Once again I have been taking part in the annual IW Music, Dance and Drama Festival, where I won the cup for the best adult poetry composition – it’s the sixth time I have won this particular award in recent years, although I am a regular winner of the short story, one act play and article-writing cups too.
My winning poem was inspired by a piece of verse written by another Island writer, Joan Waddleton, and I was very much thinking of the cliffs at Compton Bay, here on the Isle of Wight, at the time. In writing it, I was also reminded of the fact that my father found a body washed up at Compton Bay in the early 1990s (it was a young woman who was thought to have jumped from the cliffs at nearby Tennyson Down).
Here is my winning poem:
Not the most breath-taking of cliffs –
Rust-stained crumbling sandstone,
Winter storms threaten dereliction –
Makeshift repairs forestall the inevitable.
Spring arrives: seabirds seek ancient nest-holes,
Drifts of pink thrift blur the cliff’s toothed edges,
A hare bounds and swathes of bold bluebells blaze –
Sandcastle flags make a mock of butterflies.
Summer hosts barbecues on the beach –
Cliff echoes with the sound of laughter,
Sailing dinghies skip through the surf,
Children squeal on discovering a crab.
Autumn brings mellow days for fishermen –
Mending lobster pots, pulling up boats for winter,
Dog-walkers, horse-riders and flying kites,
A nip in the air, as day fades to night.
Winter returns: short days of damp light,
Christmas Eve and a policeman is despatched
To close the record on one person’s despair –
One fact is clear: the cliff was good enough.
On looking through the various verses saved on my computer tonight, I discovered I had written two versions of this poem. In the second version, I had inserted another verse in between Autumn and Winter (verses four and five).
The new verse reads:
November gales bring howling winds,
Skirls of seashells shatter on the sands,
Pieces are torn from the ancient shipwreck
By a churning soup of seaweed and dead fish.
Which version do you think is better – with the new verse, or without?