Writing and The Natural World was the first event of the York Literature Festival held at York St John and also the first free event of the festival. The panel was hosted by Naomi Booth and consisted of prose writer William Atkins and award winning poet and non-fiction writer Kathleen Jamie. Both writers read extracts from their books which spoke about the Natural World. Atkins’ read from his first book The Moor (2014). The book takes the reader on a journey across the moors of England exploring both their history and their present beauty as well their relationship with man. Atkins is currently working on an account of desert journeys to be published in 2018. Kathleen Jamie read an extract from her book Sightlines: A Conversation with the Natural World (2012) in which she explores her native Scottish landscapes. The extract she shared was the story of four Killer Whales swimming amongst Seals in the most northern part of the Hebrides which she watched with great excitement and wrote very vividly. She also shared three other poems from her extensive collection of work. At the end there was a short Q&A in which both writers voiced their discomfort with being labelled as ‘Nature Writers’ as they believe it limits their writing topics, instead the prefer to be known as ‘Travel Writers’.
The most striking thing about the talk was the idea of “Don’t research: Encounter” a beautiful piece of advice for any aspiring writer hoping to write nature or anything else!