at world’s end, begin – Jan Fortune
How do we come home in a strange land?
Moving to a remote forest hamlet in a new country in the midst of a pandemic, the only way to connect is to take the time to linger, listen and observe—to be with the land that is becoming home. From this observations a series of haiku arise, following the Japanese system of 24 seasons divided into 72 micro-seasons and interspersed with eight lyric poems that travel around the Celtic wheel of the year. And so a forest garden and its surrounding Finistère woodland slowly reveals itself, weaving together the lunar and solar, melding the Celtic shape of the year with the increments of the Japanese solar terms, each one unveiling a new aspect of change.
Charting a life unmoored from the familiar, but permeable to the new the poems find their place at ‘the end of the world’, as the Romans called Finistère, but also in Penn-ar-Bed, the Breton name which is both the end and start of the world.
Most endings are also beginnings and here in these precise, exquisitely observed poems, we find ourselves both unsettled and settling, exploring what it means to hold together being adrift and belonging; cycles and transformation and how we find a beginning at the end of the world.
Jan Fortune was born in Middlesbrough and grew up in Redcar. She read theology at Cambridge and completed a doctorate in feminist theology at Exeter University. Jan has worked as a teacher, priest (ordained at the first ordination of women to the CofE) and charity director. She is the founding editor of Cinnamon Press and has edited around 400 books and led numerous creative writing courses in the Wales, the UK (including courses for Arvon and Ty Newydd), Spain, France, and online. She mentors writers from beginners to highly experienced, across genres and hosts a writing community, Kith, that includes weekly prompts, courses and inspiriation for the writing life via her site Becoming a Different Story.
Her previous publications include non-fiction titles in alternative education and parenting and the major book book for writers: Writing Down Deep: an alchemy of the writing life (available as both hardback and paperback editions) ; the novels Dear Ceridwen and Coming Home. Her previous poetry collections include Particles of Life (BlueChrome), Slate Voices (a collaborative collection with Mavis Gulliver), Stale Bread & Miracles, Edge (a companion to Adam Craig’s Year W), and Turn/Return, a pamphlet inspired by Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies cards. Her most recent poetry publication is the haiku pamphlet At world’s end, begin
Her previous novels include the Casilda Trilogy, This is the End of the Story, A Remedy for All Things and For Hope Is Always Born. Saoirse’s Crossing is a stand-alone spin-off novel from this sequence.
Her cross-over novels re-envisaging the Arthurian legends in a near-future authoritarian UK are The Standing Ground (originally published in 2008 and relaunched in a new edition in 2021) and The Roots of the Ground, written during the first UK lockdown as a live project with a group of writers as daily audience for first draft readings, and published in 2021. The Messenger of the Ground is the final book in this trilogy.
Jan studied aromatherapy with the Well School, is a yoga nidrā teacher with the Independent Yoga Nidrā Network and is training as a medical herbalist. She lives in a surviving area of ancient forest in Finistère, Brittany.