I’ve picked up a book today from the library – Ben Okri’s A Time for New Dreams. It’s a book of essays, questions and thoughts about the human condition, about childhood, about creativity, writing, art, beauty and politics. It’s worth reading.
And worth sharing. Here are three small extracts from the book, on ‘Poetry and LIfe’:
‘Heaven knows we need poetry now more than ever. We need the awkward truth of poetry. We need its indirect insistence on the magic of listening.
In a world of contending guns, the argument of bombs, and the madness of believing that only our side, our religion, our politics is right, a world fatally inclined towards war – we need the voice that speaks to the highest in us.
We need the voice that speaks to our joys, our childhoods, and to the Gordian knots of our private and national condition. A voice that speaks to our doubts, our fears, and to all the unsuspected dimensions that make us both human and beings touched by the whisperings of the stars.’
‘Poetry is not just what poets write. Poetry is also the great river of soul-murmurings that runs within humanity. Poets merely bring this underground river to the surface for a moment, here and there, in cascades of sound and suggested meaning, through significant form.’
‘We concentrate too much on our differences. Poetry returns us to the surprise of our similarities. It brings us back to the obscure sense that we are all members of a far-flung family, sharing feelings both unique to us and oddly universal.
We need more poetry than politics. But we need to constantly raise the possibilities of poetry. Poetry will not necessarily change the world. (Tyrants have been known to be poets, that is to say bad poets.) But so long as poetry sends our minds into realms of gold and questions, and touches our deep and tender humanity, then it will always be a force for beauty, for good, in the the world, neutralising slowly the noise of guns and hatred.’
(from ‘A Time for New Dreams’ by Ben Okri)
I couldn’t agree more.