Will Burns joins The People's Forest

Published 05 Mar 2019 by Caroline Murphy

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Faber New Poet, Will Burns, has been commissioned to create an exciting series of works for The People's Forest.

In a major commission for nature writing, Faber New Poet and Caught by the River poet-in-residence Will Burns will create a series of new works inspired by Epping Forest as part of an exciting literacy strand for The People’s Forest.

Alongside a soon to be announced programme of events, talks, gigs and artist collaborations, The People’s Forest will continue the history of great writers drawing inspiration from nature and the outdoors to present a literary programme designed to seek out new writing related to Epping Forest - London’s strange and wonderful woodland.

Acclaimed poet Burns will walk from Wendover Woods to Epping Forest to shape a new series of poems and works to be released throughout the year as part of The People’s Forest, revisiting family history, memory and the forest.

Speaking about the project and his connection to the location, Burns said: “Epping Forest has loomed strange in my imagination since childhood. I grew up just outside its shadow, in Enfield, and my mother was born in Epping itself without ever knowing the place. Since moving out of London at 10, I have always loved woods – either 'my own’ out here in Wendover, or others that I’ve visited.

“They are places unlike any other in our imaginations and I feel as if there is a whole chapter of my memory linked to that part of London but somehow missing. I hope to recover it through a year of walking and thinking and writing in the forest.”

The Willowherb Review is also inviting writers of colour to submit work by 15 March to be considered for one of four Epping Forest Writers-in-Residence opportunities as part of The People’s Forest. The chosen writers will create a range of exceptional new writing about each season.

The Willowherb Review was launched in 2018 as a platform to celebrate nature writing by emerging and established writers of colour. The lack of diversity in nature writing has been a ripe point of discussion amongst readers and critics alike and the journal was created as a simple means of widening perspectives on nature, place, and environment through new nonfiction, poetry, and short fiction.

Speaking about the commission, the journal’s Editor Jessica J Lee commented: “I'm so excited The Willowherb is participating in The People's Forest London Borough of Culture 2019 project – not least because I'm an Epping Forest fan myself. Creating a platform for emerging writers of colour to explore nature and the environment is the key aim of the journal, and in our first issue we saw a lot of writers focus on urban nature. So new writing inspired by Epping Forest is a perfect fit for us.”

“Since the journal launched last year, it has been extraordinary to see the range and quality of nature writing submitted, so with these residencies, I am especially looking forward to seeing the forest in all its seasons and glory come to life on the page.”

A full programme of events for The People’s Forest will be announced soon.