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Creative writing on place and nature

Sprackland, Jean (2016) Creative writing on place and nature. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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This PhD by Publication (Route 2) brings together a series of three books of which I am the sole author, and which share common ground in terms of theme and preoccupation. I seek to demonstrate how these three publications have contributed to the existing body of work in creative writing about place and nature, and specifically how they might be seen to address three key research questions. The submission includes my two most recent poetry collections, Tilt (2007) and Sleeping Keys (2013), both of which are characterised by an awareness of place and an acute attention to the natural world. These two collections explore two very different kinds of location: the poems in Tilt are mostly situated in the wide open spaces of the coast, whereas those in Sleeping Keys are largely located indoors, in the rooms of houses, occupied or abandoned. The third item in the submission is Strands: A Year of Discoveries on the Beach (2012), a book of essays or meditations which collectively describe a year’s walking on the wild estuarial beaches between Formby and Southport, charting the changing character of place through different weathers and seasons. This text might be classified as ‘creative non-fiction’ or ‘narrative non-fiction’ (neither of these terms is entirely uncontroversial or clearly defined). These three books have achieved a large and international readership. They are recognised by critics and by other writers as examples of the recent renaissance in creative writing on place, landscape, nature and environment. All three contribute to current discourses about ‘the new nature writing’, which have been particularly significant and audible over the past seven years. More broadly, all three contribute to ‘place writing’, which is not limited to the natural world but engages in more diverse ways with notions of place and space and our human interactions with them. I will therefore consider my work and its contribution to these two distinct but overlapping disciplines. Both are of course international, but for the purposes of this commentary I am considering them within a British context.

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