This morning I caught up with my Saturday paper. I love my weekend paper but it’s so big that I tend to read sections during the week as well. In the Guardian Review, Jeanette Winterson reviewed The World’s Wife, a collection by Carol Ann Duffy. I enjoy the work of both authors, so it was a real pleasure. As usual, I was struck by Winterson’s turn of phrase. She described poetry thus:
“Poetry is a pleasure.
Sometimes people say to me, “why should I read a poem?” There are plenty of answers, from the profound – a poem is such an ancient means of communication that it feels like an evolutionary necessity – to the practical; a poem is like a shot of espresso – the fastest way to get a hit of mental and spiritual energy.
We could talk about poetry as a rope in a storm. Poetry as one continuous mantra of mental health. Poetry as the world’s biggest, longest-running workshop on how to love. Poetry as a conversation across time.”
She’s right. Later in my day I would stumble across a work by one of my favourite poets, Hollie McNish, Mermaids and Sand (Ocean Floor). As the best art points us towards truth, she highlights the compassion deficit in Europe towards those who die on the seas trying to make it to safety. The International Organization for Migration announced last week the the numbers last year topped 170,000. Syrians were the most numerous, followed by Eritreans.
“The emergency is not in the number of people involved or a risk that they will overburden Europe, a bloc of countries with a population of about 500 million people…the emergencies are the conflicts, instability and great uncertainty in a number of countries close to Europe, which people are fleeing. If we put these numbers in perspective, we’ll see that Turkey is hosting about 1.8 million Syrian refugees, and Lebanon (a very small country of 4 million people) is dealing with over one million.”
“We say go back. There’s no space for you here.” – Hollie McNish