Summer 2020 digital residency

Summer 2020 digital residency

Place and the personal - a communal project run by Quay Words Summer 2020 writer-in-residence Tjawangwa Dema

When you think of Exeter what is the first thing that comes to mind?

As part of the Quay Words Summer residency our digital writer-in-residence for July/August, Bristol-based Tjawangwa Dema is exploring the idea of place. As the programme has moved online, TJ is hoping to connect with the city of Exeter, its people and their stories as a way of mediating engagement in the current pandemic. Your contribution may help to build and shape a personal/historical/contemporary sense of Exeter for someone who is less familiar with this UNESCO city of Literature. Anyone with a strong connection to Exeter may submit 1 photograph of a space/place in Exeter and up to 400 words reflecting on why they feel connected to this place.

TJ has found that the very personal is often strangely universal and that our notions of belonging to places can interrogated by thinking about what South African poet Gabeba Baderoon calls ‘the mystery of sameness.’ Therefore this is not a request for photographs of national monuments or famous sites that can easily be googled (unless you have a meaningful connection with them) rather TJ is looking forward to receiving something slightly more personal/that marries the public space with the personal. She will aim to create a communal text, most likely a poem, incorporating your contributions.

Feel free to:
Scan and submit an old photograph or to take a new one.

Though the visual focus is neither landscape nor people but feeling, the photograph may or may not have people in it.

Write a reflection in any style, be it prose, poetry or notes. You may find it useful to think about where this site is, and why it is meaningful to you. Is someone in the photograph, who is it, and why are they there? What do they mean to you? Saying things simply and directly can often be the ‘volta’ or the turn the imagination needs to really grasp something, and so feel free to send in your: ‘I first met my wife of 2 years here in ‘87’; ‘I lived here for 30 years’; ‘I will be married here next year’; ‘My last born Joe was baptised here’; break ups; funerals; routines; anything which in hindsight might be ordinary but is/was deeply meaningful to you and are intricately attached to places or spaces.

These are only prompts, not questions you have to answer, and your reflections can be whatever you want as long as it casts a light on your personal connection to the photographed site in less than 400 words.

– Please email your submissions to

In your email please include:
-The name or pen name you would like to be included in recognition of the submission

-The postcode of the site if you have it

Please note:

– Only one photo and written response will be accepted per person

– If you are sending a photo that includes other people, please ensure you have obtained permission for the photo to be shared. You will need to confirm this in your email to us.

– Tjawangwa Dema may use the photos and responses when she is working on her residency responses. Please be aware that as she is working to limited word counts, not every response may be used.

– Please also note that the photos/ responses may be used across multiple platforms to promote the Quay Words summer digital residency.

Deadline 30th July 2020, 5 pm.