from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Sunday, 23 February 2014


Or maybe they're 'gayagea'? Here are two more pics of the instruments (the first again, and two of the second) that I mention in my last blog (there you are, Miriam!). 

Public artist Michael Fairfax has made these beautiful instruments for humans and wind to play. These are two of the three he's currently making, each with one of my haiku carved into it.

Michael will upload the sound of the instruments at some stage. Meantime, you can see more of his work at

Michael, whose father John Fairfax was a poet and also co-founder of the Arvon Foundation, and I have been working collaboratively together since an Arts Council England 'Year of the Artist' project in 2000-2001 where we worked with a group of artists collectively named Genius Loci on a year-long residency at Hestercombe Gardens in Somerset.

Later we worked on a project at the Cotswold Water Park, South Cerney, near Cirencester; one of the most significant sites of fossils in the country. Devastatingly, Jurassic-era ammonites the size of cannonballs are routinely smashed to make aggregate for our roads. I've written about this in my book Writing the Bright Moment; and here is a sonnet from that time and place in my life (published in my first collection, Looking For Icarus):

iii Cotswold Water Park: The Gravel Pits

I remember the date, but not the start. I remember
the grimy Cotswold spine road, fume-filled, fast;
the roaring dust-tracked lorries; Cirencester
at our backs. The roadside verges’ foliage

choked and blasted; wild carrot, yarrow, cinquefoil
ragged by Big Mac boxes, beer cans, plastic.
A badger’s rictus. Centre of operations: earth’s multiple
hysterectomies, entrails scooped and piled for us

to try to read 160 million years before it’s crushed
for gravel. We scramble greedy with gaping
bags for ammonites big as cannonballs, as fists.
Within, the ancients said, a dragon sleeps; if woken

triggers storm. Driving back, beneath our wheels her body parts.
Thundergods roar, stake lightning through our complicit hearts.

As far as I know a short poem of mine is inscribed still into some vertebrae-like glass and metal sculptures embedded into the cycle-track along the 'Spine Road' through the Park. A different project there included a workshop writing haiku onto flags, which we then towed along the cycle track.

Michael and I also lead a fun workshop day together at Branscombe Mouth on the East Devon coast, playing with text and land art. If you fancy experimenting outdoors with us, even if you have no previous experience of writing and don't consider yourself to be an artist, click here:Branscombe Day

The libretto I spoke of in the last post is very much a work-in-progress; which is to say it remains conceptual, but will gradually take shape. 

© Roselle Angwin text; Michael Fairfax images.


  1. Thanks Roselle. Ah yes, I remember the Cotswold Water Park – one of the worst walks we've ever done, in heat, through rowdy crowds all barbecuing by the water, the yachts and the brash St Tropez-ish (I imagine, having never been!) houses. A bad day to choose. I'm sure the Bulrush bridge is still worth a visit, though – maybe in winter.
    Very much like your verse – really conjures the feel of spoiled earth – especially 'earth's multiple hysterectomies'.
    Re: B Hepworth at St Ives – I found my 2004 poem about her exhibition which moved me a great deal. There are sculptures there, of motherhood, I think, which use strings across gaps for the wind to play. I always see islands as being like Aeolian harps. Another buffeting day here, too; booms, creaks and rushing sounds – our house far out at sea today.
    Miriam x

  2. Yes, It's grim. We were there to 'improve it'. I think the Hepworth piece is in Tate St Ives, or was - I remember it. Islands = Aeolian harps - lovely. Synaesthesia. Our house in the lee. Liked the ref. Rx


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