Dark Mountain: Issue 5 (PDF)

Nick is the author of three books about walking and Europe, the most recent of which is Outlandish, a work of gonzo ornithology, The Parakeeting of London, and a collection of short fiction, Loss Soup and Other Stories. He works as an editor and co-director for the Dark Mountain Project, and has contributed short stories and essays to many of its issues. Red Smoking Mirror is his debut novel.


The Spring 2014 issue is a classic Dark Mountain collection of essays, fiction, poetry and artwork.


Our fifth full-length book of Uncivilised writing and art ranges through lands known and unknown, among creatures and trees, through themes of growth, decay and departure, machines, the sacred, space and storms. The whole thing is framed by a diptych of etchings by Jess X Chen and Noel’le Longhaul, Emerge, Collapse, which fill the front and back covers.

Inside, the editorial looks back over the past five years of Dark Mountain and observes how even enthusiasts for the myth of progress now make their argument by appealing to imminent catastrophe. Tim Fox opens the book with an essay that recalls his childhood home, nine miles from Cape Canaveral, from where he watched the take-off of Apollo 17. From the dreams of space, Paul Kingsnorth then takes us down into the Black Chamber of the Grotte de Niaux and the other worlds that lie below the surface of our culture.

Further in, Akshay Ahuja journeys into the stories of the Mahabharata, puzzling through its strange visions of fertility. In Sharon English’s story, ‘El Dorado’, we find ourselves digging for ginseng in the abandoned lands of Ontario’s first Gold Rush. Matt Szabo leads us from Max Weber’s Iron Cage of modernity to the Willow Cage of ethical consumerism, with a little help from Zygmunt Bauman. Lauren Eden and Alastair McIntosh visit the Isle of Lewis, gathering memories of the seamen’s strike of 1966, when the community’s supplies were cut off for six weeks: how would they, or any of us, cope with such a breakdown in the supply chains today?

All of this, along with many more essays and stories, comes interwoven with new poetry from Joanna Lilley, Burl Horniachek, David Troupes, George Brooks, Timothy Dodd, Billy Templeton III, Roselle Angwin, Slippery Elm, Alicia Cole, Frances Cannon, Vivian Demuth, J.D. Smith, Martyn Halsall and Cate Chapman.

One of the most striking features of Issue 5 is the colour sections, completely redesigned by our new art editor, Charlotte Du Cann, and featuring work from Richard Bracken, Zanny Mellor, Thomas Keyes, Laura Copsey, Louise Oates, James Aldridge, Oliver Raymond-Barker, Patrik Qvist and Katrine Skovsgaard. There’s also a photographic reflection on the four years of our Uncivilisation festival, accompanied by an essay from Dougald Hine.

Other writers appearing in this book include Clint Stevens, Dan Grace, Woodford Roberts, Kim Goldberg, Nick Hunt, Joan Maloof, Samantha M. Harvey, Raina Jones, Margaret Irish, Emma Tinker, Rosie Hamilton, the late Dr David Fleming, Kirsten Mortensen, Ian Hill, Cara Verkerk, Tanya Massey and Anthony Sorge.

The book comes to a close with Charles Foster’s account of a young man’s attempt to short-cut the Vedic journey to enlightenment, followed by Anita Sullivan’s ‘Early Knowledge’, the story of Adam and his compulsion for naming things.