Poolside Poems: Rachel Playforth

‘Malling Down’ by Rachel Playforth is the most recent poem to go on display at Pells Pool as part of our 2016 season celebration of the close links between water and creativity.

Writer-in-residence Tanya Shadrick, curator for the poolside displays, says of Rachel’s work: “I asked Rachel to submit a poem for consideration based on my love of her work in the Frogmore Press collection Three Voices. She writes with a fine and often uneasy attention to the physical – people in their skins, in relationship, in the landscape – as in her short early poem ‘Fisherman’: I  want to be the kind of man who goes fishing,/ The kind of man who holds his bait inside his mouth,/ Who keeps the minnows warm/ With breath and spit and a delicate, pointed tongue.

She continues: “I love how ‘Malling Down’ presents the land as a body, so that the human figures who cross it seem small and of less importance  even than the sheep and rabbits whose lives have at least left their marks on it. This is a feeling I get about Pells as the season deepens: Once we swimmers leave in September, the gulls and ducks soon move in and it’s hard to imagine we were ever here.”

If you’d like to read more of Rachel’s work while poolside, Tanya has added her own much-read copy of Three Voices to the Swimming-Pool Library.

Rachel Playforth was born in Brighton and studied literature in York before returning to Sussex where she lives with her husband and daughter, and works as a librarian within the NHS.  Editorial board member of the Frogmore Press, and co-editor for the forthcoming Watermarks anthology of new writing by lido lovers and wild swimmers, her work has appeared in several anthologies and magazines.



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