Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Poet Tom Pow has undertaken a wonderful study of dying villages in a number of European countries, exploring the social, ecological and cultural effects of demographic change. He responds to the experience of travelling through them in a mixture of poetry, photographs, landscapes, physical artefacts and this excellent website.
I went to hear him speak about it last week at his residency at the Scottish Poetry Library and 'enjoyed' the melancholy sense of loss. Despite the photos of empty houses, weathered doors, abandoned churches, it is essentially a human story about forgotten recipes, lights going out, and other trends captured in the poignant, How to tell when a village is dying such as: 'when the village girls have no eyes for the village boys'. And yet, in the photographs, stories and interviews, the human spirit still bubbles up in the few remaining inhabitants and Tom has breathed life into the reality of rural lives in a way that I've seen no academic/formal rural development project do. In this respect it is a hopeful story, I felt.
Two beautiful, small, letterpress-printed poetry books are also available from the website.