Publishing Scotland film focuses on nature writing

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A new short film sees Scotland’s top nature writers calling for people to ‘notice’ the natural world in response to the climate crisis and the Covid pandemic.

Produced by Publishing Scotland to mark the start of the 2020 Frankfurt International Book Fair, Second Nature is an 18-minute documentary film featuring five award-winning writers talking on the subject of nature and nature writing today: Kathleen Jamie, Jim Crumley, Chitra Ramaswamy, Roseanne Watt and Gavin Francis.

Jim Crumley, author of the BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, The Nature of Summer, said: ‘I think nature writing has a duty to address the climate crisis. All the signs are there that we are very close to some kind of tipping point, beyond which the planet as we know it, can’t recover. It is the duty of a nature writer to say that as often, and as loudly and as persuasively as possible. There’s nothing more important.’

Interviewed in the film, poet and author Kathleen Jamie said: ‘Politics is power, it is about a power dynamic. And when we have absolute power over the furtherance of every other species on the planet, that’s political. So, every time we notice another species, every time we admit it into our consciousness, that has to be a political act.’

The film begins with the story of Nan Shepherd’s mould-breaking 20th century masterpiece The Living Mountain – written in the 1940s but only rediscovered by a general readership at the beginning of the 21st century – and goes on to consider the role and purpose of nature writing in Scotland today.

James Crawford, writer, broadcaster and chairman of Publishing Scotland, who has written and presented the film, said: ‘The subjects being approached by nature writing in Scotland today are incredibly broad and diverse. Yet all these writers share the same sense of immediacy and urgency – and awareness that ‘noticing’ brings with it the risk, at some point in the future, of “not noticing”. Of seeing something, right up until the moment that it is gone. There is a truth and an authenticity to the new wave of Scottish nature writing that is incredibly powerful’.