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Writing the Climate

What are our individual roles in the Climate Emergency?

Poet Linda France is the Climate Writer in Residence for New Writing North and Newcastle University. Building on her 2020 residency, from 2021-2022 the Writing the Climate project will create spaces for connection, discussion and personal reflection, which encourage all of us to respond to the Climate Emergency and see ourselves as part of its solution.

Climate Change | System Change | Heart Change

Man-made Global Warming is just one strand of our current ecological crisis, but the only one with a deadline.

Ten years left in our carbon budget is the scientists’ estimate.

Climate change is aggravating the damage already caused by deforestation, intensive agriculture, over-development, pesticide use and pollution. This in turn arises from a culture of domination and alienation, valorising profit rather than the common good. In the 20th century, 50% of the world’s forest was destroyed, and in 2017 woodland loss amounted to the equivalent of one football field every second. This loss of tree cover alone might account for anywhere between 7 and 20% of all C02 emissions.

These dark stories need telling in ways that inspire action and hope.

It is the writer’s task to look deeply into the heart of things and bring back what they find there. We won’t protect what we don’t love and we can’t love what we don’t understand.

When American poet Muriel Rukeyser asked, ‘What three things can never be done?’, her answer was: ‘Forget. Keep silent. Stand alone.’

The process of transformation required by climate adaptation involves a leap in the dark familiar to writers, a cycle of learning, unlearning and relearning.

How can reading and writing help us to respond to the Climate Emergency?

Empathy and understanding

How can reading, writing and discussion help to deepen empathy and understanding, share our appreciation of the natural world, and encourage us to take action?

Language and stories

Do we need different words to express such large-scale complexity and uncertainty, as well as different stories?

Imagination and creativity

Can reading and writing extend our imaginations, so we can create new ways to live, involving overlooked communities and redressing old injustices?

Join our free Writing Hour

The Writing Hour is an experiment in shared writing time, hosted by Linda France as part of Writing the Climate. This is an opportunity to come together once a month on Zoom and simply write together in silence.

Concentration is contagious and working in a group setting can make a big difference to the energy and awareness we bring to our writing. There will be no preamble or structure apart from a free-writing prompt, with half an ear on the weather and the world around us, to get us started. We will write for around 50 minutes and there will be a brief (entirely non-compulsory) space at the end to share any passing thoughts with fellow writers.

The sessions will take place on the following dates. Join us as many times as you like:

  • Tuesday 30 March 2021, 1-2pm
  • Tuesday 27 April 2021, 1-2pm
  • Tuesday 25 May 2021, 1-2pm
  • Tuesday 29 June 2021, 1-2pm

Join our free Climate Reading Group

Our free Climate Reading Group meets online four times a year to discuss books that tackle environment-related issues. This is a small, friendly group and no prior knowledge is assumed.

Places are free, but limited and you will need to register in advance.

  • Tuesday 13 April 2021, 6-7.30pm Mama Amazonica, by Pascale Petit
    Registration now open, download Linda France’s reading guide here
  • Tuesday 8 June 2021, 6-7.30pm Letters to the Earth, anthology with introduction by Emma Thompson
  • Tuesday 14 September 2021, 6-7.30pm Gigantic Cinema, ed. Alice Oswald and Paul Keegan
  • Tuesday 9 November 2021, 6-7.30pm The Swan Book, by Alexis Wright

How to Start to Writing the Climate

Linda France is running a series of four workshops for writers interested in finding stories which get to the heart of things and consider the implications of living in a time of Climate Crisis and Mass Extinction.

We are inviting poets and writers of prose (creative non-fiction and fiction) living in the north of England, including those at the early stages of their career, to apply for this free workshop programme.

We are especially interested to hear from writers who are currently under-represented in the publishing industries, including writers of colour, disabled writers and writers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. 

The workshops will take place on Zoom on the following dates. The sessions will be linked and participants would be expected to commit to attending all four: 

  • Tuesday 4 May 2021, 6-8pm
  • Tuesday 25 May 2021, 6-8pm
  • Tuesday 15 June 2021, 6-8pm
  • Tuesday 6 July 2021, 6-8pm

Applications are open until 12 April 2021. To apply, tell us in up to 200 words why you would like to take part in this series of workshops.  Please include a single page sample of your writing and a short writing biography (50 words max). 

Murmuration: a collective poem in a time of climate crisis and coronavirus

In 2020, we ran a call out for lines, thoughts and ideas for our collective poem, Murmuration. Launched during lockdown, we wanted to create a collective poem for our times: an inventory of what really matters, celebrating our love for the natural world at a time of crisis. Find out more about Murmuration here.

Read Murmuration here.

Read Linda’s essay about scribing the collective poem, here.

Everything is connected and climate change and system change also need a change of hearts and minds: this is where a writer can help – cutting through the clamour and chaos, rather than adding to it.  I want to plant some seeds to help people think differently and imagine a more robust, creative and optimistic vision of our shared future that we can grow together.

Linda France, Climate Writer in Residence

Linda France’s eight full-length poetry collections include: The Simultaneous Dress (Bloodaxe 2002) and The Toast of the Kit-Cat Club (Bloodaxe 2005), You are Her (Arc Publications 2010) and Reading the Flowers (Arc 2016). Linda also edited the acclaimed anthology Sixty Women Poets (Bloodaxe 1993), a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation. She completed a PhD on writing, plants and landscape in 2019 and received a Society of Authors Cholmondley Award in 2020.

Read more on Linda’s website

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