What do we mean by the word imagination? Does it just refer to our powers of invention and ingenuity, or might it have a larger visionary scope and purpose? Might it be vital to a vital life? What about the creative process itself: how does it work, in what circumstances does it flourish, and what conditions hinder or repress its activity? These and related themes are explored, often in unexpected and provocative ways, in this inspirational collection of essays, poems and reflections.The book takes its title from the opening essay, The Gist of Arvon, in which John Moat reflects with characteristic humanity, vigour and wit on the wider implications of the original vision and sense of purpose, which he shared with his close friend, the late John Fairfax, when they set up the Arvon Foundation together more than forty years ago.John's piece is followed by those of the contributing authors, who approach the issues from a stimulating variety of perspectives. Thus, amongst other lively contributions, Seamus Heaney writes about the inspirational nature of haunting encounters, Alice Oswald reveals a poet's imagination in full flight across pages from her work-book, Carol Ann Duffy contributes poems she wrote while tutoring at Arvon Centres, and there are freshly written pieces by novelists such as Andrew Miller, Adam Thorpe and Maggie Gee, while Jules Cashford, Linda Proud and Patrick Harpur offer mythological and philosophical insights on the book's themes. The book has a Foreword by Andrew Motion, and reprints a fascinating essay in which Ted Hughes gave thought to the important educational significance of the work done at Arvon's Centres.Through its celebration of the imagination, The Gist seeks to bring encouragement and inspiration to anyone whose pulses are quickened by the urge to live a creative life.
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