Have been walking Pevensey Levels, through mud and marsh, with my inspiring eco-body friends as part of Water Week. This is an annual festival organised by artists Clare Whistler and Charlotte Still, who won the Nick Reeves Award for Arts and the Environment in 2019.

Together they follow an organic process of being with and thinking about water a water wandering; inquisitive, interactive, immersive, reflective, poetic, experiential, unexpected, spontaneous and flowing. Luckily for me, they’re always keen to share their concern and reverence for water, and lure others out into the marshes. A joy to be part of the eco-body with Clare and Charlotte, and poets Kay Syrad and Jemma Borg. We were joined on the Levels by ecologist Evan Jones, who shared his knowledge of rare breeds thriving there, including the water violet and flowering rush, the hairy dragonfly, the Fen Raft Spider (one of Britains rarest and largest spiders, once on the brink of extinction) and the False Orb Pea Mussel, a bivalve almost smaller than its name! I was drawn to write about the Diving Bell spider, Argyroneta aquatica, which breeds in the marsh ditches, and lives almost entirely underwater, laying eggs in a bell web. The resulting poems, including the full version of ‘Water Spider’, are published in Wetland Eco Body, a beautiful pamphlet designed and produced by Elephant Press. You can view an on-line preview here.

Order print copies here.

Water Spider

Dive, diving spider 
courtship swims,
tunnels the gill-web
of a silver mate, 
makes water-pocket eggs,

Collapsing web.

quick, quick, surfacing
eight-legging quick
up to ditch edge, featherfoil,
dropwort, oxygen.

from ‘Water Spider’ inspired by the Wetland EcoBody project at Pevensey Levels. Also published in Resurgence.