“What is your book?” he asked.
- At it’s most literal it is two boards between which are pieces of paper bound with a central spine. Contained on the pages are 26 letters of the alphabet, arranged in a certain and specific order and a series of images made from coloured water.
- It’s a creative protest against the falling away of the usage of certain words due to the attention being focussed in a different way and an attempt to refocus the minds of humans onto the everyday wild in which we live.
- It’s a series of spells that aim to conjure a love of language and wild things in the hearts and minds of young and old accompanied by images that celebrate the words, and so engage the percentage of our population who cannot read words.
“Why is your book?” he asked, and I could only answer with a kingfisher and a story.
I first met kingfisher in the pages of a book. A word. Ten letters.
I came to reading late, but when I began to understand how writing worked it lit my child’s mind and filled my head with a new way of thinking, thou, still, I mostly thought in images, not words. The curious alchemical relationship of reader and text constantly amazes me.
Kingfisher. It seemed that in the world in which I lived there was a bird, a river dweller, coloured in the brightest blue, with a breast that shone like the setting sun.
Every time I have ever seen a kingfisher is written in my memory, not in words, but as a flashing image. On the riverbank in Evesham where I walked as a child. Along the canals in Bath, fierce arrows, ‘too fast to follow’, cutting a rent in the air above a golden river near Tarr Steps on Exmoor. And each time I saw a kingfisher flash, or ‘caught on the snag of a stick’, I felt a connection root through my being, a connection to a world of wild, inhuman, beauty. And because I had read of this bird I knew what it was.
Back to the first question. What is your book? It’s a harbour for the wild child, who feels uncomfortable in its own skin as it looks around and tries to make some sense of an adult world where grown ups say one thing and behave in a completely different way. It’s a soul song from two creatures who have grown up loving the world outside the human world, seeing the trees, birds, plants, creatures and loving them and their wild souls. It’s celebration of word and image working in a symbiotic way to, we hope, delight the eye and ear. It is a catalyst for creativity, and already we have some beautiful music to accompany the rhythm of the words.
It is, for now, the best we can do.
It’s an acorn, a seed. If you water it with your attention we hope it will grow.
And one more answer to the Why? Because we have a responsibility to awe, or as Rebecca Elson said:
We Astronomers – Poem by Rebecca Elson
We astronomers are nomads,
Merchants, circus people,
All the earth our tent.
We are industrious.
We breed enthusiasms,
Honour our responsibility to awe.
But the universe has moved a long way off.
Sometimes, I confess,
Starlight seems too sharp,
And like the moon
I bend my face to the ground,
To the small patch where each foot falls,
Before it falls,
And I forget to ask questions,
And only count things.