You may have noticed a poem on the wall at Pells this week. Called “Sorry to Interrupt Your Peace” by Lewes-based poet and painter Martin Gayford, it is first in a number of prose and poem selections made by our writer-in-residence Tanya Shadrick to go on display this season.
“I loved Martin’s first collection I Forgot to Tell You I Enjoyed That Sandwich, and initially wanted to use a cut-up poem from it in which film-director David Lynch talks about allowing ideas to ‘just swim.’ But at the last minute I went for this one instead.”
It isn’t an obvious choice. There is only one oblique reference to ‘the outdoor pool.’ Why did she go for this rather than a piece using the Pells or other outdoor water as its focus?
“The glancing reference to the pool made me smile. Not everyone spends long hours beside it each day as I and the lifeguards do. But it is nonetheless, for many adults and children in town, a landmark. A place where families plan to meet; or – as in Martin’s poem – a space where a person starts to spend more and more spare or stolen hours, a bit like a love affair that takes over.”
Tanya also likes the title of the work. “This might have been the sub-title for my residency: Sorry to Interrupt Your Peace. Any form of public art can feel like that, and especially in Britain. I hesitated to begin writing daily at Pells, in case other pool-goers felt I had disturbed the atmosphere. But of course my being here is also making good new connections happen, as many swimmers have taken time to tell me. I hope the pieces I choose through the season have the same effect.”
Can anyone have their work considered for the walls? “Until 15 September there is an open call for submissions to the Frogmore Press anthology I am co-editing — Watermarks: New Writing by Lido Lovers and Wild Swimmers — but for the pool-side boards I am making direct approaches to local writers whose work I have been following for a few years now. We have an astonishing number of established and emerging writers in Lewes who are producing truly fine stuff: This is my chance to bring some of it to a different audience than it may usually find.”
Martin Gayford was born in 1971 and studied painting at Winchester School of Art. He has lived and worked in Lewes since 2001. In both his poetry and song lyrics he combines, with poignant effect, searing recollection with everyday observations. His poems sometimes read like text messages that have floated free of their original purpose — arrangements to meet, questions about health or holidays — into new and haunting territory. You can get a copy of Martin’s first collection from Skylark Books on the lower floor of The Needlemakers.
The Pells Pool website has full submissions criteria for Watermarks: New Writing by Lido Lovers and Wild Swimmers.