The Solent is a relic of a prehistoric river that flowed eastwards then south into what is now the English Channel when sea levels were lower. The Test, Itchen and so on were its tributaries, and its catchment covers approximately what is now Dorset to Portsmouth. This is the basis of the Ghost River concept I came up with a couple of years ago, but shelved for a while for lack of capacity. So, when forming a poetry collective in the Southampton area was mooted, Ghost River was what we called it, and it feels good to let the idea fly in a group of like-minded wordifiers. Without them, it would remain dormant.
Our most recent venture was commissioned by NST City and involved a poetry promenade around Southampton starting at on Old Northam Road and finishing at the Mayflower Memorial. This meant we could explore a range of aspects of the city’s history, one of which was ‘water’. Poems covered the route of the Itchen, the depth of the sea, lost canals and so on. For a coastal city with very limited access to the sea, and which has culverted and built over most of its springs and wells, this is an important matter of civic identity and connection to natural systems.
We will be performing these poems again, and looking for other places to inspire us – one of our main focuses is on location-specific work – rather than touring a fixed show. Now, Winchester looks interesting…
Some photos from our Southampton Stories promenade. Ghost River are Anita Foxall, Duncan Green, Dave Hubble and Damian O’Vitch. many thanks to audience and helpers/stand-ins!