Cultivating Awen, inspiration, lies at the heart of contemporary Druid practice, and a publishing house based in the West Country, takes Awen not only as its guiding theme, but also as its name. Awen Publications was founded by Kevan Manwaring in 2003 with the publication of their first title, Writing the Land. Kevan ran the press with dedication for more than a decade, publishing an ever-expanding list of titles and organising numerous launch parties as well as two ambitious series of live literature events: the Garden of Awen in Bath, the Awen Forum in Stroud. The press is today run by Anthony Nanson, a co-author of An Ecobardic Manifesto.
Since its founding, Awen has sought out writing that is imaginative, boundary-pushing, eco-conscious, enchanting, and challenging of received wisdoms.
I have just received two of their titles – both powerful and inspiring collections of poetry:
Soul of the Earth – The Awen Anthology of Eco-spiritual Poetry brings together 21 poets who let the Awen flow through them as they respond to the challenge the ecological crisis brings the Earth and us all.
Places of Truth – Journeys into Sacred Wilderness. Familiar to many Order members, since Jay’s poetry features in the OBOD course, poet and psychotherapist Jay Ramsay has been drawn to wild places all his writing life, in search of a particular deep listening experience. Here he shares his soundings. ‘Trwyn Meditations’, a sequence set in Snowdonia, begins this 24-year odyssey. ‘By the Shores of Loch Awe’ takes us to the fecund wilds of Scotland. ‘The Oak’ celebrates an ancient tree in the heart of the Cotswolds. ‘The Sacred Way’ is an evocation of Pilgrim Britain. ‘Culbone’ records the hidden history of the smallest parish church in England in a steep North Somerset valley near where Coleridge wrote ‘Kubla Khan’. The final sequences, ‘The Mountain’ and ‘Sinai’, takes us beyond, in all senses, touching the places where we find I and Self.
It’s soul-stirring poetry and you can read a review of the collection here. As the reviewer, Fiona Tinker writes: “These poems are beautiful and their deceptive simplicity will reward a patient reader – one who is prepared to allow the words, their images and their deeper meanings to sing in the soul.”