For Escape to Create‘s Kent’s Creative Coast launch event in October 2011, I crowdsourced words and lines for a poem on the topic ‘I Love Kent Coast’ (using the hashtag #ilovekentcoast on Twitter). I was shortlisted for a Culture Award for this work in 2012.
Here’s the debut of the poem!
I Love Kent Coast
The coast looks different every day
blue, wind, white, shells, sky, shade, waves
the inconsistently continuous chimes
of a pebble hitting the ‘warning soft mud’ sign.
Touched by first light of every new day
it colourwashes my mood
Bleak, blustery, battering and beautiful
Coast bright, blue, dark and grey
Clear and colourful, murky and opaque
from the bleak desolation of Dungeness
to Margate’s clear light
21 miles of ever changing sea-nary
from pebbly beaches to cliffs of pure white.
A sea fog swims across the marsh:
the mainland to isle defined by vapour…
And it’s suddenly
The Summer of ’76
Ladybirds covering the Red Spider Café
I take a class to Westgate on the last day of term
to make a beach alphabet.
A scenic and atmospheric breath of fresh air
an inspiring place to be creative
but the pupils are storming down the seafront
stomping to slump
sulking on the stones
and sitting staring at the still sea…
Seagulls spy and squawk and squat
they dance on my roof like rain
sneaky lunch break with a sea view to devour –
Oysters & cockles & pickles & jam
veggies and fruit and seasalter ham
I eat chips!
Drink in raspberry beer and big skies
our quayside haven a pebble’s throwaway
from the Neptune pub and fresh fish.
Always something happening:
sea, sand, shingle, people, music
cockles whelk oysters; barges smacks and coasters;
comings goings landings and leaving;
the sounds of the seaside summer:
as toes tentatively dipped
into a chilly sea.
I spent teenage years swimming in the ice-cold sea
It made me feel alive:
gazing at France and dreaming
with the sun glittering across the water
from the ruins of Reculver Castle
to the pebbles at Deadman’s Corner
brisk walks on the beach to feel carefree
strolling along in flip flops – the ultimate flats –
nibbling on candyfloss, a ‘kiss me quick’ hat…
with each smash the pier sports centre
piece by piece slowly disappears
and seagulls soar into the air
in this extremity of England.
I watch my lurcher like a greyhound out of the traps
race across the miles of sand
as if inspired
by the Sea, the Herring Gulls and the Skies
which are sunset; changing light
and it feels like a stormy November afternoon.
I’m shivering on Whitstable pebbles
watching husband-to-be skim stones
finally finding myself
wrapped up warm on Tankerton slopes
with champagne and Jones’ chips
to celebrate November anniversaries.
As the seagulls sit on posts
the sun goes down in front of me.
I see the pebbles on the beach
against the blue of the sea.
My heart is always there
because nothing matters so much by that sea
and by that sky.