To encourage the writing and understanding of ecopoetry, the Ginkgo Prize will be running a series of free virtual ecopoetry workshops.

The Animacy of Fossils & Other Nonhumans

Tutor: Maya Chowdhry
18:45-20:45
29th October 2020
Eventbrite Zoom Workshop

The Animacy of Fossils & Other Nonhumans 

In this workshop we’ll explore the challenges of writing the non-human voice; how can we use all the tools of poetic language to both imagine a conversation with our natural world and vocalise it, without completely anthropomorphising it.

We’ll use all of our senses to explore how we perceive nonhumans and attempt to translate these sensory experiences into lyrical language.

To assist this exploration we will listen to poets who have written non-human voices such as Alice Oswald, Les Murray and Vahni Capildeo, and explore the writings of Camille T. Dungy and what Robin Kimmerer calls ‘The Grammar of Animacy’.

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Maya Chowdhry is a poet, inTer-aCtive artist and Transmedia writer. Her poetry collections are ‘The Seamstress and the Global Garment’ (Crocus Press, 2006) and ‘Fossil’ (Peepal Tree Press, 2016). Her recent work has explored the climate emergency, seed sovereignty and food justice. She has won many accolades for her work; ‘Butterfly Orchid’ was highly commended in the Forward Prizes, she previously won the Cardiff International Poetry Competition and ‘Microbial Museum’ was a recent Guardian poem of the week.

How in Shadowed Landscapes?

Tutor: Agnieszka Studzińska
18:45-20:45
27th October 2020
Eventbrite Zoom Workshop

How In Shadowed Landscapes? In this class, we’ll explore the notion of landscape, using language to create shadows and images that can haunt and inspire our writing process. This workshop will explore how the notion of landscape haunts our presence, how landscape and language grows from our own fractured ‘scapes,’ how landscapes divulge, sunder, determine the spaces we inhabit, how, as writers and figures in landscape, we can re articulate ‘landscape’ in order to engage in waves of thinking and writing about its role in the world, question how fragile and formidable it is, ask ourselves, how in shadowed landscapes there is sentience to which we must pay close attention, how in the words of Jorie Graham,

“easily our tracks

are filled. How easily

we are undone, … “ [On Why I Would Betray You]

The workshop will reflect on poetry which engages in and departs from walks through literal and personal landscapes, across time and place: Zoë Skoulding, Harriet Tarlo, Peter Riley as well as the voices of Latasha N Nevada Diggs, Camille Dungy, Louise Glück and Jorie Graham, will cross our reading paths on which we will discuss and develop our writing ideas. We will open ourselves to the “line of the landscape /run through me to somewhere else/ (Zoë Skoulding).

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Agnieszka Studzińska has an MA in Creative Writing from the UEA. Her first debut collection, Snow Calling was shortlisted for the London New Poetry Award 2010. Her second collection, What Things Are is published by Eyewear Publishing (2014). She has had poems published in The Long Poem Magazine, The Manhattan Review, Wildcourt, Agenda, Myslexia, as well as having poems featured in several other anthologies. Her poem Winged Narratives was nominated for the 2019 Forward Prize for best single poem. She is currently working towards her PhD at Royal Holloway University of London exploring how the image of the house is appropriated in contemporary American poetry. She teaches creative writing to adults, undergraduates and for The Poetry School.

Tangled – The Ecopoetics of Thread

Tutor: Maria Sledmere
18:45-20:45
21st October 2020
Eventbrite Zoom Workshop

‘Tangled – ‘The Ecopoetics of Threads’: This is a writing class that explores how poets use ‘thread’ to entangle us in the natural world. Mesh, lines, threads, webs of life: so many theoretical proffers on ecology rely on images of weaving. Inspired by Donna Haraway’s notion of sympoiesis or making-with, Timothy Morton’s ‘the mesh’ and Threads by Bhanu Kapil, Sandeep Parmar and Nisha Ramayya, this workshop will trace the possibilities of a woven imaginary in our ecopoetic writing practice. Running through various examples of poetry, visual and sonic art (from Lisa Robertson to Cecilia Viçuna), we will explore the possibilities and importance of thinking entanglement in terms of ecological intimacy and relation, acts of bearing, process, labour, collaboration and play, the body and coexistence. There will also be numerous writing exercises and experiments for putting entangled thought into practice, plus an opportunity at the end for several writers to workshop their poems.

J.R is an expert in the realm of ecopoetry, don’t miss out on her clear and unique voice. This class will consist of poetry readings, discussions and writing exercises. There will be a worksheet emailed to you once you’ve signed up.

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Maria Sledmere is a DFA candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, editor-in-chief at SPAM Press, a member of A+E Collective and occasional music journalist. Recent publications include nature sounds without nature sounds (Sad Press), infra•structure – with Katy Lewis Hood (Broken Sleep) and Chlorophyllia (OrangeApple Press). With Rhian Williams, she co-edited the anthology the weird folds: everyday poems from the anthropocene, forthcoming from Dostoyevsky Wannabe. Her poem ‘Ariosos for Lavish Matter‘ was highly commended in the 2020 Forward Prize, and her work was included in makar / unmakar (Tapsalteerie, 2019), an anthology of contemporary poets in Scotland.

Assembling Weather

Tutor: J.R. Carpenter
18:45-20:45
18th October 2020
Eventbrite Zoom Workshop

Assembling Weather: In this class, we will examine the language of weather, how we absorb it through all that we consume. What we’re presented with is often chaotic and disturbing — we’ll stir this into our poetic process. “Most of what we know about weather comes from an accumulation of observation – hourly, daily, monthly – year after year weather data accumulates in archives and libraries, often in written form. In this workshop, we will explore weather as a textual material. We’ll look at poetry about weather. We’ll also look at ways we can use free online resources to find inspiration in historical and scientific writing about weather. How has weather been written differently over the centuries, by poets, pastors, sailors, and gardeners? How can using found language inject a fresh breeze into our own poetic process?”

J.R is an expert in the realm of ecopoetry, don’t miss out on her clear and unique voice. This class will consist of poetry readings, discussions and writing exercises. There will be a worksheet emailed to you once you’ve signed up.

Download Worksheet

J R Carpenter is an award-winning artist, writer, and, practice-led researcher working across print, performance, and digital media. Her web-based work The Gathering Cloud won the New Media Writing Prize 2016. Her poetry collection An Ocean of Static was highly commended by the Forward Prizes 2018. Her recent collection, This is a Picture of Wind, is based on a web-app by the same name.

Green Witness

Tutor: Meryl Pugh
3:30pm
6th October 2020
Eventbrite Zoom Workshop

Green Witness: This year Meryl Pugh collaborated with Oxford Science and Ideas Festival to teach ecopoetry to urban dwellers: “How can we write about nature if we don’t live in the country? How can we best bear witness to climate change, pollution and other damage we humans are inflicting upon the environment? And just what is ecopoetry? In this workshop, we’ll consider these and other questions. We’ll also read and discuss some examples of contemporary ecopoems, attempt some writing exercises – and hopefully come away with ideas for poems of our own.”

Meryl Pugh was born in 1968 and grew up in Wales, New Zealand, East Anglia and the Forest of Dean, where her family settled. Short-listed for the New Writing Ventures Poetry Prize in 2005, she is a Hawthornden Fellow. Her first pamphlet, Relinquish, was published in 2007 by Arrowhead Press. She is a PhD candidate at UEA and lives in Norwich and London, where she teaches creative writing.

Landscape for Life Week

Tutor: Meryl Pugh
6:45pm – 8:45pm
24th September 2020
Eventbrite Zoom Workshop

Landscape for Life Week: Our partner Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty hosted a free ecopoetry workshop with Meryl Pugh, this workshop celebrated landscape for life week, and explored how we can build landscape with our words. Meryl designed a class to help participants enter our additional prize for ‘Best Poem of Landscape.’

Meryl Pugh was born in 1968 and grew up in Wales, New Zealand, East Anglia and the Forest of Dean, where her family settled. Short-listed for the New Writing Ventures Poetry Prize in 2005, she is a Hawthornden Fellow. Her first pamphlet, Relinquish, was published in 2007 by Arrowhead Press. She is a PhD candidate at UEA and lives in Norwich and London, where she teaches creative writing.

Under a Bruised Sky

Tutor: Elena Karina Byrne
6pm – 8pm
12th September 2020
Eventbrite Zoom Workshop

Under a Bruised Sky: In this class we will play with the environment to communicate all of our inner states, exploring how we can use poetry and language to marry ourselves to the natural world.

“Can we separate ourselves from the constantly changing natural world? We are an individual species, yet all one body, one life, one planet… How do we embody the physical, natural world(s) that surround us –– how do we become the speaking body of nature, translate what we see, become what we see to understand its existence? Our bodies are the counterculture! And, eclogue, bucolics (Virgil) is our first language as poetry begins in the body–let’s invent and investigate ecopoetics as it is tied to our bodies and our imaginations. Personification, transmogrification, and the personal art of the senses will be some of the tools that can bring us closer to our environments.”

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Elena Karina Byrne is the author of five books, a teacher, and editor. Byrne curates events for The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, the Ruskin Art Club, and the Craft Contemporary Museum. A Pulitzer Prize and Best American Poetry recipient, her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines, including the Paris Review.

Forest, Flower, Shell

Tutor: Mina Gorji
6pm – 7pm
15th August 2020
Ginkgo Instagram: @ginkgo.prize

Flower, Forest, Shell: a workshop exploring and celebrating forms of shelter in the natural world. We will investigate and imagine how different creatures (including poets) find and create shelter in the natural world and think about how this has been and might be expressed in language.

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Mina Gorji was born in Tehran and lives in Cambridge, where she is a senior lecturer in the English faculty and a follow of Pembroke College. Her published work includes a study of John Clare, and essays on mess, weeds, littleness and listening. Her poems have appeared, among other places, in Magma, PN Review, London Magazine and The International Literary Quarterly. In 2017, together with Lavinia Greenlaw, she judged the Resurgence (now Gingko) prize. Her debut collection is ‘art of escape‘ (Carcanet, 2020).

Poetry & the Natural World

Tutors: Seán Hewitt & Mina Gorji
Time 7-8pm
8th August 2020
Gingko Instagram: @gingko.prize

Seán Hewitt is a research fellow at University College Cork and a book critic at The Irish Times. He won an Eric Gregory Award in 2019, and the Resurgence Prize (now the Ginkgo Prize) in 2017. His debut collection is Tongues of Fire (Cape, 2020).

Mina Gorji was born in Tehran and lives in Cambridge, where she is a senior lecturer in the English faculty and a follow of Pembroke College. Her published work includes a study of John Clare, and essays on mess, weeds, littleness and listening. Her poems have appeared, among other places, in Magma, PN Review, London Magazine and The International Literary Quarterly. In 2017, together with Lavinia Greenlaw, she judged the Resurgence (now Gingko) prize. Her debut collection is ‘art of escape‘ (Carcanet, 2020).