Sidmouth Poem 2018

Sidmouth Poem 2018

(composed by Workshop Leader Ilse Pedler along with her workshop participants).


Sidmouth is an Edwardian lady squatting

on the beach between orange cliffs held –

as if in a hug.

The prom all strut and swagger,

the sea stretching out forever.


Then  –

folk week comes cartwheeling into town,

reeling and rolling, high-stepping,

flouncing its petticoats,

a rainbow coloured riot of colour and sound,


fiddles and whistles and boxes to squeeze,

pipes and drums and the harmonium’s wheeze.


Sidmouth is a funfair of folk.

It is trying to fit 48 hours into 24,

it’s coming back every year for more.

It’s rapper and Molly and Morris in the streets,

it’s Regency and Playford to techno beats.


It’s the first thing that goes in the diary each year,

it’s a jolt in the arm,

it’s a slap through the ears.


Sidmouth Folk Week is ribbons tied to a groundsheet,

late nights in wet fields,

laughter and friends.

It’s running up Church street to the sound of the Anchor ceilidh,

late for my shift,  (which happens almost daily!)


It’s a freedom and a celebration

and a chance to embrace your love of… beards.


Folk week is Sidmouth with its corsets off.

My favourite thing about Folk Week

Is the colour and sound that streams through everything

like an extra cone in your eye.

And that

all you need is a space

and people fill it with music and dance and song.

Sidmouth is DIY.


It is the people;

old people age with the same smiles,

young people grow in miles.

Folk people share and care,

are tolerant and creative,

I come away from Sidmouth feeling elated.


My favourite thing is the poetry workshops

in the drawing room of the Royal Glen Hotel

with chandeliers that glimmer

and the mirror in the ladies powder room

that makes you 2 inches thinner.


My favourite things are washing off

the tiredness, achiness and chaos in the simple sea,

worshipping the quick and hungry gods of the church of the webbed feet,

who take the offerings of icecream and chips on the wing


and walking on palm-sized warm pebbles

and a mother,

her laughter.


Sidmouth makes me feel like I am in the centre,

and the world spins around me,

It makes me feel realer than real.

I can sing my own song,

It makes me feel like I belong.

Sidmouth is my  coming home.

It’s my  family.


Sidmouth makes me feel the possibility of things,

the way a root will send out a shoot,

the way a shoot will bud and blossom,

the way a flower will open to a bee.

I feel inspired to be me.


Sidmouth makes me spin,

with its beaches and baldricks,

ribbons, polka dots and sashes,

jigs and reels and trials with horses,

fireworks, lanterns and processions with torches.


I never want to say goodbye.

Sidmouth Folk Week makes me feel as if I’m half dead

and completely alive.