“Ecopoetry is connection. It’s a way to engage the world by and through language”.
“This poetry might be wary of language, but at its core believes that language is an evolved ability that comes from our bodies, that is close to the core of who we are in the world”.
“Ecopoetry does share a space with science […] and [science] looks into the mind that makes and reads poems and points the poet toward compositional, structural, and aesthetic strategies”.
The spirit of Engelhardt’s ecopoetry manifesto pervades the life of this project, to encourage our connection with nature and the strengthening of creative skills via poetic language drawing inspiration by what science and philosophy urges us to rethink.
I took my BA English language and literature at the University of LLeida (Catalonia, Spain) in 1998, and took my MA in Literatures and Cultures at the University of Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain) in 2003. In 2005, I embarked upon the completion of a thesis at the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia (UEA, Norwich, UK). The thesis focused on how Indigenous poets projected their sense of oneness with the environment in their poetry and proposed a new way of reading this poetry through the resources of cognitive poetics and linguistics. The interdisciplinary nature of my PhD. reflected and further developed my wide range of interests, from literature in general, cognitive poetics and linguistics, ecocriticism, cultural geography, philosophy of mind, evolutionary biology, and ecology.
I have been teaching languages for more than 15 years to a wide range of ages and levels, from children to adults, which I still enjoy as a private tutor in Norwich (see Toni’s Class Language and Creativity services). I am truly passionate about teaching languages in a creative manner and I strongly believe in the power of teaching and knowledge as a means to improving the lives of people and society as a whole.
The SPAN (Science Philosophy Art Nature) Project spans across disciplines and areas of knowledge, and also aims at spanning the gap between academia and society. What is more, the SPAN project arises from a deep ecological concern for engagement with nature; it is time to re-engage ourselves with this our only home, the Earth. A new ecological paradigm based on responsibility, inter-generational solidarity, justice and sustainability, is necessary if we want our children to inherit a healthy, liveable planet. In my opinion, education needs to respond to the enormous challenges of the 21st century, with creative responses nurtured in an interdisciplinary insight that opens up new perspectives to think and act life in our planet Earth.
In this sense, the Ecopoetry workshops offered here galvanise the objectives of SPAN Project as they aim at focusing on bodily re-engagement with nature through creativity via poetic language and via the lenses of the most recent developments in cognitive linguistics and poetics, evolutionary biology, anthropology and human geography.
I offer ecopoetry workshops to children and adults, which I have been doing since 2010, when UEA Professor Jean Boase-Beier offered me the opportunity to participate in the Ecopoetry Project in Schools, a pioneering initiative led by the School of Literature and Creative Writing, The School of American Studies at the UEA and the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Then came the Art and Biodiversity Summer School organised by the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (UEA), which attempted to offer children the opportunity to understand the richness and value of biodiversity.
After these fascinating educational experiences, I currently continue offering ecopoetry workshops to schools in Norwich. It’s a privilege to engage with school teachers in helping children express their sensory experience with the environment in a creative manner. As explained by Sir Ken Robinson, we are all creative, but somehow these skills are tamed while we grow up. I find children’s great capacity for creative responses, encouraging, truly stimulating and inspirational.
The SPAN Ecopoetry Project flies now with this website that I hope children, parents, teachers, professors and a wider audience finds interesting, challenging and useful.
Welcome to SPAN Ecopoetry!