Author Archives: Kevan Manwaring

About Kevan Manwaring

I'm an author, Teaching Fellow in Creative Writing teacher and storyteller. I am affiliated with the University of Leicester. My research is into Fantasy, folklore and creative writing. Come on in, say hi, the kettle is on.

Unpacking Psychogeography


Guy Debord, 1955 (?) “Psychogeographic guide of Paris: edited by the Bauhaus Imaginiste Printed in Dermark  by Permild & Rosengreen – Discourse on the passions of love: psychogeographic descents of drifting and localisation of ambient unities”

Psychogeography, in its broadest sense, has a long and fascinating tradition. Although Debord claimed and colonised the term in post-war France (first in the Letterist pamphlet Potlatch, 1954; and then in numerous pronouncements via its evolution, the Situationist International, from 1957) there are many antecedents, influences, and developments. In two distinctive traditions, one based in London (the Robinsonade) and the other in Paris (the Flâneur), leys of affinity can be gleaned: although as with Alfred Watkin’s 1922 notion of the ‘ley’, how much is geographical serendipity, geomantic intentionality, or the projection and pre-occupations of the viewer is hard to say.  In hindsight, viewed from the hill of the here-and-now, there seems to be a parallax movement emerging autocthonically from the labyrinths of London and Paris. Psycho-geographical commentators like to cite Daniel Defoe as the ‘Godfather of Psychogeography’ (when not citing Blake, De Quincey, Baudelaire, Machen, Poe, or Stevenson), with his Journal of a Plague Year (1722). Ur-texts like Confessions of an English Opium-eater (1821), The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), The London Adventure (1924), and The Old Straight Track (1925) on this side of the English Channel; and the works Baudelaire (e.g. ‘The Painter of Modern Life’, 1863) and the Dadaists and Surrealists, Aragon’s Paris Peasant (1926), Breton’s Nadja (1928), and Soupault’s The Last Night in Paris (1928) act as reliable co-ordinates. Important outliers include Edgar Allan Poe’s story, ‘The Man in the Crowd’ (1840), James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922), and the writing of Heinrich von Kleist and Heinrich Heine, extending the ‘leyline’ to Boston (Poe’s birthplace if not the setting of his story), Dublin, Berlin, and Vienna. This anti-tradition has been perpetuated via various literary dérive (Debord’s term for his psychogeographical technique of drifting and qualia capture) by an irregular cohort of free radicals, including Walter Benjamin, John Michel, Iain Sinclair, Alan Moore, Peter Ackroyd, Patrick Keiller, and others. Notably, this inshore drift has been dominated by solitary (white) males and an obsessive focus on the urban. Fortunately, a counter-tradition to all this flâneury has welled up, as articulated in the writings of Rebecca Solnit (notably Wanderlust, 2000), and Lauren Elkin’s book on the Flâneuse (2016). Other variations or subsets include: ‘mythography’, ‘deep topography’, ‘deep mapping’ (as brilliantly expressed by Nan Shepherd in The Living Mountain), ‘cyclogeography’, and ‘wayside inspiration’ (a term the writer Peter Alfred Please coined to describe his particular form of intimate travel-writing). I would add to this parameter space the Immrama (Celtic wonder voyages, e.g. the voyage of St. Brendan); and the New Nature Writing, which blends travel-writing and memoir into the long tradition in works like Waterlog, Weeds, Edgelands, Crow Country, Wild, The Outrun, and The Salt Path.  Robert Macfarlane’s oeuvre almost deserves a category of its own – in tomes like The Old Ways, Landmarks, and Underland he deep dives into language and landscape with dazzling erudition and daring, in prose that glitters like mica. None of these later writers would claim to be psychogeographers, but there are important elements in their work – textual nutrients – which psychogeography needs if it is to continue and flourish. The thin soil of the capitol city is depleted, and the 21st Century dériviant needs to look further afield for its seeds to thrive.

Copyright ©Kevan Manwaring, 7th June, 2019


Un/Packing Psychogeography – a checklist

As the Psychogeography Editor of Panorama: the journal of intelligent travel, I would like to provide the following (fluid, playful, provocative) criteria for those considering submission for one of our call-outs. See previous post for details

Leaving Behind

  • Capitols (London; Paris anyway…)
  • Solipsistic intellectualism.
  • The pontifications of the lone, white male.
  • Obfuscation and needless jargon.
  • A performance of erudition over a sincere, embodied engagement and strong sense of voice.
  • ‘Wikipedia-lit’ and Rough Guide
  • Self-importance (it’s only going for a walk).
  • Maps (‘Done with the compass, done with the chart’, Emily Dickinson).
  • Smart devices.
  • Footnotes, end-notes, a bibliography (‘death-by-quotes’).

Taking with Us

  • A compassionate, curious gaze.
  • A visceral, authentic response.
  • The Flâneuse.
  • A multi-dimensional form of exploration, one that is both diachronic and immediate, vertical as well as horizontal, outward as well as inward.
  • Self-excavation – a form of travel through one’s own history.
  • Body writing – maps of the skin.
  • Voices of the marginalized: the psychogeographies of indigenous peoples, BAME, LGBTQ+, Traveller culture, asylum seekers and refugees, working class, etc.
  • An awareness and acknowledgement of the challenges of the Climate Crisis, and the seismic destabilisation of the Anthropocene (‘The Earth has moved,’ Prof. Bruno Latour).
  • Humility: a disavowal of omniscience.
  • An ethical foregrounding. A responsible form of writing, sensitive to cultural appropriation. An exoticisation of the self, perhaps, but not the ‘other’.
  • Humour.
  • Soulfulness: a Psyche-geography, rather than a Psycho-geography.
  • Mindfulness (mind in one’s feet; mind in the pen).

Contact Kevan if you are interested in submitting: psychogeographyeditor[at]panoramajournal[dot]org




Psychogeography – call for submissions


Beachy Head, Eric Ravilious, 1939

PANORAMA: the Journal of Intelligent Travel



Panorama emphasises writing and photography which is created with a deep intelligence, reconnecting us to the world.

Psychogeography: we seek works that eschew the formulaic and solipsistic intellectualism of psychogeography for a more visceral, authentic engagement with the environment, with the other, and with the self: a verticality of exploration, rather than the pose of the flâneur. Writing that is experimental, or from marginalised/under-represented voices, especially welcome. Traditional travelogue format is not essential – beautifully-crafted prose is. Remember it is creative non-fiction we are after, not academic essays. 1500-3000 words. Please send expressions of interest and/or completed works to Psychogeography Editor, Dr Kevan Manwaring. Include a short bio and introduction to your work in the body of your email. Title email:  [Theme]/Psychogeography. 

For more on our guidelines, read our  FAQ’s and Submissions page on the website.

Call Outs:

·         Roots (call is out now, until 20 Aug.)

·         Love and Lust (for Spring issue 2020)

·         Islands (for Summer 2020)

·         Childhood (for Autumn 2020)

·         Pilgrimage (for Spring 2021)

Send to:

Dream Town

Dream Town cover

In a sleepy town on the edge of the Cotswolds extraordinary things start to happen…

One day a young art student wakes up to discover the whole town fast asleep…

A depressed middle-aged man goes for a walk in a local area known as ‘The Heavens’ and discovers it lives up to its name in more ways than one…

A hiker stumbles upon a strange cult in a deep dark wood on the Welsh border…

A soldier doing a runner from the internment camps at Dover experiences a transformative night at a legendary oak…

Hitting the trail with his guitar and a bottle of Thunderbirds, a youth full of dreams of fame encounters a lady of dark enchantment in a Fairy knoll…

A man is led by a raven-cloaked woman along a trail between the borders of the world he knows and one he does not …

A family move into their dream house on the edge of the Cotswolds and discover their new home has a remarkable history that does not want to stay in the past …

Welcome to Dream Town – on the border of the world you think you know …


This collection of 7 stories brings together work inspired by living on the edge of the Cotswolds (on the borders of England and Wales) for over twenty years.

Available in e-book and Print Version


Roots – Call for Submissions

January 2020 issue: Roots

Opens for submissions 5/20/2019 and closes for submissions 8/20/2019.

Roots: /ru: ts/ origin: late Old English rōt, from Old Norse rót ; related to Latin radix, also to wort. Noun. 1. The part of a thing attaching it to a greater, or more fundamental whole; the end or base. 2. The origin of something; family, cultural, or ethnic origins; a scion or descendant.
‘Among the great struggles of man-good/evil, reason/unreason, etc.-there is also this mighty conflict between the fantasy of Home and the fantasy of Away, the dream of roots and the mirage of the journey.’
― Salman Rushdie
‘He needed his roots. There is a place in the world where we are born, where we learn our mother tongue and discover how our ancestors overcame the problems they had to face.
He needed wings too. They reveal to us the endless horizons of the imagination, they carry us to our dreams and to distant places. It is our wings that allow us to know the roots of our fellow men and learn from them.’
― Paulo Coelho
‘I’m not sure which matters more—where the seed comes from, or where it takes root and grows.’
― Zetta Elliott
​For this issue–the first of our four quarterly collections in 2020– we have chosen the theme of ‘roots’ and are especially interested in travelogues that explore the concepts of rootedness and rootlessness, home and homelessness, the wanderer who moves from place to place with no end in sight and the traveler who seeks to find themselves or their histories on their journeys. Belonging. Immigration. Displacement. Familial ties broken or discovered. Connections to cities, landscapes, and peoples reaching back to one’s beginnings–or the solitary traveler who leaves that all behind. For this call we will not accept queries or pitches, only completed works previously unpublished, with the exception of photography essays or book excerpt selections. Please see our FAQ and Submissions page for more information, and for specific sections and submission length and information, read on below.

Sections open to the public for the Roots issue:
Note: we have chosen the American South as our featured location for the Roots issue. While we will publish a multitude of works from many places, we will also feature several works on this region. If your essay, imagery, or poem features the American South, please make a note of it in your email when you send in your work.

Travel memoir:
 we seek works of nonfiction travel memoir with a strong narrative arc, about traveling home or elsewhere.1500 to 6000 words. Please send completed works to Editor-in-Chief Amy Gigi Alexander. Include a short bio and introduction to your work in your email to, and title email Roots/Travel Memoir.

Travel fiction:
 we seek works of fiction around the specific theme of ‘imaginary journeys/roots.’ Fictional works must include a journey to a place and hybrid works [a blending of fiction and nonfiction] will be considered as well as experimental works. We do not currently publish science fiction, but we are open to earth-land-sea -air fantastical journeys of any kind, as long as they are travelogue style and modeled on traditional journeys. 1500-3000 words. Please send completed works to Fiction Editor Vimi Bajaj. Include a short bio and introduction to your work in your email to, and title email Roots/Travel Fiction.

 we seek three works on Miami, either by writers who live in Miami or who have traveled there. We are particularly interested in works by writers of color for this section, which features three perspectives by three different writers traveling a single place. 1500 words. You may email us if you have questions about this section or are an emerging writer of color who wishes to write a piece about Miami. Please send completed works or questions to Senior Editor Ernest White II. Include a short bio and introduction to your work in your email to, and title email Roots/Triptych Miami.

Travel poetry:
 we seek poetry with a strong travel narrative. 1-2 pages. Please send completed works to Poetry Editor David Ishaya Osu. Include a short bio and introduction to your work in your email to, and title email Roots/Poetry.

Book excerpt:
 we seek a book excerpt with a strong travelogue and roots theme, although it need not be a travel book. We will reprint one chapter of the text in the roots issue, and prefer an upcoming or recent book already published. You may email the Editor-in-Chief Amy Gigi Alexander about your book and its correlation to the theme before arranging the text to be sent, at, and title email: Roots/Book Excerpt.

 we seek works of psychogeography that blend landscapism and sense of place or placelessness with traveling to either find one’s roots or lose them. Experimental works are especially welcome, traditional travelogue format is not essential. 1500-3000 words. Please send completed works to Editor-in-Chief Amy Gigi Alexander. Include a short bio and introduction to your work in your email to, and title email Roots/Travel Psychogeography.

Performing Fairy – CFP

Beltane Fire Society

Beltane Fire Society, Edinburgh, 2018. Photography by Daniel Rannoch.


Guest Editors: Dr Fay Hield & Dr Kevan Manwaring

Revenant: Critical and Creative Studies of the Supernatural ( is now accepting abstracts for critical articles, creative writing pieces, and book, film, music, or event reviews for a themed issue on ‘Performing Fairy’, examining contemporary and historical intersections of phenomenological fairy practice.


contemporary & historical intersections of phenomenological fairy practice

Heere is the queene of fayerye,
With harpe and pipe and symphonye,
Dwellynge in this place.

                                                         The Shipman’s Tale, Chaucer (lines 813-816)

From Chaucer to Shakespeare, Spenser to Tennyson, there has been an element of performance in the perceived nature and representation of fairy. Both the content and the tradition that preserves and develops it operates upon this performativity. The tradition bearers – teller of tale and singer of songs – conjured fairy with their words and music. The Reverend Robert Kirk, author of the monograph of The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies (1691/1815) made the first mention of the phrase ‘Fayrie Tale’, and in his proto-anthropological survey of the ‘Subterraneans’, as he termed them, described how they mirrored the culture and customs of the country they dwelled inmentions of their particular penchant for enchantment – glamourye – a weaponisation of illusion to deceive, seduce, control, terrify, bewilder, or drive to madness. Beauty is their weapon. Icily amoral and wearily immortal, fairies find amusement in mortals’ fleeting lives. Supernatural border ballads such as ‘Thomas the Rhymer’ and ‘Tam Lin’ describe perilous encounters between fairy and mortal. Numerous folk tales dramatize similar bitterly won wisdoms – fortune may be bestowed, but lost in a flash. Those who encounter the deadly glamour may become ‘fey’ and fade away, pining to death for the elusive sublime.

Despite the many taboos and warnings, humans have found the fairy world perennially fascinating. As an anti-Enlightenment project the idea of fairy offered a conciliatory corrective to the hard materialities of Empiricism and Atheism – a counter discourse to the Age of Reason, the Industrial Revolution, Modernism, the Atomic Age, and now, the Digital. Lovers of folklore, and culture continue to turn to the alluring nexus of the supernatural, the otherworldly, and the hauntingly beautiful. Perhaps this is not surprising. JRR Tolkien cited ‘escape’ as one of the functions of the fairy-story, defending this emancipatory quality robustly: “Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?” As we see in the mass appeal of fantasy books, TV series, films, computer games, comic books, cos-play, LARP, and the many other media which draw upon tropes derived from fairy traditions. A sustained effort to ‘escape’, to breach the walls of reality, or at least experience for a little while re-enchantment through a willing suspension of the consensus reality. Some go beyond this to actively engage with fairy ideals in ritualistic ways – Neo-pagans, modern ‘fairy pilgrims’, participants in events like the Beltane celebrations in Glastonbury and Edinburgh. Adopting Husserl’s definition of phenomenology, is it possible to define a ‘phenomenology of fairy’? What is being accessed or recreated by these participants in their lifeworlds? Do any common features emerge in the individual noesis and the noematic act? What effect is being experienced by the reader, the viewer, the audience? Is this the same as that intended by the creator, writer, performer? What fugue states were entered into by the creative during their process of creation – and can any analogies be drawn with folkloric material? Is the act of ‘performing fairy’ – on page, stage, screen, studio or meadow – a form of Lévy-Bruhl’s participation mystique? And what, if anything, can be achieved by such sympathetic magic? How does performing fairy critique or subvert dominant discourse?

Contributing to this discussion, we invite abstracts for work that examine the role of fairy and its evolution as a cultural marker and interrogator of societal issues across film, TV, literature, video games, art, music or public performance. These topics could include, but are not limited to:

  • Fairy in music.
  • Fairy in storytelling and performance poetry.
  • Public folklore and rites of fairy.
  • Contemporary performance of fairy at festivals and events.
  • Representations of fairy in popular culture.
  • The Cottingley fairy hoax, reception and legacy.
  • Fairy customs in global folk cultures.
  • Contemporary professional performance practice inspired by fairy.
  • Gender representation in fairy – theatre/TV/film/poetry/fiction.
  • Race and class in fairy – theatre/TV/film/poetry/fiction.
  • Fairy tourism/ Public engagement with fairy sites.
  • Neo-Pagan fairy practitioners – ritual & ceremony.
  • Digital fairy – fairy worlds online.

Feel free to interpret these in any way you wish, or to come up with your own angle of enquiry.

For articles and creative pieces (such as poetry, short stories, flash fiction, videos, artwork and music) please send a 200-300 word abstract and a short biography by October 31st, 2019. If your abstract is accepted, the full article (maximum 7000 words, including Harvard referencing) or the full creative piece (maximum 5000 words) will be due   April 30th, 2020. The aim is to publish later that year. Reviews of books, films, games, events, and art related to the concept of fairy will be considered (800-1000 words). Please send full details of the title and medium you would like to review by Oct 31st, 2019.

Further information, including Submission Guidelines, are available at the journal website:   Enquiries are welcome and, along with all submissions, should be directed to If emailing the journal directly at please quote ‘Fairies special issue’ in the subject box.

Folk – a review

Folk by Zoe Gilbert – a review

Image result for Folk Zoe Gilbert

After sampling a few so-called ‘Folk Realism’ novels (a current fad in British publishing) I must admit that I sceptical when I saw Gilbert’s Folk advertised. For a start, it sported the overly ornate ‘wallpaper’ cover design, similarly in vogue, so that wasn’t a good sign. And so – was it also going to be like others in this emergent genre: exploiting the aesthetic of a folkloric world-view in a light ‘window-shopping’ style, a form of literary tourism that exploits the cache of a particular genre in a cosmetic way, denuded of its nutrients? Books like the overly-hyped The Essex Serpent and The Loney are actually Realist novels, masquerading as the Eerie, or the Gothic. Their obsessive mimetic style reinforces a hard reality, an ontological materialism that forecloses mythic possibility. Well, when I finally got round to reading Gilbert’s book I was more than pleasantly surprised – for it is the real deal. The author is completing a PhD on folklore in fiction, and her knowledge shows – not only in the confident dramatisation of classic folkloric tropes (a novelist’s magpie raid on the Aarne-Thompson index), but in her exquisite prose. Unlike an awful lot of modern fiction, Gilbert’s prose does not read ‘thin’ – she clearly delights in the possibilities of language, and her sentences and paragraphs have a poetic charge to them, without being precious.  Her style does not get in the way of the story, but rather instantiates it – by reading her heady prose is to be locked into the stifling superstitious mindset of a closed community. Gilbert’s narrative is a composite novel comprising of several tale-chapters which bring alive the lives of the inhabitants of the small isolated island of Neverness (loosely based upon the Isle of Man, where the author spent some time). It is a strange brew which blends supernatural ballads and folk tales with a dash of The Wicker Man, The Prisoner, and even The League of Gentlemen. These local stories for local people feature selkies, water bulls, a boy with a wing for an arm, doomed love, mad bird men, fungal cults, domestic abuse and forbidden pleasures. The villagers are locked into their rhythms and rituals of desire, propitiation, divination, and destruction. Gathering together previously published short stories, stitched into a loose-fitting framing device, one might expect a rather episodic, and uneven feel. There is a quiet sense of progression and causality to the collection – one stretching over generations – but this isn’t a novel driven by a plot-imperative. Narrative traction is provided by the quality of the prose (and richness of the imagined world) itself. Some of the tale-chapters are tour-de-forces of sustained enchantment. One could play ‘spot the folk tale’ or ballad, but that would be missing the point – better to plunge into gorse, even as its flames lick at your heels. Before you know it, the Gorse-Mother will have you in her arms, and you won’t be able to escape.

Kevan Manwaring 2019


Folk is published by Bloomsbury.

Hawk Tongue

Hawk Tongue 300 dpi by KM

‘the beautiful youth appears, haloed with green life…’ by Kevan Manwaring 2019

Hawk Tongue

You can be counting sheep when it happens,

in that friable terrain between waking and sleeping –

head heavy, shoulders drooping

(as though laden with a wool-sack)


when in a sigil of summer lightning


the beautiful youth appears,

haloed with green life

golden limbed, quiver brimming

with keen-fletched darts.

Upon his wrist, a deadly weapon of

talons, pinions, beak, and eyes

of angry fire.


You don’t know whether to rise to greet him,

this strange friend, welcoming foe, or flee.

You have known of him all of your life

and now you are terrified

for he summons you from

the slumbering hills.


Fist raised, he releases his feathered prayer –

death-line, as it swoops in for the coup de grâce,

straight into the O of your open mouth,

to small for it, spitting plumage,

as it burrows down your gullet,

exploding lungs, lurching stomach.

Your scream becomes a shriek,

and eyes burn with flame of a stolen sun.

Shuddering, you flap your arms uselessly.

but when you begin to speak


words like wings fly from your mouth.


Kevan Manwaring © 2019

This tantalising folkloric fragment (contained in a letter to the antiquary John Aubrey from the Welsh metaphysical poet, Henry Vaughan) has haunted me for a number of years since I came across it in a tome on bardic lore. I recently worked it up into a story and poem for performance at The Fairy Gathering, Dungworth, held in early May.