Poetry Town began in 2015 with a weekly poem displayed in the window of Kirkdale Bookshop. Following overwhelmingly positive responses from customers we have decided to partner with Sydenham Arts to build on the idea and fill Sydenham with poetry not just by famous poets but by local people, both young and old.
8th August 2018
Ventnor, Summer 1957, the year before the old wooden hut on the beach
was demolished, and Britannia was rehoused. She died three months later.
There was the old swimming house she’d acquired
perched above high water on stilts of oak;
the new owner, forever embayed –
trapped between two headlands –
for love of a Great War soldier expected back
all these years. She embraced the name
of the statue in Plymouth, mistress of the sea.
Seen from the cliff, she fished for Shore crab.
Her grace? Ageless. Myself? Hunting puberty.
Mostly she’d stand. Was that his boat?
Her dark engagement dress, better for wear –
accented the curves the breeze would create;
her feet corralled by sand due to being there,
her silver mane bandoliered with salt crystal,
her breasts? two buoys billowing out
toward France to warm her lover where he fell
beyond any sergeant’s shout.
I would come given half a chance
from whatever war my school was. I’d buy
from you a Seville orange, dip into your sweets basket,
follow you home through barbed wire…
Britannia, Nell Gwyn, Olivia Parkes