It won't mean much if you've never been to Skyros but I was apprehensive when I first heard my writing course this year would run not in the little town I claim as my spiritual home but on the other side of the island, in Atsitsa Bay. Yeah I know, it's an idyllic communal paradise amid green pines and flame red geraniums, surrounded by blazing blues of sea and sky, but this is a place of rugged rocks, hut tribes, and magic circles... Atsitsa dances to its own drum beat, on Dead Goat beach at night and Bare-Ass beach by day, and even wifi is untamed. Here the first rule, obeyed on land and water, from dawn till high full moon, is: be playful.
As it turned out, this session – both sessions – rocked. It was, as Anna would say, amazing. My initial group swelled from three to five, then twelve, with each day providing stunning responses to every exercise: poignant, political, sensual, celebratory, funny and simply fabulous. We began nomadically, roaming between terraces, eventually settling at Mariana’s bar on promontory, with fresh orange juice and frappes – and ice-cream wine and cake, for writers rising too late for breakfast.
So what do we take, and leave, now that buses and ferries and planes have separated us from our magic-island home? For me:
• preconceptions exploded
• sun on sea, still mind-dazzling
• sense of privilege, and excitement, from every piece of writing shared – so much I’d love to have written myself…
• golden skin glow and a hundred mosquito bites,
• a small weaving, a slight cough (still), loads of laughter and new friends
• a handful of pebbles
For stones, like love, move silently across the world - in the words of Alyson Hallett - ... migrating past line, border, boundary, their movements a constellation of questions:
where is home, what is home, and who in their right mind can claim land as their own?
Back in Frome now, missing everyone and pining for sun, sea, and cicadas, but cheered to hear my submission to the 'Kenneth Branagh Award for New Drama Writing' reached the final shortlist, and my poem Aspiration will be published in the next issue of Mslexia.