Today – snow – after even having to take off my outer layers when walking to the seafront yesterday! It was a shock to open the blinds to it this morning, but a bit of a treat to get the estuary views in clear sunlight and then snow in the space of two days.
Yesterday I finished off a day of writing by listening to some poets at the Sundown Arts’ event I am Looking for Words. Let’s just say I laughed – a lot, especially at Rachel Pantechnicon. I don’t think I’ve heard anything quite like it in poetry circles, in a surreal, ground-breaking type of way. I need to hear or read about the Cheesegrater Leg-Iron Lion again! Molly Naylor was another of my highlights on a completely different level. She read some observant and moving poetry from her new book Badminton, published by Burning Eye Books.
On a snow day it was appropriate that I was spending time indoors. I attended Situated Practice: a one day creative writing course relating to place, at Metal with celebrated author Lee Rourke. The day was spent examining the traits and mechanisms of writing that evokes a clear sense of place. It was really good to meet new people and learn from each other and Lee (who was a mine of wisdom and information). I took on the task of writing a short piece evoking the fenlands back home, something that I feel better equipped to do as a result of the day.
In the lunch hour, I did a ten minute reading slot in Café Valise at Metal, reciting some of my more recent poetry. It was good to get some positive feedback from the listeners.
It’s been a pretty sociable day! I went out in the early evening to an Italian street-food restaurant with my fellow resident Veronique Chance. Veronique is an artist on sabbatical from university lecturing and is developing a piece of work on running – investigating the body’s response to its environment through it. She relays pictures and tracks her runs as part of the process and is working towards running from the source of the Thames to the sea. It was great to chat over pasta and a glass or two of red about her incredibly interesting project.
We returned quite noisily right at the start of another event – Exotic England: The Making of a Curious Nation, with Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. A leading commentator on race and human rights with multiple television and radio appearances to her name, Yasmine examined the curiosity the English have always had for other civilisations. She read from her recent book and endowed everyone with the sense of the richness that England had always craved and gained especially from Eastern nations, and the relationship between them spanning centuries of history. Lots and lots to think about.
Being in residence at Chalkwell Hall has been extremely worthwhile. It’s been so good to have time to develop ideas, be stimulated by workshops, performance and discussion and to be still and draw from the environment. I feel like I’ve benefited from several weeks’ worth of input in relatively few days. It’s been great to be here – thank you Metal