Lawrence Illsley is a Cornish writer and the author of A Brief History of Trees. His writing is concerned with the ecology of place and the experience of loss.
After Lawrence’s mother died, he found solace in walking through woods and forests. He felt connected to his mother through the trees and it made him think about how she had always said she wanted to return as a tree.
This connection prompted Lawrence to read and research the history of trees in the UK. What he discovered – about the loss of woodland and the complex relationship between humans and forests – provided a metaphor for his grief and a way of talking about it with other people.
In the resulting book, eight narrative poems interweave his story of grief with a history of trees in the UK. It won the Live Canon Collection Competition and was published by Live Canon in October 2020. Lawrence has also won the inaugural Beyond the Storm poetry competition.