Climate Emergency Writer-in-Residence

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“At the moment, stories illustrating global warming can still offer an escapist pleasure, even if that pleasure often comes in the form of horror. But when we can no longer pretend that climate suffering is distant – in time or in place – we will stop pretending about it and start pretending within it.”

David Wallace-Wells, from The Uninhabitable Earth, A Story of the Future.


What is the role of a writer during the climate emergency?


Climate change is a global crisis that requires immediate action.

On 20 September the board of New Writing North will join many other businesses and communities and declare a Climate Emergency, encouraged by the feelings of NWN staff who are joining young people in Newcastle in the global climate protest.

The company is now considering what role it plays in telling the story of climate warming. New Writing North wishes to use its position as a commissioner, promoter and developer of writers and as a champion of reading to do all it can to help raise awareness and understanding of the climate emergency.

We believe that arts and culture have the power to change the way we think, can help us explore possible new futures and ways of living, examine the gap between what we know and what we do, deepen empathy, and ultimately, inspire action. Writers respond to the world through words, and craft the stories that shape us. As such, we believe that they have a unique and vital role to play in activism and in creating a new narrative for the world.

As a first step New Writing North and our partners Newcastle University, which declared a Climate Emergency in April 2019, have created a new residency post for an exceptional writer to help us to develop this thinking and to work with us on further actions.


Climate Emergency Writer-in-Residence

Our Climate Emergency Writer-in-Residence will play a key role in defining how our organisations can harness the power of arts and culture to respond to the challenge of the climate crisis. They will not only generate new creative work in response to the issue, but will interrogate the role of writers in relation to the crisis. They will challenge us, and the wider sector, to push climate change up the agenda.

We expect the writer to undertake a period of research and consultation, which will include engaging with scientists, activists, thinkers, students, young people, communities, and fellow writers. This work will manifest in newly commissioned work and we will work with the writer to devise further commissions, events, and actions that make best use of our assets to debate, lobby, and enable positive change.

The brief

  • You will be a writer working in poetry, fiction or non-fiction. You will have a strong track record of public work and engagement and be an excellent public speaker
  • You can be based anywhere but will need to spend some time in the North East working with New Writing North, Newcastle University and with organisations and communities based here
  • New Writing North will support you administratively, however we do expect you to be self-starting, undertake your own research, and to make your own connections to develop this role
  • We will require you to to blog /post on social media about the residency
  • The piece(s) of writing you develop will be released into the public domain. How this is done depends on the piece of work produced, and the ambitions that you have for it
  • We expect you to work with us to develop future programmes of work on this theme
  • We will expect you to be confident representing the project and the issues it addresses in the media
  • We will support the residency with a small budget for events to take place during your attachment.



A freelance fee of £10,000 is available. The stated fee will need to cover all travel and accommodation expenses if you live outside of the North East.



Deadline for applications: 1st November 2019

Interviews for post: Week of 25th November 2019

Residency period: 1st January 2020 to 31 December 2020

There is the potential for this residency and ideas developed during the period to be extended if we can raise further funds.


Application Process

To apply, please complete our Submittable form with the following:

  • Up to 800 words explaining why you would like to undertake this role and what you’d like to achieve through this opportunity.
  • Up to 800 words explaining how you would approach the residency and how you would use envisage spending the time.
  • A biog or CV detailing your publishing/produced work and including two referees.

To ask any questions about the position please contact Anna Disley on [email protected].