‘Writing the world back into existence': Helen Macdonald and ‘H is for Hawk’ at the Sydney Writers’ Festival 2015

SWF1Yesterday on a perfect autumn afternoon I was at the Sydney Writers’ Festival to hear Helen Macdonald talk about her extraordinary book H is for Hawk. I can’t remember the last time I was so excited to hear a writer speak about a book at this festival. (Well I can, actually, it was in 2010 when Raj Patel was here to talk about The Value of Nothing, but they are such different books the comparison is kind of meaningless.)

As I sat in the sun waiting for the session, I wondered: what more can Macdonald possibly give of herself and her story because she seems to have poured it all whole into her book, which is part biography (of a hawk, of her photographer father, of writer TH White), part memoir of grief and loss, part love story and part ‘love song’ (Macdonald’s phrase) to the scrubby fields around Cambridge and other English places. But thanks to searching questions from Caroline Baum and a few from the audience at the end, and to Macdonald’s own easy openness and poet’s way with words, she gave so much more.

Helen Macdonald (R) in conversation with Caroline Baum

Helen Macdonald (R) in conversation with Caroline Baum

Here’s what I scribbled during this captivating conversation before a packed room. First up, Macdonald told us she now has a parrot called Birdoole, who’s cuddlier than her goshawk Mabel but attacks her more and flies off with her computer keys.

Baum then asked her what she’d been like before this book, before her father died, before her goshawk Mabel. She said she’d studied English at Cambridge University and then did a Masters of Science because she wanted to work on how people saw the natural world and why they see it the way they do. She was thinking about what she wanted to do next, because she didn’t feel she fitted into Cambridge, and was thinking of becoming a writer. And then out of the blue her father died.

UnknownShe’s been obsessed with birds her whole life. As a child she’d fold her arms behind her back in bed, attempting to sleep like a bird. She’s worked in the Gulf States, hanging out with Bedouins trapping falcons, working with them to encourage people to trap tame birds not wild ones. She said falconry became an important part of Middle Eastern identity and culture, it’s an Emirate sport, and Bedouins are obsessed with football and falconry. She told funny stories about her surprising affinity with these men from a completely different world, united by their love of birds and the shared language and lore of falconry. They called her Helen of Arabia and told her that in the Muslim world it’s believed that falconers are chosen by Allah at birth, he points them out and declares their destiny. So Allah must have pointed to a small corner of Surrey and said ‘There, that’s a falconer’ when Macdonald was born.

Mabel was the first and only goshawk Macdonald has trained although she had her first kestrel, a falcon, at the age of 12. She said training a goshawk is not about having power over a bird but more like learning to be very polite to something to impress it, so it respects you. I found this such a moving observation, about the practice and power of politeness, and the stories the book tells testify to the extreme care Macdonald took to attend to and care for the bird. It is, overwhelmingly, a love story between a woman and a goshawk. Or, as Macdonald calls Mabel, ’30 ounces of death in a feathered jacket’. ‘I did love her,’ she said.

Apropos of humans’ tendency to anthropomorphise animals, she said that the whole point of her, Mabel, was not for her to become human but for Helen to become hawk. She was trying to make herself a bird, which is the opposite of anthropomorphising. Speaking of the name Mabel, she mentioned the tradition of calling hawks by the softest, cutest names because this goes with the best fliers and hunters, hence Mabel. In the lore of falconry, if a bird’s given a fierce name it usually spends its time roosting on a fence. She said ‘Mabel’ is a great word and it also means love in Latin.

When asked if she’d been inspired by the poetry of Ted Hughes she said no, but that she did love his poems, like his wonderful poem about thrushes, because he uncovers the actual animal beneath the accretions we give them. She said she also tries to do that.

She spoke about the delicacy of writing about her father and his death, of her mother’s response to the manuscript. She said that if her mother had been uncomfortable in any way, she would not have published it. When she finished the book she printed it out and sent it to her mother. Her mother read the first few chapters and could read no more. Macdonald waited anxiously for her response, which eventually came several months later. Her mother rang to say that she’d finished it. Her verdict? ‘Don’t change a bloody word.’ How right she was.

And she talked about her father, with whom she had a great affinity and a similar temperament. They spent hours together watching. He loved aeroplanes and was an aeroplane spotter – when a plane flew overhead during the session she said if her father had been there he’d be racing outside to see what it was. His powers of observation made him a great photojournalist. (Among decades of memorable photographs, he took the famous balcony kiss between Princess Diana and Prince Charles on their wedding day.) She told a story about the snobbery and hierarchy of spotters: bird spotters look down on dragonfly spotters; fungus people look down on moss people, moss people look down on liverwort people. Speaking about her solitary watching child self, she said she wasn’t an unhappy child, she just liked to watch, to disappear through watching.

She said you never get over a big loss – and told us never to say ‘you’ll get over it’ to anyone who’s experienced a loss. She said you become a different person, your whole architecture changes, you never get over it. Her father’s death made her realise we’re not here for very long. We’re here and then we’re gone. His death and the hawk’s doing its natural killing each day brought home to her: mortality.

With Mabel she was not trying to control death or have power over killing, as Baum suggested. Her agency was gone. The hawk was the superhero, she was the sidekick. She felt no power over death. She called falconry a willed loss of control, one that involves a lot of preparation, a lot of skill, to get to the moment of loss of control: to have the hawk on a fist and let it go.

Falconry done well is a very enlightened relationship between human and animal. In Shakespeare’s time falconry was like football, everyone used its language and metaphors.

Writing the last sentences of the book Macdonald’s eyes filled with tears. She realised then it was grief work and this was a goodbye. She wrote a lot after her father died, ‘writing the world back into existence’. Her memories were incredibly clear of the time around his death, of the time just before he died and for a year afterwards, the year she flew the hawk. This extreme memory meant she wrote the book all in the present tense, ‘no past, no future, all now now now’. With grief you become hyper-vigilant. The year ramped up her senses, being with the hawk made her see the world in a very complicated way. She didn’t just see a general picture of a landscape as usual. Instead she was attuned to wind direction, cover, animals, she started to get intuitions about the landscape through things the hawk taught her. Like the hawk she was absorbed into the landscape. She was no longer an observer.

She wanted nature to be a place of escape. And it was, but she went too far. But she said ‘The wild can be human work.’ She said she was well – had come out of her deep depression – when she started writing the book. It took her five years to get to be able to write it. She had to wait until she could see herself in the story, as a character: ‘it was really interesting to work with myself as a character’. She wrote the book because she ‘wanted to explain how grief was for me’ – and if that helps anyone (because it’s being used by grief counsellors) then that’s amazing.

The film rights to H is for Hawk have been bought by Lena Headey, Queen Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones, which needless to say Macdonald is utterly thrilled about.

When asked about the countryside around Cambridge, Macdonald said it was not conventionally beautiful, it’s flat, scrubby fields. She said she wanted the book to be a kind of plea for wild places. She wanted to take a piece of farmland (an organic farm where she flew Mabel) and write of it with love, ‘sing a little bit of a love song to it’.

She’s done this and more.

Helen Macdonald is giving the closing address – On Looking at Nature – of the 2015 Sydney Writers’ Festival on Sunday night. There are still tickets available. I urge anyone who even half likes animals, words, pieces of farmland and wild places to go.

 

 

Posted in book news, Novels, poetry, book news, Other news and marginalia | 5 Comments

Tulips and blossoms bursting from their seams: Manhattan and Brooklyn in May

I’m just back from a fantastic trip to New York City where spring was bursting forth after a long winter. Here’s how it looked, from gardens, murals and flamingos in Brooklyn to the New York Public Library and Renzo Piano’s new Whitney Museum of American Art.

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Here’s a mural in Brooklyn by the community group Groundswell. As its website says, Groundswell was founded in 1996 by a group of New York City artists, educators and activists who believed ‘that collaborative art-making combines the sanctity of personal expression with the strength of community activism’ – and produces unique and powerful artworks. Nineteen years later, they’ve created nearly 500 murals, including this one celebrating women’s work and education.

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Nearby in Brooklyn is the fabulous Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club complete with wall-to-wall flamingos in the bathrooms.

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From Brooklyn to Manhattan …

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And in Manhattan, the New York Public Library, where I spent some hours. This is the beautiful Map Room.

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And this is the original Winnie the Pooh et al.

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And last but definitely not least, the brand new building housing the Whitney Museum of American Art. Designed by Renzo Piano, it’s in the Meat Packing District between the High Line and the Hudson River. How can a building both resemble an ocean liner and shipping container – and be light as air? It is truly breath-taking.

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New York, New York, ‘Rock Stars of the New Economy’ – and ‘Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner?’

I’m very excited to be speaking at two public events in New York City next week, one organised by the Accountants Club of America and the other by New York University. Here are the details:

Wednesday 6 May 2015
Accountants Club of America
Time: 11.15 am-12 pm: meet and greet; 12-2 pm: luncheon and speaker
Venue: Club 101, 101 Park Avenue, Cnr 40th and Park Avenue, Lobby Level, New York, NY
Cost: $75

Friday 8 May 2015
ACE Salon with Jane Gleeson-White: Can accountants save the planet?
New York University
NYU Wagner Alliance for Climate and Environment (ACE)
Time: 5-7 pm
Venue: Jersey Conference Room, 295 Lafayette Street, New York, NY

101 Park Avenue

101 Park Avenue

In other news, B Lab – the organisation promoting the new generation ‘benefit corporation’ – is running what looks like a fascinating free Special Event at 6pm on 28 May called Rock Stars of the New Economy. It’s being held at the brand new Frank Gehry building in Ultimo, Sydney – the UTS Dr Chau Chak Wing Building at 14-28 Ultimo Road – and will feature what B Lab is calling ‘four rock-stars of the B Corp community':

Rob Michalak, Head of Social Mission at Ben & Jerry’s
Helen Souness, Managing Director at Etsy Australia
James Chin Moody, Founder and CEO at TuShare
Berry Liberman, Editor and Publisher at Dumbo Feather.

They’ll be talking from the perspective of 2030 about why it was important that their businesses became B Corporations (aka benefit corporations) – in social, environmental and business engagement terms. They’ll also be talking about the role of business in society and (rethinking, perhaps) how success is defined. It should be a very thought-provoking discussion. I plan to go along.

UTS Dr Chau Chak Wing Building

UTS Dr Chau Chak Wing Building

9781925106527And last but certainly not least, I’ve just started a new book by Swedish writer Katrine Marcal called Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? A story about women and economics. Here’s the blurb:

‘How do you get your dinner? That is the basic question of economics. It might seem easy, but it is actually very complicated. When economist and philosopher Adam Smith proclaimed that all our actions were motivated by self-interest, and that the world turns because of financial gain, he laid the foundations for “economic man”.

‘Selfish and cynical, economic man has dominated our thinking ever since – he is the ugly, rational heart of modern-day capitalism. But, every night, Adam Smith’s mother served him his dinner, not out of self-interest, but out of love. Even today, the unpaid work of mothering, caring, cleaning, and cooking is not part of our economic models. All over the world, there are economists who believe that if women are paid less, it’s because their labour is worth less.

‘Katrine Marcal charts the myth of economic man – from its origins at Adam Smith’s dinner table, its adaptation by the Chicago School, and its disastrous role in the 2008 Global Financial Crisis – and invites us to kick out economic man once and for all.’

I’m hooked already. I’m reviewing it for The Australian and will write more about it here when the review is out.

Katrine Marcal

Katrine Marcal

 

Posted in Can accountants save the planet?, Economics, Environment and the planet, Luca Pacioli and Double Entry, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On the value of oceans and how the earth pays for our iDevices + eGadgets – or, I’m still down the accounting rabbit hole

Storms have smashed Sydney and New South Wales for days, flooding roads, railways, entire towns, uprooting trees, tearing off roofs, sweeping away beaches, cars, houses, animals, people. The tempestuous weather makes clear once again the almighty power of our planet whose good and predictable behaviour we mostly take for granted, in Sydney at least. It’s a timely reminder, given that yesterday was Earth Day – and we increasingly live in a digital, virtual world and forget about the actual earth.

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Because I once followed my love of art and Venice into the underworld and found that accounting runs the planet, or at least largely determines how we value it, on Earth Day I think about accounting. Especially about how the way we account lets us abandon the earth for economic growth, for profit, for the production of more and more stuff that we don’t really need and we don’t properly pay for, because the earth does.

This week a new report commissioned by the WWF, Reviving the Ocean Economy: The case for action – 2015, has valued the world’s oceans in monetary terms. It found they’re worth $US24 trillion. Which makes The Oceans the world’s seventh biggest economy, with an annual value of goods and services of US$2.5 trillion. I’d say ‘for what such figures are worth’, except that such figures are worth something – because they translate the value of various bits of the earth into the language spoken by business and economics. And this is the language that counts, because business and economics rule.

So much does business rule that the lead author of the WWF report, Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, tasks it with reversing the destruction of the oceans. This is new. He said it’s important that the business community understands the value of the oceans so that a strategy could be devised to reverse their decline. The Director General of WWF International, Marco Lambertini, also used the language of business and economics to argue for the ocean’s enormous value to the planet and human life:

‘The ocean rivals the wealth of the world’s richest countries, but it is being allowed to sink to the depths of a failed economy. As responsible shareholders, we cannot seriously expect to keep recklessly extracting the ocean’s valuable assets without investing in its future … The ocean feeds us, employs us, and supports our health and well-being, yet we are allowing it to collapse before our eyes. If everyday stories of the ocean’s failing health don’t inspire our leaders, perhaps a hard economic analysis will.’

But will it?

And will a hard economic analysis make us pay the real cost of our iGadgets and eDevices, which are currently being paid by people and places far from Head Office, like exploited workers in an iPad factory in southern China, and a ruined lake near Baotou in inner Mongolia, the dumping ground for the waste of rare earth minerals mining (the nearby Bayan Obo Mining district contains some 70% of the world’s rare earth minerals). As BBC journalist Tim Maughan said when he saw the lake, now a toxic wasteland:

‘It’s a truly alien environment, dystopian and horrifying. The thought that it is man-made depressed and terrified me, as did the realisation that this was the byproduct not just of the consumer electronics in my pocket, but also green technologies like wind turbines and electric cars that we get so smugly excited by in the West.’

If we factored these human and environmental costs into our accounting models so we paid the real prices of the goods they helped to produce – as economist Raj Patel argued with his hypothetical $200 hamburger – would we save them? I think this is one of the most important questions of our time.

Economist Richard Denniss addresses similar questions in the latest issue of The Monthly in a piece called ‘Spreadsheets of Power‘ about the persuasive and pervasive power of economic models. Denniss dismisses environmentalists’ attempts to put dollar prices on nature, as the WWF has done with oceans this week. He says: ‘The environmental movement had spent decades avoiding a direct attack on the claimed economic benefits of mining, preferring instead to try to counterpose a value on the possums, frogs and trees that are inevitably harmed. I like possums, frogs and trees, but I think attempts to value them are as arbitrary as attempts to value human lives.’ But as Denniss acknowledges, economists put money values on human lives every day, for insurance and other purposes. So why not on possums, frogs and trees?

Would putting dollar prices on oceans, possums, frogs and trees stop us from destroying them? Force us to value them? I wrestled with this question when thinking about the new ‘six capitals‘ accounting paradigm which seeks to value nature as ‘natural capital’, torn between Raj Patel’s $200 hamburger and George Monbiot’s argument that ‘Costing nature tells us that it possesses no inherent value‘. Which brings us back to Earth Day, because Monbiot’s piece on costing nature was published on Earth Day 2014. I read it while I was writing Six Capitals. It brought home to me the full force of a remark made by John Maynard Keynes in 1933 – ‘once we allow ourselves to be disobedient to the test of an accountant’s profit, we have begun to change our civilisation’ – and of the true bankruptcy of that civilisation, which has so lost its bearings in the universe that its only apparent common measure of value, and of right and wrong action, is the rule of money.

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Posted in Can accountants save the planet?, Economics, Environment and the planet, Six Capitals | Leave a comment

Multinational tax avoidance, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the shift from nations to corporations – and Tomas Sedlacek’s Economics of Good and Evil

When you’re writing a book, there are themes and stories you must pursue, they make up the tale you’re trying to tell. And then there are other, tantalising themes that bubble away under the surface or that you glimpse in passing from the corner of your eye. With Double Entry, these intriguing side stories involved the ‘mystique of double entry’ (a whole chapter now lying on the cutting room floor) and esoterica like the five Platonic solids and the Golden Mean (or divine proportion) which fascinated Luca Pacioli and Leonardo da Vinci, as well as 20th century artists like the Italian futurist Gino Severini.

With Six Capitals, it was something taking shape beneath the story I was telling of an accounting revolution and the shift to the information age and era of ‘sustainability’ I was trying to capture. I couldn’t pause too much to think about it while I was writing, because it was only a speculation, but I continue to see its signs everywhere. It is: the transfer of power from nations to corporations.

The stats show this shift is taking place: in 2000, 51 of the 100 largest economies in the world were corporations, not nations. And in 1980 the aggregate revenues of the world’s 1000 largest companies were about 30 per cent of the GDP of the OECD countries. In 2010, a mere 30 years later, this had exploded to around 70 per cent. Another telling development is the fact that, unlike the crash of 1929, after the crash of 2008 the public sector rapidly mobilised to bail out (most of) the failing banks and other institutions – and ever since corporations have been posting record profits and nations have been flatlining or going bust.

This is exacerbated by multinationals’ perfection of the art of tax avoidance. And despite the big talk from Joe Hockey, the US and others at the G20 summit last year that they’d launch a ‘very aggressive‘ crackdown on tax avoidance, and the Senate inquiry into corporate tax avoidance in Australia, the challenge of capturing the billions of dollars a year in lost corporate taxes seems immense if not insurmountable. Multinational corporations have jumped ship, out of the nation and into the global ether.

The proliferation of trade agreements further entrenches the power of corporations at the expense of nations. For example, when Mexico put restrictions on high fructose corn syrup, three different US agribusinesses sued the Mexican government under NAFTA‘s investor-state system. Mexico lost and was forced to pay out $169.18 million to private interests.

The controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership currently being negotiated by 12 nations including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore and the United States looks set to formalise this increasing encroachment of corporate power over national sovereignty with its inclusion of a similar investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision. This is despite assurances by the Australian government that it would not entertain ISDS provisions that ‘restrict our ability to pursue legitimate public policy objectives.’ Given the carbon-promoting, business-courting, confused, retro nature of the current federal government’s public policy objectives, this is no comfort at all. I’m with GetUp, which calls the TPP ‘The dirtiest deal you’ve never heard of‘.

The rise to prominence of nation states is a phenomenon of the modern era. But the multinational corporation is a thoroughly postmodern entity, everywhere and nowhere at once. In all the recent discussions of corporate tax evasion, the story told by Sam Dastyari on 8 April seemed to get to the heart of the problem – and therefore to point the way to possible action. He wrote:

‘The idea that any company would choose to pay more tax than it legally needs to seems extraordinary on the surface. But that is exactly what happened in Britain in 2013, when Starbucks unexpectedly decided to voluntarily pay 20 million pounds ($38 million) in taxes.’

So, what prompted this extraordinary move? Its customers. When Starbucks’ tax practices were publicly exposed, consumers revolted. ‘Protests and boycotts from customers left Starbucks with little choice; either start paying their fair share of tax or cop a significant sales backlash.’ Does our power now reside not in our role as citizens and voters in a nation state, but as consumers and shareholders in a global web of multinational corporations?

On the question of the power of the state versus capital, Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century makes clear the steady rise of capital and the growing impotence of states. The book expounds Piketty’s robust belief in states and national governments, and in their capacity to claw back their tax base, their power, their 20th-century ordained central role in economic life. But his chapter 13, ‘A Social State for the Twenty-First Century’ – which asks the question ‘can we imagine political institutions that might regulate today’s global patrimonial capitalism justly as well as efficiently?’ – seems to answer it with an impossible ideal: a progressive global tax on capital. As Piketty himself concedes: ‘But a truly global tax on capital is no doubt a utopian ideal.’

Will nation states go the way of industrial modernism, into the dustbin of history? Are multinational corporations the new locus of power, the new organising principles of the 21st century? And if so, are our ire and activism better directed at them than at governments, which are after all composed of increasingly indistinguishable political parties that court big business at the expense of the rest of us anyway?

UnknownIn other news, thanks to a comment on this blog, I’ve just bought the brilliantly titled Economics of Good and Evil: The quest for economic meaning from Gilgamesh to Wall Street by Czech economist Tomas Sedlacek, who was recruited aged 24 as an economic advisor to Vaclav Havel. The Introduction is called ‘The Story of Economics: From Poetry to Science’ and has as its first epigraph, from Zdenek Neubauer: ‘Reality is spun from stories, not from material’. Already I’m riveted. I’ll be writing about it here the moment I’ve finished it.

Tomorrow I’m off to Melbourne to take part in a Leadership Dialogue at Swinburne University, which promises to be a fascinating discussion of the ‘quiet revolution’ in accounting. Hope to see you there.

 

 

Posted in book news, Economics, Environment and the planet, Six Capitals | 2 Comments

‘Wild things are made from human histories': Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk – and the Sydney Writers’ Festival 2015

1406742829457Last night I finished reading (reading? devouring!) Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk. It is just 283 pages long, including a brief postscript, and yet it contains multitudes; it is capacious as life: dense and rich like a poem. Macdonald is a writer and poet, an illustrator and historian and affiliate at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge – and all her many faculties are at work in this book. (It’s not actually illustrated but bursts with word pictures and verbal scenes.) Strictly speaking, H is for Hawk is, as its cover calls it, ‘Nature Writing/Biography’ – but for me it’s an extraordinary prose poem about a hawk, about wildness, about a father, his grieving daughter (Macdonald) and a literary hero-villian, TH White. It’s also a poem about a countryside, about England. Here is Macdonald on page 86:

‘To train a hawk you must watch it like a hawk, and so you come to understand its moods. Then you gain the ability to predict what it will do next. This is the sixth sense of the practised animal trainer. Eventually you don’t see the hawk’s body language at all. You seem to feel what it feels. Notice what it notices. The hawk’s apprehension becomes your own. You are exercising what the poet Keats called your chameleon quality, the ability to “tolerate a loss of self and a loss of rationality by trusting in the capacity to recreate oneself in another character or environment”. Such a feat of imaginative recreation has always come easily to me. Too easily. It’s part of being a watcher, forgetting who you are and putting yourself in the thing you are watching. That is why the girl who was me when I was small loved watching birds. She made herself disappear, and then in the birds she watched, took flight.’

H is for Hawk is an exhilarating and beautiful book. It’s been wildly successful in its brief life (it was published last year), becoming a ‘number one bestseller’ and winning the 2014 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. Most thrillingly for me and any local who loves this book, Macdonald will be a guest at the 2015 Sydney Writers Festival. She’s appearing in four sessions, including giving the closing address.

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Helen Macdonald

This year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival is a bumper festival with a vast range of authors, from international luminaries like Claire Tomalin, David Mitchell, Ben Okri, Douglas Coupland and Macdonald herself to local stars like Richard Flanagan, Kate Grenville and Helen Garner. And many more between, like New York classics maven Daniel Mendelsohn who wrote his PhD on one of my favourite subjects, Euripidean tragedy.

SWF artistic director Jemma Birrell gives a good overview of the festival in her welcome message ‘How to live?‘, which is surely an excellent title for a writers’ festival. I also like the quote which inspired it from Jean-Paul Sartre:

‘Everything has been figured out, except how to live.’

Why we read – and why we write.

(I’m also appearing in two sessions at SWF 2015, talking with economist and journalist Ross Gittins and novelist and former Wall Street investment banker Zia Haider Rahman about Creative Capital in a session mediated by Elizabeth Johnstone, and On Why Accountants Might Save the Planet. Details are also on my events page.)

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Posted in book news, Environment and the planet, Novels, poetry, book news | Leave a comment

John Masefield’s Sea Fever – for Isla

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And a quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

Islacircle

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