Love and the Power of Poetry

A while ago we posted an advert for the BBC’s 2009 Poetry Season.

Tonight we bring you something beautiful, poetic, and just the right level of emotional for a Friday night in.

Here’s comedian Robert Webb recounting a particular poem, and a particular poet, that touched his life:

Forgetfulness, by Billy Collins

This is a beautiful poem by Billy Collins (former US Poet Laureate). As the title suggests, it is about forgetfulness.

Thanks to the Wordsworth Bookshop in Penrith, Cumbria, for flagging this one up as their ‘poem of the day’ on Wednesday. (NOTE: the Wordsworth Bookshop are now displaying copies of our zines on their tables. Pop along for a coffee and a read!)

Watch this great animated version of Collins’ poem:


Check out our previous post on Billy Collins’ poem ‘The Dead’ here.


The heading pretty much says it all. A week from today, is the deadline for submissions for our zine!

You can read the submissions details here.

Or you can check out our facebook event here.

The main thing is that we have lots of amazing poetry to make our first zine something really special.

Looking forward to seeing your work!

In the mean time, here’s John Keating (aka Robin Williams) telling the class in Dead Poets’ Society why we write poetry:


Don Paterson: ‘Why Do You Stay Up So Late?’

A good night gift to all our subscribers (and everyone browsing the site), here is a beautiful poem by Don Paterson, and an inspirational one too.

Sweet dreams.

Films About Books

Two little treats for you tonight, and they’re both videos.

The first is a short piece of stop motion called ‘The Joy of Books’:


The second video is another short film, called ‘The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore’:


Hope you enjoyed them!

Things We Think You’ll Like:

There are many many things that we think you’ll like. Warm summer days, for instance, or chocolate-covered strawberries. We couldn’t possibly list them all here. But here are just a few choice pieces, that we really think you ought to see.

  1. At the top of our list, a free (yes, that’s right, FREE) online course from the University of Pennsylvania, in Modern & Contemporary American Poetry.
    Information on the course here:

  2. We also want to promote a challenge on the Young Poets Network. If you’re under 25 and a lyricist (or if you’re under 25 and fancy turning your hand to it), there’s a challenge to set some words to music. And the lovely Young Poets Network people have provided a video, too, so here’s some more information.

    To take part in the challenge, or to find out more about it (or both), go to the Young Poets Network’s page about the challenge.
  3. Not far behind is a short story by Roald Dahl, entitled ‘The Great Automatic Grammatizator’. We don’t know what the rest of the blog is saying, or even which language it’s in, but this part is definitely worth a read.
    I know that this site is all about poetry, rather than short stories, but thematically it fits. It’s all about the art (or ‘art’ of writing).
    Read it here.
  4. This one is another short story. We won’t say too much about it, because we don’t want to give it all away before you’ve read it, but there’s a bit of a theme running with our reading suggestions tonight. It’s called ‘Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore’, by Robin Sloan. Quite aside from our loving the idea of a 24-hour bookshop, this is an eerie and modern story, and well worth a read.
    You can do so right here.
  5. And finally, a picture of a graffitied rabbit (taken in a graffiti lane in Melbourne, Australia). Because let’s face it, who wouldn’t enjoy that?

Sleep tight.

Carpe Diem

Today we’re going for something a little different: a philosophy rather than a poem. Though of course, it is poetry related. If it weren’t, it wouldn’t be on our site.

Carpe diem.

‘Seize the day’.

It’s a Latin phrase, largely popularised by the filmDead Poets’ Society.

If you haven’t already seen Dead Poets’ Society, I would recommend watching it sooner rather than later. It’s a must for any aspiring writer / poet / artist – or just for anyone who wants to take a hold of life and run with it. Not to mention, it’s a tear jerker (though no more on that – we wouldn’t want to ruin the ending).

Here’s the famous ‘Carpe Diem’ clip from the film:

Tastebuds tantalised? Go and watch the rest! You won’t be disappointed.

And in case you’re interested, here are the poems mentioned in the clip in their entirety:


To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time:
by Robert Herrick

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
   Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
   Tomorrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun, 
   The higher he's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
   And nearer he's to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
   When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
   Times still succeed the former. 

Then be not coy, but use your time,
   And while ye may, go marry;
For having lost but once your prime,
   You may forever tarry.



O Captain! My Captain!
by Walt Whitman

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up–for you the flag is flung–for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths–for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

And just in case we hadn’t spoiled you enough, here’s a video with Vincent Price reading Whitman’s poem:


Poems taken from:

St George’s Day

As with everything else today, this post has a Shakespearean theme to it.

So we’re wishing you a happy St George’s Day with Laurence Olivier’s Henry V. Some fantastic acting and a curious haircut. Enjoy.

A New Sonnet by Mark Ravenhill

We’ve also just had this drawn to our attention by poet, actor and singer Alex Knox.

It’s a new sonnet, commissioned by the RSC, written by their writer in residence, Mark Ravenhill.

We think it’s fantastic.

“The Best Book Ever”

High expectation is a writers enemy. It puts so much pressure on the writer and can cause writer’s block because the writer is scared to make anything less than perfect. This short by Lev Yilmaz demonstrates this viscous cycle in a witty, humorous way.

Yilmaz later, gives amazing advice on how to conquer that expectation, in a way that I never thought of before. In this clip linked here (between 1.17-2.42), he suggests that one should set out to make the most rubbish piece of work they can, thus cutting out all pretensions and allowing you to be free. Hope this clip and piece of advice helps any struggling writers out there, or at the very least put a smile on your face. Have a great Saturday folks.

For more videos on  Lev Yilmaz click here.