Sometimes I think it’s easy to slip into the idea that writing isn’t worthwhile, because it’s not a ‘basic need’. We need medical staff and truck drivers and electricians and market gardeners, because they provide us with everyday necessities and can be responsible for the difference between life and death. We don’t need writing. What’s the point?
And poetry. Especially poetry. When I write poetry, I feel more self-conscious than ever. Who am I, I think, to consider that I can weave words and play with the language like this?
But then tonight I read to my children from a poetry anthology I was given as a child, and… oh, poetry. I was reminded just how brilliant it can be. The imagery, the way the words and rhythm rhyme around one another, the way each poem sets its own pace, and reveals that to you, only when you read it, and especially when you read it aloud. The other books we read tonight were ones the children had heard before, but the poems were new to them, and they were enthralled. ‘Just three…’ turned into six, then nine, and then it really was getting late and they needed to be in bed.
Reading to my children is always a pleasure, but when I stumble across something both they and I love, it’s such a great experience. We sit together and drink in the words, and I realise–and wonder how I could have forgotten–that while it’s maybe not a matter of life and death, if there were no stories, no poems or songs, what a drab, depressing, colourless life it would be.