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Workshops over 2 weeks: 9, 16 October
Course code: 19TON409
What is our place in the natural world today? In times when so many feel disconnected from each other and the natural environment, we will explore some of the most exciting work being published, and experiment with our own writing. This is a course for everyone, so you need only to bring curiosity and a pen and paper.
From Charles Foster's best-selling Being a Beast (if you've ever wondered what worm tastes like, he's your man) to Carol Donaldson's personal story of walking the North Kent marshes ("In the openness of the marshes there is nowhere to hide from yourself"), writing about the natural world has surged in popularity. We'll take a walk (swim, chew, climb) through some of the latest writing, ask what we mean by 'the wild', and why it feels to important to write about it, right now. What are we looking for in 21st century nature writing? Do we find it there?
Throughout the course we'll write about the wild ourselves, exploring our own wild places, finding inspiration in objects, images, sound and others' words, and turning over the stones of our own mysteries. Who knows what we will find?
All reading will be supplied during the workshops.
No prior knowledge is needed. This course is suitable for all abilities. There is no assessment, formal or otherwise – we'll share our writing in the workshop in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. There will be an optional writing task between the two sessions.
Intended learning outcomes
The discovery of poetry and prose about the natural world by well-known and less-well known writers, from Charles Foster and Robert MacFarlane to Carol Donaldson and Helen Mort.
An exploration of why we've always written about nature, and how writers are responding to climate and extinction crisis today. We'll ask how nature writing challenges us to think differently about the world we live in, and perhaps to take action. We'll also ask how writing that is based in the natural world reveals us to ourselves.
Creation of your own work in response to the natural world and take away ideas for new writing.
About the tutor
SJ Butler writes, lives, swims and walks in East Sussex. Her short story, The Swimmer, is set in the upper Medway, and was published in Best British Short Stories 2011, and almost all her work is set in the local landscape. She is a member of Women Who Walk and has performed and written stories in tents and pubs and a disused light vessel.
LocationUniversity of Kent - Tonbridge,
University of Kent,
Contact: Tonbridge Centre
T: +44(0) 1732 352316