Friday 21st May 2021 to
Saturday 12th June 2021
The Water Replies is a participatory journaling and creative writing project, being shaped and led by poets Selina Nwulu and Caroline Bird.
The project has been inviting creative responses in the form of journals from people of all ages living in the towns and villages along the estuary coastlines of Essex and Kent. 450 journals have been sent out to capture life by the estuary with words and images since March 2020 - just before the first UK lockdown was announced.
The feeling of connection to the estuary among those taking part has given the project heightened significance and importance for many during this first, and subsequent lockdowns.
An online archive : Watch here.
We have now received these journals back, to share with you as part of our festival programme. Covid-19 restrictions mean that it is impossible for us to exhibit the books as a seires of reading rooms in venues across Kent and Essex. Instead, each book has been carefully filmed for audiences to read through and enjoy.
Posters and murals
Alongside, a series of painted murals with quotes taken from selected journals and designs to create posters to share across bus-stops, on buses, at railway stations and shop windows will pop up across the estuary geography.
A rotating selection of the original journals will be on exhibition via window displays at Chalkwell Hall (Metal's HQ in Chalkwell Park, Southend on Sea). Come and see first hand the colour, emotion, commitment and inventiveness of our creative journallers.
A small selection of the original journals will also be on display at both Chatham and Rochester Libraries throughout Estuary 2021. Medway Libraries’ local history collections include books by authors who celebrate the Thames Estuary and the Medway. All you need is a library account to borrow and/or download books and enjoy your own journey along the waterfront through a writer’s eye, plus many magazines about boats, birds or fishing that your library card lets you download at no cost. To start your library voyage, visit Medway.gov.uk/libraries. And if that’s not enough, you could put pen to paper and create a 3-line Haiflu of favourite Medway places and places – find out more on the @MedwayLibraries Facebook page.
The Water Replies - publication and future plans
As part of this project, Caroline and Selina created a publication, The Water Replies: Notes on Teaching Contemporary Poetry. Our original plan had been to work within schools and with young people across South Essex and North Kent to write poetry in response to the Thames Estuary, guided and inspired Selina and Caroline. This plan became unstuck when schools across the UK closed as Covid-19 became a reality and we had to look for a new way to continue The Water Replies. This book developed, in direct consultation with teachers and written by Caroline and Selina. It is designed to inspire and support the creation of poetry with school pupils - but can be used by anyone interested to give poetry a go. It is a beautiful set of provocations, thoughts, ideas and some original works selected by Selina and Caroline designed to release the poet in all of us.
Download a digital copy for free - available HERE.
Or buy a copy via our online shop - link HERE.
Teaching staff / educational facilitators are invited to request a free copy. Please get in touch via the contact details below.
To accompany the book, we have also put together an online collection of worksheets, poems and teaching resources suitable for a broad range of ages, subjects and abilities.
To download all our free resources to accompany the book, click here.