Poetry School takes to the Thames
The Poetry School Media Release
Coleridge’s phrase ‘Water, water everywhere’ is 2013’s theme for National Poetry Day, a nationwide celebration of poetry for everyone, everywhere.
The Port of London Authority and the Poetry School have been collaborating for this year’s celebration.
Six members of the Poetry School (Rose Ades, Geraldine Cousins, Jane Freimiller, Fawzia Kane, Debbie Potts and Anna Robinson) met last month with PLA Planning Officer Lucy Owen and Jim Trimmer, Director of Planning and Environment. They took a river trip learn about the PLA’s role in managing the tidal Thames.
The poets were shown the working character of the Thames, from Gravesend to Tilbury Docks and wind turbines, towards the QE2 bridge and past Greenhithe and Northfleet.
The new poems inspired by the trip are to be published in a forthcoming pamphlet called Dark Flow: Six Poets’ Responses to the Working Thames. A reading from the pamphlet, supported by the Poetry School, will take place on Friday 4 October at Coin Street Community Centre.
The poets write …
‘Our day on the river with the Port of London Authority was so rich and evocative I know I'm going to be using the material drawn from it for years.’ Jane Freimiller
‘A day of illumination and wonder ... on top of a much better understanding of the workings and immensity of the Thames Port.’ Rose Ades
‘It was informative in ways that went beyond the facts - the eel eating a fish, the seal sunbathing, the scale of the ships, the smell of it, the taste of the wind .’ Anna Robinson
The poet / river collaboration was arranged by Poetry School tutor Fawzia Kane, who – as an architect – and was project manager for the installation of Another Time, the new Antony Gormley sculpture sited in the river at Limehouse.
Head of Programmes at the Poetry School, Julia Bird, says ‘We are very grateful that the PLA have given us this opportunity. T S Eliot called the Thames ‘a strong brown god’. We’re looking forward to seeing how it inspires our students.’
The Poetry School is a national arts education charity based in London. Founded by poets in 1997, it exists to nurture poetic talent and support the development of poets in aid of a dynamic, diverse and popular contemporary poetry for readers and audiences everywhere. For more information please visit the website.
Fawzia Muradali Kane’s collection Tantie Diablesse (Waterloo Press 2011) was selected for consideration for the 2012 OCM Bocas Lit Fest poetry prize. As an architect she is a director of KMK Architects, and was project manager for the installation of Another Time, the new Antony Gormley sculpture in Limehouse, which was granted a riverworks licence by the Port of London Authority.
Photo credits: Debbie Potts/Fawzia Kane
Limehouse Reach by Fawzia Kane
a man rises
out of the river
until the horizon forms a line
with his eyes, the rays
will pass through his arms
as if they were
sheaves of corn
his skin is rust
he stands over the flood
where the water
holds the colours of overcast
skies, and moss on ancient timber
here, the foreshore
coughs up its own riches
a waterman's badge
pieces of blue china
and glass, polished to cloud
snapped flint pieces among remnants
of old jetties, still with
cast iron dolphins fixed to breast
or moor with chains and fraying
rope that once held
barges against their posts
there was even a dying whale
whose body would be
carried by the ebb, to sink
into the black silt that had
settled over the centuries
onto its ancestors' bones