Writing and the Natural World: Kathleen Jamie and William Atkins

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Rating: 4/5


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!

Calling all Art Students!

We are a group of second year Creative Writing students producing a collection of poetry and prose to be sold at the CREATE event in May. This is an annual publication, celebrating the work of all graduating Creative Writing students. Therefore, we have opened up this exciting opportunity to art students. We are asking you to help us design the cover for the anthology publication.

Here is a link to the ‘Behind the Walls’ blog, so you can see last year’s anthology and find out more information about the event: http://blog.yorksj.ac.uk/creativewriting/anthology-2013/.

This is a fantastic way to expand your portfolio, add to your CV, and get experience being a published artist. The anthology will be printed professionally, and will be sold at a YSJ event.

We have given the writers a suggested theme of York, so please could you reflect this in your designs. We would like you to get creative, so your designs can be in any medium, such as paint or photography.

If you are interested in submitting work, please contact ysjanthologyteam@hotmail.com. Please submit your work no later than 31 March.

If you would like to receive more information regarding the anthology, or have any questions, please contact the email address above.

Many thanks,

The Creative Writing Anthology Team


November Round-Up

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSo it’s been a pretty exciting November. On the 7th we had a fabulous book launch with Nuala Casey and Matt Haig here at YSJ. Matt read from his latest novel, The Humans, and reminded us all why it’s great to be a human, from the point of view of an alien. Matt’s lively and moving writing is highly recommended. Nuala Casey, a graduate of the MA in Creative Writing here at YSJ, read from her debut novel, Soho 4 a. mNuala held the audience with her atmospheric and gritty prose, taking us through the shady streets of Soho. Nuala doesn’t wait around either, her next novel, Summer Lies Bleeding will be out next summer. Both writers responded to questions from the audience with generosity and refreshing honesty, and we all got an insight into the discipline and hard work necessary to become a successful writer.

Last week we were incredibly proud to see our first SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTUREScohort of joint honours Creative Writing students graduate in the grand York Minster. We were all dressed in our finery, struggling to balance our hats and comparing our gowns. JT Welsch definitely won that particular contest…



We know that all our students are going on to do great things, and are happy to have the pleasure of continuing to teach some on our MA.


Finally, novelist Barrie Sherwood gave a wonderful reading of his latest work, Sandia, yesterday evening. Barrie was a lecturer here at YSJ for five years and recently left to teach in Singapore. It was lovely to see him again, and lots of his previous students turned up to wish him well and thank him for being an inspirational teacher. Barrie’s new novel is remarkable, a work that shows a novelist at the height of his ability. I was bowled over by the control and power of the prose. I can’t wait to read the whole thing.


There are more exciting events coming next year, including a reading of Holophin by Luke Kennard, who will be joined by Tom Chivers of brilliant independent press Penned in the Margins. We are also welcoming an literary agent, and looking forward to the York Literature Festival, where we’ll get to see Germaine Greer, Nicholas Royle, Alison Moore, Emily Berry, Helen Mort, Rebecca Goss (to name only a few).

YSJ MA Information Evening 26th November

Come along to this free information session to learn more about studying on the MA in Contemporary Literature and the MA in Creative Writing at York St John University.Policies and Regulations

26th of November, 5.30-6.30pm

York St John University, Skell 037

Hear from recent students about their experience of postgraduate study and listen to staff talk about their research specialisms and the exciting and diverse range of MA modules on offer. The session will provide essential information about both MA strands on offer through the department of English Literature and Creative Writing.

There will an opportunity to ask any questions you might have about the postgraduate experience, and there will also be refreshments provided and time for informal discussion with both staff and students. Do come along if you are interested in continuing your studies, or thinking of returning to study after a break from education. We look forward to welcoming you on the 26th November.

Book your FREE ticket here

Exciting Literature Events in York – with the National Association of Writers in Education

NAWE Events:

Jean Sprackland, winner of the Costa Prize 2008: Friday 15 November, 2pm

Grace Nichols, winner of the Commonwealth Poetry Prize 1983: Friday 15 November, 8pm

Paul Mills, screening his film “You Should’ve Seen Us”: Saturday 16 November, 2pm

Terry Waite CBE, who secured the release of hostages in Libya in 1983: Saturday 16 November, 8pm

All readings take place in the Henley Suite at the Park Inn, North Street, York. A number of tickets will be available on the door, priced £5, but to secure a ticket in advance please contact NAWE (National Association of Writers in Education) on 01653 618429 or email info@nawe.co.uk.

Further biographical details of the readers are available on the NAWE website: www.nawe.co.uk