Getting creative at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

Getting creative at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve
Voices of Rye Harbour group

Some might find the idea of writing "poetry" nerve-wracking. But, in the right environment and with some good support, creative writing can be fun, as well as a great way to understand and engage more with the natural world.

Reserve Manager Barry Yates, who has never written a poem before, talks to us about what it was like going along to the Voices of Rye Harbour workshops:

"The group met up, then, to begin with, we all went for a walk on the reserve, led by one of the two poets involved with the project, Susan Richardson and Jane Lovell. The idea was that we'd concentrate on something in the landscape and try to look at our surroundings with a different perspective. We were given a theme designed to help us think about what we were hearing and seeing. 

I decided to write my first ever poem about the amazing bird, the Avocet, and this was what I came up with:

Avocet poem

On the next workshop, the theme was 'colour'. 

It was a windy day, and when we were near the Red Hut, I heard an Oystercatcher's "peep peep peep", telling us off for coming too close to its nest and eggs. I noticed that the colours of the Oystercatcher and the Red Hut were similar and made some notes. 

Oystercatcher And Chicks©Barry YatesSussex Wildlife Trust

Once we were back at the cafe with coffee and delicious scones, we had the chance to sit and think, then write down some of our thoughts. This was the poem I wrote:

Black, white and red,
the Oystercatcher scolds us.
It has hidden two fragile pebbles
amongst the hard shingle
close to the hut that is...
black, white and red.

Those of us who wanted to, then read out what we'd written. 

I found the group friendly and nurturing. Some people had creative writing experience, but others, like me, didn't.

Writing group

I also found thinking about what to write, calm and peaceful. The process took over my entire mind, and things that have been troubling me were shelved for three hours.

Finding the right words could be tricky, and it was really interesting to see that other people saw the world in a different way to me.

Jane encouraged us to use the Places of Poetry website where people can find poems written about particular places.

I think poetry helps you think. And it helps you function better, trying something new. I felt nervous beforehand, but the moment I'd overcome that, I felt good. It's a very supportive atmosphere. 

And it's been great to introduce an element of creative writing to the reserve. We don't want to lose momentum, so look out for future developments!"

Jane Lovell organised a series of events at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve under the theme of 'Voices of Rye Harbour' as part of June's 30 Days Wild campaign. These are supported by the Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, and each session ended in the lovely Avocet Gallery and Tearoom. 

People who came along raved about the excellent coffee and scones, and Avocet Gallery and Tearoom owner Morgan tells us she enjoyed hosting the events. 

From such excellent beginnings, we are hoping to keep a creative writing group going in future - and when the Discovery Centre is open, it will become a hub for groups and workshops such as this.

Leave a comment