A dead puffin on the path to the shore, steep. It’s a dry kind of moment in this unreal autumn, not knowing whether to mourn or be curious about the colours.
The shingle, a shell’s span of time: the brittle crunch beneath my feet. One tiny boat, handmade, handpainted, LV426 run aground on a driftwood trunk, another further on, a steamboat, its painted funnel an exclamation in black, in red, faint shout across the sound to a safer haven.
Edinburgh, October 2020 (Following a walk to the beach at Eagle Rock)
Fine sand is poured from a pouch, trickled onto a tray or table, fingertips are used to find figures, tracing, erasing, effacing, shaping . . .
The mysterious art of sand reading explored in text by Mark Valentine and music by Brian Lavelle, with black and white photography by Jo Valentine.
This collaborative project is published in February 2018 by Seacliff Press, a small press Mark and I have established. There’s a Twitter account here for occasional news items.
Professionally printed 16 page booklet with professionally duplicated CD. Limited to 120 numbered copies, of which 100 only are for sale. The cost is £8 plus postage (UK £1.50 · Europe £4.00 · Rest of World £5.00). Please click the appropriate button under your location below.
UK · Psammomancy booklet & CD · £9.50
Europe · Psammomancy booklet & CD · £12.00
Rest of World · Psammomancy booklet & CD · £13.00
Psammomancy is also available from Mark direct: contact markl [dot] valentine [at] btinternet [dot] com, removing spaces and replacing the words in brackets with characters.
(Note, the fifth character is the letter ell not the number one.)
Alternatively, I’m happy to accept payment by cheque in the UK. Get in touch if you’d like to pay that way.
Alternatively alternatively, click here to order on Bandcamp (at a slightly higher price, I’m afraid, to take into account the additional Bandcamp fees).
Language of Objects: a 58 page professionally printed book in full colour inside and out, accompanied by a glass mastered CD with a separate download code. Text and images are by Murdo; sound by me; cover design by Vincent Pacheco. The CD contains a new 28 minute composition—Sullen Charybdis, the Blue of Scarabs—which is my response to the imagery in the book.
Language of Objects: published on 14 September 2017 by Blind Roads Press, our collaborative imprint.
The book/CD is available for £10.99 plus postage and can be ordered here.
Paperback, 58pp, full colour, 148 x 210mm, perfect bound
300gsm cover, 120gsm interior
Glass mastered CD
Edition of 100 copies
Published 14 September 2017
We stood by a pond that winter day,
And the sun was white, as though chidden of God,
And a few leaves lay on the starving sod,
–They had fallen from an ash, and were gray.
Your eyes on me were as eyes that rove
Over tedious riddles solved years ago;
And some words played between us to and fro–
On which lost the more by our love.
The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing
Alive enough to have strength to die;
And a grin of bitterness swept thereby
Like an ominous bird a-wing….
Since then, keen lessons that love deceives,
And wrings with wrong, have shaped to me
Your face, and the God-curst sun, and a tree,
And a pond edged with grayish leaves.
At school, I had a fundamental difficulty with Robert Hardy’s work. I read Return of the Native in my last year, and I recall not enjoying it at all. Worse than that, Hardy’s Wessex was colourless, plodding and its denizens devoid of hope, at least as far as I could tell from my limited reading of that novel twenty years ago.
The poem above (‘Neutral Tones’) is from the 1898 volume Wessex Poems And Other Verses and I was amazed to drink in its bleak outlook. It rejoices in its lack of colour and now that seems to me to be an integral part of its beauty.
Our tastes changes over time; what was once dull for me because it seemed colourless is now emotionally effecting precisely because of that colourlessness. I should try Hardy again in longer form. Perhaps twenty years later I’ll be able to take some pleasure from its joyless panoply.