Tag Archives: Adam Horovitz

Love & Other Fairy Tales – a review

This isn’t an objective review – poet Adam Horovitz is someone I am blessed to count as a friend, and I live with the cover artist! 

This is a lovely collection of poems. You should definitely get a copy.

I’ve spent days trying to work out how to write a review without saying anything too obvious or tedious about this new collection while getting across something meaningful about why I like Adam’s poetry so much. So here we go.

Adam is like the sea.

Stay with me, this works. The sea takes whatever it encounters, and polishes it until the ordinary becomes extraordinary. Adam is much the same. His poems are often about scenes and experiences that are likely to be familiar. He also favours the everyday language – he isn’t one of those poets where you have to go in armed with a thesaurus, willing to try and decode the poem as though it was some kind of cryptic crossword. Which is as well because mostly I hate that sort of writing. 

You don’t have to have read a lot of poetry to make sense of Adam’s work. There are no rules or references that you need to have a handle on. Some of the pieces do allude to other work, and while it’s nice when you know what’s going on there, it’s also totally workable when you don’t. I knew some of the pieces he mentions and not others, and it was fine. 

In these poems, simple and everyday language turns into something enchanted. It’s about the pacing, the placing of words in relationship to each other, the soundscapes thus created, and the way a pairing of words can birth a sense of meaning that feels magical and unfamiliar even when those words are wholly mundane. The ordinary becomes remarkable.

It’s like the way the sea takes ugly broken pieces of glass, and turns them into colourful, smooth delight. 

More on the publisher’s website – https://www.indigodreams.co.uk/adam-horovitz

Poetry with Adam Horovitz

Adam Horovitz is one of my favourite poets. Some biases may have been created because I get to hear him read his work and I get to hang out with him, so I also know what a lovely human being he is. But even so, he’s a man with some incredible word-crafting skills. He can do things with language that leave me feeling like I’ve been buttered, or as though a stream has flowed over me, or that I have been transported to some other place and time. In terms of landscape writing, I’ve never seen anything else quite like his work for evoking place, and empathy with place.

You can read my review of Adam’s The Soil Never Sleeps here – https://druidlife.wordpress.com/2018/01/14/the-soil-never-sleeps-a-review/

And here’s Adam reading a poem from that collection

This kind of work does not happen quickly. It’s something I’ve become deeply aware of around my own creativity (and lack thereof) in recent years. The best writing takes time both to imagine and craft, and it is difficult to throw yourself heart and soul into creativity when you’re worrying about how to stay warm through the winter, or how to afford food. And if you’re doing other work to pay the bills, the headspace for the deep work is harder to find. Exhaustion and preoccupation does not make for good writing. Most creative people are struggling, and in that struggle we all lose the beauty that could have been. We lose opportunities for wonder and we limit creativity to those who are financially supported in other ways – for those who have the most privilege.

Adam has started a Patreon account, and if it works, it will mean more poetry videos like the one above. It will buy him time for the deeper levels of thinking and engagement that make this kind of poetry possible. A few dollars here and there will make a great deal of difference – because they always do. You can support Adam here – https://www.patreon.com/AdamHorovitz/posts

If you love what someone does, supporting them on any platform makes worlds of difference. The sums of money floating about may seem (to anyone on a normal wage) so small as to be irrelevant. Fifty dollars a month can be the difference between eating and eating well. I know creators who depend on patreon to pay key bills and who are able to create because of that. People who put a great deal of joy and beauty and worth into the world – much of it moving around online for free.

We tend to assume that quality leads to money and that money is a fair measure of a creator’s worth. According the UK’s Society of Authors, the average full time professional author earns about ten thousand pounds a year. That’s what success looks like in this industry. It looks exactly like poverty.

I also have a Patreon account and for me it has made the difference between giving up, and keeping going. https://www.patreon.com/NimueB

The Soil Never Sleeps – a review

This is a poetry collection like nothing I have ever read before, and I’ve read a fair amount of poetry over the years. Poet Adam Horovitz visited pasture farms through the seasons. There were four farms in different parts of the UK, and the visits were in spring, autumn, winter and then summer, which is reflected in the structure of the book. This is poetry that goes far beyond the usual picturesque treatments of landscape. This is nature writing that goes far beyond what nature writing normally does. Intense, personal, specific and powerful, this is a truly remarkable book and one of those rare texts I think everyone should read.

The pasture farms in question all seek to work in harmony with the land, the soil, the grass, and as a consequence these are landscapes full of wildlife as well as the sheep and cows the farms focus on. It’s a demonstration of what small scale, responsible animal rearing means. This was entirely beyond my experience, and I learned a lot in practical terms. We don’t have a pristine landscape untouched by humans here in the UK, we have a landscape informed by thousands of years of human activity – including grazing herds. It’s something that can be done well, and there are many species that have evolved to exist in our meadows and pastures, if we don’t force them out.

There’s nothing preachy about these poems. Adam tells stories of life on the land, creatures encountered, experiences in landscapes, stories of soil and grass and bramble. Those stories invite us to see the pasture in an entirely new way, and that’s really exciting. It’s an eye opener.

Adam is certainly one of my favourite poets. His work is lyrical, emotionally affecting (but never heavy handed) reflective, and engaging. He’s always accessible. You don’t need to have read anything else, or studied anything. I’ve been in the fortunate position of hearing some of these poems read out loud, and they can be absorbed in a single hearing. You don’t have to sweat over the page to make sense of them. At the same time, the poems reward repeat encounters, opening up to you as you revisit them, as a friend might. It’s beautiful work.

I really appreciated the way in which these poems are so absolutely specific to time and place, to people and to creatures who emerge from the text as distinct individuals. This isn’t nature as backdrop. Nor is it nature or landscape as some kind of metaphor for inner human experiences. These are songs of soil and sheep, of cows and seasons, and as they unfold, they teach you why it is not enough to see landscape as backdrop and wildlife as metaphor. It’s a powerful, magical act of re-enchantment and of re-engagement with the world.

Adam has a rare knack for taking the language of the every day and making it sing, putting depth and meaning into words we may have become complacent about. Showing us how our own, every day language might be imbued with grace and substance.

The final section of the poems is the most overtly political, reflecting on the poet’s experience of land and farming, and the wider world. I think that’s vital at the moment. We can’t separate the personal from the political, or the land from the lawmakers intent on ravaging is as a resource. It is so easy to get demoralised about these thing, but Adam chooses to uplift and inspire, and we need more of this.

Listen to a poem here – https://soundcloud.com/resoundradio2017/adam-horovitz-the-soil-never-sleeps 

Buy the book here (and other places!) https://www.amazon.co.uk/Soil-Never-Sleeps-Poems-Horovitz/dp/1911587056

Poetry for Peace

The following poem, by Adam Horovitz, is highly pertinent to the strained and uneasy times in which we are living. It speaks directly to the ludicrousness of hate, but it also points to a way forward. One of the things apparent in the last week, has been how hard it is to challenge hate-speech without just shouting angrily back across the divides. The first half of this poem expresses the rage, but the second half opens the door to something else entirely, which is exactly what we have to do.

In The Name Of… (it’s a sweary poem, you may want to check the words before you listen if you’re concerned about who else may be going to hear it…)

And you can read a text version here https://iamnotasilentpoet.wordpress.com/2015/11/14/in-the-name-of-by-adam-horovitz/

Writing the landscape

How the landscape is written about is something I’m exploring at the moment. That which we do not talk about, we tend not to value. If we don’t have words, or a language for something, then often we don’t pay as much attention to it anyway. With our landscapes threatened by all manner of ill conceived development, with rising urbanisation and a generation of children who are more familiar with Daleks than magpies, it seems important to me not only to talk about the land, but to make sure I’m doing that well.

My natural default when I don’t know an answer to something large, is to read books. At the moment I’m reading as much Gloucestershire orientated material as I can, because it helps to know the place being described. I started the conscious leg of this journey with Robert McFarlane’s Landmarks (even though he’s not from round here!) and I have a growing ‘to read’ list.

Adam Horovitz’s “A Thousand Laurie Lees” follows in the footsteps of “Cider with Rosie” to tell of a childhood in beautiful Slad valley, and growing up there. It goes beyond the first book not only for being later (published on the centenary of Lee’s birth) but for being much more conscious of the relationship between the writing and the land. Cider with Rosie changed Slad. It brought tourists, second home owners and an array of arty people – Adam’s parents included – until the celebrity arts thing going on in Slad became an attraction in its own right and even lured the press out.

Alongside this, Laurie Lee used his status and the power of his book to protect his valley from development. Since his death, people have continued to evoke him; a protective spirit whose written vision of glorious childhood paints a glow over the valley that even hard nosed developers are a bit awed by. Slad is not uniquely beautiful, it has the same kind of charm, heritage and loveliness of all the valleys carved into the Cotswolds around here, only this one has a book to protect it, and others do not.

When a person sets out to write a book, there is no way of knowing what impact that book will have. It’s worth thinking about, anyway. What will be the impact of Adam Horovitz’s lyrical revisiting of this iconic place? I will have to go and look for the lost village he mentions. Who else will be moved to do what, there is no knowing, but like Cider with Rosie before it, this is a book with the potential to both record and change how people relate to a place.

It’s important, I think, that both “A Thousand Laurie Lees” and “Cider with Rosie” are as much autobiographies as they are books of place. Land and life are inextricably linked. Our formal history is surprisingly uninterested in where things happened, and treats geography as separate from history. And yet the geography here shapes the history – the steep sided valleys with their streams allow certain things and thwart others, and always have. The marks of historical mining and agriculture are in the land – life lived alters the landscape, and landscape shapes the life.

The relationship between who we are, and where we are, is something I want to consider further.

Find out more about “A Thousand Laurie Lees” here – http://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/index.php/a-thousand-laurie-lees-23975.html/