These eels were born in a continent of ocean
and their parents carried into that vastness
on mindless, reliable, pot-luck currents
from Iceland, Belgium, Tunisia, Spain.
‘Steve’s research of the eel’s complex life history is reflected in this incredible long-form poem – anything shorter would not have done this fish justice.’ Dr Matthew Gollock, Marine and Freshwater Senior Programme Manager, Zoological Society of London.
Longbarrow Press is delighted to announce the publication of The European Eel, a book-length poem by Steve Ely.
The European Eel is a long poem that imagines the life cycle, ecological contexts and enigma of the charismatic and critically endangered fish of the poem’s title. Based on Ely’s in-depth engagement with the scientific literature, discussions with leading eel researchers and conservationists, and hands-on experience with the eel in river systems across the country and abroad, The European Eel is unique not only in its sustained birth-to-death focus on the eel, but in the vivid way the eel’s riverine and marine habitats are evoked and articulated—and in its portrayal of the daunting array of anthropogenic threats that are currently threatening this once common species with extinction. Although a poem first and foremost—an Expressionistic epic monology that transforms its natural history into a quasi-gnostic affirmation of the persistence of life in the context of the Anthropocene and the Sixth Extinction—the poem’s rootedness in research enables it to transcend its status as art to function as a credible piece of informed nature writing capable of shaping ecological debate. Seventeen pages of illustrations by the award-winning artist P.R. Ruby complement and interpret the text, and detailed notes provide context that further opens up the astonishing world of the European eel.
A beautifully produced 80-page hardback, The European Eel is available now from Longbarrow Press. You can read an extract from the book here, and order it by clicking on the relevant PayPal link below (major debit cards accepted – no PayPal account required).
UK orders (+ £1.99 postage)
Europe orders (+ £5.25 postage)
Rest of World orders (+ £8.25 postage)
‘Because so much of the lifecycle and ecological context of the European eel is unknown or merely hypothesised—that is, as much defined by absence as by presence—it leaves lots of space in which the imagination can roam. In The European Eel I have created a ‘Body of Dark’ for the eel and projected the species into it.’ In a new post for the Longbarrow Blog, Steve Ely recounts the origins and development of The European Eel, in which months of scientific research, conservation work and field studies create a space for ‘the transformative imagination’. Click here to read ‘Body of Dark’.