Poetry, Prose and Parables of the Suspension Bridge.

Home > Poetry, Prose and Parables of the Suspension Bridge.

Throughout the year we like to put on exciting and interesting courses to inspire the people of Bristol into using the Suspension Bridge for more than their daily commute.  We recently held a creative writing course, following a very successful pilot scheme last summer.


I walked by myself,

But felt not at all alone.

For I felt the stars.


Haiku by Brendan Roberts


The courses were led by Bristol based author Glenn Carmichael and were part of our activity plan, funded by the Heritage Lottery fund.  We regularly work with the Workers Educational Association to provide this plan, and have held other courses studying landscape art and photography.  The sessions could either be attended as standalone lessons with each evening concentrating on a different aspect of creative writing, or they could be used in conjunction with each other to learn about a variety of styles and techniques by attending all three evenings.

Glenn is a published novelist, who teaches novel writing, short story writing and poetry to a wide range of groups both in Bristol and throughout the UK, making him the perfect choice to lead the course.  People came from all over Bristol to take part, some who wanted to kick-start a new hobby, some who wanted to get back into writing after University and some who fancied trying something new. 


The first evening concentrated on poetry, using the bridge as inspiration.  The group looked at different forms of poetry, ranging from traditional Japanese Haiku (a three line poem with 17 syllables) to Pantoum which uses repetition and rhyme to create imagery and rhythm.  Some lovely poems were written, describing a time before the bridge was built, the building of the bridge, and the bridge as we know and love it today.

Below is a piece written on the course, entitled I am George, by Marion Ellis that follows the Pantoum structure.


I am George


My name is George, I'm seventeen and live down Hotwells way

I'm a labourer on Mr Brunel's tower

I'm half way down the Gorge and work with mortar, brick and clay

For Mr Brunel's vision of beauty, strength and power


I'm a labourer on Mr Brunel's tower

The work is hard for very little pay

For Mr Brunel's vision of beauty strength and power

Another bricky fell and died today


The work is hard for very little pay

I'm half way down the Gorge and work with mortar, brick and clay

Another bricky fell and died today

My name is George, I'm seventeen and live down Hotwells way


Marion Ellis

The next week, the group looked at short stories, investigating the way members of the public use the bridge and the everyday interactions that happen between tourists, residents and the toll booth workers.  A fantastic, chilling story was written by Ian Shields, describing the events of a cold and foggy night and the experience of the toll booth operators, when a woman wearing a cotton dress and thin cardigan comes onto the bridge to lay a wreath.

The course came to an end in the third week, where the group took part in a number of exercises to jump start their creative thinking, encouraging them to continue writing about the Bridge and Avon Gorge.  All the sessions were well attended and became a sociable affair, with drinks, snacks and chatter in the final session.


People go east to west

People go by car or bike

People go by day or night

People go afraid or calm

People go cold or warm

But every time the bridge is crossed

People go away impressed


Simon Jones


We had lots of great feedback from the course, and we will be making it clearer that the three evenings combine to make a longer course, as well as being standalone features.  

“I wanted to give creative writing a try, the course was engaging and interesting.  It was inspiring to hear other people’s writing” Lynn Marke – a course attendee

More examples of the work created on this course will be on display in the Visitor Centre later in the year.  If you’d like to be kept up to date with all the happenings at the bridge and find out about our future courses, such as our upcoming Geology Walk, then you can join our mailing list by clicking here.


A Timeless Beauty


The Bridge of our Bristol city, 

The Bridge that you see, 

The Bridge that used to be 20p, 

(But I cycle across so its free),

The Bridge

forever shown on Points West BBC, 

The Bridge, ah the bridge, such a timeless beauty.


Priyanka Raval


Crossing Clifton Suspension Bridge


Were the Victorians thinner than we?

For on the path it seems to me

That when I pass another soul

We each have to doe-se-doe.

We then exchange the usual words,

“Sorry” “thank you” “watch your toes”

Up there so high, all through the day

We are all chattering away

So were the Victorians thinner than we?

Or did they just like to be friendly?


Simon Jones

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