Yours Sincerely: The Climate Letters

painting of a letter and pen, white background

It’s now or never. According to the latest IPCC report, to keep global temperature rise under 1.5C means that carbon emissions from everything that we do, buy, use or eat must peak by 2025, and fall rapidly after that, reaching net-zero by the middle of this century. The total amount of CO2 that the world has emitted in the last decade is the same amount that’s left to us now to stay under this key threshold.

In this third and final collective project of Linda France’s Writing the Climate residency, we made an open call to the public to write (and send) a letter about their take on the accelerating climate and ecological crisis.

As writers, our superpower is a way with words, and words are energy, making a difference to the world we live in. This was a chance to harness our creativity and skill to lift the way we use our natural resources, to express our feelings and ideas on this crucial subject affecting all our lives now and threatening our children’s future.

A selection of the letters we received became part of an installation at Clayport Library, Durham, on display during the Durham Book Festival 2022. They were shared alongside commissioned pieces from writers who have worked with Linda during the course of her three-year residency. We also worked with local Northumberland artist Gemma Koomen to incorporate some of her beautiful illustrations into the project.

This is an online showcase of the Yours Sincerely installation, including some of the letters, artwork and commissioned pieces that were part of the project. Explore the pages below and be inspired to write your own climate letter – to someone, or something, who needs to hear it.

Click on the images below to discover each of the ten commissioned letters...

Simple painting of woman submerged to shoulders in water, surrounded by pond plants. White background.

Project contributors:

Alex Reed
Alwyn Gornall
Angela Cheveau
Angela Readman
Anna Lawrence
Brooxy Moon
Cata Parrish
Colin Fleetwood
Cynthia Fuller
Dafydd Williams
Deborah Buchan
Dr Matteo Preabianca
Eric Nicholson
Gurpreet Atwal
Helen Rochester
Helen Shay

Jo Aris
Jo Flynn
Karon Alderman
Kiersten Murray-Borbjerg
Lara Phillips
Marcie Winstanley
Martin Collins
Mary Warner
Mattie Matter
Melissa Ainseba
Melissa Davies
Melissa Dennison
Pamela Galloway
Rachel Bower
Rachel Rowlands
Rachel Wade

Rasha Barrage
Rebecca Stonehill
Romi Jones
S Reeson
Sally O’Reilly
Sam Burt
Sarah Butler
Sari C. Cunningham
Leila Hussein
Sue Gill
Sue Reed
Sukhema Butler
Tricia Lloyd Waller
Ursula Troche
Violet Rook
Yvonne Reddick

Linda France is Climate Writer in Residence for New Writing North and Newcastle University 2020-22. Her poetry collections include The Toast of the Kit-Cat Club (Bloodaxe 2005), book of days (Smokestack 2009) and Reading the Flowers (Arc 2016). She completed a PhD on women, landscape and ecology in 2019 and received a Society of Authors Cholmondeley Award in 2020. The Knucklebone Floor (Smokestack 2022) won the Laurel Prize and her tenth collection Startling (New Writing North & Faber 2022) is inspired by her three years Writing the Climate.

Gemma Koomen is a freelance illustrator and author based in beautiful, wild Northumberland UK. She makes her illustrations in gouache and ink. Inspired by nature, ceremony, nostalgia and simplicity Gemma’s work is driven by the desire to capture the familiar into elements of magical possibility. In 2020 she published a children’s picture book called The Tree Keepers.

letters and envelopes pegged to a metal grid, with artwork on the larger envelopes and a green wall behind

This was the final collaborative project of Linda France’s three-year Climate Writing Residency with New Writing North and Newcastle University, supported by Arts Council England.

Find out more about the residency, Linda’s work, and the activities which came out of it, below.

Writing the Climate