On world book day: where is the poetry?

    Published: 05 March 2020

    I am informed that in marking world book day, schools will celebrate picture-books, novels and non-fiction in their multitudes. Yet, there will be little, if any, attention given to poetry books. Well, I make no apology for what follows. I am here to make an emotionally charged plea for sharing the joys of poetry books. I am happy for you to have a giggle at my expense if I leave you unmoved!

    Over the years, books have had to come and go in my home; a small house has little space for bookshelves. The long-term survivors of many a cull have been a handful of much loved novels, some short story compendiums and my beloved collection of poetry books, from which I cannot be parted. Let me share with you the two main reasons for their particular importance. Don’t give up now. Give me a chance to convince you!

    Firstly, after a hard day at work, I may be too drained to take on the crowded pages of prose. My eye wants to dance across more spacious splashes of words. At such times my need for story-telling, ideas and imaginative flight requires a speedier entry-point into refreshing shallows or indulgent depths. The magical intensity of poetry delivers no lesser sense of place and time, human dilemma, laughter, sadness or deep meaning as you will find in the pages of a novel, but with a completeness that may be unlocked with ease. One reason down, one more to go…

    Secondly, I read to see the universe through different eyes; to uncover new insights and perspectives. Through a poem I can enter a moment of deep human experience or a story of fable or charm, and it will open alternate ways of seeing the past, the present and the never-been. Sometimes I recognise threads of experience that connect me to people long ago, and though they are now gone, I know that I am not alone in my struggles.

    Poetry can be a shot of espresso, a spray of eau-de-parfam, the taste of bitter leaves, a whirl around a rollercoaster or a thrilling flight into adventure. It can have a condensed dark majesty or deliver a cheeky bungee-jump. It is of infinite variety, tantalising alchemy and powerful clarity.

    Please plug a favourite poetry book today! Keep calm and read poetry.

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