National Poetry Day 2012

Poetry is a thing of beauty, a wondrous treasure that connects us with our ancient ancestors. For wherever man has been, poetry has followed. In 2012 we live in an ever shrinking world where new technological marvels spring up day by day, and where hundreds of books can be carried around on a small black and white screen. Yet, poetry is just as relevant as ever, it is more vibrant than ever. Poetry is thriving so let us all celebrate this special day: National Poetry Day 2012.

I love literature, as you all know, but poetry has a special place in my heart because of its universal appeal. I am always amazed by the people who come up to me and tell me that they write too. Sometimes they take out a tattered and treasured little book that they have written their own poetry in. Invariably the poetry is brilliant: direct and raw, straight from the heart!
I love writing poetry myself, and am glad to have hidden some little poems in my forthcoming children’s novel ‘Tortoise Soup’. The tortoise hero, Byron Tinker, is inspired to write poetry because he is named after a poet and his poem forms both the beginning and end of the book. Children love poetry, they love to learn and make up rhymes from an early age. We should cherish and nurture childrens’ love for poetry and writing as a whole.
This year I bought two modern collections of poetry, both very different but both very brilliant. One is called ‘Such Words As These’ by Ravenshead Press in which a group of unpublished poets submit poems tracing life from beginning to end in support of Alzheimer’s Research UK. A worthy cause and a worthy book – many of these small, intensely personal poems moved me deeply. I also loved Jamie McGarry’s ‘Dead Snail Diaries’ published by Valley Press. This book consists of poems solely about snails and slugs but it is achingly funny and fantastically well written using its shell-inspired verse to parody everyone from Eliot to Auden.

I also love the poetry classics: from the sonnets of Shakespeare to the labyrinthine brilliance of the aforesaid TS Eliot. Perhaps my favourite poet of all is John Betjeman, such a complex man but such brilliantly simple rhymes. I always have to pay homage by touching his statue when I am at St Pancras station.

If I had the difficult task of picking my one favourite poem of all time however it would come down to either ‘O My Luve’s Like A Red Red Rose’ by Robbie Burns, ‘Ode To A Nightingale’ by John Keats or ‘Requiscat’ by Oscar Wilde. In the latter poem Wilde describes the feeling of loss that he suffers, and will always suffer, after the death of his beloved sister in childhood. It is the perfect description of grief, and of unfulfilled beauty from the greatest ‘all rounder’ writer of all time. Please tell me about your favourite poems below, but here is my choice as the greatest single poem of all time.

REQUISCAT by Oscar Wilde


“Tread lightly, she is near

Under the snow,

Speak gently, she can hear

The daisies grow.

All her bright golden hair

Tarnished with rust,

She that was young and fair

Fallen to dust.

Lily-like, white as snow,

She hardly knew

She was a woman, so

Sweetly she grew.

Coffin-board, heavy stone,

Lie on her breast,

I vex my heart alone,

She is at rest.

Peace, peace, she cannot hear

Lyre or sonnet,

All my life’s buried here,

Heap earth upon it.”


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