Welcoming Aly Stoneman - our Spurn poet in residence!

Welcoming Aly Stoneman - our Spurn poet in residence!

Drawing on the open landscapes, big skies and seascapes of Spurn, Aly is running a poetry project, ‘Poetic Spurn’, this autumn.

Aly Stoneman is a poet and AHRC-funded Midlands4Cities PhD researcher writing about the British coast, focusing on changes related to sea-level, erosion and other coastal processes.  

She was founding poetry editor at LeftLion Magazine, promoting Nottingham’s poetry scene, and a winner of the Buxton Poetry Prize. Aly has read at Copenhagen International Poetry Festival and Ledbury, and her poems recently appeared in Liquidscapes, New Walk, Under The Radar, and Dawn of the Unread. Lost Lands, her debut pamphlet, explored personal interactions with the natural world.

Aly Stoneman

Aly is based with our team at Spurn Discovery Centre, developing a pilot mini-programme of poetry activities and events during October and November as part of Spurn Autumn Arts Festival and programme. Writing workshops in the community during October focused on reconnecting with nature through the power of language and ‘re-wilding our writing’, taking place in Easington Primary Academy on National Poetry Day and at Spurn Discovery Centre.

The project will culminate in an exhibition at Spurn Lighthouse from the 23rd of November until March 2020 (open weekends 11am-3pm). A launch event and preview will take place on Wednesday 20th November 4-6pm at Spurn Discovery Centre, with readings from project participants. The event is free and open to everyone.

If you live in the East Riding Area and would be interested in contributing a poem inspired by Spurn to the poetry postcard exhibition, “Hello from Poetic Spurn”, Aly would love to hear from you! Please contact her directly at alyson.stoneman2007@my.ntu.ac.uk.

The first time I visited the area, a couple of years ago, I was fascinated by the rich biodiversity and history of the nature reserve, the Humber estuary and surrounding area, and the way the land-and-waterscape shifts almost minute to minute...

Sea level rise on an interactive map

Aly Stoneman

Start at sea level and hit the up arrow –


dark blue engulfs Great Yarmouth

and Poole, then London, awash

from Canvey Island to Canary Wharf.


Or navigate home, reckon

the sea’s surge

over Domesday farmland,


outflanking you

click by click

to the threshold of your house,


your tongue slipping

on names sunk in sediment

and brackish water.


Your home means nothing to that future


of eroding cliffs, toppling pylons,

tree stumps at low tide;

decaying roads to no-place.


The sea sends

harbinger gulls inland.

We tread the high paths.


At sixty metres, we’re islands of National Park.



This poem was first published in Liquidscapes (Dartington: art.earth, 2019)

‘Sea level rise will continue beyond 2100 even if global warming is limited to 1.5°C […]’ (IPCC Special Report, 2018). The potential effects of global sea level change can be seen on this interactive map: http://www.floodmap.net

Sea level on an iceless Earth could eventually rise by over 60m if the world keeps burning fossil fuels (‘What the World Would Look Like if All the Ice Melted’, National Geographic, September 2013).