Below are some resources for a nature writing workshop I gave at PLNU in September 2020 — maybe they’ll inspire you, too!
Here are some nature poems (for inspiration):
- Camille T. Dungy, “this beginning may have always meant this end“
- Layli Long Soldier, “Irony“
- Brenda Hillman, “The Bride Tree Can’t Be Read“
- Craig Santos Perez, “from ‘understory’“
- Dana Levin, “Watching the Sea Go“
- Brian Teare, “Genius Loci“
- Rickey Laurentiis, “Iris Song“
- Aimee Nezhukumatathil “Hummingbird Abecedarian“
- Kristina Martino, “All I Can Have Are Field Recordings of the Field“
- Hilda Raz, “Some Questions About the Storm“
- Carl Sandburg, “In Tall Grass“
- Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, “Wonder“
- Emily Dickinson, “A Bird Came Down the Walk“
& here are links to a few of my nature poems online:
- From (aviary): “They trail there, they trail” and “Up the tree or down the tree“
- “At the beach” (video)
- “Now I live in the sea“
Here are some ideas for how to approach nature writing:
- Be attentive: as you look and listen and breathe, what can you notice (especially, what can you notice about your surroundings now that you might not have noticed before)?
- Show the reader what you see/hear/sense. Describe, list, use all five of your senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, sound),
- Consider your body: where are you, literally and/or figuratively, in this space? What changes when you move your body (ie, turn your head)? How might your body’s presence change the space you’re in?
- Ask what is missing: What can you hear but not see? What might you expect to find but don’t? What were you hoping for?
- Expand your scope: how and when do traditionally natural things (like, a bee) share space with human-made things (like, a path. or the sound of an airplane)? How do you respond to these intersections and collisions?
- Notice what you’ve highlighted, and reflect. Why might you find _______ important or central to what you’ve drafted? Is it important right now, or always? What else can you share about your feelings or experiences?
Here’s a video I recorded recently, for us to write with:
And here’s an image we can write with, also: