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Writer Belona Greenwood introduces Voices of Forest and Fen

Hear from writer Belona Greenwood as she discusses our newest creative writing project, 'Voices of Forest and Fen', where she will be guiding participants in a series of six workshops.

October 2023

Marketplace’s area of operations stretches from the fens to forest and heath, strongly atmospheric, richly historic landscapes full of stories. Nature writer Robert Macfarlane describes entering the Fens like ‘crossing a border into another world.’ Equally, walk into the forest and you can listen to the trees bearing witness to all that has occurred around them. 

Capturing and writing creatively with the community about these unique worlds is what a new Marketplace community project, Voices of Forest and Fen is all about. Inspired by Dylan Thomas’ 1954 verse drama Under Milk Wood, our text will embody the special nature of our landscapes and the lives lived there past and present.

Those of us of an older generation might remember Under Milk Wood narrated by the hypnotic voice of Richard Burton full of strong, lyrical description of place and the comic, compassionate deeply human voices of the local population. It was a complete portrait haunted by the spirits of the dead. This is what we aim to achieve, to invite members of Fenland and Forest Heath communities to come together in a series of writing workshops to create our own verse drama of what it is to live and work here. 

The workshops are open to members of the community who want to help create this picture of where we live. We will explore what the fens and forest mean to you as individuals and build a sense of place with words – researching lives from the past who haunt our landscapes still, figures who do not have to be famous, it could be that you write about a great grandfather who had to leave to go off to war or an aunt who never set foot outside a village. We will write about the lives of people in the past, and how they lived, as well as to capture the voices of the present. We will also create monologues and dialogues from water, trees, and sky. After all this shifting land so altered over time should have a voice too. 

The workshops are open to beginners and those with experience of writing. In six two hour sessions, I will lead you through the process of research, and writing and finally, will edit everything together. There are two groups, one for the fens and one for forest and heath. 

The content of the project is very much guided by you who know the stories, have smelt the changes in the wind, and walked the paths.

We hope that some of the writing on the way to the creation of a final performance piece will become public readings at festivals and events around the region. In the end we will have our own version of Under Milk Wood – a frieze of voices over time and descriptions of the land we share that no one will ever be able to forget. 

Belona Greenwood, Writer, Scriptwriter and Creative Facilitator