Hy Brasil

Evans, P (2011) Hy Brasil. BBC Radio 4, 5 September 2012.

Item Type: Performance
Creators: Evans, P
Abstract: Hy-Brasil is a phantom island which features in many Irish myths. The island is said to be cloaked in mist except for one day every seven years, when it becomes visible but still cannot be reached. It appears on a map in 1325 off the south west coast of Ireland. Despite the failure of so many attempts to find it, there exist sketches of this island, circular in shape with a river running east to west across its diameter. Written and narrated by Paul Evans with sound recordings by Chris Watson, Hy-Brasil tells the story of a journey across a sea of imagination in search of this phantom isle. Its post World War II and drained and disillusioned by war, the narrator goes in search of peace and solitude "Like an earwig in a matchbox ... I crawl from the stinking wax towards life outside the deaf lug of the Metropolis" His destination is Hy-Brasil ; a "place rumoured to be filled with strange animals and a lone magician." Finding a sailor who will take him part of the way ".. I put all my money and my grandfather's watch into his cold squid hands and he says we're bound for the Porcupine Bank and the fog of Hy Brasil". In the shroud of fog which cloaks the isle " ... there are no landmarks to fix my bearings only stones crouching like monkish supplicants ...." But there is life on the island "I drift to sleep listening to a demented choir in the fog; birds or people or some demonic crossbreed of both". Later, he encounters "hellish creatures screaming". Far from offering him peace and sanctuary the island is a place of "sorcery", as the narrator encounters The Magician, Black Gliders, Jasconye the Fish, and Far Laith. Given such a strange, wild, dark black place, the journey's end is unexpected as the magic of Hy-Brasil works its spell in an unexpected way.
Official URL: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01mdg51
Date: 2011
Event Location: BBC Radio 4

Radio poem.

From both a creative practice and nature writing research point of view, this radio feature made a link between my documentary script-writing on place, landscapes and wildlife and the dramatised playwriting of Owls and The Ditch. The BBC Radio 4 commission was for a radio documentary feature on the mythical island of Hy Brasil, which in maritime legend existed off the west coast of Ireland. Interested in how to narrate a story about a disillusioned young man seeking physical and spiritual solitude on the island but finding it fearfully uninhabitable, I researched English modernist poets, such as Basil Bunting, for a plausible period drama in an implausible landscape which could exist but didn’t. The mix of fact and fiction was an exciting way of adapting my field research to creative practice. Free from the restraints of ‘real’ place, this was the creation of a new place in which to investigate a fundamentally fearful relationship with Nature, (an idea I’ve been working on during and since my PhD on ecophobia). This was a unique synthesis of environmental philosophy, nature writing and poetry. Again, this was a creative collaboration with sound recordist Chris Watson and BBC producer Sarah Blunt for the BBC Natural History Unit. When broadcast, Hy Brasil was repeated so it received an audience of around a million and a quarter listeners. I think it’s still available as a podcast so the figure could be considerably more by now.

Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2013 12:56
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2022 16:54
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