A month of Wild Words31/10/2019
Kevin Lelland, the Trust’s head of development and communications, reflects on a month of Wild Words and picks out some highlights.
“A lazy wind is one that goes right through you, not around you,” Amanda Thomson, author of a Scots Dictionary of Nature, told a sell-out crowd gathered at the Trust’s Wild Words event at the Highland Bookshop in Fort William last week.
One of many words or phrases to be smitten by across this month long celebration of Wild Words – the Trust’s push to highlight the importance of nature writing. It’s been wonderful to share fresh thoughts from both new and renowned writers.
“I learn that Gaelic has ‘well over 100 words for hill or mountain.” wrote Kate MacRitchie on meeting with Ruairidh MacIlleathain (Roddy MacLean), a Gaelic author, broadcaster and educator in her excellent article explaining how an understanding of Gaelic place names can help reveal the full richness of Highland landscapes.
It’s a subject Dr Ross Crawford, the Cultural Heritage Adviser for ‘Callander’s Landscape’ project, also guest authored a piece on sharing that: ‘place-names can be used as a window through which we can view the lives of people of the past’.
A thread of people, place and community across time emerged throughout the articles and events. It was articulated particularly well by author David Gange in this interview with us in which he says: “It’s becoming clearer that local histories can help current ecological thinking.”
Boardman Tasker prize winning author Jim Perrin transported us to Wales in an evocative piece of writing – ‘Traeth Bach (literally “the little strand”) is simpler than that. It has an absolute simplicity – sky, sea, sand, distant surrounding hills – that acts as magnet and tabula rasa for a mind seeking clarity.’
John Muir’s Birthplace reminded us of the continuing influence and inspiration of John Muir – who used his letters, journals, articles for newspapers and magazines and 12 books to persuade people to protect the environment – famously writing his address on one of his Journal’s as “John Muir, Earth-planet, Universe.”
The campaign was more than these few highlights. It inspired a pop-up library, saw Merryn Glover (Cairngorms National Park writer in residence) host writing workshops, generated #wildwords haikus on social media, offered advice for adults looking to connect young people with nature , led one of our team to unearth an article about Ben Nevis originally penned in 1894, and featured several contributions from Waymaking: an anthology of poetry and prose from women who adventure outdoors, and including this poem – The Climb by Helen Mort.
The success of Wild Words has been in its ability to inspire people to communicate the joy they get from experiencing nature. It has opened up many new connections and relationships, and brought individuals with a common mindset together. When we write about nature we share more than words, we share our values associated to the experiences we have of wildness, community partnership and nature. By doing so we increase the potential to activate and strengthen those values in others and also our ability to promote why we are dedicated to the protection, repeopling and rewilding of wild places.
Thank you to everyone who contributed in some way this past month.
Photo credit: Kevin Lelland. Author Amanda Thomson speaks at the Fort William Wild Words event.