Zones of Avoidance

~ a multimedia live literature production written and performed by poet Maggie Sawkins & directed by Mark C. Hewitt


Zones of Avoidance in Somerset

The next performance of Zones of Avoidance will take place at the Merlin Theatre, Frome, on 11 March, 2016.

Date/time: Friday 11 March, 7.45pm
Venue: Merlin Theatre, Bath Rd, Frome, Somerset BA11 2HG
Tickets: £10.50
Box Office: 01373 465 949
or available online from The Merlin Theatre »

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Zones of Avoidance at HMP Lewes

On the afternoon of Tuesday 10 November, Zones of Avoidance will be presented as part of Penned Up, a unique literature festival being staged within the walls of Lewes Prison. The work will be presented for prisoners using as much of the stagecraft as possible, such as video and audio, but without the stage lighting, (there being none). This will be followed by a Q&A / discussion. Penned Up, which, so far as we know, is the first literature festival in a prison, has been developed by LLL Productions and runs from 2nd – 12th November.

During the evening, there will be an event with Maggie Sawkins and poet David Swann, upstairs at The Elephant and Castle pub in Lewes, where the two writers will give short readings and talk about their work with marginalised individuals as well as their experience of working in Lewes prison earlier in the day. The event begins at 7pm. Details here »

Read a review by Greg Freeman of one of the recent performances at The Cockpit in London (30 Sept). Click here »

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London premiere of Zones of Avoidance

The first London performances of Zones of Avoidance will take place at The Cockpit in Marylebone from 29th September to 1st October. We’d love it if you could help us get the word out!

Three evening performances: 7.45pm (Tues 29 Sept / Weds 30 Sept / Thurs 1 Oct)

Two matinees: Weds 30 Sept at 2pm – followed by Q&A / Thurs 1 Oct at 4pm

Venue: The Cockpit, Gateforth Street, Marylebone NW8 8EH
Tickets: £10
Box Office: 020 7258 2925
Buy them online by clicking here »


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Review of the book Zones of Avoidance

“This year’s winner of The Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry was the former poet laureate, Andrew Motion, for his work based on interviews with soldiers returning from Afghanistan. The previous year’s winner, Maggie Sawkins, wrote about another kind of war in Zones of Avoidance – a daughter’s drug addiction, seen through a mother’s eyes – which has now been published, with other poems, as a collection.

‘Zones of Avoidance’ is a long narrative poem, that with other poems on the same subject, makes up more than half of the book. The often harrowing poetry is built on a tough, unwavering rhythm and music in its lines that is unobtrusive, like a compere unwilling to spend too much time in the spotlight …

Thus the title poem begins: “I’m reading The Confessions of an English Opium Eater – / I want to understand what drove my daughter out in the snow. … ”

Read the full review by Greg Freeman on the Write Out Loud website by clicking here »



Book launch in Chichester

The publication by Cinnamon Press of  Zones of Avoidance was celebrated at a book launch in Portsmouth on Sat 28 March.

Read Greg Freeman’s online review of the event »

A second book launch and poetry reading by Maggie Sawkins will be held at the University of Chichester on Weds 29 April, (5.15 – 6.15 pm).

Venue: Room H144, University of Chichester, Bishop Otter Campus, College Lane, Chichester, PO19 6PE

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New reviews, interviews & audience feedback

Review by Colin Hambrook, writer and disability arts activist

“Winner of the 2014 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry, Zones of Avoidance is haunting, creating a resonance with my own life struggles. The words within Zones of Avoidance speak to the largely buried, impossible plight of thousands of families from all walks of life, up and down the country.

The performance tells a Mother’s story of her daughter’s struggles with drug addiction and contextualises her story with recorded interviews with other illegal substance-users, conveying a sense of what it is that drives an individual to the depths of self-destruction.

… But above all the poetic language in Zones of Avoidance is sublime, superbly crafted and immensely moving. At its most powerful it helps us reimagine our cultural landscape and question how things could be?”

Read the full review here »

Online review by William Sutton of performance in Portsmouth on 30 October 2014 »

Online interview with Maggie Sawkins on Write Out Loud »

& more audience feedback

‘… wonderful … one of the most moving, thought-provoking things I’ve seen.’

“I’ve never been so affected by a poetry performance as I was during this one. It was so beautifully haunting, honest, and devastating – I hung on every word, image and sound, fighting back the tears.”

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Recent performances: reviews and feedback

Reviews of a performance of Zones of Avoidance at the Hampshire Festival of the Mind, in association with Portsmouth Bookfest and audience feedback from a performance in Lewes, East Sussex, hosted by Lewes Live Literature.

REVIEW ZOA DAVID RUSSELL THEATREReview by Zella Compton. Portsmouth News 3/11/2014

‘It was fantastic. Such a rich and moving piece … I was so moved and am still processing all the imagery and words and ideas.’ – Catherine Smith

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Autumn 2014: next performances

After a well-received performance at Ledbury Poetry Festival, Zones of Avoidance can next be seen in Autumn 2014.


Date: Weds 29 October, 7.45pm
Venue: All Saints Centre, Friars Walk,
Lewes, East Sussex BN7 2LE
Hosted by Lewes Live Literature
Tickets: £10 (£12 on door)
Available online »
Tickets also available from Union Music Store, 1 Lansdown Place, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 2JT. 01273 474053. (£1 booking fee)


Date: Thurs 30 October, 7.30pm
Venue: The David Russell Theatre, (Portsmouth Grammar School)
High Street, Old Portsmouth PO1 2LN
Hosted by Portsmouth Bookfest & Hampshire Festival of the Mind
Tickets: £10 (£8 unwaged / £5 under 18s)
Box Office: 02392 814875
Available online – click here »

Maggie was recently interviewed by Literature Works, the literature development agency for the South West of England.

Click here to read the interview online »

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Next performance / forthcoming book

Zones of Avoidance can be seen at:

Date: Sun 13 July (2014), 7:30pm
Venue: Market Theatre,
Market Street, Ledbury, Herefordshire HR8 2AQ
Tickets: £8.00

Information & booking »

The work can also be seen again in Portsmouth in October 2014 as part of the Hampshire Festival of the Mind and Portsmouth Bookfest.

A book featuring the poetry by Maggie Sawkins that features in the production will be published by Cinnamon Press in Spring 2015 as part of Cinnamon’s 10th anniversary celebrations.