Imaginarium Summer

This is a month-long laboratory into the art of writing by not-writing*.

It’s for any writer / artist / enthusiast wanting to begin a project, who wants a fresh way of looking at it, or someone halfway through one, wanting a new route through it. It’s for those who want to resist the inclination to write and produce tons of words, to expand expressing their ideas and experience in non-linguistical ways. Not-writing, especially for those of us who are habitually inclined to write regularly, allows ideas, images, themes and narratives to cook in a different chronology, take shape in an alternative form, split and slip down unexpected streams.

Imaginarium Summer invites you to put writing to one side, out of the spotlight, or even on hold for five weeks, and see what happens when you allow yourself alternative creative interactions.

You’ll explore what happens if you embark on a project, or a section of a project, without writing. What fills the gap that was occupied with words? How do you voice your interactions with the world, your hopes, fears and stories? And what then happens when you return to language as your creative expression?

Format

  • Provocations and inspirations, emailed as a pdf every Monday throughout August, invite you to explore your project idea or preoccupations without writing. Each pdf comes with mp3 note-making-not-writing accompaniment to provide an almost writing space for those who don’t want to go completely nonlinguistic.
  • An ongoing private blog forum to share your responses with other participants, reflect on your imaginative growth. This is a place for chat, insight and community.
  • A one to one tutorial with me in the autumn offers a gathering together of your ideas or an impetus for continuing a new momentum.
  • The time commitment for each week is entirely up to you. You could spend half an hour in response to the provocations, or you could dive in for a day a week, or anything in between.

Cost

There are, as usual, three self-selecting bands:
£50; £75; £100
all include all provocations, access to the forum, and a one to one tutorial.

How to Apply

There are 16 places, given on a first come first served basis.
Please send an email to me at sehymas@gmail [dot] com.

Also please email with any queries you may have

*The art of writing without writing acknowledges its debt to Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon and follows the ethics of nonseparation.
**Summer does not exclude writers experiencing winter. All welcome, whatever the hemisphere or season, for the English summer light to illuminate your wordless writing.

How we do anything is how we do everything

This programme, like all Imaginariums, rises from my own practice. It is guided by the desire to maintain a sense of self as writer during those times when you aren’t writing much or happily or with conviction.

I believe in the diversity of the creative moment, that the impetus and connection I experience through writing isn’t limited to the setting down of words. The creative flow, elemental to my writing, runs through many other activities, and inactivities. The fluidity and potency of tired or wavering creative energy can be revitalised, rediscovered or redirected when instead of writing I’m not-writing with intention.

To let go of words, temporarily, allows other seams of creativity to emerge from any given moment, and invites the body to lead the mind in nourishing encounters with our imagination. This Imaginarium intends to stitch words into one layer among many in your creative process.

I read ‘how we do anything…’ in Tom Waites’ book Innocent When You Dream years ago. I was initially horrified at the thought that my cavalier DIY style was how I write. That my botch-it paint job was analogous to editing a poem. Now I’m not sure it’s that straightforward. I think it’s about intention, and how I approach painting can teach me how I can approach adding shade or new colour in a chapter. Pulling ingredients together to make a cake can offer a new methodology for thinking about a seemingly unrelated bunch of images.

This Imaginarium will be food for your writerly practice. Food as nourishment and food as fuel. It offers the space for you to consider your creative practice through one endeavour to another. Your creative impetus will roam freely across form and time in a way words might not grant. It might even show you ways of sustaining your creativity when short of time for writing, or headspace for words.

For more info on the Spirit of the Imaginarium, see the main Imaginarium page or a post I wrote for Climate Cultures

What people said about the last online Writer’s Imaginarium

a think-tank for writers … a safe, encouraging environment … hugely inspiring … brain-expanding … gave me so many new approaches to writing … an other world. Quiet. Sacred. Beautiful. Intelligent. Deeply inspiring …


Walk with Us

From August 2020 – July 2022 I’m part of a team of creative practitioners (Maya Chowdhry and Alex Peckham) making an augmented reality walk in partnership with the National Oceanography Centre for the seafronts of Dawlish (pictured) and Penzance.

The walk incorporates data from a new NOC ‘wirewall’ and existing local monitoring sites on wave height and speed, water levels, tides, beach movement, wind and other weather info into a fictional narrative. There’ll be stopping points along the seafront (and beach, tide permitting) that offer people to re-view the sea, beach and seawall. Through spoken word and visuals we’ll explore coastal erosion, climate change and the oceanic ecology, asking what is coastal resilience. By July 2022 we should have an entertaining walk that illuminates the work of the NOC, and past and future changes in the coastal environment.

‘Walk With Us’ offers two self-guided walks along the sea fronts of Penzance and Dawlish, launching in July 2022.

In Penzance Six Lessons in Walking a Tightrope leads you from from Newlyn Art Gallery to the Jubilee Pool. Using audio, augmented realities and weather and ocean data, it balances the line between celebrating our world as it is now and accepting its changes.

Dive in Dawlish takes you from the railway station along the seawall to Coryton Cove on a magical underwater walk.  Blending science fiction with immersive visuals, you will descend into the ocean while never actually getting your feet wet. Exploring themes of coastal erosion and climate change, ‘Walk With Us’ is for everybody interested in the sea, what lives in it, and how it affects us.

More info here

melt


Cover painting: Winter Sea III by Joan Eardley

a wise book that asks us to read slowly.  Deryn Rees-Jones

There is mourning… there is questioning … there is also hope, and above all a boundless sense of curiosity Helen Tookey

extending what is possible for the human body within the more-than-human world Harriet Tarlo

melt is a love song to the ocean, of hope and grief, of belonging and longing. It begins in the north west of England, on the shores of Morecambe Bay, and ends in a future that may or may not have been foreseen in the Arctic. (more on my blog) Buy direct from me or from Waterloo Press

melt was one of seven books shortlisted for the 2021 Ledbury Munthe Poetry Prize for Second Collections The Judges, Sandeep Parmar and Naomi Shihab Nye, said this about it:
“Water that sings/ through blood and brain” permeates the mesmerizing series of contemplative poems in Sarah Hymas’s melt. A triumph of imagery interweave, human and sea, these moving poems employ lush, melodious language, rhythmic pacing, a hypnotic sense of attentive presence. Who are we after all, as we acknowledge the push and pull of waves, the mysteries present within every body of water? Absence and presence shimmer in painterly floating lines which resist traditional arrangements. A long shore of single lines stitches the poems, as they also seem to float. “The sea lifts me/away from me/surrendering me to my mechanics/separate and contingent..” This is a book to meditate on for the rest of a life.

Buy direct from me for a origami whale to be slipped within the pages.

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Best enjoyed in a darkened room, Towards a Stranding is a Hymas&Lewis soundscape of a poem from melt. You can listen to it here


image: Sally Slade Payne

A five minute excerpt from the zoom launch, 10th January 2021

The golden plankton : phytoplankton, those tiny marine plants, provide the oxygen for our every second breath. To celebrate their existence a paper re/de/construction of one went in random copies of melt. Unlike the ones we depend on, these have all gone now.

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Readers’ Feedback

one of the most glorious things in publishing a book is receiving emails from readers on how they found the book. Here are a few

The choice to make melt so sensual to hold, the cover tactile, the quality of the paper used, the pleasing spaces and layout. That’s before its read! You are reminding us to engage all our senses whatever we do

You’ve sent my brain off in a million directions in grappling with human and nonhuman voices and how we can understand anything and it feels like your book is a key. There is so much to think with and feel with in it, so many lines I want to read over and over and copy out

I’m struck by the vulnerabilities – suddenly reading that description of rescuing the octopus from the net as a kind of bloody birth image – the way that not-mother theme threads through (the two of you carrying the tree) – and how it sits with the extraordinary other levels of exploration of self/world/other – I keep thinking about this – the ways you are so highly tuned in to the interrelations of ‘you’ and ‘world’

melt is a wonderful book. Perfect for any time but especially right now. 

Publications

the hispering (Black Sunflowers, 2021) dissembles and reassembles how the world speaks to us and what happens if we listen. It contains meadows, oceans, fairytales and the whisper of unseen creatures. A sequence of prose-poem-like glimpses slip between dream, waking and storytelling; plant and human ecologies; the pervasiveness of water; and how being-birthed and birthing are seeded in every word.
Written in the intensity of the April 2020 lockdown in England, it feels as strange as those times, perhaps more hopeful. Read more about its creation on EchoSoundings, or a review of it by Carla Scarano on the Friday Poem

Cover painting: Winter Sea III by Joan Eardley

melt is an oceanic song of love, of hope, of belonging and longing. It begins in the north west of England, on the shores of Morecambe Bay, and ends in a future that may or may not have been foreseen in the Arctic.

Interspersed with images, tickertape on plastic updates, prose, poems and fragments, the book is an assemblage of joy and despair, of bodies, human and morethan. More ripples surrounding the book can be felt here

£12 (+p&p) Buy direct from me and get a origami whale slipped within the pages. Published by Waterloo Press. Shortlisted for the Ledbury Munthe Poetry Prize for Second Collections. Judges Sandeep Parmar and Naomi Shihab Nye called it ‘[a]
triumph of imagery interweave, human and sea, these moving poems employ lush, melodious language, rhythmic pacing, a hypnotic sense of attentive presence. Who are we after all, as we acknowledge the push and pull of waves, the mysteries present within every body of water? ‘

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Blurbs

melt is a book that demands our attention, slipping as it does, curiously and carefully, between enfolded worlds of intellect and feeling, giving us unique access to an archaeology of perception. As Hymas brings pressure to dailyness and the ordinary, she reminds us of the importance of locating ourselves in an increasingly precarious environment. This is a wise book that asks us to read slowly; a must read for these uncertain times.   Deryn Rees-Jones

In poems of precise observation and restless energy, Hymas shows us world and self as intertidal zones of flux and exchange, ‘ebb-dragged / and flood-ripped open’. There is mourning here, in the face of loss and ecological damage; there is questioning, an interrogation of our human ways of being in the world. But there is also hope, and above all a boundless sense of curiosity, yet without any demand for final knowledge: ‘I want to ask /more questions / I cannot answer’. melt is the work of a poet deeply engaged with the world, always open to ‘what will become’.   Helen Tookey

Sarah Hymas does not ignore that which we do not want to have to comprehend about our ocean, but nor does she preach at us. The restrained prose passages situate the work in the local as place of learning; the lyric sea poems explore extending what is possible for the human body within the more-than-human world. melforms part of the necessary and exciting work emerging today from new understandings of the bodies of water that surround the landmasses we inhabit.     Harriet Tarlo

a flotilla of golden plankton, one of which could be yours #everysecondbreath

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Host (Waterloo, 2010)

poetry

“The voices, the stories, the detail and the imagery are powerful, superbly-crafted and original.” Bernardine Evaristo

“The poetry is earthy and takes a no-nonsense approach to setting out their journey from community-based god-fearing and pious, through to the complexity, toughness and verging on faithlessness, of modernity.” Anne Stewart in Artemis

“… excellent at capturing social and religious codes of behaviour, with the acuity of Austen or Alice Munro … Host is a tactile and muscular collection, rooted in the complexities and textures of the physical world. Hymas has created fresh and exuberant work that, at its best, captures the awe of being alive.” Sarah Westcott

Waterloo Press have a few copies left… I think

If you live locally to me and would rather not pay postage costs please get in touch, I’m sure we can arrange something

Forces of Nature

August 2019 I was part of a two week residency in Brighton with artists of various disciplines to explore how we might explore and communicate our feelings towards the climate crisis. This audio book was part of the accompanying exhibition, and holds the Towards a Stranding soundscape. It was made in collaboration with sound artist Kathy Hinde, whose expertise in embedding the arduino transformed the oversized, tactile landscape of text and card into an intimate audio experience.

More info on what we got up to in the residency is here

Towards a Stranding

Best enjoyed in a darkened room

 

Woman, whale, muddy shores and a stranding. This soundscape rises from the uncanny land/sea of Morecambe Bay, to consider the mammalian kinship between human and cetacean, habitat destruction and ecological tipping points. 

A Hymas&Lewis Collaboration, 2019
Guitar and Shruti : Steve Lewis
Sound : Darren Leadsom, at More Music in Morecambe, UK.

Image : Sally Slade Payne

‘Towards a Stranding’ features in melt (Waterloo Press, 2020)

Audio Walks

I have made several immersive site specific audio walks with various organisations and other writers and artists.

Currently I am continuing mutually fruitful work with The National Oceanography Centre, making two new audio walks to highlight coastal hazards through 2020-22. You can read a little more about those here 

Below are completed walks.

Changing Shores (2019) can be heard on the Crosby coastline, made with the National Ocenaography Centre and Sefton Council to illuminate coastal erosion. More

The Seventh Door (2016) was set in Aberdeen to celebrate the importance of the Music Hall in the city. Made with Maya Chowdhry, for Aberdeen Performing Arts. More

Colne Rising (2015) was commissioned by WeDo for Kirklees Council’s  Bear Hunting Festival. More

Lune Rising (2014) explored sea level rise and the endurance of microplastics through the history of the River Lune’s maritime history. Commissioned by Lancaster’s First Fridays. More

Tales from the Towpath (2014) was an interactive story set along Manchester’s waterways using AR, geocaching, performance and microprint. Made in collaboration with Maya Chowdhry, Michelle Green and Helen Varley Jamieson. It was shortlisted for the New Media Writing Prize. More