Fighting words and fish!

as part of a longer project for Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, Nothing But Footsteps, I have been working with 2 other artists to explore 21st century responses to 18th, 19th and early 20th century prints and poems about the Peak…..the latest instalment of that project is the following writing challenge. The poetry starting points are offered and the first responses as well….why not send in your own?

Fighting words and fish

For our next poetry challenge, we’ve picked up on one of the peak’s most abiding recreational pursuits, offering you two different perspectives on the noble art of fishing……

The aim of these “challenges” is to give you something to think about and invite you to send in your responses: as poems, as prose, as pictures….as a few words scribbled over a cup oft ea or a considered composition that kept you up half the night…..And “responses”? You may agree with the poems presented – or disagree – or think it’s all rubbish and we should just build motorways – or be deeply indifferent to the appeal of thigh-length waders and lots of cold water.

1. Enjoy thy streame, O harmless fish;

And when an angler, for his dish,

Through a gluttony’s vile sin,

Attempts, a wretch, to pull thee out,

God give thee strength, O gentel trout,

To pull the raskall in!

John Wolcot, 1801

2. Oh my beloved nymph! Fair Dove;

Princess of rivers, how I love

Upon thy flowery banks to lie;

And view thy silver stream,

When gilded by a summer’s beam,

And in it all thy wanton fry

Playing at liberty,

And with my angle upon them

The all of treachery

I ever learnt, industriously to try.

Charles Cotton, 1630-1687

RESPONSES (from Facebook posting)

From Phil Robinson , 30th Dec 2010

This year, entirely unprompted, my Daisy (9yrs) asked me to take her fishing. I haven’t fished since my teens – many moons ago, but we got some stuff out of the cellar and some new stuff for her, and we went. It wasn’t the catching (and releasing) of fish that was the dominant attraction (honest, although Daisy caught heaps more than me), for Daisy and me it was spending time together in the sunshine by the lake’s bank.

Bet she doesn’t want to go fishing at the moment though! Brrrrr!

From Sara Fletcher, 31st Dec 2010

I’ve never tried fishing (apart from chasing things in rock-pools as a child – and again as a zoology student), but I’m always intrigued to see wild fish in their natural habitat: they seem to inhabit a secret, silent world which overlaps only partly with our own. I like the poems – the first one reminded me of Charles Causley’s poem, ‘I saw a jolly hunter…’

Gordon, 2nd Jan 2010

Playing with some fishy acrostics

1. Freedom moving

In the river flow

Sliding from one moment to the next,


2. After too much of

Nothing in cities

Grasping the chance of


In only this

Now and then being

Gone, while the fish still run