exploring the relationships to sea over winter with local communities at Weymouth Library
libraries as cultural hubs writing residency 2019; a milestone in my project work and a joy
The Weymouth-on-Sea residency was a huge success and great fun, I will always be grateful to Pam from Libraries as Cultural Hubs, and Craig and Caroline the library managers and staff at Weymouth Library who fully supported my role and the residency events and loved writer’s corner as a beautiful residency space as much as I did. It was 3 months of joy to be there. The ripples have been long-lasting.
As the residency developed, Writer’s Corner became a cozy, colourful and stimulating dedicated community space for reading and writing with free writing materials, prompts, space to write, and a curated sea-themed bookshelf. Local writer’s offered their work to be displayed prompted and inspired by the themes of the residency.
“It gives one great encouragement to be supported like this, to see my own words on the wall of the
“Many thanks for all the hard work you have put in over the last 3 months. Everybody I have
met has been very impressed by the enthusiasm you have shown for the project. It would be
great if we could keep “Writers’ Corner” going so that local people could continue to keep
putting their work on the wall with pens and postcards etc”
“Thanks for this beautiful platform, long may it last!”
I provided over 400 blank postcards and encouraged visitors to write their reflections or
memories on the theme of Weymouth-on-Sea and relationship to the winter coast and life by the sea as an open call to action. I received over seventy-eight back which were on display in Writer’s Corner, and ‘found’ phrases from these were incorporated into my final collage and collaborative poem. 177 members of the local community participated in this plus residency happenings:
9 x 1:1 mentoring sessions/ 6 x workshops / 4 x reading cafes on sea themed literature/ 3 x months of being present as writer-in-residence/ 2x leaflets for the public Starting to Write and Riddles plus a final; exhibition of artwork and riddle trail through the library.
“Very useful to have warm and informed feedback, thank you Sarah” Michael Feilder
“Your invitation to the project made me look at Weymouth from a wider perspective and to
write a poem gave me a gift, as good as things can be, it opened my creative head.”
“This has made a big difference to me. Did I tell you I’ve been very ill? I don’t think of any
of that when I come and see you, you’ve really encouraged me and given me hope with my
My fellow writer in residence in Gillingham was Alan Ward:
The journey of the project has been an adventure into the unknown, as all creative projects should be. Many community groups came in to talk to me (library visitors, writers, swimmers and rowers), and the Harbour Master and Weymouth Sailing Club were involved. Perhaps the most successful partnership was with Weymouth Museum, who provided and wonderful display for the cabinet in Writer’s Corner filled with souvenir china and a model lifeboat to commemorate the 150 th Anniversary of the Weymouth Lifeboat. My thanks to David Riches, the then curator of the
My real legacy was far reach in community participation with diverse groups and the creativity that in all forms that resonated from Writer’s Corner: a creative space accessible for anyone to think, read, write and find inspiration and confidence. It was also a significant place-making project involving local communities who live and work near the sea in Weymouth during all of the town’s seasons, so many people use the library in winter for shelter/ company/ support and warmth. It is a vital service.
I was handed a postcard on my final day by a man who had been coming in regularly to chat
to me and take out books from the Writer’s Corner bookshelf, it simply said
“Sarah, thank you for being here for us.”
Writer’s Corner was my residency space decorated with charts and curated sea themed books – a place to sit and write with prompts and materials and workshops!