Bristol Bristol A poem by Miles Chambers
A poem by Bristol City Poet Miles Chambers (2016-2018), rewritten with Steve Duncan to celebrate Bristol 650 and the anniversary of Bristol being made an independent city and county.
Bristol Bristol the city that was built on the bricks of heroic hardship. Bristol Bristol the place of dreams and possibilities, the place of creative aspirations, culture, commerce and its own seductive music
Bristol Bristol a place still haunted by the ancestral ghost that echoes the historical hangover that yet sobered us up to what time hasn’t changed. Bristol Bristol. Take a walk. Be inspired. Feel the magical connection, see a positive future. Come dance in this festival of ideas
See, we don’t have to wait for carnival every year. The party is right now right here
this very stage, the very atmosphere is encouraging us to lose our fear ‘cause geographically there’s no no-go areas round here
Stand on the Suspension Bridge, see the communities within a community integrated not segregated and in the distance you can almost reach out and grab Glastonbury
Oh city of paradoxes why all this controversy?
Oh conflicting urbanisation I love you but what are you doing to me?
Amidst the beauty I regularly see the women of the street exploiting their femininity. Being exploited by their calamity
I love you Bristol. I love the clamour of the weekend drinkers and the hustle and the bustle of the 9-5
I hate you Bristol as I watch every day the young kiddy with the old weathered face in a Tesco shop doorway clinging to his blanket of security begging to survive.
I love you because of my first kiss from Samantha, because of the smell of Pieminister.
Because of the aroma of Agnes Spencer, because of the pull of colourful air balloons floating aimlessly in a blue sky.
I love you Bristol ‘cause of the first play I wrote here, ‘cause of the first film we shot here, ‘cause of the first poem I performed here and left my inspired listeners with one notion; Just try!
I question the graffiti that glares at you echoing the voices of imprisoned youth.
Then I hear a different cheer, the screams of Rovers and City fans on a Saturday morning celebrating a different truth.
I belong here Bristol amongst the riots and the protest,
Amongst the fighting for equality
I belong here Bristol amongst the ranters and the ravers, the Gospel singers, the multicultural students studying effectively
I belong here Bristol with the Bristol blue taxis, the ‘cheers drive’ shirt and jeans top. Blokes braving the winter streets to look cool
I belong here Bristol with the scantily clad beautified stiletto brigade wearing the same skirts they used to wear to school
I belong here Bristol with the privileged pupils parading their privileged uniforms and the under-privileged not being encouraged to perform
I belong here Bristol. You taught me the special secrets of wild life and movie makers can see the magic in this storm
I belong here Bristol amongst the travellers and the hippies that ask me to think about life in a different way
I belong here Bristol amongst those that visit to work and study and exclaim ‘I just gotta stay’.
I belong here Bristol with the ‘Old Money’ business and the entrepreneurs wheeling, dealing, trying to own this city
I belong here Bristol with all those food-crazed ideas and food-crazed delicious somethings emulating whatshisname; Jamie
I belong here Bristol with the Bristol sound echoing sentiments of who I am flowing through my ears
I belong here with the faith-based streets trying to get you to come to God with all your fears
Oh city of paradoxes where you going to take me today?
Oh conflicting urbanisation are you going to show me a better way?
So what fate awaits this colourful city?
We need to consider every beneficial possibility.
Drugs and social policy
Multiculturalism and unity
Economy and prosperity
Education and opportunity
Business and creativity
Media and honesty
Religion and spirituality
Acknowledgement and generosity
I belong here with the good schools offering a good future to a bad past. The bad schools offering a bad future to a good past. It’s here on these streets that the youth are spitting the lyrics of the future that will change the wrong decisions of the past. I belong here! Right now in this place we have the opportunity to be something great, something amazing together… To utilise the collective potential of us all. That will make this place unique and special… Let’s answer the call. I belong right here!
Miles Chambers was Bristol’s first City Poet, holding the post from 2018 to 2018.
This article appears in Bristol 650: Essays on the Future of Bristol, a book bringing together essays from over 30 contributors, addressing some of the challenges the city faces and sharing ideas about how we might meet them. From dealing with the past, the future of social care, culture and housing to building a city of aspiration, the book looks to promote learning about the future of Bristol and encourage new ideas to come forward.
Free copies of Bristol 650: Essays on the Future of Bristol will be available at selected Festival of the Future City events in October 2023, or you can find articles featured in the book at bristolideas.co.uk/bristol650book.