Joanna Pocock (Environmental Writing, 2021)Polebridge morning, Montana

Joanna Pocock

Fellow in 2021 for Environmental Writing

I am currently writing this letter from Hawthornden Castle in Scotland, where I am in residence as a writing fellow until early October. I was able to take this month-long residency because I was in a position to turn down paid work. This has allowed me to get a first draft – 46,000 words – of Greyhound down on paper.

Read Joanna Pocock's testimonial

Joanna Pocock turned her attention to essay writing in 2014 while living in Missoula, Montana. Being in the American West, Pocock felt closer to the elemental, to the devastating wildfires and to the effects of mining and extraction on the landscape. Moved to document the environmental changes around her, she sought out rewilders, river reclaimers, ecosexuals, nomads and scavengers – people with a more balanced, and in some cases more extreme, relationship to the Earth.

This resulted in Surrender, a work of creative non-fiction, blending memoir with reportage and criticism with nature writing, which won the Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize in 2018 before being published in the UK in 2019. 

“Pocock is ever conscious of the things we drag with us as we go seeking; the things that ride in on our backs. And she doesn’t shy away from the reckoning that is the consequence of looking closely at a world in the process of dying (or being destroyed). Because the closer attention we pay, the more we are invested in the catastrophe. Pocock is attentive to the scale of the devastation, of the wildfires that spare nothing, not even the fish, whom we might have thought safe in the water; the fish suffocate from the ash from the fires. Pocock shows us there is nothing left of the wilderness in the mythological, Thoreauvian sense. The anthropocene leaves nothing untouched” – Irish Times

Joanna Pocock’s writing has appeared in numerous publications such as The New Statesman, The Times Literary Supplement, The Spectator, the Nation and Orion. Some of her environmental writing has also appeared in Letters to the Earth (William Collins, 2019) and in books published by Dark Mountain. Canadian and American editions of Surrender have been published by House of Anansi; and a French edition has been translated and published in Quebec and Europe by Mémoire d’encrier. She teaches creative writing at the University of the Arts, London.