Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Bordeaux Bay by Guernsey-based artist Tony Taylor

Saturday, 30 September 2017


This time last year my poem, Stone Witness, commissioned by the BBC for National Poetry Day 2016, was broadcast nationwide. 
The iconic subject of the poem, La Gran’mere du Chimquiere, is a 4,000 year old statue-menhir situated at the gate of St Martin’s parish church in Guernsey.  
She is thought to bring good luck and fertility to those who place a garland of flowers on her. 
The poem is written in the imagined voice of La Gran'mere.

(La Gran'mere du Chimquiere)


old, old stone, I groan with age.

Gran’mere, Earth Mother, 

I stand sentry beyond the churchyard gate,

and watch, with sightless eyes,

the snail of human traffic creep along.

I am old and granite-cold: your island’s anchor-stone.

Your fathers’ fathers came to me 

to pray, to lay or lift some minor curse: 

an endless chain of island men, 

one generation to another, 


Four thousand years grown old I am. Imagine.

Still they come, 

their mode of dress and manners changed, 

their supplications much the same:

love, fertility, wealth, happiness, a long life free of pain.

Young children step tip-toe, 

lay yellow garlands on my weathered brow, 

or proffer coins that glitter in the sun.

They stand before me, 

gaze up to my strange Earth Mother face,

and murmur spells as old as time itself.

Rooted here, I listen

as the salt breeze sings of breaking waves,

of fishing boats and lobster-pots, 

greenhouses, leafy water-lanes, 

smart pillar-boxes, shining blue,

and amber cats asleep 

on sun-warmed granite steps.

The soft breeze sings

of that so-lovely town 

that climbs up to the sunlit summit of a golden hill,

the dauntless castle and the ragged rocks 

where angry currents run.

Four thousand years grown old I am. Imagine.

Islanders, I anchor you.

Primeval, granite, I remain unchanged, 

unchanged in a strange world of change.

This gemstone island, Guernsey, 

this sea-locked rock whose timeless granite 

birthed me,

whose good folk 

shaped me, 


my ancient magic will protect 

and cause to prosper.

*      *      *


Blue Mountains, Andrew, Colleen and Mike.     Photo by Jo Dowding
The eagerly anticipated appearance of talented local musicians BLUE MOUNTAINS at September’s Open Mic Night helped draw an even larger crowd than usual. I previously described the band as an acoustic duo, unaware that Colleen Irven and Mike Bonsall, have joined forces with strings virtuoso, Andrew Degnen, and nowadays perform as a trio.  As always at this ever-popular monthly event, we enjoyed some excellent and varied material from local writers and poetry-lovers but, for me, the high point of the evening was Blue Mountains performing, live, songs from their brand new CD, Hummingbird. 

You can obtain a copy here:-

or, if like me, you prefer your retail hands-on, just pop into that treasure-house of music, Vinyl Vaughans on Fountain Street, St Peter Port, and purchase your copy there.

Thursday, 28 September 2017


It hardly seems a year since I was commissioned by the BBC to write for National Poetry Day 2016.
The result was the poem, Stone Witness (La Gran'mere du Chimquiere) which, shortly thereafter, formed the nucleus of a poetry collection built around that iconic subject.
This year's National Poetry Day is today, Thursday 28 September 2017.  

The theme is “Freedom”.


Locate the lock, insert a key
then turn it. Suddenly you’re free.
Step into light. Inhale fresh air.
Allow a breeze to lift your hair.
Glance round, observe: this is the world
spread out before you, bright, unfurled.
Did you imagine, when in chains,
the subject of endless campaigns,
how flowers explode in yellows, pinks,
how every living creature links
one to the other, how the sky
astonishes the human eye,
how birds fly free unknowingly,
how, when you were a detainee,
you watched, through bars, bright swallows glide,
the air their element? You cried
because your prison world was square
while they had freedom of the air.
Do you recall the shape of trees,
the scent of woodsmoke on a breeze,
the zig-zag of a butterfly,
the glamour of an orchid’s eye,
and how the sea, never asleep, 
is almost endless, cold and deep?
These things existed, richly real
while you endured your long ordeal.
Embrace them now, rejoice and be
a human being, blessed, free.

This poem is dedicated to Fred Williamson 1941- 2017.

National Poetry Day is annually celebrated and aims to inspire people to enjoy, discover and share poems. It was founded in 1994 by the charity, Forward Arts Foundation, whose mission is to celebrate excellence in poetry and increase its audience. The Day enjoys the support of the BBC, Arts Council England, the Royal Mail and leading literary and cultural organisations, as well as booksellers, publishers, libraries and schools.

Sunday, 24 September 2017


Like most creative writers I experience periods of despondency when I become convinced that I will never again write anything of consequence and that whatever small talent I may once have possessed has been squandered or extinguished by time.
During our recent trip to Venice, we once again lodged at our beloved Ca' Biondetti, the home of celebrated 18th Century Italian artist, Rosalba Carriera, and more recently the American novelist, Henry James. 
The apartment consists of a number of rooms on the ground floor of the old house whose windows look out on the Grand Canal where much of the daily life of Venice takes place. I took this photograph during the annual Regatta whilst Jane and I sipped Bellinis and enjoyed the spectacle.

The list of artists and writers who have lived in or visited this uniquely beautiful city is substantial: Robert Browning, Josef Brodsky, Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, Edith Wharton, Claude Monet, John Singer Sargent, Marcel Proust and John Ruskin, to name but a few.
It’s impossible to spend time in the tranquil setting of Ca' Biondetti, in the calming presence of Rosalba's gentle ghost, and not feel the long-absent muse return.  

Absence of a different sort is the subject of the next poem.

In Ca' Biondetti 2017 by Jane


I switch on lamps as daylight fades,
draw blinds against approaching night.
Dogs start to bark, cats start to prowl.
As silence settles down like dust
the endless day begins to end.
Slow clock hands creep. Four walls encroach.
The ceiling, like a flower-press,
weighs on my shoulders, drains from me
my spirit, breath, my energy,
while, in the mirror, nothing lives.
I pour a drink, pick up a book,
sit in my chair opposite yours
but cannot concentrate to read
so close my eyes and try instead
to bear your absence like a wound
that I'm assured will surely mend.
Indeed it will, I know, for when
a week from now, with speeding heart,    
I greet you from a landed plane
we will, of course, be reconciled.
Such temporary absences
provide a terrifying glimpse
of what bereavement must entail:
the agony of injured time;
the futile days that never end.
The ghosts that linger after death
are those the dead have left behind
who wander lost in empty rooms, 
companions now with tears and dust:
the living that are not alive.

Saturday, 23 September 2017


This month's Open Mic Night for poetry will take place at La Villette Hotel on Monday, 25th September at 8pm. 
As always, all are welcome. Come along to read, chat or simply listen. 
The optional theme for the event is "Off the Wall"

The musical slot will be filled by the ever-popular acoustic duo, Blue Mountains.

The standard definition of the expression "off the wall" is eccentric or unconventional and some may regard the colours of the houses on the Venetian island of Burano in that way
Jane and I visited Burano this spring when the quality of light enhanced the already spectacular hues. 
This charming small hideaway is the home of lace-making in the Veneto, a delightful place and a welcome escape from the cruise-ship hordes jostling for space La Serenissima itself.  

Wednesday, 20 September 2017


Returning from Italy recently, I was saddened to read of the death of J P Donleavy, author of a much-loved novel from my teenage years, The Ginger Man

Set in Dublin, The Ginger Man is a lengthy, stream-of-consciousness tale about an amoral American student at Trinity College who drinks to excess, chases women and gets into a variety of scrapes with his off-beat acquaintances and creditors. 

The critically acclaimed novel was originally banned as obscene in both the USA and Ireland but eventually achieved acceptance and is now considered a contemporary classic, having sold more than 45 million copies worldwide.

The Ginger Man was written in a structurally modernist style with sudden and rapid shifts between first and third person perspective. It shunned conventional narration and, for the very young man that I then was, provided an exciting departure from the conventional literary forms I had encountered at school.

J P Donleavy went on to write several other novels although none achieved the iconic status of The Ginger Man.

He died, aged 91, in County Westmeath, Ireland.

*       *       * 

Whilst in Italy, I visited the beautiful city of Trieste, home for several years of the acclaimed Irish writer, James Joyce, who wrote sections of his masterpiece, Ulysses, whilst living there.

The great man's statue stands on a bridge in the central part of the city and despite inclement weather I went along to share a bit of craic with my fellow countryman.  

I explained to him that, although I'd first purchased a copy of Ulysses in 1961, I have still not progressed beyond page forty-seven, but, am nevertheless determined to finish it before The Grim Reaper catches up with me.

Decency prevents me from publishing the author's response

Suffice it to say that I left hurriedly to seek a comforting espresso macchiato e torta at one of the many excellent cafes that Trieste has to offer.


Friday, 15 September 2017


"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold"  W B Yeats

We live in alarming times. Not since the Cuban Missile crisis of 1962 have I been quite so aware of how slender are the threads that hold our world together. 
The words of Irish poet, W B Yeats, from his poem The Second Coming, written nearly one hundred years ago, seem frighteningly apposite in the face of recent global events. 


The noise is



Our upturned faces

a bullet-black projectile

traversing sky                 
so fast                 

we barely comprehend it.

Then comes the sound ...

a massive fist
with some solid thing

a mighty slap      

a thunderclap.

The earth we stand upon     

tilt ...