Poetry & Nature in Greater Manchester
Written by Dr Clara Dawson
In June, I had the pleasure of organising nature and creative writing workshops for school pupils in Manchester, co-ordinated with Lancashire Wildlife Trust. The three workshops were designed for Year 10 Manchester Academy pupils in the Moss-side area who might not have easy access to green spaces around the outskirts of Manchester. We wanted to give them the opportunity to see the conservation work at Risley Moss and Little Woolden Moss, but also to help them appreciate the nature that is on their doorstep. Jo and Chris from Lancashire Wildlife Trust ran a fantastic bird identification workshop with the pupils in Whitworth Park, an urban park right next to their school. After the workshop, the pupils could identify male and female blackbirds by sight and recognise the blackbird’s song, something most of them hadn’t known. Blackbirds, as well as the birds, bees, and plants in the boglands under conservation in Greater Manchester, became a source of inspiration for the poetry the pupils wrote during the workshops. They created a zine using their poetry and collage, which showed their brilliant creativity.
Over just three workshops, the pupils really connected with nature and it made me realise how important being able to identify even one bird species is in order to value the natural world around you. The pupils used words like happiness, calm, relaxed, freedom, and imagination to describe their experiences of learning about nature, all feelings we want to encourage in young people.
Project duration: June 2022
Project lead: Dr Clara Dawson (Dept. of English, American Studies and Creative Writing, UoM)
Internal partner: Dept. of English, American Studies and Creative Writing, UoM
External partner: Lancashire Wildlife Trust
Audiences involved: Manchester Academy, readers at Central Library
Funding source: SALC Social Responsibility Award