Colin T Mercer- Belfast Poet
Poet Colin Mercer was born in Belfast and grew up in working-class south Belfast's 'Village' area. Having originally worked as an electrician for ten years he turned to writing full-time, a strong source of inspiration of which was his grandfather's working days.
Inspiration from Belfast's shipyards
Growing up, Colin would spend almost every weekend staying with his grandparents and enjoyed listening to his retired grandfather's stories of his time working at the Harland and Wolff shipyard.
He would describe his long days spent at a workbench in a cold and draftee hanger building, a huge structure with large wooden doors they would open at both ends, creating a sort of wind tunnel. 'It was so cold, in that building, colder than outside. I had to wear layers of clothing just to stay warm, with the cold wind blowing of the sea.'
In 2008, taking encouragement from his partner, Colin decided to publish a number of his poems in anthologies, such as 'Poets 2008: Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland', which is held in the English Library.
Colin's self-published his first full book of poetry, 'For Irish Eyes' in late 2009, out of New York, after which UK publisher Tim Roux, of Night Publishing, agreed to publish 'Ghosts Across Our Landscape', a book of short stories and poetic verses about Northern Ireland.
'The Yard', a poem within the book, is dedicated to Colin's grandfather and inspired by his work in the shipyards. Another, 'The Quarter', describes the abandonment of the shipyard and the area which has now become known as the Titanic Quarter.
Colin has read his work during a number of festivals including the Aspects Irish Literature Festival, the Guinness Folk Festival and the Irish Literature Festival. While working on two novels for the future, Colin continues to write poetry, which is his first and foremost passion. He says, 'Ireland as a whole has truly a Titanic past of creative personalities, with Northern Ireland offering more than its fair share. I believe that this little island, isolated by the sea from the rest of Europe, has something in the very fabric of its people, retaining and nurturing a creative gene.'
He has written the following poem, 'Titanic Hope' in dedication to this website, Titanic Stories.
Red brick, grey roads flat and worn hard
Men in hats, long coats guarding them
For the east wind is working when we are in the hole,
That deep dry dock filled with men and steel,
Wood plinths, iron wedges
A great hull has grown like a giant living whale, her belly pitch black and
Glistening, with countless rivets coursing her full length
Like hordes of barnacles
And her white top seems to glow a new hope to us now
In the workshops of dull walls and yelling metal pressed flat
Against their will, is where I remain most days
I have spent many hours here working
With my bare hands, cut, hardened and blackened.
Over repetitive days.
All the while knowing I am stuck here, just like she is
Held fast by work that needs done, reasons linked together, a needy chain.
Unable to move because I have to provide and
Be host, shelter, protection to those that
Will be closest to my heart
Yet, unlike her I will never be released from this place,
Except when I am realised to be of little use
And my great worth, wasted and spent in time
Held in dry dock shackled from freedom
Sealed from the choice of open waters
By a gate of man-made resistance
And my only route to a different world
But that is me, and she will break loose soon
Oh, how we will miss her for she paid for our food, our Sunday roast
And we gave to her, the lives of many men
Some falling deep in love to their own death.
Children cry when they see her and women laugh with joy
We will run to the quay side when she slips away.
The air seems to know, seagulls gather daily now
The first passengers with free tickets lining her rails
I wonder, what's in store for her, what will she see out there
Beyond the cresting waves of Belfast Lough
I hope she visits all the places I've heard of and finds her peace
I hope she gets free of this place and changes lives.
Copyright Colin T Mercer, October 2011
Colin's book 'For Irish Eyes' can be purchased from his website
or from Amazon
. His new publication, 'Ghosts Across Our Landscape' is available to purchase now from Amazon
. It is also available as a Kindle eBook
How to get there
Colin can be contacted through his website, www.colintmercer.com.