the boat project

LOVE this project! Here’s something I wrote after visiting the boatyard, and then, back in London, finding an old wardrobe with these little plates inside: shirts, pyjamas, etc. It got me thinking about organising emotions, decluttering, finding a good home for things of emotional significance…

Shadow Board

First, gather together all the stuff.
Lay it on the floor, if you like.
Measure it, down to the lolly stick jokes.
See how much space it takes up.
Work out how large a piece of pegboard you’ll need.
Try arranging things into how frequently you use them –
every hour, every day, or maybe never but
you’d be anxious if they weren’t there, within easy reach.

A good wood butcher can
whittle down your mess, plane ribbons off,
glass-paper it to paper smooth
(listen: the airlocks in his knuckles
pop like bubble wrap).
He’ll know towpaths, compass points,
where to walk a dog. He’ll show you tumulus;
sawdust lumped under the rug.

You can use a magic marker
to draw around edges,
whack in a long nail for hanging.
There’s peace in this place for everything
and everything in its placing.
Your wardrobe, slim now as Parma ham
had a compartment for sundry items,
and in your hinged desk, the smell of ink well.


About claire collison

Writer, photographer, creative facilitator, and breast cancer survivor, I am currently Artist in Residence at the Women's Art Library (WAL) My first novel was a finalist in the Dundee Book Prize, and my short stories and poetry have appeared in print and online. In 2015 I was awarded second place in the inaugural Resurgence Prize, the world's first eco poetry competition, judged by Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. This blog began as a space for words generated on my walking/writing workshops at the Mary Ward centre in Bloomsbury - Writing the City (WTC). WTC has since grown to include many other venues, including the Museum of Broken Relationships, the Barbican, the River Rom, Southwark Woods, Aylesbury Estate, and most recently, as part of Walking Women festival, An Intimate Tour of Breasts. I have worked with Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, as the recipient of the first Max Reinhardt Literacy Award, designing teaching resources; and for The Photographers' Gallery, helping school children develop visual literacy as part of 'Seeing More Things'. If you would like me to design a workshop or walk for you, please be in touch!
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