Dr Paul Evans FEA, nature writer, 

Guardian Country Diarist, poet, 

broadcaster, journalist, senior lecturer in creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. 

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How to See Nature paperback 2020 

 

"Pack soup, cheese and a copy of How To See Nature by the Bard of Wenlock Edge and Guardian diarist." John Vidal

 

With a title taken from the 1940 Batsford book, this is nature writing for the modern reader. Evans weaves historical, cultural and literary references into his writing, ranging from TS Eliot to Bridget Riley, from Hieronymus Bosch to Napoleon.

 

It is a book both for those that live in the country and those that don’t, but experience nature every day through brownfield edge lands, transport corridors, urban greenspace, industrialised agriculture and fragments of ancient countryside. 

 

The essays include the The Weedling Wild, on the wildlife of the wasteland: ragwort, rosebay willowherb, giant hogweed and the cinnabar moth; Gardens of Light, about the creatures to be found under moonlight: pipistrelle bats, lacewings and orb-weaver spider; The Flow, with tales from the riverbank, estuaries and seas, including kingfisher, minnow, otter and heron. The Commons looks at meadowland with a human footprint, with the Adonis blue butterfly, horseshoe vetch, skylark, black knapweed and the six-belted clearwing moth. The author also looks at the wildlife returned to Britain, such as wild boar and polecats, and finds nature in and around landscapes as varied as a domestic garden or a wild moor.

 

The book ends with an alphabetical bestiary, an idiosyncratic selection of British wildlife based on the author’s personal encounters.

ECOS 40(3): Book Review: How to See Nature

Even if you never get closer to nature than a small urban green space, Paul Evans’s wonderfully poetic tribute to British wildlife, fields, rivers, forests, hedges, and verges will enhance your understanding of the country’s flora and fauna and spark your imagination. Evans has crafted evocative essays that cover all types of ancient, migrant, and endangered species of flora and fauna. He explores everything from bats visible under city streetlights to the red grouse that live in the wild moors'. 

Barnes & Noble USA 

'A beautifully lyrical look at the glories of British landscapes and wildlife, written by the Guardian's nature writer Paul Evans. 
 
Even if you never get closer to nature than a small urban green space, Paul Evans’s wonderfully poetic tribute to British wildlife, fields, rivers, forests, hedges, and verges will enhance your understanding of the country’s flora and fauna and spark your imagination. Evans has crafted evocative essays that cover all types of ancient, migrant, and endangered species of flora and fauna. He explores everything from bats visible under city streetlights to the red grouse that live in the wild moors'. 

Miriam Darlington wildlife, travel and nature writer 

'This beautiful series of essays on encounters with nature is a talisman for our 'environmentally anxious' era of losses. From the richness of Sand Martins who inhabit sands as unstable as our times, to the solace of lacewings and intimate encounters with orb-weaver spiders, ‘adorned in the extra-terrestrial glow of their pearl diadems’ Evans moves us from concern to inspiration. In this highly scientific yet lyrical series of encounters Evans blends close-observation and revelation with characteristic passion and accuracy. We learn that Ravens are undertakers, Nightingales are ventriloquists— who according to Coleridge, sang from their own ‘wanton tipsy joy.’ The ordinary becomes extraordinary in this fascinating book, written with a heart-lifting mixture of literary and personal insights'.

Oak Earth Day: John Ruskin, Ecology and Creativity

Launch of Oak Earth 24 January 2020 at 

Elizabeth Gaskell House, 84 Plymouth Grove, Manchester M13 9LW

As John Ruskin’s bicentenary draws to a close as part of the Oak Earth series of events the day culminated in the launch of Oak Earth, (the view from a one-legged stool) a chapbook written by The Guardian Country Diarist and Manchester Metropolitan University lecturer Dr Paul Evans. The chapbook was commissioned as part of an HLF and Guild of St George-funded project ‘Ruskin in Wyre’ and written in response to Ruskin Land, an area in the Wyre Forest in Worcestershire.

"Summer in Ruskinland: walking " some small piece of English Ground," as the Victorian visionary John Ruskin called his few acres of the Wyre Forest near Bewdley, Worcestershire where he established a utopian community based on his principles of beauty, peace and fruitfulness, writer Paul Evans and artist Maria Nunzia find Ruskinland grows from a much older Wyre woods community - the oak-earth: soils, debris and roots where geological, ecological and social histories become a mysterious, subterranean medium of existence on which we and the woods depend and through which pulse the rhythms of life and death".

Down load the chapbook pdf here 

Photographs by Dr Rachel Dickinson 

The Bedside Guardian 2019

Edited by Aditya Chakrabortty 

Guardian Country Diary Paul Evans photo Maria Nunza @Varvera

"In this anthology of the Guardian's best journalism of the last 12 months' you can relive both juddering lows and soaring highs: from the rise of the far right to the school children who bunked class and took to the streets against climate change.  Our writers take you on the Honduran caravan trying to cross the US border, behind the doors of Downing Street as ministers are hired and fired - and inside the gents at Lord's as England win the cricket World Cup."

This years anthology includes a contribution by Paul Evans:

Country diary: the few swallows we see are already preparing to leave: 

 

Traeth Lligwy, Anglesey: Millions more birds will die at human hands on their perilous migration back to the Mediterranean p.255

Post - Nature Writing? 

A personal view of what nature writing might break in case of an emergency.

There’s a big clump of royal fern, Osmunda regalis, growing in the railway cutting at Edgeley Junction just outside Stockport. Seeing it from the train window in the morning has become a kind of ritual: I try to get a seat on the starboard side of the carriage to keep watch for it, recognising landmarks, anticipating, never quite certain of the exact location until it appears – whoosh, a near subliminal image. In winter it’s a pile of sticks, in spring the crosiers unfurl bronze-green, in summer it’s majestic carrying ‘flowers’ of russet spores, in autumn it flames yellow. I find the plant fascinating: is it relict of a pre-railway world or was it planted? It has an uncanniness in the landscape, it reminds me of other places and times when I’ve seen royal fern; it has a rich natural history and cultural references. And so, I make notes about it for a piece of writing I haven’t worked out yet...... 

 

 

Anthology 

A Nightingale Sang 

The 10th Annual Networks for Nature publication. 

 

Helen Macdonald, Melissa Harrison, Patrick Barkham, Tim Dee, Mark Cocker and Paul Evans are some of the 60 writers, poets and artists to have contributed to A Nightingale Sang. Half are women. Some are bestsellers and household names, others are not; all are interesting. Together, they reflect the wonderful range and diversity of talent that New Networks for Nature nourishes and is nourished by. All have given their words and imagery without charge, in keeping with its voluntary ethos.

Country Diary 2020

Country diary: the natural and supernatural collide to light up the sky

Wroxeter, Shropshire: Looking over ground that covered the Roman city of Viriconium Cornoviorum, we watched the drama unfold

 

People stopped. They got out of their cars, stood by roadsides, leaned on gates, paused, breathing slowly to look up at the sky-fire, a vast Technicolor movie of a sunset that spread from overhead to beyond the far wall of hills in the west. From the scarlet topography under grey clouds, through blue pools to fields of molten gold, a flood of light swept across the sky – flowing, changing, intensifying.

We the awestruck ones, what were we gawping at? Was it the deflection of light by particles of dust, water droplets, ice crystals or molecules of nitrogen and oxygen scattering colours with longer wavelengths such as orange and red from sunbeams low on the horizon? Was it caused by nuclear fallout from a cataclysm we didn’t know about yet? Whatever, the factual explanation could not capture a phenomenon with the power to stop us in our tracks and fill our hollow minds with unreasonable joy. This was a drama between the natural and supernatural, something transformative in the most fleeting of ways. It must have inspired the same kinds of feelings of awe and wonder throughout history.

Silhouettes of winter trees and a single bird fixed against the sunset as it drew all light from the land. We had parked in a gateway on a bend in the road looking west towards Wroxeter over ground that covered the Roman city of Viriconium Cornoviorum. Under the darkness of fields and lost centuries, a city that was once the most westerly outpost of empire lay folded in myth. Could its citizens have imagined us on their road, all that remained of their streets, their homes, their markets and temples? Could they feel the parliament of rooks, guardians of ages, picking through the land’s memories before flying off to a rookery at the confluence of rivers Tern and Severn? That glorious sunset: we may share few things with the past and the future with the power to still the noise of human life, but for so many of us out on that January afternoon at the year’s beginning, that’s what happened. In a world of terrible conflagrations, this was a fire of the spirit.

Country Diary 2019

Floods_@_Cressage_©_Maria_Nunzia_@Varver

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