Published by Moon Books (John Hunt Publishing) in June 2021 is my narrative non-fiction book written in and partly about the ancient Forêt de Brocéliande in Brittany. It now has a page of its own on this site.
A Spell in the Forest – tongues in trees is about tree lore, myth, individual tree species according to the Celtic ogham alphabet, my personal relationship with Tree and Forest, and the Wildwood. The link just above offers quite a few reviews, and will show you where you can buy it (though you can also buy it from me). Until mid-December 2021 I’m offering two for £20 plus £3.50 p&p if you buy direct from me. (They’re normally £13.99 each.)
SCROLL DOWN to bottom to see how to buy my books.
Here’s something lovely someone’s just written to me about my work: ‘There are only a few writers whose work one turns to with such pleasure and sure knowledge that the larger seeing, the wider heart will be restored through reading their work.’ CB.
The Burning Ground
Quotes from the book: ‘I’ve accepted that to live life fully means accepting that loss and pain are inevitable. Finally, now, I have. I didn’t then. But what alternative do we have? Life isn’t safe, and it’s not possible to love safely, either. Saying yes to love, or to life, means saying yes to loss and death too. The only way we can insulate ourselves at all is to live smaller lives…’
‘But this moment is what we have, and love is deepened at the most implausible times.’
My most recent novel, set on Dartmoor and in Brittany, places close to my heart. Here’s the blurb: Take two brothers. One secret. One woman, two lovers. Add in two deaths, and the trauma of foot and mouth on a small Dartmoor hill farm. Under such pressure other older secrets emerge, with devastating consequences. And here‘s where you can buy it (or order it from your local bookshop); or from me. (Amazon has a number of lovely reviews; similarly with Imago, below.)
‘Here is that rare type of novel: a story really rooted in place, and equally deeply embedded in each moment as it passes. This may sound an odd opening line of a review, but Angwin’s novel The Burning Ground moves through sudden loss, deep grief, emotional turmoil and further loss by being so rooted in the landscape and the situation she has planted her central character Tamar in that this sense of perspective becomes clear as the story develops.
‘Angwin is also a poet and a creative writing facilitator, running the highly successful and respected Fire In The Head programme, and this thirst to live and communicate deeply, shown in other work, including her first novel, Imago, breathes through The Burning Ground. Tamar is ablaze with an aliveness that sears from the page into the imagination.
‘Elsewhere, Angwin has written that she explores the terrain of “inner and outer landscapes”, and of her belief in human potential and our power to renew. This is abundantly evident within this 304-page exploration of circumstance.’
from a review in Resurgence magazine
‘I read this over two days and could hardly bear to put it down. Gripping narrative, beautifully written and with a depth of knowledge of so many things: landscape, environment, farming, archaeology, myth and human passion, yet none of it heavy handed or overpowering the plot.’ MTR
‘…the best book I’ve read in a very long time…‘ Dr HG
There’s a summary of it on the Guardian’s ‘readers’ best books of 2013′.
Imago was my first novel, and I have an unshakeable attachment to it. It took 17 years to find a home (and then that publisher disappeared. IDP took it on as part of a 4-book deal with me.) It’s a timeslip novel, set in C20th Devon and C13th France, and is about love, responsibility, heresy and time. And stuff. Best place to buy this is from me, or Amazon. (There are, of course, reviews of this and the other books online at Amazon.) Scroll down.
A purchaser has just said of the above novel: ‘…I had such a book-hangover from Imago; incredible writing…’ (November 2017)
Look at this (boast alert) from a very well-known author whose books I greatly admire: ‘I loved it. “Imago” is beautifully achieved, utterly memorable and exquisitely written. I lingered over every page, and revelled in your sensual wisdom. It’s lovely, infinitely better than Kate Mosse’s overblown and unconvincing […] sprawl of a novel on the Cathars. Where she’s literal and laboured, you’re deftly suggestive and powerfully realised. For a first novel, it’s phenomenal, and should have sold by the van-load and trawled in the awards for you.’ (I wish.) (November 2018)
A Trick of the Light
A Trick of the Light is my most recent poetry collection; my 4th full collection, this time from the Isle of Iona 2000–2017 (with one or two older poems), published by Pindrop Press December 2017.
You can hear a few poems from the opening sequence here.
‘Angwin’s longstanding kinship with the wild reaches new heights in this collection. She moves effortlessly between lucid detail and deep vision as she leaves behind the ‘white noise’ of the world for the embrace of sea, wind, rain and silence. Beautifully wrought, the poems are in love with life, but accepting of transience, their spiritual wisdom strongly felt but lightly worn – a ‘passionate equanimity’ that is a rare and mature achievement.’
Review: ‘I’ve just read all the way through your wonderful collection and find [the poems] so moving, affecting me deeply in the way that music [does]…
‘They’re both other-worldly and of this world, depicting that real world where the veil is thin. If anyone says they don’t know what that means, I’d give them this collection.
‘If I hadn’t ever been to Iona, I wouldn’t be able to keep away, having read them. They’re tender and loving, sadly beautiful in the way that all great art is.’ MH
‘– a study in how to create a consistent portrait of place, it’s a literary watercolour, almost a meditation.’ Marc Woodward
‘I have been reading ‘A Trick of the Light’; I can’t get over the power and perception of your writing, it’s haunted me, quite, quite beautiful; so accessible and yet so layered in meaning. I could smell the sea, feel the grasses, and hear the yearning of the wind. Quite beautiful.‘ CGW
Looking For Icarus
From IDP is a reprint (10 years on) of my first poetry collection, Looking For Icarus. I’m delighted and, unusually, I still really like all the poems in it. And what a great cover.
You can listen to a rather strange atmospheric little sound poem from this collection here. It was written with broken ribs and therefore in some pain at 3 a.m. one morning.
Here’s a sample poem, and there are 5 or 6 more here. You can buy the book from this link, too.
You could have been squatting here forever
almost grown into bank, or become another
rippling ring of light on the dark river.
Twigs have roosted in your hair; your hands
river-stone-cold. Breath feathers the last of the day.
Where do we go each time we close behind us
the door of the present moment? Who
steps forward and who is left behind?
Who still squats by the water when you’re
long gone into tree, or bird, or sand?
© Roselle Angwin, 2005/2015
All the Missing Names of Love
This is perhaps my most personal collection of poems (IDP). People have said lovely things about it. You can buy it here.
‘Over the past few months I’ve been reading your poems with great delight. The poems about your parents in this volume are fiercely moving… I find your poems as wild and varied as your hair. You have indeed made a home in the air. Some of them bring a keen comfort: Given that the stars we see are dead, why should I mind about transience? And Vernal Equinox. Others take me a step on a journey I yearn for: Four Lessons in Stillness; Wheel; Corncrakes. You combine the tactile with the imaginary, the abstract, with apparently consummate ease and effect – and affect. Of course, I love Election; and The last of the light takes my breath away.’ JA
Bardo (Shearsman) is a collection of mostly prose poems; a form that is greatly under-rated in Britain, I believe. (There are poem-poems in there too.) I’d say it was more abstract and philosophical than the collection (Love) above. Once again, people have said nice things on That Web Bookshop.
Someone I barely know also came up to me recently in person to say Nice Things (he’s a Buddhist practitioner): ‘This book deserves to be really widely known. It’s written with a diamond stylus. I know the true taste of dharma when I eat it.’
I’ve just refound elsewhere a review by Alasdair Paterson:
‘Those of you already in possession of a smattering of Tibetan or the vocabulary of transcendence will know that “bardo” signifies a transitional or liminal state (Latin has its uses too). Roselle Angwin’s “Zen take on psychogeography” examines just what it is we discover in the contours of place, how much we bring along with us, how much inner and outer landscapes and weathers interpenetrate and rock into some kind of equilibrium. The poems, many formally prose poems, are captivating and in places breath-taking, calm yet displaying a palette of emotional colours, always subtle and open to the world. Here are the connections between landscape and memory, landscape and belief, landscape and identity – one to read and re-read, to recalibrate the senses before getting out into the world again:
just a slight thickening
of the molecules that
make up water
is almost more wave
You can read a sample and buy a copy here (or, as with most of the others, from my blog: roselle-angwin.blogspot.co.uk) and also here.
This very beautiful book (I can say that because they are not my photos, nor my design) is a limited edition of a collaboration between myself and a Dartmoor photographer, Vikki Minette. My long poem, River Suite, was initially commissioned in the 90s by Devon Arts In Schools Initiative, and has been set to music by three different composers working with me in nine different rural Devon schools. The pupils then performed the results. Minette’s photos are extraordinary images of Dartmoor water.
It makes a great present for lovers of Devon, Dartmoor, rivers, or land. I have a few copies left at £16 plus £2.50 p&p.
Writing the Bright Moment – inspiration & guidance for writers
(Fire in the Head 2005 with an Arts Council England award)
Need a shot of inspiration? Want to work with me over 300+ pages? Christmas/birthday present for a writer? This book is a much-acclaimed hands-on collection of my workshops, basically, with a number of contributions by other writers working in similar fields. Approx. 350pp.
‘I have read many books about approaches to writing and when Writing the Bright Moment was first published in 2005 I immediately ordered a copy. It’s been with me everywhere since then as I have moved around the country a bit. Now I’m settled somewhere else and I often go back, deep into its pages. It’s not only about writing; it’s about living the writing from all kinds of directions – mind, body, spirit, elements and so forth. I’m thrilled to see it back in print!’ (Comment on my blog from JS)
‘What makes this book special is the store of philosophical, scientific, and spiritual wisdom offered in its pages, as well as the wealth of practical guidance on writing… This is a handbook genuinely rich in wisdom, and assured in its approach – a touchstone for writers throughout their lives.’ Review by William Park (INCwriters October 2005)
‘There are writers driven by inner necessity, who devote their lives to their work because they must, exploring the liminal region that exists behind and before and beneath this one – Coleridge’s realm of the imagination where real poetry happens, where the world is made and remade. It’s unusual to find good discursive writing about our excursions into this place. Annie Dillard’s classic The Writing Life is perhaps the best and best known; more recently Roselle Angwin’s Writing the Bright Moment: Inspiration and Guidance for Writers is a magnificent support. I discovered it when I was feeling arid and dispirited after encountering too many of the other kind of writers – the ones who pursue publication at all costs, and who are prepared to write trite and tripe to get it – their subject matter less liminal than cheap libidinal.’ Excerpted from review by Rosie Rabia Jackson in Tears in the Fence 2006
There are a few excerpts from journal and magazine reviews on Amazon. These are some words that have just come my way: ‘”Writing the Bright Moment” is one of the best purchases I have ever made. Everlastingly inspiring.’
Someone else told me that when they moved to their houseboat, they got rid of all creative writing books (even Natalie Goldberg, gasp of horror!) – except this one…
You can buy this on Amazon, or direct from me.
Creative Novel Writing
(Robert Hale 1999) This one does what it says on the tin – takes you right through the process of writing a novel, based on my Storymaking workshops (as featured in The Guardian) (so it includes exercises). People seem to like it. (Christmas or birthday present for that aspiring novelist?) Someone said they wished they’d seen and bought this one first instead of wasting money on a load of other books on novel-writing! It’s out of print now; I have 1 first edition hardback copy left (collectible!) at £22, plus £3.50 p&p. A signed copy of the last 2 first edition paperbacks will cost you £14 plus £3.50 p&p from me (use roselle[at]fire-in-the-head[dot]co[dot]uk on Paypal (replacing with the usual symbols).
UPDATE 2021: most of the advice in this book is still very much relevant, and certainly all the creative aspects. However, it was written before the widespread upsurge in self-publishing and digital platforms, and nowadays the most common method of submissions is digitally and through an agent.
Riding the Dragon – myth & the inner journey
This was my very first book. It was an exciting commission, taken by phone in 1993 from the then Element Books. At the time, I was making my living as a shoemaker from a converted ox-stable in the grounds of a C13th abbey, as you do, and when I took the call I was covered in dust and glue and at first had no idea what the commissioning editor was talking about. But I’d trained as a counsellor in Transpersonal Psychology by then, and was leading occasional workshops: ‘Myth as Metaphor’, all about archetype, story, and the ongoing relevance of myth to our psyche and lives. This book is that. There are very very few of this lovely edition (I mean the cover!) in print; it was bought out by other publishers who’ve been pretty rubbish, really, and also given it awful covers. I have just 3 or 4 of this edition left – 2nd hand, and one or two new. Do please contact me for info.
Given that this book came out in 1994 and the publishers went bust not long after, I’m always amazed and delighted that occasionally people still read it. Someone has just written to me to say this: ‘I am on the last chapter of Riding the Dragon and it has been a transformative journey. I want to thank you for what you have brought to me through this wonderful book. It has broken a spell that held me for years. I am amazed and delighted. Thank you. Thank you.’ (January 2020)
23 years after its publication, I’m delighted that the recently outgoing President of the Pagan Federation in GB mentioned this book in his presidential acceptance speech as one of his influences in finding his path.
The White Hind in the Thicket
This lovely little booklet of my retelling of a traditional tale is illustrated and designed by Alexi Francis. You can see info here. The easiest way to buy this (it’s £4.50 in GB including postage, £5.50 in the rest of Europe) is to go direct to Paypal and put in my email address, which is Roselle followed by [at]fire-in-the-head[dot]co[dot]uk, replacing of course with the usual symbols. Don’t forget to send me your land address with the order (indeed, any orders).
There are reviews on all except the little booklet on Amazon. And here’s a plea: no matter where people buy the books, Amazon reviews are invaluable. If you’ve read one or more of my books, it would help me enormously if you could write a brief review.
On the heels of my latest book, A Spell in the Forest, above, is its companion, which intertwines memoir after a decade of grief with tales of the lost feminine.
As of 1st January 2019, it seems I’m writing a new book on plant-based living for a sustainable future, complete with vegan recipes from our veg garden. More anon.
‘In the queue’ are two more poetry collections, the sequel to Spell, plus a collection of essays on place and belonging. Following that, I’ll be publishing some of the short essays (by popular request, as they say) from my blog.
HOW TO BUY MY BOOKS
You can buy most of these, if not all of them, from me. Go to the contact page.
NB I have a few ‘seconds’ of Spell for sale: typographical errors that really bug me but are minor enough for most people barely to notice. They’re a tenner each, plus p&p at £2.50.
Until mid-December 2021 I’m offering two copies of Spell (typo-free) for £20 plus £3.50 p&p if you buy direct from me. (They’re normally £13.99 each.)
I usually have 2nd-hand copies of my first now out-of-print books, Riding the Dragon – myth & the inner journey and Creative Novel Writing for sale.
It’s easy to buy my books via Paypal (which is secure), even if you don’t have a PayPal account. PayPal allows you to pay with a debit or credit card (to do this use the ‘Check Out as a Guest’ option on the PayPal page); search for me by using my name or my email address here, replacing the bits in square brackets with the usual symbols. roselle[at]fire-in-the-head[dot]co[dot]uk
Or order them from your local independent bookstore, or from Hive. (Hive, like bookshop.org below, will give a %age of the cover price to a local bookshop of your choice.) You can also buy them on the ethical online bookstore bookshop.org. Some you can buy direct from the publishers. And of course also from that dreaded online mega-seller beginning with an A, where my American author page is here and my British one here. The Book Depository also sell many of them, and ship worldwide free.
There are reviews on most of them on Amazon. Several have had a number of lovely reviews in journals. Being a Luddite, I’m going to stick to hard copy, myself, but if you’re an e-booker, both my novels and also Spell are available as e-books.
Here’s a plea on behalf of all authors: even if you buy your books elsewhere, a review on Amazon makes all the difference; even just a sentence or two.
You can read other poems, and see some carved into wood in one of my collaborative projects, on this page which elaborates a little on my life in poetry.
‘It was wonderful to spend that day with someone whose values and spirit are so true, as I’m also discovering from reading your beautiful poems. It’s still rare to meet writers driven by soul and heart rather than ego, and [who] stand firmly grounded in years of hard-won wisdom, so I feel very lifted and inspired.’ RJ, workshop participant