Sit back, relax and listen to the undulating sounds of the river with words from our five Festival of Nature poets. Each poem has been written in response to a specific site along the River Avon, so once you’ve had a listen, why not go and find the site of your favourite one (or two, or six!)? Poets Jack Thacker and Tania Hershman have also written short pieces about the inspiration behind their poems.
The Festival of Nature poetry trail is kindly supported by Arts Council and Bath and North East Somerset Council.
Four Words for Here by Holly Corfield Carr
Starting within the urban setting of central Bristol, the poetry trail’s first post can be found near Old Cattle Market Road. Look carefully and you may be surprised how much wildlife lives on your doorstep in the middle of the city.
The Heronry by Andrew F. Giles
The second poem on the journey from Bristol to Bath is in a stunning clearing next to the Conham River Park picnic area. Look out for a bat’s cave nearby!
How To Be Here by Tania Hershman
The next post can be found by the locks in Keynsham, an area celebrating the traditional canals which run alongside the river.
Tania Hershman on writing ‘How to be Here’:
“I have never written a site-specific poem – or short story! – before, and I don’t think I have ever consciously written a “nature poem” either, so I was a little daunted. The fact that I got lost trying to find the site I was assigned to (entirely my fault and emphasizing that it’s best to approach through nature on foot rather than by car) led me to write a poem that was less about nature than about me and my difficulties finding it!
“A wise friend I showed this to said that it wasn’t really a “poem of occasion”, and hearing that phrase helped me come up with a poem I was really happy with and that is something much closer to a “nature poem”, I think. It doesn’t really matter what anything is called, though, but that this commission asked me to see my world differently and respond to it. I hope those who read and listen to it find something in it for themselves too, and enjoy the spot where it is located.”
The River Avon, Bath by Carrie Etter
Discover Carrie Etter’s poem next to Bath Marina – and if you’re lucky you may just spot a kingfisher or two!
Where the people go by Andrew F. Giles
The penultimate post location is in Kelston Fields Park. How many different wildflowers can you spot around the board?
Swan Song by Jack Thacker
The final post as you reach the Georgian city of Bath is in Kelston Fields Park next to the river path. Did you know Bath is home to peregrine falcons?
Jack Thacker on writing ‘Swan Song’
“When I walked along the riverbank in Bath in preparation for writing this poem, I was surprised to learn from a sign by the New Bridge that a Roman Villa had been unearthed nearby in Newton St Loe in 1837, during the construction of Brunel’s railway. Discovered in the ruins was a large mosaic of the mythical figure of Orpheus surrounded by a circle of animals (now held in Bristol museum). I thought it appropriate that this symbolic character of poetry, music and culture had once resided here not far from the banks of the Avon. My original idea was to write ‘Orpheus on the Avon’, adopting the perspective of the poet himself and including a catalogue of the animals found along the path.
“Towards the end of my walk, approaching Bath, a swan flew past me above the water and I could hear that unmistakable sound of its wings whistling with each beat. It is said that when Orpheus died his head and his lyre continued to sing and play as they floated downstream. In the constellations, the Cygnus (the swan) is positioned next to Lyra (the lyre) and some believe this is Orpheus re-united with his beloved instrument. The figure of Orpheus did not survive the writing process but I’d like to think he resides in the image of the swan which has become the poem’s focus.”
More poetry highlights to look out for..
- An exclusive addition to the poetry trail on Bristol’s Big Screen in Millennium Square. Three of Bristol’s most respected poets have collaborated on a beautiful poem to be shown exclusively during the Bristol Festival of Nature weekend on 11th and 12th June. Lines from Andrew F. Giles, Holly Corfield Carr and Tania Hershman
- Discover the magic of the Festival of Nature poetry trail and get a chance to meet the poets involved at a special reading, part of the Bath Festival of Nature Arts Corner programme on 25th June.