Week 9: Words from the Wild


Welcome to week 9 of Words from the Wild.

For anyone new stumbling across this site, Words from the Wild is a book club and creative writing class run at St Nicks environment centre in York. During lock down and COVID we are putting our class content on this blog to support people accessing helpful opportunities from home.

Words from the Wild works by choosing a book to follow (which you are welcome to follow at home). Each week we choose a section to read at the class and combine with some creative writing activities linked to the theme.

At present we are reading The Stubborn Light of Things by Melissa Harrison. William (resident book club tutor ) and I chose pages 121-129 as our theme this week. During these pages Melissa includes her last journal entry from London and a new journal entry from her country side home. The following tasks are inspired by her words:

Task 1. (5 mins) Page 121 of The Stubborn Light of Things opens with a beautiful paragraph describing the sky at dusk. Think back to a beautiful sunset that you have enjoyed. Describe it in detail and the changing shapes and colours of the sky. I particularly liked Melissa’s closing line to the paragraph where she wrote that ‘Fistfuls of birds are flung overhead’. Try to include how dusk makes you feel, is it haunting, or sad that the day is ending. Does it make you feel reflective, or perhaps eager to get inside and get cosy?

Task 2: (10 mins) Melissa tells us about colonies of Seahorses found thriving in the Thames in London. This is remarkable when we consider that the Thames river was once so polluted it was declared to be a dead river. Melissa also describes thousands of Pied Wagtails nesting hidden in Laurel bushes in Kent. Using this knowledge of nature thriving as inspiration, free write for ten minutes starting with the words ‘The world is alive and breathing again……..’

Task 3 (10 mins). Once Melissa moves to the country side she is startled by the clear night skies and the stars that are visible. Melissa describes suddenly being aware of the rhythms of dawn and dusk and the evenings drawing in earlier over winter. We are approaching the winter solstice on the 21st of December when we will experience the shortest night of the year. Can you use the letters from the word Solstice to make an acrostic poem (each line should start with a letter from the word solstice). Think about the significance of Solstice and what it means for the nights to become lighter again and what you might look forward to.

Task 4: (5 mins) A winter feast. Melissa Harrison makes many fantastic observations about birds. In the final pages this week she reflects on the dwindling food for birds over the winter months. Can you write an imaginary recipe for a feast for a party of birds? Perhaps it is a table laden with berries, or a meal worm surprise!!! Have fun describing how to prepare the meal and how to make it attractive to a bird! (Top too: if you are based in York Askham Bog is a great place for feeding wild birds. I had a robin land on my hand and feed last winter).

Hope you enjoyed the session!

Take care, for those who we have been able to invite back onto the site we will be back on track on the reserve next week!

Best wishes,


Image courtesy of pixabay

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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