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... This Wasted Land

Festival logos

The Word Shelter brought back the essence of writer TS Eliot to the shelter at Nayland Rock, where he sat to write The Waste Land in 1922. For this year’s Margate Festival, for Sightseekers, the shelter became a pop-up and drop-in Writing Retreat. Created for Margate Sightseeking 2016.

Wordsmiths at work
Barry reads The Waste Land
Workshop is full

For two days only Wordsmithery held a pop-up and drop-in writing retreat in the historic listed shelter in Margate where TS Eliot wrote bits of The Waste Land and in Dreamland.

As well as wrapping the shelter in a version of the poem that is 86 feet long - we also had a series of writing prompts and exercises that people could do - or add to our collective poem.


On the second weekend, the weather was inclement, so we moved our base of operations to Dreamland. 

Here are some comments about the workshops: 

‘I liked that. I didn’t think I could write a poem, but it makes you think, being here.’

‘We couldn’t get them out of the arcade and now we can’t get them out of the writing room.’ (Mum with two young teenagers.)

‘It’s good sometimes when you’re challenged to do something.’

‘Something interesting, creative, just what Margate needs.’

Flags written at The Word Shelter

Margate is...


Margate is...

A place. Homely.


Margate is...

My retirement,

Walking the dog

On a stretch of sand.


Margate is...

A wonderful place to live,

Modern then charming:

The derelict facade of Dreamland

And the Turner, like sliced off flats.

It’s sunny - I like the views

... But it smells funny.


Margate is...



On a sunny day, a place to swim;

On a windy day it’s like living on

the edge of hell.



Margate is...

Happiness, beautiful

A lovely coastline, lovely people


In Margate...

You’ve got to be careful

It’s stuck in the ‘60s... the ‘70s maybe

We’ve started the Christmas shopping.

The Turner’s like Minecraft

Or like sails.

It’s diverse,


full of historic cultural gems


My beloved Margate...

Light, space, sand, huge skies.

Horizons, possibilities.

Much maligned,

It’s really on the up.

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