Nature's Words: About Helen Moore
An award-winning ecopoet based in Frome, Somerset (S.W. England), Helen publishes poetry, essays and reviews in a wide range of anthologies and journals, and regularly performs her poetry at literary events and environmental conferences around the UK.
Currently poet-in-residence with the Bristol Pound, Helen has shared platforms with modern visionaries such as Joanna Macy, Mathew Fox, Vandana Shiva, Thomas Berry, Patrick Holden and Satish Kumar. Her debut ecopoetry collection, Hedge Fund, And Other Living Margins, was published in March 2012 by Shearsman Books and was short-listed for the Poetry Can Poetry SW poetry publication of the year award, 2013. Her second collection, ECOZOA, is forthcoming.
'Earth Justice', Helen's epic poem about ecocide, won 3rd prize in the Second Light National Women's poetry competition, 2013, and was first published on International Times
'Greenspin', a videopoem about corporate 'greenwashing' made in collaboration with Frome Media Arts creative Howard Vause, won 3rd prize in the Liberated Words International Poetry Film Festival 2013.
My Writing Process: a blog tour - Helen Moore, June 2014
Poets, like any other creative artists, perhaps more so, need solidarity and mutual aid as antidotes to the isolation that our craft can entail, and, I might add, to the squabbling for crumbs that a neglectful culture can produce. Living outside the loop of Londoncentricity and other large metropolitan centres can further reinforce isolation, so being invited to participate on a blog tour, in which fellow poets are candid about their creative processes and current work, is a great opportunity to share, be inspired, or reassured that I’m not alone in my struggles with my craft.
I’m grateful to Adam Horovitz for inviting me onboard. Below are the questions to which each poet is invited to respond, and at the end those I’m in turn nominating to continue the tour....
What Am I Working On?
Big picture, social change – and with this, in fractal relationship – myself. Probably sounds far too "worthy", but I make no apology. The truth is that I see myself as an agent of change, a disseminator of 'transformational heresy', and all writings and work emerge out of this commitment.
Then again, perhaps this is a way of glossing over the fact that I don’t have a specific writing project at the moment, and that I miss the compass that one offers? Or of avoiding the truth that I’m emerging from a difficult period in my life; that the end of a relationship and the death of my mother within the last 9 months have taken their toll?
Since finishing my second collection some months ago, I’ve lacked the drive to focus on a third. Instead, my writing has been piecemeal, and at times an enormous solace, a way of processing what’s happened, of channeling my grief.
Now that summer’s here, my energies are largely flowing into fracktivism– building resistance in Somerset against the satanic vision of more than 2,000 wells dotted across our green hills and valleys if government and industry get their way – and setting up a social enterprise to sustain my income from my Forest School work. I often think of Virginia Woolf’s essay ‘A Room of One’s Own’, and how she confesses to the challenge of making a living from scraps of work until a legacy from her aunt enabled her to write full-time. Without this privilege, I press on, simultaneously grateful that I’ve found meaningful work to pay the rent, and for the experiences it offers me; yet paradoxically aware that writing time is measured, has to be rigorously carved out.
Still, there are other current projects pertaining to poetry. I’m currently rehearsing for a new show with fellow ecopoet Susan Richardson entitled ‘Green Fire’, which will have its first airing during Bristol Big Green Week on 19th June. It’s always exciting to collaborate, and most especially with a poet who embodies a similar consciousness and has a great deftness with language.
This year I’m poet in residence with the Bristol Pound, and have been running creative writing workshops exploring the often taboo subject of how we relate with money, whilst educating people about the value of local currencies in building community resilience.
Then there’s poetry film, an exciting medium that’s relatively new to me and, I believe, rich with potential. Having won third prize at last year’s Liberated Words Poetry Film Festival for ‘Greenspin’, a satire of corporate greenwashing made in collaboration with Howard Vause, we’ve been engaged to facilitate two different projects within the local community. After which I plan to get back to more of my own creative work…
How Does My Work Differ From Others in its Genre?
An older (white male) poet I know once declared “There’s nothing new to write about nature!” and somehow my work seems to be an extended reply to this position. Living in an age of ecological and social crisis, I feel compelled to explore the ways in which Western culture has disconnected us from our individual bodies and the wider, life-sustaining body we inhabit, and on which we depend.
I’m well aware of the conditioning that industrial growth society and its education system have imprinted on me, so maintaining a sense of the ecological self is challenging, often subsumed by the reductive scientific materialism that presses us all into our little boxes of isolated thinking. Yet everything I attempt is about re-expansion, returning to a more multidimensional consciousness, examining the social and political institutions that perpetuate ecocide and oppression, and upholding visions of alternative ways of living and being.
Why Do I Write What I Do?
For me there’s no choice, but I don't see this as a limitation. Despite the challenges of sustaining a long, lean look at what’s happening to our planet, including the daily extinction of 200 species, the wars and desperate poverty perpetuated by Western colonialism and privilege, and the heartbreak that this awareness can engender, I’m also excited by the change I witness within myself, my community and the places I visit out of solidarity or interest – a frontline community protection camp fighting against fracking; a gathering of radical herbalists seeking to reclaim herbs as the people’s medicine; a housing co-op; an agro-ecological market garden. I’m continually inspired to be a mirror and champion of the Green Movement, and of the mounting resistance to global capitalism.
How Does My Writing Process Work?
Fits and starts. Scratches, bloody fingers. A poem brewing, bubbling up like rosehip wine inside a demijohn. Careful siphoning of the golden liquid from the murky sediment; decanting, bottling, labels in a neat hand. Then pregnancy in the darkness of the cellar, until at last the fat pop of the cork, tasting notes, and maybe the spittoon.
The three poets I've chosen to tag and continue this tour are:
"The poet not only beholds intensely the present as it is, and discovers those laws according to which present things out to be ordered, but he beholds the future in the present, and his thoughts are the germs of the flower and the fruit of latest time."
Shelley - from 'In Defense of Poetry'
More about my work:
In 2011 I co-ordinated a community art event for the Frome Festival, intending to celebrate biodiversity and to mark the mass extinctions we are facing with an artistic funeral. Called 'The Web of Life', the event and exhibition took place at the Sun Street Chapel from 8th to 17th July 2011. To watch a film about 'The Web of Life Community Art Project', click here.
I teach 'Reading and Writing Poetry' through the Frome Community Education programme, and during the Spring/Summer runs outdoor-based creative writing writing workshops for adults, called 'Wild Ways to Writing'.
I also work as a community artist/activist and Forest Schools practitioner (Shared Earth Learning).
Other books include: Changing Nature (GreenSeer Books, 2006 - OUT OF PRINT), Hope and the Magic Martian (Lollypop Publishing, 2008) and Hope and the Super Green Highway (Lollypop Publishing, 2009).
In December 2003 I won the annually awarded Bard of Bath title. As a modern Bard I draw on our ancient cultural heritage to reinterpret the role and responsibilities of the poet in today's world, seeking to bridge oral and literary traditions, and endeavouring to make my poetry vital and accessible.
Winner of the Bard of Bath title 2003-4
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