Monday, June 23, 2014

H is for Hawk events

 Upcoming talks and events for H is for Hawk. Come and say hello!

October 27th: Toppings & Company, Bath 

November 1st: Black Huts Festival, Hastings, with Patrick McGuinness

November 3rd: All The Best Stories Are True at the RSA, London (Samuel Johnson Prize event)

November 9th: Bridport Literary Festival

November 15th: New Networks for Nature, Stamford 

November 19th: Caught by the River Social Club, London

November 20th: Burgh House, Hampstead 

November 30th: Cambridge Literary Festival, with Dave Goulson



Jake Allsop said...

Well done, H! See you in Waterstones or Toppings - or both!
Best of luck

Hawkeye said...


"... the very essence of being-an-eagle, of having wings, and flying in a trance, in dream, inside the self." Peter Lamborn Wilson, Angels [1980]

We of the Blood Red Revelation, The Hawkeye Gila Adepts, gather mewling and hissing, tercels bating fiercely as the sundown gives way to dusk. Sharp-set and hungry, shoulders hunched for flight, we gaze out, our eyes swivelling like lizards'. From our eyrie high above the city - among the spires and grime-bitten gargoyles (their gutters overflowing and feculent with pigeon meat and feathers) - here, in the terracotta bestiary (now streaked with the spray of our mutes) - from up here, perched high on the corbels, we see and track it all.

We see the indicator lights of Bayswater kerb crawlers flashing out messages of desperate want and desire; scrap-metal scavengers roaming in tribal gangs; and a woman at a bidet, contemplating the miracle of conception (deep in thought, lost to the world). We see a tantrika in a threadbare suit laying out pastes and offerings; two men kissing behind shuttered blinds; and the inexplicable initiatory rites of a Zaibatsu brotherhood, a clan, acted out in a shabby Gloucester Road hotel. We see a couple copulating in a Kensington mews; a huddle of Polish exiles eating watery soup in a Daquise basement room; and herons massing to roost at Chelsea Creek, dagger-billed and silhouetted, perched high on the pylons and boat hulks - beached, derelict and rotting - abandoned to sink slowly into the effluent dead-grey mudflats, the grim bulk of the power station looming large in the background and dwarfing all. And further away in the distance, beyond the basket flares and fairy lights, the Battersea pagoda and love-hotel barges, we see teams of immigrant Asian fishermen working ringed and chained cormorants in the Thames, the surface of the water shifting and darting, alive with the dancing and bituminous yellow spume.

Cut and zoom now to an elegant couple seated at a cafe table, the man holding a cheetah in a jewelled collar by its leash ... and then something shifts - a distant cry, a voice calls out a name - and a trace surfaces, a residual memory of a moment of perfect happiness, a flashback to another period, the early '50s perhaps: a dark-haired woman reclining on a Persian rug, naked and smiling at her lover, a posy of flowers nestled at her crotch - a vision that has strayed (persistent because of the depth of feeling, the tenderness and warmth of the moment, perhaps), carried on and sustained by the thermals of time ... These thermals, these currents, gain in strength now, and sensing the updraft, we hasten to spread our wings for flight - to soar and to glide. And now we are riding high through a liminal zone, where inner vision (bringing to light the voyages of discovery in the unconscious) meets the outer world and the one that once was (or perhaps could have been) ... then suddenly we're going back - further back and faster, passing over to the other side, plunging through an amniotic void, spinning back into the vortex, to emerge millions of years before in a seething Bruegel's cauldron of primeval mud - of lampreys, fire-bellied salamanders, and translucent pink-gilled axolotls - a Cambrian rainscape of bleached skulls, trilobites and ammonites; of sheer rockfaces (Crivelli-veined and fissured) - with emerald-green dragonflies (lacy-winged and giant; huge, the size of fists) darting here and there, among the lianas and ferns, the luxuriant and rotting vegetation of the primordial marsh-mist sunken forests - the solar disc, a black sun, blazing high up above and ahead ...


Hawkeye said...


And then a sudden shift sideways and forward in time, the planes skewing violently as we emerge into this, another zone: a deserted marshscape of sedges and salt-grass, the very air that we ride now shimmering with a strange radiant power, an inner energy, and echoing and ringing with plaintive and eerie animal cries ... here above the trackless wastes, in this barren land - the domain of scattered exiles and recluses - of pelican-eaters and solitary bird hunters, of hermit shepherds, and lone salt-workers - the final refuge of outlaws, gnostics, and fugitives - driven here by their need for concealment and freedom (so far for so little and yet so much), to the very edge of the Empire, beneath this starlit vaulting void ... And then we're moving again, hurtling through waves of Cherenkov radiation, through dreamtime and the aether, crashing through banks of photons - the cascades of ions glistening like scintigrams, and rearing, flashing and roaring. Then with a final savage jolt as the vector gives way and shatters we're back in the present, soaring high above the city, our plumage singed, leaving a luminous trail, an odour of hot iron and sulphur, in our dark and chaotic wake ...

And now as the mists rise and the aether clears, we begin again: we see a blind dervish - a night spirit master - passing his hand before his face as he stands, alone and cypher-like, in bare partitioned room; a girl with pre-Raphaelite features and kinked hair, her eyes half-shut, immobilized, head thrown back, her mind absent - why? - elsewhere; and through an ironwork lattice grille, two girls in kiosks behind beaded curtains - momentary glimpses of slender limbs - a Japanese tattoo on pale skin - bathed in the soft warmth of an amber glow. And then as we soar off west, drawn towards the dying sun, we see a man in a dark suit running down a fire escape, a voided presence, a fleeting fugitive shadow against the blackened and crazed firebrick wall, running on out into the neon glare and the bustling late-night streetlife - among the souks, stand-up restaurants and delis - in the Arab quarter of the Edgware Road.

We, the Hawkeye Gila Anchorites, are Hittites, hieroglyphs, avatars of Horus. Divine emissaries and recording angels, our eyes turn outwards as our mind turns inwards and locks enthralled - in a rapturous hermetic vision of atavism, abundance and autonomy, of fulfilment, sleaze and regress, of transcendence, pleasure and the perverse. We, the sickle-winged raptors, the exquisite assassins - we who have been "trained at the school of eagles" - we see and track, and silently record it all.

• • •

From The Hawkeye Gila Anchorite Adepts: Manifestos of the Sons and Daughters of the Blood-Red Revelation

Tristram said...

Congratulations on the prize

Anonymous said...

I am an overweight nearly 60 year old grandma who has been totally enthralled by H is for Hawk.Thankyou
so much.

Heidi the Hick said...

Hey Pluvialis!!! I sort of dropped out of blog world for awhile but I'm here to tell you I'm loving your book so much. I knew I would.

(I'm writing this on April 5 2015, not sure how often you look at the blog these days.)

What a thrill! Have fun with this and let yourself believe all the good reviews!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hello Helen. Congratulations on the book. Is there another website or email address with where a reader can communicate with you? This blog is not active?

MrAa69 said...

Loved your book, Helen!

Martin, Sollentuna, Sweden

boweavil said...

Am curious about the artist who made the box of stars mentioned in chapter 6. Although the notes in the back are extensive, they do not mention this. Does anyone know the artist's name?

Jon Grice said...

Loved your book, H IS FOR HAWK, Helen!! I would like to send a more in-depth letter your way via email if possible?

Amy McCarthy said...

I just finished reading H is for Hawk. Your relationship with Mabel fascinated me. I think you are very courageous and inspiring. I could feel my heart twisting in my chest and my throat tightening when you described how disorienting loss can be. Even though life is devastatingly painful at times, onward we must go. I applaud you for your honest voice and your determination to work through your grief by staying the course with Mabel. You are brave and I am grateful I read your book. It was a beautiful read. Best wishes to you in your continued life journey.

A friend from Texas,
Amy McCarthy

dilbert dogbert said...

I wonder if Helen Mcdonald has read any of Loren Eiseley's work. Another solitary.
I had just read the NYT piece and it reminded me of Eiseley.

Raven said...

Hi Helen! Oh my, I am touched by your story and I felt an instant connection with you. I wrote a little spiritually channelled book called "Willow Meets Hawk" that I would love to e-mail you (.pdf format). If you allow me please contact me at A free download is also available on my website at Best wishes to you Helen. By the way, Lupin is gorgeous!