Conversations with Trees, Westonbirt 2017

Why I did this project

Trees are my solace.

Trees speak to me. They speak to us; their wisdom comes through roots from ground walked on by all our suffering and our joy. I had the idea of Conversations with Trees, a series of poems written for specific trees. I wanted to position this poetry in a natural setting, for it to be part of the tree, a piece of art.

A forest of poems has been written about trees but surprisingly, few poets have ever displayed their poems within trees.

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The ideal place for my poetry was the National Arboretum; Westonbirt has half a million visitors a year. I approached Ben Oliver (Learning & Participation Manager) at the arboretum and, to my delight, he suggested my poems could be placed on the 2017 Silkwood Autumn Trail. This began a year-long close collaboration with Westonbirt which became my second home. I am very grateful to the team at Westonbirt for their support and faith in me as an aspiring poet.

Thank you to my tutors - Carrie Etter and Neil Rollinson - at Bath Spa University, who guided me. I love Carrie's poem,'The River Avon, Bath', displayed beside the river and Neil’s poem, ‘Ode to a Magnolia Tree’, started my passion for odes.

My poetry was proof read and critiqued by my good friends:

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The website looks great because of the help of Mark Sutton, father to my good friend Anna. As you can tell he is a professional web designer but, more importantly, he is very enthusiastic about the project and generous with his time.

I tried to make an inexpensive installation but the banners still cost thousands of pounds. I am eternally grateful to the Snowdon Trust who awarded me a grant. Thank you in particular to Paul Alexander (chief executive officer) and Mandy Edwards (administrator) for their warm response and enthusiasm when I first approached the Trust.

At the House of Lords to celebrate with other Snowdon Trust grant winners