The world changed in 2020. Gradually at first, then quickly and irreversibly, the patterns by which we once lived altered completely.
Across four seasons and a luminous series of poems and illustrations, Rob Cowen and Nick Hayes paint a picture of a year caught in the grip of history yet filled with revelatory perspectives close at hand. A sparrowhawk hunting in a back street; the moon over a town with a loved one's hand held tight; butterflies massing in a high-summer yard – the everyday wonders and memories that shape a life and help us recall our own.
The Heeding leads us on a journey that takes its markers and signs from nature and a world filled with fear and pain but beauty and wonder too. Collecting birds, animals, trees and people together, it is a profound meditation to a time no one will forget.
At its heart, this is a book that helps us look again, to heed: to be attentive to this world we share, to grieve what's lost and to hope for a better and brighter tomorrow.
Rob Cowen is an award-winning writer, hailed as one of the UK's most original voices on nature and place. His book, Common Ground was shortlisted for the Portico, Richard Jefferies Society and Wainwright Prizes and voted one of the nation's favourite nature books on BBC Winterwatch. His poems have featured on Caught By The River and in Letters to the Earth (Harper Collins). He lives in North Yorkshire.
Nick Hayes is a writer, illustrator and print-maker. He is the author of the Sunday Times bestseller, The Book of Trespass: Crossing the Lines that Divide Us (Bloomsbury; 2020). He has published graphic novels with Jonathan Cape and worked for many renowned titles. He has exhibited across the country, including at the Hayward Gallery. He lives in London.
"A dazzling collection of words and images."
– Helen Jukes, author of A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings
"Poignant and exquisite."
– Lucy Jones, author of Losing Eden
"It is rare to find a writer that is able to tease apart the threads that make up the fragile fabric of our loves, hopes and despairs with such care and humility. An exceptionally good book for an exceptionally bad time."
– Matt Gaw, author of Under the Stars
"Writing that finds light in the dark [...] Poignant, powerful, pressing."
– Cal Flyn, author of Islands of Abandonment
"A raw, dark and tender, visually stunning, emotionally unravelling distillation of the year in which minutes were endless but whole months disappeared. It's all here."
– Dr Amy-Jane Beer, author of The Flow
"So powerful, and rich, and true. Every line in The Heeding feels freshly discovered, full of urgency and clarity. This is an exceptionally moving and beautiful book."
– Nick Drake, poet and author of Out of Range
"Luminously hopeful [...] The Heeding is an invitation to appreciate the gifts of the moment, to pay attention to the natural world."
– Kathryn Aalto, author of Writing Wild