‘Lucy Burnett: many-minded poet, extraordinary photographer & fellrunner’ (Jonathan Skinner, 2021)
Hello, and thanks for visiting my website! My name is Lucy Burnett, and I’m a freelance writer and photographer, researcher, outdoor activities professional, and Director of StAnza International Poetry Festival. I’m originally from South West Scotland, but currently live in Cockermouth, Cumbria.
I’ve got four published books – two poetry collections with Carcanet Press (Leaf Graffiti 2013 and Tripping Over Clouds 2019), one poetry collection with Guillemot Press (one step sideways and 13 down 2021) and a ‘hybrid’ work of travel writing with Knives Forks and Spoons Press (Through the Weather Glass 2016).
I’m also a fine art / landscape photographer with a strong emerging profile – I’m currently in the process of designing a new writing & photography website which will include a more extended photography portfolio than is available here. In the meantime you can also see recent examples of my work on my project website www.scree.uk.
I was appointed Director of StAnza, the longstanding annual international poetry festival in St Andrews, on 1st April 2021. During my tenure I aim to both provide a forum for extending poetry – for it to be seen as a key intervention in its practice – plus to help more people ‘get poetry’ through innovations like the Poetry Gallery (watch this space!) I have also received Arts Council and Lake District National Park Authority funding to develop a major project called Scree: A Digital Guidebook to the Lake District Fells over the course of 2021 and 2022. This project takes an innovative approach to guidebook writing: its participative route experiments are less interested in scenery or peak-bagging, and instead work as artistic provocations which aim to challenge how we approach this landscape entirely.
Prior to turning freelance, I worked as a University lecturer in Creative Writing at the Universities of Salford, Strathclyde, Leeds Beckett and Cumbria. During this time, my research specialised in the relationship betewen literature and the environment, with a specific focus on the relationship between writing and climate change. I continue to develop this research as it relates to my artistic practice, and to provide tutoring and mentoring for organisations such as Arvon and Dadafest. Before returning to academia, I worked as an environmental campaigner for Friends of the Earth and Ramblers Scotland, including playing a key role in the Scottish access legisation. I’m a qualified mountain leader, and have a small mountain guiding business which sits alongside my art, and I get out in the fells – running, hiking, making art or on my bike – at every opportunity.
My practice traverses artistic boundaries, characterised by a playful experimental aesthetic, and with environmental themes a common preoccupation. My recent work derives from an interest in the potential of abstraction, understood as the raw unformed matter (of possibility) from which the world , and ourselves, are reciprocally formed (and unformed). Over recent years my interest in different artistic practices has led me to work across and between disciplines and forms. In addition to my writing and photography, I toured an interactive art installation version of Through the Weather Glass around UK book festivals and other public spaces in 2016 with the support of Arts Council England and Leeds Beckett University. I also love collaborating, and have worked with OBRA Theatre Co on co-writing a work of poetry for physical theatre and developing a methodology for ‘teaching’ poetry through movement. During 2019 I worked with internationally renowned Kattak dancer Mitul Sengupta as part of the Arts Council funded Dancing with Words project.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch about my work, to approach me for potential projects or collaborations, or to purchase books.
‘Lucy Burnett’s poems involve us in a vivid experience of the self in landscape and language, moving playfully but with an intensity that at times leaves us breathless and amazed…And what fabulous photos – she should be winning awards.’ —Grevel Lindop
‘There is something of Dylan Thomas in the exuberant wordplay and feeling for place, and something of W.S. Graham in her exploration of language and landscape as the twin territories within which we live… Burnett’s subjects are serious ones, but her poems are joyful to read, revelling in the endless possibilities of language and of the world itself, ‘in whatever colour you might come’.’ —Helen Tookey