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The Call of Trees

Living on the edge of Kilbroney Park, it is no surprise that I have a special relationship with trees. I go for walks nearly every day in good weather. After the last storm (and there are many these days, due to the climate change) I anxiously counted the fallen ones.

What is the damage this time?

While I was walking, I was remembering past storms, big strong branches torn away. When I look at those trees today, the damage is nearly unrecognisable. As if the broken branch had been mended, or perhaps, it has become part of the picture. Trees have a way of healing themselves. If it is true that they communicate with each other, I'd like to think that perhaps they comfort each other, too.

We are getting to the end of the project: The Trees of Kilbroney Park. After working with the community for nearly two years, Light 2000 published an art book, containing local history, botanical knowledge and haibun, illustrated by photographs and artworks. We took the exhibition from Rostrevor to Cregagh in Belfast, then back to Newry. The next exhibition will take place in East Belfast and the last in The Marketplace in Armagh. We are hoping to round up the project in Rostrevor with a closing party and readings.

I was tasked with editing the book and I greatly enjoyed the work. As Light 2000 is an independent publisher in this case, I had pleasure in nominating two haibun writers from the book for the Pushcart Prize.

Scar Tissue by Cathy Cole - is a deeply touching haibun, inspired by a five hundred year old multi-stem Sessile Oak, relating a tree's damage to her breast cancer. It is a beautifully written, courageous work and it gives a voice to so many women in this area.

The other nominee is Rostrevor Elegy by Denis Stokes. He responded to the Douglas Fir, native in Northern America, and connected in his haibun Rostrevor with the indigenous peoples of Canada. His stream of consciousness full of connotations is a challenging read, but the more rewarding.

Whether they will be included in the Pushcart Prize 2018 anthology, we will find out early in the new year.

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