When I was at school, I loved poetry. Both reading and writing it. Although I don’t read much poetry now and I haven’t written a poem for ages, there is something about poetry that gets inside of me. A good poem seems to explain the world, or how I feel, so well in just a few words. There is something magical about that.
The theme of National Poetry Day is Remember and people are being asked to remember a poem they learnt by heart or one that means something to you. You can pass the poem on with or put it on display. This website will fill you in.
I find it hard to think of a favourite poem because there are so many that I loved and each meant something special at the time. I think there are two poets who had a big effect on me – William Blake and Sylvia Plath:
- The Tyger by William Blake – I was at a girl’s boarding school run by conservative nuns and this poem just seemed so daring, so full of emotion.
- Songs of Innocence by William Blake’s – I studied these for A level and they made me think so much about religion and Christianity.
- Sylvia Plath’s poetry – I discovered it at university and loved it. A favourite is Mad Girl’s Love Song and it was a treat to find it mentioned in Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer.
But there are many more that will come back to me as the day passes and my memory is jogged by other people. That is what is so good about a day like today – its not just thinking of your own memories, it’s having the opportunity to stir the recesses of your mind with other people’s memories.
It is not just about older people remembering though – it’s about inspiring a younger generation. In the Book Club I ran in a Junior School, Roald Dahl and Dr Suess’ poems were by far a favourite with the children and the ‘Off by Heart’ poetry competition run by the BBC was a huge hit. Those teachers who teach poetry well and who find a way to inspire children are fantastic and I am sure that today’s theme will provide a boost for them. What a perfect opportunity to introduce poetry to students.
On a personal note, I had a fantastic English teacher when I was at College du Leman in Geneva – she was called Miss Mitchell and she introduced me to poetry. I still have copies of poems I wrote (some really awful) and I remember one in particular, and I remember where I sat when I wrote it, where it went on the display board and how I decorated it. I didn’t need to find it as I know it off by heart. Its not special, except to me for the memories and pleasure it brings – thank you Miss Mitchell!
Down beneath our feet
there is life
where insects crawl
and shadows fall
from out unknowing feet.
And we go on
And they go on
Two separate worlds that never meet.