In dark times …

I notice that I’ve added nothing to this blog since 2023. It’s hard to put writing out into the world in the face of all the deepening horror that surrounds us. Not just the war in eastern Europe and the genocide in Gaza, but the steady erosion of fellow-feeling and human dignity in England. A policy conducted by a political party and their media supporters for which the only real definition of human value is successful engagement in productive “economic activity” and the consumption it enables. A party whose leading ideologues have been asset-stripping the country for their own and their friends’ benefit while the poor, the sick, the disabled and the young are driven to the wall.

Some people pray as a way to address their own and the world’s distress. I’ve not done so since my early teens but, since the beginning of the covid lock-down, I’ve increasingly turned to the work of poets – in particular Paula Meehan and Denise Levertov.

The best poetry seems to me to be a bulwark against the tide of self-interested dehumanisation that is threatening to swamp the country. A quiet gathering-up and platting-together of strands of past and present human experience into a whole that touches and sustains. Of course there are all those who, following Auden, insist that poetry – indeed art more generally – “makes nothing happen”. But as Paula Meehan writes, it’s possible to read that: “nothing” as something positive. She writes: