North Country; An Anthology Of Landscape And Nature. Edited by Karen Lloyd.

A compelling, unique read, that will keep you turning the pages.
March 14, 2023

As a native Yorkshire woman, this book holds particular appeal to me. I was excited to be given a copy to read, and I learnt much about the geography, culture, politics and beauty of nature and landscape in northern England. The collection of essays and poems is a unique publication. It contains old and new voices of the north; some are household names, while others are emerging or newly established in the literary world. The Brontes, the Wordsworths, Coleridge and Charles Dickens are featured alongside David Cooper, Simon Armitage, Ann Lingard, Amy-Jane Beer and Norman Nicholson.

The contents of the four sections, Inflorescence, Retrospection, Resistance and Restoration, are well combined. The writings are interwoven with poetry, which adds extra appeal to help keep the reader curious. Each section offers new material and inclusive and engaging perspectives on landscape, place and identity in the north. The wildlife, fells, moors, beaches and urban landscapes are captured within themes; of conservation, sustainability, re-wilding, bio-diversity, pollution, eco-systems, and habitat loss.

In the chapter, Resistance, one piece caught my heart; an essay by Laurence Rose; Weather Report, 3 March 2022.

Laurence writes succinctly about his latitude position in Yorkshire with other northern parts of the world on the same latitude. He illustrates the effect of early spring, climate change and the arduous travels of the migrating birds, who eventually arrive on the estuary and in the coastal gardens of East Yorkshire. His last two sentences are poignant;

“The old stability had 11,000 years of the post-Ice Age in which to settle. Instability will be the new stability.”

The poetry included in each section is a diverse variety and perfectly placed. In Restoration, Clare Shaw wrote a thought-stirring poem, The Healing of Little Woolden Moss.

“…Here, healing is still in progress

and it sounds like summer.

It is skylark and curlew, buzzard – the wide sky

Where all things are possible,

And the earth

Which holds its stories within it

And tells them through curve and ditch

Because this is a place of purpose…”

In Inflorescence and Retrospection, we encounter views and descriptions that are either brand new or have passed down through the years. Formative experiences, insights while out walking, old memories and artistic prose.

Furthermore, the dialogue of both Resistance and Restoration includes fresh messages and ideas about the beauty of preserved places being tended to, cared for and renewed by people who feel a sense of belonging and responsibility for their surroundings, solid proof of reasons for some optimism concerning the future of our natural world. Hope needs nurturing to grow, and this collection holds a strong balance between past and present, descent and ascent, sadness, strength, beauty and the required hope for the fate of our natural world.

This anthology is engrossing, engaging and passionate. The broad-ranging Northern voices celebrate, call out, grab and hold your attention, and gift an extraordinary amount of new material, including a surprising parallel between birds and football!

Dip in and out of the book or devour it in order.

It’s a compelling, unique read, and you will want to keep turning the pages.

North Country
An Anthology Of Landscape And Nature by Karen Lloyd is published by Sara Band Books
RRP: £14.99 (print). Format: Hardback