Sidmouth Folk Festival Collaborative Poem
(composed by Workshop Leader Ilse Pedler along with her workshop participants during our virtual festival).
In a quiet coastal English town
puzzled seagulls cock their heads on rooftops,
hotels whisper their loneliness through walls,
pavements are nostalgic for the press of dancing feet
and in all the empty pubs,
dust is sifting the glitter of spent conversations
but close your eyes –
do you hear voices joined in harmony in the flutter of the bunting,
the melodeon chords in the sigh of waves on pebbles?
That little bit of magic that happens every year,
the rollercoaster that is folk week is still living here.
Every square, every corner a memory,
a stream of sound, a river of busy feet.
The sun, the wet, the anything goes
the folkie people in their folkie clothes,
the coast, the cliffs that stretch for miles
the feeling you’ve come home
and everywhere the smiles.
How the view is 360, a sight and sound sensation
a highlight for all, the premier folk occasion.
How the week is a battered suitcase
bursting at its seams
with laughter, friends, discovery
a chance to live your dreams.
From footprints on the Ham marquee
where cheeky seagulls walk
to cellar bars and packed church halls
and cider in the park.
From choirs and bands, exhilarating dances,
to tunes from all around the world
furious and inventive
but if you’re slow and steady, there’s still a place for you
it’s the festival where you all fit in
where you feel that you belong
just look around and see the joy
on faces old and young.
And what will you remember
in this the missing year of ours?
How it ends with fireworks
or begins with the programme,
the studying it for hours!
How in the back room of the Bedford
or the garden of the Swan
the best music sessions are in
the bus shelter on the prom.
How time disobeys its normal rules
and as the evening darkens
there’s so much fun you miss the bus
have to sleep in Connaught gardens.
How the joy and bustle all through the town
with its clogs and bells and tatters
makes you understand a week in Sidmouth
is the only thing that matters.
So follow the flags up the Bulverton Hill,
pause by the letters for photos
watch the sun dip over the flags and the tents
let the lanterns light up the shadows.
We can all bear the winter if we stretch out our hands
and feel the hands of each other
and sing out the song, loudly and clear
sing it out long, sing it out strong
and we’ll see you in Sidmouth next year.
Ilse Pedler (with a nod to Steve Knightley)