earthweal open link weekend #77


Greetings to all, and welcome to earthweal’s open link weekend #77. Share a poem new or old and visit your fellow linkers and comment.

Links acceepted until midnight Sunday, when the next weekly challenge rollse out.

Thanks to Sarah Connor for her fine Lammas challenge this week. I hope everyone felt part of the harvest.

Happy linking!


earthweal weekly challenge: LAMMAS

Lammastide stamp issued by Great Britain in 1992 in a series celebrating folk traditions


By Sarah Connor

Welcome to earthweal, and welcome to Lammas!

Lammas is the third of the Celtic cross quarter festivals we’ve looked at this year. It sits between the Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox at the start of August. The ancient Celtic name is Lughnasadh –  the festival of Lugh, the sun god. The word “Lammas” is Saxon, meaning “Loaf-mass”, which is an indication of what this festival is all about: harvesting the corn.

This is the first of the great Celtic harvest festivals. The Autumn Equinox marks the second harvest of fruit, and Samhain is the final harvest of nuts and berries. When I was a child, our harvest festival was always around the Autumn Equinox – leading to a motley selection of harvest sacrifices: apples, overgrown marrows, tinned peas…  But Lammas/Lughnasadh is all about grain. Grain is essential for making bread, and for making beer – both very important commodities!

Here in the west of England we are mainly pastoral – sheep and cows dot the fields around here. It makes sense that Beltane and Samhain are celebrated here. Traditionally animals were put out to pasture on May Day and taken back into the shed on All Hallows. In the east of England there is much more arable farming, and harvest traditions lasted longer there. Here is George Ewart Evans, from The Pattern under the Plough:

Originally, it is suggested, the stranger was considered an embodiment of the Corn Spirit. This was a dubious role for anyone to have thrust upon him, as we know from those counties were there was a competition in the harvest-field to see who cut the last sheaf of standing corn. The reapers stood with their backs towards it, and turning round threw their sickles without properly sighting it. The man whose sickle actually cut the corn was roughly handled because it was considered that the Corn Spirit had migrated from the last sheaf to his person. It is suggested that the rough handling was the vestige of what was once a fertility sacrifice.

Who is the Corn Spirit, and what are we sacrificing?

And as well as two great commodities, there are two deities present here; the Corn Mother and Lugh himself. There are traditions across Europe that incorporate these two, who have come together to produce the harvest.

The Corn Mother has many names – Corn Mother, Grain Mother, Ceres, Demeter, Harvest Mother. This is the goddess in her mother aspect – bountiful, golden, abundant. There are traditions about cutting the first corn, which could be woven into an old wife and passed from farm to farm. The first grain is made into a Lammas loaf. The last corn was woven into a Corn Maiden, and kept until Yule, or even longer. Sometimes that Corn Maiden had a smaller Corn Maiden woven inside her belly.

The story of Demeter and Proserpine is thought to relate to the grain crop. Proserpine is the spirit of the grain, taken into the underworld while her mother grieves for here, and then emerging in the spring as the crop that will be cut down again at the end of the summer.

There’s another Corn Spirit, though. Lugh, the Sun God, is present in the golden colour of the corn. He has poured his energy into the crop, and now he’s being cut down. Here’s Steve Winwood singing “John Barleycorn must die” – a 14th century song about the death and rebirth of the barley crop (and beer. Don’t forget beer).



So what energy are we capturing here? The energy of bounty, of reaping what we have sown. We prepared the ground at Imbolc, we planted at Beltane, and now we are reaping our rewards. It’s time to celebrate our creativity and our achievements – but to remember that we have lean days ahead. The days are shortening, evenings are getting colder, and we must prepare ourselves.

Yes, we reap what we sow – but we also sow what we reap. The corn we gather now will feed us, but it will also be the seed for next year’s crop. Creativity doesn’t stop here – the work we produced last week, last month, last year, feeds the work we produce today – and the work we produce today will feed our creativity next week, next month, next year. The Corn Mother carries a Corn Baby in her belly.

The grain we gather now will also be transformed. Think how grain is ground down into flour, and then mixed with water and yeast to make bread. A total transformation from something small and solid to something light and airy. That same yeast and water will transform grain into ale. It’s amazing that those three basic ingredients can produce two such different things under different conditions. It’s rather like the poems we get from prompts – the same prompt can produce such different work from different poets.

For this Lammas/Lughnasadh prompt I’d like you to think about harvest at all levels. The actual harvest of grain, the production of food and seed for next year; but also how our wishes, dreams, plans have ripened. The things that have given us a sense of achievement, the things that turn out to be rungs on a ladder to something new. The experiences we have transformed through our own personal water, yeast and time. Of course, we are not the only creatures who gather harvest – squirrels create food stashes, bears prepare for winter. Corn, barley, wild grass – they all sacrifice themselves to plant the seeds of the next generation.

We reap what we sow, and we sow what we reap.

— Sarah

earthweal open link weekend #76


It’s the weekend, earth wheelers! So let’s get the party started on open link weekend #76. Share a favorite poem and visit your fellow linkers and comment.

This forum will be open until midnight Sunday, July 25, when Sarah Connor’s challenge will set the stage for Lammas celebrations.

Happy linking!



A Poetry That Does Not Compromise (The Anthropocene Hymnal)


Ingrid Wilson, a regular earthweal contributor from her blog Experiments in Fiction, has just announced the July 24 publication of her poetry anthology The Anthropocene Hymnal. In it she has assembled 63 poems from 34 poets across the world in what she calls “a unique response to an unprecedented crisis.” Included in the lineup of poets are many earthweal participants (see below).

The book is available both in e-pub and print, and advance Kindle sales are now available at Amazon.  According to Ingrid, all profits from sales of the book will be donated to the World Wildlife Fund.

Lindi-Ann Hewitt-Coleman (a wonderful earthweal contributor from South Africa with her blog fresh poetry) wrote an advance review of The Anthropocene Hymnal, and it’s the perfect introduction to the work. “The Anthropocene Hymnal is both a voice of our time beautifully sung and a call to action,” she writes. You can read Lindi’s review in full here.

Ingrid consented to the following brief interview about her process with The Anthropocene Hymnal, and I reprint our email exchange in full.

Tell us something about yourself.

I’m a wandering soul. I’m from the north of England and have lived in Manchester, Newcastle, London, Barcelona, Malaga and both the north and south of Slovenia (where I live now). My head is a muddle of different languages and places. If nothing else, I think this helps my poetry. I also like to wander back in time and have studied ancient history and lost languages. There’s something inherently poetic about a language which is no longer spoken by anyone.

How did you come to create an anthology of Anthropocene-themed poems?

earthweal was my primary inspiration for the creation of this anthology. I’ve always been attracted to nature poetry, but recent circumstances have led me towards ‘what have we done to nature’ poetry, or eco-poetry, if you prefer. Writing for earthweal distilled my concerns for the planet into impassioned poetry, and I was moved by the work of other poets who I came to know through this forum. It occurred to me that such poetry deserved a book of its own.

Who are some of the folks who contributed?

I had an open call for submissions, and I also asked some of the earthweal contributors for permission to use specific poems. As a result, I have ended up with poetic voices from five continents, all with their own particular style and grace. Amongst the contributors are earthweal’s own Brendan {offline name David Cohea}, Sherry Marr and Sarah Connor. I have published the full contributor list on my blog, and you may well be familiar with many of them. I also wanted to leave a space for young voices in the anthology, as they will inherit the anthropocene future we create. The youngest contributors are Rishika Jain (aged 13) and Benji (My eldest son, aged 8).

Ingrid and son Benji enjoying earth’s garden.

What have you learned about the Anthropocene from your effort?
The first thing that strikes me every time I write the word is that my keyboard still doesn’t recognise it. I find this incredible. It recognises ‘twerking’ and ‘selfie’ but not the this man-made era into which we have slowly sleepwalked. The term was coined in the 1960s but gained popularity only recently, when denial that we are living in a new and dangerous era is all but impossible. I think by the time climate deniers start to change their minds, it will probably be to late, which may be a Catch-22 situation. Still, I refuse to go down without a fight.

Where did you get the cover artwork from? It’s incredible.
The cover artwork is a collage by New York based artist and poet Kerfe Roig. I think most visitors to earthweal will be familiar with her visually stunning and thought-provoking work. Kerfe also contributed four poems to the anthology.

How are you planning to sell the book?
I will sell the paperback and e-book via Amazon, and a PDF download via my website. I realise given the themes of the anthology that Amazon may not be the most appropriate outlet for the book, but I do not have the printing and distribution power that such a behemoth can offer. Love them or hate them, they will bring my book to a wider audience, which I think must be a good thing. I plan to donate all of my royalties to WWF, the charity selected by my readers.

What have you learned from the process?
For some reason, when I started the project, I thought an anthology would be easier than a collection of my own work, because I wouldn’t have to write all of the poems myself. I have learned the opposite to be true. There is so much to consider when compiling the work of others: permissions, rights, the order of the poems, layout of text, variations in punctuation and spelling, names and pseudonyms. I tried my best to make sure everyone who contributed will be happy with the result. I certainly am!

What poetry is needed for the challenges ahead?
Poetry which does not compromise. Poetry which looks Big Money in the eye and says, ‘you are to blame.’ Poetry which is not afraid to be shot down or burned. Poetry which can rise from the ashes of censorship and ignorance and be heard even louder because of the attempts to silence it. As soon as people start to listen, such attempts will be made. And these will be the clues that we are writing the right kind of poetry. Keep going!

Congrats to Ingrid on her accomplishment, and thanks from all of us at earthweal and global voices of Earth we represent. For this week’s challenge, let’s take up her call and write a poem of the Anthropocene which does not compromise.

It is indeed! Now tell us all about it!

The forum for this challenge will remain open until 4 PM EST Friday, when the next weekly open link weekend rolls out. Next week Sarah Connor takes us through the next cross-quarter Celtic holiday, the harvest festival of Lammas.

Happy linking!

— Brendan

Postscript: Kerfe Roig created the art used on the cover of The Anthropocene Hymnal. She posts frequently to earthweal, and her art is a constant companion to her poems.  I asked her in an email about how she came up with the cover. “It was inspired by the work of Redon,” she wrote back. “I often reference the works of artists I admire in my work.  And the images–the cosmos, the land and the sea and the sky, birds and winged creatures, fish and shells, sculptural figures, ancient architecture–all are prominent in my reference library, and in both my writing and art. …  The world is magic, and the magic is real.  We need to acknowledge and honor that with the way we live.  Which means being good caretakers of the earth and the life it sustains.  But I think that’s what all this art and writing is about, isn’t it?”

“New World” by Kerfe Roig



earthweal open link weekend #75

Critically endangered vultures in Siem Pang wildlife sanctuary in Cambodia. Three species are on the edge of extinction.


Greetings, and welcome to earthweal open link weekend #75. Share a favorite poem and visit your fellow linkers and admire.

The open link forum will last to midnight Sunday 7-18 EST when the next weekly challenge rolls out.  We’ll also give a nod to Ingrid Wilson and the publication of her Anthropocene Hymnal, of which many in the earthweal community have contributed.

Happy linking!— Brendan