Are you local to Rye Harbour?
I live in Northiam now, before that, Hastings. I moved to Hastings from Brixton in 2000 but grew up in a village in north Worcestershire.
You’re a regular visitor to the reserve?
Yes, to both Rye and Rye Harbour. On the reserve, I like the open space, sea, the whole feeling of the sky, the bird life. I’m not an expert at wildlife, but my brother is. He loves coming to the reserve when he visits. We were just talking the other day about how growing up in a village when we did (I’m in my 60s) meant we were fortunate enough to have freedom to wander. We’d go for long walks and the natural world was familiar to us. We were lucky enough to spend summers in the mountains in Wales. I love being outdoors, and I enjoy reading about nature, authors such as Robert MacFarlane and Kathleen Jamie.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your writing life.
I used to work in arts education, at the Stade and Old St Helen’s Church in Hastings. Then I started to spend more time writing. I did the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Sussex. A few years later, in 2014, my first novel, A Bird in the House, was published. I like writing flash fiction (very short stories, usually under 500 words). And I’ve just finished a novel set in a fictitious place that’s based on the Dungeness, Rye and Hastings coastline.
You’ve been coming to the creative writing workshops that we’ve been putting on. How have you found them?
They are great. I’ve never been on a workshop where you spend time outdoors in this way, then go inside to write, and with such good cake too [c/o the Avocet Gallery and Tearooms]! I have turned one of the poems I wrote, about the Mary Stanford lifeboat disaster, into a piece of flash fiction and sent it off to a site that publishes historical flash – fingers crossed.
What would you say to someone who was interested but nervous about coming to the workshops?
Everyone is at a different level or stage of writing, but it’s very friendly. Come along and see.
You’ve posted some of your poems on the Places of Poetry site?
Yes, that seems such a great idea. Different places have such distinct resonances. I’ve a friend in Swansea who posts poems about where he lives. It’s a lovely way to connect with both places and other writers. See here for the Places of Poetry site.
Do you think the new Discovery Centre will change your visits in future?
It will make them easier, especially in colder weather, to have somewhere to shelter, go to the loo and have a cup of tea. I hope it will make it easier for others to visit, from further away, who might otherwise have struggled to spend a longer time on the reserve. It should make it more accessible to diverse groups of all kinds, and that’s definitely a good thing.
Tell us something unexpected about yourself.
I’m a social activist. I’ve been involved with Friends of the Earth and part of the Aldermaston Women’s Peace Camp. I now do a lot of campaigning about Syria, as a political activist on behalf of refugees.
For details of the next creative writing workshop, see here
For more of Bronwen's work, see here