Two celebrated poets, Durre Shahwar and Elan Grug Muse, have been creatively responding to a national conversation on the future of Wales’ natural environment, as part of Nature and Us, Natural Resources Wales’ Wales-wide campaign.

In the form of surveys, interactive webinars, workshops and focus groups, Nature and Us challenges 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.

As poets in residence, Durre Shahwar and Elan Grug Muse attended a selection of national events, and ran creative workshops with farmers in North Wales and people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups in Cardiff, gathering their thoughts about the future of the environment in Wales.

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
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

Durre 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
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.

Grug 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.”

You can read an example of the resulting poems below.

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