Maintaining ‘Thresholds’

Thresholds is part of the University of Cambridge Festival of Ideas. Ten poets will each spend two weeks in residence at ten Cambridge museums early next year.  Here they will meet researchers and explore the collections before writing poems inspired by the experience.  The poets are and their residencies are:

  • Sean Borodale – Museum of Classical Archaeology;
  • Gillian Clarke – Museum of Zoology;
  • Imtiaz Dharker – Cambridge University Library;
  • Ann Gray – Cambridge University Botanic Garden;
  • Matthew Hollis – The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences;
  • Jackie Kay – Kettle’s Yard;
  • Daljit Nagra – Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology;
  • Don Paterson – Whipple Museum of the History of Science;
  • Joe Shapcott – The Polar Museum;
  • Owen Sheers – The Fitzwilliam Museum.

It sounds like a useful way of raising awareness of poetry but ten poets at ten museums across the country – with some publicly available workshops – would be far more effective.

Poetry is like philosophy in that it involves bringing together fundamental ideas and viewpoints on life. It needs to shake off its cloak of academia colours so it’s a shame Thresholds restricts all that poetic excellence in one place – which happens to be archetypically  academic anyway.