Good evening, fellow poets. Or, I guess, good morning, good afternoon, good night. We are a global phenomenon, after all.

It’s Sarah here, from fmmewritespoems, writing from the south west corner of England. I shouldn’t be here at all – I’m supposed to be in Australia right now, but that pesky global pandemic put paid to that. Instead, my summer holiday ended up being a week on a narrowboat in Cheshire. It wasn’t quite Australia, but it was a great trip. I already knew I loved early industrial engineering. I discovered that I loved canal life – enough freedom to moor up where you want, socially distanced interactions with fellow bargees, and a view into lots of back gardens. We saw herons, a kingfisher, and about a million ducks. We saw the mist rising off the water at 5.30 am. 

Put-putting along the canal, I was struck by the number of people who own their own narrowboats – and other boats, too – kayaks and canoes, rowing boats, small cruisers – and the number of people who live on them permanently. At one lock we met a man who hadn’t slept on dry land for three years. I enjoyed the names of the boats, too – a series of found poems.

A narrow boat – from my brother

It’s fascinating to think how desperate we have been to travel by water. The earliest known boat is the Pesse canoe, a dug-out canoe dating back 10,000 years. There’s circumstantial evidence that some kind of canoe or raft was around well before that – the spread of early hominids is likely to have required a boat of sorts.

For this prompt, I’d like you to be inspired by boats. Maybe you’ve travelled by narrowboat, or taken a cruise on a big liner. Maybe you’re a kayaker, or a paddle-boarder. Maybe you built a raft as a child, or made a toy boat out of twigs and leaves. Maybe you’re a rower or a sailor. Maybe you take a ferry to work, or watch other people floating down a river. Maybe you want to write about an imaginary boat, with sails of leaves and a cargo of fairy dust. It’s up to you.

For a little inspiration, here’s a poem by Kathleen Jamie, a dream of a boat, I think:


The Blue Boat

How late the daylight edges
toward the northern night
as though journeying
in a blue boat, gilded in mussel shell

with, slung from its mast, a lantern
like our old idea of the soul


and here’s one by Eilean Ni Chuilleanáin, who is travelling on a very real boat.


Letter to Pearse Hutchinson

I saw the islands in a ring all round me
And the twilight sea travelling past
Uneasy still. Lightning over Mount Gabriel:
At such a distance no sound of thunder.
The mackerel just taken
Battered the floor, and at my elbow
The waves disputed with the engine.
Equally grey, the headlands
Crept round the rim of the sea.

Going anywhere fast is a trap:
This water music ransacked my mind
And started it growing again in a new perspective
And like the sea that burrows and soaks
In the swamps and crevices beneath
Made a circle out of good and ill.

So I accepted all the suffering of the poor,
The old maid and the old whore
And the bull trying to remember
What it was made him courageous
As life goes to ground in one of its caves,
And I accepted the way love
Poured down a cul-de-sac
Is never seen again.

There was plenty of time while the sea-water
Nosed across the ruinous ocean floor
Inquiring for the ruinous door of the womb
And found the soul of Vercingetorix
Cramped in a jamjar
Who was starved to death in a dry cistern
In Rome in 46 B.C.

Do not expect to feel so free on land.


So, all aboard, and let’s set sail. You know what to do:

  • Write a poem
  • Tag dVerse in your post – it increases our readership, and ultimately, yours
  • Link up to Mr Linky
  • Take a voyage through some poems – Mr Linky will guide you there
  • Enjoy yourself!