" /> Environmentalism Archives - Naomi Foyle

  September sings, but the chords of summer echo on, not least of my visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territories in late July for readings from A Blade of Grass: New Palestinian Poetry, the bilingual anthology I edited last year for Smokestack Books. Travelling with Rachel Searle, the Director of BlakeFest (Bognor Regis) – for whom I am consulting on the Building Jerusalem event in this year’s festival – Palestinian-American poet Farid S. Bitar, and performance artist/historian Catherine Charrett, I chaired two poetry events in East Jerusalem and Ramallah; visited with Jewish peace activists in Haifa; and, in the Occupied Galilee, met with poet and political prisoner Dareen Tatour on the eve of her sentencing. Rachel and I returned home sobered by the manifold injustices we had witnessed, but also inspired to ‘see the world in a blade of grass’, and motivated to continue creating poetic bridges between Palestine and…

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A glass bell

What a year. When it comes to traumas we’re spoiled for choice, but as Amnesty International and Greenpeace remind us, 2016 also brought many victories for humanity and the planet. Here at home, I’ve been celebrating the official All Clear, which clear as a bell, arrived with impeccable timing on Dec 23rd. I’ve still got follow-treatments to come, but to bid farewell to cancer, I’m looking back on ten books that have enriched my journey thus far through the ‘kingdom of the sick’. What should you read during chemotherapy? I like to laugh, sure, but in my frail state I also wanted to see my suffering and that of the world reflected with compassion and insight. Thus the themes of illness, migration and climate change flow through this list of poetry, essays and fiction. Of Mutability by Jo Shapcott (Faber and Faber, 2011). Spending five months on the strongest drugs…

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I’m home from a weekend in London where, with the help of wonderful friends and a small wheelie suitcase I celebrated the end of chemo by taking a few baby steps back into the world beyond Brighton hospital clinics – and a big breath of freedom before my operation on Dec 6th. Thanks to the success of my chemotherapy cycles, during which my tumour disappeared, this will be minor day surgery on my lymph nodes, but still, my first time under the knife: I will be spending the next couple of weeks mentally and physically building calm strength. The weekend was a great start in that direction. Saturday night I saw the musical ‘A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer’ at the National Theatre. A musical about cancer, featuring dance numbers with people dressed up as tumours in weird glitzy knitted costumes . . . what an outlandish idea,…

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As promised, here are my photo diaries from my recent week in the West Bank. I made it in to Israel-Palestine safely from Cyprus, though what possessed me to put a copy of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet in my hand luggage, I do not know! Although it is not illegal to visit the West Bank, you have to do so via Israel, and will be refused entry if you announce your intention to travel on into the occupied territories. I had half-baked notions of posing as a Christian pilgrim, but on finding The Prophet the Israeli security guard in the departure lounge decided I was ‘studying Arabic’ and brought in a higher-up to question me. ‘It is love poetry!’ I cried – ‘My mother had this book!’. When I said I was visiting an Israeli friend, he wanted to see her photo. I didn’t have one, and they let me…

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    Dec 31st and not only do I realise I haven’t blogged since July, but I find myself unable to post the traditional list of the year’s top ten books, films, or significant events. Far from this being the year of living listlessly, I am afraid the only tallies I can provide right now are a sad roll call of friends who have died in the last four months, and a long unscrolling moan of all the marking, household chores and writing projects that the year will now leave undone. Since September I’ve been teaching full time (though unfortunately not for full time wages), and the Christmas season, lovely and indulgent as it’s been, has seen me careening madly from tissue paper hats to stacks of undergraduate poems, essays and novel chapters. Work, especially satisfying work, does help stave off grief, and as well as staying up late to…

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Farewell 2014, but may your turning tides continue to sweep us between the icebergs and whirlpools of political despair and environmental collapse, toward the hard-won shores of a fairer world. For though global disasters and injustices only seemed to intensify this year – climate change, Syria bleeding into Iraq, Israel’s genocidal attack on Gaza, Ebola, Boko Haram, racist executions on the streets of America, and in the UK the continued dismantling of the NHS and the ethnic cleansing of the poor, to name but a few on-going explosions – it was also a year of significant victories for participatory democracy. Everywhere, people power is steadily rising, and with it a tangible sense of my favourite metaphor of 2014: sea change. For if Scylla and Charybdis also represent the Right and old Left, the nimblest ships sailing through them are whole new political paradigms – personally, I’m entering 2015 buoyed up…

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From Palestine to eco-literature – my autumn events are rippling out into planetary concerns. Many thanks to the Havant Literary Festival (Oct 3-12) for inviting me to read from Astra at the eco-literature event on their programme this year. I was leaf-tickled to hear that my friend the wonderful eco-poet Helen Moore has been added to the bill! A half-day conference on ecologically inspired literature Sun Oct 12 2pm – 5.45pm Bosmere School, South Street, Havant £10, £8 concs. We start the afternoon with Dr Rebecca Welshman of the University of Liverpool, who is the leading authority on the life and work of West Country naturalist and writer Richard Jefferies. A long-time TB sufferer, Jefferies died at 38 in 1887. Environmental catastrophe and the human place are themes of his adventure novel After London (1885). Those who admired and were influenced by him include Edward Thomas, John Fowles and Raymond…

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On Advising a Young Man from Galway To Do a Second MA in Biodiversity And evening full of the linnet’s wings — WB Yeats Not sparrows, not dusty summer robins — linnets. Her tidy brown self; His Nibs, top-nobbing the fence posts in puffy pink vest, white epaulettes. Linnets. Not the slender, moth-grey echoes of Inishfree and Jenny Lind I’ve smuggled to Mayo in the rickety cage of my mind, but barefoot ballad mongers, ha’penny paper sellers, three-walnut-shells-and-a-pea players; fancy lads and freckled lasses on a Kilmainham council estate, shadowing a stranger, then like laughter snatched by the wind, whisking away in a riffle of reshuffled cards, the purring flight-path of an arrow. Strutting little linnet, you take a flattering interest in us but we’ve hardly returned the favour: not made you a greeting card icon, just a fleeting emblem of the orchestral Irish air. So, young man at the…

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