Skip to main content

The Red River: A Polluted River Explored Through Poetry

The Red River

Dr John Wedgwood Clarke

  • A creative-writing-led project exploring the history and contemporary significance of the Red River that runs between Camborne and Redruth
  • An exploration of environmental damage and recovery in the context of Cornish identities and the global impact of tin mining 

Red River: Listening to a Polluted River is a research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council through their Leadership Fellowship scheme, and led by Dr John Wedgwood Clarke of the University of Exeter. It explores how creative writing can transform our relationship to a polluted, post-industrial river, once central to the tin mining industry, through listening to the human and more-than-human voices that have shaped, and continue to shape, its course. Through intensive work with local community groups, school projects, guided walks and artistic collaborations, the project has tried to reveal this small river's rich significance of locally and globally.  

The combination of neolithic landscape, post-industrial economic deprivation, EU-funded environmental remediation, and the continuing growth in high-end tourism based on the image of Cornwall as a Romantic, rugged elsewhere, make the Red River a complex site through which to question what is wild and what is natural, beautiful and ugly, rubbish and valuable. We have many poems about beautiful rivers, but fewer about the polluted, post-industrial, invisible and ugly. This research project has sought to set that right.

>> See more of the Red River project at