Wk.1 Words from the Wild

Looking at the world with fresh eyes!


Have you ever considered how a young child sees the world with a fresh view of imagery and limited language to describe what they see? Imagine turning back the clock to a time when discoveries were still being made and mapped. There is still much to discover in this wonderful world of ours, yet so much has already been done sometimes we forget to look with fresh eyes.

Over the next few weeks William and I will be exploring the work and life of Maria Sibylla Merian via the wonderful book on her life by Sarah B. Pomeroy and Jeyaraney Kathirithamby, as inspiration for our new ‘Words from the Wild’ book club and creative writing class at St Nicks. In today’s first session we will be out on the reserve reading the introduction and up to p.18 (for those who want to purchase / follow the book from home).

Maria Sibylla Merian devoted her life to the study of metamorphosis and discoveries in nature and recorded her findings as beautiful watercolour paintings. A talented painter and writer she travelled the world recording her observations, which was all the more impressive considering her journey started at the age of 13 in 1660.

To begin our journey following her life and art we are going to consider today what it must be like to discover things for the first time….. to observe with patience, to watch, record and find out, please read on for this week’s creative writing exercises to compliment the theme.

Task 1: (5 mins) If you are able take yourself for a short walk outside, or spend some time looking at your garden or through a window. Make a list of what you see including observations of items as well as names. See if you can find up to twenty words. Your list might look something like this:

  • Clouds
  • Movement
  • Fluffy
  • Green
  • Dew
  • Leaves
  • Red
  • Glistening

Task 2: (10 mins) Choose one natural item that you have observed. Imagine that you had never seen this item before and are discovering it for the very first time. Write a description of your item without naming it. (If it helps – imagine you are playing a guessing game with a friend where you have to describe something in detail so that they can guess what it is).

Task 3: (5 mins) Reflection. Spend five minutes writing about what you noticed today that you perhaps wouldn’t have usually been aware of. I would also encourage you to make a nature table or corner at home where you can record your findings and display any unusual natural items you have picked up for further observation.

I hope you enjoyed these tasks and look forward to hearing about your discoveries…sign up to follow the blog for updates as they are posted.

With best wishes,


Published by Emma

Hi my name is Emma! I am a writer and artist. I work for the NHS at Converge (www.yorksj.ac.uk/converge) and I am also an MA graduate in Creative writing and am currently studying for a PhD in Humanities. I have been leading a creative writing class at the beautiful St Nicks in York (www.stnicks.org.uk) for the last five years. When I am not at work I'm on my allotment or at Base Camp (my home) planning new adventures.

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