In September 2012 I was poet in residence for Crossovers Conference, an event about culture and tourism run by Arts Council England and Greenwich University. I crowdsourced the words from the talks, tweets and an exercise I devised, with the challenge to create a brand new poem by the end of the day.
Here what we came up with!
Culture had brought us here
it’s the reason people come
so here’s a list of options
I can’t choose only one.
We’re wrapped up in debates about
the seaside: Whitstable or Brighton?
A city break to Oxford
or should that be Southampton?
The Sea Museum’s exemplary
but so’s Margate’s Turner Contemporary
we could walk the South Downs
or go visiting boutiques in small coastal towns.
We can go to Canterbury Cathedral
Or cycle ride the countryside
Visit Kew Gardens or Chatham Dockyard
for the cultural economy will not occupy the Shard.
Because we’re beyond the economic
to the things that people love in life:
good food, good art, independent shops,
entertainment and heritage: experiences people take home
Walk streets full of magic
understand the sense of place
climb hills for 30-40-50 mile views
get a sense of space
get lost in vintage shops and contemporary architecture
see the familiar in a new light
find somewhere interesting to go
discover England in miniature
Drink proper local beer
in a proper English pub
a stereotypically English pastime
filtered through Romanticism
we could even go to Diggerland!
Because it starts in poetry and ends in real estate
people love what they love
and anyone can participate.
Just for fun
become involved in place-making
make the virtuous circle viable
this is what culture means
make a place sing with beautiful glowing poetry and prose
a strong community roaring like a soundcape of sea
Come to places to be welcomed:
become alive again.