National Poetry Day

Today is the 11th National Poetry Day and judging by the lack of enthusiasm in our store (the UK’s largest book group) we need more media attention on verse as most folk still seem to ignore it or be ignorant of it. In Neil Gaiman’s excellent Books of Magic a character explains the difference between science and magic; he says (roughly) that science is a way of addressing the universe ina rational method while magic is a way of talking to the universe that it cannot ignore. I tend to take this view on prose and poetry (again roughly) with poetry being a way we can articulate emotions, events and places in a way that prose simply cannot do (except when written by a gifted writer who is writing with a decidely poetical sensibility). Take Orcadian bard George Mackay Brown’s elegant odes to his island home off the coast of Scotland or Rumi’s flowing verse; take the wonderful imagery of my dear Blake or my clansman Byron. If you ignore poetry you excise a huge portion of your life; you turn the dial on your sensitivity down low so every experience will never be the fuller experience it could have been. Poetry can be swift as a racing horse or beat with the slow rhythm of the ocean or the heart.

I found a rather good site dedicated to one of my favourite contemporary poets, Carol Ann Duffy here. She’s a wonderful makkar and I especially commend her to my female chums as someone they really should take an interest in.


Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer

utters itself. So, a woman will lift

her head from the sieve of her hands and stare

at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.

Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth

enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;

then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth

in the distant Latin chanting of a train.

Pray for us now. Grade I piano scales

console the lodger looking out across

a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls

a child’s name as though they named their loss.

Darkness outside. Inside, the radio’s prayer –

Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.

Carol Ann Duffy