The Forestry Commission has launched a competition to “diversify” nature writing, as part of its 2019 centenary celebrations, with two paid writing residencies up for grabs.
Judges will select two winners to take part in a residency in the spring, creating work to be published at the end of the year, to coincide with the tree-planting season. The Commission is particularly interested in hearing from people from under-represented groups, young writers and emerging writers living in urban locations to offer their perceptions of nature in England. It is looking to attract a diverse range of literary forms, including spoken word and other performance arts.
Applications open on Monday 10th December, and entrants will be judged by an expert panel including Dialogue Books publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove and Jay Armstrong, editor of Elementum, a journal of nature writing and visual arts.
Lovegrove said: “I am delighted to be involved in the centenary celebrations of the Forestry Commission and very much looking forward to reading diverse, multi-cultural and intergenerational perspectives of our forest landscapes.
“As a Londoner, I’m not often perceived as someone who embraces nature all the time, but London is the greenest city in Europe! I’m always visiting our parks, urban gardens and forest trails, and reading nature writing from across the globe. Everyone can find inspiration in the natural world, wherever they are.”
Armstrong said: “When a storyteller enters a forest, some kind of alchemy happens. I can’t think of a tale set in such a place – from Little Red Riding Hood to Macbeth, or the legend of Robin Hood to the writings of Tolkien – that didn’t grip me or leave me changed. These residencies offer truly unique opportunities to spend time in these wise places and return with old tales revisited, different stories to tell and new ways of telling them.”
PK Khaira-Creswell, director of the Forestry Commission Centenary, said: “The nation’s forests have long been a well of creativity, inspiring work that has moved generations. To celebrate 100 years of forestry, we’re giving emerging and mid-career writers a chance to put their own stamp on what trees and woods mean to them, and share those sentiments with the wider world.”
The Forestry Commission is celebrating its centenary year with a cultural programme that reflects on its history, while looking forward to the next 100 years. The programme includes artistic works, wildlife surveys, activities for schoolchildren and projects designed to boost health and wellbeing. The centenary year is an opportunity to tell the stories of the nation’s forests, and inspire people to connect with the trees and forests on their doorstep.
To apply visit: www.forestryengland.uk/writers. Writers are asked to submit a video or written pitch (maximum 500 words) outlining their vision.