I’m A Poet And I Know It!

National Poetry Day

Thursday 2nd October was National Poetry Day. This is a British campaign originally created by William Sieghart in 1994 and it has been celebrated on the first Thursday in October since it was launched. The aim of the day is to encourage more people to engage with poetry. Poetry helps us to remember stories, from Jack and Jill all the way to the Odyssey. Children love rhymes and rhythms; but poetry also helps them to improve literacy, articulate a story or deliver a punch line in style. Isn’t it better to dress with finesse rather than smartly? The theme this year is "remember". Had it been held in November, how many of us would think of Guy Fawkes and remember the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot?

In "The Defence of Poetry" 1821, Shelley claimed that "poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world". For him, poetry was political. However, it is much, much more. As a type of communication and expressiveness in a written form, poetry liberates one from sufferings, oppression and suppression on one hand, while revealing love, happiness and pleasure on the other. Poetry is just another way to express one’s thoughtfulness and desires and letting the rest of the world to be aware of the same.

Sometimes, people dismiss poetry as a waste of time After all, the world is in trouble. It has always been in trouble. Surely there must be something more useful, more pressing, to give our time to than reflecting on poetry? Great poetry has the power to start a fire in a person’s life. It can alter the way we see ourselves. It can change the way we see the world. You may never have read a poem in your life, and yet you can pick up a volume of verse, open it to any page, and suddenly find yourself blown into a world full of awe, dread, wonder, marvel, deep sorrow, and joy. It is a magical art, and always has been – a making of language spells designed to open our eyes, open our doors and welcome us into a bigger world, one of possibilities we may never have dared to dream of.

A few weeks ago, I blogged about the importance of painting to humans. There is a headstone in a Long Island graveyard – the one where Jackson Pollock is buried – that encapsulates the value and necessity of art and poetry in a world of sorrows. It says,

"Artists and poets are the raw nerve ends of humanity. By themselves they can do little to save humanity. Without them there would be little worth saving."

Ray Henshaw