“If we don’t consider our ocean resources in Brixham, our backyard, there’s no hope”

As part of COPnes26, the novella in verse – ‘Brixham Chimes‘ – will be performed to live music and lights in St Mary’s Church, Totnes, on Saturday 13 November at 18:30. Written by the film maker who made Sky Atlantic’s series ‘Fish Town’ about Brixham, this book sets an apocalyptic story firmly in the Brixham area and uses local landmarks to highlight the global environmental crisis. Drawing attention to issues around sustainability and plummeting biodiversity , the poem echoes the poetic traditions of Dylan Thomas’s ‘Under Milkwood‘ and Coleridge’s ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’.

A chat with the author, Jim Funnell:

“When I made ‘Fish Town’ I always felt something was unresolved. Despite the incredible, romantic beauty of the sea, making the series left me with the bitter aftertaste of environmental injustice.
The great natural resource of the deep was being ruthlessly exploited, and we were all eventually going to suffer because of it.

I came across the quote ‘The fishermen catch the fish, they don’t own the sea’. It is a particularly resonant idea in this time of climate crisis when the oceans are under threat like never before – from acidification, pollution and extreme over-fishing. How can we stand by and allow the oceans that once nurtured the origins of Life be trashed?

We won‘t survive it if that happens.

Beam trawling and other industrial fishing is occurring on a global scale. Boats are now equipped with technology that not only sweeps an area clean, but also destroys the seabed and nursery grounds of tomorrow’s fish.

This is robbing future generations of a biodiverse sea, stripped bare of its once teeming life and it’s doing so at pace.

For me, the writing in Brixham Chimes is more than just poetry; it is poetry as a weapon, poetry as viral verse – genetically engineered as a verbal bio-weapon to get in through your eyes, under your skin and grow inside you, altering the way you experience the world.

I wanted the verse in Brixham Chimes to have the same potency as Woody Guthrie’s battered wooden guitar that carried the slogan “This Machine Kills Fascists.” I wanted it to be beautiful, sad, modern and ancient. An equivalent to the ‘Ancient Mariner’ written on the side of a derelict supertanker.”

Why Brixham and why fish?

“Brixham is clearly important to me because of my filming connection – a beautiful, fascinating place. But Brixham is also a strategically important fishing port with over £40,000,000 worthof fish passing through it every year.

What happens at Brixham really matters. If we don’t consider our ocean resources in Brixham, our backyard, there is no hope. This isn’t a case of someone else’s problem: this is an issue we need to discuss and debate, right here, right now, on our doorstep. If we turn a blind eye now, we’ll all suffer in the near future.”

You can get tickets for Saturday’s event here.