Church Street


Fish & Ships: A Poetry Workshop with John Hegley

For: Beginners, seasoned scribblers, children & parents and anyone who would like a couple of hours of poem making.

John Hegley is a magnificent poet, storyteller, writer and gentleman. This session will be a friendly, inclusive meeting. Some structured play and some writing and sharing by the close if you wish to. John has been a firm favourite at Colchester Arts Centre over many years.

Fish & Shipsinvolves the making of a paper fish in the French tradition of Poisson d'Avril, (a popular French April Fools day prank, see poem below) and the drawing of ships, passing out of a rocky harbour with flocky guillemots.Activities will be accompanied by mandolin playing by John, which you can turn down if it is distracting. Sadly, no biscuits can be provided!

Pay What You Can Afford - Suggested Donation £5
25th March: Starts 2pm
27th March: Starts 10am
Suitable for accompanied 9 year olds + and unaccompanied adults
You will be emailed a link to access the workshop.

Photo Polly Hancock.


In France, this is the paper fish, traditionally stuck, unbeknown, 

onto the back of a fellow schoolchild as a First of April prank.

His first years as a schoolboy, were the years my father spent

attending school in Paris, where the First of April meant

a fish made out of paper and the efforts to conceal

attaching it to somebody - le poisson d'Avril.

Something fishy going on, a bit of sticky tape

with an accoutrement with something of an oceanic shape.

Standing at a bus stop, or sat down to eat a meal,

'Regardez, regardez - le poisson d'Avril!'

Although he spoke French as a lad, he had an English name

and the call was heard from England, so across the sea he came

to existence at a distance, which was going to reveal

less onions, less croissants - even less poissons d'Avril.

Like a thumb with a great soreness, he would stick out at the school,

where no fish marked the tradition of the English April Fool.

To stick out even further, it was lacking in appeal,

hence the sense in his dispensing with le poisson d' Avril.

So, fitting in, surviving, and not seeming very French

seemed reasonable to dad, although I'm glad of the enchantment

of his continental heritage - come springtime what I feel

is a sense we're in the season of les poissons d'Avril.

I pick up where my dad left off, in schooldays back in France.

When April's at the door, I'm more than ready for the chance

to get stuck in with the sticking on, to dance about and squeal,

'zut alors, ici encore - le poisson d'Avril!'

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