Atelier East

Words on Water: Poetry & the Ouse Washes

Words on Water: Poetry & The Ouse Washes - Thursday 30th July

As part of OuseFest, a celebration of the landscape and heritage of the Ouse Washes, the Fen Speak Poetry Collective present a day of poetry at Welney Wetland Centre.

Poetry Workshop, 1.30-4.30pm: The afternoon will begin with a guided walk around the reserve, led by a member of staff at the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust. The workshop will then run from 2.30-4.30pm, with a break for refreshments. Facilitated by Fenland Poet Laureate Jonathan Totman and prizewinning poet Ian McEwen (see below), it will be a relaxed and enjoyable afternoon, with a chance to try out various writing exercises designed to stimulate creative responses to the local landscape and wildlife.

Poetry Reading, 7.30-9.30pm: Later on, Jonathan will be hosting an evening performance in the beautiful surroundings of the nature reserve. There will be readings from Ian McEwen and former Fenland Poet Laureate Poppy Kleiser, and a chance for workshop participants to read poems written earlier in the day. Refreshments will be available to purchase from the café at Welney. We hope to see you there for what promises to be a unique and memorable evening.

Both the workshop and evening performance are free to attend, generously sponsored by the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership’s Community Heritage Fund. To book a place on the workshop and/or evening reading, please email Please also let us know if you have any accessibility or dietary requirements


Jonathan Totman lives in Ely and recently won the title of Fenland Poet Laureate. He is co-founder and editor of new literary magazine ‘The Fenland Reed’, and runs poetry nights in Cambridgeshire. His poems have been published in various magazines and placed in several competitions. Having previously lived in London, Jonathan is a member of the workshop-based group Highgate Poets and recently co-edited their anthology, ‘The Space it Might Take’. He is also a keen actor and regularly performs in local amateur productions.

Ian McEwen’s poems have appeared widely in magazines including Poetry Wales, Shearsman, Rialto and Poetry Review. In 2010 his pamphlet ‘The Stammering Man’ was a winner in the Templar competition. His first collection ‘Intermittent beings’ was published by Cinnamon Press in 2013 and ‘Father lost lost’ was selected by the Forward Prize judges as one of the best poems published in that year and appears in the Forward Anthology 2015. In 2014 he was runner up in the Venture Pamphlet Competition and winner of the Ware poetry competition. He is a member of the Magma poetry board and edited Magma 57. Ian has four children and lives in Bedford where he promotes the Ouse Muse open mic.

Poppy Kleiser was the Fenland Poet Laureate for 2014. Influenced by folk song and the radicalism of 18th century Romantic literature, she explores through both written and spoken word the secrets of the strange and haunting place in which she lives. She has performed widely; from festivals to exhibitions and shows about land rights history. She is the editor of ‘Poems for Peace’, an anthology commemorating those who fought in WW1 and addressing the impact and futility of wars throughout history.

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