OK, so technically National Poetry Day was yesterday and I missed doing this Poetry Playlist post due to juggling 101 other things!
Whilst I love reading poetry on the page, it’s important to recognise that it developed from oral traditions, a means of passing down the values, wisdom and playfulness of humanity from one generation to the next before writing became common.
So for me poetry exists in two very distinct states. The poem on the page, which emanates its power in a wonderful, still silence (if it’s good!) And then there’s the poem as read by the poet or avid reader, which can take on a wholly different feel. The pacing and the length of the end-of-line pause, the emphasis of certain words, the catching of the poem’s rhythm. All are shaped by the personal interpretation of the out-loud reader.
I’ve done quite a few poetry readings in the past – at festivals, schools, pubs and in such illustrious venues as the basement of the Troubador Cafe in Old Brompton Road, where Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones played (and Ed Sheeran and Laura Marling for you young folk!). But with Covid there’s much fewer chances of doing live readings, so why not take a look at this Poetry Playlist I’ve put together? In it, you’ll find me reading six of my favourite poems from my two collections, Up in the Air and The Things We Thought Were Beautiful.
And if they inspire you to read more, the books are available here:
I wrote this poem to read at the service of a friend’s wedding. Weddings are a unique joy, the perfect time to remember that doors are always opening, that every moment offers a new beginning. But weddings fly by too fast. So I wanted to capture that sense of freshness and love, not only for the newlyweds themselves but for everyone who had come to witness and celebrate their marriage.
And as they came out into the gladbright day
the light sprang up in their eyes
for all the crowd to see
that they were sunmade –
and the day danced
danced through the eyes of the lovers
danced because there is never
anything except beginning
and never is it known more
than on this day –
and we all would follow
swept up like the spangled leaves
of glorious trees,
savouring their sunshine
and they came out singing
and they came out dancing
and they came out thinking
that they’d never been like this before –
and we would all be
blown gaily through the gorgeous day
as if time were nothing but air –
unless we were now
for just this one moment
and think each of ourselves
all here now
in our hearts
and real as love.
The poem I wrote for my wife on my own wedding day, Muse, is available in my first poetry collection, Up in the Air. You can buy a copy here: