The Annual Journal of Vaughan Studies and New Poetry
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Death is the ‘recession of life into the unknown’, not the annihilation of any one particle, but a retreat of hidden natures to the same state they were in before …
— Thomas Vaughan, Anthroposophia Theomagica.
I saw Eternity the other night
Like a great Ring of pure and endless light,
All calm, as it was bright,
And round beneath it, Time in hours, days, years
Driven by the spheres
Like a vast shadow moved …

— Henry Vaughan, ‘The World’.

Scintilla is an annual journal devoted to literature written, and inspired, by the Breconshire writers Henry and Thomas Vaughan.  Each volume includes poetry, prose fiction, drama, and essays, which explore themes relevant to the Vaughans, in modern (if not necessarily fashionable) terms. Scintilla is published by the Usk Valley Vaughan Association (UVVA), founded in the tercentenary year of Henry Vaughan’s death, 23 April 1695; with financial support from the Arts Council of Wales and Cardiff University. The UVVA exists to explore, celebrate, and question the works and lives of Henry Vaughan, poet and doctor, and his twin brother, the famous alchemist Thomas Vaughan, while encouraging the work of modern writers and artists.

UVVA logoEach issue includes written pieces which address issues such as healing, nature, and scientific thought, as well as illustrations by a visual artist who shares such concerns. Several contributors to the first issue mentioned how welcome they found the establishment of a publication devoted to these matters and willing to give poetry in particular the space to articulate its responses. Many articles in Scintilla arise from papers discussed at the yearly Colloquium of the Usk Valley Vaughan Association.

Real experience knows nothing of fashionable taboos, yet literary life can set inexplicit but all the more effective limits to the scope of thought and of poetry. This seems to us dangerous. Scintilla means no more than ‘a spark’ (the title is derived from Henry Vaughan’s great collection of poems, Silex Scintillans ), but no less either. As the Usk-born naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace (co-discoverer with Darwin of the theory of evolution) liked to insist, homo sapiens is dependent on cultural as well as biological evolution. Culture has an important part to play in creating the future – both the future of humanity and that of nature, from which we arose and which we now increasingly manipulate.

‘The central concern is with [perceptions of] the interaction between humanity and the matter of the universe, whether cosmic or terrestrial, and above all with the interaction between contemporary writers and these ideas. This intersection strikes the spark, the scintilla, of the title. The other themes … establish ideas of continuing interest: the processes of reading and writing in relation to healing, language in relation to spiritual or liminal experience, metaphysics in relation to modern science … Production values are high, there’s a liveliness about the whole undertaking: subscribe!’ [Linda Adams, New Welsh Review.]

‘… a wide range of essays … There is a lot here that is creatively provocative … It is crucial that the new poems are part of Scintilla’s enterprise … Some of the poems seem to me primary … Openness to experience and to other people, to new forms in some cases, and an unsettledness as to our relationship with the universe and our inner lives perhaps are the marks I’m referring to …’ [David Hart, Poetry Wales.]

‘… not only a handsome production but, in contents, one of the most remarkable new arrivals on the Welsh literary scene …’ [Poetry Nation Review.]

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