Tag Archives: poetry festival

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.


Matt Harvey, the Kipper and the Kenning in the style of Matt Harvey, the Kipper and the Kenning ….. almost ….. or as close as I can

Wow! Teignmouth’s second Poetry Festival has just finished. It has been fantastic; congratulations to Ian, Ronnie, Jenny, Graham, Virginia for organising such an inspiring event.

Matt Harvey

Matt Harvey

The Festival opened with the Totnes-based performance poet, Matt Harvey. Matt’s way with words has taken him from Totnes to the Wimbledon Tennis Championships via Saturday Live, the Edinburgh Festival and the Work section of the Guardian. He has been described by the Scotsman as “One of the country’s finest performance poets”, by the Independent as “Very funny…” and by the Guardian as “…not only funny, but tender and true”.

After last year’s Festival I wrote a poem about the event called “The Poet Clan”. I thought I’d do the same this year and used Matt Harvey’s opening performance as the basis for this. Perhaps this is the start of a tradition!

It’s about Matt, a poem he recited which had some resonance for me – “Kippers for Life, and a word he introduced which I hadn’t heard before – “Kenning”.

Here it is:

Matt Harvey, the Kipper and the Kenning in the style of Matt Harvey, the Kipper and the Kenning ….. almost ….. or as close as I can
(Keat’s Ghost)

Matt Harvey was first to be
at Teignmouth Poetry,
the best of all festivals down by the sea.

His rhyming appealed to me,
his timing revealed to me
what once was concealed from me –
why to speak …..
….. pausingly …..
when holding the floor.

He rhymed with alacrity,
some might say spectacularly,
at times quite vernacularly …..
Would you like to hear more? …..

Perhaps jabberwockily,
or quite Dr Spockily,
occasionally mockingly
and mildly shockingly
but ever energetically,
compelling frenetically
in cadence splenetically.
Could it be genetically
produced I deduced
from the timing of rhyme
that seemed to come easily,
teasing the myth of life,
squeezing the pith of life,
breathing the kith of life
into each word so meaningfully.

I remember his kipper,
a slip of a fish
that tastes quite delish …..-
….. (that’s short for ‘deliciously’) …..,
relished for breakfast
or embellished in kedgeree.
But when my kipper’s served gloriously
– “three golden ladies”, dressed on my plate,
too late, too late, too late comes my plea
as I try words placatory;
for I wish that the whiff would be
less challenged odorously –
it drives my wife nuts you see,
no ifs nor buts for me,
my each passing pleasantry
is greeted unpleasantly
as the smell of smoked herring
lingers unerringly,
by no means unsparingly,
clinging unfailingly
to each word that’s flaying me
that questions my sanity …..
the sanity, the fate
of all who eat kippers,
one, two or three
golden ladies dressed on a plate.

no mistake here …..,
Matt Harvey was first to be
at Teignmouth poetry,
the best of all festivals …..
….. down by the sea.

Want to know more?  Check out:

Matt Harvey …..
Teignmouth Poetry Festival …..