Category: Quay Theatre

The Oak Papers by James Canton – Radio 4 Book of the Week

We are pleased to announce a joint River Stour Festival and Quay Theatre event. This will be a live-streaming event of The Oak Papers by Dr James Canton of Essex University on Wednesday 9th September at the Quay Theatre, Sudbury at 7pm.

This will be a conversation about the book with questions at the end from the audience that have been sent in in advance, lasting around 45 minutes, starting at 7pm.  The event will then be put out on the Quay Theatre’s YouTube channel for several weeks and will be free to watch.

Dr James Canton runs the Wild Writing MA at the University of Essex and has done since its inception in 2009. He is the author of Ancient Wonderings (2017) and Out of Essex: Re-Imagining a Literary Landscape (2013) which was inspired by his rural wandering in East Anglia. He was awarded his PhD by the University of Essex and reviews for the TLSCaught by the River and Earthlines. Dr Canton is a regular on television and radio and lectures frequently.

His book The Oak Papers is due out on 30 July 2020, published by Canongate (£16.99 Hardback). The book is Radio 4’s Book of the Week for the week commencing 3rd August (listen here). James will also feature on BBC Look East next week so watch out for that.

The Oak Papers is a stunning, meditative and healing book about the lessons we can learn from the natural world, if only we slow down enough to listen. James Canton spent two years sitting with and studying the Honywood Oak. A colossus of a tree, it would have been a sapling when Magna Carta was signed. Inevitably he needs to slow down in order to appreciate it fully, to tune in to its slower time frame, to connect with the ecosystem that lives around it, inside it and beneath it. He examines our long-standing dependency on oak trees, and how that has developed and morphed into myth and legend. We no longer build our houses and boats from them or grind their acorns into flour in times of famine; physically we don’t need them in the same way now. Or do we?

Media reviews:

This is a profound meditation on the human need for connection with nature, as one man seeks solace beneath the boughs of an ancient oak tree. The tree and its surrounds come to life in shimmering detail, and Canton’s writing has an exquisite, somewhat dreamlike quality. PETER WOHLLEBEN, author of The Hidden Life of Trees

James Canton knows so much, writes so well and understands so deeply about the true forest magic and the important place these trees have in it. Knowledge and joy. SARA MAITLAND

With rare delicacy and precision, James Canton has captured the magnificence and mystique of the oak tree. The Oak Papers is a book of deep knowledge, perception and love. PHILIP MARSDEN

This is a moving, poetic and life-affirming exploration of the idea that a person can form a rich and rewarding bond with an individual tree. The Oak Papers possesses great sensitivity, real wisdom and a deep mystical power. PATRICK BARKHAM

Praise for James Canton:

Intensely alive to the landscape; its pasts, people and creatures. ROBERT MACFARLANE
Canton . . . is a stalker of literary ghosts, following traces across the Essex countryside that might lead him to the writers who might have lived and worked among these landscapes. Times Literary Supplement