If you do love to be beside the seaside… we want you to tell us!

Pre-Covid summer crowds enjoy the beach at Seaburn, Sunderland – is the memory just the inspiration you need to enter our cultural writing showcase?
Photo: Owen Humphreys / PA Archive/Press Association Images.

 

BUDDING wordsmiths with a passion for our coastline are being invited to enter a competition that celebrates the sea.

Sea Sunderland, organised by the University of Sunderland, will promote the Seaburn area by producing seven recorded ‘flash fictions’ to be showcased in December.

Six of the ‘flashes’ will be from artists selected during the submissions process and one will be from the specially commissioned lead artist – Jessica Andrews, the Sunderland-born author of award-winning novel ‘Saltwater’.

The seafront sculptures at Roker are now a familiar cultural link with the sea – do they inspire you to wax lyrical about the sea?

 

The entries will be recorded by writers living, working in, or from Sunderland. To submit an idea for consideration, entries can be recorded on a mobile phone and don’t have to be hi-tech.

A film of the seven flash fictions will be shown next month – submissions should be posted to Twitter with the hashtag #SeaSunderland.

All films will be a maximum of two minutes long – but there is no word minimum or maximum.

Dr Sarah Dobbs, senior lecturer in Creative Writing, and Sea Sunderland co-ordinator, explained: “My hope is we encourage people in this strange time to create and reflect and have space to share their sea stories.

“Whether they identify as a writer or not, we very much wish to hear a unique and regional voice, hopefully sparking or continuing a journey in writing.”

The beach at Seaburn is a favourite spot with all sorts of people, from dog-walkers to strollers and windsurfers – not to mention fisherfolk.

 

She added: “We are also delighted proud that Jessica Andrews is our lead writer for the Sea Sunderland flash fiction project and will be writing an original piece of ‘flash’.

“Jessica says, as a working-class woman, she never felt ‘she deserved to speak’. Her Portico Prize Novel ‘Saltwater’ gives a voice to the working class and wild spaces the author has occupied in the poetic bodily language with which she writes.”

Dr Sarah Dobbs, UoS senior lecturer in Creative Writing and Sea Sunderland writing showcase co-ordinator.

 

Lee Hall, head of UoS’s School of Media and Communications, added: “Sunderland has a unique voice in the region, as well as a unique relationship between the sea and its people. We are looking for the real voice of Sunderland from those who live, work or are born here. All writers, whether new or experienced, are encouraged to apply.”

Lee Hall, head of UoS’s School of Media and Communications.

 

The judges have asked for entrants to be inventive when it comes to the location of recording films, but the sea and the Seaburn area should feature in the recording.

Dr Dobbs said: “You could be near, on, or even in the sea – ensuring you take care. It can be static or involve movement. For those who cannot get near the sea, we will accept a voice recording, or can make alternate arrangements.

“When thinking about what to write about, we don’t want you to be too prescriptive, so please feel free to interpret and imagine beyond the brief.

“You might write about your relationship to the sea, or to the Seaburn area of Sunderland. Do you take it for granted, do you walk there every day, do you fear the water, do you carry it in your heart when you are away?”

Writers interested in being one of the six selected authors can post a video recording of their flash, including the hashtag #SeaSunderland and @seasunderland between November 16-30.

University of Sunderland pro vice-chancellor, Graeme Thompson, who is also the chair of Sunderland Culture.

Sea Sunderland is another example of how culture is shaping and inspiring Sunderland.

UoS is a partner of Sunderland Culture, an organisation created to bring together the city’s most important cultural assets and activities, and bring to life the ambition of a place brimming with creative potential.

UoS pro vice-chancellor Graeme Thompson is also the chair of Sunderland Culture and said: “Sunderland Culture is all about unleashing creativity and we’re delighted the University is seeking new writing on the subject of the sea.

“During these current restrictions, we have to be more enterprising than ever in finding new platforms to showcase creativity. I look forward to the results.”

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