Feeling It! An anthology of nature writing.

Feeling It! An anthology of nature writing.

Credit Billie Ballard

Below are the ultra-short Thumbnail Nature pieces from a workshop I led on 28 August 2021 with Billie Ballard, talented mental health and queer community writer.

This writing seeks to communicate the emotional connection we have with nature. From Gurnam Bubber’s “beating out the rhythm of our genes” and Loraine Masiya Mponela’s “feeling the sweat of tree leaves to Vanessa Wright’s “hogweed umbrellas” (pictured), the quality of output from these online nature writing workshops continues to delight and astound me.


Amanda Tuke - workshop co-leader and Great North Wood nature-writer-in-residence

The workshop was made possible thanks to public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Arts Council England Logo

The woodpeckers flash red, knowingly; first drum roll for spring. The renewed kid on the block, exploding onto the scene again. What a kid! A wildly frenetic cocky lime green, not just sap rising but a cork popping zingy punkish clarion call to beat out the rhythm of our genes.

Winning submission by Gurnam Bubber. Gurnam is a storyteller for Trees for Cities and a member of Out on the Page, he increasingly likes to dabble his toes in poetry.

I sit in my garden,
close my eyes,
inhale the temperature of life,
explore the smell of now.
Starlings and blue tits
comment on the state of affairs,
find love in the rowan tree.
The wing of a butterfly
knocks my heart off its shelf.
Cracks like an egg.

Commended submission by Britta Benson. Britta is a happiness & poetry blogging, circus skills instructing & common butterfly following German, a writer, performer & linguist thriving in Scotland, her chosen habitat since the year 2000. oddsends707138946.wordpress.com

Tall, erect and proud. Her rays – slivers of bright golden gorgeousness spilling out from an orange hot centre – burn fiercely, as any real sun, reducing unwelcome guests to ash. No shrinking violet, Dahlia's tacit message was as if to say, “Look at me.  I am fearless.  I am worthy!”

Commended submission by Helen Weber. Busy in retirement: budding artist, writer, gardener and lover of all things green; recycling nerd, and Greyhound mum.


Ancient ash: extending delicate, tender-stemmed leaflets towards me. I hold one gently between thumb and forefinger, feeling the slight ridge of life-giving vein and am reminded of our similarities; what we share.  The trees sit with me in my creative impotence; silent companions in late summer’s weary pause.

Sandra Gordon is an Aberdeenshire postie with a background in sociolinguistics; she loves to write about the tilt of the seasons, memories and musings rooted within her local landscape. https://horsedonkeys.wordpress.com  Twitter @sandramgordon

Songs of skylarks and yellowhammers have now departed. Instead, the tractor drones as it spits out bales of hay like an agricultural photocopier. Baskets of Queen Anne's lace curled up in angry fists, thistles draped with fake cobwebs at Halloween, and hogweed umbrellas are Lowry's dark satanic matchstick men.

Vanessa Wright hails from South London, calls Hertfordshire her home, and has her heart in the Hebrides; she loves to write about nature in all of these places. Twitter & Instagram: @elgeeko1506


Every morning I dance
to the sound of birds singing
I drown in my own sweat
feeling the sweat from tree leaves
and a taste of fresh air breath
too little sun to light my skin
Like an aeroplane I float home
to watch my belly fat disappear

Loraine Masiya Mponela was raised by the beautiful Lake Malawi, now living in Coventry, she loves to connect with nature when she can and writes with the wave @lorainemponela

When did we stop communing with nature?
Locked ourselves in concrete towers and glass houses?
Nature only allowed in on our terms
Tamed, clipped back, mown and dug up.
Put in a straightjacket.
Rubbish festering scars strewn across her beautiful green body.
Oh, how she must mourn!

Gloria Maloney writes creative prose and poems about the Essex countryside she enjoys walking in.

Bright and clear skies dotted with cotton balls framed with evergreens enticed you
to the lake’s edge. Tranquil waters lured you in with a falsehood. Ripples, like
giggles, shattered the glass surface revealing the secretive life beneath. Peace is an
illusion trapped in a mirrored facade.

Bonnie L. Boucek. Fibromyalgia. Creative Life Coach. Author & Reverend.

Hollowed Out

In the side lawn there’s a hollow, slightly larger than my thumb.
Yesterday, before the mowing, there was a flat toadstool, creamy
white. The blade excised the cap, but the stalk’s been hollowed out
overnight, as I have. The work of gastropods, slimy trails
unmistakable in the sun.

Angi Holden has been writing most of her life, most recently at a desk so covered in leaves and feathers collected by her grandchildren that it resembles a nature table. @josephsyard

I am crushed by the pitiless power of 'Park Maintenance'. Gone are the lush lakeside tangles of reeds and wildflowers. Gone are the simple joys of fungi, beech husks, and other small treasures of the understory: all swept away by the chain-harrow, while the brush-cutter brutalized the yews.

Tessa Grasswitz grew up in England, but currently lives in the USA, working as an entomologist and celebrating nature through art, prose, and poetry.