Liz MacWhirter

University of Glasgow

'Blue: A Lament for the Sea'; A Creative-Critical Paper"


Liz MacWhirter is an award-winning writer pursuing a DPhil in Theology through Creative Practice at the University of Glasgow. She is researching intersections between trauma theology and the medieval mystic Julian of Norwich through writing a hybrid verse novel. Liz has presented creative- critical papers in the UK, Finland and the Netherlands, funded by the University of Glasgow and Publishing Scotland. Her debut novel, 'Black Snow Falling' (Scotland Street Press, 2018), launched to critical acclaim and was nominated for the Carnegie Medal. As a copywriter her work has been recognised by 23 creative industry awards for originality and impact.

Paper Abstract

How can a landscape find voice? What happens when a prophecy is spoken over a 'sacred' island for a thousand years, foretelling escape from an apocalyptic sea-flood? How may lament with hope engage with reality, as distinct from 'hope' that glosses over our grief? This creative-critical paper explores these liminal uncertainties brought to speech through the poetics and theopoetics of 'Blue: a lament for the sea', a long verse narrative by an award-winning writer. Ecological grief is woven into the academic intersections of trauma theology and the contemplative medieval theology of Julian of Norwich. Trauma theology, following Professor Shelly Rambo, invites a generative bearing witness to 'wounds'. In Julian's incarnational theology, the 'wound' becomes a site of crossing. Nature becomes a paradoxical gateway to divine love without negating fragile material reality. At the end of her nuanced argument, while there is no refuge from suffering, suffering has no refuge from love. Julian's contemplative holding of complexity and loss, this paper suggests, provides us today with a framework for ecological grief with a lamenting hope that can engender action. In hyperreal autofiction, 'Blue', a woman swims off the island of the prophecy as she laments the climate crisis; the landscape responds. 'Blue' asks, what newness may be birthed? This forms a strand of an interdisciplinary PhD project exploring trauma and loss, in the ground- breaking research programme 'Theology through Creative Practice' at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK.