The Poetry Place

Under Humber Bridge a little further

Monday, 3 December 2007 15:22:24

Monday, 3 December 2007 15:22:24

The town is sleeping, the hotel is sleeping, even the towers of the bridge are dozing - asleep standing, kept upright through the night by the wires and cables that anchor them to the day. One green light opens to the solitary dead of night truck and the lonely late reveller. Further along the estuary, Barrow Haven gives a muddy welcome to stream and spring waters.

In the butchers, joints and chops and special recipe sausages sleep in the cold of the fridge; by the newsagents unsold papers lie on the pavement, tied, trying to forget; and in the Six Bells the handpumps sleep under the blanket of the bar-cloth.

...As I get closer to daytime, I realise that this is going to become very hard to write. Characters will recognise themselves if they happen across this site.  It's a problem Dylan Thomas didn't care too much about. But I think I'll take my considerations into a more private area. 

However, it can be a rich seam to mine as long as students avoid being too direct!

Under Humber Bridge

Friday, 30 November 2007 12:04:38

Friday, 30 November 2007 12:04:38

I've just returned from a trip to Dumfries where I met some lovely English teachers - teachers unconstrained by anthologies!  I'll be looking at some of the poems they asked about, beginning next week in the Workshop, I hope.

In the meantime, I have been taking my mind back to the waters edge, under Humber Bridge...

Listen - the twitchers have gone home to their bird-box bungalows; the wardens pulled off their long woollen socks and hidden their hats under the pillow. The moorhens are hidden in a night as dark as themselves; coots asleep in their watery cots; ducks tucked up in reed-beds. All you can hear is the soft lap of the water in these trapped manmade lakes: clay pits dug for their tiles and bricks. Those tiles and bricks making the houses on George Street and Queen Street. Where Jane dreams of coloured crayons squabbling over which is the best colour and Harold wakes from a nightmare of supermarket trolleys cascading into the beck. Up on the hill, Colin makes timetables in his sleep and Wendy wonders about gas suppliers.  All is quiet...

On Humber Bridge

Monday, 26 November 2007 15:44:25

Monday, 26 November 2007 15:44:25

I was running a course last week during which we got to talking about Dylan Thomas and Under Milkwood. Both I and the teacher I was talking with had tried the same writing activity - or rather, asked our students to try it.

It was to write in the style of Under Milkwood but from the point of view of your own locality.  I remember my Y10s writing 'Under Humber Bridge' and some of the results were stunning.  The dream sequences in particular were revealing - and amusing.

I'm tempted to have a go myself - but is it poetry?  In the meantime, the challenge I was set was shorter but no less demanding: On Humber Bridge, after William Wordsworth...

...without turning it into a parody which sends up the Humber at the expense of the Thames.  I am gathering images and thoughts and hope to have something to show for it when I get back to this keyboard on Thursday.




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