editor's choice



Happy national poetry day 2020.

How wonderful that we have a day to celebrate a medium that we all love in one shape or form.

I know many of you reading this will have penned a poem at some time, or written a lyric. The former is certainly how I first started writing – and absorbing other people’s words through rhymes, spoken word and song, because good lyrics are, after all, poetry set to music. My dad was also a writer and while he wrote all manner of things, poetry and plays were his first love, so I grew up in a house engulfed by other people’s words, but they were mostly American, European or the great epic poems of long past, of empires long fallen. And mostly written by men. They spoke to me often because of their beauty, their shape, but they weren’t my experience.

It was Virago and The Women’s Press and their amazing publishing programmes which really opened up my eyes to the power of poetry, of how it can speak to you, change you, make you feel like you belong, make you feel like you’re not alone, make you laugh, make you exhale and think, ‘Ah yes, that’s how it is, but I didn’t know how to express it.’ And for me this came through the poems of women of colour, women like Alice Walker and Maya Angelou – and then a host of fabulous women, who were considered Other, in terms of race, colour, gender, sexual preference, ideology, who wrote about all kinds of things and the world they lived in. A series of light bulb moments.

I’m sure you all have a poem, a lyric, a haiku that you hold dear, that makes you laugh or cry or just wonder at its sheer power and beauty. This is one of mine, one which I’ve always loved of Alice Walker’s, ‘I will keep broken things’, here read by the author herself.




Acknowledgements: The programme is brought to us by Emory University. ‘I will keep broken things’ © Alice Walker.

Also of interest: By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept’; ‘Sylvia Plath on poetry‘; ‘WB Yeats, “The Journey of the Magi“‘; ‘Yvonne Battle-Fenton’s Remembered‘; ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised‘; ‘We should all be feminists‘; The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”‘; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).

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