Braided Poetry: reading and workshop

10.00am – 11.30am, 10 March 2024

Witness the world premiere of a new braided text co-written by poet Rebecca Sharp and environmental humanities researcher and author Monika Szuba, weaving together observations and encounters with landscape, seasons and other beings between Scotland and Germany/Poland. Structured as a series of emails containing strands of text, images, and field recordings, this innovative work entwines the authors’ evolving perspectives on nature, art, and the imagination. The performance will be followed by a special workshop with Elodie Laügt.

This event was held in partnership with StAnza.

Rebecca Sharp is a poet, playwright and interdisciplinary artist from Glasgow, based in Fife, Scotland. In 2022-2024 she was the inaugural Artist in Residence with the Centre for Energy Ethics (University of St Andrews), during which time she researched and wrote the poetry collection Long Field Loop (Tapsalteerie 2024), supported by Creative Scotland and the CEE. Her collection Rough Currency (Tapsalteerie 2021) explores the poetics of oil and the imagination, receiving a Literature Matters Award from the Royal Society of Literature, and an Art of Energy Award with the Centre for Energy Ethics. The film of her poem Velella velella (Steve Smart, Alex South) was shortlisted for the Scottish Arts Trust’s Scottish Landscape Awards 2023 and exhibited at City Art Centre, Edinburgh.

Monika Szuba is a researcher and translator, Associate Professor in Literature at the Institute of English and American Studies, the University of Gdańsk and 2023 Landhaus Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich. Her research is concerned with modern and contemporary literature informed by environmental humanities, with particular interest in phenomenology. From 2011 to 2017 she was Deputy Director for Science at the International Between.Pomiędzy Festival of Literature and Theatre in Sopot. She is the author of two monographs, Contemporary Scottish Poetry and the Natural World: Burnside, Jamie, Robertson and White (Edinburgh University Press, 2019) and Landscape Poetics: Scottish Textual Practice, 1928-Present (Edinburgh University Press 2023).

I offer you a needle was co-written by Rebecca Sharp and Monika Szuba via a schedule of weekly emails between November 2023 and January 2024, including some images and sound recordings. The authors were supported by the Centre for Energy Ethics (University of St Andrews), the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society (Munich), and the Centre for Poetic Innovation. The text was first performed by the authors for StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival on 10th March 2024. A workshop accompanied the reading, co-designed and delivered by Elodie Laügt (CPI) and the authors, resulting in a new work co-written by participants, entitled ‘Braided encounters’, also published here.

I offer you a needle

Rebecca Sharp and Monika Szuba

Thursday 23 November

I offer you some needles,
falling from the firs outside my window.

Slow smoke signals
score the journey branch to ground

and prick inverted tensions –
for how could they do anything but this?

I offer you a needle, stitch a track towards
the edges of a needle-slanted world –

migrating geese who mend the sky
and carry all this with them, punctuate

the mist. I offer you a needle,
never mine to give.


Monday 27 November

givenness of trees
some last fronds
with short-stalk leaflets
fall from the walnut tree

being given
these offerings
bare branches
in interlaced strands

outside in the field
along the hedge
a flock of waxwings


Thursday 30 November

And what is it we’re gathering, do you think?

At the full moon, I found a single butterfly wing.
There lies another part long gone

inside the belly of a bat or bird.

And which side of the story is it, that fits
between my fingers?

What gets pressed
the more we try to pull apart?

In falling, barely, shedding
these reasonable deaths        we flock around this habit
of endings. And signs of resurrection,

if we think of endings this way.

Tentative, incandescent –
between thumb and forefinger, it’s:   good wing,
good wing.

And up to the sky, it’s:            good moon.


Monday 4 December

the moon

for light
to return


Thursday 7 December

Between remnant and revenant –
what’s left of the dream until next time.

I sat bolt upright in bed and spoke for several hours
about the ladder that was coming through my window
from a tower in the hedge outside.

In terms of waking, it was seconds. Staring, staring –
staggering my tongue in the dark.
It doesn’t feel like a rescue, I attempted –

somehow not even close.


Monday 11 December

three deer in the snow

train window view
fir tree
all beneath the snow

call and response
over and under the warp

a flock of long-tailed tits
in a snow-bound park
we are all


Thursday 14 December

Darkness marks the weave. I’m beginning
to notice my own habits.

Fallen fence-wire lines the roots of a tree,
lies metres beneath where it used to be –

a silent stave.


Monday 18 December

prisms of snow by the path
the air smells of thaw

river light silt green
fine freezing rain now

in the distance the drone of engines

a tyre left
on the forest track
still here
walking across the fields
birds spilling from the trees
merging and flowing

Thursday 4 January

Days have names        or so they say
I’m trying to remember.

First shoots emerging from mud
amidst weather warnings.

Days like yarn I’m trying to spool
keep slipping from my fingers.


Monday 8 January

snow, still
moss stitch
on the wire
mesh fence


Thursday 11 January

New moon.
A card arrives at my door –
Model of an apple flower

its rigid fragility,
petals that were laid open
in the mid-nineteenth century,

a cross-section shows where the seeds are –

messages of rebirth
in a loop-scripted hand.

Monday 15 January

on the terrace

firs in the snow
on the air

aeolian energies

behind the tree
slow blades
of a lone wind


Thursday 18 January

Articulations of air      subversions rendered

on the wing                 tuned in unison

as the turn comes       from below.


Monday 22 January

the light comes back
ground thaws
horse hoof prints
by tyre tracks
vestigial ice
on the path
rapid snowmelt
the mud soft


Thursday 25 January

Our tracks are scattered –

needles now branches
gathered after the storm.

Moon is full again
the O of an owl

perched on the fencepost
mirrors the light

as I pass – turns
tilts an open question


Monday 29 January

and so we pass
woven into
the air
the branch quivers
long after
the blackbird lifts
gathering ground
and the sky, too
and the trees