AFTER OXFORD UNIVERSITY The press published the 2007 edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionarywith over 10,000 entries, a knowledgeable reader noticed this was not included. About forty common words had been deleted, such as dandelion, bramble, heron, and triton. They are all related to nature. And they have been replaced by terms such as blog, chip and voicemail.
Tens of thousands of people have signed a petition calling on the publisher to reinstate words related to the natural world. British writer Robert Macfarlane and illustrator Jackie Morris have teamed up to answer through a “spell book”. The lost words features 40 terms that the two celebrate through text and watercolor, with the pair hoping to bring them back into children’s minds and lives.
Morna Edmundson, artistic director of Vancouver’s Elektra Women’s Choir, found herself captivated by the beautiful book when she found it at a friend’s house just before the pandemic, so much so that she thought, ” I wonder if we could get the rights for this?” Edmundson got busy and wrote to the powers that be in England. Now Elektra Lost Words: A Book of Spells— featuring 20 words — is about to have its world premiere.
The ambitious interdisciplinary performance includes book readings by local actress Laara Sadiq and new works by 10 Canadian composers, which will be performed by Elektra and six instrumentalists. Morris’ paintings will be projected on a large screen and the public will encounter an installation of real brambles, ferns, flowers and other foliage at the site. It’s all to celebrate The lost words “re-wild childhood”.