Saturday, July 11, 2009

Raja Shehadeh - A Wilder Vein

As A Wilder Vein, the anthology of 'wild places' writing that I've been editing is prepared for print, I'm delighted to see a shorter version of the piece Raja Shehadeh has written for it in today's Travel Guardian. He reflects on his first visit to the Scottish Highlands when he found the landscape muted in colour and water-saturated in comparison to his often bone-dry native Palestinian hills. However he found powerful echoes in the histories of displacement and the memories left in each terrain.

In this anthology ‘Wildness’ is applied to these islands in terms of each writer's sensibility. It might be a sense of scale or remoteness from roads, solitude, or a perception of surroundings that are natural or unchanging in comparison to human life cycles. That the idea is different for each of us is interesting in its own right. But history, memory, and the impact of the way that landscapes are seen animate the writings as visibly as the lines of river, stream and contour on the map. The pages are haunted by thousands of years of human activity which have formed our cultural landscapes, landscapes marked by tools or stones, by remnants of buildings.

The contributions of poets, travel-writers, natural historians, anthropologists and novelists give us many ways of looking, and varieties of writing. Amongst the pages there is lyricism and humour, biography and memoir, celebration and elegy. Perspectives come from inhabitants of these places, from visitors to them, and from travellers from other natural and political contexts like Raja Shehadeh who find echoes of or distinctions from home.

A Wilder Vein also includes writings by Sara Maitland, Andrew Greig, Margaret Elphinstone, Gerry Loose, Mandy Haggith, Neil Hegarty, Lisa Samson, Alison Grant, Lesley Harrison, Marco Daane, Katharine Macrae, Michelle Cotter, Ken Wilkie, Kenneth Taylor, Jane Alexander, Judith Thurley, Susan Richardson and with a foreword by Robert Macfarlane.
Published 2nd November