Walk Write Workshop with Anita Sethi at The Portico

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Writer Anita Sethi
Writer Anita Sethi.

A Walk Write-Shop with Anita Sethi at The Portico Library, Chinatown 22 April — 21 June 2023 Tickets from £10 — Book now

The Portico Library is running a series of Walk Write Workshops until June with its Rambler in Residence Anita Sethi, who has curated a season of events exploring protest, the right to roam, wellbeing and access to nature. On 22 April (11am-1pm), Anita invites you to celebrate Earth Day, looking at our effect on the environment and Manchester’s role in the climate crisis. Protest is the theme on 1 May (2-4pm) and Twilight is the title for the walk on 6 June (6-7.30pm), thinking about loss and bereavement, and how walking and writing help our wellbeing. On 21 June (5.30-7pm), it is, of course, Summer Solstice, when the final walk-write shop embraces spiritual friendship and walking for companionship.

The walks each have an emphasis on using nature to walk through worries and inspire writing around the theme of the walk, while also exploring related themes in literature and offering ideas for related books to read (in association with Elizabeth Gaskell’s House and Jane Austen House), perhaps in one of the comfy armchairs in the 19th-century library gem. On 19 May, a special event entitled ‘Radical Walking: Women & the Outdoors in Pride & Prejudice and Mary Barton’ hears from Libby Tempest of the Gaskell Society and Lizzie Dunford of Jane Austen House as they discuss whether walking is a revolutionary act for women in Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice and Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton.

With the newly renovated home of ‘polite literature’ The Portico as their start point, the walks will take place in different parts of (mainly) central Manchester and the idea of walking for women being a radical act will be further explored in a panel event on 19 May. The Manchester Rambler, the ongoing fight for the right to roam and the appreciation of nature will be marked in a special folk music evening on 12 May, and there’s an online in-conversation between Anita and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas on 8 June.

Manchester born, Anita Sethi’s love of walking and nature first flourished in wild urban spaces in the Rainy City and beyond, and, as well as being the Portico’s Rambler in Residence, she has been Writer in Residence at Manchester Museum. Her Museum commission is displayed in the foyer of the newly reopened building.and the poem – called ‘We All Have Wings Within Us’ – is inspired, she explains, by ‘this amazing incense burner filled with all manner of wonderful wings, and also speaks to the power of the imagination to transport us all to worlds beyond’.

Anita Sethi is an award-winning broadcaster and journalist, writing columns, features and reviews for national and international newspapers and magazines including the Guardian and Observer. She is the author of the acclaimed book I Belong Here: A Journey Along The Backbone Of Britain, which was described as ‘a magnificent and redemptive achievement’ by The Bookseller, ‘a memoir of rare power’ by the Guardian, and ‘an amazing odyssey: inspiring, powerful, encouraging and incredibly brave’ by the Independent. It won a Books Are My Bag award, and was shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize for UK Nature Writing and the Great Outdoors Award. She has also been published in the anthologies Women On Nature edited by Katharine Norbury, The Wild Isles, Common People, the Seasons nature writing anthology, Seaside Special: Postcards from the Edge, We Mark Your Memory and Solstice Shorts, among others.

The Portico’s collection includes some of the earliest and finest examples of books that capture the benefits of walking, including volumes by Romantic poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, books on rambling around Lancashire, Yorkshire, Derbyshire and the Lakes, and books retracing the footsteps of writers, such as the Brontë sisters. The Portico’s Walking / Writing, Reading / Rambling residency is funded by the Zochonis Charitable Trust and 50% of all tickets for the walks are ‘pay what you can’ via Eventbrite donation.

I Belong Here by Anita Sethi
I Belong Here by Anita Sethi

A Walk Write-Shop with Anita Sethi at The Portico Library, Chinatown 22 April — 21 June 2023 Tickets from £10 Book now

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