Passion For Poetry

Following the publication of Passion for Poetry: A Reader's Guide to Contemporary Poetry (written and researched with contributions from West Midlands librarians), we invited our members to send in their response as poetry readers. Passion for Poetry was co-ordinated by Christine Bridgwood and supported by West Midlands Art Board (, The Arts Council of England (, The Poetry Society and Faber & Faber.

Poetry is a friend, a constant companion. She carries me above the daily irritations, worries and seemingly insurmountable obstacles of my life. She helps me excape to a realm of colourful images, lyrical language and rib-tickling rhymes. She MOVES ME to cathartic tears, she enfolds me in love and she brings out the laughter buried deep inside me during my darkest hours.

Poetry has command of the theatrical, the romantic and the comic. She has the strength to trumpet a call to arms and the sensibility to carry the tenderest thoughts of a shy lover. She speaks to nations and to individuals, drawing them together with rainbow threads of language, mood and imagery. She creates a bond which links us all, one to another, as we read silently or aloud, listen collectively or alone.

I am thinking in particular of the writings of the war poets who gather people together under the cover of collective responsibility and shared history. Poetry can inspire, move and stir to action. She can also lift the spirits of a dejected soul, enabling it to soar above the mundane and the maddening. She can make us roar out loud at amusing observations of everyday absurdities. Roger McGough was the first poet to make me laugh and humorous lines were my children's introduction to poetry. In an attempt to brighten up an overcast Winter's day, we had bought a collection of poems for children, published in aid of the Save The Children Fund, and even now many years later when reminiscing about their childhood, they laugh their way through a joint recitation of
"I eat my peas with honey. . . "

At various times in my life, I have myself been moved to put pen to paper - though nothing that Keats, Yeats, Plath or Hughes need worry about! My first attempts were the jottings of a teenager in love, out of love, or bemoaning unrequited love. Later the powerless pleadings and protestations against the war and famine in Ethiopia and expressions of grief and abandonment on the death of my father. More recently I found myself so overwhelmed with a myriad of emotions on the event of my son's wedding that words tumbled onto the paper like water bursting through a dam, completely unstoppable and with an urgency that had to be assuaged.

Poetry lends itself to the expression of emotion, thought, feeling, confusion, euphoria and loss in a way that other creature forms cannot. It requires no equipment or expensive materials, no special place or preparation, no physical strength or prowess, no training or high intellect and can be as private or public as the composer wishes. Whether written or read in company or in solitude, poetry brings comfort to the jilted lover or embattled soldier, expresses the frustrations of the young mother and provides food for the soul for everyman and everywoman.

- Ms C J McGowan, Shropshire