Writing, Climate, and the Living World

This course will ask a central question: what does it mean to be a writer today, in light of the Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE)? How can we approach the vastness of the emergency we are in, with effective creative writing? The weekend-retreat will include discussions sharing our experience of the CEE specifically as writers, and examine the personal, public and literary strategies that enable us as writers rather than freeze us. Both emerging and more established writers will benefit from intensive workshops, one-to-one tutoring and time to write and create ideas, as well as feedback from peers in small-group readings. 

A 5-day residential course, in partnership with Arvon

During the course you will review the essentials of both fiction and nonfiction – from the use of place to editing techniques, narrative structure to the role played by character – and consider how these might explore and help to communicate the issues around the CEE. But you will also be part of a forum, as this course will build on the camaraderie that is beginning to emerge among writers. By sharing ideas, hopes and experiences, participants will learn from one another and help to advance this vital conversation.

‘Writing, Climate and the Living World’ will seek to inform and inspire, while embracing the landscape around Troed yr Harn. The creative response to the CEE remains in its infancy. The challenge is immense, but so is the imperative to meet that challenge, and so are the potential rewards.

What will I do and learn?

  • Be offered an overview of the essentials of creative writing.
  • Receive feedback on your writing-in-progress (if any) to gain a new sense of perspective and momentum in your work.
  • Discuss as a group the facts of the CEE and what role writing might play in response.
  • Build a sense of common purpose and forge new, supportive relationships.
  • Explore and develop a close appreciation of the landscape around Troed yr Harn.
  • Spend time developing new ideas and refining your writing.

Who will I learn from?

Jay Griffiths

Jay Griffiths is the award-winning author of many books including Wild: An Elemental Journey. She has broadcast and written widely, including for Radiohead and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Her work has received widespread accolades including from Gary Snyder, Barry Lopez, Don Paterson, John Berger, Philip Pullman, KT Tunstall and Nikolai Fraiture. Her latest book is the essay collection Nemesis, My Friend: Journeys Through the Turning Times.

Tom Bullough

Tom is the author of four novels, including Addlands, a story of seventy years on a Radnorshire hill farm, which, among other plaudits, was the subject of a sermon in Westminster Abbey. His fifth book, Sarn Helen – a study of Welsh history and the climate crisis, illustrated by Jackie Morris – was published in February 2023 by Granta Books. 


Pascale Petit

Pascale is of French, Welsh, and Indian heritage. Her seventh collection, Mama Amazonica, won the inaugural Laurel Prize for eco-poetry and the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize (the first time a poetry book won this prize for a work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry best evoking the spirit of a place’).Her eighth collection, Tiger Girl (Bloodaxe Books, 2020), was shortlisted for the Forward Prize and for Wales Book of the Year. 


Key Information

Date – Thursday 20th July – Monday 24th July 2023. Arrive 4pm Thursday and leave at 11am Monday.

Location – meet at Talgarth Car Park, LD3 0PQ. Our campus is a car free site, and we encourage participants to meet at Talgarth carpark to walk up to the campus ready to start the course.

You ticket will pay for travel from and to Abergavenny train station, a place in one of our shared bell tents, all meals and course content.

Age limit – You must be 18 years old or above to take part in this course for safety reasons. If you are under 18 then have a look at our Ecological Futures Camp.


This course is offered in partnership with Arvon, the UK’s leading creative writing charity; Ben Rawlence, BMC founder, is Arvon’s Spring/Summer 2023 Writer in Residence Founded in 1968, Arvon is known for its diverse creative writing courses and events led by leading authors. An online programme, ‘Arvon at Home’ offers virtual writing weeks, writing days, masterclasses and readings. Residential 5-day courses are set in historic writing houses in inspiring countryside locations. Week-long courses, both in-person and at-home, include workshops, one-to-one tutorials and plenty of time and space to write. Courses cover a range of genres including fiction, poetry, theatre, YA, creative non-fiction and many more. Grants and concessions are available.

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