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23 February 2012


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Pam Johnson

Yes, Tammy, walks and workshops - great idea. Certainly some element of discussion, even if only, a panel discussion at end of the morning/afternoon, with all of the contributors lined up? Might not be too difficult to programme even given the time/budget constraints.


Thanks Pam, for posting this, and to Anne and Jane for their comments. Yes, completely agree that poetry would have been a fine addition to the weekend -- Alice Oswald's 'Dart' was certainly mentioned by at least one speaker, and there are local poets such as Pauline Stainer and Wendy Mulford who write about the East Anglian landscape who would have made wonderful contributions (not to mention the fact they're women!)

I also agree with Anne that the Jarman film felt slightly at odds with some of the weekend's themes (especially as Grant Gee's film 'Patience' was one of the great highlights of last year's festival). As with any weekend of this nature, there were highs and lows. The most interesting presentations came from Macfarlane, Warpole and Read, as I felt they all understood the focus of the weekend. It would have been excellent to have some more interactive events, such as walks and workshops. And perhaps more of an intensive focus on Deakin.

But, as someone who has attended both weekends, I applaud Gareth Evans and Aldeburgh Music for such excellent programming. Already looking forward to next year's event.

Pam Johnson

Yes, Anne, meant to say - the omission of anything about 1953 flooding was curious, particularly in the Estuary piece ... that storm/flood very much part of the history of Canvey Island...

Pam Johnson

Thanks Jane and Anne. Yes, Jane, poetry would be a great addition - perhaps at next year's Place weekend?

I've been thinking about the blokey aspect - why is it that so many men are walking around East Anglia and writing about it? Why aren’t these peregrinators heading for Lancashire? An equally interesting county with a coast.

I suppose the university triangle – Cambridge, UEA, Essex – and proximity to London. Few of these writers [Sebald, Macfarlane, Will self] are native East Anglians, apart from Worpole, I think.

Why men? Well, the old story I suppose: you can’t peregrinate and be back in time for the school run.

Although to be fair to the blokes there was much childminding by men going on over the weekend!


Thanks, Pam, for this account of a stimulating weekend. The real highlights for me were Robert McFarlane, Ken Worpole and Simon Read. The way McFarlane opened his talk with a recording of Deakin was very dramatic, an excellent curtain-raiser for the weekend. I’d been looking forward to this session anyway, having admired them both for a while. Worpole was a revelation, as I hadn’t come across him before. Read’s work was beautiful. I’d have liked more time to listen to him and look at his artwork.

I agree with Jane that the weekend felt very blokey, especially the Sinclair/Kotting gig. The Jarman film was not really so relevant to the theme, although some scenes were shot on the shore at Dungeness. It was powerful, but rather dated. (There should have been a warning about the film’s adult content, as many people thought it was going to be the documentary about Derek Jarman’s garden and there were children present. I noticed a lot of people walked out, and it wasn’t only because we were running late.)

It was a huge theme, inexhaustible really. Surprising to be in East Anglia talking about water and no mention of the 1953 flood. And why not one of Jason Orton’s more local photographs for the weekend wallpaper, instead of Morecambe Bay?

I really hope there will be another weekend next year. Yes, “drought” could be a broad theme – but the important thing is this rich multi-disciplinary approach. If anything, it would be good to have a chance to participate. Was there a walk I missed out on? Q & As with Keith Worpole? It would have been fantastic to have a workshop with Simon Read!

Excellent bookstall – I spent a fortune.


Excellent overview...maybe like water it was meant to slip past with some bits leaving us stuck in a banal and familiar swamp hoping to be rescued by the contagious enthusiam of Macfarlane, Worpole and the capable Kayaking of Manu Luksch following brilliant maps from Simon Read. Plus if the film had been edited leaving the memorable and important and new there would have been time for poetry...and more women contributors. It felt very blokey...

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