Official website for Mark C. Hewitt & Blank Productions

Zones of Avoidance
ZoA poetry productions

Written and performed by Maggie Sawkins
Directed by Mark C. Hewitt

Video sequences by Abigail Norris
Incidental music by Nick Evans
Audio editing by Jack Kingslake

Zones of Avoidance project website »

Zones of Avoidance
is a multimedia live literature production that brings together spoken word, video sequences by artist Abbie Norris and the recorded voices of addicts in recovery. The production tells the story of a daughter’s descent into heroin addiction, as well as asking poignant questions about the nature of addiction and the allure of psychoactive substances. Written and performed by poet Maggie Sawkins and directed by Mark C. Hewitt, the work grew out of Maggie’s personal and professional involvement with Portsmouth’s community of recovering addicts, some of whose voices can be heard in the production.

• The work was first performed at the Menuhin Room in Portsmouth Central Library on 30 October 2013.
• In March 2014,
Zones of Avoidance was announced as the 2013 winner of The Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry.
• In 2015, Maggie Sawkins and Mark C. Hewitt founded
ZoA poetry productions to support touring activity for the work and to develop new projects.

“ ... a really extraordinary performance piece. It was beautifully presented and had a crystal clear narrative. The storyline has been ricocheting around my head and will continue to do so… many congratulations on delivering a harrowing story with such integrity.”
Caroline Sharman (Director, New Theatre Royal)

“This is an ambitious multimedia presentation using film, voices and sound, which works exceptionally well. It is a challenging, painfully open account of a daughter’s addiction, yet it’s an account which also offers graceful good humour. Beautifully written and uncompromising, it’s a modern story that we felt the writer was compelled to tell; it acts as a vivid witness of harsh experiences which aren’t often described in poetry, and Maggie Sawkins’ illuminating descriptions will prove helpful for others to hear”
Denise Riley (on behalf of the judges of the Ted Hughes Award)

Photos by Nivine Keating © 2015

Previous performances
30 October 2013: Menuhin Room, Portsmouth Central Library (Portsmouth Bookfest)
27 November 2013: Winchester Discovery Centre
16 January 2014: The Spring Arts & Heritage Centre, Havant
22 January 2014: The Cellars at Eastney, Southsea
13 July 2014: Ledbury Poetry Festival
29 October 2014: All Saints Centre, Lewes
30 October 2014: The David Russell Theatre, Portsmouth (Hampshire Festival of the Mind)
29 September – 1 October 2015: The Cockpit, Marylebone, London
10 November 2015: HMP Lewes (as part of Penned Up festival, curated by LLL Productions)
11 March 2016: Merlin Theatre, Frome
28 June 2016: The Birley Centre, Eastbourne
29 October 2016: University of Winchester (Performing Arts Studio 2)

Maggie Sawkins, with the judges of The Ted Hughes Award - Sean Borodale, Eileen Cooper and Denise Riley -
and Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, March 2014.

Maggie Sawkins is the founder of Portsmouth poetry and music club, Tongues&Grooves. The club was set up in 2003 with the aim of empowering people to express themselves through writing and performance. Her poetry collections include Charcot’s Pet (Flarestack) and The Zig Zag Woman (Two Ravens Press). Her work has been frequently anthologised and her articles on poetry and well-being are included in Writing Your Self (Continuum) and Writing Routes (Jessica Kingsley Publishers). In 2013 she was chosen by the Poetry Book Society to represent Portsmouth on the T. S. Eliot Poetry Prize Tour. Maggie is a qualified Peer Recovery Broker and trainer on Portsmouth City Council’s ‘Working Therapeutically with Addictions’ course.