Get Involved

The Water Replies

The Water Replies

As part of Estuary 2021, we are inviting young people and teachers from across South Essex and North Kent to get involved in creating a collective response to what life is like living and working by the great and spectacular river that is the Thames Estuary.

Led by published poets Selina Nwulu (London Poet Laureate, 2015) and Caroline Bird (London Olympics Official Poet, 2012) the project invites to you write poetry, prose and lyrics capturing your relationship to the estuary and how living by the water impacts on the rhythms of your daily life. The resulting work will form a very visible part of the programme presented at Estuary 2021 through an exhibition/reading room, live events and as billboards and posters across the region.

There are multiple ways to get involved – all fully funded through Estuary 2021 and our partners:-

1. Creative Journaling (Open to participants until Autumn 2020)

2. A Guide To Teaching Contemporary Poetry (Released Autumn 2020)

3. Public Programme as part of Estuary 2021

Continue reading to find out more about each of these opportunities and book your place on our free creative workshops.

1. Creative Journaling
(Open to participants until Autumn 2020)

During the first three months of this year's lockdown, we sent 446 blank journals to individuals and families across the coastline, inviting creative responses to life along the water. There was no format to the journalling process - these have been completed with words, drawings, collage and thoughts in however the person taking part would like to do it.

To encourage new creative ideas, we hosted free artist-led workshops, originally hosted within arts spaces along the coastline, before being transferred to Zoom due to COVID-19.

These journals will be brought together to form a public exhibition for the duration of Estuary 2021, in venues on both sides of the river, celebrating the impact of the water on the daily lives of local people.

Participants who would like to return their journal for the exhibition :
We hope to receive the majority of journals by 1st August 2020.
If you need a little more time, please do get in touch. This deadline is flexible and we look forward to seeing your work.

Send your journal to your nearest Estuary site, in either Essex or Kent, using one of the addresses below.
Please remember to include a note with your name and email address.


To get in touch :

Metal (for South Essex journallers) : [email protected] / 01702 470700
Cement Fields (for North Kent journallers) : [email protected] / 01227 824350

Follow @EstuaryFestival and #TheWaterReplies on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to join in with the project online and connect with fellow journalers along the coastline.
Another way of connecting with fellow participants is via our private Facebook group.

FOR AN UPDATE about Creative Journaling, see HERE.

2. A Guide To Teaching Contemporary Poetry

In place of the creative training sessions we had planned before COVID-19's limitations, we are proud to be developing a poetry publication for teachers, guided and inspired by two amazing poets, Selina Nuwulu and Caroline Bird.

During the development of this book, we will be inviting teachers to share their insights and feedback on the content, providing a resource which will offer support and inspiration for an often overlooked part of the creative writing curriculum - contemporary poetry.

A copy of the book, or a digital PDF version, can be sent to you. It will feature questions, provocations, poems and suggestions for workshop ideas which you can put to use quickly within your classroom, applicable for primary, secondary, SEN and HE classes.

We will also have a pack of worksheets available to download for free online.

For more information and the dates of the upcoming workshops, please see HERE.

This pack will be released in the Autumn term of 2020.

To receive a FREE teachers pack later this year, or to express your interest in being part of the research group, please contact:
Metal (for South Essex schools) : [email protected] / 01702 470700
Cement Fields (for North Kent schools) : [email protected] / 01227 824350

3. Public Programme as part of Estuary 2021

We envisage that through this programme, wonderful work will be created by people of all ages who live and work along this amazing river that we all share. We are expecting the unexpected, thoughtful, funny, moving, short, long, momentary, mundane, extraordinary and everything in between. Brought together, we believe this project will create a ‘written picture’ - a fascinating insight into the people and the lives being lived by the Thames Estuary.

These physical artworks will be in place for the entirety of Estuary 2021.

The public programme will include -
1. An exhibition of all the poems, works and journals produced through our workshops, teachers pack, at home or elsewhere that people would like to contribute. On the South Essex side of the river, the venue for this exhibition will be Chalkwell Hall in Chalkwell Park. In North Kent, the venue will be confirmed shortly.
2. Excerpts of poetry and poetic prose will be selected to be shared on printed posters and mural sites, showcased across the landscapes of the estuary for the duration of the festival.

A huge thank you to the funders of this project

Metal Southend and Cement Fields aim to reach large numbers of teachers; thousands of young people; and at least 300 journalers across both sides of the river through The Water Replies, leaving a fantastic legacy which will continue to influence inspiring lesson content and poetry from young people in the coming years.

The project has been made possible through a number of partners on both sides of the estuary:

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport funds the Cultural Development Fund which is administered by Arts Council England.

Creative Estuary

Royal Opera House Bridge (workshops for teachers)

Essex Book Festival (who enabled us to include some workshops as part of our Essex Writers House programme)

Southend Borough Council and C2C (who are providing poster sites for the final artworks)

Support the project

There is still an opportunity for sponsors, funders and individual supporters to get involved - to expand the reach of the project to more young people - and to enable a larger showcase during the festival.
If this is of interest to you please do get in touch – [email protected] / 01702 470700

Image credits:
(top of page):  Jonathan Juniper, 2019
(Other images): Metal projects

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