Going on a nature poetry walk is such a beautiful, rejuvenating, and mindful experience. I’ll never forget going on nature poetry walks with my father when he was alive; every walk was an adventure that will always have a special place in my heart. I would be asked to spot wildflowers each spring. He’d talk in whispered tones as he pointed out the birds, insects, and neon yellow and orange blooms. He let me lead the way on hikes, climb on fallen trees, and skip stones in the river. My favourite spot would be the area in the woods, around an inviting study tree, two kilometres away from home. I loved how calming it was to sway back and forth in the breeze while crafting my poem after the walk.
My father used to say that the main goal of a nature poetry walk is to soak in the beauty of our surrounding environment and then turn that experience into something creative that we can treasure.
Writing poetry is one of the oldest, most tried-and-true methods of fostering a more meaningful relationship with the natural world. Writing poetry requires inspiration, and nature is the perfect backdrop for many to find that spark.
Last Sunday, poet Madhu Raghavendra, along with 11 like-minded people, embarked on a nature hike at the Encamp Adventures Khanapara hillside camp. There were students, corporates, creative professionals, and even a psychotherapist who were looking to break the monotonous routine and connect with nature.
There were a few scenic stopovers during the three-kilometre walk; Pablo Neruda, Langston Hughes, Raymond Carver, Mary Oliver and few of Madhu’s own poems were read in silence. On the way back, the participants shared how they felt about the narratives and the emotions related to it.
Madhu, the author of three poetry books – ‘Make Me Some Love To Eat’, ‘Stick No Bills’, and ‘Being Non-essential’, uses poetry as a tool to advocate human and environmental rights.
“Poetry helps us feel. Poetry helps us express. Poetry helps us be mindful. Poetry helps us heal. Given the pandemic lockdowns and the mental health challenges we have battled this year, one way to seek and reclaim life is the bathe in nature and poetry. Poetry is the placenta that nourishes the world. One may belong anywhere, to any profession or practice, they may have nothing in common, yet each one has their own unique song. Turning to poetry may help tune into our own song and develop a mindful way at looking at life,” he says.
The need for a peaceful walk in the woods and have a meaningful discussion with like-minded people is rare, and an experience in itself, and the need for it cannot be overemphasized given our stressful lives. The walks do not necessarily have to be long, just enough to deliver what we need: a touch of nature. Being immersed in nature allows us to feel calm and grounded. It’s like hitting a “reset” button, bringing us back to square one, whatever square one may be. I always find that there’s an incredible relaxation that comes from stepping foot into nature; a feeling of serenity that doesn’t seem able to be replicated by any other activity.
At the end of the walk, participants gathered to attend a brief interactive workshop on journaling and writing poetry.
Madhu plans to host the next nature poetry walk in January in collaboration with Encamp Adventures, a tech-travel venture, acknowledged by Startup India and Assam Startup’s COHORT. Make time to step outside and walk through nature. Let your mind wander along with your body, however make a point to pay attention to whatever pieces of life you may come across. Study the shape of a tree or the sound of wind. Be silent and let yourself be calmed by the sky above and earth beneath your feet.
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