Seining Along Chesil by Sarah Acton
The living history in this book is alive, just out of reach as the voices linger, reaching us on underwater sea-bright paths.
This book of recordings, voices and remembering tells the collective story of seine-net fishing off the Dorset coast, a culture and community that thrived for hundreds of years as the seasonal runs of mackerel swam along Chesil Beach between May and October. This is fishing the traditional way, seine nets thrown in shallow water from open wooden boats run by tightly-knit crews. Although fish and seining have been in decline over the last fifty years, Seining Along Chesil gives us a vivid glimpse of how lerrets, bumper catches and the camaraderie of intergenerational crews made life rich, busy and exciting. It is also the story of how villages and communities were not only bound in communal, seasonal activity, but formed their own language and identity through their relationship to the fish and the sea. These stories pass on a living tradition through time – of fishermen and families in pursuit of adventure, pitted against the elements, money and food, completely connected to their place and people through working, loving and understanding the sea.
Paperback, illustrated throughout
Sarah Acton is a poet, oral history writer and community theatre-maker drawn to the sea, maritime culture and myth. Through her work, Sarah explores and delivers creative arts commissions and community projects for social engagement with focus on connection to nature, seasons and place. Sarah’s writing is inspired by how we shape narratives in collective and individual memory, the lens of myth, and sense of belonging to and of landscape – drawing on a passion for poetics and orality (the living voice, rhythms and dialect). Her work and practice also take form in participatory events, poetry walks and performance, such as the Heart of Stone community project on Portland which brings together local communities in co-creative theatre-making that celebrates folk culture.