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Edgelands Journeys into England's True Wilderness

Characters Edgelands Journeys into England's True Wilderness

Railways motorways wasteland and water a presence in the world and a strange beauty all of their ownPaul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts both well known poets have lived and worked and known these places all their lives and in Edgelands their journeying prose fuses in the anonymous tradition to allow this in between world to speak up for itself They write about mobile masts and gravel pits business parks and landfill. Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts introduce us to a part of our world th

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Edgelands explores a wilderness that is much closer than you think a debatable zone neither the city nor the countryside but a place in between so familiar it is never seen for looking Passed through negotiated unnamed ignored the edgelands have become the great wild places on our doorsteps places so difficult to acknowledge they barely exist Edgelands forms a critiue of what we value as 'wild' and allows our allotments. Loved it A fascinating traipse through those areas which are certainly not rur Coreys Pony Is Missing (Pony Tails, closer than you think a debatable zone neither the Dear George And Other Stories city nor the Social Creature countryside but a place in between so familiar it is never seen for looking Passed through negotiated unnamed ignored the edgelands have become the great wild places on our doorsteps places so difficult to acknowledge they barely exist Edgelands forms a Misplaced Loyalty (Meredith & Hodge, critiue of what we value as 'wild' and allows our allotments. Loved it A fascinating traipse through those areas which are A Pocketful of Crows certainly not rur

Paul Farley ½ 2 Review

Sites in the same way the Romantic writers forged a way of looking at an overlooked but now familiar landscape of hills and lakes and rivers England the first country to industrialise now offers the world's most mature post industrial terrain and is still in a state of flux Edgelands takes the reader on a journey through its forgotten spaces so that we can marvel at this richly mysterious cheek by jowl region in our mids. Beautiful and engrossing Psychogeography is a battleground you've got social c Coreys Pony Is Missing (Pony Tails, country to industrialise now offers the world's most mature post industrial terrain and is still in a state of flux Edgelands takes the reader on a journey through its forgotten spaces so that we Dear George And Other Stories can marvel at this richly mysterious Social Creature cheek by jowl region in our mids. Beautiful and engrossing Psychogeography is a battleground you've got social Misplaced Loyalty (Meredith & Hodge, c

10 thoughts on “Edgelands Journeys into England's True Wilderness

  1. says:

    Most of the non fiction I read has an element of nature writing about it but this book is rather than that Farley and Roberts aim is to reclaim and celebrate the edgelands that surround our cities and the book is a fascinating account of the way landscapes are developed either by human intervention or by nature reclaiming what is left behind after human activity Both writers are poets so the book is inevitably reflective and personal despite the joint authorial voice which makes it impossible to deduce who wrote which parts of it Many other poets and artists are citedEach chapter has a one word title encapsulating its theme most of them specific human activities ranging from den building and mining to hotels and airports and the whole makes a fascinating portrait of the England that many of us take for granted

  2. says:

    Loved it A fascinating traipse through those areas which are certainly not rural but are not exactly urban The two writers are both published poets and this is certainly very clear though not in a forced look at us we are poets and cannot speak unless its in poetic imagery and purple prose type way They have beautiful turns of phrase they uote fellow poets and their imagery often enhances and cetainly challenged my preconceived ideas The areas dealt with range from the ruralish aspect of woodlands and paths which might still cling on or encroach on the edge of our cities through the ex lands of disused mines or power stations or landfill to the huge anonymity of retail and business parks and hotels Chapters in handy 10 page chunks or so make it perfect for extended moments when you know the moment cannot last beyond five or ten minutes but it also is a lovely explore in which to immerse yourself A clever book which doesn't tell you what to think about a vast array of subjects such as light or air pollution or increased commercialization or the tension between improvement and preservation but gives you the opportunity to view them from a vantage point which I for one may not have had before reading this book

  3. says:

    Personal explorations and childhood recollections by the authors united into one voice plus a good trawl of references to writings art and photography informed by those 'edgelands' which border the city proper and the countryside seen only as edges if as usually simply travelled through but as territories in their own right when imaginatively visited At the uarter way through point this is enjoyable and easy to read succinctly chaptered into subjects eg Dens Containers Paths and each chapter chunked into paragraphs with spaces so as not to wear out the typical modern reader Both authors are poets the blurb refers to them as well known poets a phrase which is a crime against literacy since if they are well known it seems insulting to both them and the reader to assert the fact As poets they point out that poetry often deals with the mundane and overlooked which they do here and too they have some witty images and asides which possibly signifies some modern poetry How one may long however for a writer to realise that in dealing with liminal issues a liminal discourse a refreshment is reuired rather than a tarted up trudge through familiar banality To be fair the method of working is to snapshot as image beyond concept concept abstracted from image and metonym a particular scene and move on uickly to thereby evoke a running contrast between looking and seeing between fast time and slow time; plus for those of us who still wander wastelands and edgelands literally and through the places of the mind there is the delight of recognition; for those of us whose childhoods were spent in these places there is a deeper delight Perhaps a way of expressing the book's method analogically is suggested in the authors' discussion of artist Edward Chell and his paintings of motorway verges He has described the powerful visual metaphor of the verge as poised between the ordered policed and restricted boundary spaces of the state that we are only allowed to look at travelling at great speed and the slower uncontrollable energies of nature His images suggest our perception in flux the way seen at speed the intricacies of grassland and vegetation shift in and out of focus as our relation to the incident light changes Because Chell is interested in vision how we look at or don't look at what lies all around us His paintings concentrate our gaze on what's usually fleeting and reduced to blurred texture; at the same time their stillness seems to contain speed and its shifting effects of lightClearly there is a central focus upon what for brevity's sake nay be termed 'the ideology' of land and landscape the borders and powers of governments and private power and the acts of subversion represented by edgelands and the human activity that takes place there Also there is in the thesis itself a radical uestioning of the conservative gardening of 'beauty' and order and thence an interrogation of the ideology of 'aesthetics' and an obliue suggestion of the tawdriness of 'beauty' on the one hand and the 'beauty of ugliness' on anotherSome of the laddish wit irritates imagery seems clever and abstract by and large rather than 'fleshed out' as one would indeed hope from poets Perhaps the better reflections and refractions are conceptual rather than poetic A discussion of an evolutionary term 'progressive detachment' for instance is offered as a 'beautiful poetic idea' yet it may be better formulated as sharing the beauty of mathematics In science the authors state metaphors change in an attempt to be faithful to the evidence; presumably an analogy is being suggested by which new imagery needs to be found to express new discoveries such as the edgelands As I've said the whole discourse of this book and the imagery in particular is pretty much off the shelf and lacks a fresh approachPossibly some sort of category error has been made firstly by trying to catalogue 'edgelands' into discrete categories; secondly by identifying them too closely with their physical location One would have thought that by nature edgelands are not subject to classification and territory and hence the reuirement of a adventurous mode of expression Strangely unpeopled except by monolithic categories of types eg families en route to Benidorm or Ibiza at airports the authors share that peculiar modern sensitivity to what they perceive as any charge of misanthropy early on they dismiss attempts to dismiss edgelands in favour of transcendental trips to the Highlands or as evidencing edgelands as showing the mess we have made of the planet as shortcuts to misanthropy The edgelands in this book have a ghostly uality that I am sure unintentionally leaves out the human and exploits a detritus of attributes dislocated and disconnectedAll landscapes are imaginary cities are imaginary As the writers say we can concentrate on the local the immediate and devote our attention to a few suare feet of earth And rather than having to find edgelands in the obvious geographical border between town and country we can see them wherever we are wherever there is human activity There are many strata of populations in all our cities and the demographic metaphor is apt We live in edgelands whoever wherever we are

  4. says:

    A very disappointing book I bought it expecting to enjoy a series of prose poems evoking the strange attraction of city margins Instead I found a series of pseudo intellectual essays about the different things to be found there There was little sense of the particular just the authors' generalised and often irritating whimsy I shall not be keeping this book

  5. says:

    really exciting and surprising stuff will change the way you lookoverlook at a lot of things defo makes train and bus journeys exciting also there's a lot of really lovely digressions on birds

  6. says:

    Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts introduce us to a part of our world that we had long forgotten even existedThis unlikely addition to my bookshelf was recommended to me by someone who has since gone off on travels to Shangri La in a hot air balloon but when they return I shall be sure to express my unending gratitude for their counsel Edgelands is a series of journeys into the parts of England’s wilderness that we are all accustomed to either ignoring or looking past Neither the town nor country; but spaces ‘where urban and rural negotiate and renegotiate their borders’ They can be places that we don’t want to see like power stations sewage works or landfill sites; places of former industrialisation that are now sites of intense retail competition for weekend shoppers; or even simply undeveloped wastelandThe authors who visit many different edgeland areas draw on history to explore what has happened to these places and then explore what they are used for now even reminiscing about their own childhood memories – which uite often has the effect of bringing memories of your own flooding back You’ll find yourself not only picturing the scene they’re describing but also trying to remember a place from your own past that says the same thing They give us an insight into the changing nature of England’s towns and show how the edgelands have even within their own lifetimes transformed; moved; even been occupied by the diverse wildlifeBoth authors are accomplished poets themselves and also draw on the poetry of others as well as art and literature to try and shine a spotlight on what they believe is the beauty of the edgelands both the natural and the not so natural They achieve their goal with resounding success; now I can’t even take a train ride or a bus out of town without gazing out of the window at the edgelands of the north east and wondering just the same things that Farley and Roberts do in this bookWith each chapter devoted to a different subject many of which are inextricably linked the book is not a linear journey from the first page to the last it is not chapter after chapter of simply describing particular places either; there is also much of their explorations in the process of writing the book Documenting visits to the many places they write about; an outlet village the Birmingham NEC a pallet yard “A book?” “Yes a book about the edgelands” “The what?” “Pallets It’s about pallets”Edgelands is a wonderful insight into long forgotten about places It will give you a greater appreciation for the things you never notice But most importantly it’s just a fascinating and enjoyable book to read

  7. says:

    For someone who has always been scared of abandoned cars on the side of a roads this book was always going to at least hold my attention The authors are fascinated by the spaces between the urban and the rural and do well in attempting to break down this particularly prevalent binary by focusing on all the bits that don’t fit Given that the authors are poets with university affiliations rather than geographers this is about imaginative space than physicalThis reads like a poetry collection than a sustained polemic which is a good thing in my view The authors flit between ideas and ponderings effortlessly using the single worded chapter headings Wire Ruins Woodlands Canals Containers etc as springboards for thinking about what these non spaces mean what they symbolize what they do how they make you feel The authors draw on a range of poets artists and architects to prop up their own ideas but dodge po faced intensity for foolish often tongue in cheek romanticism Tellingly the authors are often scathing in their off hand criticisms of “so called psycho geographers”; they are poets with little to no interest in meaningThis book is at its strongest in its evocation of the English landscape If Wordsworth lived in modern day Wigan and was charged with sending occasional editorials from the car park of the abandoned Big W warehouse on the edge of town he may have produced something like this book The authors are less convincing however when any actual people trespass in their imaginative wilderness In one chapter they pay lip service to an ‘interview’ with a night warden but seem less interested in him than what he represents In another chapter a receptionist at a pallet yard on the edge of Birmingham is bemused by the authors’ reuest to have a wander around The authors’ inability to understand the receptionist’s confusion speaks volumes about how obtuse and how irritating artists can be In another part of the book the authors tell a story about how Auden would get excited about meeting minors but found it difficult to sustain a conversation with any of them This is a uniue and personal collection of meandering and often beautiful poetic prose The authors find transcendence in the most mundane of landscapes but fail to make a connection with the lived experience of those who pass through them

  8. says:

    Beautiful and engrossing Psychogeography is a battleground you've got social commentators using it and artists and occultists These authors being poets do their bit here to stake a claim for the right of poets to use the psychogeographical kitbag There are some asides early on about the 'miserabilist' tendencies of 'psychogeographers' a not so suitable dig at the likes of Iain Sinclair and Will Self The book thus sets out its credentials as inclined to beauty than socio cultural critiue And there's nothing wrong with thatThe writing and observations are very beautiful with those bright splashes of shocking originality that only poetry can do But I don't think they escape entirely their own accusation of 'miserabilism' especially in some of the later chapters examining the effects of commercialisation and commodification upon the landscape Could it be shock horror that psychogeography is something than a well defined 'sense of place' which poetry has always found itself so well euipped to evoke? Perhaps the psychogeographical kitbag has a logic all its own which leads one inevitably into critiue?I think this accounts perhaps for the authors' choice of scope the 'edgelands'; spaces not uite in the city because in the city it would be harder to escape the impression of a critiue or challenge to the established order It's harder to say things about urban spaces without positioning oneself either inside or outside the consensus view The edgelands however afford a certain aesthetic distance Occultists for instance love these spaces because they provide a refuge and a cover for their activities outside the mainstream For the artist or poet however I suspect that they offer the attraction of being neither inside nor outsideBut all of that aside poetry still kicks arse when it comes to an evocation of the sense of place The beauty and sensitivity of this book are than enough to carry it through

  9. says:

    Though I was at times slightly frustrated by the uncertainty of this never was 'edgeland' convincingly defined for me it seemed to just mean 'anything town or country that the authors wanted to define as such' and though it did wander off into pretentiousness at times I did enjoy thisThe co authors discuss various aspects of the British landscape focussing on boundaries and hinterlands Allotments canals dumps wastelands retail parks and many it's a curiously put together mixture of poetry academic review and diverse discussion that worked best when it was being generic though I did get added pleasure from some of the West Midlands sections I was familiar with At times it took itself too seriously I felt and there did seem to be sweeping statements early on which failed to convince me but most of it was good There were parts which I really enjoyed parts which I felt myself gloss over and barely take in but overall it was a pleasant and interesting read

  10. says:

    After an intro which nearly put me off altogether its 'we' made it feel far too much like a manifesto this settles down into a charming celebration of the pleasures of overgrown nowheres in particular and why mothballed building sites make the best playgrounds Like Iain Sinclair the authors are both poets but their prose isn't uite so dense for the sake of it and nor are they such thoroughly miserable sods

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