Category Archives: Poetry and Art

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.


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.



Robin Hood 2014

Robin Hood 2014

A few posts ago we had a poem from the early nineteenth century – Private Theatricals by Winthrop Mackworth Praed.

Theatricals are is still alive and well in Teignmouth even though last year saw the demise of the Carlton Theatre to be replaced on the Den by a brand new facility, The Pavilions, due to open early next year.

In the mean time the Teignmouth Players have had to improvise and change venue. But the show goes on and here’s a poem that advertised the Christmas Panto 2014 in the local press. Oh no it isn’t, oh yes it is!

It had no named author or title so I’ve just called it ……


Christmas is that special time
When you can see a pantomime.
The audience from near and far
May witness a spectacular
Performance from the Teignmouth Players
With heroes, villains and soothsayers!
The Carlton may well be ‘behind you’
But there’s no need to shout or ‘boo’,
Teign Community School is here.
     (Oh no it isn’t! Oh yes it is!)
So everyone can clap and cheer
Along to each and every number
Until they all go home to slumber.

Amy Burton-Smith’s direction
Is absolute panto perfection
With Jeff Hocking’s musical skill
This show is set to wow and thrill!
The Teignmouth Players cast and crew
Are all proud to present to you
The Adventures of Robin Hood
To excite you like a panto should!
The evil sheriff of Nottingham
Does all the things a villain can
To make life hard for our poor hero.
But will his efforts come to zero?
The love of lady Marion
Will have them fighting ‘till it’s won!

The Dame of this year’s panto battle
Takes form as Nora Tittletattle.
The Nanny of our fairest maiden
Who’s sure to have her make-up laden!
So book your tickets right away
To come and see a matinee
or evening if that’s your bag
And laugh along with every gag!
Bring all the family with you
And shout out loud and cheer and boo!
Lots of laughs are on the menu
At this exciting new venue
Over Christmas and New Year,
Be sure to leave a window clear!

Cages of Light

Yesterday was National Poetry Day. Surprisingly, I don’t think it was marked in Teignmouth. Perhaps it should have been so here is a brief collection of thoughts.

This year’s theme was ‘Light’. One of the features of the Teignmouth Oracle Facebook site is an amazing collection of photographs often showing similar views of Teignmouth but in different conditions. It struck me that the common feature is Light – nuances in light can give completely new and different interpretations and emotions to what you are seeing. We take Light for granted yet it completely surprises us.

I have taken a small selection of photos from the past few days as my Cages of Light.

Cages of Light

'Duality'. by Azure Photography

‘Duality’. by Azure Photography

Wavelets oyster-sheened
where sea and sand elide
in ripples of duality


'Dolmens march' by Azure Photography

‘Dolmens march’ by Azure Photography

Dolmens march ashore,
birthed from womb of sun
and lull of sea




'Mirrored bowl' from Eastcliff Cafe

‘Mirrored shore’ from Eastcliff Cafe

The mirrored shore
cupping in its tender grasp
reflections of the fount of light



'Symmetry of grey' by Spotted Teignmouth

‘Symmetry of grey’ by Spotted Teignmouth

The velvet plain of sea
worn shade-smooth
within its symmetry of grey


'Lobster' by Tim Powell-Morris

‘Lobster’ by Tim Powell-Morris

Skiffs at rest at end of day,
quadrille over, dusted
by the blush of lobster clouds




(Note:  I didn’t have time to contact the photographers before re-posting their work; I hope they’ll forgive me especially since I have given credit!)

Want to know more?  Check out:

National Poetry Day …..

Private Theatricals

Winthrop Mackworth Praed

Winthrop Mackworth Praed

We are going back almost two hundred years for this post on one of the attractions of Teignmouth …. to certain people at least.

I’m not sure when it started but certainly through the 19th century it was quite common to hold private theatricals in private large houses. George Templer routinely did this at Stover House and it is likely, if the accompanying poem is anything to go by, that similar events may have been held at Bitton House.

Teignmouth also boasted the Royal Clarence Theatre in Coombe Vale Road which was demolished in 1840.

So it is not surprising to learn that Winthrop Mackworth Praed, who also lived at Bitton House, wrote a poem on the subject of theatricals. It forms one of his ‘Letters from Teignmouth’.

(Lady Arabella Fustian to Lord Clarence Fustian)
(Winthrop Mackworth Praed, 1831)

‘‘Sweet, when actors first appear,
The Ioud collision of applauding gloves.‘‘ – Moultrie

YOUR labours, my talented brother,
Are happily over at last
They tell me -that, somehow or other,
The Bill is rejected,—or past;
And now you’ll be coming, I’m certain,
As fast as your posters can crawl,
To help us to draw up our curtain,
As usual, at Fustian Hall.

Arrangements are nearly completed;
But still we’ve a Lover or two,
Whom Lady Albina entreated
We’d keep, at all hazards, for you:
Sir Arthur makes horrible faces
Lord John is a trifle too tall;
And yours are the safest embraces
To faint in, at Fustian Hall.

Come, Clarence; – it’s really enchanting
To listen and look at the rout:
We’re all of us puffing and panting,
And raving, and running about;
Here Kitty and Adelaide bustle;
There Andrew and Anthony bawl;
Flutes murmur chains rattle – robes rustle
In chorus, at Fustian Hall.

By the bye, there are two or three matters
We want you to bring us from Town:
The Inca’s white plumes from the hatter’s,
A nose and a hump for the Clown;
We want a few harps for our banquet;
We want a few masks for our ball;
And steal from your wise friend Bosanquet
His white wig, for Fustian Hall!

Hunca Munca must have a huge sabre;
Friar Tuck has forgotten his cowl;
And we’re quite at a stand still with Weber
For want of a lizard and owl:
And then, for our funeral procession,
Pray get us a love of a pall
Or how shall we make an impression
On feelings, at Fustian Hall?

And, Clarence, you’ll really delight us,
If you’ll do your endeavour to bring,
From the Club, a young person to write us
Our prologue, and that sort of thing;
Poor Crotchet, who did them supremely,
Is gone for a Judge to Bengal;
I fear we shall miss him extremely
This season, at Fustian HaIl.

Come, Clarence! your idol Albina
Will make a sensation, I feel;
We all think there never was seen a
Performer so like the O’Neill:
At rehearsals, her exquisite fancy
Has deeply affected us all;
For one tear that trickles at Drury,
There’ll be twenty at Fustian Hall!

Dread objects are scattered before her
On purpose to harrow her soul;
She stares, till a deep spell comes o’er her,
At a knife, or a cross, or a bowl.
The sword never seems to alarm her
That hangs on a peg to the wall;
And she doats on thy rusty old armour,
Lord Fustian, of Fustian Hall.

She stabbed a bright mirror this morning,
(Poor Kitty was quite out of breath!)
And trampled, in anger and scorning,
A bonnet and feathers to death.
But hark !- I’ve a part in “The Stranger,’
There’s the Prompter’s detestable call!
Come, Clarence –our Romeo and Ranger
We want you at Fustian Hall!

For more information about the poem check out:

Private Theatricals …..

The Hole Man

Hiking on an Empty Stomach by Malcolm Curley

Hiking on an Empty Stomach by Malcolm Curley

Returning to the present day the Teignmouth TRAIL is once again in place – the annual display of recycled art which runs along the seafront and this year also extends up to the Homeyard Botanical Gardens in Shaldon.

Poetry has marked the TRAIL in previous years (see Haiku Serenade and the Renga) but this year a separate poetry site has also been set up for poems about the various sculptures.

Meanwhile here’s a piece about one of the really intriguing sculptures called “Hiking on an Empty Stomach” by Malcolm Curley.  The poem is simply called “The Hole Man”.

The Hole Man
(Keats’ Ghost)

I once met a man,
a man with a hole,
a hole in the place where his stomach should be.

The whole man marched,
he marched with a pole,
a pole to embrace his entirety.

Does the man have a heart?
Does the heart have a soul?
Is the soul in the space through which you can see?

He is recycled art
and this art has a role,
a role to persuade you to think differently.

Man, hole,
hole, pole,
heart, soul,
art, role …..
all on the TRAIL at Teignmouth by sea.

Want to see more?  Check out:

Teignmouth TRAIL 2015…..
TRAIL Poetry 2015 …..

Galleria dell’Arte

Outdoor gallery, Teignmouth

Outdoor gallery, Teignmouth

So before returning to Keats here’s another piece on poetry and art.

Last summer a community art project was initiated in Teignmouth by local artist Mos Shaw who persuaded the local council to support an outdoors “art gallery”.

The walls of the gallery were an ugly line of boarding surrounding a piece of empty land adjacent to Brunswick Street. Local artists were invited to paint pieces on this boarding, which has now brightened up that area. There should be more of this street art approach. And street art can be accompanied by street poetry. The “Galleria dell’Arte” is a poetic description of all the pieces of art to be found on the ramshackle boarding and also features on the boarding.

Poetry and art also features as part of the Teignmouth Poetry Festival which begins this Thursday and exhibits of art with associated verse can be seen at TAAG.

Galleria Dell’Arte
(Keats’ Ghost)

Roll up my friends and come join the party,
come and admire,
come be inspired,
let your soul catch fire
and imagine ……

….. the Galleria Dell’Arte

art1Be seduced by the Vixen
playing tricks on your eyes,
red rose in her hair, the scare of her cobwebbed brow.
See the Duomo that towers o’er Venetian canals,
but where is the bridge of sighs? Unless …
no surprise, it’s the arch on a Dartmoor stream ……

….. Aaah, il Ponte dei Sospiri

art2For nothing is quite what it seems
to the coil of the brain on these gallery walls,
an outdoor hall where a dragonfly rests
on speckles of blue and a blossom of squares,
where you’ll find a skull on a chequered floor
and a whale on a ball, a Picasso scene ……

…..surreal as Dali

art3Come sail serene on a sailing ship
with a sail so pink you can only think
of Happy Days, time’s delay, idle hours,
of living naively on a beach
or meandering down a Teignmouth street,
bunting and house fronts screeching with flowers ……

….. sweet as pearls of barley

art4The furnace-fire of the friendly sun,
the skin-glow rouge in the bonfire flames
that edge-lap lick their burnished frame
whilst Mayan blocks and pyramids
burst from sands of bloody red ……

….. dead as seas of Kali

art5Water fall meets the sea-front wall,
a shimmering ghost-grey wraith between,
pebble-dashed, scree-spray splashed.
Whilst shoals of shadowy fish slip by
an albatross glides through the curtained sky
and passengers cavort on a ship nearby ……

….. watched by the eye of the sea

art6Compromise comfort …..
Reach for the lowest thoughts you’ll find,
letting your mind stray far away.
Ask “What does she say, that jungle girl
beyond her mask of black and white,
with her piercing eyes of cerulean blue?
Who is the girl at the edge of the frame?” ……

….. peeping through bubbles so coyly?

art7And the naked boy …..
origami folds of a crumpled scrap,
holding crumbs of hope perhaps?
Bowed and begging, a supplicant,
but for what does he pray?
Imagine, admire, be inspired , be fired ……

….. by the Galleria Dell’Arte

Want to know more? Check out:

Mos Shaw …..
TAAG …..
Poetry Festival …..