Week 4: Words from the Wild Poetry. Inspired by water and rivers….

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to week 4 of our poetry inspired book club and creative writing class. Before we get on to the theme for this week I would like to share this beautiful poem, sent in by Jane, inspired by last weeks snowdrop themed session. It’s such a privilege to share a love of nature with others and even greater when I receive such lovely words:


Hope emerging from frozen ground
A speck of green, then white
As spring makes slow return
Following long months of slumber

There may still be snow to come
Much to be endured, again
Yet rising from land unthawed
A speck of green, then white

By Jane

This week William and I chose Dart by Alice Oswald to inspire our walks and writing tasks. There is a tradition for writers to connect to rivers to inspire their work. In Dart, Alice Oswald follows the journey of the river Dart in Devon, recording the people who use the river, wildlife and details of the water in beautiful poetic form.

Here in York we have the River Ouse flowing through the city, with footpaths running along much of the course of the river. In recent days the river has flooded the fields making giant ice rinks on the race course in York and flooding over our local Ings. I’ve had fun walking on the ice, enjoying the sounds and discovering some beautiful patterns and formations. Here’s a short video to give you a flavour, just for fun!

So here are this weeks writing tasks:

Task 1: (5 mins) Write about the sound of water in any form you like. Perhaps you have also been walking on frozen ground or snow? Or you might like to think about rain falling on a pond, or the surface of a tent. Perhaps you have visited a babbling brook or have a water feature in your garden? Try and think of words that bring the sound to life. (Onomatopoeic words like crack, crackle, crunch, drip…etc!)

Task 2: (5 mins) Dancing in the shallows. Alice Oswald makes reference to dragonflies at the end of our chosen extract (we will be reading pages 5 – 6). We often see dragonflies at St Nick’s pond skimming over the shallow water. Write about an interaction of nature in shallow water. Here are some species to inspire you: dragonflies, minnows, shrimp, pond skaters, water beetles….). You can either describe an observation or work from your imagination playing with the perspectives of species.

Task 3: (10 mins) Skimming stones. Last year in our face to face class, I brought in a bag of smooth flat skimming stones to inspire a task. Look at the photos of the river below. Imagine a lovely cool shaded walk in the summer along the banks of a river. You stop to skim stones. Tell me about your journey and the way that the stones travel across the surface…..

Task 4: (5 mins) choose a river dweller such as a Kingfisher, an otter, a beaver, water vole, fish etc. Write about a day in the life of your chosen species…..you might like to describe a particular season for your species. For inspiration you might like to look at the Wildlife Trust webpages.

You might have been surprised that I mentioned beaver as an example of river dwellers. They have actually been re-introduced to parts of the UK and are very helpful to the environment supporting the reduction of flooding and maintaining wetlands in the dry summer months. You can read more about them here if you are interested to find out more.

If you haven’t read Dart by Alice Oswald we can highly recommend reading it. I hope that you enjoyed today’s class. Please do feel free to send suggestions of poetry for these sessions, or any of your own writing. (That goes for members of the public who have stumbled across this blog too). The email is creativewritinganddrawing@stnicks.org.uk you can also leave messages in the comments.

See you soon!
Best wishes,

Image taken from 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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