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The Crow Road from Eden
by Tony Howson
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'I survived.  Others have not been so lucky.'
B U Y   T H E   B O O K

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VP0026  //  Published: 25th May 2012

Thus far, Valley Press has been noted mainly for our publications in the genres of poetry and travel writing - so it's only natural that for this, our 26th book, we should combine the two.  The Crow Road from Eden is a multi-course literary meal; an engrossing and passionate collection of poems, a travel memoir, and a critical study of poets (and poetry scenes) from across the globe.

The book collects poems written in Africa, England, Ukraine, Russia, the Balkans and the Middle East, organised by location, with an introduction describing the literary history of each country, and the influence that history has had on the author's own writing and life.  Tony Howson's journalistic work has given him a unique, front-line insight into all those regions, and created a book the likes of which you are unlikely to encounter again - however far you travel.

Paperback page count: 92   /   ISBN: 9781908853097
'A rewarding experience... the wide geographic and emotional sweep of this collection is enhanced by Howson's respect for, and immersion in, the countries and cultures he has lived in. Written with a rare intelligence, the reader will take away some vivid imagery that resonates long in the mind.'
— Heidi Kipling
Tony Howson was born in Slough, 1956, and spent his formative years in Yorkshire and
Teesside.  He has worked widely as a journalist in both print and radio...  (read more)

A Natural Spring Tapped Behind a Wall

A mid-day heat calmed only by shadows
From thin-boned trees with curled leaves
And shade from some angled building –
I pass across uneven cobbles, tasting hot air
In the dryness of my throat; my cracked lips
Desire a kiss of soothing coolness.
The stone set into the wall looks solid with age
And the brass tap pokes out, green in its stem.
The handle is tight, needing a twist of force.
From the nozzle I watch the bubble’s expansion;
Slow, slow it starts to grow, as a grape,
Taut tension of its skin holding it there,
A tremble, a slight tremor and a refractive
Light of yellow and blue that draws the eye
Into some hypnotic state of waiting, watching
For the drip to fall, almost beckoning the tongue
To stretch out, head bent up, to suck it away.
And suddenly it drops and another appears
As a desperate hand turns the tap and
From deep within the hillside,
An age of water falls.
Andre's Wood

Deer tracks lead in nervous steps back to the undergrowth.
Urine-spray colours the deep snow pale yellow.
With deliberate step, the hunter’s footprint compresses,
Heel first, then toe.  But the forest is silent.

Breath mists in the cold air.
In the paling sunlight, low in the sky,
Eyes try to pierce the staggered, orderly trees.
From mysterious depths, we are watched.

Nothing stirs as we turn, heel to toe,
Treading the winter’s path through the wood.
The air is cold and fresh and deeply drunk
Into the lungs, before blown by reddening cheeks.

But we are not the hunters, just the admirers
Of Andre’s wood, which, like a tale from Narnia,
Appeared one day into our lives,
And like magic into his life, forty-three years ago.

A loop of ice twined like a vine to a branch,
Dripping clear drops into the thaw of the day,
And each drop a memory of the wood that
Runs and stretches, breaking only for fire and wind.

History melts and mulches around the roots,
Signed by rub of antler on bark.
Each howl of some distant hungry wolf, or
A bear’s rough growl, heralds another season.

And the seasons run into one.  Even before
It became Andre’s wood, it had a dream-life
Where patriots hid in the snow and fought
Bitterly against strange invaders and cold.

This passing spirit sanctum where all weaves untouched
Around the trees pillaring earth and sky,
Each mute witness to cruel killing, kind living, giving
Undecided sanctuary to the stalker and the stalked.

Neutral to the senses, events unfolding,
Like the day Andre walked with his love
Between the pines, or, marked and mapped
The trees for good economic usage.

There, as part of the system, yet
Never tamed, not truly, just managed,
So pines could grow taller and fall
Louder, and stronger.  Man and nature

Forces for the common good,
Bark and sap and blood and bones.
The wood snap of twig and fall of leaf
Spiral history’s roll into sawdust.
Tony Howson
The Crow Road from Eden