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Newsletter April 2023

Hi there

My last newsletter was March 2022 – so you will be glad to see I am not clogging up your inboxes with constant trivia . . .

It seems time for an update on Climate Action (next week), a series of poetry performances this summer, the perennial depression, and Freedom - see below.

Thanks Robin

THE BIG ONE : 21-24 April in London

First up, very soon we will be in London for THE BIG ONE, a mass protest outside the Houses of Parliament on 21st to 24th April. XR are aiming for 100,000 people to demand a citizen-led end to the fossil fuel era. There are now over 70 other organisations involved – FOE, Greenpeace, War on Want, Tear Fund, Quakers, Climate Justice Coalition, CAFOD, CND etc. So far over 26,000 have signed up.

This action is about attendance, not arrests…..about getting the Government to take notice, not disrupting the public. It depends on numbers to be successful….people turning up for these 4 days, clearly demonstrating their overwhelming concern about the climate and ecological crisis. Please do join me in London, come along for as many days as you can and email other friends and family to swell the numbers.

Saturday 22nd April is Earth Day, with a spectacular parade planned.

Sunday 23rd is the London Marathon, so this action is staying clear of that.

Whilst on XR matters, I was proud to have Living With Trees selected for the XR Writers Rebel Library in March 2022 by none other than Max Porter (Grief is the thing with feathers). ‘I’d really like to ask some kindly philanthropist to buy a copy of this book for every household in the UK. Very important, beautifully produced, a bible of Common Ground’s research and ongoing progressive intent as regards wood, forestry, biodiversity and trees as community in this country.’ But you already know that!

The Long Arc

This summer I will be performing some of my pomes in a reading called The Long Arc. It is three pieces of writing on environmental themes, accompanied by recorded music and projected visual images.

‘Arbor Vitae’ is a poetic version of my book 'Living With Trees', with images by Juliet Wimhurst. It lasts about 10 minutes.

'cleave' is a collection of poems tracing our estrangement from nature, our enslavement on the treadmill of 'progress', and how we might address this. 20 mins.

'Invocation' is words set to the famous music of Barber's Adagio, recited / sung by me. It is an invitation to the four elements, in their benign forms, to come to us and enrich our lives. It is also a warning to humans not to summon the elements in their destructive shadow forms. 10 mins.

I have produced a printed version of Arbor Vitae and I am in the process of getting a print version of Invocation, with illustrations by Juliet Wimhurst (see adjacent), available at . Part of cleave has been published by Tears in the Fence and I am seeking a publisher for the whole collection.

Performances so far:

Sat 8th July – Timber Festival, in The National Forest

Fri 14th July – Frome Festival, in Rise Bakery, 4pm

Sat 22nd July – Shaftesbury Fringe, The Grosvenor Hotel, 11am

Thu 21st Sept – Shute Festival, St Michael's Church, Shute EX13 7QW, 7pm

Currently looking for other festivals and events – let me know!


I have also been writing about my experience of depression over recent years, and especially in the last few months. In September 2022 I was diagnosed with both Covid and Lyme disease. The Covid seemed to come and go in fairly mild form luckily, but the Lyme disease, and the course of anti-biotics prescribed to cure it, really left me depleted in body and mind and withdrawn from the world.

We have long known that anti-biotics kill off both harmful and beneficial gut flora, but there is now compelling evidence to suggest that the gut micro-biome may influence mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. Read more on the gut-brain connection here

So having felt depressed and withdrawn these last few months, I thought I would report from my travels across that strange tundra of the soul. I have written a lot of new pieces, partly as a result of ongoing therapy; and I had accumulated numerous writings on depression from recent years, mostly raw in-the-moment accounts, and this was a good opportunity to revise and edit them into . . . into what exactly? Well, something that could be shared with others.

The psychologist D.W.Winnicott observed that “Artists are people driven by the tension between the desire to communicate and the desire to hide” – that really struck me, the need to reveal and conceal at the same time.

These writings have been shaped into a thing – it’s definitely a thing of sorts – a series of pieces under the working title dwell. It will need more reflection and revision, but I hope to publish it in some form in due course.


In March 2023 I took part in a concert with Palida choir, directed by Karen Wimhurst. We performed her new piece ‘Freedoms’, for which I wrote a short libretto.

This was based on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s ‘Four Freedoms’:

Freedom of speech

Freedom of worship

Freedom from want

Freedom from fear

The work was a timely response to the speech made by American Abolitionist and liberal activist Wendell Phillips in 1852: “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; power is ever stealing from the many to the few." Something we can observe in our daily lives!

Once the recording of the concert is edited I will post up some exerpts.



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