Ecopoetics Workshop with Kay Syrad and Clare Whistler

05 January 2020 | Posted in Project
Ecopoetics Workshop with Kay Syrad and Clare Whistler
Dunlin (c) Bob Eade

In February, we're fortunate to have a couple of visiting poets running a workshop here - Kay Syrad and Clare Whistler. Both experienced, published writers, they have recently been co-running 'ecopoetics' workshops at Knepp (from which an anthology of poems called Poemish of the Wildland was produced), and at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival.

Kay Syrad Clare Whistler

We spoke to Clare (left) and Kay (right):

Have you visited Rye Harbour Nature Reserve before?

C: Yes I have visited Rye Harbour Nature Reserve many times. The walk down to the sea started with my own childhood (I grew up in Sandhurst, Kent) and continued through the growing up of my own children learning to ride bikes and looking at wildlife.

K: I visited the Nature Reserve in January last year when I was starting a project about migration. Its distinct atmosphere, winter bleakness and watching the birds inspired the first poem of that project, which is based on a lone Dunlin - ‘its curved beak making a mirrored arc / silent on the shallow water’.

Tell us about how you two came to work together.

K & C: We met at one of Mimi Khalvati’s poetry seminars in Lewes about ten years ago. Part of Clare's practice is to gather other writers and artists and suggest collaborations. Before long, we were working together. I am a novelist and poet with a background in education, whilst Clare brings her background in dance, choreography and visual art - the combination making each of our workshops a kind of performance. We began our series of eco-poetics workshops at ONCA (in Brighton) in the spring of 2018, when we were exploring the writings of eco-scholar Donna Haraway. 

What can people expect?

C & K: You can expect fun inside and outside, involvement, unusual ways of using language, to hear some wonderful poetry, and to create something collaboratively.

What does nature mean to you?

C: We are nature, there is no separation in reality. I cannot live without nature on my doorstep, a source of wonder.

K: It’s a source of wonderment to me, too. But also, at this historical juncture, we must bring every ounce of respect to the natural world. It has been said that we should refer to nature as ‘source rather than resource’. I've been learning a lot recently by making a poetic inquiry into moss in the last two years: it's a very ancient species, 540 million years old. It knows so much more than we do!

Who is it suitable for?

K & C: Everyone is welcome. It’s about 'rewilding' your writing, so the workshop is suitable for anyone wanting to experiment with language in a way that reveals and illuminates the natural world. 

More about how to book onto the February Globesongs workshop here

More about Kay

More about Clare

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