‘Delirium of forests, ships, poems’

What is this escaping, again and again, in a
delirium of forests, ships, poems?

– lines from Anthony Barnett’s 1987 translation of Giroux’s ‘L’arbre le temps’, below, which might end up being my perfect PhD epigraph (in case you don’t know: it’s on forests, coasts, and modern British poetry).


time and the tree


The Kickstarter for the exhibition has just reached £1k, so I am delighted to announce that enough funds have been raised for me to confirm that the exhibition ‘Time, the deer, is in the wood of Hallaig’ will be taking place from 6-11th June in London. This is a small scale free exhibition on the theme of forests, history, and individual, collective, and environmental memory. It ranges between natural specimens, museum objects, archival photographs, broad side texts, wood works, book works, and art forms. This will all be taking place in a beautiful low-lit Grade 1 listed belfry in Bethnal Green (designed by Sir John Soane).

The Kickstarter is still accepting pledges (and offering rewards) until midnight on the 30th April, so do get involved if interested (any extra funds from now will mean we’ll be able to afford a few extras, such as the exhibition catalogue). In addition, do get in contact with me – amycutler1985(at)gmail.com – if you’d be interested in photographing or reviewing the exhibition (whether for a site/publication or just for yourself), and I can invite you to the launch night drinks on Thursday 6th June.


'A bull's head / when split open / contains a thing': Gerry Loose's Knopper galls/ disfigured pedunculate oak acorns for the exhibition, with caption poems drawn from the wasp's namesake, Theophrastus (Historia Plantarum).

‘A bull’s head / when split open / contains a thing’: Gerry Loose’s Knopper galls/ disfigured pedunculate oak acorns for the exhibition, with caption poems drawn from the wasp’s namesake, Theophrastus (Historia Plantarum).


Some (more) exciting materials have been confirmed for the exhibition, including sketches by the architect Tom Noonan from his series The Reforestation of the Thames Estuary and the John Evelyn Institute of Arboreal Science, which imagines the city’s infrastructures dictated by log harvests and timber engineers. Like Katsutoshi Yuasa’s prints,  these are created by a hybrid of digital and analogue techniques (pen and ink / scanning and montaging), presenting a science-fiction landscape of the future, but in a flurry of wood-based activity ‘reminiscent of centuries past’.


Tom Noonan, 'New Sylva'

Tom Noonan, ‘New Sylva’


A friend is also sending a vodka bottle from Poland, engraved with the name of the epic poem of the Lithuanian forest (full title in English: Sir Thaddeus, or the Last Lithuanian Foray: A Nobleman’s Tale from the Years of 1811 and 1812 in Twelve Books of Verse). This text, written in 1834 by poet and philosopher Adam Mickiewicz, retrospectively tells of the effects of Russian, Prussian, and Austrian occupation on the old plantation forest and hunting families. This same phalanx of forest is the subject of the first chapters of Simon Schama’s Landscape and Memory, as well as the photography of Stuart Franklin (The Time of Trees). Prose and poem translations of Pan Tadeusz include Donald Davie’s 1959 adaptation, The Forests of Lithuania: A Poem; alongside the bottle we’ll be including relevant bi-lingual excerpts of the text most associated with the memorial aspects of its ‘dear native trees’: 

Oh Lithuania, my homeland,
you are like health–so valued when lost
beyond recovery; let these words now stand
restoring you, redeeming exile’s cost.


pan tadeusz


For anyone who might be about, I’ll be presenting a paper on British poetry and forest trauma at next month’s conference, Shifting Territories: Modern and Contemporary Poetics of Place, at Senate House, 22-23rd May 2013.

I’m also giving a talk at a symposium at the exhibition Excavations and Estuaries: The Nature of Landscape at Abbey Walk Gallery, Grimsby, on the 25th May (title: ”Men sign the sea’: modern poetry on Britain’s North Sea coasts’), an event which will include the poet Harriet Tarlo and the artist David Ainley, amongst others. The night after the exhibition launch, I’ll be presenting at Birkbeck’s AHRC workshop on June the 7th, Silent Spring: Chemical, Biological and Technological Visions of the Post-1945 Environment and reading from Nostalgia Forest as part of the evening readings (travel bursaries are still available if anyone is interested in participating!). For those at RHUL like me, I’ll also be at the Society, Representation, and Cultural Memory cross-departmental round-table, which is on the 3rd June – the main disciplines represented being Modern Languages, Media Arts, English, History, and Drama/Theatre. So if you’re going to any of these, then look me up!


~ by amycutler on April 20, 2013.

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