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  • Writer's pictureJohn Dempster

An evening of Moon Writing

We had another great HighlandLIT session on Tuesday evening at the Glen Mhor Hotel – there were about 26 people present at a writing workshop led by eco-poet Helen Moore. The workshop had an intriguing title – Moon Write – reclaiming our lunar connection.

That night, said Helen, there was a new moon. She spoke about her writings, which aim to raise awareness of an environment from which many of us are disconnected. She specifically focussed on the influence of the moon upon the earth, and upon us – we discussed the moon’s effects, including its influence on mood and energy level. And the moon, Helen made clear, gives us gifts as we approach our writing. ‘Our culture,’ she told us, ‘hasn’t allowed us to honour our connection with the moon.

Helen is a fine writer with a lovely, warm personality. She is also a skilful tutor. The first part of the workshop was devoted to hearing and discussing poems which make mention of the moon. She read two of her own poems. The first was from her new pamphlet, The Disinherited which mark 230 years since the British invasion of Aboriginal Australia in 1788. The poem, Daughter of Dissolution sought to evoke the earliest infancy of a woman born one year before this event, a historical figure, and how her life was affected by the coming of the English. The second was from Helen’s collection Ecozoa (2015), which addresses the ecological crisis we are now facing. There are, said Helen, ‘amazing things happening around the world’ which are not being reported by mainstream media, but which offer hope that we can make the changes necessary to protect the planet. She read Climate Adaption no 2, which depicted a London transformed by rising sea levels and tropical climate. London is now ‘the Venice of the north’; the original Venice has disappeared beneath the waves.

The moon appeared in both Helen’s poems; we then moved on to consider works featuring our satellite by other authors, including Kathleen Jamie’s Moon and Ted Hughes’ Full Moon and Little Frieda.

After a break, it was our turn. Helen gave us some words to trigger short bursts of writing – ‘Lunar Park’; ‘Moonstruck’; ‘Moon bathing’ ; and then asked us to spend 15 minutes pouring on to paper the words which came as we either developed our original short pieces, or else allowed one of a series of moon-related pictures to inspire us.

I was as always impressed by the power of the pieces of writing which folk produced. It was a great evening, and we’re enormously grateful to Helen for leading us.

And she left us with a task. She suggested we explore the place ‘the moon’ has in our culture and in other cultures; she suggested we keep conscious of the lunar cycle as it progresses over the next 28 days alert to changes and patterns in our experience.

(Photo: HighlandLIT programme co-ordinator Drew Hillier with Helen Moore.)


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