Eco-Poetry and Engaging with Nature

16 Feb 2016 / General

Leadhills - Southern Scotland
Leadhills – Southern Scotland

I’ve always written sporadically about the landscape, but in 2001 I moved to a place called Leadhills, a tiny, former mining village in the Lowther Hills in Southwest Scotland, where I lived until 2008. It’s a marginal place in lots of ways: 1400 feet above sea level with around 400 houses, only a third of which were occupied then, and many of which were derelict. It was a village that was trying to revive itself. Most of the houses owned packages of land, allocated to them when the Leadmines closed, but very few were fenced and most cottages just gave out onto open hillside. It’s a place where you feel very close to nature – even though it’s a village it felt like living on the edge of wilderness. It’s a place of extremes, not least of extreme weather.

Cumbria’s Morecambe Bay

Since then, writing about Place has become a way of finding a home in it and while I was writing poems about Leadhills I became aware of the resurgence of nature poetry, or ‘ecopoetry’, prompted largely by Jonathan Bate’s ‘Song of the Earth’ and I started to think more deeply about some of the issues this raised.

I now live in Cumbria, in an Edwardian market town on the edge of Morecambe Bay, a former shipping channel that silted up, a place where environmental change happens daily. Cumbria as a whole has been much affected by horrendous floods in recent years, so nature and place are still at the forefront of my poetry.

We live in a time of environmental crisis. Poetry can help us re-engage with nature, to see it in new ways and open up new possibilities, making us better equipped to find solutions.

andrew forster

Andrew Forster has published three full-length collections of poetry, Fear of Thunder (2007) Territory (2010) and Homecoming (2014). Fear of Thunder was shortlisted for the 2008 Forward Prize for Best First Collection. He has taught creative writing both freelance and for a range of organisations, and worked as a Literature Development Officer, first in Dumfries and Galloway and latterly for the Wordsworth Trust, running internationally renowned programmes of events. He won a Northern Writers Award in 2014, co-edits the online poetry magazine ‘The Compass’ and runs a number of projects freelance.


Together with Vicki Feaver, Andrew will be teaching a 5 day poetry course at Totleigh Barton, a thatched cottage in the midst of Devon’s peaceful and idyllic countryside.


For centuries, poets have drawn inspiration from the power of place, whether this be city or country. Blake’s London and Wordsworth’s Lake District are famous examples. Now, in a time of ecological crisis, mass urbanisation and climate change, ‘writing nature’ brings with it a host of new and inspiring challenges. On this course you will look at a variety of international poets whose work addresses these vital and enduring themes such as Alice Oswald, Kathleen Janie, Trace Twitchell, Ted Hughes, Mark Doty and Bernard O’Donoghue, with the aim of giving you new ways of creating fresh work. It will be a brilliant course for beginner and for more experienced poets alike. BOOK NOW


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