The Living Letters: Animal Perspectives


NEW DATE, Monday 1 June, 6pm-7.15pm

Venue: “Zoom Room”

All proceeds go to keeping the doors open…

Led by writer and animal studies scholar Saskia McCracken, this workshop continues our ‘Living Letters’ environmental series, a reading and writing group dedicated to all aspects of the natural world. Here, we will explore the representation of animals in literature.

In his essay ‘Two Bestiaries’ (1962), W.H. Auden notes that animals in literature are usually symbolic, either as similes or allegorical emblems, or as props for the ‘romantic encounter of man and beast’. Human concerns, rather than animals themselves, are often at play.

To think further about this theme, we will read a selection of six poems (downloadable with workshop ticket). If you don’t have time to read them all please don’t worry, we’re mainly going to focus on ‘The Fish’ by the American poet Marianne Moore.

We will also discuss how to write animal perspectives, considering voice, motive and sensory approaches.

At the end of the session we will share some writing prompts. We have chosen not to do any writing during the online session to avoid Zoom fatigue, but participants are welcome to share their creative writing via the Facebook Outwith page.

Saskia McCracken is a member of the British Animal Studies Network. She is completing a doctoral thesis on animal tropes in the works of Charles Darwin and Virginia Woolf, and has transcribed the earliest draft of Woolf’s biography of a spaniel, Flush: A Biography. Her creative writing has been published in Datableed, Zarf, Front Horse, SPAM, Epizootics!, Adjacent Pineapple, the New Writer and more.

For any queries please email