Book launch: The Migrant Waders


We will be launching our second book, The Migrant Waders, at Church Street Tavern, Colchester, Essex, on Thursday 21 April, at 7pm. It’s a free event, so please do come and join us to help celebrate. The evening will include readings from contributing authors, discussion with Ella Johnston about the wonderful illustrations that appear throughout the book and, of course, the chance to get your hands on the book itself.

We hope to see you and your friends there.

The Migrant Waders is a collection of illustration, evocative prose, poetry and reportage that follows the migration routes of wading and shore birds from the high arctic to the tropics. Taking in the histories of the people and places where the birds make their temporary homes, the book includes 21 ink and watercolour illustrations by Ella Johnston and contributions from nature and landscape writers, as well as leading ecologists and environmentalists.

Dunlin Press, April 2016.


Migrant Waders

watercolour14It’s true that we first saw the dunlins at night, scurrying along the oozing mud of the Colne at Wivenhoe as the tide receded. Their shapes were indistinct, spectral, shades. Were they voles or vermin of some sort? They moved along the shore unlike any birds we had ever seen. 
Our eyes, adjusting to the low light, said they were birds. Research suggested dunlins, or sanderling maybe. And there were other birds, too: turnstone, sandpiper, redshank, ringed plover. So soon out of the city we had stumbled into a new vocabulary, brought to us by the birds at our new doorstep, birds that had been absent during that first hot summer in Wivenhoe, that had arrived at some point as winter had stilled and greyed the estuary.
The birds understood this territory more than us. They were overwintering here, or in passage on their way to southern France, the Iberian peninsula or west Africa. They had come from the far north as part of their incredible annual migratory circuit, seeking food and a temporary home – a safe environment in which they could, for a time at least, continue to exist. Food and shelter are the most basic of urges. 
But we were migrants too. We had also lived temporarily in Wivenhoe before, more than a decade earlier. The paths of our own migratory stories took in locations from the north to the south of England, east and west. Before us, our families had moved from Ireland, Scotland, France and Scandinavia. Our own family folk histories told of us having followed the migratory paths of Celts, Saxons, Vikings. Go back far enough and, like so many families, we were not from here or there, we were from everywhere. The migratory paths of our own lifetimes told of economic migration: of moving home to find work, build a better life, feel safe. This is the essential tale of so many migrations.
The dunlins of the Colne disappeared, it seemed, as soon as they had arrived. We caught them once or twice in daylight, on the wide silted river banks near the Ferrymarsh, pecking at the mud between black- and bar-tailed godwits, and the redshanks flitting past, low over the water – their mournful, beautiful, ‘tyu-tyu’ call piercing the near-silent afternoon.
It was a year before we discovered that the dunlins would return. And they are still the most secretive of the waders we see on the river near our home that now, for us, is not quite so new. We still see them mostly at night when the black-headed gulls have flown back out to sea. And while the overwintering godwits linger here for months, the dunlins’ stay here is just as fleeting as ever. It’s easy to miss them and almost heartbreaking if we do.

Out of the blue they arrive. Into the blue they go. Crossing oceans and continents on their way without any notion of borders, always to plan, as necessity dictates, and always welcomed here.
A new book from Dunlin Press, The Migrant Waders, will be published in Spring 2016.

Our authors for Est

Est manuscript

This is our manuscript for Est: Collected Reports from East Anglia, and in it we’ve laid out the submissions that have made it into the final publication, due for publication in February 2015.

But who’s in it? Well, we have an amazing selection of poets, fiction and travel writers, journalists and the occasional academic and we’ll be revealing the names during the course of this week via our Twitter feed. You are following us, aren’t you? We’re very pleasant company. No? Look, we’re here: @dunlinpress.

It’s getting exciting now, so do make sure you check back for updates.

Ella and Martin

Who’s in our little black book?

Black Book

It might just look like a slightly blurry phone photo of a Leuchtterm 1917 notebook, but inside our little black book are the names of all the contributors who have successfully made it into Est, or upcoming volume of reports from East Anglia. They know. We know. But you don’t know – unless our dossier here is as leaky as a Whitehall briefing system.

In any case, we’ll be revealing all the names via Twitter over the coming few weeks, so do follow us on @dunlinpress – it’s all getting rather exciting.

Ella and Martin x

Because of you, it’s really happening…

Walton Naze Mayflower LO RES

Thank you, thank you and thank you again. We have received so many great submissions for Est – what a creative, talented and generous part of the world East Anglia is.

You’ve sent us insightful prose, elegant lines of poetry, personal histories, nature writing, photography and some attention-grabbing psychogeographical splendour. The submissions tick off locations around the region from the fens to Harwich and from the north Norfolk Coast to Southend.

Can we thank you again? Oh, go on: thank you!

The next few weeks will see us sifting through your writing and making the difficult decision about what we can fit into Est and what, sadly, we’ll have to leave out. When that’s done, we’ll be in touch with everyone who sent us their work. There’s an exciting late-summer and autumn ahead and it really looks as if Est is shaping up to be a unique tour of East Anglia through poetry, prose and pictures.

We’ll be keeping you up to date with what goes on all the way through the process and tweeting extra thoughts over at @dunlinpress – so do stay in touch.

Ella and Martin x

A postcard from Westleton


There we were, on a sunny morning sat by the pond at Westleton, waiting for Bob’s remarkable book shop to open (look here and be amazed), and apologising to the lame duck that had just hiked up the bank to greet us and quack for some food (sorry, we had none).

And there it was: suddenly, there was just one month left open for the submissions to Est, our collection of writing from and about East Anglia. Yes, the submissions period closes at the end of July.

June has been good to us. We’ve had a number of submissions sent in from established and emerging writers – insightful and entertaining stuff, with some strong prose and poetry. There is still room for a few more passengers on the, er, Dunlin Bus that’s heading (oh dear) all the way round East Anglia, however. So, if you have some good writing that you think suitable for our foray into the psychogeography of the region, get in touch. See our ‘submissions’ page for more details.

At the end of this month, the real work for us will begin: sorting through the submissions and plotting our course. We’ll have more news soon – oh, and do follow us on Twitter (@dunlinpress) and check out our other ‘social’ outlets for updates and inspiration (See our ‘contact’ page).

If you have already sent something in, thank you so much. If you’ve yet to, well, the summer won’t wait for ever…

Ella and Martin