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Newcastle University’s Climate Writer-in-Residence heads to COP 26

Linda France, Climate Writer-in-Residence at the University, is volunteering in Glasgow during the two-week COP26 conference

10 November 2021

Linda France, Climate Writer-in-Residence at the University, is volunteering in Glasgow during the two-week COP26 conference.

In her role, Linda uses words to highlight and investigate the issues facing the planet. During COP26 she will head to Glasgow to volunteer at the fringe events taking place in the city while the conference is held so she can see what is happening for herself.

"I wanted to see first-hand what's going on," explains Linda, who has held her joint role with Newcastle University and New Writing North since February 2020. "This is so important I didn't want to just read or hear about in the news."

As Climate Writer in Residence, Linda plays a key role in defining how the University and New Writing North harness the power of arts and culture to respond to the challenge of the climate crisis. As well as writing new work of her own, in consultation with climate researchers at Newcastle University, Linda is creating forums exploring how writers, artists and readers can engage with climate change.

"My job is to help find the words for complicated feelings about climate change," she explains. "This is a huge issue that will affect every part of our lives, and it can be difficult for us to express what this triggers in us. The gimlet focus of poetry in particular is good at catching the elusive, the overwhelming or the paradoxical and transforming our relationship with it." 

Her Arts Council England-supported Writing the Climate project began earlier this year. As part of it, Linda has recently launched a new 10-part podcast series In Our Element at Durham Book Festival. In each episode she takes a different element – such as water, fire or air – as a starting point to explore ecological interconnectedness and the possibilities for emergence in this critical time, speaking with activists, engineers, conservationists, academics, thinkers, poets and musicians all around the world.

She also premiered the collective sound poem Dawn Chorus at the Festival. In the spring, Linda and sound artist Christo Wallers launched an open call for lines, asking: Imagine that we have the chance to begin again. What kind of world would you want to wake up in?

And while the pandemic and lockdown changed her plans as Climate Writer, moving online has given her a global audience.

"I now have people attending my workshops or book groups from all over the world, sometimes in places where climate change is already having a big impact on their lives.  We can learn so much from connecting with others," says Linda.

You can find out more about Writing the Climate here:  

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences