It is the nature of poets that we write about ourselves. And having done that for a number of minutes, hours, months, years, we look beyond ourselves. Many are drawn to that which has been made by mankind. Many are not. And of those who are not, many are drawn to what we oddly enough called ‘nature’, by which we mean… well, what do we mean?
I have enough knowledge of geography and the environment to know that most of what we call ‘nature’ is a product of some symbiosis (I looked-up that word) between ourselves as a species and so many other species. Perhaps the definition of ‘nature’ might reference a living organism being involved other than ourselves? Perhaps. What I do know, is that poets feel drawn to respond to that which we call ‘nature’. Well, I certainly do.
Or rather, when interrogating my own existence through the process of writing poetry, and when struggling to understand the existence of other (collectively or individually), I find myself standing in fields. The fields are often ploughed and I have both no idea how I got there and no idea how to get out. The trick, known to all ‘horny-handed sons/daughters of toil’, is to crouch down low and see if a path appears, some evidence of others having passed by.
Often as not it is a little winding track made by cattle or sheep. Sometimes it is a barely used path laid down by feet long-since laid to rest in country churchyards. Either way, these are the ‘desire paths’ made by many that take us into and out of the ‘natural’ world. And at times, even in a ploughed field, we may be permitted to follow them. At other times perhaps we’ll make our own. Or we’ll wait to be air-lifted to rescue…
Jonathan, what are you getting at?
What I am getting at is that I am ‘leading’ [sic] a short-course as part of the Spelt Nature Writing School which will take poets along various desire paths through various versions of the natural world. There is a cost – there is always a cost – but also a bursary place available, and we shall write some good poems and read some good poems and doubtless have some fun along the way. It runs on Monday evenings (19:00 – 21:00 BST/GMT) across the month of October 2022. If you are not otherwise engaged, why not join me? Details here.
Why this article was written & a declaration of connection:
To be honest, there are still some places left and I will feel very guilty if a short-course with me is not considered of value by at least a dozen people. I am, as you know, driven by this compulsion to prove what a not-bad chap I am, and this is just part of that ‘frenzy of affability’, as my analyst would describe it, if I could afford an analyst, which I can’t. Good, glad we got that cleared up.