A fascinating multimedia project from artist-poet Holly Corfield Carr. Her description on Vimeo:
A harbour travels around a line. The line travels around a boat. The boat travels around your body, star-jumping in the water’s private weather. Written through the rhythms of Bristol’s last shantyman, Stanley Slade, Aft is a sightseeing trip with the ferryman across Bristol’s Floating Harbour.
Commissioned by Spike Island with Bristol Ferry Boats as part of the Spike Open 2015.
Own binoculars and someone else’s obol recommended.
Carr goes into more detail about the project in a blog post:
I have to thank Spike Island and Bristol Ferry for commissioning this poem for Matilda, the Bristol Ferry boat that chugs brightly across the Floating Harbour from Temple Meads to Hotwells, via the city centre, Spike Island, Arnolfini and SS Great Britain. It was a proper joy of a project and thanks to the patience of the crew and passengers, I took several trips to watch the city from the water, standing at the back window, feeling the engine’s rhythm in my feet. I composed much of the poem on site, on the boat, measuring my line to the cm width of the window.
I started to listen to the sea shanties of the Bristol sailor Stanley Slade, which were recorded by Peter Kennedy in 1950 and are now held in the British Library’s sound archive, and let the length of the halyard’s lines also instruct the breath and breadth of the poem that was then transferred directly, in Bristol Ferry yellow, to the windows of Matilda.
At first, I saw the couplets banding around the cabin as a two-level Plimsoll line, a measure of the rising waters (or a sinking boat), or as a twin rope, each a precaution against the severance of the other. Certainly on the page, the poem presents its shortening of breath much more clearly and you can read the full text here.
But on the boat, it wasn’t all visible at once. Walking the line to read the poem across the wide windows, rocking back a little to read the second line from where the first line landed you, and all the while reading as the boat pulls you across the water, makes something knotty of the reader.
As you read, the city interrupts, aligns your reader’s attention with the sudden sight of mooning stags, lads! lads! lads! on tour, traffic on the bridge, seagulls lifting in the wake of another ferry, the train, kayaks and paddles and sunburned backs, a tiny flotilla of crisp packets.