Welcome to “Writing Wild,” my National Poetry Month project for 2021. A few months ago, I came across Writing Wild: Women Poets, Ramblers, and Mavericks Who Shape How We See the Natural World, by Kathryn Aalto. The title immediately drew me in, and I have been savoring this book, which “celebrates 25 women whose influential writing helps deepen our connection to and understanding of the natural world,” ever since. Many of these women were very familiar and some I had heard of, but others were completely new to me. Aalto highlights an additional 47 women whose work is also grounded in the natural world. I soon realized that I could spend the rest of my life reading all of the books written by these trailblazing women. I also realized that these women were a deep well of inspiration. And so this project was born.
My goal this year is to use the writing of each of the 25 featured writers to inspire a poem. (I have chosen 5 of the highlighted authors to round out the list to 30.) Originally, I thought I would do a Golden Shovel every day, but because words and ideas often suggest the appropriate form, I think I’d like to leave my options open.
All of the writers included in Writing Wild pushed back against the expectations and/or restrictions society placed on them. The first featured writer, Dorothy Wordsworth may have been eclipsed by her famous brother, William, but, Dorothy also wrote poetry, letters and kept journals, recording her keen observations of England’s Lake District. Aalto states that Dorothy “wrote so well that both her brother and Coleridge are known to have lifted phrases from her journals.”
And so I begin National Poetry Month with a Golden Shovel, using the following lines of Dorothy’s from “Grasmere–A Fragment:”
“…to wander out alone.
Lured by a little winding path…”
You can discover more National Poetry Month projects by visiting Susan Bruck at Soul Blossom Living.