Poetry is incredibly useful. It connects people. It makes things happen. It allows us to examine and share our humanity. It can even distil scientific findings into a few easily absorbed lines.
Here are three examples.
I was at the Aldeburgh poetry festival last Saturday.
There I witnessed the awesome power of poetry. It was present in the silence of the huge auditorium where poets spoke their words to each and all in pin-drop silence; it was present in the smiles of strangers passing on paths and staircases; it was present in the embraces and conversations of old friends who met in foyers and cafeterias, who wandered by the wonderful sculptures by Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore that stood before the reed beds that were speaking the wind. It was present in the simple wooden hut to which I made a visit at the suggestion of Brian Patten, where tapes played the voices of poets who had passed away this year- Dannie Abse, Galway Kinnell and many others.
Here was a colony united by words, by love of craft, by a passion for expression that cannot occur in everyday life. Poetry allows us to connect with ourselves and with each-other.
- I received an e-mail from a poet friend. He explained that he is the husband of a Coronary Care nurse and that she had recently read my poem ‘Carrying the Arrest Bleep’ in ‘The Rialto’ . She had recognised and connected with the experience expressed in the poem and it is now on the wall of her staff room.
I was listening to The Life Scientific on BBC radio 4 where guest Professor David Goulson was talking about his life and work. Professor Goulson’s particular focus is bees, and his research into the effects of pesticide have been instrumental in the recent ban agreed by the UK government after pressure had been applied by various groups in the light of his findings.
As I listened I made notes and found myself writing a poem.
At the suggestion of a friend, I sent this poem to professor Coulson.
She hovers close
but doesn’t touch,
a hair’s width
from the flower. She is
sniffing, trying to detect
traces of bee, tiny smears
of hydro-carbons on petals, left,
as we might leave
fingerprints on a wine glass.
From these she’ll know
if the nectar has gone,
if the flower is, for now,
empty. Scent wears off, the bell
refills, the visits
I’m pleased to be able to tell you that the prof. responded very positively. He even asked if he might share my poem.