‘The Submerged Body’ – free nature writing workshop available online now

A screenshot from the workshop showing a prompt slide and Jane Hartshorn

Chronic Illness Inclusion was proud to team up with the Moving Mountains project to host a free online nature writing workshop led by poet Jane Hartshorn this month.

Supported by The Wren Project, the workshop received over 160 signups and saw attendees led through a series of thoughtful writing prompts, aiming to explore how writing about water can help us explore the experience of living in a sick body.

Jane Hartshorn drew on her PhD research at the University of Kent to highlight writers such as Abi Palmer, Nan Shepherd and Elizabeth Jane Burnett, and folklore such as the selkie myth, moving away from traditional religious ideas of water as curative, or capable of bringing about instant salvation, and towards water’s ability to generate more complex understandings of the body and its transformations, more suitable for those of us living with fluctuating chronic illness.

The workshop was funded by Arts Council England, part of a series of workshops run by writer and artist Louise Kenward as part of her project Moving Mountains, which will also see the publication of an anthology of nature writing by sick and disabled writers.

The Submerged Body: Writing Water and Illness, can now be viewed below and on YouTube with full subtitles.

Louise Kenward is writer in residence at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, and invited those who enjoyed the workshop to sign up for the Rye Harbour newsletter, which also aims to support chronically ill and disabled people in connecting with nature.

The Wren Project, which offers free listening support to people with autoimmune conditions, invited attendees to join another online free event next month, a participatory theatre project exploring the difficult question ‘How Are You?’.

CII to host free online nature writing workshop with poet Jane Hartshorn

Photograph of a woman underwater

CII is excited to be working with the Moving Mountains Project to host The Submerged Body, a free nature writing workshop with poet Jane Hartshorn on 23 September, 6-7.30pm.

I felt my body reaching for water as an element of transformation, invested with the power to remake me in a form that I could choose myself.

– Samantha Walton, ‘Everybody Needs Beauty: In Search of the Nature Cure’

Water runs and flows. Its shape is never set, is always in flux. Even within the basin of a loch or pond, the confines of sea or river bed, or the slippery sides of a swimming pool, water moves and eddies, has the potential to spill beyond the shape that carries it.

In this creative writing workshop, we will draw from examples of watery writing in literature to explore the submerged body. We will examine how these descriptions may resonate with what it feels like to inhabit a sick body, and how we might use the transformative power of water to write about the experience of illness.

Jane Hartshorn is a poet and PhD candidate at the University of Kent, writing about the lived experience of chronic illness. Her pamphlets include Tract (Litmus Publishing, 2017) and In the Sick Hour (Takeaway Press, 2020). She has had poems published by Boudicca Press, Dostoyevsky Wannabe, Lucy Writers and SPAM and is an editor at Ache Press. She is on Twitter @jeahartshorn.

For more information, and to register, visit The Submerged Body event page.

The workshop is supported by The Wren Project, which provides free listening support for people diagnosed with autoimmune disease in the UK, and funded by Arts Council England.

Image: Stefano Zocca via Unsplash