The Echoing Gallery: Bristol Poets on Art in the City

This beautifully illustrated anthology includes my poem Pero’s Bridge (see the film link below).

Includes work by Matthew Barton, Edson Burton, Claire Williamson, David Punter, Alyson Hallett, Paul Deaton, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Helen Dunmore, and many other poets and artists.

Edited by Rachael Boast and published by Redcliffe Press.


Sugar       Slave       City

“What is the first cause of the Slave-Trade,” Coleridge asked, “Is it not self-evidently the consumation of its Products! and does not Guilt rest on the Consumers? and is it not an allowed axiom in Morality that Wickedness may be multiplied but cannot be divided and that the Guilt of all attaches to each one who is knowingly an accomplice?”

Pero’s Bridge is a footbridge across Bristol’s Floating Harbour in Southwest England. It is also a monumental sculpture by Eilis O’Connell which incorporates a bascule drawbridge. The sculpture itself is the counterweight. The footbridge is a local icon with the 21st century addition of hundreds of love locks. In June 2020, in view of Pero’s Bridge, the statue of the 17th century slaver Edward Colson was toppled and pushed into the harbour.

Pero was a slave from the island of Nevis in the Caribbean. In the late 1700’s he was a servant of the Bristol sugar baron John Pinney, whose house is now known as the Georgian House Museum. John Pinney was an early patron of William Wordsworth. Pero Jones, to give his full name, was treated as a family member, but according to the fugitive facts, was never officially freed.

Pero’s Bridge

I don’t need a bridge
A horn of rum yes
I had a bridge once
A fallen tree across a stream

My own secret
Bridge in the woods
The jungle of home
Where I was the secret

Till they told me
The real secret
Slave boy
Not just boy

I was already drunk
When the poets showed up
A dope and a doper
They seemed okay

I spit in their wine anyway

I was dreaming of Nevis
My green nipple
And the shade of my island trees
At Pinney’s house Montravers

Before we came to Racedown
Dorset and Great George Street
We travelled like cork
My sisters and I

And like cork I went back
Like a Yeoman of Bristol
A floating island bumping black coral
And gravestones of sugar

I don’t need a bridge
A horn of rum yes
I had a bridge once
A fallen tree across a stream

Pero’s Bridge was made into a film by Diana Taylor and can be viewed here.

Click here to buy The Echoing Gallery from Redcliffe Books.

Click here to buy The Echoing Gallery from Amazon.