In a couple of months, as April converges with May, I'll be donning my galoshes, salopettes and sou'wester and taking to the water, as I have been lucky enough to have been picked for one of the Writers Residencies on board the rainbow-hued narrowboat Furor Scribendi. This forms part of my research for the Lancashire Stories project, for which I have been commissioned to contribute a piece relating to water and waterways; I'm currently exploring lighthouses and the lives of lighthouse keepers, and thinking about shipwrecks and shorebirds, tidal bores and coastal flora…
Picture, above: Studio Morison, The RV Furor Scribendi, part of Small Bells Ring, 2020.
Photography by Charles Emerson. Image courtesy the artists.
In related news, my poem about the painter Joan Eardley's seascapes at Catterline, where she lived up to her death, has just been published in the All Becomes Art anthology to celebrate the centenary (last year) of her birth, complete with a ripple-like blue cover – a slightly more recent version (with the inexplicably missing line breaks reinstated) will appear in a third pamphlet I've been chipping away at, and I'll be reading this and other watery pieces at an immersive art reading at Cheadle Village's Greenhouse Books on the afternoon of Sunday 13 March...
So, back to my residency afloat Furor Scribendi, I'm hoping to re-spark the strange feelings of bobbing about up and down and from side to side and the unique sounds and patterns and colours tied up with being so close to the water. We'll see what comes of it!
Here's a bit more about The RV (Research Vessel) Furor Scribendi... she's a fully functioning sculptural narrowboat operating as a living research vessel and a retreat for writers and readers, housing a floating library of short stories for members of the public to visit and borrow books from. Furor Scribendi forms part of Small Bells Ring, an artwork created by artists Heather Peak and Ivan Morison of Studio Morison, and co-commissioned by Super Slow Way and Coventry City of Culture Trust in collaboration with Lancashire and Coventry Library Services and their communities, and Canal & River Trust and British Council. In 2021, Small Bells Ring joined the Coventry City of Culture celebrations (you might have heard a feature about it on BBC Radio 4's Front Row in September) and, in 2022, the project will cruise the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, the longest canal in Britain built as a single waterway.
Check out @Superslowway on Twitter, Super Slow Way on Facebook and @smallbellsring on Instagram for more on the project as a whole and the Small Bells Ring Writers Residencies.