We began with a ‘seeding’ exercise: a quick list of beach memories.
Next we did some sound scavenging: recording all the sounds that we heard over the space of a couple of minutes, including speech, (loud lady at the next table of the beach cafe was quoted extensively!) with an emphasis on capturing the quality of the sound in writing - phonetically or through onomatopoeic choices. Turns out that Brighton is very noisy.
This was followed by a curated beach museum where we each selected 3-4 ‘objects’ - (pebbles/shells/seaweed/driftwood/debris) and created a strange exhibition of imagined curiosities. Each object was given a title plaque and an imaginative, sometimes improbable history. Butcher catering pins were a useful prop for display in a collection that included such treasures as the rare and precious porous bone fragments of the splintosauraus; early Sussex invaders’ armour, Mesolithic thumb jewellery, a fragment of Circe’s tunic woven on her infamous loom, and Javan wood remains from the esteemed work of an eighteenth century Sussex craftsman.
For additional stimulus we read Australian poet Deb Westbury’s shells, published in the anthology Mouth to Mouth in 1990, which uses beach memories to explore ideas about aging before settling down for a longer session of using any 'finding/s' as a prompt for further writing.
Finally, after sharing some poignant writing that all seemed to explore childhood memories (though in very different ways), we did some ‘instant publishing’ by leaving poetry pebbles, containing a few words or lines of what we had written, for someone else to find later on the beach.
NWP Sussex group leader