISLANDS OF THE HEART on the amazing Isle of Iona, is due out very soon. End of this month, in fact; from Pindrop Press.

I was first taken to Iona in the 80s, by a friend who has since died tragically (some of the poems in this book are for him).

Having become used to hands-off editing on my publications (which means very little editing at all by A N Other), and also usually being the one offering editing suggestions to others, it was a shock and a delight to have the editor of Pindrop, Sharon Black, go through this over and over with her red pen. She saw things I couldn't see; and I saw things that I realised couldn't go without some of the poems losing their integrity. It was a gruelling and very inspiring experience, a great collaboration, and I'm so grateful to Sharon-the-midwife. What a treat, to be on the receiving end of such care.

I'd love you to order it. (You could offset all those Christmas calories with a hit of soul-nourishment.) Plus I think a good New Year's resolution would be to support struggling authors and poets. (It is SO hard to make a living in this way.)
And here's another bus: probably too late to tell you about it now, but one of my winter solstice poems is going to feature in a wave of DUSK poems, short stories and music being read/spoken/performed in a timeline at exact astronomical dusk tonight throughout the UK. Dusk on this the shortest day begins in the far northeast of Britain, in Shetland, at 16:53, and finishes in the far SW (Cornwall) at 18:21, taking between 40 and 50 minutes depending where you are.

These pieces are being live-streamed via the relevant Facebook pages of each location. My poem will be performed in N Devon, and then in Redruth at around 5.30-40 pm today (my piece comes later, probably at the end of the first half):

You may have read the poem that's being performed before on this blog:

Just now, in the full night of midwinter’s night
over the traffic and the sirens and the late shoppers,
down at the bottom of the hill in the car park
where the red dogwoods flame, a robin started up
her strong ribbon of song in the lee of the storm, and as I
drive up the hill, window open to let in the dark,
a second tunes in, and then on the brow another,
each singing its loud hymn to the night and the cloud
and the brimming tapers of stars between, and this,
this, must surely be grace, a moment’s inbreath, in our
onwards rush, on this northern side of this lost-in-space
spinning-back-towards-the-light planet, our home star.

© Roselle Angwin 2013


Two more things I want to tell you before seeing if I can catch enough broadband to surf the Dusk wave:

One is that, if you wish, you can read my final essay for my residency at Greenway, on the writer and the spirit of place, here. (I have to say that some of my environmental polemic has been edited out, so it's blander than it was.)

And finally – for the moment – I'm just finalising my programme of courses and workshops in 2018. I love sharing this work with those of you who come, sometimes regularly, and thanks to all of you if you've read this far.

The first date in 2018 is for my annual THRESHOLDS day workshop in Totnes, South Devon. If you're local enough, do join us! (NB much of the websites still needs updating.)

And I'm just through a year-long course I've been leading on the Grail myths, the lost feminine and our estrangement from the natural world; something I've been studying, writing about and offering as workshops since my Celtic degree course at Cambridge too many decades ago to name. I followed that in the early 90s with a training in archetypal psychology, investigating the depths of the Grail Quest in relation to our psyches.

The yearlong course was exciting and very intense, and I think we all learned a lot about ourselves, myself included. This next WELLKEEPERS will happen as a residential, and you can see an outline on the link.

May the longest night be kind to you, and may you remember that the sun is reborn tomorrow; no matter how dark the days we are turning back towards the light now. Here, there are already daffodils, hyacinths and snowdrops spiking through, and hazel catkins are decorating bare branches.


  1. Thank you, Roselle. I love the poem.
    love Marg

  2. Dear Roselle, this time of year, the time of giving and receiving, makes me reflect on the many gifts I have received throughout the year, one of those gifts being the time and inspiration you give to us via this blog and your support through your mentoring and courses.
    At this still point, awaiting the first dawn of the returning sun, I feel like a child, snuggled under bedclothes in the dark,awaiting Santa, then your 'so many words' pops into my mail-box. Santa has arrived!
    I hadn't read this poem before and that 'moment's inbreath' is where we all are at this fragile moment, whether we realise it or not.
    I can't wait for your book to be available, another strange coincidence as I had printed out a book of my photos this summer with a very similar title, that old universe at it again!
    Warm wishes and love to you. Chris V.

    1. Hello dear Chris - lovely to hear from you, and thank you so much for your own kind words.

      Thanks too for your pleasure at my forthcoming publication, and I'm sorry if I've stolen your thunder with my book's title! (It's actually a line from the - well, title poem.) Glad you're taking your work seriously.

      Here's to the darkness too, and its fecundity - very creative, this waiting time.

      See you on Iona! I think you're travelling with Miri? And Bea is joining us again this year.

      Love to you


  3. Thank you, Marg! Only a few short months till we're on Iona again... x

  4. From Miri:

    Dear Roselle, I've been waiting patiently for your winter solstice words, feeling some apprehension that if they didn't appear, something was not right in our world here at this moment. And here it is, so I breathe a sigh of relief. This sounds so a bit melodramatic now but it is simply how I feel. I love your poem and remember it from – was it two years ago? It flows seamlessly from the ordinary every day life into what feels like an enchanted place and sends shivers of emotion and gladness through me.
    I also can't wait to have your latest collection in my hands to read in the new year and be inspired to persevere (not much flow at all of late, I'm afraid) with my search for the right words to express what I want to say. I'm beginning to realise what it must be like to have had a stroke, the mind still thick with ideas but the ability to free and sound them locked up.

    Thank you again for being there, Roselle–the-midwife
    With love from Miri (yes, Chris and I will be travelling to Iona together; and such good news about Bea.)

  5. Ah hello Miri and thank you for your kindness and sweet words. It's been more of a stretch here than even I'm used to lately, and although I did write a solstice poem it was a very personal one.

    I'm sad to hear that you feel so kind-of choked with unexpressed ideas, and what I wish for you most for 2018 is a confident, true flow, knowing that your writing is gooood.

    My love to you both



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