For many thousands of years, before language was written down, poetry was created, recited and passed on from one generation to another – as a way of remembering great events and people, and of belonging.
Nature inspired poets then as it does now – and it feels to me like there is a real resurgence in poetry among young people, with events and actions focussed on poetry and poetry as a form of activism.
Last year People Need Nature, teamed up with the Young Poets Network – part of the Poetry Society – to run a competition for young poets on “ways to be wilder”. TS Eliot prize-winning poet Jen Hadfield produced the challenge, inspiring over 200 young poets from across the world to send in their creations. The quality of the poems was incredible, and you can read the winning and highly commended poems here on the PNN website.
Following last year’s successful competition we have teamed up with the Young Poets Network for a second competition, this time on the subject of “name-dropping.”
Jen Hadfield has once again been asked to produce the challenge.
“This Young Poets Network challenge is all about naming, renaming and un-naming. What happens when we give names to places, plants, and creatures? Do names make it easier or harder to know exactly where we are? What histories do names smuggle into the present day? What witches and myths crouch behind the names of everyday places and plants?”
Jen’s challenge is to create a poem inspired by names or a name.
“You might be inspired by a name on a map or a road sign, or you decide to make names up for insects, flowers, or feature in your local landscape. You might want to do a bit of local history and ask the older folk in your neighbourhood about place-names that are being forgotten. What are the new folk-names for the places near you? Write your own songline for your local landscape. Make an extinction list of imagined species. Or, as thousands of people have done before, look at our moon (perhaps through binoculars) and name the white mountains and lakes. Take a star map and dot-to-dot your own constellations. Write your own love poem to a personally precious place.”
“Whatever you choose to write, ask yourself how you can use your poetry to really root yourself in your local landscape.”
The competition is open until the 30th November.
So get out into nature this Autumn and be inspired.