Talk as part of Local History Month 2016.
Pupils from a Teesside primary school are the latest to submit a poem for inclusion in a forthcoming book that its compiler believes will form a world record in “bridge poetry”.
Rhymes, sonnets, limericks, odes and songs too have already flooded in – and children from Overfields Primary School in Ormesby have put their words of inspiration on paper.
After a school-time workshop with poet Andy Croft, the book’s compiler, the pupils, aged 9-11, wrote ‘Bungee Jump Off the Transporter’.
Deputy head David Hodgson said: “From our high vantage point, we can see the Transporter from our school but many of the children had never been to see it until we paid the bridge a visit as part of our research. I think their finished product shows great imagination.”
The only bridge in England licensed for bungee jumps, the structure is estimated to have played host to more than 7,000 since Evening Gazette journalist Will Sutton became the first to take a 160-feet dive from its walkway high above the River Tees in 2006.
The poem includes the lines:
“You are falling, flying,
Your insides are churning,
Your head is spinning,
Your brain is going to come out of your nose,
All the blood is rushing to your head,
Your eyes feel like they are going to pop,
You have left your stomach behind.”
Poets everywhere are being challenged to put down their thoughts about Teesside’s own bridge of size for potential inclusion in the poetry book – but the deadline for entries is this Monday, April 2.
Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the as yet unnamed book has been commissioned by Middlesbrough Council as part of the ongoing celebrations to mark the Transporter’s centenary year.
Andy, Teesside’s unofficial literary historian, said: “We have received almost 70 poems already, which must be some sort of world record for bridge poetry! I seriously doubt any other bridge has had so many poems written about it. Surely not even London Bridge or the Bridge of Sighs has inspired people in quite the same way.
“I don’t think those who have submitted the poems are going to win a Nobel prize, but the fact that the Transporter can generate such a literary response is proof that the bridge is a source of great pride. Some of the poems have made me laugh, some have me frown and others have made me think.”
The poems include one called ‘Sanctuary’, submitted by published poet Gordon Hodgeon, once a senior figure within Cleveland Council but now a quadriplegic following serious operations.
“Gordon is only able to talk with the aid of assistance and spends his days on his back,” said Andy. “Despite these enormous disabilities, he was inspired by the bridge and has written a fantastic poem.
Poems contributed by April 2 may be included in the book alongside many others Andy already has in his possession, including several of his own and others by pupils from Middlesbrough’s Brambles Farm, Thorntree and Pennyman primary schools, together with members of local history and heritage groups who worked with Andy on their poems.
Transporter poems can be sent to Andy Croft c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or Arts Development, Middlesbrough Council, PO Box 504, Middlesbrough, TS1 9FY. Contributors are asked to include their name and address with their poem and reference Transporter Bridge Poetry Book.