Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The shifting sands at Southport, action of prozac on shrimps and the wreck off Mad Warf


Southport's shifting sands and what they have to reveal are amongst the themes of this week's Radio 4 Book of the Week  written and read by local multi award winning  poet Jean Sprackland. All is available on iplayer for seven days.

Monday began with the skeletal remains of of ship wreck:

Every so often the sands shift enough to reveal great mysteries: the Star of Hope, wrecked on Mad Wharf in 1883 and usually just visible as a few wooden stumps, is suddenly raised one day, up from the depths - an entire wreck, black and barnacled, and on either side two more ruined ships, taking the air for a while before sinking back under the sand

Yesterday we had the impact on the famous Southport shrimps of discarded Prozac tablets-not as benign as you might imagine.  Ms Sprackland has appeared on the Birkdale blog when her previous collection of poems Tilt came to our notice back in January 2008 and again when she won the Costa poetry Award. I suspect that she will rank her appearance on Ian MacMillan's Radio 3 programme The Verb as more prestigious than a mention on a blog and the programme is available to listen to for two more days.

 I know from the feedback that local people greatly appreciated her poem The Birkdale Nightingale

(Bufo calamito – the Natterjack toad)



On Spring nights you can hear them
two miles away, calling their mates
to the breeding place, a wet slack in the dunes.

Lovers hiding nearby are surprised
by desperate music. One man searched all night
for a crashed spaceship.
For amphibians, they are terrible swimmers:
where it's tricky to get ashore, they drown.

By day they sleep in crevices under the boardwalk,
run like lizards from cover to cover
without the sense to leap when a gull snaps.

Yes, he can make himself fearsome,
inflating his lungs to double his size.
But cars on the coast road are not deterred.

She will lay a necklace of pearls in the reeds.
Next morning, a dog will run into the water and scatter them.
Or she'll spawn in a footprint filled with salt rain
that will dry to a crust in two days.

Still, when he calls her and climbs her
they are well designed. The nuptial pads on his thighs
velcro him to her back. She steadies beneath him.

The puddle brims with moonlight.
Everything leads to this.

from Tilt (Cape, 2007)


Carol Ann Duffy appeared with Jean Spracland in the studio theatre in the Arts Centre (pre renovation and pre poet laureate status) in the Sefton Celebrates Writing Festival. The Arts Centre -now named The Atkinson- has undergone major renovations not least to the Studio Theatre and the work was part funded by a grant from the 'Sea Change' fund which brings us back to Strands and the BBC book of the week which is about Sea Change

Strands is available from all good Bookshops. Broadhursts in Market St (pictured) had sold out this afternoon but were confident of getting new supplies in tomorrow and is anyway always worth a visit.

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