One of Owen Sheers’ selected writers for the International Literature Showcase
‘Elizabeth-Jane Burnett’s The Grassing is a literary deep dive like no other – a memoir of family, place, ecology and identity that pushes language to its limits as she journeys back, via a single field in Devon, through her personal heritage and into the stories of the soil itself. This is a work of illuminating grace and observation that offers us glimpses of new ways to know ourselves and to be – “To help ourselves we must help the soil.”’ – Owen Sheers
English-Kenyan writer whose creative and critical work explores environmental themes.
Elizabeth-Jane Burnett is an author and academic whose creative and critical work has a largely environmental focus. Publications include the poetry collections Of Sea (2021) and Swims (2017), both from Penned in the Margins; nature writing memoir The Grassling (Penguin, 2019) and monograph A Social Biography of Contemporary Innovative Poetry Communities: The Gift, the Wager and Poethics (Palgrave, 2017). She is a Leverhulme Research Fellow (2021-2), researching ‘Creative Writing and Climate Change: Developing a New Wetlands Literature,’ a nature diarist for Oh magazine and the Guardian, founder of Grow Your Own Creativity and Associate Professor in Creative Writing at Northumbria University.
‘Burnett is one of the UK’s most original poets of the nonhuman world, and of our environmental moment. Innovative, dazzling, affecting poems that shimmer with intellectual acuity and emotional resonance.’ – Rebecca Tamas
‘A subtle, moving celebration of place and connectedness . . . The Grassling brings the sounds, smells and sights of the countryside alive like few other books. Burnett stretches the limits of prose, infusing it with poetic intensity to create a powerful, original voice . . . Her prose is both sinuous and knotty, stretching language to capture what is often beyond words, while slowing down the process of reading, allowing us to savour them.’ – PD Smith, Guardian
‘Exquisite . . . needs to be savoured slowly, and then read again. Burnett is breaking new ground as a mixed-heritage English/Kenyan woman connecting so deeply to the historic land of her father’s family in the West Country.’ – Bernardine Evaristo
‘Burnett manages the delicate feat of maintaining our sense of reverence for the nebulous Anglo-Saxon romanticism…, but twins it with astute scientific nous which never strays into the esoteric. She does this with such joy that we cannot help but want to join in… a heartening read.’ – Stephanie Sy-Quia, The Quietus 2019-04-27
‘With a blend of poetry, memoir and a uniquely experimental, sensory style of nature writing, The Grassling celebrates the lusciousness of both land and language … Ideas that might in a lesser writer have seemed whimsical are grounded by the rich layers of Burnett’s prose. – TLS
‘A poetic, lyrical tribute to the earth beneath our feet . . . Burnett is one of the freshest voices in the current crop of nature writers.’ – Countryfile
‘This astonishingly beautiful ode to the sights, sounds and smells of the countryside . . . [evokes] a richly immersive sense of the natural world and our place within it.’ – Country Living
‘I am delighted to have been selected for the International Literature Showcase and to bring light on diverse voices in nature writing and experimental work.’ – Elizabeth-Jane
Photo credit Graham Shackleton