Blanche
Blanche is a haunting, atmospheric love story, spanning the thirty years from 1960 to 1990, and is narrated by a character who seems to haunt his own life; who is tethered to this world by the slenderest of threads. In shock from some unspeakable event and unable to regain his equilibrium, all the book’s events unfold through his eyes. His tenuous existence enables the unseen to manifest in flashes of prescience – he is a conduit between this world and the other-worldly.

Five men literally and metaphorically ‘miss the boat’ and as a consequence find themselves sharing a cottage on a neglected country estate. Five years later, into the midst of their amiable, haphazard and ramshackle existence comes the eponymous Blanche. Enigmatic, beautiful, secretive and bedevilled, like the goddess Kali, Blanche has the power to create and affirm or bring about chaos and destruction.

The reader is drawn into the timeless and dreamlike enchantment of the lives shared in the communal cottage: the remoteness from modernity and the evocation of each changing season weaves a powerful spell. Whilst livings must be earned elsewhere, real life – the life that counts, the life of the spirit – happens only in and around the brooding environs of the estate. But even in this place set apart, fate must run its course. No one is inviolable and tragedy when it strikes is sudden and final, but not entirely irrevocable because in time, so much is healed – until the ending startles with its proof of ultimate integration.

As with all John Moat’s writing, what is happening on the surface is merely a reflection: the real story – the authentic communication – is taking place in the realms of the spirit. With an uncanny ability to tap into invisible dimensions, Moat adeptly conveys this otherworldly presence: one that subtly informs and shapes events, yet one that most of us are, at best, only half aware.

Hardback, including photographs by Andrew Lawson.

Available in paperback at Amazon

 
 
 
 

Mai's Wedding
This is a story that must engage your intuition not your logical mind; it speaks to the heart, to the spirit and to a sixth sense whose sphere is almost entirely behind the scenes and whose interactions are with the world unseen. It is the age old story of good versus evil, but it is not a simple tale of black and white, it is more an exploration of Yin and Yang. As the story unfolds, it brings into focus the pearlescent seed of light in the very heart of darkness and the ink black hole of destruction that resides in even the purest of souls.

The setting is a deeply rural coastal community. Into one household on the cusp of the New Year Michael, writer, poet and something other, introduces the elemental Mai, a child woman with an enigmatic past. She is fey, fickle and fated; destined to become both catalyst and rite of passage. In the battle ground of her soul the need to belong and the need to be free are locked in a struggle for supremacy.

Central to the unfolding of the plot is a mushroom, a psychedelic whose mind altering properties are not only dangerously effective but whose spiritual potency is so powerful that it attracts the deeply negative attentions of the sinister and manipulative MacCauseland. Those that are drawn to him learn to regret it. Each character, however unwittingly, has a part to play towards salvation or damnation.

John Moat's depiction of the people of this rural community has all the lyrical poetry of the beautiful Under Milk Wood; he captures perfectly the fleeting and mercurial nature of the thought process and its impact on the uncertain choices of the heart. His evocative and spellbinding descriptions of the sea, the countryside and the wildlife, are so finely drawn and so minutely observed as can only be achieved by a deep love for, and attunement to the natural world. After reading this book rain will never be just rain again; it will have layers of sound it will have a nature, it will have a colour.

Although this story is redolent with loss... the loss of innocence, of the unborn, of love, it also brims with hope, with the power of redemption and with the potential of new beginnings. It reminds us that the mythic has meaning; that we are capable of so much more than merely tending to the mechanics of existence and that life is a glorious mystery.

(Reviewed by Lynn Batten)

Available in Kindle format at Amazon or print at The Write Factor

 
 

The Gist: A Celebration of the Imagination
Nobel-Prize winning poet Seamus Heaney and Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy are among a number of distinquished writers contributing to The Gist: A Celebration of the Imagination, a book of essays, poems and reflections brought together in acknowledgement of the life and work of John Moat, co-founder of Arvon. The Gist, among other stimulating offerings, includes Seamus Heaney's reflections on inspirational encounters, fascinating pages from Alice Oswald's workbook as she writes a Wind Poem, and essays by award-winning novelists Andrew Miller and Adam Thorpe. Maggie Gee, Penelope Shuttle, Monique Roffey and John Moat himself consider the educational, social and cultural importance of Arvon’s work, while authors such as Jules Cashford and Patrick Harpur offer surprising mythological and philosophical insights on the book’s wider themes. By examining the nature of the Imagination in engaging and illuminating ways, and showing examples of its powers in full flight, The Gist is designed to bring encouragement and inspiration to all who are enchanted by the magic of language and seek to live a creative life.

Published by Arvon in association with The Write Factor, and edited by the novelist Lindsay Clarke, the book has a Foreward by Andrew Motion and reprints an important essay on Arvon and Education by Ted Hughes.

£9.99 plus p&p. To order visit:
www.thewritefactor.co.uk/non-fiction

All proceeds from the sale of this book to Arvon which is a UK Charitable Trust.
 
 

A Fabrication of Gold
“Turning into the drive I have this clear vision. I wouldn’t really know a vision if I saw one, but this one’s so clear it’s like a blackout.”

As with all John Moat’s books A Fabrication of Gold is expertly crafted: what the author has called “an alchemical Whitehall farce” succeeds in being by turn hilarious, lyrical and profound.
A Fabrication of Gold runs with an episode of apparent small-town ‘male-menopause’ – and it really shouldn’t be this funny – only to discover that for all the derangement, and thanks to the intervention of some seriously dodgy characters, the breakdown becomes a breakthrough and leads to clarity and ultimate integration.
A feat of adroit story-telling... those who so far have ridden its white water have made it to the end in one compelling trip. The book is “unputdownable.”

READERS’ COMMENTS
“Remarkable - a completely new genre somewhere between Shakespeare and Self-help. At the same time, it is a magnificent take on The Great Work.” - Patrick Harpur, author of A Complete Guide to the Soul and Mercurius

“There is so much I love about this book. For all its apparently recondite alchemical references, John Moat has the good sense to identify and go with the humour of a profoundly serious process and to do so jubilantly.” - Lindsay Clarke, author of The Chymical Wedding and The Water Theatre.

From the swamps of paranoia to the dizzy heights of self-realisation.
A review of A Fabrication of Gold by Lynn Batten

This book left me with some profound questions: What exactly did Ayah do? What did the police really want? Is there a recipe for the witch-therapist’s potions and has John Moat actually been sampling them? If you like your fiction straight forward and your storyline blatant then this is not the book for you. If, however, you are up for being taken on a fascinating and very funny journey through the emotional and symbolic landscapes of the human heart and mind then read on. This book will take you from the swamps of paranoia to the dizzy heights of self realization and back again via everywhere. This story is so beautifully written, with such good grace, that for me it transcends the subject matter and becomes an archetype, a fable. It is the story of a man, of a marriage, of a husband and father who finds himself forced to grapple with the intricacies and labyrinthine evolutions of what we narrowly term ‘a breakdown’ and of his struggle to embrace the life-changing nature of self discovery and subsequent transformative experiences. Well…. that’s what I think it’s about! It made me laugh a lot and left me feeling lighter; but logic it is not. I think I understood completely, therefore I did. Or in the immortal words of Dr McCoy of Star Trek fame… “Its life Jim but not as we know it.”


The Alchemical Way
A review of A Fabrication of Gold by Jenny Hare

Gosh – this novel was totally not what I’d imagined it would be! I’d anticipated a gentle fiction woven around themes of spirituality and nature, infused of course with John Moat’s innate humour. Apart from the latter, for it is indeed very funny, this book, instead, is a non-stop flight along a man’s Jungian journey through mid-life crisis. Depressing and grey? Not a bit of it: this particular MLC is colourful and whacky. And the characters are mostly larger than life, vibrant and very real. I felt I knew the off-beam therapist and the central family and I was intrigued by the various other eccentrics who people the story. The alchemical way interplays dream with reality and is allowed to follow its own often surreal stream of consciousness as the therapist introduces our hero to a quest for self-knowledge. She works holistically, eschewing the kind of cognitive behaviour therapy the government and NHS are currently championing. Instead she is repeatedly and rather refreshingly highly challenging and confrontational. This interplay, when her hapless client unintentionally kills a bee, made me chuckle out loud: “Now look what you’ve done, you’ve killed a bee . . . Christ what’s the matter with you? . . . You upset him. Your energy must be terrible . . . You ought to do something about it.” As I’m currently writing a book about creativity, I was drawn intuitively to read this book, feeling it would somehow relate to it. Although not in the way I expected, I was well rewarded, for a more creative novel you could hardly find. As a writer, painter and, in the day job, psychotherapist, the ‘gold’ for me, was this nugget from the therapist: “It’s another way of looking at a thing. You just look at it, whatever it is, creatively and you’ve made it. That way you’re working on yourself. You’re making gold.” Yes!


From reviews of John Moat’s other published work:

“Written with admirable lightness of touch.” - The Observer

“Strange and stylistically striking.” - The Daily Telegraph

“Eloquent and uproarious.” - The Listener

“Daft, magical, beautiful and rides the thermals higher and higher.” - The Guardian

A Fabrication of Gold
is available from:
The Write Factor
OR
http://www.amazon.co.uk
 
 

The Best (including quite the worst) of Didymus
Here is a collection of John Moat's 'Didymus' columns which have been published in Resurgence magazine for nearly thirty years. Selected by the author himself, this book has made me laugh out loud, shed the odd tear and ponder: is John being funny, or is he being serious? Sometimes it is difficult to tell - but always his writing is both simple and profound and something I never tire of.
Satish Kumar, Editor, Resurgence magazine

John Moat's book is a masterly blend of warm Irish wit and cool English satire, tapped to perfection in the wordsmithy of a superb poet; I've been a fan of his for over twenty-five years.
Adam Thorpe, author of Between Each Breath, Ulverton, etc.

"If aliens from Fairfax senior's acre of Moon visited Earth and required an operating manual on the wonderful meandering of a human mind, they should look no further than John Moat's inspired Didymus collection"
Jo Fairfax (sculptor son of John fairfax, the dedicatee of this book who has recently begun property speculating on the Moon)

"It is difficult to imagine how far the intellectual content of this collection would have been extended had the author been prepared to confer more closely with myself"
F R Dundas

Published by Green Books at £7.99

ISBN 978-1-900322-22-5
 


The Founding of Arvon

A Memoir of the Early Years of the Arvon Foundation
 

The Arvon Foundation is a charity running residential writing courses at centres across England. In an informal, creative atmosphere, novice writers have the opportunity to be mentored by experienced, published authors.

In this lively memoir, John Moat recalls how in 1968 he and John Fairfax created Arvon as a reaction against what they saw as a staid, dogmatic approach to teaching poetry. The infectious energy and idealism of those early days led to the rapid sense of their ideas and the establishment of the courses into a self sustaining, funded enterprise.

Today, the Arvon Foundation is one of the country's most famous and prestigious creative writing organizations, with centres at Lumb Bank in West Yorkshire, Moniack Mhor in Invernesshire, The Hurst in Shropshire and Totleigh Barton in Devon. This is an inspiring story about creativity, imagination and self-discovery.

Published by Francis Lincoln at £12.99

ISBN 13:978-0-7112-2588-6

The Gist of Arvon
A founder's view of the imaginative imperative that unifies and sustains the Arvon operation, and possibibly the life of any genuine arts/education enterprise.
Full text available here


Hermes and Magdalen


Hermes & Magdalen is a sequence of forty-three poems--"asides and dreams"--which marks the culmination of this poet's fifty year quest to find new expression in poetry of the creative balance of feminine and masculine at the heart of all meaning. In alchemical texts the number 43 (the four and the three come together) is an expression of the ‘estate of marriage’, the Mysterium Coniunctionis. To develop his vision the poet has also created twenty etchings/drypoints which are integral to the verses.

About this sequence of poems the author Lindsay Clarke writes: "When a poet weds his craft to a vision that both quickens the senses and penetrates the depth of things, then something marvellous happens. John Moat is a maker of such marvels, and his book is alchemical gold."

Of the etchings the author and painter John Lane writes: "In the footsteps of Blake and Rossetti, John Moat has produced a remarkable folio of his own. The etchings are imaginative and arresting. I love them for their unforced originality."

John Moat is the author of nineteen books, including poetry, novels, and short stories. Hermes & Magdalen is the third published by Typographeum, the two earlier ones being Three Stories (1995) and Skeleton Key (1997).

This book has been hand-set and printed letterpress by R. T. Risk in an edition of 150 copies. It is bound in a silk-finish Japanese cloth and has complementary end-papers and a printed label on the back-strip. There are 96 pages. The paper is from Strathmore. The type-face is 12-point Bembo. The illustrations (reduced) have been reproduced by Senecio Press, Charlbury, England.

An additional ten numbered copies, signed by the author, and including one new original etching (limited to 20 copies printed by Gareth John Jones), have been specially bound and slip-cased by Fine Binders of Wellingborough, England. The cloth is from Colibri and the end-papers are hand-made by Saunders. A further three copies, lettered A-C and also signed and boxed, include a full suite of the original etchings.

This book has been supported by the Arts Council, England.

ISBN 0-930126-62-9 December 2004

Ordinary edition: £50/$95

Signed copies (numbered): £200/$375

Signed copies (lettered): £1200/$2250

 
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