“A port is never over … A harbour is where voices call back”
The 274-page book includes specially commissioned poetry and prose from 38 contributors, and features 20 photographs and illustrations. Geographically, the anthology reaches all corners of the UK and beyond – from giant container ports to small fishing villages, while the breadth of writing and experience in the volume is as diverse as the ports themselves.
In Port, we find a picture of pre-fame John Lennon on a Harwich quay, which leads to a story of wartime Kindertransport. We hear of the “echoing hum of machinery” and the legacy of Irish famine, and find out how port landscapes can be described as sites of “exclosure”.
We discover the port as an ‘instrument of enterprise, symbol of siege’, and trace the trafficking of illicit cargoes that shadows the routes of legal trade. We find the links between UK ports and places of personal departure, and survey the maritime maps to see how the ships that come to our ports from “the Arabian Gulf sit it out / till the price of oil rises or falls”.
We hear about Romanian refugees “sneaking into and finding air pockets in shipping containers”, and learn about ‘The Block’ – the solitary confinement units in immigration detention centres. We hear stories of hardship, of the twists and turns of history – but we also see how people, and nature, weather life’s storms, and how ports become places of possibility and potential, where people “eradicate the barriers of distance and time”.
Many thanks to all our contributors:
Nick Allen, Rosemary Appleton, Matei Bejenaru, Tessa Berring, MW Bewick, Michael Brown, Alison Campbell, Vahni Capildeo, Sarah-Clare Conlon, Tim Cooke, Seth Crook, Moira Garland, Rebecca Gethin, Caroline Gill, Jason Gould, Fee Griffin, Janet Hatherley, Julie Hogg, Sarah Jasmon, RG Jodah, Ella Johnston, Charlie Lambert, Gary Liggett, Chris Maillard, Jessica Mayhew, Beth McDonough, Petra McQueen, Martin Newell, Kerri ní Dochartaigh, Golnoosh Nour, Mark Ranger, Elizabeth Lee Reynolds, Anna Sergi, Bryan Thomas, Alex Toms, Lydia Unsworth, Rob Walton, David Williams.
Port‘s first launch will be at the Poetry in Aldeburgh festival, on Friday 8 November at 4.45pm in the Peter Pears Gallery. We’re sharing the event with our good friends Coast to Coast to Coast – so the book’s sub-title of ‘Words from the edge of land’ will be fitting. The event is FREE, but booking is advised. Details here.
We have a second launch event a week later, as we’ll be present with a stand at the Small Publishers Fair, held at the Conway Hall, London, on 15 and 16 November. On Friday 15, we’ll have a short set of readings from Port at 4pm in the Green Room.
In December, we are also set to have a launch in Colchester, Essex, and readings from Port contributors in Manchester. More details to follow.
Port is available to pre-order via our online shop, and can be ordered through your favourite independent bookseller from 8 November.