Friday, July 12, 2019

Clinging on

Chrissie Poulson had me as a guest on her blog this week. Here. She asked me some questions, including 'What is your comfort reading?' and I found myself not just naming one book, but a list. And I was faced yet again with the fact that I am a wimp. I can't cope with the world as it is. I am in danger of becoming like Ratty in Wind in the Willows (my current comfort reading) when he says to Mole: 

'Beyond the Wild Wood comes the Wide World. And that's something that doesn't matter either to you or me. I've never been there, and I'm never going, nor you either, if you've got any sense at all. Don't ever refer to it again, please.'

Dave keeps asking me 'What's the matter?' and I say 'Politics, the state of the country, how it's going to get worse and worse. A scoundrel about to become PM, the Labour party failing to put up a coherent, united, powerful opposition, and intolerant, right-wing views taking over the public discourse.' Well actually, I usually just say 'How can anyone even consider voting for Boris bloody Johnson?' but I thought I'd flesh it out for you.

Shoot me now. 

I've blogged about hopelessness before, quoting Andrew Boyd, 

'You are faced with a stark choice: do you dedicate yourself to an impossible cause? or do you look after your own, making do as best you can?
The choice is clear: You must dedicate yourself to an impossible cause. Why? Because we are all incurable. Because solidarity is a form of tenderness. Because the simple act of caring for the world is itself a victory. Take a stand – not because it will lead to anything, but because it is the right thing to do. We never know what can or can’t be done; only what must be done. Let us do it.'

and about the idea of thinking global and acting local

but this week I can't make even a pretence at cheerfulness. 

I am clinging on to what Helen Care, a clinical psychologist, wrote in her letter to the Guardian this week. Her topic was wanting to change the usual rhetoric about teenagers. Here's an excerpt: 

I have struggled recently with breakfast-table rage – flicking through news headlines and being by turns disgusted, annoyed, frustrated, saddened or even grief-stricken by what seems to be happening in the world. But I have felt paralysed. I have gone on marches and signed online petitions, but at no point have I truly believed I was going to have a significant impact.
Young people look at the world and think “yep, we can change that”. Social media has given them a sense of connectedness and power. You just have to look at what is happening with Greta Thunberg and the climate change protests or the protests after the Stoneman Douglas high school shooting in the US to see their capacity to make things happen.
Thank goodness for a generation that don’t feel my paralysis in the face of what seems like overwhelming stress. Let’s start telling each other, and young people themselves, stories about what they can achieve, what they care about, what they can change and just how utterly fabulous they are.
Dr Helen Care
Witney, Oxfordshire

Yes, young people are fabulous. And because my fabulous teenage grandsons will no longer allow me to post pictures of them online, here are my fabulous granddaughters: 

When I look at their smiling faces I can't but feel better.


Anonymous said...

So here's the thing I don't have an adult poetry book - I have never thought that I must go and buy that poetry book and I don't quote poetry or find it useful for connecting with others. I have been pondering over this ever since I first started reading "Even when they know you" and I felt guilty, ignorant and uncultured. Then it clicked when my husband and son were together with me over a meal and all we did was quote hitchhikers guide and fragments from so many films, and TV programs we have in common, this and lyrics of songs - that is our frame of reference - that is our connection. I have read some poetry online - largely because of links you have provided. I have collections of lyrics - because they are from songs I play on my guitar (or rather used to -time to get it out again perhaps?) Although I get the connection between the two main characters in the book through quoting it - poetry as something to own and to remember for myself is not something I can really relate to. I confess it takes me back to school days over 40 years ago, slogging through Shakespeare and Chaucer. You have broadened my horizons and made poetry more accessible for me through this blog and your books - which I guess is some progress -Thank you. Jenetta

Sue Hepworth said...

Hi Jenetta, I have been pondering how to respond to this comment. It sounds as if you found the two characters and their connection through poetry as being alienating, I’m sorry about that. In our house we quote a range of different things. Dave can be quoting from Catullus one minute, and Joey on Friends another. We are very catholic in our quoting in this house.
I really wanted to include a copy of all the poems that Joe and Jane referred to in the book, as well as ones they don’t, but I couldn’t afford the copyright permissions. For example, I would’ve liked to have had in Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese, and Raymond Carver’s Late Fragment, and I would’ve also liked to have had in the William Carlos Williams poem that they mangle when they’re talking about the crushed marigolds. All of these poems would have been too expensive to include in the book, but they were in my draft. I am wondering whether to put them on the blog for a week to to flesh things out, and then take them off because of copyright. Watch this space.
P.s. we never, ever, quote Shakespeare or Chaucer. T.S.Eliot? Yes. Ezra Pound? Yes. Wordsworth? No. We are 20th and 21st century kids - plus Dave’s beloved Latin poetry.