L’s story: Carry a Poem

September 29, 2009

L's Carry a Poem...Today’s been a day for chasing copy. Some time ago, we asked Facebook friends and Twitter folk what poem they carried with them, and received a pleasing number of replies. Many of these simply said “I really like Philip Larkin’s ‘Trees”’ or: “‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost has been a good, good friend to me.” Now, in preparation for the unveiling of our Carry a Poem website, which will be launched on National Poetry Day, we are chasing stories, seeking embellishment and being nosy. We want to know the tale behind the poem you carry, and we’ve already had a few lovely, thoughtful responses today. We’re greedy for more!

Here, for example, is L’s poem and the story behind it. 

Mine is John Hegley’s ‘PhanTom’. It’s a whimsical little poem but it struck a chord with me. I’d come across it in a newspaper, at a time, many years ago, when I was having to come to terms with the fact I wasn’t ever going to have a child, and it’s been in my purse ever since. Very yellow and fragile now. I don’t really know why I keep it – well, I suppose I do – because I now have a lovely daughter – and I suppose keeping hold of the poem was a keeping hold of the hope.

If you have a poem you carry with you, and you’d like to share, we’d love to hear it. You can either respond to this post, or email peggy.hughes@spl.org.uk. Here’s some guideline questions that might help:

  • Where and when did you first encounter the poem?
  • What did it mean to you then? How did it make you feel? Did it change you in any way?
  • What does it mean to you now?
  • Do you actually carry it? (e.g. in your head, on your ipod, in your wallet or diary, etc)
  • And would you be willing to take part in audio/video recording for our Carry a Poem site?

We’d be very glad to have your stories on board.

3 Responses to “L’s story: Carry a Poem”

  1. Peggy, in my hurry I neglected to answer your questions about my ‘carry-around’ poem. I first encountered it when my protagonist, Li Fa-ling, was trying to tell me who she was. She wrote the poem for me, and I fell in love with her. I saw she shared my love of words for their own sake and beauty, for the power and mystery they still hold even in this manic world.

    I carry it in my head, and I try my best to sneak the phrase “All the words are beautiful” into each of my novels somehow. It reminds me that as writers we are artists, and should take care to paint with a loving brush.

    Of course, to answer the last question, I’d be thrilled to read it, or, if you prefer, I’d also be happy to read my other favourite, J.Alfred Prufrock.

  2. […] in my wallet and the one I have pasted to my bathroom mirror in the coming weeks. The SPL’s Carry a Poem campaign is launched on National Poetry Day (Oct. 8th) but – you can get started now by […]

  3. […] The SPL wants to know what poem(s) you carry with you! […]

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