TO celebrate the second Stroud Book Festival we visited the festival's artistic director Adam Horovitz at home in the Slad Valley to hear On the Bridleway a poem his new poetry collection The Soil Never Sleeps, due to be released in January 2018.

Adam was originally approached in 2013 by John Meadley, the chairman of the Pasture-fed Livestock Association, who asked him if he would be interested in writing about pasture farming, and visiting a number of the PfLA farms.

Over the course of 12 months he visited four farms around England and Wales, across all four seasons, keeping detailed written and photographic journals as he travelled and the resulting book is due to be launched in January 2018.

Adam is keen to acknowledge his gratitude to John Medley for taking the unusual step to engage a poet in residence to the PfLA, much to the surprise of some of the members, and explains that his support was invaluable: “His enthusiasm was infectious … I became eager to explore areas of the British landscape that I didn't know, and to dig deeper into the aspects of man’s relationship with landscape and animals…”

Although he grew up in the heart of the Cotwolds, tucked deep into the folds of the Slad Valley, Adam believes that his understanding of nature had been restricted to what he had learned in books and he relished the opportunity to stay on the PfLA’s farms, “getting his hands dirty” amongst the farming communities, a lifestyle so at odds to that of an isolated and sedentary poet.

The collection does not set out to romanticise farming, or rural communities, and as the Brexit Referendum took place in the midst of his residency the last section of his book investigates the ethics, politics and future of British farming.

The resulting publication beautifully weaves lyricism into Britain's hedgerows intermingled with stunning illustrations from Stroud artist Jo Sanders.

But Adam's words truly come to life in his performances and we were delighted when he offered to read On the Bridleway with the stunning backdrop of the Slad Valley early one Autumn morning, just as the mist was beginning to lift. 

The Soil Never Sleeps will be launched at the Oxford Farming Conference in January 2018 and at a special event in Stroud. 

Watch Adam Horovitz reading On the Bridleway with views across the Slad Valley, Autumnal rustling leaves and morning birdsong now.