Yesterday I saw my first snake. I’ve been dreading this but the fact that it was only about a foot long and we were inside the car was a big relief. I could even say that it looked sweet. (The snakeskin we found draped over the rafters on our porch is somewhat bigger but I am trying to be brave.)
We’ve been clearing the enormous veggie garden which hasn’t been used for a long time so the beds are all full of huge weeds. We can only do this either at the beginning or end of the day as the sun is so hot. We are going to start planting in the next few weeks as it gets cooler. We’re coming into autumn here now.
Coolabine is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘place of koalas’. There are only a few houses dotted here and there along the valley – you can’t see any from the shack, only the back of a barn in the distance. It’s part of the Obi Obi valley, a sacred meeting place for the south-east Queensland tribes who used to gather here every few years.
I’ve been writing songs on my beautiful Maton guitar which has been a bit neglected over the last few years as I got obsessed with writing piano songs. My keyboard is still on a ship heading to Australia so in the meantime I’ve been remembering how much I love playing guitar. I’ve written four new songs, one of which you will definitely hear on an album someday.
I hope all’s well in your world.
It’s 4.30am. Still jetlagged, I’ve just finished my meditation practice and made myself an enormous cup of coffee. The cocks are crowing but it’s dark outside. I can hear the sound of cicadas and the crazy kookaburras laughing in the trees. Earlier a dingo was howling in the hills that surround the shack.
After 11 years in a sterile, creatureless flat in England, we are back in the Australian bush. Here wildlife dominates every waking moment. Even if it wasn’t for my snake phobia I’d still be mindful of every step, of the spider webs lying in wait between the orange trees. Yesterday morning we were clearing up a pile of maggots. Last night I trod on a bee.
It’s getting light. The darkness fades leaving a mist over the Obi Obi valley. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be here.
Hope all’s well in your world.
It’s been six full-on days of clearing, dumping and packing. It’s amazing how much stuff a one-bedroom flat can hold. I can’t believe we arrived 11 years ago with nothing but 2 guitars, a bag of CDs and the clothes on our backs. Now I want to travel light again.
2018 has been an incredible year of highs and lows. I’ve enjoyed the gigs we’ve done so much. I didn’t enjoy so much having pneumonia and dealing with Australian Immigration. But now we’re leaving for Australia in a few weeks’ time with no idea of what’s coming next. It makes me think of my favourite poem (see below).
Thanks to you all for your amazing support of my music. I will be writing songs again in my yurt and look forward to playing them to you when we next meet.
Wishing you all a very happy new year.
I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I I’m going.
And I have trained myself to love it.
Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight,
That we force our wings to unravel and at last begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to.
But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings.
You may not know where you’re going,
But you know that so long as you spread your wings,
the winds will carry you.
My ‘Meditation Mind’ poetry and song tour ended last night at the beautiful Sakya Buddhist Centre in Bristol, a gig that was possibly one of the highlights of my whole career. Thanks so much to everyone who came to see us play acoustic versions of my songs over the last month – we enjoyed it so much it may have changed the direction of my next album.
It is now 7 weeks until we get on a plane bound for Australia and move our lives back to the shack on a goat farm in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland where Shaktu Records began 15 years ago. After spending the last 10 years living in a first-floor, one-bedroom flat on an industrial main road in Bath, we can’t wait to be back in the Australian bush with space and sunshine, living in the beautiful wooden house that has replaced Shaktu (the tree trunks and potato sack walls were eaten by termites – only the roof remains).
We are going to make a new album there and then come back to the UK in 2020 to tour. I will keep you posted on dates and hopefully see you at a gig sometime then. In the meantime, if you would like any of my CDs and books, they are available from Amazon up until Christmas and afterwards, once we’re in Australia, will continue to be available to order through my website.
It’s been an incredible year. Thanks so much to all of you for supporting my music – we couldn’t do it without you. I will keep in touch and let you know how I’m getting on in Australia and whether I’ve managed to overcome my snake phobia :). You can follow me on Instagram and join my mailing list to receive the occasional email from me.
Wishing you all very merry Christmas and a happy new year.
I’m very much looking forward to the start of my poetry & song tour in Taunton tomorrow night, celebrating the publication of my new book ‘Meditation Mind’.
The venues are mainly bookshops where I’ll be playing acoustic guitar and my husband Christian will play double-bass and we’ll be performing some rarely-heard songs from my old albums plus a brand new song I played for the first time at Gaunts House the other night. I’ll read some poems from ‘Meditation Mind’ and there will be a chance for questions at the end.
On Saturday we’re doing one of these poetry & song gigs in Oxford as a fundraiser for the wonderful mental health charity Restore, of which I’m a patron. They are a fantastic charity helping people recover from mental illness and transform their lives. All support very welcome.
I was so delighted to get the award for public service and advocacy from the International Society For Bipolar Disorder. They do such good work raising awareness of this illness and supporting the people who have it.
Now I’m off to the BBC in London to perform on Radio 4’s ‘Front Row’ tonight…
Hope all’s well in your world.
You can now watch videos of me reading from my new book ‘Meditation Mind’ at https://emilymaguire.com/videos/. I’ll post more videos of poetry readings on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) over the coming weeks. All these poems were stream-of-consciousness compositions written after meditating, and completely unedited. I have no memory of writing any of them. ‘Meditation Mind’ is available to order from my website or from Amazon (or you can order it in all good UK bookshops).
I’m really looking forward to my ‘Meditation Mind’ book tour starting next month. I’ll be performing a special set of acoustic songs and poetry readings in Taunton (8 Nov), Oxford (10 Nov), Bridport (12 Nov), Cardiff (16 Nov), Manchester (17 Nov), Haslemere (22 Nov), Coventry (24 Nov), Frome (29 Nov), Bath (30 Nov), London (6 Dec) and Bristol (8 Dec). Click here for details and tickets.
Hope all’s well in your world.
As it’s World Mental Health Day, I’ve just posted a video talking about music for mental health, a cause very close to my heart. You can see an article I wrote earlier this year about it here. Find out more at www.emilymaguire.com/music-for-mental-health.
I’ve recorded some video clips of me reading poems from my new book ‘Meditation Mind’. I’m posting these on social media. Follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to see them. I’ll be reading these poems and singing acoustic songs at bookshops and Buddhist centres across the UK in November and December. Dates and details are on my gigs page.
Thanks to everyone who came to my gig at The Slaughtered Lamb in London last weekend, the last gig of my UK tour. We had such a great night. You can see photos on my Facebook page.
I am delighted to announce the publication of my third book ‘Meditation Mind’, a book of poetry inspired by my Buddhist practice.
‘Meditation Mind’ is a collection of short, stream-of-consciousness poems all written in 2015 while I was unable to play my musical instruments due to chronic tennis elbow. Struggling with depression, I was desperate to do something creative to distract my mind and so I started writing a poem each morning after meditating.
I’ve practised Tibetan Buddhism since 1999 and my morning practice is Sarasvati (who features on the cover of the book). I would finish my meditation, make a coffee and sit down to write a poem. All the poems in the book took less than a minute to write. They are unedited, exactly as they fell out of my head onto the page of my journal. I have no memory of writing any of them.
To celebrate the launch of ‘Meditation Mind’, I am doing a series of very intimate gigs in bookshops and Buddhist centres across the country. These events will be a mix of poetry readings from the book and acoustic songs with me on guitar and my husband Christian Dunham on double-bass. It would be lovely to see you if you can make any of the dates.
Thur 8 Nov Taunton – Brendon Books book tickets
Sat 10 Nov Oxford – Restore charity book tickets
Mon 12 Nov Bridport – The Book Shop book tickets
Fri 16 Nov Cardiff – Octavo’s Book Cafe & Wine Bar book tickets
Sat 17 Nov Manchester – Chapter One Books register
Thur 22 Nov Surrey – The Haslemere Bookshop book tickets
Sat 24 Nov Coventry – The Big Comfy Bookshop book tickets
Thur 29 Nov Frome – Hunting Raven Books book tickets
Fri 30 Nov Bath – St James Wine Vaults book tickets
Thur 6 Dec London – Sakya Buddhist Centre book tickets
Sat 8 Dec Bristol – Sakya Buddhist Centre book tickets
‘Meditation Mind’ is available to order in all good bookshops, from Amazon and through my website.