It’s a conceit. And it is also true. A conceit to live by.
Callum James is a poet, an artist, a rare book dealer, a magician, diviner and writer. He has a deep background in Christianity and now considers himself an animist. His writing concerns are about landscape, memory, trauma, and magic, all through a queer lens. He grew up on an island but has lived most of his adult life in very urban settings. He was, for over fifteen years, the author of the now archived blog ‘Front Free Endpaper’. He is no stranger to mental illness and finds himself on the other side of a number of deep crises which have all shaped his person and his praxis.
Verbal – Trans Verbal – Asemic
Callum’s conventional poetry has been published or is upcoming in numerous venues including, The Wolf, Ambit, Magma, The Dark Horse, Orbis, ‘Ink, Sweat and Tears’, The Dawntreader and others.
Poems based on the life of the Breton folk-saint Herve, and on the Stations of the Cross appeared in the anthology of ekphrastic poetry, The Book of Ystwyth: Six Poets on the Work of Clive Hicks-Jenkins
In non-pandemic times he runs a monthly poetry evening at the ‘world famous’ Petersfield Bookshop: ‘The Dead Poets Salon’. Half of each evening is given over to the life, letters and work of a dead poet and half to a lively open mic session.
Increasingly, his conventional poetry has been complimented by techniques of extreme restraint and liberation such as cut-up and asemic poetry. During the long lockdowns of 2020 he created The Anatomy of an Art Student, a book of cut-up poems using the a 1930s book of anatomy for art students. Some of these can be seen at Inksweatandtears.com
Callum’s asemic poetry (of which more elsewhere) and indeed all his poetic work, is a part of his magical praxis.
The Book of YstwythMagic
A long journey
Callum has a magical praxis which is animist, spirit-based and draws from a heady mix of Christianity, Chaos Magic, Medieval European magic, and the Greek Magical Papyri.
He has never called himself a witch but does stand in the same places as The Witch, at crossroads, shorelines, on lonely paths, in deep forests and edgelands. He is a stile-sitter.
He honours ancestors of place, of blood and of protest. His queer identity means he stands in a line of millions of other queer bodies lived and loved in.
Divination, scrying and spell-work are all a part of Callum’s lifeway but he is firm in the adage “Make your life magic, don’t make magic your life” (atrrib to many but perhaps ‘Ramsey Dukes’)
Callum is particularly interested in speaking with spirits of place and the creatures of the natural world. This path includes both traditional forms and more experimental engagements involving art and bodily presence, voice and dance.