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Seawords - perfect reading for the pier.

Seawords – perfect reading for the pier.

Hometown entertainment from writers’ group

If you like stories set in, and drawing on the history of, your hometown, Seawords is the book for you. The theme for this year’s anthology from Hastings Writers’Group, on the 950th anniversary of that famous battle and the year when the pier was restored to us, is – Hastings. Nick Terdre has read (most of ) it.

The book was in production before the pier reopened, but the famous landmark naturally makes an appearance in several of the stories, one of which even features a protagonist named Piers Hastings. It comes as no great surprise, then, that all the profits from sales will go to Hastings Pier Charity.

In the introduction Eileen Masters, chair of the group, imagines readers sitting on the pier and enjoying the book. And why not? – none of the 30-odd contributions are very long, the book is perfect for dipping into while sitting in the sun or on a journey.

In addition to several poems, most of the contributions are short stories drawing their inspiration from a wide variety of topics – mermaids, faeries, visitors from Olympus leaving their mark on the Jack-in-the-Green celebrations, stowaways on cross-Channel lorries and a seventh-century warrior from Haestingas contemplating his future among them.

Several stories carry the melancholy air of budding love which never ran its course, as in the tale of the middle-class clergyman’s daughter prevented from pursuing her acquaintance with the handsome young fisherman “…for your own good”; or middle-aged Margaret dreaming what might have been with her close companions from youthful times until a chance meeting with one of them in the Jerwood café leaves her mildly disillusioned, concluding that “…some memories are painted from a brighter palette than reality can ever offer.”

There are a few non fictional contributions, including a paean to seagulls and an account of Grey Owl’s contribution to our appreciation of wildlife (“Remember, you belong to Nature, not it to you,” he would tell audiences) which wonders what he would have made of the link road. There is also a two-part guide to blue plaques in town commemorating well-known writers, including Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, Beatrix Potter and, of course, Catherine Cookson, an early member and patron of the writers’ group.

Seawords is the group’s 10th anthology. In 2013 its collection, Animal Writes, won an award from the National Association of Writers’ Groups. Set up in 1947, Hastings Writers’ Group celebrates its platinum anniversary next year, when the anthology will be unthemed.

Budding writers are welcome to apply to join the group, though there is a waiting list. Full details are available on the website.

Seawords An anthology of stories and poems by Hastings Writers’ Group. 160 pp. £7.99. Available at Hastings Information Centre, on the pier or through the HWG website. All profits go to Hastings Pier Charity.

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Posted 10:27 Saturday, Jul 23, 2016 In: Literature

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