Nimue Nimue Brown writes poetry, fiction and non-fiction and is co-creator of the Hopeless Maine graphic novel series. She lives in Stroud, Gloucestershire.

I’ve written poetry every since I could hold a pen and in my early childhood scratching, the natural world featured heavily. It was what I cared about. It’s still a very large percentage of what I care about and write about.

I write nature poetry because I want to bring the wild world to people who may be disconnected from it. In practice my current poetry isn’t about ‘nature’ in a broad sense, but about specific details. Encounters with otters, incidents on walks, how I feel about certain hills… I want to name things and be precise and evoke them for other people. I want to write things that will encourage others to look more closely at the world they live in.

Nature isn’t away in some pristine distant place. Nature is with us in our towns and cities. I write about urban foxes sometimes. I have a lot of encounters with them, and also with local deer, who wander through the industrial estates sometimes, moving between the woodland around the cycle track and the wilder bits of land alongside the canal.

As I walk for transport, I encounter wild things most days. I don’t go out looking for material for poems, but if something strikes me while I’m walking, I’ll think about it. If a few words line up, I’ll find some time to sit down with a pen and see what I can make of it. When I was younger I tended to write in the heat of emotions. These days I like to take my time and ferment and simmer ideas over a period of days before I try to get them down. I usually do a few re-drafts.

I like poetry as a way of connecting people with everything else –it’s easy to emote and in this form, narrative isn’t necessary. I can use words to give a sense of other living beings as distinct individuals living their own lives for their own reasons. Humans objectify the rest of life on Earth, treating other sentient beings as objects for our use and consumption. I don’t want to write nature poetry that contributes to this – if we dwell on the picturesque surfaces, on how we benefit from nature, on nature as exotic and separate, we can write about it while pedalling all the wrong things.

I hope what I write encourages people not to view everything non-human as a consumable. Be it the weather, or a landscape, or an encounter with a bird, I want to place humans in the contact of everything else, as participants, but not owners or users. Sometimes I’m subtle about this, other times less so. This is a recent example of my work that pulls together much of what I’ve been talking about here – the specific-ness of the encounter, the sense of human participation in the natural world, and avoiding the feeling of being a user or consumer of ‘nature’ or of ‘nature’ being a utility for human benefit.

We look at each other

I look at the otter, and, wondrously, the otter looks at me.
I do not wish to objectify the otter so will speak of her, as she.
I neither wish to misgender, a fellow mammal either;
Size, and sightings suggest range, suggesting a female.

She is hunting opposite an industrial estate in winter dawn.
On a week day, she is eating something yards from me.
And she looks back, dark eyes intense and interested.
Exploring me, contemplating my role and presence.

I look at nature a lot. I pay attention, observe and spot.
Watch for wildlife, tree tending, fish finding, moth marvelling.
It is one thing to stand outside and look at nature,
Another to stand inside nature, to be seen as well as seeing.

When nature looks back and you are not alone, but witnessed,
When nature looking back ceases to be generic, becomes specific.
This deer resting beneath this hedge, this heron gazing critically
This swan in search of seed offerings, and today
This otter who takes interest, watches the watcher.

When eyes meet mine and I am another spirit of place,
Another denizen of the land, encountering, then ‘nature’ is me
And I am as much nature as the tree above me or
The robin in the tree inches from my face.

I am in this place, and this place is in me
Robin, and tree, and otter and me
And we look at each other.

I blog regularly at – which sometimes includes poetry.

You can buy my collection Mapping the Contours here – and here’s a video of me reading the title poem –

For anyone really keen on my stuff, Patreon supporters get a poem in the first week of each month.