A6 24 Pages
The Scavengers of London - Tom Watts
Tom Watts, 33, lives and works in southeast London. His poetry has been published in the magazines Equilibrium, Remark, Plus-Que-Parfait, Streetcake, and Department. He has published a dictionary of poetic forms for zimZalla. His work is also included in the anthology Eighteens, published by The Knives Forks and Spoons Press. A chapbook, The Fruit Journal, is forthcoming on The Arthur Shilling Press. Away from poetry, he writes reviews for Rabbit Hole Urban Music, and his short story Wasps was long-listed for the 2010 Fish Short Story Prize. Find him online by putting ‘Feeding The Bear Tom Watts’ into your search engine. He is currently grappling with his first novel. So far the novel is winning.
About the poems
During a rummage among the tables at the book market under Waterloo Bridge on the South Bank, I found a large, green hardback called London’s Natural History by R. S. R. Fitter - a renowned British naturalist who was also the director of the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau. It is an old, weighty book filled with yellowing pages and a smattering of retro-coloured photographs of odd-looking toads or beds full of cabbages destroyed by brutal caterpillar attacks. Published in 1946, the book is oblivious to the after effects of the war such is Fitter’s obvious obsession with tracking the way London’s nature has changed and been changed by the cities growth. To Fitter it is as if the war was an irrelevance. Nature plows on. I wanted to write a long cento poem dealing with London and the environment, a poem about nature’s ability to just get on with it, everything doing what it must. The book became the source material for my work. All the lines from the Scavenger’s Of London are taken cut and paste style from Fitter’s remarkable book, but instead of describing nature alongside man I imagined nature reclaiming London after man’s extinction. After a period of chaos man is gone and the plants and animals are creeping back onto the streets.