Earth Lines: Geopoetry and Geopoetics

Patrick Corbett, Norman Bissell, Philip Ringrose, Sarah Tremlett, Brian Whalley

Earth Lines is a compilation of poetry and essays on the broadest theme of geoscience. It combines geopoetry and geopoetics and an essay on the subtle differences. The historical appearance of geoscience in poetry is reviewed. Forty poems on themes of stratigraphy, geological process, geologists at work, geoidentity and geopoetics can be found. Essays recoding a geopoetry walk and the poetics of climate change. A geological perspective on Auden’s In Praise of Limestone concludes the volume.

The Earth is heart and centre of this book; what it means to people, how it influences people and how we have influenced it. Deeper appreciation of the planet-people interaction may come from reading these earth lines.

Earth Lines will be published by the Edinburgh Geological Society and partners in 2021

Patrick Corbett

Patrick is a geologist and poet. Born in Surrey he moved to Purbeck (Dorset) at a young age and grew up there. He developed a love of geology and worked as a professional and academic geologist for 35 years before retiring, when he took up poetry and returned to his roots. He is on the Board of the Scottish Poetry Library and is involved with the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics and the School of Poets in Edinburgh.

Patrick has degrees in geology, statistics and petroleum engineering from Exeter, University College London, Kingston and Heriot-Watt Universities. He is Professor Emeritus at Heriot-Watt University and has a strong interest in the University’s heritage and alumni (the latter as Vice President of the Watt Club). He is a Fellow of the Geological Society and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He has a strong interest in using poetry to improve the communication of geoscience and science in general (particularly with respect to Energy, Climate Change and the Anthropocene).

Bare Bones

2020, UK
Poet: Patrick Corbett

Yvonne Reddick

Yvonne Reddick is a poet, researcher and editor. Her latest book is Ted Hughes: Environmentalist and Ecopoet. She is an AHRC Leadership Fellow, researching poets’ responses to debates about the Anthropocene. Her interest in geopoetry springs from hearing tales of life offshore from her father, who was a petroleum engineer. Her recent creative work is based on the tension between her wish to remember his life and work, and her concerns about fossil fuels as a cause of climate change. Her poetry has appeared in The Guardian Review and her critical work in the Times Literary Supplement

Reading Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal

2020, UK

Read by Yvonne Reddick

‘I’m interested in finding adventurous women writers from the past whose footsteps I can follow in. Dorothy Wordsworth’s journals give us her perspective on everything from hillwalking to travels through Europe. I admire the vivid way she conjures up place – you feel as though you’re there in 1803, making your way up Arthur’s Seat with her! When I think about the ‘deep time’ of the volcano’s formation, I’m also reminded of the layers and lines of literary history that inspire me and many others.’

Phil Ringrose

Phil Ringrose has followed his interest in poetry in parallel to his professional career in geoscience, mainly by publishing poetry as a hobby through his online web site. Having lived in India, Scotland and Norway, and drawing on his career as an Earth scientist, including field work in the Sahara and Greenland, his poetry takes a highly global perspective asking questions about humanity, sustainability and our common future. Philip is currently a geoscientist with Equinor in Norway and Adjunct Professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Some time back he graduated with a BSc in Geology at the University of Edinburgh and a PhD from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow on the topic of post-glacial tectonics and seismicity.

The Bubble

Poet: Philip Ringrose
Film-maker: Miriam Ringrose

The Bubble is part of the ‘Earth from Outer space’ collection of poems and was inspired by the story of the collapse of Greek civilization in the setting of the rocks of the Acropolis in Athens and the magnificent Parthenon. The bubble analogy draws from the science of thin fluid membranes to capture the fragile yet inspirational nature of our modern human society. The filming was done on the shores of Trondheim Fjord in Norway.

Rachel Tennant

Rachel Tennant is a landscape architect, poet and photographer. Her profession has provided her with an experienced eye for the elements of landscape and design as well as an understanding of our interaction with the world whether natural or man-made world.

Rachel’s writing, art and photography is heavily influenced by the external environment. She aims to distil a physical and emotional response to a location that captures and renders the ‘spirit of a place’. For her it is hard to separate the words and the image from the place and more increasingly her work has combined all these art forms together.

Rachel’s work has been included in the Scottish Writers Centre 10 year anthology; Brushes with War pamphlet; Glasgow Review of Books; the Voluntary Arts Council publication My Time; part of a touring exhibition in the Screen Machine; The Quilter; the Glasgow Anthology Tip Tap Flat, Glasgow Women’s Poets anthology; Prole Magazine; Glasgow University’s Glasgow to Saturn; Evelyn Glennie’s website; and the Gladrag.

Orkney Stories 1-3

2020, UK

Poet: Rachel Tennant

I revisited the Orkney mainland in October 2020 after more than a ten-year absence. I was once again struck by the power and beauty of the landscape which is imbued with an incredible sense of history and time. It is palpable – from the ragged coastal cliffs pounded by a daily onslaught of the sea to soft rounded patchwork fields edged with neat, rounded Orkney stone walls and always the brooding shape of the high hills on Hoys as a backdrop – all washed by such a magical and clear light. Interwoven and intricately layered within the land is the story of its ancient self, its very creation and the waves of people who lived and interacted with the landscape leaving their own patina.

The Orkney Series is a set of 9 video poetry pieces based on my reflections and the impact that island made on me following that visit.
Brough of Birsay is a dramatic and beautiful island off Brough Head on the North West coast of the Mainland continually pummelled by the Atlantic. It has been inhabited since before the Picts and is only reached by a causeway at low tide. It is easy to imagine the sanctuary, for all its meanings and reasons, that the island bought to the waves of different settlers. Its Norse name, Byrgisey, means Fort Island. All that remains active is the lighthouse and the colonies of sea birds. Yet the layers of the lives of its previous inhabitants remain a strong presence which is essentially what this piece is about along with the drama of the island’s location.

The pandemic had closed much of the tourist industry except for those living in the same Tier system and unusually Skara Brae at the Bay of Skaill was deserted. There was nothing but the sound of the waves and seabirds and bright bursts of sunlight washing over sand and this neat stone and turf roofed village. Its disappearance and reappearance through storm action is as astonishing as observing the exposed intricacies of the lives of the people that lived here before the Pharaohs of Egypt. I wanted to catch that sense of time caught – like a snapshot.

The presence of the sea is continuous. Its brutal onslaught has helped shape the Orkney Islands dramatic coastline which in turn reflects its base rock. The Old Man of Hoy is created from the scouring of the ocean to create inlets (Geo’s) that in turn become separated as sea stacks. When I first visited Orkney, I cycled across Hoy to experience the famous sea stack. As I approached this giant toothy rock a helicopter landed on its summit for a few seconds and flew off. This to me, along with its ascent by climbers, epitomised the stacks slow, steady decline but with it a fighting resistance of the sea to remain.

Sarah Tremlett

Sarah Tremlett
Sarah Tremlett MPhil, FRSA, SWIP, Bristol Poetry Institute Partnerships Board Member is a poetry filmmaker, poet, artist, curator, theorist and author of The Poetics of Poetry Film (Intellect Books and The University of Chicago Press). Presenting her work worldwide, she is co-director of Liberated Words Poetry Film Events, and editor of Liberated Words online. Her project Tree is a geopoetic family history, poetry and poetry film journal across different periods and locations.


2020, UK

Poet: Sarah Tremlett
Film-maker: Sarah Tremlett

Firewash as both a poem and poetry film is a poetic apostrophe, centering on an intuitive response to an ancestor who mined at a site where there was manganese, in Cornwall in the 12th century. The poem first evolved whilst staying at the same location during a gale; and is taken from Tree a geopoetic family history and poetry film project, across different periods and locations.