Write Where You Are: self, place & voice.
A workshop on nature writing and place literacy with Mark Tredinnick
Sunday 17th March, 10am – 5pm
“Who you are is where you are,” wrote Wallace Stegner once.
Who you are and what counts lie all around you—or back in time somewhere—in the places that you love. Some of us who write are moved to write about the places we live in or come from or journey through (as well as the people, and other animals, who inhabit them) because to write our places is to explore our true selves.
But even if place literacy isn’t a matter of spiritual importance for you, or if your concern is not mostly ecological, attention to where you are, or where your poem or story is set, will improve your writing.
We are thinking, feeling, languaging mammals, and we experience our lives in our bodies in places.
Any good piece of literature has a voice and a place—no matter what it’s about. So place counts, and it counts much more than most writers realise. Of course, the importance of place is understood and practised in the enduring art of all cultures—most profoundly, perhaps, in Indigenous storytelling and song.
So, whatever you want to write, it will help to grow more “place literate,” as George Seddon once put it: to learn to read and tell the world around you.
This Hunter Writers Centre workshop is a place to start, or to have another think about, doing justice in your writing to the more-than-merely human world.
The workshop will use pieces of nature writing to look at the ways and means of witnessing the natural world; it will discuss nature writing across prose and poetry genres; and it will use writing exercises to encourage participants to give voice to special places.
The workshop is about technique and form, and it’s about ideas to do with ecology and literature and the places where they meet.
It’s open to any writer of any standard and experience, but it will appeal particularly to those who deal with the natural world in their writing (or their livelihood or practice).
I’ve written landscapes—and I’ve thought about the connections between self and place and voice and between landscape and literature—in much of my writing.