POETIC SOUTHEND: A LAST RESORT
edited by D J Tyrer
38 Pierrot Steps
71 Kursaal Way
Southend on Sea
email Atlantean Publishing
visit the website of Atlantean Publishing
read a review of the follow-up anthology Going Back Again
Web design by
This page last updated: 1st September 2009.
|POETIC SOUTHEND: A LAST RESORT|
Southend-on-Sea is a resort town in Essex, England, located on the Thames estuary roughly 40 miles (65 km) east of London. Originally the south end of Prittlewell village, the town became a popular resort during the Victorian era. Due to its proximity to London and easy access by train, the town's economy has largely been based on tourism. However, from the 1960s onwards, the decline of traditional British sea-side resort tourism has seen the steady decline of towns like Southend.
Decline and nostalgia for the old days are the dominant themes of this collection of poetry by local Southend residents and people who remember visiting the resort in childhood. There's a palpable air of wistfulness, even melancholy in most of the poems. D. J. Tyrer (also editor of the collection) writes in TWILIGHT OF THE RESORTS:
The resorts are dying A perpetual twilight Of sticky rock candy And fish and chips.And David Fisher in DAY TRIPPER:
I remember getting on the train Praying the sun would hold off the rain For a day-trip to Southend-on-Sea Then the only place to be Promenading along the seafront, on the sand Ice cream and shandies, life was grandMost of the poems in the collection are more sentimental than fine, but the poets' sheer love of the town is infectious. As a transplanted American who has never been steeped in the history or culture of British seaside holidays, I nevertheless felt the occasional catch when reading haunting lines like these, culled from Steve Glason's in ESSEX-ON-SEA:
once we were genteel... no more dancing feet... Etched in memory...And from B. W. Ballard, ENCHANTING DAYS:
These memories collected, I have a large pile Cucumber sandwiches, a picnic in the sandThe theme of economic decline takes over from the more sentimental offerings, but loss is still the dominant theme. The deteriorating atmosphere is painfully tangible in poems like Tyrer's GHOSTLY:
The ghosts of daytrippers Vie with old folk-hauntings To fill the empty spaces Once home to prosperity Now home only to Fly-by-night boom-bust Ghost town businessOne poem, the pithy HISTORY BENEATH THE ARCADES by D. S. Davidson, departs from the melancholy to give a view of Roman and Celtic peoples and their long-dead pastimes. A view that is ironic set in company with poems heralding and bemoaning the death of the great old days of this town:
There's a haunted fort of Roman or Celtic vintage And buried Princes below Prittlewell Now time keeps them all secreted well.If you visit Southend-on-Sea, along with the photos you bring home of the world's longest pier, or the mementos by way of kiss-me-quick hats and the jellied eels, pick up a copy of this poetry collection. If you loved your trip, it will help you remember.
|reviewer: Stephanie Smith-Browne.|