Poetry of Birds and the Isle of Bute

Vallum poetry book illustration

A new poetry title by artist and writer John Elcock is published in January 2018 by The Artel Press.

Vallum is the third collection of poems written by the Liverpool-based poet and features thirty new works compiled over a three year period, exploring birds, landscape and symbolism.

His new poems take the reader on a journey through a series of rich landscapes, on a contemporary pilgrimage to reveal the sacred in the apparently mundane. At once field diary, travel journal and confessional, Vallum is an atavistic exploration of place and purpose.

The book marks a new direction in his work with the structure of the collection taking the form of a journey ever closer to the spiritual heart of the medieval vallum – the raised bank that traditionally defined the boundary of early monastic settlements from the secular world outside.

Many of the poems also feature birds observed in the field, a subject which has been an important part of Elcock’s recent creative practice in painting.

He comments: ‘Patient observation suggests there is something unique in the nature of birds that appears to challenge modern preconceptions of human understanding. Like the medieval vallum, birds appear to occupy an enigmatic space in nature between the corporeal world and that which is sacred or set apart.

Vallum is an exploration of that which we have lost, but we are reminded of either in the traces of our ancestors or in the behaviour and voice of birds.’