Josephine Hart, Making poetry a vital part of life (from The Times)

wings

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Making poetry a vital part of life

Josephine Hart tells Melissa Katsoulis that hearing the works of the great poets is food for the soul



JOSEPHINE HART is a woman on a mission. When she came to England from the Republic of Ireland, working first in publishing, then in theatre and latterly as the creator of novels such as Damage, she noticed something missing in the cultural landscape. Poetry. Sure, there were new poets performing in rooms above pubs, but where were the top-notch actors declaiming fine verses for an audience of paying fans? It brought home to her one of the big differen-ces between England and Ireland.

“The poet in Ireland is an iconic figure, partly because in our history you have so many poets who involved themselves in politics - the Easter Rising proclamation was signed by poets - so that's very much part of our culture and it's one of the reasons I started doing this,” she says.

Hart set up her own West End “Poetry Hour” readings more than 20 years ago. The events have gone from strength to strength, attracting some of the finest actors (all of whom give their services free) and now have spawned two compendiums of classic poems, each with an accompanying CD. The latest, just published, is Words that Burn. And to give you an idea of the calibre of the project, at its launch - a public event at the British Library, as all her evenings are - Sir Bob Geldof, Harriet Walter and Dominic West (fresh from The Wire) read Yeats to an audience that inclu-ded children, scruffy middle-aged couples, a member of the royal family and several captains of industry.

As always at her readings, one of the best bits is her own superb introduction to each poet. These essays, reproduced in each beautiful volume, should be of particular interest to the schoolchildren who will be receiving copies of the book.

“Getting the last book into schools was terrific but this time we're going to concentrate much more on getting it into classrooms. We sent it to the head of English of every school in the country; in addition to new afternoon performances the Library is going to put it all on to its educational website. We want to make poetry a very real power in people's lives.”

Of course, the famous names of readers such as Bono, Emilia Fox and Greg Wise must help to attract young audiences to her events. “I'm sure there are people who come [because of that] but within two minutes the fact that these people really know what they're doing is what will enchant them. What will make a child listen is the undernote they catch: they catch the satire, the wit, the cruelty. And that requires technique. And once a child hears this, and gets the rhythm of, say, Byron, then they can go and read him for themselves. But you need somebody to give you the rhythm.” And finding people to advocate the classics of the canon is not always easy these days, when a certain anti-elitism has grown up among educationists (not to mention children) in thrall to popular culture.

“I've nothing against popular culture,” she says, carefully, “but the idea that there is something divisive about bringing to people the greatest language ever written is utterly wrong. I think it's dying out, but there was a feeling that somehow it almost wasn't politically correct to be interested in serious and great poetry. To some extent it's much more politically acceptable to go to football matches. If a major politician spends his free time in cultural activities, a mood has grown up which implies that there's something wrong with that. In fact, it's what would inform his mind.

...

Full article at: http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/article5106214.ece
Ο λόγος είναι μεγάλη ανάγκη της ψυχής. (Γιώργος Ιωάννου)


banned

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Είδε ο γύφτος τη γενιά του κι αναγάλλιασε η καρδιά του (Ισχύει για σένα, για μένα και για μερικούς ακόμη εδώ).

Μην το στείλεις όμως παραέξω, ξέρεις εσύ πού. Μηηηηηηηηη.



wings

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Μπα, και να το στείλω παραέξω, δεν θα πάθουν τίποτα. Κυκλοφορεί ήδη αντιποιητικό εμβόλιο και υπάρχει η σχετική και αναγκαία ανοσία. :-)
Ο λόγος είναι μεγάλη ανάγκη της ψυχής. (Γιώργος Ιωάννου)


 

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