Monday, 24 September 2012


Three of us spent an hour yesterday picking up rubbish from the beach (inspired by National Beachwatch Day). Above is what we found. Not bad - in terms of not very much. What catches the eye (in the photo and on the salt marsh) are the bigger canisters, trays, plastic drink bottles and bits of aggregate sacks.

But the real danger lies in the small pieces of Polystyrene. It masquerades as food for birds (Oh the irony since much of it comes from take-away containers). Estimates are that it takes 500 years to decompose. Although since it's only been around since 1839, that's an unknown. Also, it's unstable. Especially in salt water, where it releases potentially toxic substances. So not just the birds get it - the whole chemical make up of the ocean is contaminated.

Today we have strong winds which will bring more crap to the beach. And we don't plan to spend a hour cleaning it up today. If we did, there'd be more tomorrow. Although, nothing to the extent of what collects in the vortexes in each ocean... in the North and South Pacific, North and South Atlantic, The Indian Ocean... 100 million tons of plastic overall, apparently. And growing. Bon appetit.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Intertidal poetry

I love this picture of seaweed at low tide. The residue of movement is thrilling because the object is static while the energy of the sea heaves away a few hundred metres down the beach. This is poetry.

At least, this is what I try to capture in my work. The words and their overall shape on the page are motionless but contained in their sense is an extraordinary movement. Such intention was likened, by a friend recently, to a rose blooming. Poetry has the ability to capture the coming into presence of something: object, person or event. All poetry has this inherent energy, even if it initally looks like this still seaweed. No wonder it becomes addictive to its practitioners.

Peter Redgrove called that moment of discovery, an 'opening', the heightened sensation of understanding or illumination. The best poems continue to open long after they've been set. To me, that is, as much as to any reader. The chafing of word against word, line on line, can continue to spark indefintely, reshaping depending on time, tide and light. Edit this too much and there's a danger for me to over manipulate the subject. I like the not-knowing, the unseeing element. Those waves shingling the beach in the distance while I stare at this seaweed. It lets me off the hook. Surprises, startles and unsettles me.