The British Romantic Writing and Environmental Catastrophe project is collaborating with The Poetry Society and The Wordsworth Trust to develop public engagement programmes. Our aim is to engage as many people as possible with Romantic representations of weather, climate change, and environmental catastrophe.
Weather Words is a collaboration between the British Romantic Writing and Environmental Catastrophe project at Leeds and The Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere, Cumbria.
This collaboration has been producing some profound and ambitious activities with schools from Kendal and Leeds and community groups the breadth of Cumbria. Since January 2017, project staff, Wordsworth Trust learning and community outreach staff, and writers, poets, artists and photographers have worked together with community groups and schools to reflect on how climate change is affecting their lives. Their artwork and responses were displayed at the Wordsworth Museum during July and August.
We also collaborated with the artist Alison Critchlow to put together ‘Weather Words’, an exhibition running from 1st July to 28th August in the Wordsworth museum. The exhibition featured some of the treasures from the Trust’s collection, such as Coleridge’s manuscript of ‘Ode to Rain’ and some of Dorothy Wordsworth’s journal notebooks. In response to Dorothy’s weather-writing Alison Critchlow has produced two original artworks which will also be on display. Read more about the exhibition and displays here.
To celebrate these exhibitions we held a public day on Saturday 15 July at the Wordsworth Trust. ‘St Swithun’s day if thou dost rain’ included a poetry reading with the community groups who have participated in this project; a talk by Ashley Cooper, author of Images from a Warming Planet; and talks on their research from the British Romantic Writing and Environmental Catastrophe project team members, David Higgins and Tess Somervell. Read more about the St Swithin’s day event here.
A challenge and competition for poets under the age of 25, developed in partnership with The Poetry Society and Helen Mort. Drawing on the legacy of Romantic poets and artists, this challenge invited young people to write their way through the world’s increasingly shifting landscapes.
Check out the challenge and the winning poems here.
The competition received 239 entries – a fantastic response from young poets who were inspired by Romanticism to think and write about climate change in new ways.
The winning poems were celebrated in a reading and prize-giving event held at Leeds on 4 July 2017.
The winner of 1st prize was Abigail Meyer with her poem ‘Inverie’:
We feel we have caught this day
like this seagull
with a whelk in his mouth.
Hills smoke by the sea,
and they burn the heather
to shoot the grouse
And the smoke burns
with a certain haze. The mist
and the memories of separate
flood onto the horizon.
We are drenched.
We are not sure
if the boat will return
to take us back to reality.
I wonder if when I think back
to the sound of rain on hoods
I will only picture
Or you in your yellow
dancing with no music.