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Hello! I’m compiling an archive of poems inspired by the English Channel—the narrow yet tumultuous stretch of sea separating Southern Britain from Northern France.

You can read more about the English Channel here:

The English Channel is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean and stretches for 560km along the south coast of England from Cornwall to the Strait of Dover, where it meets the North Sea. The Channel has played a huge role in protecting Britain against invasion for hundreds of years. It is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, and one of the most dangerous. Most recently, thousands of migrants have risked their lives trying to cross the Channel in tiny dinghies, hoping for a new life beyond the scarred white face of the cliffs of Dover.

it would be lovely to see how regional differences impact on the poems as they meander along the coast! It will be fascinating too to consider the poems collectively to observe how each poet responds to the same known stretch of water—how the channel is represented and reinvente with each new stroke of pen. There will perhaps be poems of arrival and departure, of long voyages across open water, or the solitary speaker staring out over the grey swel. There will no doubt be weather systems—water calm as s millpond, or crashing waves battering the coast; thick sea frets even and pea soupers.

Within the poems the sea may become a metaphor for death and separation or a place of introspective musings. Bleak, wild, pounding or still; one thing is certain—the English Channel is a character in itself, mercurial and untamed.

Like all areas of environmentally sensitive habitats, the English Channel faces huge ecological challenges. From decades of over fishing, pollution from discarded plastic, oil spills, toxic metals and human waste; to increasing temperatures resulting from climate change; all these factors impacting on the fragile ecosystems beneath the tide. Rising sea levels risk the destruction of large areas of salt marshes, vital breeding habitats for internationally important numbers of endangered coastal birds.

Can poetry aid nature? Can poetry help us move beyond passive memorial to active conservation? By casting out and netting up these poetic resources, my hope is to capture and preserve the Channel between these pages, to allow the poems to be enjoyed collectively centuries after many of them were written. But most importantly too, for these beautiful and evocative poems to ignite a sense of value and empowerment in the reader, a desire to help protect this tumultuous sea and the wildlife that depends upon it for future generations to enjoy too.

About the editor

Karen Jane Cannon is a poet and author. She is a Creative Writing PhD candidate at the University of Southampton, researching poetry and place. She has published two poetry pamphlets—The Curfew Bell (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2021) and Emergency Mints (Paper Swans Press, 2018). She was the winner of The Poetry Society’s Hamish Canham Prize in 2022, commended for the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine in 2021, shortlisted for The Bridport Prize in 2019, and a finalist in the Mslexia Poetry Competition 2017. Her novel Powder Monkey was published by Phoenix in 2003.