I want to use this blog to write about my love of poetry and I am going to begin with reflecting on why and also how I read poetry, and what it means to me.
The context for this post is a few facts about me…I can be fast, doing lots of things at the same time. I scatter my possessions over whatever room or house I am in in. I am loud and chatty. I like fast music.
Poetry makes me stop.
Poetry makes me slow.
Poetry allows me to be quiet.
One of my favourite things to do is to read poetry aloud to myself. It helps me understand and appreciate it more. I can turn tricky or new words over in my mouth. I can start to unpick complex or confusing formulations of words. This is especially true for poems that are new to me.
Sometimes I am in public when I encounter a new poem. In this instance I recite it under my breath, mouthing the words.
I have many memories of doing this in London after spotting a new ‘Poem on the Underground’.
I stumbled across ‘London Fields’ by Michael Rosen and I adored these lines which open and close the poem:
“Evening falls between the trees
The drumming for Ghana fills the leaves”
I enjoyed discovering ‘Stationery’ by Agha Shahid Ali, especially these final lines:
“The world is full of paper.
Write to me”.
Gerard Benson’s ‘In a Young Time’ ends with this amazing image:
“Only a window
would catch sunlight and flame into sudden gold”.
I love that poetry can immediately take me somewhere else.
When I read the lines by Michael Rosen I think of a sporting event and trees in full bloom. I am instantly taken to what I feel must be a warm and light evening in the late summer (another line in the poem reinforces this). I am interested by the idea of sounds filling up a space.
The lines from ‘Stationery’ are so intriguing. Who is the poet addressing these to? They could be achingly romantic or desperately sad (I err on the side of romance in this case).
Gerard Benson’s way of capturing that beautiful sight of a sunset reflected in a window is wonderful and articulates perfectly something many of us have seen but may have found difficult to describe.
I love many different art forms but poetry is my favourite because it is so accessible. I don’t need to go anywhere special to enjoy poetry. It doesn’t cost any money. It is not kept in galleries or museums.
If I can remember some lines of poetry it is always with me, available at will.
Read more about Poems on the Underground here: https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/culture-and-heritage/poems-on-the-underground and here: https://tfl.gov.uk/forms/13924.aspx