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We’re delighted to start sharing with you the first portfolio of talented writers who will be published by us in the coming months.

Next up, the amazing Polly Roberts from Constantine.

Polly Roberts

‘Together We Evolve’

“I tend to describe myself as an explorer of people and place. I’ve travelled widely and feel an inextricable link to landscape, its creatures, its habitats, and these always make their way into my writing. As well as working as a writer and creative writing facilitator, I’m a counsellor – I find the two very similar, as both can feel like the process of reaching toward self-actualisation. I run writing for wellbeing workshops across Cornwall and have worked for several creative writing and arts charities, sharing the benefits of writing and reading. I self-published my first book, a travel memoir called ‘Social or Solitary’ (2014), as part of an Arts Council project and toured this alongside a visual arts exhibition I curated. My debut poetry collection, ‘Grieving with the Animals’ (2019) is published by Dempsey and Windle and was written as part of a ‘Writers by Nature’ scholarship I was awarded from the British Council for emerging nature writers.

After a lot of moving around I am happy to have settled in Cornwall, reaping inspiration from swimming in the sea and walking its various coasts and riverways. I love Cornwall because it feels integral to living here that a real emphasis is placed on lifestyle. The slow, quiet winters, the battling with the elements, and what could be seen as ‘lack of opportunity’, all make space for integrating all sides of life with nature and fosters a creativity to make something meaningful out of what is available. The arts scene is so rich and welcoming and the scenery stunning, and these provide all the ingredients to nurture me as a writer.

My forthcoming novel, ‘Together We Evolve’, was written whilst completing my MA in Creative Writing with Bath Spa University. I was living on a houseboat on the River Avon and surrounded by birdlife and fauna. The concept of the novel came about year’s earlier when I was living in Norwich. At first, I found the flatlands of East Anglia dreary compared to the Devon hills I grew up in, but soon I became enamoured by its unending skies and the huge variety of ecosystems it houses. I felt a moodiness in the land and gained a curiosity in what it meant to be making myself at home somewhere that was slipping away beneath sea level every year, as well as the strangeness of domestic life meeting the wild in this way. I am so pleased the novel has now found a home with a Cornish publisher. It feels like a lovely merging of homes past and present!

‘Together We Evolve’ is a novel about rewilding, both our internal and external landscapes; it is about the natural and human world of relationships, and where these collide. The novel follows Sophia, a young woman who experiences a miscarriage off the back of her naturalist father’s death. Her grief takes her on a journey to re-examine the domestic life she has created for herself – a husband, house, family, supposed stability. She finds herself revisiting her father’s love of nature and exploring how the natural world might manage things differently. The book deals with themes of monogamy, fertility and miscarriage, grief, and climate change. Set in Norfolk and Suffolk, the landscape is as much a character in the book as Sophia, and it is in nature that she finds belonging, adventure and inspiration. I spent a lot of time in the various settings, walking in Sophia’s footsteps and absorbing myself in her story.

I’m pleased to have Hermitage Press as publisher for this novel, as I feel passionate about Cornish organisations supporting and elevating our local arts. When I first moved here, I worked for the creative writing centre for Cornwall, The Writers’ Block, there I learned how beautifully the region’s arts charities and organisations care for their own communities. We are a long way from the hub of this country, but we support one another to create our own opportunities. There is so much creative talent here in Cornwall, and I am grateful to Hermitage Press who are helping to celebrate and advance our thriving literary scene.”

Polly Roberts, September 2022.

Hopefully these personal stories will inspire other Cornwall-based writers to submit something when our next window opens on November 1st, (please see our submissions page for further details).

Happy writing,

HP Team.