In collaboration with Flo’s Place in the Park, Tandem Collective, The Children’s Allotment, we are producing a series of workshops inspired by The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris.
Macfarlane and Morris created this spellbinding collection in response to the 2007 edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary which introduced new words such as “broadband” and “blog” while words relating to the natural world (acorn, wren, otter, willow, to name a few) were lost. The dictionary, reflecting the frequency of words in the daily language of children, threw into undeniable relief the idea that children are losing touch with nature. Enter ‘The Lost Words’. This is a magical collection of acrostic poems by Macfarlane, gorgeously illustrated by Morris, which re-conjures these words, brings them back to our hearts and minds, and helps children to discover the natural world around them.
During workshops run throughout 2019, we aim to conjure this spirit in our very own Florence Park! The Lost Words sessions run at Flo’s Place in the Park, the new community hub in the heart of the park. After a chat about the kind of creatures, creepy-crawlies, and all manner of living things we might be seeing (and a bit of binocular training!), we head out in the park to explore. Nick Boyd, resident nature-expert, leads the walks, teaching participants how to look and listen and notice the living world around us. We then return to Flo’s to create our own Lost Words-inspired poetry with the help of poet Phoebe Nicholson.
So far we have run two sessions – one in January 2019, the other in March 2019.
We aim to expand these sessions to a full five-week course, including the creation of a zine collecting the poems produced by participants, and an event celebrating their work.
We also provided these sessions as part of the successful The Lost Words crowdfunding campaign to get a copy of the book in every infant, primary, and special school in Oxfordshire. As part of the crowdfunder, there was a prize draw for all participating schools to win a presentation of the book, and a workshop with us. On 3 May 2019, we went to spend the morning with Whitchurch Primary School to deliver this workshop!