Steve Ely


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Longbarrow Press
8 April 2024
ISBN: 9781906175481
184 pages

From the publisher

Eely is a symphony in four movements. The first movement, Eel, focuses on the lifecycle, ecology, epic migration, conservation status and enigma of the European eel. The second movement, /ˈiːlai/, explores two main themes: the author’s autobiographical encounter with the eel, and the conflict that was so often associated with that encounter. The third movement, eely, develops the themes of the second movement in a guerrilla-pastoral, folk-horror fantasy of the author as a were-eel—if Eel is an adagio and /ˈiːlai/ a sonata, then eely is a capriccio. The fourth movement, Eelysium, concludes the piece and broadens the vision with a focus on the Eastern fenlands of England. The English fenlands were once a stronghold of the European eel, as they were for many other species. The poem imagines the origin of the fens in the eustasy of the early Holocene, their development from the Mesolithic to the Early Modern period, their ecological and economic superabundance, the social and ecological catastrophe of their destruction, and a vision of their restoration.