Day 19: Polkerris to Gorran Haven

Route
A good stretch from Polkerris to Gorran Haven, starting near Par which still shows signs of industry and ending in the Roseland. I swam at Du Porth, just beyond Charlestown, and met Luke Thompson at Mevagissey. We discussed his experience growing up near the town and the artist community that lived there (including WS Graham at a time). By the end of tomorrow’s walk I’ll be in very familiar lands.

On Walking and Poetry
It seems to me there’s a strong link between walking and poetry, at least in the English and American traditions, and I’ve been thinking about it on the trek. There are of course too many examples to list; I know Chaucer is a good early example, walking was important for Wordsworth both for content and composition, and by the 20th century the examples are countless. Indeed most of the poets I know are interested in walking.

Perhaps it is connected to breath and posture, rhythm and gait. Perhaps it is a descendent of the philosophies behind Romanticism and Transcendentalism. Maybe it is just about experiencing the world from a variety of perspectives rather than a single point.

There is a strong contemporary British tradition which perhaps looks back to MacSweeney and Bunting and is manifest in a couple of loose groups of poets such as the ‘radical landscape poets’ who have historically published with Etruscan and Shearsman. In recent years Longbarrow Press has done especially well with walking and poetry, publishing the best anthology in the field The Footing and several single authored collections which tackle walking from a contemporary perspective. Mark Goodwin’s work is a fine example and I’m delighted to be launching the coastpoems app series with some of his inspiring site specific work. It was howling a gale while I was walking his section of the coast path so I’ve still not listened to the work in situ but I can confirm the poems work nicely in Roseland acoustics.

Birds
Wood Pigeon, Herring Gull, Black Headed Gull, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Spotted Flycatcher, Rook, Common Gull, Shag, Buzzard, Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Cormorant, Great Black Backed Gull, Kestrel, Turnstone, House Sparrow, Swallow, Collared Dove, Rock Dove

Wild Animals
European Sprat (shoal)

Poem
sprattus sprattus

all flesh includes vertical swimming
skinny separate shoals of swimming material
saline pan covers the silvery swimming

greenish dip flesh holds narrow events
it’s baltic in there as byron
makes outdoor russet country advances

smoked spotted european sandpools
in the strict modern sea
the sprats laterally as wild as roger

herring-water smooths the species bias
and i practice my spine
in the brisling surface

england migrates minerals now
but i’ve seen you at arthur’s
rock meal in black shallows

Visuals