Thresholds revisited…

In November last year I posted about Thresholds.  This project placed ten poets in ten Cambridge museums to meet researchers and explore the collections before writing poems inspired by the experience. The project is now complete and a website at contains details including links to the poets reading aloud.

My last few posts have reflected on the performance of poetry. It’s a different experience to listen to the Threshold poets reading from a broad selection of their work, but without the poems to look at – without the words on the page – it feels incomplete. I lose interest quickly. for me, listening is too transient.

The Poetry Archive site offers unique access to the voice and style of dead poets. I can ‘hear’ T S Eliot, Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath. But I also have their words to supplement the poetry process.  One of the images on the current Poetry Archive banner has the text ‘Poetry always begins and ends with listening.’ As Jung might say, this could be an example of ‘meaningful synchronicity.’

Thresholds are about opening doors and stepping through. Perhaps I need to explore my resistance to performance in more detail.

The Temple of Isis on the Island of Philae

Temple of Isis on the Island of Philae in Egypt, 2013.


Bring on the poems…

The Council for the Defence of British Universities  have formed a coalition to defend universities against the erosion of academic freedom and the marketisation of higher education. They are highlighting the lack of space in the curriculum for ideas.

There’s no better way to introduce creative and critical thinking than poetry.

Too many people say they don’t like poetry but this often derives from misconceptions of what poetry is. Too much early exposure to historical poets writing in different times and cultures can be off-putting. Poetry needs a new image. Song lyrics are poetry set to music as are hip hop and reggae. Advertising and marketing slogans are poetry. If education is about stretching boundaries and having different ways of looking at the world, then education needs to include poetry.

Poetry offers alternative ways of seeing, subversion with language, opportunities to try doing something differently, being brave, being creative, having fun.

Poetry is the search for original imaginative use of metaphors, similes  clichés. In poetry, every word matters; it teaches vocabulary, editing, rhythm, structure. What’s not to like?  Sites like Poetry Archive  and The Poetry Foundation offer free access to poetry. It’s the only way forward. Bring on the poems.