This year, Australian Poetry in partnership with the Nature, Art & Habitat Residency (NAHR), presented the inaugural NAHR Eco-Poetry Award / Residency with Simon Eales as its 2017 winner. The residency involved a month long stay in July 2017, in the village of Sottochiesa, Taleggio Valley, northern Italy, with fantastic results.
Australian Poetry would like to thank NAHR and its founder Iaria Mazzoleni for initiating this brilliant partnership, which will continue as an opportunity for AP subscribers. A profound thank-you to the three inaugural jurors, Dan Disney, Anne Elvey and Jennifer Scappettone.
From Simon Eales NAHR 2017:
My work at the Nature, Art and Habitat Residency in the Taleggio Valley consisted of three main components. I produced a book of poems, or a poem-book, called Deathroll & Netbag, which I printed in the last few days of the residency at a commercial printshop in the nearby town of Zogno. The intention was for it to be a 78-page book that could serve as a kind of tarot deck that someone living in or visiting the valley could use as an abstract way of entering into its culture, magic, and world of living symbols. The book wants to say that we could read more, closer, and with more weirdness, and that this is a mode of counteracting the impulse to contribute to the negentropic spiral of late modernism and capital.
The second element of the project was a multi-site-specific installation implementation. Through extensive walking and hiking along the paths into the foothills of the Alps surrounding Sottochiesa, I observed that the Valley’s black slate-roofed barns are distinctive and beautiful. Many are in ruins. I selected the five ruined barns closest to the town and designed simple structure that would reuse the materials of the barn and provide platforms for travellers, whether from the area or elsewhere, to engage with them and their immediate surrounds. At each site I glued a poem from Deathroll & Netbag, printed on PVC, to a piece of stone.
The third aspect of the project was a loose-form documentation of my embodiment of the Valley. I recorded sounds, images, and movements—my own and those of the environment surrounding my body—that struck me as significant: my body lying in a very cold alpine stream, my body carrying a very heavy rock up a hill as the church bells from Pizzino rang, the sound the wind was making when I was lost, and feeling the precariousness of my situation, on the side of Monte Cancervo, the sound of the town flautist playing very well on one Saturday evening, the church-bells pealing differently, etc.