Monthly Archives: March 2016

Images from the Bridge of Si’s

poetry festival coverLast weekend saw yet another fantastic Poetry Festival in Teignmouth.  Thanks to Jenny, Ronnie, Virginia, Graham and Ian for so much hard work and the tremendous effort in bringing this to fruition each year.

In the last two years I have written something to mark the festival (2014 – Poet Clan and 2015 – Matt Harvey, the Kipper and the Kenning).  So a tradition has been born.  This year’s poem is about the opening night when three performers – Susan Taylor, Simmon Williams and Simon Barron – put on a tour de force about the sea and shore.

There were three aspects I enjoyed especially:  such a rich range and variety of content and style;  the lyricism of the poetry was complemented by the sounds of the extraordinary guitar playing of Simon Barron in his rendering of sea-songs and the amazing mystical power of the Tibetan ocean drum (a musical oxymoron?!) which features as a reprise in this poem; and, finally, Susan’s flowing movements when reading that helped to bring the poetry to life.  Susan was like the flow of water through the bridge arches of the two Simons.

For those of you who attended that evening you should recognise the references.  For everyone  else, trying to condense a two hour performance into two minutes is not easy and this may seem a bit like a weird surreal dream, but that is why the poem is described as ‘images’.

Images from the Bridge of Si’s

Well Met Susan Taylor,
Simon Williams and Simon Barron;
Susan on the bridge of Si’s –
hear the sighs of the sea
and the swirl of the curl
of the estuary shore,
on a night to remember.

Hear the swish, the swoosh
of the ocean wash
from the ocean drum …
and the thrum of the heart of the fisherman
cupped in the claws of the skeleton woman,
ripped yet beating still …
See the goddess fingers, severed,
dip and dive,
coming alive as schools of seals and whales.
Inuit tales.
Fairy tales of the Tylwyth Teg.
Mermaids who take off their tails
and walk for a while
with a wink and a nod,
a McGonagall smile
at the Dawlish Seawall and Rail …. Disaster.

Hera the swish, the swoosh
of the ocean wash
from the ocean drum …
when the Sandman comes
at the time of the tide
of the ‘void of course’ moon.
Spermataphores of cephalopods.
Seamen’s songs
of wild young men and raffish lads,
stout infant fish of forty days.
There’s red port left!
So, heave away
into the bay of Valparaiso
where you’ll fall for the lust of a Spanish lass,
long gone those girls …. of Plymouth.

Hear the swish, the swoosh
of the ocean wash
from the ocean drum …
– it’s Tibetan, you know –
on a night to remember.

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Exciting News

Cover imageIt has been a little while since the last post mainly because I have been busy putting together a selection of these poems into a book “Pebbles on the Shore”, which is currently at the printers.

Poetry and Song have long been a traditional way of recording stories of people and events, as an alternative way of remembering.  So, with that in mind, each piece of verse in the book has a brief story attached to tie it in to its place in the shaping of Teignmouth and the surrounding area.  I have also worked with a local artist, Maureen Fayle, who has illustrated the various pieces.  Her superb pen and ink sketches lend so much more depth to the stories that unfold.

Fresh to Bleed 13-cropThe selection goes back almost 400 years but there are a few contemporary pieces as well so thanks to the ‘modern-day’ contributors for allowing me to include their work:  Ian Chamberlain (one of the co-founders of Poetry Teignmouth), Kim Edwards, Bob Freshwater (and the Back Beach Boyz), Deborah Harvey, Barbara Hine, Don Pearson and Tacy Rickard.

Teignmouth 27 - cropped1This project started just over two years ago with a thought and a question. Walking up the cliff path through the beautiful Mules Park in East Teignmouth I saw a poem, The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy, posted on the noticeboard. Who put it there I don’t know, but it struck a chord. My thoughts drifted to Keats. Teignmouth is proud of its association with John Keats even though he stayed here only three months whilst looking after his brother Tom who had come earlier in hope that the sea air would alleviate, if not cure, his consumption. Then came the random question – were there any other poems or poets associated with Teignmouth? And so this project was born.

The journey to this book has been like a walk along the beach, occasionally finding interesting pebbles whose shape, texture and colour define the shoreline like poems marking time in the history of Teignmouth.