Common Ground by Rob Cowen

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In this memoir of transformation, he writes evocatively of the power of these overlooked spaces, his poetic prose turning them into sites of mystery and rebirth.
-Guardian

Synopsis

Immersive and exquisite; evocative and powerful, Common Ground is a unique evocation of how, over the course of one year, Rob Cowen came to discover a forgotten realm and its inhabitants.
     This was not some distant jungle or craggy peak, but half a square mile of wood, meadow, hedge and river on the edge of a northern town, to which he'd moved to after seven years of living in London. An old map given as a Christmas present revealed this little patch of green to be just out of his door and beyond the last housing estate. 
     This was the beginning of a total absorption in this seam of land and the animals within it. Through daily and often nightly pilgrimages, voices began to rise from the fields, woods and old railway line. And over the course of that year, the stories and histories of this place and its occupants began to mirror and illuminate events happening in Rob's own life: birth, death, fatherhood. 
     Common Ground offers nothing less than a new way of writing and reading about nature and our experiences within it. Here, the perspectives of this edge-land's inhabitants are set before us in kaleidoscopic detail: a fox; tawny owl; hare; badger; butterfly; swift; mayfly; roe deer; nettles; people across the ages. Through the lives of all of these - and the passage of Cowen's year - we are offered a layered, intimate and startling portrait of a single piece of common ground. For it is a microcosm of our world at large: beautiful, connected, terrifying, growing closer to the edge every day.
 

About Rob Cowen

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ROB COWEN is an award-winning journalist who currently writes two newspaper columns: one on woodland, 'Tales from the trees' for the Independent and one on the outdoors, 'Get out more' for the Telegraph. The Guardian cited him as 'one of the UK's most exciting nature writers' and he has previously been granted the Roger Deakin Award by the Society of Authors for his co-authored 'how to' guide, Skimming Stones and Other Ways of Being in the Wild. Rob regularly appears on TV and radio to talk nature and our relationship with it. His BBC Radio 3 documentary 'The Ospreys of Loch Garten' was broadcast in 2013 and he recently advised on and featured in the film 'Project Wild Thing', about nature deficit disorder. Rob also delivers speeches and workshops on nature and landscape for a wide range of organisations including The National Trust and the British Army, and at festivals and literary events.
 
Published November 2, 2016 by University of Chicago Press. 354 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Education & Reference, Nature & Wildlife, Travel, Science & Math, Sports & Outdoors. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Common Ground
All: 3 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 0

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Kirsty Gunn on Jul 05 2015

His lovely linocuts that front each chapter have the same quality – responsive and naive – showing someone, like a child, fully caught up with his subject , seeking to draw it close to him in his own pieces of art.

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Financial Times

Above average
Reviewed by Serena Tarling on May 15 2015

Using highly poetic language, he explores an “edgeland”, the no man’s land between city and country, near the Yorkshire town of Harrogate.

Read Full Review of Common Ground | See more reviews from Financial Times

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by PD Smith on May 20 2016

In this memoir of transformation, he writes evocatively of the power of these overlooked spaces, his poetic prose turning them into sites of mystery and rebirth.

Read Full Review of Common Ground | See more reviews from Guardian

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