In 1999 UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) declared March 21 to be World Poetry Day, a day now celebrated in hundreds of countries around the world, most especially in classrooms where children are encouraged to take an interest in the form.
All too often there are complaints that no-one reads poetry any more but if asked most people will reveal that they do indeed have their favourites which shows us that perhaps all people really need is exposure.
There is good poetry, which most people will happily listen to (it’s always better to hear poetry than to read it I think), and there is bad poetry which makes us awkward and embarrassed. Douglas Adams nicely summed up the effects of bad poetry:
“Vogon poetry is of course the third worst in the Universe. The second worst is that of the Azgoths of Kria. During a recitation by their Poet Master Grunthos the Flatulent of his poem “Ode to a Small Lump of Green Putty I Found in My Armpit One Midsummer Morning” four of his audience members died of internal hemorrhaging, and the President of the Mid-Galactic Arts Nobbling Council, survived by gnawing one of his own legs off. Grunthos is reported to have been “disappointed” by the poem’s reception, and was about to embark on a reading of his twelve-book epic entitled My Favourite Bath-time Gurgles when his own major intestine, in a desperate attempt to save life and civilization, leaped straight up through his neck and throttled his brain. The very worst poetry of all perished along with its creator, Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings of Greenbridge, Essex, England, in the destruction of the planet Earth.”
Some of my Favourite Poems (in no particular order)
Still I rise – Maya Angelou. http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/still-i-rise/
Stop all the clocks, Cut off the phones – W.H.Auden http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/stop-all-the-clocks-cut-off-the-phones/
Bagpipe Music – Louis MacNeice http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/bagpipe-music/
Jabberwocky – Lewis Carroll http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/jabberwocky/
When You Are Old – W.B.Yeats http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15526
I’ve chosen a selection that I think should get a bit more exposure as some poems always seem to get a mention. Are you tired of seeing Kipling’s If on a favourites list? Does a love of Shakespeare’s sonnets just make people sound pretentious? Should people read more kids poetry (or more poetry to kids)? As always I’d love to hear your thoughts.