Nature and Us: Poets in Residence

Published Thu 17 Feb 2022 - By Literature Wales
Two celebrated poets, Durre Shahwar and Elan Grug Muse, will be creatively responding to a national conversation on the future of Wales’ natural environment, as part of Nature and Us, Natural Resources Wales’ newly launched Wales-wide campaign.

Nature and Us is a year-long project with the aim of developing a shared vision for the year 2050, by encouraging people to find out more about the way our actions impact the natural environment and to consider how society’s relationship with nature needs to change.

In the form of surveys, interactive webinars, workshops and focus groups, Nature and Us will challenge people across Wales to think about different possible futures, consider the future of the natural environment in their local area, as well as thinking about how decisions made in Wales could impact on the rest of the world. This national conversation is a collaborative effort, involving many different people and organisations. From young children to big companies, everyone can have their say.

Literature Wales is working with Natural Resources Wales to facilitate creative responses to the Nature and Us conversations. As poets in residence, Durre Shahwar and Elan Grug Muse will attend a selection of national events, as well as running creative workshops with farmers in North Wales and people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups in Cardiff to gather their thoughts about the future of the environment in Wales. They will then create poetic responses to the sessions to be shared widely across Wales.

Lleucu Siencyn, Chief Executive of Literature Wales, said “Literature Wales firmly believes that Literature has transformative power. In our work, we endeavour to use creativity to increase knowledge of the climate emergency and inspire lasting change. We are delighted to support Natural Resources Wales with this initiative, where the many voices of Wales – funnelled through the poetry of Durre Shahwar and Elan Grug Muse – will help us explore and challenge our thinking and our actions as we face the imminent challenges of the climate emergency.”

The poets were selected by a panel of representatives from Literature Wales and Natural Resources Wales who considered a shortlist of 7 writers who had previously been involved in projects exploring Climate Emergency.

Durre Shahwar said “Everyone is reliant on nature and climate emergency is something that effects us all, but something that we all respond to in various ways. Small changes can lead to big impact, and I’m looking forward to collaborating and conversing with various communities to find out what those small changes look like for them.”

Elan Grug Muse said “We need to improve the way we live on this planet. Not only to live in a greener way, but also fairer, and more just. We can’t do this without hearing the voices and stories of all the communities affected by the climate emergency and the ways we choose to respond to it. I look forward to learning what ‘living better on our planet’ means to the diverse communities in Wales.”

Clare Pillman, Chief Executive at Natural Resources Wales, said: “Nature and Us is all about the people of Wales coming together in a joint effort to protect our natural environment. We need to act now to tackle the climate and nature emergencies, but we also want to develop a vision for our future. A future everyone in Wales feels is fair and achievable.

“The only way we can do this is by making sure we hear from as many voices as possible from across society.”


About the Poets

Durre Shahwar
Durre Shahwar is a writer, researcher, and co-founder of ‘Where I’m Coming From’, a community collective for writers of colour in Wales. Her work is embedded in community facilitation, research, and creativity, crossing the boundaries between essay, autofiction, and prose poetry. Durre is an AHRC PhD candidate in Creative Writing at Cardiff University, where she teaches Creative Writing. Her work has been published in various places, notably: Know Your Place: Essays on the Working Class (Dead Ink Books), We Shall Fight Until We Win (404 Ink), Homes For Heroes 100 (Festival of Ideas). She also co-edited Just So You Know (Parthian Books). Durre is currently writing her first book about belonging as a Welsh-Pakistani person. / @Durre_Shahwar
Elan Grug Muse
Elan Grug Muse is a writer from Dyffryn Nantlle. She writes mostly poetry and essays, but is also an editor and translator. Her most recent collection, merch y llyn was published in 2021, and her work has appeared in O’r Pedwar Gwynt, Codi Pais, Poetry Wales, Wales Arts Review, and has been translated into Greek and Croatian. She co-edited the essay anthology Welsh (plural) which will appear with Repeater in spring 2022, and was co-editor of Dweud y Drefn Pan Nad Oes Trefn, an anthology of contemporary poetry that appeared in 2020. In her work, she explores themes of identity and language, as well as nature and the climate emergency.