All Afloat! with Poetry Swindon Festival

3 Oct

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“I discovered my Englishness through living on a boat,” said poet and canal dweller Jo Bell, who has recently finished a three year stint as canal poet laureate.

We sat on Dragonfly, a boat on the Wilts and Berks canal just a mile long and slightly curtailed due to bridge renovations, for All Afloat! part of the Poetry Swindon Festival.

Swimming happily (I guess) alongside was the teenage offspring of Mr & Mrs Swindon, adult-sized but still-grey cygnet. Recently Mr Swindon was sick. Canal enthusiasts clubbed together to send him to the swan sanctuary for six weeks to recover. Meanwhile Mrs Swindon found a new love and Teenager was born. Chris, our boat host, explained this is contrary to popular opinion that swans mate for life. Mrs Swindon now divides her time between Mr Swindon and her lover (Mr Wroughton? Just a suggestion) I think this is unfair to suggest Mrs Swindon is feckless. It’s not like you can sit a swan down and explain her hubby is off to hospital for a month and a half. She probably thought he was dead. Though the mourning period was arguably a little short.

Perched right on top of a tree was a heron in perfect silhouette. Cue a grisly tale of how a heron kills a rabbit – grab ’em by the ears, drown ’em then eat ’em whole.

What fish live in a canal? How do you do your washing on a boat? Do they transport goods on a canal? I get the best blackberries. I am asked to take photos of overgrown caught fishes. I have post addressed to an industrial park where my postbox resides. Said Jo.

Jo read canal-related poems from her latest collection, Kith, about kingfishers and canal artifacts, archeology and ex-relationships where the one good thing to come out of it was the introduction to life on a canal boat. Florence said the stars on her boots were the same colours as my sunglasses and she is eight in February.

Post by Louisa Davison

Louisa Davison is also known as Agent Louisa at Secret Agent Marketing

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