Contributor Biographies

Watermarks2 © Neil Gower

Watermarks: Writing by Lido Lovers & Wild Swimmers is an anthology of exceptional new prose and poetry to celebrate the life aquatic, published in collaboration by The Frogmore Press and Pells Pool.

Over 50 fine poets and prose-writers invite you into the world’s lakes, lidos, rivers and oceans…

Charlotte Ansell has been published by Flipped Eye with a third collection forthcoming in 2017. Publications include Poetry Review, Mslexia, Now Then and Butcher’s Dog, and anthologies including The Very Best of 52 and WordLife. She won the Red Shed Poetry Competition in 2015 and the Watermarks Poetry Competition in 2016.

Jenny Arran is a visual artist. She grew up in North Wales, loving the wildness, rivers, rocks and the sea. Her poems and paintings reflect a sensory and relational connection to nature. She swims regularly in Pells Pool, as well as the river and sea near Lewes, and takes her children, on holidays, to the pool in her poem.

Redfern Barton has lived in many countries but now lives in Sussex. She mainly writes about the natural world and our relationship with it. Her non-fiction work A Gentle Year, based on a blog and a lifetime of jottings in notebooks, is due for publication in 2017.  A recent poem, ‘Evening Song, was set to music by the composer Josh Urben and performed locally in 2016. She is a photographer and collector of unconsidered trifles, an almost daily beach wanderer who nowadays prefers to swim in warmer waters.

Kaddy Benyon’s first collection, Milk Fever, won the Crashaw Prize, and was published by Salt in 2012. She is a Granta New Poet and former poet-in-residence at The Polar Museum in Cambridge, where she wrote poems in response to Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen as part of a collaborative ‘text and textiles’ exhibition with costume designer Lindsey Holmes. Kaddy is a member of the Newnham Riverbank Club in Cambridge where she wild swims with her daughter.

Clare Best’s first full collection, Excisions, was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize 2012. Other poetry publications include Treasure Ground, Breastless and CELL. Clare’s prose memoir was a finalist in the Mslexia Memoir Competition 2015. Springlines, a collaborative publication with the painter Mary Anne Aytoun-Ellis — and part of their project exploring hidden and mysterious bodies of water — will be pulished by Little Toller in 2017. Clare is a university teacher of creative writing and a co-founder of Needlewriters, the quarterly reading series in Lewes, Sussex. She has been a keen swimmer all her life.

Emma Beynon, brought up on a farm in Rhossili, spent every summer as a child swimming between coves and hurling herself into the wild westerly waves, only coming out of the sea for a can of Coke and some crisps. When it became clear, as a bit of a dreamer, Emma would not become a farmer, she started to write, teach and sail a Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter in the Arctic. Emma now lives in Mid-Wales, swims in the River Wye and teaches creative writing for Arts Alive Wales to young people in search of adventure.

Mark Bridge usually writes for other people, so it’s a novelty for him to see his own name in print. He’s spent the past fifteen years as a self-employed copywriter, crafting sentences for assorted high-street retailers and big brands, from technology companies to tourist attractions. Mark currently lives in an East Sussex village, where he awaits the arrival of medical nanobots to upgrade him. Only then will he swim like an eel.

Ed Broom works in IT but tells his children that he’s a lighthouse keeper. He lives in Ipswich on Broomhill Road, at the top of which sits Broomhill Pool, a Grade II listed lido built in 1938.

Graham Burchell was born in Canterbury and now lives in South Devon. In between he has lived in Zambia, Saudi Arabia, Tenerife, Mexico, France, Chile and the United States. He has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University and has published four collections of poetry. He was the 2012 Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year, a 2013 Hawthornden Fellow, winner of the 2015 Stanza competition and runner up in the 2016 BBC Proms Poetry Competition.

Claire Collison — writer, visual artist — swims whenever and wherever she can and is a member of Tooting and Brockwell Lidos. She teaches creative writing and runs workshops inspired by place. Claire was artist-in-residence at Brockwell Lido, and is currently artist-in-residence at the Women’s Art Library. Her first novel, Treading Water, was a finalist in the Dundee Book Prize. She has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and the Flambard Prize, and came second in the Resurgence Prize. Her poetry is published in Templar Anthology, Butcher’s Dog, South Bank, Yorkshire Mix, Island Review and The Compass.

Holly Dawson is a writer and editor based in rural Sussex. She grew up swimming and surfing the wild seas of the north Cornish coast, then Cape Town’s two oceans and the gentler rivers of France. She is a regular swimmer at Pells Pool, her local lido in Lewes, where this story was born, and runs Lewes Short Story Club. 

Mark Fiddes is the author of The Rainbow Factory, launched last September, and The Chelsea Flower Show Massacre (both Templar Poetry). A graduate of Merton College, Oxford, he spent a number of years in Washington, D.C. as journalist before working as a creative director in Soho, London. Recently he’s been runner-up in the Bridport Prize and winner of the Dromineer Festival Prize, among more than a dozen other awards, and has been published in The London Magazine, The Irish Times and Southword Journal. His favourite swim is across the Colomers lakes in the Spanish Pyrenees.

Martin Gayford was born in London in 1971. He lives in Lewes, East Sussex and has been an advocate of and frequent visitor to Pells Pool for 15 years. Martin’s 2015 collection I Forgot To Tell You, I Really Enjoyed That Sandwich, published by Spiralbound / Susakpress, features several poems written poolside, and others inspired by time spent there. 

Malinda Green is an author and award-winning writer who is inspired by close encounters of the natural kind. These include swimming with a seal last summer in a secret cove in South Devon, where she lives for part of the year. Mal is currently researching and writing a novel that combines edge of knowledge neuroscience with old wisdoms on a search for missing jigsaw pieces.

Tara Gould is a writer who feels very fortunate to live in Lewes, where she has discovered a wild swimming hot spot of rich and diverse variety. When weather permits, she enjoys nothing better than slipping down the muddy banks into the river Ouse at Barcombe Mills, or ducking beneath the salty swell at Seaford, or soaking up sun on the grassy plains of Pells Pool after two dozen long lengths, (dripping wet, dreaming up tales). More of her short stories can be found on her website.

Tom Hall is an English writer and a Londoner. He lives there in order to swim year-round at Highgate Men’s Pond and take his family to Parliament Hill Lido on sunny days. He has written on travel for many newspapers and magazines and works at Lonely Planet, the travel guide people, as Editorial Director. @tomhalltravel

Alexandra Heminsley is the author of Running Like a Girl, which has now been published in fifteen countries. She is a journalist, broadcaster and ghostwriter. She lives in Hove. @hemmo

Maria Jastrzębska’s most recent collection was At The Library of Memories (Waterloo Press 2013). Her selected poems, The Cedars of Walpole Park, have been translated into Polish by Anna Błasiak, Paweł Gawroński and Wioletta Grzegorzewska (Stowarzyszenie Żywych Poetów 2015). Dementia Diaries, her literary drama, toured nationally with Lewes Live Lit in 2011. She was co-editor of Queer in Brighton (New Writing South 2014). Her translations of Justyna Bargielska’s selected poems The Great Plan B are forthcoming from Smokestack Press in 2017. Treading water in pyjamas won her a school lifesaving bronze award. She has loved water all her life.

Kathleen Jones is a poet and biographer living in an old mill beside the River Eden in the Lake District. Summer evenings are quite likely to finish in the water, watched by the resident heron. She has just returned from swimming on a coral reef in Cambodia. Kathleen has a pamphlet, Mapping Emily, forthcoming from Templar Poetry this year and a full collection,The Rainmaker’s Wife, from Indigo Dreams. 

Seema Kapila is a singer/songwriter, poet and short story writer with previous work published by The Frogmore Press. Her stories weave tales about people she has known, places, communities and time. She lives in a creative corner of East Sussex with her husband, two children and their cat. She has an immense respect for nature, camps as often as she can, and is fascinated by the healing power of natural running water.

Anna Kisby grew accustomed to cold water and big waves as a child, in the Atlantic off Cape Cod. As an adult, she spent 20 years swimming in the Channel off Brighton (with a brief interlude in London where she was a fan of Brockwell Lido). She won the Proms Poetry Competition 2016 and was commended in the Faber New Poets Scheme 2015-16. Now Devon-based, she swims mostly in the River Dart.

Ia Jennings used to swim at Brockwell Lido in South East London. With the tall trees in the park surrounding the lido, it never felt like swimming in a city. Lolling around on the decking with friends, in for another dip, sunbathing, chatting, moving around to catch the sun’s last rays as evening came on, then jumping in for that last swim of the day…  la moved out of London in 2015 to be by the sea, and near another lido – Saltdean, re-opening in 2017. In the meantime, Pells Pool has cast its spell, with its deliciously fresh water and lovely setting.

Hannah Linden has been published in several magazines, was commended in the 2015 Prole Laureate competition and won the Cheltenham Compound Competition 2015 for collaborative poetry with Gram Joel Davies. She loves wild swimming in lidos (Brixham’s Shoalstone Pool is a regular), the sea and especially in rivers. This poem was inspired by swimming in her favourite spot on the River Dart at Stillpool (a five-minute walk from where she lives). She loves wild swimming because it stills her mind. This poem is about the particular quality of swimming in water rich in peat.

Mary Lowerson has been fascinated by water from early childhood. Living inland, opportunities for total immersion were limited to the local outdoor baths in St Albans. Since then Mary has swum in rivers, lakes and the sea around the British Isles, hot springs in New Zealand and the fjords of Norway. The sea also inspires her work as an artist.

Tim Martindale is a writer-ranger. He holds a doctorate in anthropology from Goldsmiths and is a graduate of The Creative Writing Programme, Brighton. He has researched and written about Cornish fishing communities and is currently working on a book about belonging and wayfinding. Although he enjoys wild, mountain swims when he can, like Carver he best loves coastal rivers, and so finds himself, incurably, forever drawn back to Cornwall. 

Jill Munro has been widely published in various poetry magazinesShe has been long-listed three times for the National Poetry Competition and her first collection Man from La Paz was published in 2015 by Green Bottle Press, London. She won the Fair Acre Press Pamphlet Competition 2015 with The Quilted Multiverse, published April 2016 by Fair Acre.

Zel Norwood is a psychologist and poet whose writing often explores patterns in nature and myth and their resonances with human adaptation and growth. Zel lives in a Sussex village but grew up near Bath in Somerset, which she continues to visit regularly. Whenever possible, she takes to the city’s natural thermal waters associated with Sulis, the local Celtic goddess of ‘the Waters of the Gap’.

Jeremy Page grew up on the Kent coast in sight of France and has swum in the Channel every summer for more than half a century. He now lives in Lewes and teaches at the University of Sussex. He is the author of four pamphlets and two full collections of poetry, most recently Closing Time (2014) and Stepping Back: Resubmission for the Ordinary Level Examination in Psychogeography (2016). He has also published translations of Catullus, Leopardi, Rimbaud and Boris Vian. His plays Loving Psyche and Verrall of the White Hart were performed in Bremen (2010) and Lewes (2014) respectively.

Annie J Peel is a poet and playwright living in London. She has sampled many of the lidos and outdoor swimming places that London has to offer, with the Hampstead Ponds remaining a firm favourite. But none quite compare to the river in a village in Herefordshire where she grew up. Many a happy summer afternoon was spent there.

Jane Greene Pettersson is a swimmer, teacher and writer. She teaches people of all ages and abilities to swim, specialising in those who have a fear of water. Jane swims outdoors whenever possible: in the summertime this is in the rivers and lakes of Sweden and Finland and in the Baltic sea. Jane has written poems, short stories, and articles on swimming and diving, and has co-written three books on coaching that have been translated into several languages. She writes a blog about swimming. 

Rachel Playforth is a poet, librarian and editorial board member of the Frogmore Press. She has been a regular swimmer at Pells Pool for over twenty years.

Michelle Porter was born and raised in south-east London when the Post Office tower was still the tallest building in the sky. Her earliest memory of swimming is falling into a lake in Suffolk where she encountered a man in an antique helmet; even at 5, she was good at telling stories. Michelle now works as a content writer, writing fiction, non-fiction and everything in between. In 2017 she was awarded the Creative Futures Gold Prize for Prose at London’s Southbank Centre. She now lives in Lewes, East Sussex where she regularly takes a chilly dip in Pells Pool.

Jack Pritchard takes any opportunity to take his clothes off and plunge into cold water. His favourite place is Long Bridges in Oxford, an old river pool on the edge of the Thames. He spends his time watching bees, and meandering along the footpaths and waterways of southern England. He has been described as a ‘wandering poet’.

Emma Pusill (Plum Duff to her swimming friends) turned to outdoor swimming, aged 40, to conquer fear: fear of fish, of failing, of ageing. She’s winning with the fish and ageing. Most at home in the sea, she also has a powerful love for lidos. She is co-writing The Lido Guide and blogging about her lido road trips. In 2016 she was involved with organising the inaugural National Lido Conference, and work has begun on the 2017 event. She is a trustee of Portishead Open Air Pool. 

Sue Robbins is a member of a group of poets local to Lewes who meet regularly to share their writing.  She has spent many summers sitting on the grass at Pells Pool watching her children in their element, and remains somewhat in awe of anyone who can feel so comfortable in the water.

Lynne Roper developed a love of water during her Devon childhood, and it never left her. After early careers in the RAF and academia, she became a paramedic. Turning to outdoor water after a double mastectomy, Lynne wrote powerfully — in her blog and for the Outdoor Swimming Society — about the risks, joys and deep friendships that came with wild swimming. She died of a brain tumour in August 2016, aged 55. A book of her collected writings, Wild Woman Swimming is being prepared for publication by Watermarks editor Tanya Shadrick for 2018.

Rebecca Rouillard was fortunate enough to grow up in Durban with a pool in the back garden and spent all her summer waking hours in the water—not only swimming but also playing games, reading books and eating meals. She currently works as a freelance writer and designer, lives just outside London with her husband and two children and swims at various places including Shepperton Lake, Tooting Lido, Hampton Pool and Dorney Lake. 

Anna Selby is a naturalist, poet and dance collaborator. She writes mainly about water, and has run poetry and wild swimming workshops for Wilderness Festival and The Poetry School. She leaps into all waters all year round, swimming regularly at Hampstead Heath ponds in London. Pushkin used to break the ice with his fist and Rupert Brooke would sneak out at night to dive into the black Cam as it rushed by his house: to jump into cold, wild water is an act of rebellion, an affirmation — we do it so as not to be tamed.

Janet Sutherland has three poetry collections from Shearsman Books, of which Bone Monkey (April 2014) is the most recent. She is currently working on her fourth collection with Shearsman, due out in 2018. Her work has appeared in many magazines including Poetry Review, New Statesman, New Humanist and The North and her poems are widely anthologised: from The Virago Book of Love Poetry to The New British Poetry 1968-88 (Paladin). She is a founder member of the Needlewriters cooperative, which organises poetry events in Lewes. She lives in Lewes very close to Pells Pool. 

Patrick Taggart was born in India and grew up in Ireland and England. He was spurred into trying to find some form of creative expression in 2014 by his (now grown up) children, Ben and Emma, who are both talented in visual arts. A pen seemed more manageable than a paintbrush, so he decided to give poetry a go. Patrick lives in Northern Ireland and enjoys swimming off its coast and in its lakes and rivers. 

Rosamund Taylor learnt to swim in Sandycove Harbour, Co. Dublin, and has always drawn inspiration from the sea. Her poems have twice been shortlisted for the Montreal International Poetry Prize. In 2016, Rosamund gave a reading at the Cork International Poetry Festival, and was published in Magma, Agenda, The Penny Dreadful, and Banshee, among others. Her poem, ‘The Minotaur’s Mother’, won the Readers’ Award for Orbis, Issue 175.

Wayne Tenyson kicks around Lewes. This poem is a memory of swimming at La Plage De Roi in the mountains above Uzes one September.

Lyn Thomas has published a memoir, Clothes Pegs: A Woman’s Life in 30 Outfits at In a series of short texts, the memoir captures the stages and moments of class transition, emerging sexuality and white femininity through depictions of the lived experience and social contexts of wearing and buying clothes. Lyn is the author of two books and several articles and chapters on contemporary French writer Annie Ernaux. She has also published on feminist fan cultures, The Archers, lifestyle television, religion and media, and on working-class whiteness. She is currently part-time Professor of Cultural Studies at Sussex University. 

Mat Christian Thomas is a writer and photographer. He swims in rivers.

Louisa Thomsen Brits is an author, outdoor swimmer, littoralist and mother of four. Louisa is interested in the overlooked details of ordinary lives and liminal places. She writes about the nature of things, our interconnectedness and the rhythms and rituals that unite and define us all. @L_Thomsen_Brits

Sarah Wallis is a poet and playwright living in Leeds, West Yorkshire. She often works with magical realism, always with an element of playful observation, and has been published in numerous journals. She has a poem in the forthcoming Yorkshire Poetry Anthology, ‘The Bellymen of Wakefield Town’, and her pamphlet, Waterlore, was highly commended in the recent Mslexia Pamphlet Competition. Sarah’s nearest lido is at Ilkley, on the edge of Ilkley Moor, a freshwater, unheated pool with outstanding views that holds an annual summer solstice swim.

Clare Whistler is an artist working in performance, site specific work, poetry, music, visual art and landscape. Drawing upon movement and gesture, she responds, interprets and collaborates with people, places and the elemental. Water has been the source of her work for the last five years with projects Stream, UnderwaterEdge and the annual WaterWeek: 7 days of information, conversation and reflections celebrating water both local and global, created with Charlotte Still. She has swum for the last six years in the swimming pool in Stykkisholmur, Iceland. 

Louisa Wright is an editor who lives, works and swims in Lewes.

Lindsay Zier-Vogel is a Toronto-based writer, arts educator, swimmer and love letterer. Her work has been published in various publications including Where The Nights are Twice as Long (Goose Lane Editions, 2015), The Lampeter Review, Taddle Creek, room of one’s own, Grain and Descant. She is a creator of and contributor to the popular swimming blog, Swimming Holes We Have Known, and has featured on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning. Her handbound books of poetry are in the permanent collection at the Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library. Lindsay is the creator of The Love Lettering Project, an internationally-acclaimed art project that has been bringing anonymous love letters to strangers since 2004. She is currently working on a Love Lettering Project book and a novel, titled The Opposite of Drowning, set next to a lake.