Bereavement is hard at any age, but perhaps especially for young adults; why not help to Kickstart a new poetry comic book and be part of a project to help them cope with loss?

For many, many people, the past year has been one of grief.

For young people the loss of a loved one can be particularly difficult. Stories often help us come to terms with new experiences, be those experiences good or bad, but until now there have been few about loss and death.

Now Edinburgh writer and poet, Russell Jones, (Cocoon, Umbrellas of Edinburgh, Shoreline of Infinity) and illustrator and comic maker, Aimee Lockwood, (Devil Dogs, Daydream, Cocoon) have secured funding from Creative Scotland to produce a poetry comic on the subject.

“It’s …..about grief, nature, imagination and survival.”

The Wilds tells the story of a teenage girl struggling with the grief of losing her mum. Running away from home, she escapes into a fantastical Scottish forest and there meets a talking bear who helps her to process her loss. The bear teaches her how to survive in the natural world, fight the darkness that stalks her, and process her grief. He shows her that she is not alone.

A story investigating the power of nature to bring about recovery, The Wilds is based on a 13-poem series by Jones, illustrated in full colour by Lockwood. One poem is made from quotes about bears from famous books, another is in the shape of a bee, and a third echoes the characters’ footsteps; Lockwood’s beautiful illustrations link the poems together to create a complete narrative.

Here is one of the poems, runaway, read by Debbie Cameron:

The Wilds will be published as a 52-page, full colour, bound paperback by Tapsalteerie, an award-winning Scottish poetry publishing house based in Tarland, Aberdeenshire. Tapsalteerie produces an eclectic range of publications across the Scots, Gaelic and English languages, with a focus on new poets and innovative writing. Tapsalteerie is run by Duncan Lockerbie, who will be helping to print and distribute all books and rewards.

Creative Scotland will generously support completion of the poetry and art work, so funding is now needed solely for printing and distribution costs. Those who pledge financial support can (depending on the amount offered) claim rewards ranging from a copy of the book, a sticker set based on the story, cover art,  a piece of original art inspired by the comic, and/or a custom-written poem; they can also elect to send a second copy of the book to a school library.

Written in consultation with the Group for Young People at charity Child Bereavement UK, The Wilds will be just as good a read for adults as for young people. If you are able to help fund the publication of this beautiful and much-needed book, of if you‘d simply like to read more about it, visit the Kickstarter page here. The campaign, which has already attracted over £1,600 in pledges, needs just £360 to reach its goal, which has a deadline of 15 July 2021.

Child Bereavement UK offers bereavement support to children and young people (up to the age of 25), parents and families, and training to professionals to help them to provide the best possible care to bereaved families. For more information click here or call their helpline on 0800 02 888 40.