How I wrote the poem, ‘The Raggedy Men of Cromer Pier’

When I enquired about the very popular Cromer Ghost Walk it was full. However I was invited to tag along – being
a poet embarking on writing about local ghosts appealed to everyone!  Over time, living in Cromer makes you aware
of legends and ghosts, winter nights on the seafront can conjure all sorts of mystical and imagined apparitions.
The walk around town revealed vital missing details by Paul Greaner (the tour leader) to what I thought I knew
through stories and research. For instance ‘lay lines’, here in Cromer, connecting land to the sea, an unnatural
thing the sea constantly pounds and erodes. This pathway across the sea (the views here are magical) creates an
ever-changing atmosphere. The Pier is steeped in history and ghostly sightings. I was drawn to the story of men in
rags that slept on the beach in medieval times, and at low tides would dive under the sea to pillage anything
remaining in the sunken village of Shipden which was washed away in the Thirteenth – Fourteenth Century. Ghostly
apparitions have been sighted from the end of the pier several times, so too has the church bell been heard in
stormy weather.

Cromer Pier

After several draughts and resting periods, the poem settled into nine stanza’s of triplets (I think triplets give
the poem a haunting impression on the page). Crab fishing is a popular activity on the pier and squid is often
used as bait, its offal is mostly left behind. The sound of the sea slapping against the pier’s pillars creates
a ‘slop, slop’ sound. I chose words like: slippery; droplets; watchman’s fingers, rotting fish etc, to add ghostly
effect. There’s a lot of assonance in this poem too, and sound repetitions of ‘o’s and ‘in’s’ and consonant sounds
of sl, l and f, all this music I enjoyed playing with for its effects of adding  music and rhyme to the piece.

Leftovers on the pier

Special thanks to:

Reach Poetry Magazine (for publishing The Raggedy Men of Cromer Pier)
Paul Gleaner (Cromer Ghost Walk)
Cromer Museum, Norfolk.

To read 'The Raggedy Men of Cromer Pier' scroll down the poems page here