Welcome to the 2nd Open Mountain. A new voice in mountain and outdoor literature. A panel discussion with performance prose and poetry, our event will showcase people under-represented in the outdoors. 

Virtually Open Mountain: Space and Isolation


Open Mountain as a project is focused on inclusion in and connection with wild places, and on redefining mountain literatures and cultures to include voices and experiences often excluded or invalidated.

This year the phrase Open Mountain has taken on other connotations. The pandemic has thrown into sharp relief existing inequalities, including inequalities in access to green spaces and wild places, and access to literature and cultures around them.

The barriers to access that can block marginalised people from the mountains were expanded by lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders. In some places only those who live and work in and amongst the mountains could access them, whose experiences of rural life and work are rarely heard. Some people locked-down in urban centres found themselves with no access to green spaces at all, whilst others have found new joy in their local surroundings. Some people found themselves disallowed from leaving their homes. Some people found their homes were unsafe. Some people have been forced to take to the streets to ask for protection for Black lives. Some people have been forced to isolate completely to try and protect their lives. People have been forced to choose between isolation and togetherness: to second-guess which is most dangerous, which is most safe.

We want to open conversations about how we live with and in places in extraordinary as well as normal circumstances. We want to question what normal is, and what it could be.

People need to be able to recognise themselves in narratives about places to find a place in them, and to believe they can have a place in and with them. Open Mountain hopes to show what is already there, but often not seen: the rich and various connections people have with mountains and wild landscapes, and the rich and various worlds they find within them.

Submission Details

Submissions are sought for 10 five-minute performances slots. Open Mountain this year will be a virtual event on an online platform: performances can be pre-recorded but there will also be a live online discussion. Each performer will receive a fee of £50.

Submissions are invited from people who feel they are currently under-represented in mountain and outdoor literature, including Black writers, Indigenous writers, writers from ethnic, cultural and religious minorities, disabled writers, LGBTQ+ writers and low-income and working-class writers.

We welcome submissions in any genre and style – including poetry, spoken word, nonfiction and fiction – so long as they focus on place, nature and/or outdoor cultures.

How to Submit


  • up to 1000 words of prose or 2 pages of poetry.
  • 200-500 words introducing your work and why you think it fits the brief.
  • your name, address and email address.


Deadline: Midnight BST, October 25th 2020.

Email your entry as a single word document or pdf with the subject line ‘Open Mountain Submission’ to: paul@mountainfest.co.uk

10 selected writers will be informed on or by November 6
th 2020.

About Open Mountain

The first Open Mountain event ‘inclusion and connection’ was held at Kendal Mountain Literature Festival, 2019. Created out of a discussion with the poet Kate Davis we then developed it with the help of poet Polly Atkin and writer Anita Sethi. We sought submissions from people who consider themselves under-represented in mountain and outdoor literature, asking for responses to some questions about how they felt about the outdoors and nature writing:


  • How and where do you experience the natural world?
  • What does the idea of Open Mountain mean to you?
  • What are your experiences of exclusion and inclusion in the landscape?
  • What shuts you out of certain places or welcomes you?

Submission came in from around the world.


The event raised questions about who is allowed in or shut out of particular places and conversations about those places, and why. We want to change those conversations: to open the mountain to everyone.

Supported by the John Muir Trust, Judges Polly Atkin, Anita Sethi and Kate Davis discussed ‘Open Mountain'. The event raised questions about who is allowed in or shut out of particular places and conversations about those places, and why. We want to change those conversations.

The mountain is open to everyone.

We were overwhelmed and deeply impressed by the breadth, range, and quality of work submitted, and wished we could include more of it. We were delighted to invite to the stage : CMarie Fuhrman - co-editor of Native Voices,  an anthology of Native American poetry. Writer Claudine Tuotuongi, poet Asim Khan, walking guide and writer Ange Harker and author Kate Davies. We will be releasing an audio recording of it very soon.

About Kendal Mountain Literature Festival

Our literature festival is a chance to explore and celebrate our relationship and connection with landscape, nature, people, and place. We want to bring all that imagination and experience; whether embodied or virtual, to provoke, inspire, and ensure the survival of wilderness and creativity. Our diverse programme of events features some of the UK’s foremost authors of nature, landscape and mountain literature.