Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Poems On The Underground - 'Whalesong'

In my usual meandering way, I missed my train this morning so headed for the Tube for work. I've never been a big fan of the Tube or any underground system but I do quite like the trains in Barcelona that actually have proper handles to open the doors. One thing I do like, though, is reading the 'poems on the underground' with poems filling the usual advertising space. You can see all sorts of stuff projecting culture at you rather the the latest advert for hair products or insurance. And this morning I read 'Whalesong' by Sophie Stephenson-Wright:


I boom-mumble I bass-blow

I hull-heavy I big/slow

I boat bump I limpet-skin

I soft-sink I sky-swim

I sea-search I salt-swallow

I bone-backed I fluke-follow

I gulf-cross I listen-talk

I moon-map I wave-walk

I tail-turn I time-keep

I ship-wreck I song-seek

I blue-blood I grumble-sing

I fish-heart I dream king

This tickled me in all the right places so I made a note of it and then tweeted it into the wide world when I was above ground. Read it. Say those words out loud, slowly, feel them with your tongue and lips and be a dream king.

Then, coming home tonight after a performance of a rather intense 'Passion' (by Sondheim) at the Donmar Warehouse, I got on the Tube at Leicester Square and, looking up from my book for a moment, what did I see? The 'Whalesong' poster again. Twice in one day, on different trains on different Tube lines - I am obviously meant to do something with this poem. I tweeted about it this morning and now I'm blogging. Read it please.

I've just Googled Sophie who is, it seems, 19 years old and has just won a 'young poets' prize. There's even a video of her on YouTube (not reading 'Whalesong', sadly). I'm not sure if there's a 'young poets to watch' list, but it'll be interesting to see if she continues with her poetry. I hope so.


Michael said...

I also spotted Whalesong and thought it was great. Certainly not what I was expecting as I lethargically gazed around the train on my way to a meeting yesterday, wondering for the umpteenth time why the circle line is so tedious!!

It makes a refreshing change from seeing endless ads for mobile phone companies alongside the underground maps! ;-)

Unknown said...

After spending the past 15 minutes searching for this poem I found it on the front page of: http://www.poetrysociety.org.uk/content/competitions/potu2010

I was also on the tube when I saw this poem. Is I read it, it definitely took me to another place. A peaceful and beautiful place.

Now, I'm trying to honour this poem by reciting it over some music that I created.

foreigntravel said...

Thanks for putting this up, it's a lovely poem and it took me very far away from the overcrowded tube I was stuck in at the time.