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26 April 2023
6:00 pm to 7:30 pm
All ages welcome
The Portico Library
The North of England abounds with beauty, from unspoiled Northumbrian beaches and green Yorkshire Dales to the dramatic Lakeland Fells, for so long celebrated by writers and artists. Wide estuaries, winding rivers, sheer cliffs, rushing waterfalls, ancient woodland, limestone pavements, and miles of hedgerows and drystone walls sustainably built and rebuilt over centuries – all form part of its rich heritage.
But these are, too, contested and depleted landscapes. Today the curlew’s call is isolated, habitat is pressured and diminishing, and many species are in decline. Industry, urban sprawl and climate chaos threaten our environment on a previously unimagined scale. And while stereotypes persist – of dark satanic mills or “bleak” moorland – the imperative of conservation is all too often overlooked for short-term economic interests.
This essential volume reminds us how and why Northern people have risen to the challenge of defending their open spaces, demanding action on pollution and habitat loss. Contemporary writers including Sarah Hall, Lee Schofield, Benjamin Myers and Lemn Sissay take their place alongside those who wrote in previous centuries. Together, the voices in this one-of-a-kind anthology testify that North Country is a place apart.
Karen Lloyd is an award-winning writer of non-fiction and poetry based in Kendal, Cumbria. Her most recent book, Abundance, was longlisted for the James Cropper Wainwright Prize for Conservation Writing in 2022. Both her debut, The Gathering Tide, which explores the edgelands of Morecambe Bay, and her second book, The Blackbird Diaries, won Lakeland Book Awards and were selected as books of the year, in the Observer and the Birdwatcher’s Handbook. She has contributed to the Guardian Country Diary, Royal Geographical Society magazine, BBC Wildlife and Countryfile, and she edited and produced Curlew Calling Anthology to raise awareness of curlew restoration. Karen gained her PhD from Lancaster University, where she now teaches part time on the Creative Writing MA and is writer in residence at the Future Places Centre.
Anita Sethi was born in Manchester, UK where her love of nature first flourished in childhood, in wild urban spaces. She has contributed to anthologies including Seasons, Common People, and Women on Nature, has written for the Guardian, Observer, i, Sunday Times, Telegraph, Vogue, BBC Wildlife, New Statesman and Times Literary Supplement, and appeared on various BBC Radio programmes. She has been shortlisted for Northern Writer of the Year at the Northern Soul Awards and Journalist of the Year at the Asian Media Awards, and has judged the British Book Awards and Society of Author Awards. She has lived around the world including being an International Writer in Residence in Melbourne. Her career highlights include going birdwatching with Margaret Atwood in the UK’s oldest nature reserve.
Dr David Cooper is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at Manchester Metropolitan University where he is also the founding Co-Director of the Centre for Place Writing. His critical and creative research focuses on the relationship between literature and geography with a particular focus on the landscapes of North-West England. Before doctoral study at Lancaster University, David’s career in arts development included roles as Arts Officer at the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere and Literature Development Officer for the City of York.
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