The Companionship Of Poetry

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 5 2012 @ 1:29pm


William Sieghart, who is behind the "Winning Words" campaign seeking to highlight poetry during the Olympics, describes the consolations of verse:

I have always found poetry to be a magnificent companion through the most difficult moments of life. My project Winning Words has installed inspirational poems at many of the Olympic venues; for the book, I have selected 160 or so poems, from the ancient to the modern, that I believe can inspire and help the reader through the tribulations of daily existence, by providing a sense of complicity and understanding. Recently I was able to test this out when I ran a Poetry Prescriptions tent at the Port Eliot festival. To my surprise I found a lengthy queue of people seeking my help – and, best of all, a dramatic response when I managed to prescribe effectively.

In our increasingly alienated modern lives, an appropriate poem can be more helpful than many forms of therapy. We love our poetry but are often intimidated by it. Yet we consume more greetings cards than any other nation, enjoy our chants on the football terraces and have contributed significantly to the canon of rap music. Poetry is all around us, and as our great cultural legacy to the world it deserves to feature in the Olympic park and celebrations.

(The book-spine poetry of Nina Katchadourian via Sadie Stein)