Walking and Writing Workshop

Presence 05/07/2022

I’m stepping back into The Sill: National Discovery Centre as past Writer in Residence for Northumberland National Park as well as current position as Creatrix in Residence for Hadrian’s Wall to facilitate a walking and writing workshop.

Taking inspiration from The Lost Spells: Listening to a Landscape of Voices exhibition, and book by Jackie Morris and Robert Macfarlane, this writing workshop will explore the power, glory and joy of nature.

Starting with the exhibition, we will use Jackie’s images as a field guide as we journey outside (in all weathers) to walk the landscape around The Sill and Hadrian’s Wall. With our sense of wonder stimulated and our creative pots full, we’ll return to The Sill to put pen to paper.

All genres of writing, journaling, imagining and creating are welcome in this workshop which is led by Hadrian’s Wall Creatrix and The Sill’s first writer in Residence, Dr Sheree Mack. The aim is to leave with a renewed sense of awe at nature and ourselves, as are we not all connected with nature as one?

More information and sign up for ticket here.

Women and Wetlands

Last night I was part of a panel discussion which tackled the subject of women and wetlands.

Crag Lough, seen from Peel Crags, Hadrian’s Wall

I was asked by Elizabeth-Jane Burnett at Northumbria University to be part of this event and share my work around my residence at Northumberland National Park and my explorations of peat bogs.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect about this event or what I was going to share. But on reflection now, I’m so glad that I was invited to take part because I learned so much about peatlands within the UK, around the world and the special place they hold within the global climate crisis.

So much of my language around nature and the environment has been formed through white supremacy culture which has been biased on colonialism and imperialism and capitalist consumption. And of which I am at great pains now to unlearn and find a new language or it is just a re-memory of the language of my ancestors where there is no separation between us and nature.

Something that was raised last night by Khairani Barokka, which was totally new to my knowledge and way of thinking was that within indigenous communities gender was much more fluid and diverse. The binary system of male and female/ he and she which we take as a given now, as the norm, is a construction and part of the colonist program.

That the idea of “the coloniality of gender,” which might have seen the binary gender system in Europe but was not the case for indigenous populations around the world who were brutalised, moved off the lands and eliminated through genocide. This is going to require more reading on my part but it will be completed eagerly as it’s more evidence of how this system to live and breathe is a construct of power for a few white people over the rest of us all.

I share an extract of my presentation here.

Nature Writing Workshop – Our Essential Insects

Working in partnership with Northumberland Wildlife Trust, we bring you a unique and new creative writing workshop tapping into the wonder of nature.

The Trust is spearheading a special campaign to raise awareness about the importance of insects to all of life, including us humans. The Trust is trying to raise awareness as well as money that can be used to protect these vital players in life as we know it.

Taking inspiration from these small and mighty creatures, this workshop will be a 1.5 hour generative writing workshop where attendees will explore new ways to write about the natural world as well as our connection within it. Following a series of prompts and possibilities, participants will have a chance to share their work within the group.

This is a virtual event and costs £5. More information as well as signing up can be completed here.

Day 6 – Curlew, Sphagnum Moss, Peat

a spongy carpet;

clusters of green stars

holding water

storing carbon

amongst cotton grass

big rosemary and cranberry.

Curlew, Steng Moss Bog

peatland upland graasland.

blue stockinged long long legs

wading curved bill down.

I miss the air

against my skin

flicking hair impressions.

before they breed

the male bubbles a call

high pitched across the greyish mist.

threatened they skim

mudflats and dig for shrimp.

this closeness to nature

of cream of buff

of feather is like love

being ripped out

from the roots and fashioned

to fit the narrow folds of life,

yet still being golden and wild.

Between Landscapes

Peel Crags

The walk is blustery. A chill sets in. The stone wall from centuries past worn into smooth layers, slips and trips around memories.

She breaths deep and releases aeons of pain. Her body relaxes into the currents. And with arms wide, she lets go. Her shadow is a moving dark mass across the landscape.

Her heart, the energetic space of unconditional love beats for all, pumping the blood of life throughout and between this landscape and hers.