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Earth Lines: Geopoetry and Geopoetics Zoom book launch and films – 1 October 2021, 6–7.30 pm

Launched on Zoom as part of the Scottish Geology Festival, I am really delighted to introduce this exciting, innovative and valuable publication Earth Lines, with a central focus on geopoetry and geopoetics (they are different), or ‘the stratigraphy of poetry in rocks and stones’. As one of the editors (primarily a copy editing /proofreading role) and a poetry contributor (‘Firewash’), it has been a joy to work with the other editors and all the varied poets and essayists involved: poets, scientists, scientist-poets, all roundly connected to planet Earth.

The publication couldn’t come at a better time. With the world in an increasingly perilous state, we need to pool our understandings and eco/geological value systems, to share and elucidate. Poetry can open our eyes, be poetry and inform. As we walk, climb, go bird-watching, or landscape painting, we might stop for a second and apprehend in the blue horizon something more-than-human, the vastness of time (Deep Time) itself. The ‘lines’ in this book have evolved from just such a connection.

For me, the combination of poetic engagement with scientific knowledge and hands-on experience has opened up the field (literally and metaphorically). To give you an idea of the type of mix, our central editorial ‘keystone’! has been geoscientist (with a particular interest in reservoir geophysics), poet and ‘student of poetry’ Professor Patrick Corbett whose energy and vision has driven the project to what it is today. Simply, the book wouldn’t have existed without him. Equally, working with (learning from) leading geopoet Norman Bissell (The Scottish Centre for Geopoetics), Trondheim-based geoscientist adjunct Professor Philip Ringrose (research leader at The Centre for Geophysical Forecasting) and Brian Whalley (Emeritus Professor of Geomorphology) with an interest in ‘glacial geology and fieldwork education’, has been truly enlightening. And, as a poet and theorist but non-scientist, it is not hard to imagine a poetic interpretation of, for example, glacial geology; especially an informed interpretation. Expanding poetic frontiers, this book is at the forefront of breaking down barriers between poetry and the sciences.

Whilst Earth Lines has already garnered wonderful reviews (a highlight being from Kenneth White himself), I would just like to add that I believe it to be unique in providing different approaches to the subject, whilst also offering wider understandings of the themes. Setting a historical context with essays such as ‘Auden’s “In Praise of Limestone”’ (Corbett), the book covers areas that include: geoidentity, stratigraphy, geological processes, climate change, geologists at work, and environmental psychology as well as geopoetry and geopoetics. It is impossible to cite individual contributors, but poets range from: John Bolland, whose writing and films give us an arresting perspective on climate change, to prize-winning poet of the rocks Alyson Hallett, to leading poet Yvonne Reddick, to Dorset scribe Sarah Acton, to award-winning US-based ecopoet Lynne Goldsmith, to Scottish poet and artist Rachel Tennant, to famed broadcast poet John Hegley to Dr R.M. Francis on place and ancestral genius-loci, close to my own heart.

Earth Lines Online: Poetry Films

Following my suggestion, I feel the Edinburgh Geological Society has gone the extra mile in including poetry films on its site, and my tentative request for a ‘geopoetry map’ showing all the geolocations of the poems around the world has been fantastically implemented by Angus Miller, Chair of the Scottish Geodiversity Forum. This kind of blending of technology with theme (doubling up the geo aspect, as it were) is so very exciting! A stone or site catches the eye and becomes a poem that ultimately reappears to viewer-astronauts looking down on the planet. The macro and the micro shift ineluctably, echoing the dynamics of these two perspectives in poetry itself. As Blake reminds us: ‘To See a World in a Grain of Sand’.

In terms of Earth Lines Online, the audio-visual works, like the page poems themselves, have a varied approach in subject matter, length, poetic style, visual art etc. and each one deserves much greater study. To date these include: Sarah Acton, Andrew Abraham, John Bolland, Ken Cockburn, Patrick Corbett, Yvonne Reddick, Phil Ringrose, Brian Rosen, Rachel Tennant and myself. I will be looking at these works in more depth in due course. Just to say for now that poetry films can inspire and inform us as individual art forms, but in conjunction with a publication they perform a dual role.  In Earth Lines the reader can experience the page poem as one iteration of an author’s thinking (beyond the content, to also include the layout on the page, any illustrations, the feel of the book etc). Then, as viewer, they rediscover the text like unchartered terrain, a new understanding of a landscape altered by constantly changing elements, bringing perhaps an unexpected but unforgettable revisioning.

For further information on the book and links to the online films please go to:


Earth Lines: the online launch

1 October @ 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

Join Patrick Corbett and other contributors online to celebrate the launch of Earth Lines: Geopoetry and Geopoetics published by the Edinburgh Geological Society, organised by the Scottish Geology Trust and part of The Scottish Geology Festival. This is a book that explores the stratigraphy of the poetry in rocks and stones.

The Earth Lines book launch programme will include:

  • Patrick Corbett on the background to Earth Lines: Geopoetry and Geopoetics
    • Readings from poets: Elizabeth Wong, John Hegley, Alice Major, Alina Hayder, Stuart Graham, Mark Cooper, Neil Hodgson, Sila Pla-Pueyo, Jack Cooper
    • Round Table discussion with Norman Bissell, Yvonne Reddick, John Bolland, Brian Whalley, Rob Francis
    • Sarah Tremlett will introduce Earth Lines Online, with a reading from Ken Cockburn
  • Q&A from audience

“A pleasure to hold, a delight to behold.” Kenneth White, Founder of the International Institute of Geopoetics.

“Earth Lines is a delightful outcrop of poetry and prose.” Elsa Panciroli, Scottish Geology Trust.

Free, booking required: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/book-launch-of-earth-lines-geopoetry-and-geopoetics-tickets-167240469747

An event in the Scottish Geology Festival, organised by the Scottish Geology Trust.
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photo: kind permission of Patrick Corbett